Moose stalks golfers in Breckenridge
Officials urge caution during calf-raising season
Summit Daily News
Who would win in a race, an electric golf cart on a downhill slope or a moose in full stride?
Average golfers and Hope College tennis players Justin Fay and Taylor Truman never had an exact finish line in mind Saturday when they found themselves trying to outrun a moose, but they definitely learned who was faster.
“If it wanted to catch us, it could’ve easily caught us,” Fay said.
Fay and Truman were playing a round at Breckenridge Golf Course late Saturday evening. Fay said no one had tee times before or after them, and the pair were likely the last ones on the Elk Course. It was just after 7 p.m. when they reached Hole 7. The hole has a long, downward-sloping fairway leading to a small ravine just before the green. Players have to launch their drives just up to the edge of the ravine and chip their ball over the shrubby scar and onto the green. After losing a couple balls in the bushes, Fay and Truman eventually made their way onto the green.
As Fay went to putt, he looked back up the course and spotted a moose wandering across the fairway. Recounting the experience, Fay recalls saying to Truman, “Hey look, Taylor. There’s a moose.”
Truman, who was visiting from Michigan, said she had never seen a moose up close before. Fay said he thought it would be a special moment to end Truman’s vacation. Fay had spent a significant amount of time in Summit County and was used to seeing moose. He said he was aware of the threat but was also accustomed to moose ignoring him.
This moose, however, did not ignore them.
Fay said it began galloping around the ravine and toward the green. He said he’d never seen a moose move that fast.
“It was almost as big as a car,” he said.
Fay said they hurried to the nearby golf cart. They didn’t have time to put the clubs in the back, so Truman clutched them as they drove off, he said. The moose came within 30 yards of them by the time they got the cart started, he said.
Fay tried flooring it, but the carts have automatic speed limits. He didn’t think they could go faster than 15 mph, especially on the climbs, he said. Fortunately, they were coming down from the highest part of the course.
The cart path crosses Gold Run Road on its way to Hole 8 as it heads downhill to the clubhouse about a half-mile away. Fay and Truman crossed the road in their cart, and Fay said they cut in front of a vehicle as they did.
At the time, Fay said the plan was to drive past Hole 8, lose the moose and play Hole 9. But the moose didn’t stop — not at the road or at Hole 9 — so they kept driving toward the clubhouse.
Truman said she kept looking back, trying to get eyes on the upset moose. Fay mentioned to her that there could be a calf nearby and that it could be a mother protecting her baby. She said she looked for it but never saw one.
They continued on down towards Hole 9. There, the path makes a horseshoe turn just before a lake. Fay said they nervously cut the corner, driving across the horseshoe. He said he feared the cart’s automatic shut-off would activate if they left the primary cart path.
Fay said the thought worried him, but it did even more so for Truman.
“If we got locked, Justin can run fast,” she said. “I run fast but not as fast as him.”
She did not want to be the slowest runner in a race against a moose.
They said they considered hopping out of the cart and dashing through the nearby neighborhood.
As they drove past the lake, Fay said the moose entered the lake from a distance. It still swam in their direction but gave them enough time and room to drive off to the club house.
They relayed their experience to an employee, who told them a baby moose had been spotted a few days prior. Staff at Breckenridge Golf Course reported that staff had spotted a baby moose, maybe about 1-year-old, in one of their ponds earlier in the week.
Fay characterized the moose’s behavior as though it “stalked” them. Truman called it a “terrifying” experience. She said when she returned to her office in Chicago, her co-workers thought it sounded like a cool experience. She said it’s not a moment she wants to relive.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife recommends people run from moose as fast as possible if it becomes aggressive. People should try and position a large object, like a boulder or car, between themselves and the moose, state officials say. Female moose can be protective of their young. Dogs can also trigger aggressive behavior.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife encourages people to give moose plenty of space and respect them.