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Saturday, December 4, 2021

Decemystery (2021) 4: The Spectral Moose of Maine


Welcome back to my blog! Today, we’re taking a trip to Maine, the home state of United States Senator Susan Collins and horror icon Stephen King. Fun fact: they live on the same street and, amusingly, King absolutely loathes Collins. Now that that fun fact is out of the way, let’s just get straight to the point.

Two years ago, I covered the story of the “Ghost Mammoth”. Last year, I had thought about covering another ghostly animal, but real life hindered that. This year, however, I shall redeem myself by covering the Spectral Moose of Maine. Also, let’s just pretend that the header image above is of a ghostly moose and not just a regular one. Sorry, I didn’t feel like poaching an image from one of today’s sources. Anywhoozle: let us begin!

The Story

For those who don’t know: Maine is the northeastern most state in the United States. It’s a relatively quiet place; small, quaint, gorgeous, and desirable for those who like cold climates. It’s also very forested and a great place for anyone who likes to hunt. So if you’re a city slicker, Maine isn’t for you. Sorry, Mr. Gucci Loafers.

Anyways, let’s talk about our central focus of today’s story. Known as the Ghost Moose, Specter Moose, and the Spectral Moose of Maine (I shall be referring to it as the Specter Moose because I feel like), this beast is… big. Really big. It gets its name for a few reasons. The first and foremost is that it sports a white/light grey coat. That, on its own, isn’t really special; albino moose exist (though they are pretty rare; a quick search states that 1 in 100,000 moose are albino).

Where things start to make sense are with the other two reasons. The second is that it can reportedly appear and disappear at will, much like a ghost. The third and final reason is it can “phase through objects”. This is, once again, something that ghosts are said to be capable of doing. So yeah: ghost moose. Weird, no? Well, the weirdness doesn’t stop there.

You see: for all of its ghostliness, the Specter Moose isn’t beholden to just being some ghostly apparition. No, it’s also big. Really big. The average moose is said to be roughly 7–8 feet (2.1 to 2.4 meters) in height. To put it bluntly: moose can get pretty dang big, but they aren’t the tallest land animals out there.

Weight wise on the other hand, moose are nothing to reckon with. While the weight varies heavily from species to species, I’m going to say that the average moose weighs between 700 and 1,000 pounds (317 and 453 kilograms). While they may not be the heaviest land animal, moose are more than capable of doing serious damage to vehicles if they charge into it (and they’ve been known to do this since they have extremely bad tempers).

Now for one last detail. The average antler span of a moose is roughly 6 feet (1.8 meters). I’m admittedly trying to guess here since, once again, it varies heavily from species to species, but also from moose to moose. Still, I feel it’s important to know.

With all of that out of the way, let’s get to the point of this. Sure, it’s cool to know about how big and brawny animals can be, but it’s important to know that all because the Specter Moose puts all other moose to shame. I went to a few websites to find out how big this legendary beast is—ObscUrban Legend Wiki, Mysterious Universe, and Legends of America—and only the third one had information on more than just this creature’s height. So almost all of the credit goes to them. I also recommend looking at their other stuff because it’s really dang good.

To start things off: the factor about the Specter Moose that’s cited across the three linked websites above is the creature’s height. This mighty beast is said to stand at a whopping 10–15 feet (3 to 4.5 meters) in height. To put that into perspective, the average elephant stands at 10-feet-tall, so this thing could easily look it down.

Now for the two factoids that only Legends of America give: the weight and antler span of the Specter Moose. For the former, it’s said to weigh a staggering 2,500 pounds (1,133 kilograms). That’s just under the average weight of some hippos to put that into perspective.

As for the antler span, the Specter Moose would be a heck of a kill for any seasoned huntsman. The creature is said to have a pair of antlers that are 10–12 feet (3 to 3.6 meters) across. Put those bad boys over your fireplace and you’d be the talk of the lodge!

All things considered, this is a really big creature. Like, it’s really dang big. Moose are already pretty sizable, but this is a behemoth compared to them. Lucky for us, there are no reports of it ramming hunters and turning them into pastries for the local cannibal sweets story at some tiny town.

Anyways, before we get into the actual reports of this creature, I want to mention one final thing. A lot of the reports state the Specter Moose sports really good hearing and smelling. As such, I think we can all agree that the best way to scare it off—should it ever attack you or I in a hypothetical scenario—would be to play really obnoxious dubstep music. Wub wub wub, moose are scrubs.

Now onto the sightings. Although “Mysterious Universe” states the Specter Moose was first spotted in 1901, Legends of America (among other websites) state that it was 1891 when our antlered friend was first seen by someone. As such, I’m going to start there because I want to pad this write-up out with more facts and pretend I’m smart.

Clarence Duffy was some dude from Oldtown, Maine—an appropriately named town because this sighting took place 130 years ago. Anyways, Clarence was a hunting guide who saw the moose. He didn’t get a chance to shoot it, but he was more than aware that the moose had seen him. Alas, no one believed him because people in Oldtown aren’t prone to such silly stories.

All of that changed, however, a few months later. A lumberman from Bangor by the name of John Ross was over at Lobster Lake—which is where Clarence saw the ghostly moose—and ended up seeing it for himself. What exactly happened isn’t stated, but one can presume that John was scared out of his mind and ran away.

Then came the third encounter. An unnamed hunter from New York decided to take a trip to Sourdnahunk Lake to go do some, well, hunting. While there, he saw the ghostly moose for himself. Naturally, being a level-headed New Yorker (unlike myself), he did the only thing sensible and perfectly reasonable.

He took out his gun and shot it a bunch of times.

This, naturally, worked about as well as using a twig against a tiger. Every single bullet fired didn’t affect the moose in any way. Well, actually, they did affect it in one way, just not the one the hunter had desired. Instead of falling to the ground with a resounding thud and dying, the moose instead got really angry and charged at him. Both Legends of America and a website called Unsettling Things state that the hunter was in there for an hour. I’m guessing the Specter Moose was too big to get in, but why it decided to throw a temper tantrum for an hour before buggering off to who-knows-where is beyond me.

My best guess is it’s a lot like me and just has to burn itself out before conceding to that pain in the butt known as “reality”.

Moving onward, we arrive in 1892. It was in this year that a sportsman from New York by the name of Howard Van Ness took a trip to Maine; Legends of America states that it was 30 miles (48.2 kilometers) northeast of Norcross. While there, Howard decided to hunt with three other lads. During their hunting expedition, the four separated, and Howard encountered the legendary ghostly moose.

According to Legends of America, Howard told someone that the creature “weighed a ton” (which for those unaware is 2,000 pounds/907 kilograms) and was “as tall as a camel”, which is somewhere between 6 and 7 feet (1.8 to 2.1 meters). That’s quite a bit shorter than the beast that I described earlier, so I’m inclined to think that this wasn’t the ghostly moose.

Ah, but I digress. You see, unlike the unnamed gentlemen mentioned above, Howard was a man of focus; of patience. He wasn’t reckless, he wasn’t foolish, and above all else: he wasn’t going to mindlessly shoot this animal without first knowing he had a kill shot.

That’s why he mindlessly shot the animal “just above the shoulder” and didn’t aim for the head.

You know, I’m starting to think that the men of yesteryear from New York City aren’t really good at this whole “hunting” thing.

It was at this moment that time decided to bend and Ludacris’ “Move Bitch” started playing because Howard realized he’d done goofed. The moose let out a deep bellow and looked at the dingbat who’d shot him. Then it charged; and for those curious, the average moose can run upwards of 35 mph (56 km/h).

Howard, for his part, didn’t waste time and got out of the way of the 2,000-pound mass of venison (yum). With his quick-thinking skills, he decided to hide under a pile of fallen trees and leaves.

I want to take a moment to cease all of the silliness and pause to mention something. I tried to find out if there was something I was missing since the idea of hiding under some fallen trees and leaves seems extremely inefficient, especially when you consider this thing could easily trample him. However, as far as I’m aware, Howard did in fact just hide under the aforementioned trees and leaves.

Even more surprising—in my eyes at least—the moose never even attempted to nudge Howard. It’s possible it didn’t see him hide (which I find really unlikely since it evidently knew where he was). I also find it really dang weird this thing, which was said to have incredible hearing and smelling, couldn’t hear or smell Howard, but I digress. According to every source I can find, the moose simply wandered around Howard’s hiding location. At one point, it jumped over it before resuming its circling of the hiding spot. After some time though, the moose conceded and wandered off.

This sighting is what caused a lot of folks to take the sightings seriously, and as such: more people started to look for the Specter Moose. However, nobody could find it, and the creature appeared to have vanished from the face of the Earth. There was one three years later though—in 1895—when a taxidermist from Bangor saw the creature and shot it five times. None of the shots appeared to do anything to the creature (yet again), but instead of getting angry, it simply waltzed off.

How kind.

Four years after this encounter, the ghostly moose made it big. A fair number of newspapers, including the New York Times (which Legends of America says was in November 1899) and Boston Globe, reported on its. Just like any good cryptid story, this is when the public got interested. Suddenly, everyone wanted to go find the legendary beast. More newspaper articles appeared throughout the years, with the final one apparently being done in 1942 (according to Sun Journal).

Getting back on track though, we now head over to 1900, although Legends of America says this sighting took place in 1906. I don’t know which is true, but the site that states it occurred in 1900—which is named Miami Ghost Chronicles—has a newspaper clipping that’s allegedly from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (which was apparently written on October 8, 1900). While I would check the archives to verify this, I’m too cheap to shell out money to be a credible writer. Though if you want to read the column from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, click here.

Anyways, this is easily one of my favorite sightings of the creature because it’s truly one of the most traumatizing. George Kneeland was a bicyclist who was on his bike. While on a road between Sherman and Macwahoc, he saw something up ahead. Initially, he thought it to be a horse. Though the more he looked at it, the more it became evident that it wasn’t a horse. For starters, horses don’t have antlers.

George stopped and admired the majestic creature, though that admiration and majesty took a hike very quickly. Without warning, the moose lowered its head and charged at him in a blind rage. According to the article from Miami Ghost Chronicles, George stated that it “came straight for me with the speed of a locomotive”. I don’t know if that’s a real quote since the above-linked newspaper column doesn’t appear to say that, but it put an image of one really intimidating animal into my little mind. If I had to guess, it’s probably from another newspaper.

Anywhoozle, George wasted no time in doing what everyone else who was caught in the Specter Moose’s path did: he ran. Though instead of hiding in a cave or under some trees and leaves, George climbed a tree. From there, he looked down as the moose looked at his bike until it wandered into the forest. Something tells me he immediately went home and never went down that same road again.

Now let’s head on over to 1901. This is the year that Mysterious Universe says the Specter Moose was first seen. M.A. Cushing—who was a sportsman—was out near Chairback Mountain, doing whatever it is sportsmen do. Unlike the previous three men, Cushing didn’t take out a gun and try to blow the beast to kingdom come. Instead, he figured he’d simply seen an albino moose. This was quickly thrown out the window when it vanished though.

After this, Legends of America, Mysterious Universe, and other sites state there were a “rash of sightings” in certain years. 1932 and 1938 are the two most stated years, but I cannot find anything related to specific sightings—with the exception of one (maybe two). Let’s go over them really quick before we round out the story and head into the theories.

The first—which is from 1932 (because going in order by year is always good)—comes from a man named Houston, who went on a “timber cruise”. Apparently, that’s when you go out measuring and finding suitable places to get timber—or something like that. Look, I’m not a lumberjack, so let’s move on.

While Houston was on his way back to his camp, he saw a group of 16 or so moose, all feeding. Not far from the main group were three bulls, each of them quite large. Though one of them stood out—mainly because it was ridiculously large. According to Houston, it made the other two look like “pygmies”. However, after turning his attention away from a brief moment, that monstrous moose had disappeared.

Now onto the story from 1938, and this is easily the weirdest and most bizarre out of all of them. I must stress that, as with any other story I have covered, and subsequently will cover, there’s no way for me to prove the validity of this story. So before anyone accuses me of trying to say that a gigantic moose is lurking in the forests of Maine that’s doing its best portrayal of the Walking Dead, know that I am not passing anything I’m about to write off as fact.

When this story took place—outside of its year—I don’t know (I would hazard a guess it was at some point during either spring or autumn). What is known is that a “group of hunters” were out near the Molunkus Stream, which is in east-central Maine. While out there, the group shot and killed what’s said to have been a “large white moose”. They proceeded to slit its throat and then hung it over a tree branch so they could skin and dress it the following day. For those unfamiliar with what “dressing” an animal is: it’s when you remove the internal organs of hunted game. It’s likely the hunters were going to cook the moose so they had something to eat while out hunting.

After a good night’s rest, the hunters awoke the next day, ready to get to work on their antlered friend. Though immediately, they realized something was wrong. Like, really wrong.

The moose was gone.

There’s no information on how the group reacted, let alone what they did for the entire day. I have no idea if theft of hunted game is at all common, but that’s not relevant. What is relevant is what happened that night. While the group were at their camp, likely getting ready to go to sleep, they were visited by the moose they had killed the previous day. Its throat was still cut, though I have no idea if it was oozing ectoplasmic blood. After standing there for some period of time, it walked away, apparently not giving enough of a moosely crap to try and charge at its would-be murderers.

I’m sure there are more stories out there that I didn’t find—likely in some books or on some other blogs (which are almost certainly better researched than this one). However, it appears that after 1938, sightings of the legendary Specter Moose stopped. I can find no stories after that date and it appears that nowadays, it’s more of an obscure local legend up in Maine than anything else. I honestly find that kind of disappointing since I was hoping to come across a story about someone seeing a ghostly moose in the road and they crashed into it, but it simply phased through the entire thing. I don’t really know why; I was just really hoping for that.

Oh well, better luck next time. Anyways, I think it’s about time we head into the theories section; we’ve got a fair bit to go over. Supermoose away!


1. It’s some sort of spirit animal

I kinda went over this when I discussed the Giant Mammoth, though I’m only going to focus on the second version of the concept I used there. That version states that a spirit animal is some sort of guardian angel that watches over a certain area and protects it from wrong-doers. So for this theory, one could theorize that this Specter Moose is a Native American spirit that protects the forests of Maine from evil people.

Granted, the definition of “evil people” here is rather elastic since a hunter isn’t inherently evil (though that’s naturally subjective since some animal rights activists may disagree). Also, given that this thing appears to have a tendency to randomly charge at people who’ve done nothing wrong (just look at poor George), I guess it’s possible it’s an evil spirit. I wouldn’t know since my knowledge of a great many cultures is piss poor, so let’s move on before I make a massive fool of myself.

2. It’s an albino and gigantic moose

For our second theory, we have the idea that it’s nothing more than an abnormally large, and albino, moose. I really don’t think there’s anything else to it than that; it’s just some giant moose. How does that explain the whole “I shot it and it didn’t seem to care” claim? Well, one can guess that those who were shooting at it either missed, were using small caliber bullets, or were simply bad shots and hit it in places where the thick skin of the moose didn’t do much more than anger it. As for the zombie moose story, I’ve got nothing, nor does anyone else.

2b. It’s an unknown species of moose

A minor offshoot of the theory above, this one simply posits it’s a new species of moose we haven’t discovered. Like I stated above, that doesn’t exactly explain why bullets don’t affect it, but one can (once again) argue that the people who shot it were bad shots (or any of the other reasons I gave). Also, this still doesn’t explain the zombie moose story.

3. It’s a legend

Perhaps the most popular theory, and the one that’s the most widespread, is that the entire thing is nothing more than a legend. The idea here is that someone seeing an albino moose that was perhaps a bit larger than your average bull took it for something supernatural and from there, people seeing either the same moose began to think it was truly a ghostly animal. Then, more and more people began to add fuel to the fire by either fabricating stories about seeing it or seeing another albino moose in another part of the state—though the latter theory is unlikely since albinism in moose is extremely rare.

My Take

I want to get one thing out of the way before I get into the bit and gritty of my take. This is far, far from the craziest and most absurd thing we’ve talked about on this blog. It’s arguably one of the most surreal, but when compared to something like the Bermuda Beast, Awful, Giant Shrimp, Giant Scuttles, that phallic monster from Florida, and/or Gef, this is far from the weirdest thing ever.

With that said, I would be lying like a snake oil salesman if I said I didn’t tilt my head from the sheer oddness of some of these sightings. The concept of a ghostly animal is quite odd. Granted, I’m the person who swears up and down he saw the ghost of his deceased yellow lab, but I will argue to the death that that is much different than a spectral moose. I shall die on this hill if I have to!

Getting back on topic though, I’m somewhat torn on what to think of this. I consider myself pretty open-minded when it comes to stories like this, so I’m more than willing to say that, yes, this is some sort of spirit animal. Yet, at the same, I feel the time period these reports come from aren’t exactly the most… reputable. Any Joe Schmo who saw an albino, or an unusually large, moose that didn’t die when struck by their peashooter could’ve woven a tale about some mystical beast that lurks up in Maine.

That, coupled with the apparent lack of modern-day sightings, makes me think this story is nothing more than a tall tale that stayed alive because hunters kept adding fuel to the fire. Though I will admit that it’s entirely possible that some weird, unknown species of moose exists up in the forests of Maine. I doubt it has the ability to phase in and out of reality, nor do I believe it can move through physical objects, but it wouldn’t be the craziest thing out there.

Now if a ghostly moose does exist, I think we all know what we should do. We should try to make an animal centric version of Ghostbusters and create a cinematic universe around it. The culmination is that some crazy animal rights activists unleash the spirits of all animals hunted to extinction and the Ghostbusters must contain them before the world is overrun by really angry (and ghostly) animals.

Hire me Sony, I’ll make you billions.


Well, I dunno if you liked today’s story, but I personally had a blast writing about it. It’s always fun to take a look at something more absurd and quirkier; it helps to break up the monotony of stories that are more grounded in reality (gigantic centipedes notwithstanding). That said, it’s time for us to part ways—at least until tomorrow morning. See you then (hopefully)!

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