The Specter Moose

Status: Mystery Moose (existence undetermined)
image Curtis MacDougall, in his 1940 work Hoaxes, briefly mentions a creature named the Specter Moose. He writes:
Recent additions to unnatural history, all of which received space on press association wires, include:... a "specter moose" reported to have appeared again in the woods of Maine after having previously been seen in 1901, 1917, and 1932. (p.15)
Unfortunately that's all he says about the Specter Moose. But I've always been intrigued by this mysterious creature, and recently when I decided to expand and improve my Gallery of Tall-Tale Creatures, I resolved to find out once and for all what the Specter Moose is.

A web search turned up nothing except one other person who had also come across MacDougall's mention of the creature and was similarly intrigued. A search through various library research databases didn't turn up anything. Google Book search also came up dry. But finally I got some results when I tried, which is an archive of old newspapers.

The Specter Moose appears to have been a moose version of Moby Dick. It was a huge, whitish-gray moose, apparently immune to bullets, who terrified hunters by chasing them around. As such, it's probably less of a tall-tale creature and more of a cryptozoological legend.

On November 14, 1900 the Minnesota Freeborn County Standard reported:
The enormous moose that has been the wonder of the sportsmen in northern Maine since 1891 has again been seen, and this time under rather different circumstances from ever before. A bicyclist came close to the monster in the road between Sherman and Macwahoe, and was obliged to abandon his wheel and climb a tree for safety. So he had a near view of the animal, reports the New York Sun.
Every story that comes from the north woods concerning this moose makes him a little bigger than before. It is generally believed that no moose ever killed in Maine, or, so far as is known, anywhere else, has approached in stature or weight, much less in spread of antlers, this specter moose of Lobster lake. He is called the specter moose because of the weird appearance he presents at night, his color being a dirty gray...
The average weight of moose shot in maine is from 800 to 900 pounds, with antlers spreading from 4 to 4 ½ feet, and rarely having more than 8 to 12 points on a side, while the bell, as the appendage under the animal's neck is called, is generally eight to nine inches long. All who have seen the big moose of Lobster lake aver that he must weight at least 2500 pounds, that his antlers spread not less than ten feet, while the bell is declared to be not less than 18 inches long. It is supposed that this monster wandered into Maine from British Columbia, as none approaching his size has ever been seen in Maine before. He is a great traveler, having been reported in almost every part of northern Maine. The hunter who brings him down will win fame and a big pot of money at the same time.
The Specter Moose returned to the headlines on November 19, 1911, at which time the Texas Galveston Daily News gave this summary of reports coming out of Maine:
The moose has always been described as of immense size and of a dirty white color, from which latter characteristic it became known as the "specter moose." As often as the stories have been told they have been denied and set down as the fabric of an excited imagination or the result of too much whisky. One skeptic even declared that it was not a moose at all but an old gray woods horse that had been turned out to run at large. Still, the story of the "specter moose," be it fact or fiction, survives, and only this week it was related by an Indian guide who has been piloting a party around Lobster Lake.
Finally he reared his antlers again in 1938 when news wires carried this blurb (which appeared on March 15 in the Pennsylvania Charleroi Mail):
Always hunters get near enough to be appalled by this gigantic beast, but seldom within range for an effective shot. In the accumulating lore of the forest he is described as ten to fifteen feet high, "dirty white" in color, brandishing immense antlers. Not only his ghostly hue but also his keen scent, acute hearing and seemingly magical power of instant disappearance have built up the legend of a wraith. Skeptics say there "ain't no such critter," but a man named Houston brings the story of the latest visitation.
After that the Specter Moose never again seems to have been seen. At least, no sightings made it into papers. Perhaps the big guy died of old age. It's quite possible, of course, that a white moose (or more than one) was wandering around Maine. The size of the creature is the real question. My guess is that Maine hunters may really have seen a white moose, but then exaggerated its size, as hunters have a tendency to do.

Update: To put the Specter Moose in perspective, reports that the largest moose on record was an Alaskan bull moose that weighed 1,697 lbs. Other sites report that this record moose had an antler spread of 6 ½ feet. The Specter Moose, at 2500 lbs and with an antler spread of over ten feet, would easily have beaten this record.

Animals Cryptozoology

Posted on Tue Aug 01, 2006


There is something called a "ghost moose". It's not a species however, it's a symptom caused by infestation of a winter tick which naturally makes the moose itch. They rub up against trees, rocks, etc to relieve the itching, which breaks the hair shaft, leaving only the white part of the shaft exposed. If a moose is badly infested with the tick, it can take on a whitish grey appearance. Basically they are hairless moose, in extreme cases they can die from hypothermia.

Usually you see ghost moose late in winter. I think it's only been in the past 20 years or so that the phenomena was explained.

I'm not saying that the specter moose isn't real, but some of the sightings can probably be attributed to ghost moose.
Posted by MadCarlotta  on  Tue Aug 01, 2006  at  11:42 AM
I love how the moose is supposed to have wandered from British Columbia to Maine...that's a heck of a wander. 😉
Posted by Winona  on  Tue Aug 01, 2006  at  11:44 AM
Yes, it's quite a hike from British Columbia to Maine.

As to size--
A moose can be as big as you want it to be while it's still roaming the woods. It's only after you've shot or otherwise immobilized it so it can be measured that anybody can challenge your claim. "The moose I never got a shot at" is a close relative of "the fish that got away."

"The Specter Moose of Lobster Lake" is too good a title to let go to waste, though. I've got to think of a story, poem, song, or play to go with this before somebody else does.
Posted by Big Gary  on  Tue Aug 01, 2006  at  05:02 PM
The moose obviously took the Trans-Canadian Railroad, Winona. . .

I suppose that it is possible that a moose could have been greatly mutated and so have a strange colouration and unusual size. And I do recall from my one moose-hunting excursion how bullet-proof a moose can be at times. All the same, it does sound rather like one of those hunting or fishing tales about "the one that got away".
Posted by Accipiter  on  Wed Aug 02, 2006  at  01:01 AM
If I remember correctly from some docu-tainment or other, in relatively recent history there still survived many much larger versions of modern day creatures, such as a huge cow type beast that lived in Europe and was hunted to extinction.

Could there be a moose predecessor of huge stature that is yet to be wiped out and hides out in the forest?

Or is that just too much like nessie?
Posted by Torpid_rat  on  Wed Aug 02, 2006  at  04:01 AM
It's just too much like nessie.
Posted by outeast  on  Wed Aug 02, 2006  at  05:52 AM
And was I the only one thinking [cue falsetto] 'Ooh, I knew I shouldn't have used tinned spectre?'

Yeah, probably...
Posted by outeast  on  Wed Aug 02, 2006  at  05:55 AM
Torpid_rat, there is one that could explain this, megaloceros.That had 12 foot antlers.I t existed in the ice age.The story is like one in england, The specter pig.It was the size of a cow.

The human mind tends to exgerrate things like this. I know cause when I was 5 I thought I saw a wasp the size of a plate.When my mum came in it turned out to be normal sized.This could be responsible for the spectre moose and the fish that got away.
Posted by Thisisnotadrillalienshaveinvadedtheearth  on  Thu Oct 19, 2006  at  12:57 PM
The specter moose tail is more of a tail about the Great White Moose.. Which there has been White Moose in Maine, shot and the same for deer. Weighing 2500 pounds is probably the fabrication of some Masshole who has never seen Moose Before.
Posted by fasfddasf  on  Mon Jul 30, 2007  at  12:24 PM
I have seen mounted white moose heads, and one full stuffed one, while living in Maine. They're quite a sight, naturally.

The coloration is certainly uncommon, but not unheard of.
Posted by Lindsay  on  Mon May 05, 2008  at  03:26 AM
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