The Art Of Moose Calling Alive And Well In Maine

Maine is hosting its first World Invitational Moose Calling Contest as part of the state's annual 2012 Moose Lottery. Contestants will be judged on their moose-calling finesse in four categories: their bull call, cow call, attraction techniques and showmanship. To learn more about the art of moose calling, host Scott Simon talks with competition organizer Roger Lambert.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

So if you wanted a moose to come on over and join you for a latte, what would you say?

ROGER LAMBERT: You've got to speak the language, that's for sure.

SIMON: That's Roger Lambert who's the master guide of Maine Guide Services and emcee of the moose calling competition because today moose callers from around the world - that's to say the state of Maine and one Canadian - will compete in the first-ever International Invitational Moose Calling Competition, part of a new festival that Rangeley, Maine is hosting.

Mr. Lambert, thanks for being with us.

LAMBERT: My pleasure.

SIMON: And I don't see any reason to delay, give us your best moose call.

LAMBERT: All right. We're going to do (unintelligible) world here. Hang on.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOOSE CALL)

LAMBERT: That would be a cow moose.

SIMON: Can I try one?

LAMBERT: Sure, you can. Now get your fingers on your nostrils so you get a little nasal quality there.

SIMON: Uh huh.

LAMBERT: And I start out with kind of a maaaa sound. And let's see what you got. Let's hear it.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOOSE CALL)

(LAUGHTER)

LAMBERT: See? That's a start.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOOSE CALL)

(LAUGHTER)

SIMON: Aside from having a whole field of bull moose run at you, how do you judge the effectiveness of a moose call?

LAMBERT: The goal of most callers - sometimes they call over great distances. Moose have excellent hearing and of course the larger the bull typically the larger the antlers. The antlers actually work as a sound gathering system for the moose so thus the bigger bulls can hear cows in estrous at a greater distance.

And, you know, they're excited by the cow shooting out a call and that's the ultimate rewards, if you will, for a moose caller; to bring a bull in long distance and bring him right up close and personal.

SIMON: Yeah, but, I mean, forgive me - aren't they liable to be quite seriously disappointed if they show up and see you?

LAMBERT: Well, you need to read the body language. They either want...

(LAUGHTER)

SIMON: No. I don't think any amount of body language can talk you out of that, but go ahead.

LAMBERT: Well, they either want to kill you or have their way with you and you better be able to judge that instantly on the spot, especially if you've got clients with you. The moral of this moose calling business: is the first thing you need to do is have an exit strategy.

(LAUGHTER)

SIMON: I'm told to ask you about something that sounds quite hazardous called attraction techniques.

LAMBERT: We sometimes scuff gravel and try to emulate a four-legged animal walking by doing toe-heel, toe-heel. And that's an attraction strategy. And there's all kinds of stuff. We'll see that all arranged for this weekend. Come on out.

SIMON: And so how many moose callers are you expecting?

LAMBERT: We've got about 10 that have worked their way to the semi-finals. We've got some of the best and most notorious moose callers in Maine and as I say, we'll want to have our guards at the doors. We don't want any of these big boys coming in, crashing down, and getting any spectators hurt here on the spot.

SIMON: Master guide Roger Lambert of Maine Guide Services is the emcee of the first - why did it take so long? - first-ever International Invitational Moose Calling Competition. Wait.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOOSE CALL)

LAMBERT: You're on.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOOSE CALL)

LAMBERT: Bull call right there.

SIMON: This is NPR News.

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