The second they saw it, they stopped dead in their tracks. They were used to encountering wildlife every now and then, as it was pretty common in their town. But this time, things were different. This majestic beast could hurt them really bad if it felt threatened. But they were facing quite a dilemma, as the creature was visibly hurt. They’d have to approach it carefully. They couldn’t risk scaring him off. Suddenly, the moose moved. Now they were wondering what to do next.
Leif Gisslen was enjoying a pretty pleasant, yet chilly, winter morning that day. His neighbor, Pentti Valkama, had stepped out to do a morning walk around town the island of Vindö, located in the Stockholm Archipelago of Sweden, the place they called home. To say that it was surrounded by wildlife and nature is an understatement. While it’s common to see flocks of birds, deer, and hares running around, it's rare to run into other wildlife. But on that particular day, everything changed for Leif and Pentti, who were really unprepared for what they were about to witness.
As Leif and Pentti made their way towards a wooded area, they noticed there was a large animal hiding behind the trees. Once they got a closer look, they realized it was a moose. They cautiously started walking a bit slower, hoping this large creature would make a run for it as soon as it noticed them walking nearby. But the second they got near the moose, they realized something was wrong. The poor creature wasn't about to scoot anytime soon, as it was struggling hard.
They two men remained calm as they approached the moose. The last thing they wanted was to disturb the creature. They kept at a safe distance, trying to figure out what was wrong. That's when they saw it: its antlers were stuck in the ropes of a pretty old swing. Proof that man-made elements can really mess with Mother Nature and the creatures that roam this earth. The poor moose must've been trying to munch on a few leaves when it got stuck. But despite Leif and Pentti's good intentions, their plan would prove to have dire consequences.
It takes male moose about 5 months to fully develop their much-needed antlers, which they start growing right after they're born. It might be surprising to know that starting in early December, moose typically shed and grow a pair of new antlers every year. Unbeknownst to Leif and Pentti, they had stumbled upon this gigantic moose on December 6, which meant that this poor creature's antlers were at a mid-growth developmental stage. So the poor thing didn't really know how to calculate spaces yet, which is how it ended up getting trapped among the branches. He was in a pickle and they really wanted to help. But what were they supposed to do now?
Leif and Pentti just stood there for a while, not knowing how to proceed, as they watched the poor creature go back and forth, trying to yank its antlers in an attempt to free itself from the rope. Nothing seemed to work, in fact, with every move it made, it seemed to get even more tangled up in the swing. The two men knew they needed to step in fast, as the moose was now getting desperate. If the moose were left to fend for itself, it would've ended up starving. But they knew helping him would be risky.
Moose aren't considered predators, but that doesn't mean they're docile creatures. Particularly when it comes to their interactions with human beings. If they feel threatened, these 1500 pound beasts could cause some serious damage. And the moose was already visibly upset, as it was anxiously trying to free itself and was growing tired of being trapped. Despite noticing that the animal was really agitated and disturbed, the two men decided to risk their lives in order to help the creature.
Finally, the men figured out a plan. First, they went back to Pentti's house, which was pretty close. They grabbed a pruning saw, which is basically a hand saw they use to trim shrubs, plants, and wood. If their plan worked, they'd be able to free the poor helpless creature. But they wouldn't be able to just walk up to the moose and get too close. Leif's plan was to attach the saw to a pole and make his way around the other side of the tree. But the second the moose saw him, he charged.
When Leif saw the animal charge towards him, he closed his eyes and flinched. Luckily, the animal wasn't able to get too close, as the swing rope stopped him from moving forward. Now, all he had to do was wait until the animal regained his composure. Then he would give it one more shot, reaching across with the hand saw. But the situation was far more complicated than he had expected.
The gigantic 1,500-pound beast was starting to feel more and more threatened, so the two men feared what would happen if they were able to release it. The moose could just charge against them and cause some serious damage. They needed to plan this in great detail. Leif and Pentti were pretty knowledgeable about moose, so they knew it could easily outrun them. So running away wasn't really an option. But then they were forced to rethink their entire plan after something strange happened.
The moose had been moving around so much, that it ended up breaking a large branch, which fell from the tree right onto its antlers. Now it was trying to shake it off, but nothing seemed to work. Leif was faced with a tough situation. The moose had to stop moving for him to be able to cut off the rope. So now Leif was forced to try to use his saw to lift the branch off its antlers. It worked! He got it off after a few tries, which meant everything was going according to plan. Finally, the moose was starting to realize that Leif was trying to help.
The moose was finally realizing that Leif was no threat. He was helping him free itself from the swing rope. Slowly but surely, the animal started to calm down. Magically, he started cooperating by standing still, which allowed Leif to reach out and finally cut the rope with the hand saw. But just when Leif was trying to apply more weight to the rope, while staying at a safe distance, the moose did something they didn't see coming.
Leif spent a few moments sawing the rope from a distance. Then suddenly, the moose walked up to Leif in an attempt to get closer, as if it was trying to help him cut down the rope. A few more minutes had passed, and finally, Leif was able to cut it off! The swing fell down. The moose was a little confused at first, but it took him only a few seconds to realize he was free again. Leif was really thrilled for a moment, until he realized he was in a dangerous situation.
The second the moose noticed it was free, it made a quick sprint towards the woods. But Leif hadn't realized he had been standing in the line of danger. The moose rushed towards Leif's direction, quickly making his way through the woods. If Lee had flinched only an inch or two, he may have gotten trampled by the beast. But Leif and Pentti were static, and happy to be alive and kicking.
What Leif and Pentti went through was truly a unique moment and they managed to get the whole thing on camera, too! Soon enough, they posted their crazy wildlife encounter online, getting over 600,000 views. Everyone was raving over how brave these two guys were, particularly Leif. They couldn't believe that a beast of this size would cooperate at the end, the second it understood that Leif was trying to help him. The story could've ended on a very bad note, but it was still a crazy encounter no one would be able to forget.
Sweden is known for its impressive landscapes and undisturbed wildlife. Around 300,000 moose call this beautiful country their home. That would roughly translate to about 1 moose every 33 people. So the chances of running into a moose like Leif and Pentti isn't that rare. But despite not being aggressive creatures, they can get pretty irritable during mating season. Plus, they could easily outrun you, as they run at 35 mph. Leif should consider himself pretty lucky as this moose was smart enough to realize that he was only trying to help. Otherwise, he may have not survived to tell his story and record it on camera!