Listen, it’s easy to laugh at moose. They’re goofy. Big spindly legs and ridiculous antlers looking like busted up satellite dishes stuck to their giant adorable faces, moose are supremely silly looking animals, it’s true. Rocky and Bullwinkle didn’t help either. But despite the laughter you can get simply by looking at a moose face, they’re one of the most dangerous animals in North America. Moose are responsible for more attacks on humans than bears and wolves combined, and when presented with an opportunity, moose will happily stomp any predator dumb enough to try for some moose meat. If I had to make a list of the animals I’d be OK with meeting in a dark alley, there’s a solid chance the a moose would be at the very bottom of that list. That is, unless this new footage out of Quebec turns out to be real.
A video posted on YouTube recently seems to show a very strange, thin, white figure apparently stalking a large moose. Filmed by Audree Frechette, in Quebec’s Gaspé Valley who thought she was just getting some nice shots of a lone moose hanging out by the side of the road, it wasn’t until she reviewed the video that she noticed the strange something that seems to be lurking by the treeline. The strange figure sort of looks like a tall hunched-over humanoid—obvious comparisons can be drawn to Gollum from The Lord of the Rings and myriad other popular monsters—but it moves nothing like a human, appearing to almost dance back and forth too smoothly for comfort. Are there any old legends from this part of the world that fit this description? You bet there is. A classic and absolutely terrifying monster from Algonquin lore: the Wendigo. Take a look at that video and then read this description of a Wendigo from Objibwe teacher and scholar Basil Johnson:
The Wendigo was gaunt to the point of emaciation, its desiccated skin pulled tightly over its bones. With its bones pushing out against its skin, its complexion the ash gray of death, and its eyes pushed back deep into their sockets, the Wendigo looked like a gaunt skeleton recently disinterred from the grave. What lips it had were tattered and bloody [….] Unclean and suffering from suppurations of the flesh, the Wendigo gave off a strange and eerie odor of decay and decomposition, of death and corruption.
Yeah, I’ll take death by moose over that thing any day of the week.
Perhaps the strangest thing about this video is that, while this whatever-it-is dances like a creep at the treeline, the moose seemingly doesn’t notice or doesn’t care. Both options would be pretty bizarre. The third option is much less bizarre: there’s no strange figure there at all, just a reflection on the windshield that the video was shot through and our old friend pareidolia and the shapes thousands of fictional monsters all stuck in our brains playing tricks on us. Here’s the thing: the “strange figure” moves at exactly the same speed and with the same smoothness as the camera. If you watched that video and you feel like there’s just something a little bit off about it, I think that’s what it is. Although it may indeed have a humanoid shape, it moves like a reflection.
Maybe I just don’t want there to be a supernatural moose stalking monster, much less a real Wendigo. I admit that I’m looking forward to actually enjoying camping trips in the north country and not being wracked with crippling paranoia and fear because of my chosen path in life (although that’s just about unavoidable at this point).
Case closed, no Wendigo, I’m going to forget I ever wrote this.