Down East 2013 ©
Some photographs are just too incredible to believe. That’s what Pete Lammert thought back in 2007 when he received an email containing this dramatic — and obviously fake — image of a massive bull moose being harnessed for some logging work in Maine’s North Woods. Lammert, who has spent his life around working horses as an Augusta-based forester with the Forest Service, immediately recognized that there was no way the leather harness shown here would ever fit over the moose’s huge rack (and besides, who would really use such a gorgeous setup for everyday hauling?).
Lammert had heard stories of a yearling moose here and there being used to pull a wagon, but he knew a massive, mature wild animal like this one could never be so tamed. So, figuring the image was just silly enough to never be taken seriously, he quickly wrote up a little story to go along with it, peppering his tall tale with exotic locations like “Estcourt Station” (an actual town on the far fringes of Aroostook County) and Ashland as well as names drawn from a local phone book and enough woodsy details about how the moose had been turned into a work animal to make it all seem believable.
“The guy who sent the picture to me is always pounding on me about how we cut corners up here and make do,” Lammert says. “So when I saw this, I thought, ‘Well, I’ll show him.’ So I sat there at lunchtime and punched that article out.” Then he hit “reply” and sent the two fictitious creations off into the electronic ether.
The joke ended up being on Lammert. Practically overnight his story became attached to this masterfully Photoshopped image — clever computer detectives have since documented the identical woodpiles, at lower left and right, and the handler’s harness strap, at center, that attaches to nothing — and made its way around the globe. Lammert says he has received more than three hundred letters from people asking him for more details about this dramatic scene. And as for the real-life names of people he used for his fictitious handlers, Lammert says he learned, regrettably that one of them was so popular that he ended up having to disconnect his phone due to all the calls from people wondering how Mainers had learned to live so harmoniously with nature.
Little do they know.