Mooseman: The guy with the skinny on scat

By: 
Samantha Hill

Known as the Mooseman in some circles, Timothy Wenthe started doing some dirty work by collecting moose scat and selling it as fire starters in a business called Wild Tinder.

An avid outdoorsman, Wenthe thought of the business a couple years ago while winter camping. He found that in old mountaineering lore, people could use moose poop as a fire starter if it is dipped in wax. After some experimentation, his business was born.

He officially launched the venture earlier this spring through the internet and at farmers markets.

Wenthe said in order to get the amount of scat needed for his business, he, along with his three dogs, or “coworkers,” go out searching in the mountains every couple of months.

Although he keeps his dung hunting spots a secret, he acknowledged there are a surprising amount of moose around Park County.

During a scat search, he can find hundreds of moose droppings. After he completes the search, Wenthe leaves the pellets in the back of his car to dry out for up to a couple of weeks. Once the pieces are properly dried, Wenthe melts a big vat of paraffin wax, better known as candle wax, and dips the droppings in it. Besides helping the pieces burn, the wax also preserves and waterproofs them for future use.

Wenthe uses only moose droppings for his business because deer or other wild animals have different diets. Wenthe said moose droppings work best because moose eat sticks and grass as well as bark off of trees.

“You look at the inside of (scat), and it is basically just compressed sawdust,” he said.

However, Wenthe noticed that even certain types of moose scat are not acceptable for burning — for example, if the moose has spent a lot of time eating plants out of a marshy area.

Once the droppings are covered in paraffin wax, they are ready to burn. Each piece can take a little while to get started but once they are lit, the smaller pieces can burn for about six minutes and the larger pieces for 14 minutes — enough time to help get a fire going.

One of the biggest questions Wenthe has run into while selling his product is, “Does it smell?”

“When I sell these at farmers markets, I bring this tub of them and let people smell it for themselves,” he said.

The droppings do not have a distinct scent; at most they smell like wet grass. Wenthe finds that it has been easier to sell the product at farmers markets because he is able to demonstrate it.

When dealing with droppings as his part-time occupation, Wenthe said he can’t take any of his business too seriously. He understands that it can be a novelty product and even uses a Sasquatch in some of his advertising.

Despite the goofy nature of his business, Wenthe is very serious when it comes to dealing with moose.

“I have a lot of respect for those animals,” he said. “I just try to give them their space.”

He once came upon a moose in 2009, before starting his business, and was able to get away from it by hiding behind a tree.

Wenthe’s Wild Tinder droppings are sold in tin boxes of six, which cost $8 apiece. As he continues to sell his product, Wenthe plans on adding a “magnum” box with larger pieces of moose scat and fire starter pine cones.

Wenthe said there is only one other business in the U.S. like his also selling moose scat, located in New Hampshire. However, that business also sells the pieces as jewelry, which he has no plans to do.

For more information on Wild Tinder, visit http://www.wildtinder.com/index.html or contact Wenthe at Mooseman@wildtinder.com. The products can be found at the website or at a few local businesses, such as Timber Trails and the Chico gift shop.

Category: