Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My? first moose hunt

                                  My?  first moose hunt.
  Moose season opened up in one section of the river the first of October and at another section on the 15th of October and up on the Montreal weather can be quite fickle. The last customer had just left from the first hunt and we had 2 days to hunt, dad said lets go. So up the Montreal north of the Cow River. The land there was quite level but it was like walking through almost like the game of "pick up sticks" A large forest fire had gone through there about 15 years before all the way over to Chapleu area. The trees were killed by the fire and then mother nature did her part and the dead trees fell helter skelter. The new pine trees were about 2 to 3 foot tall so that you could see over them. The morning was bright and clear with about 5 inches of snow on the ground. After about 3 hours of walking slipping, sliding, falling over all of the dead falls our legs were killing us and we took a rest on the edge of some little lake about a 1/2 mile from the Montreal river. We were eating a sandwich when a bull moose walked out on the other side and started munching on whatever they eat. Dad said you shoot him. Now I did not have a rifle but right after WW11 a lot of army surplus guns were available and dad had picked up a British 303 with several boxes of surplus ammo all for only $15.95 including postage. The date on the ammo showed it was manufactured sometime in the early 1930's. The moose was about 150 yds and in the open. I just sat there  brought up my knees and rested  my elbows on them and shot. Dad was watching through the scope. He said you missed, shoot higher I did and missed again. About then the moose was getting ready to leave so dad shot and got him with one shot. He looked at me with a big smile and said that is how you do it.  I said I was aiming about a foot over his head. Dad said the bullets were landing in the water about half way to him.Later on we would discover that the ammo was not any good. There was no more discussion as we had work to do. It was a young bull and had fallen just into the water. We dressed and quartered and went about 50 feet and said we can't do this. With the extra weight of 50 to a hundred pounds and the slippery snow it just didn't work. Dad said you're younger run down to Indian river and grab the chain saw. I said yes sir and was gone probably took about an hour and when I got back I just started cutting a trail back to dad and soon had the logs cut so that we didn't have to step climb over them and it was a lot easier. We made three trips and by the last trip in the afternoon it was up to at least 75 degrees and the black flies were out with a vengence, just like in the spring BUT they were MAD. We didn't have anything to help us keep off the flies and it was miserable. It was hot, everytime you inhaled you also got a couple of flies, we were dressed for the snow. I was wearing a white sweatshirt and it soon was red from my blood and from the meat I was carrying. Dad wasn't in much better shape but we doggedly kept at it until we got all in the boat and out to the middle of the river, away from the flies. If you haven't experienced black flies you haven't lived. They like to burrow in under the edge of socks, belts, hats, collars and bite. Some people seem to be almost allergic to them and really swell up. We were really bushed, very wet cold and we had a good two hours to go to the lodge . We decided to spend the night at Indian River cabin. WE had lots of water (whole river) and a lot of meat. I took my sweat shirt and jacket and rinsed them out in the river as my dad did his shirt also. We left the meat in the boat and hoped there was not a hungry bear around. If a bear had taken the meat in the night we would not have heard it, we slept very soundly. In fact we didn't wake up until about 8 in the morning so we slept probably 10 hours. We fried up some moose meat and made some coffee did dishes and made sure there was nothing to bring in any bears and left in the RAIN and in the 40 degree range. Saying as we went south, IT IS GOING TO WARM UP!, but it didn't. WE did wrap some plastic around us and kept on going down river to mama. Because new hunters were due in on the morning train and we were going to be late, real late.
  I don't think she was happy to see us, in our condition. She said you guys are filthy and stink. We didn't think we stunk to much. Probably because that wet moose did  smell, a lot like a wet horse, if you know what I mean. She made us take off our clothes out side on the steps and then berated us for making her more washing to do. So we got on some clean clothes and then went in and took our showers and mingled with some of the new guests. Bill and one of his sons Johnny, a couple of the guides had come in on the same train, brought up the meat and started butchering and packaging it.
  We had a pleasent afternoon when all of a sudden it dawned on dad we were short a guide for in the morning. About that time the phone rang and it was the guide that was supposed to be there. I think his name was Johnny, caling collect, also but he had a big problem, he had gotten drunk and was thrown off of a train in British Columbia and didn't have any money to get back to Sault St. Marie, Ontario.
 The 2 men I was going to take hunting wanted to go up in the same area dad and I'd just been to. Dad and Bill convinced them that, that area had been pretty well trampled so I was to take them above 10 mile falls.
 I call this one a moose hunt to remember!!!
      I was with two guests up at the chain of lakes above The Ten Mile Falls. (The guide who was supposed to take them had not shown up and Bill Roach told dad that he thought I could handle it) Moose season was in full swing and they wanted to go out in the bush and get their moose using a canoe and all that other stuff. Early in the morning (still very dark) we motored up to the Ten Mi Falls and we climbed up to the Chain Lks and a canoe we had up there. One man had been in a canoe and the other hadn't so he sat in the middle and I sat in the stern.
 We went up two or three portages and just paddling along against the current when there appeared before us two moose a big old cow of about 600 to 700 # and a yearling calf of about 300 to 400 pounds. Both were in season and they said they wanted them. I got the canoe turned sideways and they started shooting. Our canoe was a lot like a warship, when one of them shot the canoe would rock and the other one would shoot and it would rock it again. I do not remember how many times they shot but they did get both of the moose and they were on dry ground.
 Now remember we were in a aluminum canoe about a 16 footer (an aluminum canoe was there, even if they were heavier, because the bears and porcupines did too much damage to the canvas canoes) and really not a lot of extra room with us in there. I weighed in at a good 200 pounds and I imagine they both weighed about a 150 to 170 # which is a total of over 500 pounds. Now of course they did get rid of some lead when they shot the moose but it was going to be quite a load for the canoe.
 Weather wise as I remember it was pretty nice no rain or snow, and these were relatively small lakes of maybe 40 to 100 acres in size and no wind that day. So I got busy field dressing and what we called quartering up the moose so that we could load it in the canoe. Also I was thinking to myself, how come this is not fun? The second day in a row and it is all work! Now we did have some cheesecloth to put some of the meat in, so that helped a lot. Again the axe came into use for cutting bones and etc. Also my knife was very sharp and I did have a little whetstone if needed. Thankfully there were no horns so we did not have to worry about them. (Horns and head combined could be upwards of 100 awkward pounds. The neck alone on a big bull was around 80#) To say the canoe was over loaded is putting it mildly. The gunnel's were only 1 1/2 or maybe 2 inches above the water. Any waves at all would have come over into the canoe. If you rocked it some water would also come in.
 The hunters were mortified and realized that we could turn over very easy but neither one wanted to swim beside the canoe. We made it to the first portage and proceeded to start carrying the supplies and the meat over to the next lake. Not too far maybe 100 feet but it was a lot of mud on the other end. It probably took about an hour maybe an hour and a half because we had to reload the canoe but to do that we had to wade out in the muddy lake quite aways where it was deep enough to float with the big load. In just a few minutes of paddling and it was time for the next portage. So we unloaded and carried and then we reloaded at the next lake. This was an easy portage but it still took quite a long time as I was doing most of it myself. At the other end of this lake was our last portage as we could carry everything down to the Montreal River and the power boat.
This portage was all down hill and to me was really a hard one. It is always harder to walk downhill, with a load on your back.  I also had to bring out the canoe as it was not going to be used any more this season, also it really needed to be cleaned out real good to keep the bears from it.
 When I went back to get the canoe I figured the hunters would load the boat but they didn't. So I put most of the meat back in the canoe and it floated real good with out us in it, and proceeded to go back down stream at a reduced rate of speed, towing the canoe. About a half hour down stream I met dad coming up he was just checking out things and we all were happy campers to see him. He took the hunters and their personal equipment and quickly was out of sight as they sped to the lodge. A couple hours or so behind them and it was pitch dark, I showed up, and we still had to get the meat up the hill and into the cooler BUT I had help. I was covered with mud, blood and whatever else so I wanted to clean up and I was hungry as the hunters ate all of the packed lunch while I was carrying at one of the portages.
 I cannot believe all of the work we used to do just so some people could have fun, when I was young and foolish now I'm just old and foolish .
 After all of the hunters had gone home dad said "you still want a moose?". I said no not unless it fell into the boat all wrapped and frozen, he just laughed.
  That kind of life is now a thing of the past. Very few people will ever get to do some of those things nowdays. At the time of course I also thought it would never end, but it did.
 Dad has passed on and is now up in the great hunting and fishing land in the sky. Mother is still alive, quite healthy but suffering from Alzheimer's. Some days she brightens up when I mention something from the past but usually there is no recollection and that is so sad.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Another good story dad! Keep em coming! Love,Kitt