Accidental Moose Hunt
On my way home after a hard day’s work cutting and loading a gooseneck trailer full of large poles for the ceiling of the cabin I was building, I came around the corner of an old mining trail and there, walking along the other side of the creek, was a very large bull moose.
My Mom was with me and due to fly out the next day for her home in Oregon. She hadn’t even started packing yet and we were almost 200 miles from the airport. She was excited, telling me to shoot it. I took my time pulling over, parking, looking for my rifle in the backseat, loading it. The darn bull was still there, Mom was still all for my shooting it.
A full year’s supply of meat right there on the hoof and free. Finally I couldn’t stall any more, so shot the bull. The sun hurried up and set, Mom took off back down the road in the truck to see if the neighbors, a few miles away, would give us a hand. My rifle was in the truck, and as I and the tourist that was visiting from Poland started skinning, a bear showed up in the dark. I did have my handgun, but since it was dark, no flashlight, and no idea whether it was black or grizzly bear or how large or small it was, I was sort of nervous.
Yeah, I was scared half to death, but still skinning, going around and around the bull, trying to keep its body between us and the bear. After what seemed like days but was only about an hour, Mom showed back up and the lights of the neighbors’ truck behind her was certainly a welcome sight.
By this time, the temperature had dropped below freezing by quite a bit. A bit of a breeze had started and I was freezing, partly from cold, partly from nerves and that darn bear.
We finally drove the bear off a ways, but it didn’t entirely leave and packing large chunks of raw meat through the head high brush down to the trucks in the dark was not relaxing. I thought I was lighting the trail for the guys packing meat only to see their shadows over near the pickup and realize I was lighting the trail for the bear. Another oops moment.
I gave half the moose to the neighbors for all their help, and we finally made it to my little cabin about midnight.
We made it to town in time for Mom’s flight the next day and her cool chest was packed with large chunks of fresh moose and the liver, for my Grandmother, in Oregon. The bull’s antlers measured a bit over 60 inches wide and he was very heavy bodied. He had a fat layer over his back and rump over 6 inches thick, and had not started rut yet. There was still a bit of velvet on his antlers, so he was fine eating.
My Grandmother decided moose liver was her very favorite food for breakfast. When the slices of frozen liver ran out, she told my Mom to go back and get more. Mom told her the season was over. She said a little thing like legal seasons never seemed to bother us before, why let it stop us now?
Bill wanted us to drag his old Volkswagen bus over from a cabin and claim they used to own and get it off that property. We saw the man living on the claim and said we wanted to come get it. He said fine, he was using it to store dry dogfood but would move it out. We went over one morning to see what would need done before we could pull it away.
We were in the old Ford crewcab pickup and the transmission didn’t hold too well in Park, so I slid over and held the brakes while Charlie and Kenny looked over the bus. My handgun had slid off the seat and was down near the door when the man walked down and looked me and the pickup all over. I think he was looking to see if we were armed. Charlie nor Kenny had any type of weapon. The bus had two flat tires, so they were bracing and jacking up the bus to take the tires in to repair. Kenny was using the star wrench to loosen lug nuts on the back tire while Charlie jacked up the front and used a crescent wrench to take lug nuts off with. The man, his sidekick, two strangers wearing guns, a photographer and a journalist from Europe all came running out of the house, coming down the hill toward us. I reached down and grabbed my handgun and tried to get Charlie’s attention. The men came around both ends of the bus, yelling and screaming about claim jumpers, with their guns pulled out, waving them around. The guy that lived there jumped in front of Charlie which left Charlie’s back to his young son. The other so-called tough bad man started taunting Kenny. Kenny was trying to get back to the pickup and the man opened fire between Kenny’s feet, into the rocks.
I didn’t know what to do. There were more men than I had bullets and that damn photographer was jumping around snapping pictures right in everyone’s faces. The Journalist was taping and writing notes like crazy over to one side and I pretty much blamed them for this whole incident. When the gun went off behind Charlie, he reached down and grabbed the jack out from under the bus and had it in one hand and the crescent wrench in the other, every time Rob stepped back, Charlie stepped toward him as Rob had a reputation of either belly shooting people or pistol whipping them with his handgun he wore in a specially made holster across his middle. He could shoot it without drawing it.
His hand kept hovering around the handle but if he had touched it, Charlie would have clanged the jack and crescent wrench on each side of his head.
Then Rob looked over at me in the pickup and I had the .357 magnum resting on the dash, aimed right through the windshield at the middle of his buddy Tom’s forehead. His buddy was still taunting Kenny but when he looked up and his eyes registered exactly what he was seeing, he turned white as a sheet.
I would have pulled the trigger if Kenny had cried out hurt or Charlie, either one. It could even have been from a rock chip, but I would have shot. I was afraid if I opened the door, they would all just focus on me and then I couldn’t save anyone. I would have shot Tom first, then Rob, then that damn photographer and he would have been the one I would have gone to jail for, he was unarmed except with his tongue which he kept yelling at them for more. There would have been the other two men and the Journalist and I would only have had two more bullets.
After seeing that I had a gun, Rob called off his minions and they all backed slowly up the hill. Charlie and Kenny got back in the pickup and I slowly backed down the hill, watching them and trying not to back off into the creek. Right on the dam over the creek, the pickup ran out of gas. Talk about a tense little bit while Charlie poured some gas into the tank from the spare can we had in back. The gauge didn’t work on the truck and we never left much in it as thieves in the area siphoned gas all the time. I expected rifle shots at any moment. Charlie drove from there.
I was shaking like a leaf by the time we got back to the cabin. I don’t think I have ever been that scared before. At that time, Charlie and I had been married just over two weeks.
We went down to Baker Creek and visited with the man that lived there at that time. He had a little cabin and a lovely garden and greenhouse. We were all talking about assorted stuff and I was still shaky, so told him about how close I had come to shooting as many of those people as I had bullets for. I don’t know whether or not he talked to them that evening, but about midnight that night, Tom woke up a neighbor over there and signed over everything he claimed in the area and left the State. He shot a policeman in Nevada and spent some time in jail. A real pillar of any community.