It’s pretty obvious what’s going on in this picture. My young guide is roping up a moose so we can drag it out of the beaver pond. The world’s biggest deer, the one some irreverent types call a “swamp donkey,” has a habit of expiring in water. Most folks, even first-time moose hunters, know they shouldn’t shoot a bull “in” the drink, but these big deer live and forage so commonly near water that hunters often find themselves with some 1,000 pounds of North America’s most delectable meat lying inert in amphibious circumstances.
This bull came to me on the last day of a long hunt in British Columbia, a gift, as Nature’s abundance always is. It would have been better if the bull had appeared deep in the dry woods, but in the final analysis it may be as Native American’s often said: the animal “gifts” himself to us so that we may live, sharing in that elemental, infinite cycle of life supporting life.
We can and should hunt hard, work, strive, try, adapt and use our best woodsmanship, but when that doesn’t work, well, never look a gift moose in the mouth. We saw this bull as we were hiking to an overlook. One minute there were trees and rain falling in the pond — the next instant there was a dark, brown, wet, very large, very close moose. Alas, after I hit him, he expired in the water instead of the woods. Fortunately, the main camp was just a mile away. In short order we had horses, waders and three muscular young assistant guides on hand. That made recovery rather easy. Still, it took five of us plus the horse to roll that big bull onto shore. The meat, as always, was incredible. I’d swim for moose meat any day. But it’s even more fun taking pictures while others do it.