Part One was published in the Jan. 29, 2015 issue. It left the three French guys heading out on a big hunting trip. Claude and Jacques want to bag a moose, while Marcel would rather not kill anything. Look for it in the “Literature” section.
Claude was in good humour, and punching Marcel playfully in the arm, said to him, “Hey, Marcel, if you want to try out my rifle, go right ahead; you know, for old time’s sake.”
As it happened, Marcel had always been an excellent hunter, the best of the three, but about a year ago everything changed when he met up with Alicia, his girlfriend, who was a vegetarian. Marcel now abstained from consuming any kind of meat, and hunting was out of the question. It was all out of respect for sentient life, is how he explained it.
At once moose tracks appeared and the men studied them to see if they were recent or not. “I’d say they’re at least a couple of days old,” Jacques was disappointed.
The men continued on. They walked between trees piled up one above the other and over small rushing streams. Save for the sound of the odd hawk-owl, silence prevailed. The wilderness went on and on and when a gust of wind picked up it blew them all to one side. With the sun showing itself dimly from behind the clouds, suddenly it felt warmer. However, there was an eerie calm everywhere; it was as if this brush-covered no-man’s land was waiting for something to happen.
Then Claude shouted at once and pointing, “Look, moose tracks, and they’re fresh! Those hooves are perfectly pointed and they’re enormous; they definitely belong to a mature male. He’s somewhere here close.” In his high boots and red hunter’s cap Claude went straight into a spruce thicket, looking first to the left, then to the right. Rolling up a piece of birch bark into the shape of a cone, he used it to make moose calls, and then later he tried grunting. But the forest remained unmoving, as if everything living was hiding away. Flung over his shoulder was his game bag, which he hoped to soon fill. Followed closely by Jacques, Claude was confident it was just a matter of time before they would spot the animal.
Marcel trailed considerably behind; he didn’t want to be witness to the violent onslaught that was about to take place. He was now so far behind he had lost sight of his two friends. But he knew a gunshot would be coming any minute now. Closing his eyes and holding his breath he listened and waited, but nothing came. A minute passed, and then another, and still nothing. A branch snapped overhead somewhere, and then quiet once more. Marcel gave a deep sigh of relief and thought to himself, “Maybe the animal got away.”
Then suddenly to the right there came a crackling sound, followed by the rustling of leaves, then a heavy thumping on the ground. It sounded as if footsteps. Pinning himself up against a tree, hardly breathing, Marcel stood there and waited for what would come next. And suddenly, as if out of nowhere, a moose appeared before him and he was very big, the biggest he had ever seen. Amazing! Standing more than seven feet tall, he had extra-long legs, a massive body, and a very large dewlap under his chin — he was beautiful through and through, a perfect specimen. “He must weigh at least two thousand pounds!” thought Marcel.
At once a tingling sensation passed through him. He became very excited and it was not long before his hunter’s instincts all came rushing back at him — and he had no way of stopping it. He forgot all about being a vegetarian. The feeling of exhilaration started going to his head. If only he had a gun! More than anything he wanted to corner the beast, to bring him down — he wanted to feel the triumph. As he was about to call out for Claude and Jacques, at the last minute he couldn’t bring himself to do it. And suddenly the prospect of death made him feel horrible.
He shouted to the moose, “Go on, shoo! Get out of here!” Picking a rock up off the ground as hard as he could he hurled it at the animal, hitting him in the ribs. The moose kicked up both his front and hind legs, snorted, and then bolted into the bush, disappearing somewhere down into the valley. Claude and Jacques, coming up empty, called it a day.
The next morning the three French guys got an early start. As they set off into the bush, this time Claude held a double-barrelled gun cocked in his hand, while Jacques kept his rifle over his shoulder. Marcel went along but in the same capacity as the day before. Hour after hour went by, and after walking over roots and branches and under overhanging trees, to Claude’s and Jacques’ dismay, once again they had no luck.
Claude finally put it all together. He said to Marcel angrily, “It’s you who are the cause of all our problems. You’re driving all the animals away!”
The men at last decided to take down their camp and head back to town. Their trip had been a bust. Stay tuned for Part Three.