My father has hunted for as long as I can remember. This year he retired after 38 years as a fire fighter, so my husband and I were excited to organize his first fly-in hunting trip.
We have enjoyed fresh moose meat for the last three winters, so we were nearly positive it would be relatively easy to find a Yukon moose for my father to pull the trigger on. As an Ontarian , he has taken a number of deer, but never a moose; this was our top priority.
My dad took the task very seriously; he had camo boots, camo pants, a camo jacket, and a hat made of some sort of animal hide. He insisted on hunting with a century-old Lee Enfield SMLE Mark III to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War One.
He is a real traditionalist.
Me? Well, this was my first hunting trip, and to be honest my primary duty for the trip was to care for our one-and-a-half year old, who we carted along. So I came equipped with a pink down jacket, yellow rain pants, a teal raincoat, and many lightweight things to entertain a toddler in a remote location.
My husband’s equipment was somewhere between mine, and Old Faithful’s. Regardless, for the first five days we hunted in the rain, shine, snow , and wind. Each morning either my husband or I would rise too early and patrol the lake searching for moose with my dad.
Five days. Nothing.
On the fifth afternoon my husband was getting discouraged, and my dad was starting to think about ripping apart the boat motor and rebuilding it. I was feeling a little cabin fever coming on, so I convinced my husband to take out the canoe with me. With no family living in the territory we never get a chance to go out paddling together sans toddler. We left our little munchkin with Camo Gramps, and set out for a recreational paddle.
As we left the camp I said to my husband, “Are you bringing your rifle?”
“ Yeah, sure, I guess” he replied, still half asleep from a nap.
We paddled along enjoying the scenery, and soon found ourselves in these lovely little ponds along the side of the lake. My husband called for moose a few times, and of course , we heard nothing. Just when my conscience told me to turn around because I was starting to envision Camo Gramps attempting a diaper change, my husband called once more.
Immediately, I heard a sound resembling a bullfrog. I heard it, then again, and again; yet , being a novice hunter , I didn’t know what I was listening for.
I asked my husband, “Do you hear that?”
“ No,” he replied, a little snarky, wishing to return to napping.
Yet, I continued to hear this sound, and he heard nothing. Finally, we turned, paddled out from behind a landmass, and there, 800 metres across the lake, was the biggest Bull Moose I had ever seen.
Thus began our pursuit — me , in the stern , paddling, heart beating ceaselessly, and my husband watching the moose through the scope on his Weatherby .300 WSM.
While my dad has always hunted in full camo, we pursued this moose in a bright red canoe wearing orange and yellow life jackets. To him, our calls represented a breeding opportunity. To us, he represented a winter of good food for our family.
My husband shot the moose directly through his lungs, who then graciously used his last steps to walk out of the cold lake, and die peacefully in the willows.
After shouts of joy, reality set in.
It was after 3:00 p . m. We had two pocketknives with us, and no other skinning supplies. My husband set to work with these two mini-knives, and I began soloing the canoe back to Grandpa Daycare.
I arrived, burst in the door, jumped for joy, screaming, “We Shot a moose!”
At this point , I fully intended to relieve my dad of his daycare duties, but he generously offered to continue to babysit so I could skin-out the moose with my husband.
I returned to the kill site in the powerboat still wearing, pink, yellow, purple, and many other non-camo colours, and we set to work on our moose.
Suddenly, we realized this was the first time, in a very long time , we had the opportunity to spend the evening together alone.
Ever since, when we have told the story of our moose over stews, roasts, and sausages with friends. We only refer to that evening as our Yukon date night.
As for Camo Gramps, he did great; he even changed his first diaper in over 30 years .