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Unexpectedly Scoring A Big, Snorting Bull

Patrick Lachance

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      JULY 31 1975      v05 n12 p07  
One autumn afternoon about October in 1971, my two brothers, William and Isadore and I decided to relax after cutting and hauling loads of wood and take a drive west of out reserve. We brought our rifles along in case we saw wild game of some sort.

We are Treaty Indians which means we can hunt wild game anywhere, anytime as long as it's on Crown land. We live on the Big River Reserve which is located about ninety miles northwest of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. One can pass through the reserve by turning off highway 55 in Debden and following a grid road which leads, to Leoville about forty miles west about three miles west of the reserve along this road, there is a fairly steep ravine with a flood plain about two hundred years wide and medium sire lakes could also be seen on both sides of the road.

As we were cruising downslope of the ravine, a hung looking bull moose unexpectedly caught our attention standing on the southern edge of the Oxbow Lake to our right which is about a couple hundred yards away. We advised Isadore, our kid brother, to keep on driving slowly until a ground moraine came between us and the moose. William and I jumped off with our 30-30 rifles and ran back quietly along the ditch. The moose was still standing where we first saw it and appeared to be listening.  We both took careful aim and fired simultaneously. The moose leaped around and disappeared into the brush on the western side of the lake before we had another chance to shoot at it. We then raced to the spot to investigate. We could see traces of blood beside the running tracks. William and I quickly agreed that he would track the animal while I would return to the road.

When I reached Isadore, I told him to continue driving uphill because mid-way on the three hundred-yard upslope there is a passable trail branching north which we followed. About half a mile along the way, I got off and told Isadore to continue driving another quarter mile where the trail joined the valley of the continuous ravine. I told him to go and wait around with his 22-repeater rifle in case the wounded moose was still running northward. I started to walk downslope along an old stream channel about fifty yards and decided to wait around the sloped, brushy forest.
Suddenly, I heard three successive shots from Isadore's direction. I waited and listened for another few minutes and nothing happened. I decided to return to. the trail to rejoin Isadore. However, when I reached the parked pickup, there was no sign of him.

I then decided to keep on walking further northwest along the trail. I walked over a fairly steep ridge between that valley and was not walking southeast when I could hear distant running-like hoof beats coming from the southerly direction.

I froze and listened. The hoof beats came louder and louder and so were my heart beats. All of a sudden from out of the brush towards my right about 30 yards away emerged a huge bull elk running at full speed. I swung my rifle toward its direction and fired. As if a quarterback was trying to elude an offensive tackle, the elk leaped to its left and, within seconds disappeared into the trees. I was too immobilized to attempt to take another shot but my ears were still functioning. I could still hear the elk's hoof beats now turning back southward, then east and finally, north again. Again the bull elk emerged across the narrow valley and was now running in the open along the slope. I fired at it again and missed. I reloaded and took a super cool aim just as the elk was about to again disappear - it had to be now or never! Band! The four-legged creature seemed to have been struck by a load of dynamite. Down it went, sliding on its back downslope, his huge antlers piercing through the ground where it came to rest.

I walked over slowly to admire the beautiful beast unbelieving. I stood them a few moments wishing someone was also there to share my sense of pleasure.

I then started to walk south hoping to meet one of my brothers to show off my prim. I met William after what seemed like hours and he asked me if I had seen anything. I told him, without losing my cool, that I had just shot a deer. Then together we walked to where the animal had fallen. As we approached the majestic creature, William's eyes nearly popped out of their sockets.

"Holy smokes!" he cried. "That's an elk!"

I beamed with inflated pride. I had a right to be. It had been the first time I had ever laid eyes on a live elk, had shot it, and it was all mine. It was almost too good to be true.

William and I walked to where the truck was parked. Isadore was already there. He said he had seen the bull moose, had shot at it three times and ran out of shells.

The moose had run south again into the thick brush amongst the trees. He said he could hear snort-like noises, where the moose had disappeared but was scared to go and investigate as he had no more ammunition. The three of us-then went to search but were unsuccessful in locating the moose as it was now getting to be dark. We decided to come the following day as the meat wouldn't spoil during the cool autumn night should the moose happen to die.

We then drove to where the elk had fallen. Isadore was just as pleasantly surprised to see the elk, although we told him about the 'truth'. It was quite an effort to unground the elk's antlers. We dragged the whole animal into the pickup as Isadore just backed alongside of it.

We came back the following morning along with Chop-Chop, Isadore's black dog, to search for the moose. However, we didn't immediately begin our search as William had the strong urge of hunting some more. We drove past the area where I had shot the elk to about a mile north along the trail where a gas pipeline had recently been cleared from west to east. William followed the pipeline westward while I went east. Isadore remained in the truck keeping Chop-Chop company.

I wandered around north of the pipeline and couldn't see any tracks or signs of wild animals. About an hour elapsed when I heard two successive shots from William's direction and another shot a few moments later. I then decided to return to the truck to wait with Isadore.

William appeared in the distance along the pipeline minutes later. As he approached nearer we could see his teeth flashing with a smile, a mile wide. He told us he too had just shot a bull elk. He said he was about to turn back along the river when towards the east amongst the pine trees came running a bull elk zig-zagging its head left and right as if was following a moose or an elk trail. He said he just waited behind a tree until the elk was about thirty yards away then he gave it a blast. The elk wheeled around but received another blast. It kept on running about another fifty yards and dropped. William said he then went to finish it off.

After William had related his story, we drove along the pipeline and reached the wild creature after having climbed and rolled down a number of steep hills along the pipeline. The elk laid amongst sparsely spaced pine trees and there was lots of room to back the pickup so we could drag the whole animal into the truck.

Now it was time to try to locate the moose. We drove to where Isadore had last seen it disappear. Chop-Chop just did some sniffing and walked over to where the moose had fallen as if he knew the moose had been lying there all night. It was a huge bull. It took us a good hour using a chain-saw and an axe to make a clearing toward it for the pickup. Like the two previous elks we dragged the whole moose into the truck but not without backbreaking effort.

We then drove home repeating to ourselves what had transpired during the past twenty-four hours as hunters usually do. We agreed we should each claim a bull. William and I naturally claimed the bull elks while Isadore claimed the bull moose.

I often muse over this memorable experience and I have since then done many a hunting expedition but none have yet been as easy and psychologically fulfilling in a big game hunting sense than what I like to remember as the day we unexpectedly scored the big, snorting bulls.