Horny Moose

Moose Standing in WaterFour days into this hunt and it was clear that the elk never got an invitation to the party. With nearly fifty daylight hours invested in the effort we had not seen an elk, heard a bugle or even encountered a fresh elk track. By now we all understood and most of us were just going through the motions and riding it out until we could pack out for home.

On this day, the only diversion from the monotony of looking for elk that were not there had been a lusting and love crazed bull moose that mistook our horses for loose women. I had messed with him, moaning cow breeding calls and the challenge grunts of another bull until he got so close that I could have spit on him. I lost my nerve and got human looking and sounding real fast, but he wouldn’t take the hint and decided that if no slutty cows were around to tend to his needs, then I would have to do. I had to back down the trail with my rifle up and the safety off, yelling threats and insults before he decided it was a bad idea.

A couple of hours later, we were sitting under a Ponderosa pine eating lunch and waiting for a non-existent elk to wander by when I heard my guide’s low voice slipping past the nap I was working on.

“A few years back I was guiding in Wyoming (where, by the way, they actually have elk) and we were sitting under a tree on top of the hill, much like this. I heard a ruckus from down where we had tied up the horses that was sounding pretty loud and panicked. I figured a grizzly bear was messing with them and got pretty upset because it was a long way to walk back to camp. It also occurred to me that my boss was a prick who would probably make me pay for the horses if a bear ate them or chased them off. I grabbed my binoculars and climbed to the top of a rock pile to see if I could locate them and maybe fire a warning shot at the bear.”

“There was a big bull moose; the best I had ever seen in five years of guiding in that drainage, and he was courting one of the hunters’ tied up horses. It didn’t seem to matter that it was a gelding male, this moose had made his choice and no force on earth was going to stop him from ‘getting some.’ He tried to mount the horse, which was going crazy, yanking on the hitching rope so hard I thought he would uproot the tree. The other horses were also yanking and bucking, but I swear it was with laughter. As the moose finally managed to get one front leg on each side of the saddle and prepared to mount up, the horse reared up and kicked with both back legs so hard the moose lifted off the ground and then fell over backwards. It had to break some ribs, but the bull just stood up and went back for more. The panicked horse kept kicking and the moose kept trying.

“By now my hunters had both joined me on top of that little rock pile. One was howling with laughter, but the one riding that horse started to panic. I might have messed with him a little about the financial responsibility if a horse was raped while in his possession. It got even worse when I told him that the bull probably smelled the elk in rut scent he had put on his boots that morning and that the moose would no doubt trail the scent to the source after he finished with the horses.

“I don’t know if the horse finally was just too damn tired to resist, or maybe he decided he liked it. But he calmed down and after a while the bull seemed happy and satisfied. He wandered off, looking content and leaving the horse standing at the tree, his sides heaving.

“I went back later during the moose season to look for him, but I never laid eyes on that bull again. It was hard to pin down exactly why, but that damn horse was never right again, either.”

I thought of my own horse tied to a tree, just a mile from where I had revved up the rut crazed bull and I chuckled. He was a skittish, lazy, stubborn and mean beast that the outfitter had no doubt bought cheap and worked too hard. I like horses and generally get along pretty well on back country hunts, but I just never could warm up to this one. We had battled for this entire trip and I detested that horse almost as much as the lying, cheating outfitter who owned him. I laughed at the thought of “my moose” forcing himself on that horse and thought that perhaps it would be poetic justice if he did. That damn horse must have read my thoughts because a couple of hours later as we were starting back to camp and dreading yet another meal from the worst camp cook I have encountered in thirty years of wandering the back country, he found a reason to buck me off and step on my already damaged carcass.

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