Saturday, February 19, 2011
Story 3: Author Gary Richardson, A Geriatric Moose Hunt
A GERIATRIC MOOSE HUNT
For a number of years recently, the State of New Hampshire has held a moose hunt. The reasons offered by the state included one that said automobile accidents involving moose were on the rise and another stated
that the moose population was reaching a level that required a culling of the herd. In truth, it was probably due to some sharp witted bureaucrat seeing a ~moosehunt as a means of generating more income for the state's coffers.
Regardless of the motive, a lottery was established whereby would-be hunters could remit ten dollars and get their names entered into a pot from which a given number of names would be drawn depending on the number of moose permit's the Fish and Game Department decided to release. Of course, the number of permits to be issued would be based on scientific data gleaned throughout the year by biologists. If selected, a hunter then must fork over some more money for a special moose permit.
In 2009 a former Fish and Game biologist named Carl had his name drawn for that year's hunt. He was 81 years old and affiicted with back and knee problems. When the season opened, Carl was hospitalized and thus unable to participate in the hunt so Fish and Game extended his permit to the 2010 season. Now 82, Carl is using two canes in order to get around but not to worry. New Hampshire requires permitees to hunt with a partner so Carl called his 80 year-old friend Waldo to accompany him on the hunt. Waldo, who happens to be in pretty good physical shape, readily agreed. Prior to the season, which takes place in October, Carl and Waldo spent many hours scouting the area in which they were assigned to hunt. In spite of his physical short-comings, Carl knows just what he is doing in the woods and what to look for when scouting a hunting area.
Finally opening day arrived and rising at around 4:30 am the hunters to.ok off in Carl's Suburu station wagon. At some point while riding slowly along an old logging road Carl stopped the car. "Waldo," he asked, "what's that black thing over there to our left?" Waldo's reply, "looks like a stump to me." Carl," Waldo, get out and load the rifle, and put the scope on it.
When it moves, shoot it."
Waldo got out and did as he was told. And it did move and he did shoot it and the moose went down in a heap. Now what? Carl got out of the car, picked up his 2 canes and the two of them hobbled over to the spot where the moose, a young bull was laying. "Now, Waldo, watch his eyes and if they blink shoot him again" Carl warned. They blinked and Waldo shot and the moose was ready to be field dressed. Waldo,s first shot was a gut shot that failed to kill the moose instantly but the second shot did him in.
'Carl deftly field dressed the animal with some help from Waldo and then the problem of how these two old men were going to get that 425 pound moose to the car arose. As luck would have it, they had met a truck on their way to where the moose had been shot and those hunters must have heard Waldo's shots so they came back up the road to the car. They had an atv in their truck which they quickly unloaded and used it to effortlessly drag the moose to the road. Talk about good fortune. Somehow, they got word to Waldo's son, Bob, who eventually showed up with Waldo's truck and a snowmobile trailer. With the moose loaded they then went to a checking station where it was weighed and inspected by biologists.
Following the check-in they went to Carl's home-in Colebrook and proceeded to butcher the carcass and take care of the meat. This is no easy process for two 80 year-oIds but Carl is an expert. The hide was removed and then the meat was cut into steaks, chops, roasts and whatever. Waldo later told me how amazed he had been at Carl's ability. He was even going to grind some for sausage. It was past midnight before Waldo saw his bed that night.
Upon hearing of their success, I called Waldo to congratulate him. He gave me a play-by-play account of their day which I have tried to portray as accurately as my memory will allow. To say that he was excited would be a -severe understatement. The only downside to the whole experience was, in his words, "Honeybunch wasn't there to enjoy the moment". Honeybunch was his wife, Esther, who had passed away just a few weeks earlier.
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