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Rocky Will Be Lonely

At 6:20 in the evening, Nathan pulled up to the place on Chena Hot Springs Road where we had agreed to meet to go moose hunting. He was running late, but I was grateful for the chance to sit quietly in my truck, listen to the news, and take a nap. It was the first still moment in an otherwise hectic day.

When he arrived, he was pulling his boat, and our plan was to drive out to the end of the road and put the boat on the river to hunt. But as he pulled up next to me, he got out of his truck with his rifle in hand, opened my passenger door, and set his rifle inside my truck. “You never know,” he said, “we could see Bullwinkle on the side of the road.” It was a joke he told several more times over the course of the evening. He got back in his truck and pulled out. I followed.

We drove up the road for maybe twenty minutes. During that time I was dutifully scanning each clearing and each slough on the left and the right of the road. At one point I thought I saw a moose standing in the middle of a slough, maybe a hundred and fifty yards off of the road, but we were going pretty fast, and I wasn’t about to stop and shoot a moose on my own. So I just drove on.

But after about a minute, Nathan pulled off the road. I pulled off with him. He walked back to my truck and said, “I think I saw something about two sloughs back. It was what I had seen as well. He jumped in with me, and we turned around and headed back. Even then I was thinking it was probably nothing, or maybe only a cow or a calf.

Sure enough, there it was. I pulled off of the narrow shoulder. He jumped out with the rifle. I grabbed my binoculars. By the time I got out and walked around the truck, he was already crouched down and looking through the rifle scope. I watched through the binoculars and waited for the bang. It was a bull alright, about 150 yards from the road. And when it saw us, it had the decency to come out of the water and walk up on to our side of the bank.

The first shot didn’t phase him; I thought Nathan had missed him altogether. But the second shot put him right down. As I watched, I couldn’t believe such a big animal went down so easily. It was four minutes after seven. We’d been driving for forty minutes, and the boat was still on the trailer. Our hunt had barely started. And just like that it was done. I simply couldn’t believe it.

Nathan gutted the animal while I marveled at its incredible size. At perhaps three or four years old, this bull was on the small side at maybe 1,200 lbs. We left it where it fell while we carried on with our plan to go out on the river. After a few hours of not seeing anything else, we returned to the carcass around 11PM and proceeded to dismantel the animal one limb at a time. We carried each leg, or “quarter,” through dense brush, high grass, fallen obstacles, and in near total darkness. At over 100 lbs. each, I felt like a murderer lugging a dead body to a shallow grave. The torso was a difficult two-man lift. Such a big thing didn’t go quickly, and it was after three AM before we were finished. 

And so Stephanie and I have spent the weekend cutting, grinding, vacuum sealing and freezing mose meat. The meat is incredibly tender and indistinguishable from the very best beef. Nathan and I are going out again tomorrow night. We’ll see if the unreal can happen again. 

Posted on Monday, September 6, 2010 at 02:43PM by Registered CommenterBrian Rozell in | Comments1 Comment

Reader Comments (1)

Sincerest Congratulations to you Brian and Nathan for so adroitly (and so economically) filling your freezer to feed your families! Well done! I've had some of Stephanie's 'moose meatloaf' and it's truly delicious. Good Job! Much love, Mom
September 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMom (Lizabeth)

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