It is moose hunting season on the Gunflint Trail. This fall the DNR has only issued permits for the bulls—in theory there are plenty of bulls around for the mating season… I’m always glad when the moose season is over, and I don’t have to risk the scene in the Buck’s parking lot where people bring their moose to get tagged—which might remind you of the horsehead scene in the Godfather movies.
This year we have some moose hunter guests—a couple of Charlies and their friend Dan—they’ve secured 3 permits. It’s a “once in a life time “ deal for these guys—a person is only eligible for MN Moose permit once, whether or not you shoot a moose.
Personally I don’t have a moral problem with hunting. If I were to decide to go vegetarian, I should be first taking a hard look at my chicken sandwich—I like to buy the happy chickens, but I don’t always do that. I’ll wager the moose that Dan and the Charlies shot in the BWCA was a lot happier than my chickens.
I’m all for the deer hunters thinning out the herd of “invasive species” deer rodents around here…
So why do my eyes get sad whenever I talk to the Charlies about the moose? (I know they sense it, not by my words—because their stories become much softer.)
Well first off, I just like the huge animals. (A friend of mine would suggest that I find them appealing only because they are becoming rarer. Maybe, but I don’t think so. Once I hiked Isle Royale, and was pretty excited by the lucky moose sighting right off of the ferry—and then quit counting 2 hours later after spotting 28 more. Just because the population was booming at that time in that place didn’t seem to hinder their charm. The underdog status always gets to me. They are like immense nearsighted dairy cattle, and it seems like an unfair fight. Charlie told me that all you do is walk up and shoot them, one bullet, and they don’t even run, they just drop in their tracks. The trick is finding them—and hauling them out.
These men also talked about the decline of the moose population, how the DNR seems to be a little stumped, how they have all these vials and blood samples they are supposed to take….how they hope that the moose stick around. They convince me that hunting is secondary to their time in the woods—and how they had to portage and hike 20 miles with 400 pounds of moose meat (they happen to be butchers by trade, so they didn’t bring out any bones).
When I see the bulls on the Gunflint Trail these days, I give them the telekinetic message—“Run for the Hills—Run for your Life!” I’ll always have a tender spot for their big heavy Bullwinkle goofy presence. I’m worried about them, our own little polar bear species down here– and I don’t like to see them disappear, for any reason.
I like the Charlies, but I’ll be glad when moose hunting season is over.