Of Moose and Men
I was in the Anchorage office of the Statewide Investigative Unit on a Saturday, finishing up some interview transcripts and case reports – the results of investigating commercial wildlife crimes such as illegal guiding, illegal commercial fishing, and high profile crimes like Same Day Airborne. Same Day Airborne is the act of taking a big game animal on the same day you were airborne. You cannot take an animal until after 3 AM the day following the day you were airborne, on your way into your hunting location. An aircraft may not be used to spot, herd or molest big game animals. The law proscribes some severe penalties for violating the Fair Chase doctrine hunting is firmly anchored in and violations will not be tolerated and be severely dealt with. This often includes seizure and forfeiture of aircraft and all equipment used in the offense. The office across the hall was Anchorage Post where patrol officers worked when not running from complaint to complaint. Bob Beasley was the only one at post that day and he was logging in evidence from his shift.
I heard the phone ring and shortly Bob came across the hall telling me he needed help and needed it right then. He was in a hurry so I grabbed my sport coat and headed out the door with him. It was February and a fair day – about 15 degrees and in his patrol vehicle, he told me a cross country skier had just been stomped by a moose in Russian Jack Park off Bonniface Parkway. When we arrived, an Anchorage Police cruiser pulled in behind us. We saw a very large cow moose standing over a woman who was laying in a cross country ski trail, face down and not moving.
Bob grabbed his shotgun and we eased out of the truck. The moose’s ears were laid back and we could clearly see she was agitated, and as Bob and I moved closer she started to get real antsy and I saw why. There was a “calf” with her – a big calf about 600 pounds worth. I asked Bob if he could put a slug in her head and be ready to follow up with another if necessary. The Anchorage cop did not have a riot gun or rifle with his patrol rig, so he couldn’t help much. I knew I could hit the cow moose in the head, but had little faith my S&W 4006 would kill her with one shot. I told Bob it was up to him and I would cover.
I knew Bob was good with the shotgun because I had watched him in qualification rounds in the past. He aimed and let one rip and the show was on! The cow moose staggered back a little and Bob thumped her in the head with a second shot. She started to fall forward onto the downed woman and I shot the moose six quick times. It fell to the right of the downed woman, and Bob, me and the cop quickly ran to see if the skier was hurt and required an ambulance. She was OK except for some facial bruising and a little complaint of sore ribs, and the Anchorage cop hustled her to his waiting car.
But we weren’t done yet, and Bob and I looked around for the calf. It had cornered some skiers who were watching the show and now they were in a hum. We yelled at them to get their skis off in case they needed to do any ducking and dodging, and I started up the hard pack ski trail while Bob circled around in an attempt to run the calf off. We were just about on opposite sides of the calf when it dropped its head and headed straight at me at a dead run. This was starting to get serious!
I saw Bob was in danger if I shot and missed. He’d probably catch the bullet, but if I didn’t shoot, the enraged animal would have me! I screamed his name and he ducked behind a tree when that freight – train of a moose calf was little more than an arms length from me. It kept coming and I quickly double tapped it in the chest. It was dead when it brushed past me and fell in the trail.
Almost in shock, I sat down in the snow and just looked at my Smith which had just saved me from serious bodily injury or worse. Bob came walking up with a big grin on his face and said, “Those overrated 40’s really do work.” I smiled and said: “You write the report slick.”
Bob moved on to become Chief of Police in Hoonah, an Indian Village on Chichagof Island in southeast Alaska. He is now Chief of Police out in Dutch Harbor – out in Deadliest Catch country.
How did I end up as I did? Some live from cradle to grave not knowing what living and life are all about. I feel very sorry for the unaware. To live one’s life on tip toes is what I believe the good Lord intended. I have certainly been a ballerina, on my toes my whole life. The following sixty short stories, dedicated to my Mom and Dad, will explain in some amusing and some sad detail why It Takes One To Catch One.
Ah yes, life in the Last Frontier.