This section is from the book "Moose-Hunting Salmon-Fishing And Other Sketches Of Sport Being The Record Of Personal Experiences Of Hunting Wild Game In Canada", by T. R. Pattillo. Also available from Amazon: Moose-Hunting, Salmon-Fishing and Other Sketches of Sport: Being the Record of Personal Experiences of Hunting Wild Game in Canada.
In March, 18 I was at Port Joli, Queens, Nova Scotia, heretofore spoken of in this volume, on my usual spring outing after geese and ducks. Besides this being the famous resort and feeding-ground of these birds, its backwoods then for miles was equally the moose yard or pasture of scores it would not be an exaggeration to say hundreds of these noble animals. The previous early autumn my business required me, in company with locaters and surveyors, not only to outline a 1000-acre lot, but also to travel through and over it. It was then we noticed what justifies me in making the statement above as to the quantity occupying those grounds. There were as sure signs of abundant occupation all over that land as one would expect to see of cows in a 10-acre pasture, that had been occupied by a half a score of them a season.
While on our way into the lot on that tramp, we sat beside a brook which crossed our path, eating lunch, when the crack of a stick called our attention in the direction from which it came, to see a bouncing big bull moose oh, how I wanted those antlers! strutting up the road as indifferent, apparently, to us (he must have known it was close season, and therefore he was safe with honest (?) sportsmen) as if we were mosquitoes.
At the time of the occurrence related here there was very deep snow, covered with a heavy crust, making extra snow-shoeing "and dog-hunting. Some of the lads, with four dogs, went in from the settlement on Monday, the day of my arrival there, and planned to stay till Saturday, but came out on Thursday at noon for teams to bring out four they had captured. One of this crew was from the house at which I stopped. He informed his father, an old moose-hunter, whose youthful fire was supposed years ago to have expired, that they saw a fresh track of a large moose, which had crossed the road a mile and a half back; that he had apparently gone only a short distance, and could be easily got. This aroused the slumbering fire, and put new energy into the old hunter. He started off, and secured the use of the dogs that the boys had from their owners, overhauled and repaired two pairs of snow-shoes, and was awaiting my return from the goose-hunt.
Scarcely did he allow me time to take tea when the proposal of our going after that moose was made. His enthusiasm aroused mine, which was further increased with the prospect of a veritable snow-shoe hunt with dogs, something I had wanted to have a share in for years; but to me there was a very serious obstacle now. This moose could only be approached on snow-shoes, and a pair had never been on my feet. To get the springhalt gait necessary for rapid striding seemed to me right then a formidable task; but the old man encouraged me by fastening them on, and helping me to travel over the crust in the fields, accompanying me, so as to teach the gait. I was conceited enough to think I proved an apt scholar, at least my companion said so. With this objection removed, the way seemed clear. He would not take a gun, but an axe, leaving all the shooting to me and my trusty Enfield, which arrangement was doomed later to cost us the carcase of an immense moose, which passed within a few feet of R., my companion, while the writer was kicking in the snow, helpless. We retired early, planning for an early start, so that four o'clock found us on the move, breakfast over, dogs fed, snow-shoes and lunches over our shoulders, gun and axe in hand, and the quick march sounded. It being frosty, we started off at a lively gait, the dogs following. The roads by which the woods were entered passed within a short distance of the home of our best and leading dog, and the thought to watch him when in that neighbourhood did not occur to us, nor was he missed from the kennel until we had proceeded half a mile or more, necessitating the return for him and consequent delay of an hour, making it broad daylight when the track we were after was reached. Here we secured on the snow-shoes, and began to follow the track. Rover, Ready,
Jenks, and Grey were the names of the dogs, the first two being much the best. We proceeded very cautiously, as the crust was so frosty and the air so still, we could not avoid making noise. The tracks occasionally showed blood; that told us the maker of them had sore feet, and justified us in the conclusion he did not go far before yarding. When 300 yards or so on these tracks, Rover, our leader, followed by Ready, threw up their heads, left the tracks, and made a straight road more to the westward. R. said to me, "Look out, they have got his scent, and have gone direct to him. Quicken your pace, so as to be as near as possible when they come to him." Scarcely had we hooped her up, and started those awkward feet of mine into a livelier gait, when we heard the dogs giving tongue, as my old hunter called it. "They have rounded him up. Hurry ! hurry ! while they hold him at bay, and get a shot." Reader, take a good look at me if you want a hearty laugh, as that word hurry started me. My feet got here, there, and everywhere, tangled in bushes, jammed between trees, pitching me now in one direction, then in another, until they assumed, or I did, a kind of ricocheting motion. " Keep clear of me, R.," I yelled, " and of my gun, for I am afraid of myself." As the dogs continued, it was evident he was still standing. Now, by the nearness of their sound, we knew he was close by, so sneaking along and peeping through the low woods, I spied him standing, Rover leading him, and Ready at his heels. Just at that instant he must have spied me, for as my rifle was raised he made a spring, and away he went, over a partially open country. We ran out of cover to watch developments, and were greeted with a sight of the lad going end over end, or, in other words, turning a somersault. R. was 40 yards or so behind me, so he was able to explain that unaccountable performance to me in this way. Rover, in chasing him, had taken hold of his muffle (nose), and thrown himself between the moose's fore legs which caused him to pitch on to his back. Ready at the same time, seizing him by the gambol or muscle of the hind leg, held him. The poor fellow lay there apparently helpless, and my trusty rifle might have kept him there; but, reader, that was not the kind of sport that pleased me, even if it was to capture a moose. I said he was helpless. When, however, he saw us approaching him, his tremendous power, for he was a large fellow, flung]Rover off him, and sent Ready with a kick 12 or 18 feet behind him. Then he sprang up and stood facing me, a picture of bold defiance. My rifle was raised, ranged for a blank shot. " Coward!" sounded in my ears. From whence came the sound? It must have been an inward consciousness that it was a shame to shoot him when he had no fair chance for his life. The word was spoken loud enough to hold my hand, and the rifle was not fired by me.