The lovesick moose comes courting

Published: 10/25/2007 12:14 AM

I was recently reminded to share this tale with you after a friend told me he was going to give me a sizable chunk of moose meat for my freezer.

The late Officer Connor died a number of years ago, but his misadventures afield have lived on.

Connor was a retired Chicago police officer who marched to his own tune back in the 1950s and early '60s. He and my father were always fishing and hunting together.

Connor had saved enough dollars so he could go moose hunting in Maine. He figured that by staying in the good old U.S., he wouldn't have to endure the aggravation of trying to cross over from a Canadian hunt with a big critter strapped to the top of his treasured Nash Ambassador.

My father opted not to make the trip with Connor for fear of winding up in some small-town jail because of Connor's errant behavior.

Armed with an old WWII Enfield, .303 rifle and a pocketful of surplus rounds, Connor parked himself on the edge of a swamp, supposedly known to be a watering spot for the local moose population.

One word comes to mind to describe Connor's woodsy behavior -- unorthodox. One does not use a decoy when one hunts those animals. A skilled guide or moose hunter uses a large funnel-shaped call, either homemade or commercially made, to bring in a bull moose eager to meet the female sounding the call for companionship.

Connor set up a very good wooden likeness of a female buffalo on the ground -- except that it was more than half the size of a lifelike critter.

Hidden by a stand of birch trees, Connor started bellowing sounds that would have normally emptied the woods of any animals. A half-hour passed and he became frustrated, thinking that maybe he should do something different. That's when he heard noises coming from nearby branches, and lo and behold, a bull moose walks out of the woods and over to the buffalo decoy.

Connor raised his trusty, old rifle to his shoulder and started to take aim.

The moose sniffed the decoy, walked around it three times, and sniffed it again. For whatever reason, Connor chose to wait a few seconds. And then the young bull moose did something that is very common during the rut (mating season). It assumed the position in order to ensure the future of its bloodline.

Connor stood there aghast, not believing what he was watching. He clicked the safety back on, sat down and just shook his head while the bull got acquainted with the buffalo decoy.

When he got back home, he related the experience to my father, who asked him: Why he didn't shoot?

"Irv, I didn't have the heart to interrupt the poor beast in his moment of glory," he lamented. "After all that big bugger was love struck, and who am I to deny moments of pleasure, artificial as they were?"