We left Deshka landing in our annual pursuit of the wiley swamp donkey. We were three souls aboard two crafts. Three hours later, we arrived in the happy hunting grounds. The first afternoon was spent setting camp and tree stands. The next day real hunting begins, in the morning we found little sign of the swamp donkey around camp. That afternoon two of us went up river to perform some mating calls. As we drifted my partner and I both nearly missed seeing a young bull standing in the river, I quickly threw the anchor. We surmised that this was a perfect forked horn. We had no shot as this moose was in the river. When the little guy realized we had him in our sights he scambled up the bank and could not get over a downed cottonwood, he ran back towards us swam down river about 40 feet to a better exit. When he got to the tree line he stopped and gave us a perfect broadside shot. I was about to pull the trigger when my partner said "let the little guy go" I concurred, this was the first legal moose I have ever passed in my hunting life. I pulled anchor and we drifted around the next corner, we anchored again and called two minutes later our little bull stuck his head out again giving us a perfect shot. Again we passed on him, I pulled anchor and he followed us down river for at least 500 yards. At any point we could have harvested him.
The next morning we decided to take our third member of the party (who had not harvested a moose since the Reagon Administration) up river to see if our suicidal little friend was still in the area. We stopped down river a bit from where we last saw the little guy and I let out a call. Immediately was answered by a deep bull grunt I said to my buddy "thats not the little bull from last night". A couple more calls and the bull showed himself a 54 inch bull with 4 brow tines on one side. We called until he was in a good spot for harvest and one 60 yard shot from the .338 win mag and he appeared stone cold dead. We had to cross a small channel to get to the moose and when we fired up the boat motor our, dead moose stood up, jumped in the river and drown. The wise words of Bushrat aka Mark Richards popped into my head "Don't panic". We Lassoed the antlers to keep him from floating down river and the after several attempts at towing the moose in the shallow channel we decided to use a comealong to winch him to dry ground. It was a steep bank so we removed meat as we pulled him out of the water. About 2/3 of the way through butchering I went to release the comealong to get another bite and it exploded turning my thumb to hamburger. I had no feeling except an intense burning with lots of blood. One of my partners suggested I needed medical attention and me being the brave soul said "I'm not leaving without the whole moose". We lost no meat due to the river or my injury and we proceeded straight to the landing.
My wife met us at the landing and took me to the ER at Mat Su. The fine folks at the hospital crocheted my thumb back together, gave me some great pain meds and effectively ended my 2011 moose season.
The moral of the story is always use leather gloves when working with a piece of SH%& comealong and watch for suicidal moose their big brother may be waiting to fill your freezer.
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