A Sense of humor

Hank’s cabin – Route Bay

In the early 70’s, Eloise and I drove to Dryden to visit Hank and his wife Ora at their hunting cabin on Route Bay. It sat at the end of a long bay with a beautiful beach running the full width of the bay. It was in a very remote area with no one else living within at least thirty miles.

Hank wanted to drive us around on the old bush trails to see the area and at the same time check for moose. Just before we were to drive off a woman that Ora worked with at the mill arrived with her husband. Hank quickly advised them where we were going and invited them to join us. The truck Hank drove was an old delivery van that sat six with room in the back for hauling game (moose) back to the cabin.

All the trails we drove on were left over from woodcutters cutting pulp wood for the mill in Dryden. The trails were very rough and the woods were starting to grow back in, making passage difficult for vehicles. The van we were in was used by Hank for hunting so it went places vehicle were not suppose to go. Any brush was simply pushed aside or driven over. Young trees up to four inches were knocked down, adding a few more scratches and dents to the body of the vehicle.

Hank was driving while the male guest sat by the right front door. I was sandwiched in between them. The women were in the back seat and each sat behind their husbands.

We spent a couple of hours surveying the area and knocking down our share of trees. We had a few beers with us but the temperature kept rising and the beer quickly disappeared. I had known Hank and Ora for many years so I quickly picked up on the fact that Hank was not impressed by the man who sat beside me and talked endlessly in an effort to convince us with his outdoor knowledge and hunting experience.

At some point Hank said we would head for home to cool off and have a few more beers. The woods trail back to the cabin approached the bay from the bottom and then when it was about thirty feet from the lake it turned a sharp right and proceeded to the cabin about a thousand feet away. The brush all around us was thick so it was difficult to navigate the rough road very fast.

The trail was about twenty feet higher than the lake. As we approached the right angle turn, heading down hill, Hank started stamping his foot on the floor boards and mumbled something about the brakes not working. We missed the turn and continued downhill in the thick woods, hitting and knocking down some good sized trees with the front bumper. The women were all yelling in the back seat as they bounced around and had no idea what was happening. (Other than the fact were were off the trail and heading for the lake.)

The fellow beside me was very excited and kept asking Hank, “What’s wrong, what’s wrong?” Hank yelled back, “My brakes have failed!”

Knowing Hank as well as I did, I could see he was not in a panic and had a smirk on his face as we bounced and crashed our way down the hill, heading for the lake. It was at this point the man on my right opened the truck door and jumped into the thick woods. The next tree we passed on the right slammed the door shut and the truck left the trail and landed in the lake with a huge splash.

It was instantly apparent that the water was only two feet deep and we did not even get our feet wet. Hank swung the truck to the right and then drove along the beautiful sandy beech all the way to his dock where he easily took the ramp back up the hill and parked by the cabin. Hank and I and our wifes were having a great laugh when our former passenger walked up to the cabin. We tried not to laugh but it was difficult.

The guys wife was very unhappy with her husband and quickly pointed to her watch and said they were late and had to get going. As they got into their vehicle we could hear the wife chewing on her husband for bailing out of the truck and abandoning her to her fate.

When pressed, Hank admitted his truck brakes were fine.

A Dead Shot.

Hank had a nephew who was a good deer hunter but had never shot a moose. He lived some distance away and came to Dryden to get some advise and instructions on how to shoot a moose. Hank was happy to help and gave him some good shooting and hunting tips and made a suggestion just where to hunt.

On the last day of the hunting season the nephew showed up at Hanks cabin and admitted defeat. He had been out hunting all week long and never got a shot at a moose, even though he saw a couple. Hank agreed to go hunting with him and would try to find him a moose.

After many hours of driving up and down logging trails they finally spotted a large cow moose as she came out of the woods and stood near the edge of the road. Hank immediately stopped the truck and told the young man to open the door slowly and quietly and take the shot using the open window of the door as a gun rest.

As the young man got out of the truck he tried to load a shell into the rifle and dropped the whole box on the gravel road. As he fussed about trying to pick up the shells Hank calmly and quietly told him, “Leave the shells alone and just put one in the rifle.” As he spoke Hank opened his truck door, loaded his rifle and stood, pointing it at the moose that still remained at the side of the road. In a very quiet whisper he said, “I’ll give you the first shot and if you miss, then I will shoot.”

There was a loud bang as the nephew took his shot. Instantly the moose raced across the road and Hank fired. The moose ran up a bare hill of rock and then disappeared into the thick woods. It was all over in a few seconds.

The nephew started shouting and jumping up an down, “I shot him, I shot him,” then started running down the road to where the moose crossed. Hank got back in the truck and drove after him. The shouting and jumping was still going on when Hank checked the road and rock for signs of blood. Finally he turned and said, “If you don’t shut up and stop jumping up and down I am going to shoot YOU!”

“The moose is wounded so we have to track him and finish him off. Don’t make a sound as she could turn on us.” Ten feet into the woods Hank pointed to the body of the moose and after a quick check said, “She is dead.”

Hank sat down on a rock to have a smoke and sent the bug eyed nephew back down the road to pick up the box of spilled shells. By the time he got back Hank was busily skinning the moose. They managed to roll it over and as they were removing the last of the hide Hanks knife hit something hard. He soon dug out both rifle bullets stuck together! As they butchered the moose and hauled the pieces to the truck they came across the heart. On checking it closely they found both bullets had hit the moose in the heart!

Once they had the moose hauled home they had time to consider what happened. Hank believed the young man got off a perfect shot and hit the moose in the heart. As it bolted across the road hank shot the running moose and also shot it in the heart. The momentum of the running moose carried it ten feet into the woods where it dropped dead.

The first bullet went through the body of the moose and heart and came to a stop just under the thick hide. Hanks bullet did the same thing but hit the first bullet and caused them to stick together. It was an impressive example of excellent shooting with unusual results.

Hank kept the frozen heart in his freezer for years while the young hunter got to keep the two bullets. I had a chance to see the heart with the two holes. The nephew went home a happy hunter with a story he never tired of telling.

Moose Talk

I was in a coffee shop in Dryden, Ontario, Canada in the mid 1960’s during moose hunting season. It was about the third day of the hunt and the room was filled with many moose hunters, both local and out of towners. Many conversations were going on, the loudest from the macho men who had already shot a moose.

I had come to town to handle a couple of insurance claims for my old friend Hank, who owned and ran an Insurance Agency. Also sitting at our table were two old friends of Hank’s who were veteran moose hunters. The place was crowded so it was hard to ignore the conversations at the table next to use. Two moose hunters were loudly bragging how they had each got a moose on the second day of the hunt, and for one man it was the third moose he had shot in his life.

I could see that one of the men sitting with us was getting disgusted by the great out of town moose hunters that were bragging so loudly about their hunting prowess. He was staring at Hank who sat there silently drinking his coffee and ignoring the loud mouth.

The friend at our table spoke to Hank when there was a lull in the conversation. “Hank, did you get out hunting yet?” Hank answered in a rather bored manner and said “Yes”.

“What did you get Hank?” “I shot a large bull moose at sunrise on opening day”

It was at this point conversation stopped at the tables around us and the great hunters were staring at Hank and no doubt thinking, he doesn’t look much like a moose hunter. Hank was in his late 50″s, tall and of slight build and had been raised in Northwester Ontario. He had been hunting since his father first took him out when he was about ten years old.

With perfect timing, Hank’s friend asked another question, rather loudly. “Hank, how many moose have you shot since you started hunting?” There was a long pause, then, Hank said in a matter of fact voice, 54.

All conversation stopped and the loudest of the customers gulped down the remains of their coffee and slunk out the door with their tails between their legs.

I learned later that Hank helped his wife and children fill out their hunting licenses when they were down on their luck. He also helped needy old friends fill out their licenses because they depended on moose meat to get through the winters. The fact that Hank was an excellent shot helped.