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.