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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Oh, Canada! In Search of Moose Kebabs!

In Search of Moose Kebabs!
 
 Joe, calling moose...
 
Day Two: No Más (No Moose)
Up and out by 6:30a.m. in the drizzle, my Hello Kitty Rifle pendant on for luck...  but no moose. L

At noon, after a fruitless morning of moose pursuit in the rain (which made hunting seem pointless), Dan and I drove into Vanderhoof, for what turned out to be 4 stupid hours, to try to find an internet connection, and at least Facebook message with our inn-sitter long enough to give him an emergency contact number- our guide's wife's home number, Far, Far Away in Quesnel. Being totally "off the grid" sounds just grand- so relaxing!- unless you have a business to run (or try to run), from afar, and can't get in touch with anyone! That's when being "off the grid" becomes an angst-filled, nerve-wracking mess! After a miserable experience with the clueless, lip-pierced, kiddie nitwits at Tim Hortons, the Canadian version of Dunkin’ Donuts which has Really Bad Food, but which “everyone” in the rural "off the grid" area surrounding Vanderhoof supposedly uses as their office, we finally got our Nexus7 connected at A&W (which, sadly, also has Really Bad Food), and feverishly tried to respond to our inn-sitter's many issues. We gave him Joe's wife's phone number for emergencies, but we also prayed he wouldn't have to use it, as we had no idea if we’d ever actually get the message; Joe basically talked to his wife once a day IF we found ourselves up on a hill somewhere and his phone rang! We had heard a number of stories about the local Indians from Joe, but had no idea if any of them were true, as several ugly comments had already proved to us that he was definitely a racist- and spending 13+ hours a day in a vehicle with a racist (who won't shut up about it, even when politely and repeatedly asked to change the subject...) isn't the most amusing thing in the world... While we saw many obviously prosperous, upscale, and middle-income Indian families shopping in Vanderhoof, over our coffee at A&W we also saw a drunk, middle aged Indian woman (in other words, she was my age…), with stringy hair and rotten and missing teeth, yelling in loud and incoherent bursts, sitting with a staggeringly drunk man who kept swiveling around and grinning at us and into space... It was truly way Beyond sad… Joe also told us that Canadian mining companies are legally bound to have at least a 10% Indian workforce, but since many of the Indians have figured out how to effectively milk the system (as many people have figured out how to do in the USA...), they don’t turn up for work after two days, knowing the companies will keep them on the books and pay them anyway- and just write it off as a “business expense” the way you’d write off Mafia protection money payments as “security”... No clue if it's true on any level or not...
I got a couple of odd looks at Tim Horton’s, probably due to my totally matching camo outfit: my Real Tree hunting bibs & matching jacket, set off by my Real Tree/Pink rhinestone/Hello Kitty-encrusted handbag, and dark green, embroidered-logo Cabela’s ball cap, augmented by Dan’s skinning knife in its hand-tooled sheath, hanging off my silver Michael Kors belt. LOL We bought cigarettes (finally finding some almost normal sized and tasting USA Pall Mall Blues instead of the super-strong and ridiculously short Canadian cigarettes that are often the only thing you can buy-  apparently because Canadian cigarettes are priced by the nicotine content, making Lights cheaper, so no one wants to sell them!), and a bottle of tonic for our AbFab Saskatoon Lucky Bastard Gin; we couldn’t get wine or Yukon Jack (which actually has its own Wikipedia listing, LOL, and is the 100-proof whisky-honey "Black Sheep of Canadian Liquors" of which Dan has extolled the virtues of to me...), as it was Sunday and the liquor stores were closed and we couldn’t find Vanderhoof's “wine and beer store”...
And then it was back to moose hunting. It had thankfully stopped raining, and Joe drove us up and down the logging roads until dark yet again, but to no avail. L
 Dan, listening for moose...
 
"Who's gonna decorate all the Christmas trees?" :-)

 A lake missing it's moose...

We got back at camp at dark and enjoyed a couple of delightful Lucky Bastard gin and tonics in the warmth of the wood stove, and then Celine’s lasagna dinner, followed by chocolate cake. Dinner conversation was Mike telling urinal and fart jokes, followed by an odd and long-winded (pun intended) explanation of how intimidated men (or at least he) get in public restrooms, how they try to stand far away from each other (seriously- women do NOT have this problem!), and how much he HATES public restrooms. The other hunter wife was as mystified as I; neither of us knew Any of these Serious Testosterone Issues- that, to the best of our knowledge, our husbands don't have. LOL. My, how travel does broaden one's horizons!
I managed to make everyone laugh wandering around the cabin in my 6” spike camo heels- (thank you, eBay!)- which was basically their purpose! J
And then to bed in our zip-together sleeping bags… But sex? With those Literally paper-thin walls? Not happening. L

Day Three: Moose Tracks and Moose Bedrooms

Today we saw tracks- lots and lots of fresh tracks. Big hoof prints, little hoof prints, older tracks full of last night’s rain, and newer tracks in the mud. Lots and lots of moose shoes, up and down the roads, over hill and dale, but no moose in them thar shoes... Celine gave us a thermos of coffee to go along with the packed lunch, candy bars, and baggies of trail-mix, so at least we had something to do to kill time... 

My feeling (based on everything I’d learned about moose hunting in the previous 36 hours) was that it was Way too warm for the moose to go into rut, and that’s what we needed them to do to get them out where we might be able to shoot them in daylight. And that moose move at night, so dawn’s early light or late dusk is probably the only time you’ll see them, if they're not actively rutting. And that, unlike elk, moose have no method to their madness, so moose hunting is basically a giant, haphazard crap shoot, in which you drive or walk around for hours, day after day, hoping to stumble upon them, if calling them out doesn’t work. We need them rutting, head-butting in a frenzy in the middle of the road, oblivious to all around them, and when it’s 80-degrees and up in the sun, that’s just not gonna happen. There’s been nothing even Close to a frost so far, the trees have only just begun to turn yellow, and if I can stand outside in a cotton shirt at 6:30a.m., it is obviously Way too warm for the rut... L

I start out our hunting days dressed Really warm, and for sitting in the truck with the windows open I am perfectly attired. But after a nice, long walk in the woods carrying my rifle, I am Way over-dressed and sweating, and start to peel off layers the minute we return to the truck(right after I pee, bracing myself on the fender of the truck, as Dan & Joe stare off into space LOL); at one point I joke that I need to write a song called Hunting Makes Her Clothes Fall Off…
Had our lunch of yummy salmon sandwiches at a beautiful spot on Frasier River, at someone’s fishing camp that not only has a cute outhouse with a crescent moon carved into the door, but a sauna, too! I Heartily Approve of the Canadian penchant for building a Finnish-style sauna everywhere they go!  
A river, badly in need of its moose...

We also had One Helluva Hike (wherein I actually, and embarrassingly, let Dan carry my rifle, so I could literally crawl up the hill, hand over hand, using a tree branch to brace myself, like an old German lady in the alps with her walking stick- all I needed to complete the picture was my Trachten Dress…), and walked a marshy swamp (also not the easiest thing to do, even a flat swamp), discovering a two-room moose bedroom in the tall grass. I found a lovely salmon-colored stone which made me dream of my home in Jerusalem, Israel, and I tucked it into my pocket hoping it would bring us luck… But we found no moose. L
 A marsh, missing its moose...


  Hubby Dan, wearing his lucky Army hat...

 Elisse, doing Glamo Camo...

Moose calling in the marsh! ("Here, moosey, moosey, moosey..." LOL)
 
We did see a small bear, and I got some photos of it frolicking up on the mountain; we even discussed adding on a bear tag (which is the only one that makes sense, as elk or deer aren’t happening right now, either), but the truth is that bear meat thrills neither one of us, and we are hunting for meat, not for pelts or taxidermy trophies.
 

 
Joe could have probably sold us two nice, expensive bear tags that evening had he offered them, but he didn’t seem the least bit interested in doing so- which frankly struck us as odd. We came back at dark, enjoyed our Lucky Bastard G&Ts (offering them again to Joe and Celine, but getting no takers), and then we four enjoyed Celine's nice, chicken dinner; the other couple and Mike are spending the night at the "Spike Camp". I took another wonderfully hot bath before Celine shut off the generator, and finally booted up the computer and started to write…


Day Four: Moosinations
Moosinations are when you are convinced, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that that rotted tree stump on the hill not only has horns, but it’s moving, too. I had been having Serious Moosinations for 4 days now, and I wasn't the only one: Dan was “willing” tree stumps to grow horns, and Joe was “willing” them to move! We woke up to a Real Frost, and I was over the moon: today was the day for the rut to begin, thought I! After hot coffee, sausage, and home fries, I painted my face with 4 colors of camo war paint according to Dan’s expert directions (“You forgot the smear of brown on your cheekbones and the grey stripe across your forehead”), and off we set!



The grasses were white with frost as we drove past the lake I’ve taken to calling “the photo-op lake missing its moose”, and I was Sure we were going to find that all the females had gone into heat and all the males were rutting deliriously in the middle of the roads. Not happening. We saw but a few fresh tracks late into the day, but they seemed to be mostly elk tracks- it’s almost impossible to tell them apart.
Joe called for elk (bull and female) with his elk bulb squeaker and Real Tree “shofar” (he has an elk tag…), and he called for boy and girl moose, too, pinching his nose with his hands, but still no response... L
We hiked out to a beautiful marshy area on Blue Mountain Lake, which has water lilies, mushy marsh, and tall grasses- basically all the things moose love- and saw some relatively recent moose poo (and coyote & wolf poo, filled with rose hip seeds- it apparently gives them the runs, too LOL), but still no moose. L
A gazillion things go through your head when you’re driving around for 13 hours looking for moose: I doze off and on in
the hot sun, or when Joe turns on the heater full blast, I pray silently, I listen to Dan and Joe’s stories of their hunts and adventures, chiming in occasionally with mine (which are lame by comparison), and I let my mind wander, and wander it does- from childhood, all the way through my 54 years, like a card-flipping Rolodex… 54 years?! AAAUGH!
The funniest idea I’ve come up with so far is a YouTube instructional makeup video of how to do Glamo Camo: a REAL “smoky eye” and “nude lip”, as it were- with SFC Dan doing the voice-over...
Moose Poo! They're here- somewhere!


Joe, using the birch bark moose call he fashioned then and there... 

We wound up the day trolling the logging roads again until dark in our fruitless search for Lucky Bullwinkle. Not fond of ham and cheese, I ate candy, fruit, and trail mix again (love those wasabi peas!), alternating with Pall Malls and coffee, so Celine’s dinner of meal-in-a-bag Fettuccini Alfredo (she shoved the bag at me after I complimented her on how good it was LOL) and sausage was Most welcome- I happily stuffed my fat, camo-painted face. J (Speaking of which, my face broke out today from my war paint application. (Dan told me that in the Army it made his face break out, too. LOL) Thank goodness I brought my Mario Badescu pimple drying lotion on the hunt. (!) Somehow I don’t think “Hunting Makes Her Face Breaks Out” is gonna make it into the Top 10. LOL Stood outside the cabin in the dark, looking up at a magnificent night sky ringed with black pine trees, a sky literally light with a gazillion stars… I could see my breath, which I took as a happy sign of another frost, and, hopefully, deliriously rutting moose come morning. The other couple and Mike are not back from "Spike Camp", so we all assume that the hunting is not good there, either… Our plan is to get up at 5a.m. and be back at Blue Mountain Lake before sun-up; Dan has unzipped the sleeping bags so he can actually get a decent night’s sleep; my legs hurt, and I wake up in pain and thrash about, unknowingly kick him, and keep him awake…L
Next: Moose Madness!

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