By Mark McCallum
Excerpts taken from an article first published in the Windspeaker issue Sept. 16, 1988
Trapper Jack’s wife Helen was putting away the fried bannock she had prepared for the berry-picking trip that the family had planned for the next day. The rabbit stew dinner was done and the kids, Lena and Edward, were sitting on the sagging couch across from the kitchen table. They were laughing at an out-of-date Sears catalogue that looked like it might have been in the tiny two-room cabin since it was built years earlier.
“Hey, this one has a haircut like Uncle John,” said Edward, pointing to a man’s photo in the catalogue. Uncle John was fond of the duck-tail look made famous in the 1950s. Edward laughed and looked to his sister, who had suddenly lost interest in the catalogue.
Jack, the family’s historian and storyteller, was thoughtful as he listened to the kids play. He was preparing for the evening’s tale. The sun was setting, the kerosene lamp was ready to be lit, so with his usual flare, the Métis trapper snapped a wooden matchstick across the cabin’s wooden floor. That was the sign that everyone needed to pay attention.
“Did you want to say something,” Lena asked Jack with a playful grin. Jack attempted to look serious, but that quickly faded as a cheerful smile spread across his face, much to the delight of his daughter.
“Yes, I do,” Jack said, interrupting his son who had been amusing himself by making sounds like a duck.
“One day, a young Blood hunter named Ralph went hunting for a moose with a new rifle he got in trade for three beaver pelts.
“It’s a fine-looking shooter, a 30.30 Winchester,” said Jack. Ralph is very proud of his rifle and, as luck would have it, that day he spots a bull moose in the clearing. It’s a magnificent animal. Its antlers stretched in either direction for about four-and-a-half feet across.
‘I must have the moose and those antlers,’ Ralph told himself. “It would prove he was a worthy hunter among his family and friends back home,” Jack explained.
About 150 yards separated Ralph and the bull moose. It would have to be a good shot, but Ralph was confident in his new rifle and his own ability. He took aim. Although nothing was obstructing his view of the moose, the wind was gusting.
Ralph could feel the wind blasting his face from the north. The Blood hunter adjusted his rifle, taking a slight measurement off his aim to compensate for the strong wind. And when he was certain the moose was in his sights, Ralph fired.
The moose staggered before finally collapsing to the ground. ‘A perfect shot,’ Ralph said to himself. When Ralph reached the bagged moose, he could see that the bullet had struck the animal on the top part of its long head.
By this time, Ralph was breathing heavy from sprinting across the long valley to the spot of his biggest conquest. He took the moment in and sparked up a smoke, resting his new rifle on the antlers of the great bull moose. He smiled and started to think about the other hunters and how proud they would be of Ralph now.
“Suddenly, the big moose leaps to his feet,” shouts Jack, raising his hands in the air. Ralph falls back in disbelief as the great beast bolts into the forest with Ralph’s treasured rifle resting in his antlers.
“His bullet just grazed the moose’s head,” laughed Jack, slapping his thigh with his hand in merriment. “Guess the moose was just playing dead.”
Based on an event that really did happen, or so some claim.
In case you missed the first Trapper Jack tale, here’s the link: https://windspeaker.com/canadian-classroom/trapper-jack-hunting-tale