Susan C. Anthony

Moose Hunting or Moose Fishing?

Steven on a 4-wheelerAugust 31 - September 5, 2005

Through a local charter school, I worked with a home school family between 1997 and 2005. We took the youngest boy Steven (age 8) with us to the homestead one Labor Day weekend for some intense one-on-one schooltime in a highly motivating environment. It was the first time he'd been away from everyone in his large and loving family for an extended time. He anticipated a great adventure.

It was hunting season at the lake. Dennis arose very early and tiptoed around carefully so as not to awaken Steven. He took some things outside to pack onto the four-wheeler. When he tiptoed back inside, there was Steven, dressed in his camos and sitting cross-legged on the bed, wide awake. He didn't say a word, but when Dennis asked if he wanted to go hunting, he nodded enthusiastically, his eyes shining! Despite the rain, mud, cold, and long hours of waiting that morning, he didn't complain.

Three friends shot a big moose on the mountain September 4. It was a cold, rainy day. They spent hours butchering it and hauling it down through soggy brush to their boat.

In the afternoon, Dennis heard from a friend who needed help. His trailer had broken an axle a couple hundred miles down the road. Steven and I transported Dennis to the road with four-wheelers. When we returned to the cabin, I checked on the hunters through the scope. They were finished and in the boat. Good.

I went back to work with Steven but 15 minutes or so later, I realized I hadn't heard the sound of their motor coming back across the lake. I checked the scope again, and saw only the boat hull, upside down. Not good. We raced to get help, bailed our skiff, and headed toward the overturned boat. Halfway across, Steven saw one of the hunters waving his arms from shore. He was attempting to walk around the lake to get help. He was very glad to see us!

The hunters had been hypothermic even before the boat overturned! They had life jackets in the boat but it flipped so fast that the flotation devices were trapped underneath it. The older man wasn't breathing and the other two towed him to shore. One of the guys, an Emergency Medical Technician, saved his life.

We sent the sodden men back to their cabin in our boat to dry off and warm up. Steven and I pulled their boat into shallow water, turned it over, and bailed it out. Only one pack of moose meat remained in the boat—scraps, we later learned.

What led to the accident? The boat was a little overloaded with moose meat and men. They were a little too anxious to get back to the warm cabin. The broad moose antlers were in the bow of the boat. They scooped water from the bow wake that was pushed up when the outboard started to accelerate. The boat flipped instantly, without warning.

Fortunately, everything happened close to shore. The water wasn't especially deep. In fact, the following day the guys were able to fish out all their gear, the antlers, and most of the moose. Bet you've never heard of anyone fishing for moose!

Late that evening, as the adrenaline wore off and Steven and I prepared for bed, he asked, "Did you ever save somebody's life before?" I laughed and said, "No, I haven't. But you have, and you're only 8 years old!"

Go on to Rotten Snow
Source:, ©Susan C. Anthony