Small Frye Episodes

Rouge Cow Moose Gone Mad

Leonard Lea Frazer

Have You Ever Seen A Moose Gone Berserk?
Well, I can sure say that I have and she was mad!


The story in this episode contains graphic hunting descriptions that may upset some readers. The episode is a reprint of personal, actual accounts documented by the pioneer/author considered to be practices of survival.

I met that moose when I was trapping up the Beaver River. I had my headquarter cabin at Tommy’s Creek, roughly fifteen miles up from the mouth of the Beaver where it empties into the Fraser. My cabin was set back from the shore a few hundred feet below where Tommy’s Creek comes into the Beaver River. The cabin was in a grove of spruce trees within twenty feet of the river.
It was an ideal spot for a cabin, close to the river and plenty of good, dry wood nearby.  I got my water from a lovely deep hole that at times had a good supply of fish. At the time of this story, it was cold weather and I was trapping marten, mink, fisher and the odd wolverine.
My traps were set both ways from the cabin so I would run one line up the river in the morning and if I had time, I could get back to the cabin and run the line the other way after dinner.
This was ideal trapping as I could travel on the river, it being frozen up all the way. I set the traps near shore so I could look at them from the river and this way I never left my scent near the traps unless I had to go up to a set on the shore and take out anything I caught.
In those days, for me, it was a lovely life. I didn’t need much to live on - no phone bill to pay, no electricity, no expensive meat to buy. Moose, deer, or fish were plentiful; didn’t I live the ‘Life of Riley,’ I wanted for nothing! I never trapped anything within a mile of the cabin nor did I shoot any game within that mile, so I had plenty of wildlife for company all around the cabin. I had a doe deer and her two fawns living on a slide nearby and a big buck across the river from me and right behind the cabin I had a big cow moose and her calf that bedded down within ten feet of the back of my cabin under a huge spruce tree. I had squirrels and blue jays that would eat scraps that I threw to them right in the doorway of the cabin and they would let me know if I did not feed them! I even had a skunk that was bound to live under the floor of the little cabin and he made sure that he was fed. That skunk got so that he had to have his food given to him at the foot of my bunk right in the shack.
I saw the moose and her calf every morning as I went along the line, sometimes they would be grazing the brush along the river up stream or I would see them looking me over as they fed off the tender willows near the big open slide nearby. They always kept close to the cabin as they knew they were safe there from the wolves or other predators. Somehow or another they must have known that I would protect them. When I passed them several times during that cold winter all they would do was move over and get out of my way as I went up and down the river.
They would raise their heads if I took pictures of them as I passed them within a hundred feet but they never ran from me. I got several good movies of these beautiful beasts.
One fateful morning, I awoke and saw no signs of the moose and her calf. I looked behind the cabin and up and down the river as far as I could see but no sign of them anywhere! I saw no signs of life anywhere. The deer that would come out to bid me good morning were nowhere in sight! Not a thing to see anyway I looked. This was very odd and I missed them.
Nevertheless, I made breakfast and, putting on my snowshoes, I slipped the packsack on my back and took off up river to tend traps. It was a bitter cold morning and I was mindful of keeping my hands from freezing when I had to take off my mittens to reset a trap or take something out of a trap.
My inner sense always told me to return to the cabin and stay in the warm shack on really cold days. One thing that always bothered me when I trapped was when I was unable to get to the traps as often as I could. I knew that if anything was in one, I wanted to get there and kill the poor thing as fast as I could as I had some idea of how they suffered in a trap in the cold weather.
It was so cold that any place where the water was open, the steam came out like a cloud, and the trees were cracking with a snapping sound that made me jump. That is cold and I do mean cold! I had shot a wolf the day before and as I travelled, I could still smell the stink of him on my clothes, and I am sure that it had been the wolf that upset all my wild friends at sometime or another. Anyway, I blamed him for all the trouble I had that day. And the next day!
I had travelled about a mile up river when all of a sudden I saw a cloud of steam coming down the river on the other side from me. It was the two moose running as if the devil was after them! I was sure surprised by them. They had never acted that way before! I kept on the river and as I approached the cabin, I saw that, to my horror, both the cow and her calf were standing in the ice-cold water up to their hips! They had broken through the ice in front of my cabin. There was no way they could get out no matter how they tried. They could not climb up onto the slippery ice. The poor animals fought that ice but as they fought, all they accomplished was to break more ice and this took them farther down river. It was then that I saw what had upset them in the first place. As I looked across the river to find a place to get over, I saw a huge timber wolf. He was walking back and forth in the brush and had his sights set on a moose dinner. Now, as I said, normally I would not fire a rifle close to the cabin but this was something different.
I took aim and fired but I only wounded him as he took off into the brush and I never saw the wolf again. My shot made the poor moose more excited and they started to fight the ice, again, running up and down in that cold water. This caused the calf to play out and at last he gave up and tried to climb up onto the back of his mother. He made a half dozen tries then gave up at last and I felt terrible when I saw him slip down and go under the ice. The cow stood there pawing the ice where her calf had disappeared and she was still standing there pawing when I had to go to bed that night.
I was worried about her all night and was glad when morning came so I could get out and see if she had made it out of the ice. As I stood in the doorway, I could see she had alright. She was laying down not ten feet from my door under a tree. Well, anyway, she was alright so I went about my traps that day but when I got back she was gone. I never paid any attention to that but next morning as I started down river, I came to my first trap set under a spreading spruce tree at the edge of a slide, I looked up the hill and there she was, laying down above me in the snow.
I took off my pack and took a marten out of the trap and had laid the gun against a tree nearby and it was a good thing that I had that gun within my reach or I would not be here to write this story.
I am quite sure that nothing that I know of is as horrible as the sight of a cow moose gone mad with her hair standing straight up on the back of her neck, her ears laid back and froth pouring out her nostrils. She reminded me of a devil incarnate!
I had no chance to get out of her way as she plunged down the hill with the snow flying. All I could do was grab the gun and cower back as far as I could. She smashed into me, knocking me back into the snow. I still had the gun and as she knocked me back, I drove the rifle into her side and pulled the trigger!
At the report of the big gun, my eyes were blinded by the flood of blood that spurted from the wound in her stomach. My face was covered with the hot blood and mixed with her entrails, a horrible combination as I can tell you.
As she hit me, I fell back into snow up to my neck and I was lucky as I still had the gun but now the barrel was full of snow. I floundered to my feet and drew back the breach and, in my excitement, I threw one shell out into the snow. I had no time to look where she went as I was busy blowing the snow out of the barrel. I made it in time, loading the gun again, and as I looked down the hill I saw she was already on her way back to annihilate me. Blood was pouring from her mouth and shooting out on the brush from the gaping wound in her side. She sure made all the hair stand up on the back of my head. If that barrel had a little snow in it, I knew it would blow up in my face but I had no choice. Either blow my head off or shoot that demon. As I took good aim, I felt a twinge of guilt, as I knew she was insane and she had been my pal all winter but now I could see all she had in mind was to kill me as fast as she could as no doubt she blamed me for her baby drowning. As I hesitated, she was within five feet of me and coming like the ‘mill-tails of Hell’ to finish me off.
Aiming right between her eyes, I pulled the trigger, expecting the worse, to feel my head blown off or see her drop at my feet. I guess my time was not up and at the crack of the big gun she fell right at my feet, and as she fell, I jumped back to get out of her way. She floundered in her death.
She was tough, with a gaping wound in her side and most of her entrails hanging out and with a bullet in her head she still tried to make it to her feet. In the deep snow, without my snowshoes on, I tried hard to keep out of her way as she floundered and fell again and again. Finally, I had to shoot her again, this time right in the ear. Down she went for good but fell on my pack and broke it all to pieces.
This was one of the most tragic things I ever saw in my life as a trapper. I at last got her huge carcass off my pack, I looked at that particular set (trap) inside and thought to myself, “I'll never have anything more to do with that one set.” A few years before my brother-in-law, Louie Knutson, with his wife, Frances, had near been killed by a huge grizzly when Louie had caught his hand in that same trap and with the trap on his hand he had shot the mighty beast and it fell within ten feet of them as he got in the death shot. I wrote that story up back then and it pretty well covered the world in the Weekend Magazine. So, you can see why I gave up that one set.
After all this excitement, I had to get back to the cabin and wash the blood and excrement off my face and I did no more trapping that day. On going down to get water, I saw where the cow moose had come out of the ice-cold creek at the place where I got my water for the cabin. Even though I rested all that day, I could not sleep that night; bad dreams. I'd just get to sleep and I'd see that cow moose coming up the hill with blood in her eyes and flying out all over me! It was a long time before I got over that scare!

Rouge Cow Moose Gone Mad

Ok, I know what you’re thinking, “This moose picture has nothing to do with the story.” Well, you’re right. Kind of reminds us of National Geographic where the story and the pictures never do match. However, this historical photo from the “Ernest Brown Collection” shows us just how tame some moose can be. Like the pair of moose that used to pull a wagon and delivered mail between Morinville and Edmonton, Alberta at the turn of the Century. Those moose were also in the big “May Day” parade in Edmonton every year. Mike Frye’s moose was “tame” too, as long as there was no immediate threat of harm to her and her calf. “Moose and Indian Teepee” - courtesy of the Alberta Provincial Archives, Ernest Brown, photographer. Used with permission.
From February 28 and March 7, 1979 – Robson Valley Courier