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Story Last modified at 6:10 p.m. on Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Moose-watching – and eating – a favorite pastime


What was so fascinating about a moose in our Eagle River yard recently? For almost an hour I watched its antics as wise neighbors delayed their dog walking by bowing to the reign of that majestic animal.

I've been in Alaska since 1976 and still am drawn to moose watching. In 1965 while traveling home to the United States from Peace Corps service in Brazil, I bought a coat in Uruguay to keep me warm going over the Andes. I thought I heard the salesman's Latin tongue identify it as a "moose coat." So the hide currently hanging in my closet is still referenced as such. There are no moose in Uruguay.

While in Korea from 1973 to 1976, I often heard our American military refer to ugly women as moose. I have no idea how that handle was given to such a magnificent creature, and in a country void of moose.

When I arrived in Alaska, I finally, after so many years, saw the real animal.

That same year, hubby tried moose hunting to no avail. But in 1977, his success led to my palate savoring that succulent meat.

A few years later I found myself on a moose hunt. I sat silently praying that we would not see one because I knew what step two would be for the hunting husband next to me in the truck. As much as I enjoyed eating the beast, I just was not ready to see the actual harvest.

In the winter of 1985, hunting husband returned to the cabin to get the gear to gut out a moose he and son had just shot. I was given the option to help or not. Timidly I accepted the challenge thinking if I am to consume, then I should help.

Towing the snowmachine, we headed to the site with me wondering the whole hourlong drive if I were up to tackling the necessary skinning and gutting. Somehow, I was.

In many ways I am delighted that hunting is not allowed on our property in Eagle River or on the property of our cabin. The moose are safe to be shot only by camera.

Christmas in 1992 while walking home from the bus stop thinking of all I needed to do for the holidays, my secured backpack got a nudge. Turning my head, I came face to face with a moose. I calmly kept walking and headed up the driveway of the nearest house with indoor lights activated. The moose followed me. Two latch-key kids answered my frantic knock and admitted me after seeing my dilemma and recognizing me as the neighbor with the sledding yard. I telephoned my husband to come get me. He said and I quote, "No way Bren, I don't want that moose to damage my brand new 1992 truck."

I won't quote what I said, but he did rescue me. Once home, I shook as I knocked down a medicinal beverage.

For 10 days in minus-25 degree weather over Thanksgiving of 1997 we hunted moose in a district where we had drawn a permit. Never have I been so cold in my life. No moose eligible for harvest were seen. At New Year's we headed back out to try again. The thought did not thrill me, but this time I found myself ready to harvest after the fruitless trek in November. The cold dark days had turned my peaceful nature into a hungry hunter. Within two days we got our moose, and for the first time I had seen and heard the shot that dropped the animal.

These are but a few of my moose tales. I remain fascinated by moose. I also remain fascinated by my own dichotomy that enjoys watching them as much as wanting their meat in the freezer.

Bren Rodgers is a retired public health educator who has lived in Eagle River since 1977 and loves the outdoors, writing and exercise walking.

This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, May 18, 2011.