Wildlife in Canada

Back cover of 1966 hardback edition.

He was taller than a horse and must have weighed three quarters of a ton. I had never seen anything quite like him before and neither of us knew just what to do about our unexpected meeting on that trail in Canada’s north country. He was like a nightmare come true, a giant that towered over me and sprayed in my direction the acrid fume of his exhaled breath. We stared at each other for perhaps five seconds, then he bolted, leaving me so quickly and quietly that for a moment I doubted whether I had really seen him.

When he was gone the details that had impinged themselves on my startled senses began to take form in my mind; the humped shoulders and bulbous muzzle, the long stilt-like legs, the dangling “bell” that hung from his throat and the enormous flattened antlers that grew out of his head like two weird, leafless trees. That was my first mental image of the moose. I had seen pictures of such animals, but I had never before come face to face with one and our brief first meeting created a lasting impression.

The creature was grotesque and terrifying, though he made no threats and, in fact, was probably as afraid of me as I was of him, but a full-grown bull moose, met suddenly within the jungle-like confines of his domain is a frightening sight, especially to a tenderfoot such as I was at the time.

A moose not unlike the one Lawrence met, this one in Jasper Canada. Photo (c) Harry Collins

I had spent one year in Canada and I had just bought a farm in the backwoods of northwestern Ontario. It was an early autumn evening and an hour earlier I had picked up my twenty-two-calibre rifle and left the log farmhouse to see if I could bag a ruffed grouse or two for the pot. I had had no luck and as the sun was low I was making my way back to the farm, following winding game trail through stands of scrub cedar that cut visibility to a matter of a few yards in any direction. The trail made a sudden right-angle turn and it was around the bend of this that the moose appeared.

Knowing next to nothing about the world’s largest deer, I was not unduly surprised at his sudden appearance (later I came to realize the luck that was with me that evening, for a moose is seldom careless and usually smells or hears an intruder long before he is seen), but the size of the creature amazed me. He must have ben seven feet high at the shoulder and with his head up and the great antlers above that, it seemed that some ten feet of moose stood over me, and I felt truly insignificant.

Wildlife in Canada” (c) 1966 by RD Lawrence ISBN 0 176 35033 0

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