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The Huge Moose Refused to Die
by Art Madsen




Art Madsen

 Paul Shepherd and Bob Frush With Huge Moose Racks - PaulShepherd_BobFrush_HugeMooseRacks.jpg

Paul Shepherd, left, of 37 N. 13th St., and Robert Frush, 2125 Dogleg Rd., are co-admirers of the large-sized racks taken from a pair of huge moose they shot while on a week's hunting trip in the Saganaga Lake region near Ontario, Canada. Each moose weighed between 1200 and 1300 pounds. The rack spread on the moose killed by Shepherd measured 53 inches, and the one shot by Frush, 49 inches. Serving as a guide for the Newarkites was 63-year-old Art Madsen, who knows the Saganaga Lake hunting region like the back of his hand. Madsen said the moose the Newark men shot were the biggest taken out of this area as long as anyone can remember. Roger Pierce, also of Newark, accompanied Shepherd and Frush on the trip, but did not participate in the moose hunt.  (Newark Ohio Advocate photo)

More photos below.

      Our moose season in Ontario opened on the 30th of September in 1967, and our four hunters from Newark, Ohio came in that afternoon. I said, If you fellows get squared away in your cabin and get your licenses, we may make a short try to call out a moose this evening.

     At this time of year the moose-rutting season is in full swing, and it is possible to call out a bull if he hasn’t already found a cow. But, that evening, no moose answered or came to my pleading calls on the birch-bark horn. During supper that evening, which my wife Dinna had prepared, we had a chance to get acquainted.

     Burt Class of Newark, had been up at our camp several times fishing and brought his friends along, who were about to start on their first moose hunt. First, there was Bob Frush of Newark, who, when he isn’t hunting, is a building contractor, and had shot an eleven-point elk in Montana the year before. Paul Shepherd is in the heating equipment business. Ted Holmquist, an electrician, and Roger Pierce, a salesman, came along, too, and took out a deer license. But he really came along because he figured he could sneak in some fishing—the guy is nuts about fishing, but I told him the hunting would come first.

     My wife, Dinna, and I operate a small fishing and hunting camp on Saganaga Lake, Ontario, just across the Minnesota/Ontario border. At 63, they call me a veteran guide and I should be thinking of retiring, but like an old hound dog I hate to think I’ve made my last hunt. What I now lack in brawn, I make up for in past experience and my vast knowledge of the woods and their animals and habits.
     In our area, all travel is over waterways by boats or canoes. So, the next morning we headed out northeast to where there is a long point of land. There I would place the hunters on strategic stands or passes and attempt to drive out moose or deer. There were fresh moose and deer tracks, but nothing came past the hunters. As the bushes and trees were still covered quite heavily with foliage and leaves it was impossible to see very far. So, we all got together and boiled coffee for lunch, and laid plans for later afternoon.

     I sent Paul and Roger down to watch a grassy bay—as it was quite warm, there was a chance moose would come out to the water. Bob Frush, Ted Holmquist, and I, with my birch-bark horn, went up and around a grassy-muddy creek. We soon noticed there were moose tracks in the mud that were quite fresh. So, I left Ted to watch the lower end, and Bob and I proceeded farther up creek to where it opened into a little grassy meadow.

     I gave out a call with the birch-bark horn—“AAHHHHOOH,” then I turned and just started a call the other way when Bob touched my arm and pointed to a thick stand of willows across the other side of the creek—from which was coming sounds of breaking brush and shaking willows. Then, all we could see for some 30 yards was this great set of horns swaying above the willows. And, soon the huge bull appeared about 100 yards from us and stopped to look us over— no doubt wondering what kind of “red cows” we were.

     As the bull was facing us head on, I whispered to Bob to shoot just under his head and he’d make a chest shot or heart shot. At the crack of Bob’s .300 Savage, the big bull hunkered back, then swung broadside. Bob fired two more shots—still the moose didn’t go down. I said, “Keep shooting!” And at his fourth shot, the bull dropped. We walked over to the creek across from the moose. The grass was tall so we could only see one huge horn sticking up, but apparently no sign of life. So, we called for Ted to come up, while I congratulated Bob on his first moose which proved, later, to be a little premature. So, as not to wade through the mud and water, we started up creek to find a place to cross.

    About 100 yards up, I happened to look back, and low and behold, our moose had come alive and gotten up on his feet. I said, “Bob, looks like you’ll have to clobber him again.” So, Bob fired another shot, and down went the moose for another count. We watched for quite a while, and no further sign of life. So, we momentarily went behind some willows to cross the creek, and when we got to where the moose last dropped down—he wasn’t there! The blood trail showed he’d headed back through that thick mass of willows that were still thick with leaves. In those willows you couldn’t see 20 feet. And one thing I don’t relish doing is rubbing noses with a huge, wounded, Roman-nosed moose.

     For the first time I asked Bob what weight bullets he was using. I had misgivings when he said 150 grain, hand loaded by a friend of his with a powder he didn’t remember. A 150-grain bullet in a .300 Savage, is usually made with a thin jacket and opens too fast on large animals, like moose. On moose, it is wise to use the heaviest bullets your caliber of rifle will shoot, so they will drive in deep. (Bob should have been using 180 grain bullets, such as Remington Core-Lokt or Winchester power points.)

     Now, to follow our wounded moose, I shifted around the heavy willow thicket, and we soon picked up the blood trail behind where he was climbing on higher ground through poplar and jack pine. After a quarter of a mile of tracking the blood stopped, except for a few drops here and there, and with the leaves on the ground turning red, it took some close watching to stay on his track.

      In all this time, he had not lain down again, nor had he broken into a run, which led me to believe that he was not hurt too badly, but somewhat geed up. We continued to follow. Then he tried every dodge he could to throw us off his trail. He would even double back, then turn sharply off his trail. Then, it would be some time before we could straighten out his trail again. At last, he ducked through a little grassy spot where I was looking closely for some more blood spots. I happened to look up on a mossy-covered rock rise, and here was our big bull, standing broadside partly screened by spruce boughs—waiting  for us not more than 25 yards away. Up on that rise he looked as big as an elephant.

     I told Bob to hit him this time in the shoulder. At the shot, he lunged over the other side of the rock rise and piled up. This time Bob’s bullet had gone in through ribs just back of the shoulder and pulverized the lungs. So, the third time, he was down to stay. But by this time, after the long tracking session, Bob needed a cigarette—but bad. (By this time, I could have used something a little stronger than a cigarette, myself.) All Ted had was his little camera, so we took a few shots in the now-fading light. The bull had a 49-inch spread with deep palms. We had work on our hands now, as the weather was warm — about 65 degrees. We had to skin him out and cut off the quarters and lay them up on logs so the meat would cool quicker.

Veteran Guide Art Madsen with successful hunter, Bob Frush. ArtMadsen_BobFrush_Moose_49inch_Rack.jpg Veteran Guide Art Madsen with successful hunter, Bob Frush. ArtMadsen__BobFrush_Moose_49inch_Rack.jpg
Veteran Guide Art Madsen with successful hunter, Bob Frush

     We discovered one bullet had broken the lower jaw—no doubt the first one. The second bullet had lodged in the hump just above the backbone—no doubt the shock had dropped him. The other bullet was in his neck about four inches above the neck bone (vertebra). Both of these bullets had opened too fast and hadn’t gone very deep. (Bob’s favorite shot was a neck shot, as he had downed his elk with a neck shot the year before. But I always discourage a neck shot, as over the years, I’ve found such a shot too unreliable—as proven again on Bob’s big bull. You don’t necessarily need a Magnum rifle on moose—far more important is placing that first bullet in the right place.)

      It was then getting dusk, so we hurried as we had about a mile to go to get back to where we had left our boat, and there we met Paul and Roger waiting for us—wondering what had happened to us.

     Back home at supper, they gave Burt Class the works. He'd told them there was nothing to moose hunting—“just paddle up to your moose and shoot, then load him into an airplane.” The boys said Bob had trouble getting to sleep that night, and no wonder, he had thrills enough for any man on his first moose hunt. Outwardly, he appeared calm, but I had a hunch his motor was racing inside.

     The next day was spent packing out all that moose meat, and they know now a big bull adds up to a lot of weight. Bob trucked it out to Grand Marais that evening to put the meat in a cooler as the weather was still warm. The next two days we were unable to find any moose close to home. Although,our neighbors had managed to get a moose and a bear with their hunters.

      So, the fourth day, I decided to move up to Mowe Lake and camp there. I had seen a big bull up there a few days before the season opened while guiding trout fishermen. We started with two boats trailing two canoes, which we would use to get up Mowe Lake Creek, as it was shallow. We left the small canoes on the creek, as I had two large freight (canvas) canoes across the portage on Mowe Lake. We went over and set up tent where George Plummer has a real log trap shack, and then we had lunch.

     Bob and Pierce wanted to fish, so I took Paul Shepherd and Holmquist, and with a three horse-powered motor headed for the north end of the lake—some three miles farther up. This time I checked with Paul to see what bullets he was going to use in his .270. He said he had 150 grain, Winchester power points. I said, “You sure have the right bullets for moose.”

    There was quite a little wind blowing, and as there were no moose in sight, I tried a few calls on the birch bark. After a while we couldn’t hear anything, so I paddled about one quarter of a mile farther down shore, and was going to try to call again, when Paul happened to look back. He nearly flipped when he saw another huge, bull moose and a cow with him come out where I had called the first time. Because he had a cow with him, he had come out very slowly.

     Paul was about to shoot from there, but I said, “Hold it. That’s even too far for your .270.” So, I started to paddle—scull back—by feathering my paddle so as not to make any noise. But when we got within 200 yards, the cow got scared and slipped into the woods, and the bull looked uneasy. I told Paul to rest his arm on the canoe gunwale and shoot for the shoulders.

     At the crack of the .270, the bull didn’t even flinch, but soon wheeled for the woods. Paul fired again just as he entered the woods, and I saw the big moose slump. When we landed, I found a little blood right away. I was skirting a thick clump of moose willow, when Ted said, “There he is!” And there he was, not 15 yards in a thick bunch of moose willows—stone dead, and his big head wedged between two trees. Paul’s first power-point bullet had hit him square behind the shoulder and drove clean on through the hide to the other side—even at 200 yards. A beautiful shot.

    Paul was elated to find his horns measured 53 inches—four more than Bob’s. It appears, Paul was always unlucky on hunts before, having made five deer hunts without success—but he sure broke the jinx this time. It was dark when we got back to camp, and Bob and Roger could hardly believe we’d been so lucky—so quickly. They had caught northern pike and bass and had them all ready for the frying pan.

      The next morning, the boys offered to haul the moose out to the portage. So, I made a last try with Ted Holmquist for a moose. He wanted one with horns or nothing. But our luck had run out.

     We had to tear a big hole in the beaver dam to let the creek fill with water to be able to canoe the moose down the creek to our boats. We were soon back at camp. The next day the hunters were on their way home to Newark, and with hunting memories they would soon not forget.

Robert Frush with fresh moose, 49 inch rack and .300 Savage Rifle off to the side. bigmoose-pre-operation-Robert-Frush-.300-Savage-Rifle.jpg
Robert Frush with fresh moose and .300 Savage Rifle off to the side.

Dave Madsen, Ted Holmquist, Art Madsen, Bob Frush

Roger Pierce and Paul Shepherd

Roger Pierce with moose rack, Bob Frush carrying backpack.
Excerpt from the behind the scenes interview with Paul Shepherd
by Marco Manzo III
April 25, 2006

I believe my grandfather, Art Madsen, had purposely left out some of his trade-hunting secrets when he wrote his story, but from this interview with Paul Shepherd, a few are revealed.

Marco: "Are there any behind the scenes additions you would like to add to the story?"

Paul Shepherd: "If I were to tell all the behind the scenes stories, it would take a week to tell you everything."

    "There were three of us in the one canoe. I was in the middle and Ted Holmquist was in the front. Art gave his moose call  and a bull came right out of the woods in front of us. Ted got a quick shot with his 30-30, but his aim hit the moose through the rack. The old moose shook his head; it must have stung a little bit."

    "About an hour later, the three of us decided to motor down the lake with the 3hp motor. Art had plans of using the motor, but he didn't start it up as we spotted the same moose coming out of the woods about a quarter of a mile down the lake! It surprised all three of us when he came back out of the woods. The water was like glass, perfectly still, and the big bull was edgyfeeding in the shallows. His mate was feeding in the woods and didn't come out. Art went to the silent paddle. It seemed like a magnet was pulling us down the lake. There was no noise. It seemed like we were gliding down the water."

    "Ted had only his 30-30 rifle and it couldn't shoot long enough to make a kill, so Art told Ted to, 'Lay down and hold your arms up, so we will look like another moose coming down the lake'."

    "The moose had been shot through the rack, and he was pretty edgy, and Art knew he wasn't going to stay in the water very long. We got closer, about 200 yards away, and Art told me that the moose was getting 'itchy' and was going to leave, and I should shoot."

    "I had to shoot through Ted's arms. That bullet went straight."

Marco: Mr. Shepherd, I have enjoyed talking with you. Thank you for your time and interesting side-highlights.

Moose rack forensics: The box in red shows the spot where
Ted Holmquist shot through the rack of Paul Shepherd's moose.
Note: Art chopped the racks free from the moose skulls with an axe.


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