Wyoming Stories Involving Moose, Faux Elk and Other Exciting Adventures

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Bill Sniffin
Bill Sniffin

My recent column about various moose adventures prompted stories from several friends:

• Up in Buffalo, Jim Hicks recounts the time when two serious local elk hunters parked their pickup on a high ridge of the Bighorns and started walking before daylight.  They were in deep timber far down the canyon when they heard tree limbs snapping in the distance, accompanied by thudding sounds.

One hunter whispered to his buddy, "I've heard that sound before!  Something has spooked a whole damn herd of elk. They are headed toward us."

He jacked a round into his rifle’s chamber and knelt down. The sound got louder. His buddy sat cross-legged to steady his rifle for a shot at a big bull he knew was about to crash into view.

Their mouths dropped open in amazement as their badly smashed pickup, with windows broken and fenders flapping, bounced past them and came to a halt against a large tree.

In a hurry, the owner had left the truck in neutral and forgot to set the brakes. The weather had warmed enough to melt snow in front of the tires and the pickup began its descent into the canyon through an old burn area populated by small trees.

Apparently the sound of a $40,000 pickup coming apart is a lot like the sound of 50 head of terrified elk.

Just more expensive.

• A popular book in 2013 is Rodger McDaniel’s story about former Governor and U. S. Senator Lester Hunt, a long-time dentist from Lander.

He uncovered the following:

After World War II, Gov. Hunt, an outdoor enthusiast, admitted “for the 12 years that I have been working for you as a state official I have not had the pleasure of casting a single fly and have taken only one short hunting trip.”

He didn’t tell the story of that “one short hunting trip” which proved memorable. But Lander writer Blanche Schroer did.   

Schroer wrote:  “While riding through timbered area, Hunt came directly upon a large, antlered moose. As the horse turned sharply aside, the moose charged. Hunt. With lightning speed, he jerked his foot from the stirrup on the danger side and balanced himself on the opposite side as the moose gored the horse.

The horse reared, and then ran, while the moose thrashed about before plunging into the woods. Hunt was thrown backwards, one foot still in the stirrup. Horrified at finding himself being dragged over sharp terrain, he managed to grab a shrub and jerk his foot free.“

His guide was some distance away. Before he could get into a position to act, the episode was over. Back in camp, one of Hunt’s hunting companions Matt McGuire, hearing of the narrow escape of his bruised friend, yelled at the guide, “Why didn’t you help?”

“Doggone it,” the crusty old guide said, “if you saw a riled moose, a gored runaway horse and a Democrat who’s drilled your teeth bouncing along the ground . . . would you know right off which one to shoot?” 

• Newspaper guys often go to Jackson for their summer press convention. Newcastle publisher Tom Mullen recalls a time when Buffalo publisher Robb Hicks, Saratoga Publisher Gary Stephenson and he went to visit the home of Jackson publisher Mike Sellett.

Tom writes: “At a summer convention in Jackson, Gary and Robb and I decided to surprise Sellett at his home early one morning. We found him enjoying juice, reading the morning paper in the breezeway between his home and garage, which overlooks a beautiful backyard. Mike poured us some refreshments and we were relaxing when Mike's dog started barking and running back and forth. 

“Suddenly, a bull moose came galloping into the yard, maybe 20 feet in front of us, chasing Mike's dog. I was in shock and awe - this was the first time I had ever seen a moose and he was magnificent. And frightening.

“Not knowing how to react, I looked to my right where, just seconds before, Gary and Robb had been sitting but now were nowhere to be seen. They must have sought shelter in the garage.”

Tom recalls: “I looked to my left and Mike was gone too so I scrambled toward the sliding glass door that leads to his kitchen. I felt sorry for the poor dog but obviously it was every man for himself when there's an angry moose a few feet away.

“I tugged at the sliding glass door. Sellett had locked me out.

“Really? Thanks Mike.”

 

Check out Bill Sniffin’s columns at www.billsniffin.com.  He is a longtime Wyoming journalist from Lander who has written four books. His most recent book is “Wyoming’s 7 Greatest Natural Wonders” which is available at www.wyomingwonders.com.

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