|Nanook's Campfire Tales|
|Moose Attack on the Bartibogue|
Laurie and I were approaching the end of a successful trip, after three beautiful days on the Bartibogue. The creek had started as a wide brook, and swelled to a fair river's width, especially after the North and South Branches joined upriver earlier that day.
Laurie went ahead of me, maybe ten or fifteen stones ahead. We were picking our way down one of the many rocky turns in the last stretch of river before it flowed into Miramichi Bay.
I looked up from a clutch of boulders I was threading through when I saw Laurie pointing left with his paddle across the river. A young bull moose stood in the river up to his flanks by the far shore, obviously enjoying the late afternoon sun.
We swung close to the right bank, anxious to afford the young bull plenty of room. Ideally, we would float silently, stealthily by, and Maurice the Moose would stare at us just as vacuously as we stared back at him.
Our plan was working to perfection as we cruised by the shore and as far away from Mr. Moose as we could. Laurie was already safely downstream. Then I hit the rock.
I poked at the water and the rock with my paddle, not too vigorously, and almost slid off. But then the boat shifted in the current and pasted itself firmly on the rock.
Meanwhile, Friend Moose was taking a keen interest in my predicament. He started ambling towards me in the water, slowly and cautiously at first. I began to flail the water frantically with my paddle, in growing desperation to free my boat from the rock.
The moose picked up his pace, and began to run at me, its hooves splashing in the water. I tossed my paddle into the boat, and grabbed my eight-foot push pole. Then I gave a mighty heave with the pole's end against the sticking rock.
At that moment, my boat slid off the rock, and the moose, still charging full-tilt and eye-to-eye towards me only feet away, veered off from my boat and disappeared into the forest behind me. It was so close that Laurie said he was sure the moose was going to slam into me.
The incident gave new meaning to the term "close encounter."
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