By Mark McCallum
Excerpts from an article first published in Windspeaker issue Sept. 16, 1988
Trapper Jack is the family’s historian and storyteller. And he knows exactly when to enter into a suitable subject to fit almost any occasion. For example, whenever the young ones complain about the icy seat in the outhouse, he tells them about the days when the cold seemed to bite like an old bear, leaving a sizable ring around his rear.
Jack usually waits until after supper to relate some of his great adventures to the family. When he’s sure everyone is full from a tasty meal such as moose meat and bannock or rabbit stew, he’ll prepare to enter into his favourite topic—hunting.
Today the family had moose meat. And now that the moon is beginning to chase the sun behind the pine trees, the old Métis trapper lights a kerosene lamp on the kitchen table, snapping a wooden matchstick on his cabin floor. This is usually enough to grab everyone’s attention.
Jack begins weaving a story about a resourceful Chipewyan hunter named Charlie who stalks a moose with only his rifle and a cherry pit.
The story begins when Charlie happens across a big bull moose one day in the forest. He immediately rifles through his pockets looking for shells. But all he can find is a cherry pit left over from lunch.
“Charlie comes up with a crazy idea,” explains Jack. “He decides to try and drop the old moose with the cherry pit.”
He loads his rifle and begins sneaking up on the moose. A nearby river covers the sound of Charlie crackling through the bush. Now only a few yards away from his target, he takes aim and pulls the trigger. His pit finds its mark, striking the moose right on the head. It staggers backwards and falls down. But before the brave hunter can reach his prize, the moose gets up, explodes forward and darts off.
“Charlie tells his story to the other hunters on his reserve, but they only laugh at him. The Chipewyan hunter lives in shame for the next year, but something unexpected happens that will once again change Charlie’s life.
He and some other hunters are moose calling not far from the spot Charlie claims to have dropped the moose a year earlier with a cherry pit. Suddenly, a big moose appears from out of nowhere with a cherry tree where its antlers should be. Before anyone can move, the unusual creature shoots off into the wilderness again.
“The moose with its cherry tree antlers is still out there somewhere today,” says Jack.
Based on an event that really did happen, or so some claim.
For another Trapper Jack tale, visit https://windspeaker.com/canadian-classroom/trapper-jack-back-another-hu…