Beautiful Joe
Chapter 23, Page 2

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Please be aware that this book was originally published in 1894 and may contain words, descriptions, or other passages that may be considered offensive today.


CHAPTER XXIII: TRAPPING WILD ANIMALS (continued)

"In stalking, we crept on them the way a cat creeps on a mouse. In the daytime a moose is usually lying down. We'd find their tracks and places where they'd been nipping off the ends of branches and twigs, and follow them up. They easily take the scent of men, and we'd have to keep well to the leeward. Sometimes we'd come upon them lying down, but, if in walking along, we'd broken a twig, or made the slightest noise, they'd think it was one of their mortal enemies, a bear — creeping on them, and they'd be up and away. Their sense of hearing is very keen, but they're not so quick to see. A fox is like that, too. His eyes aren't equal to his nose.

"Stalking is the most merciful way to kill a moose. Then they haven't the fright and suffering of the chase."

"I don't see why they need to be killed at all," said Mrs. Wood. "If I knew that forest back of the mountains was full of wild creatures, I think I'd be glad of it, and not want to hunt them, that is, if they were harmless and beautiful creatures like the deer."

"You're a woman," said Mr. Wood, "and women are more merciful than men. Men want to kill and slay. They're like the Englishman, who said: 'What a fine day it is; let's go out and kill something.'"

"Please tell us some more about the dogs that helped you catch the moose, uncle," said Miss Laura, I was sitting up very straight beside her, listening to every word Mr. Wood said, and she was fondling my head.

"Well, Laura, when we camped out on the snow and slept on spruce boughs while we were after the moose, the dogs used to be a great comfort to us. They slept at our feet and kept us warm. Poor brutes, they mostly had a rough time of it. They enjoyed the running and chasing as much as we did, but when it came to broken ribs and sore heads, it was another matter. Then the porcupines bothered them. Our dogs would never learn to let them alone. If they were going through the woods where there were no signs of moose and found a porcupine, they'd kill it. The quills would get in their mouths and necks and chests, and we'd have to gag them and take bullet molds or nippers, or whatever we had, sometimes our jack-knives, and pull out the nasty things. If we got hold of the dogs at once, we could pull out the quills with our fingers. Sometimes the quills had worked in, and the dogs would go home and lie by the fire with running sores till they worked out. I've seen quills work right through dogs. Go in on one side and come out on the other."

"Poor brutes," said Mrs. Wood. "I wonder you took them."

"We once lost a valuable hound while moose hunting," said Mr. Wood. "The moose struck him with his hoof and the dog was terribly injured, and lay in the woods for days, till a neighbor of ours, who was looking for timber, found him and brought him home on his shoulders. Wasn't there rejoicing among us boys to see old Lion coming back. We took care of him and he got well again.

"It was good sport to see the dogs when we were hunting a bear with them. Bears are good runners, and when dogs get after them, there is great skirmishing. They nip the bear behind, and when they turn, the dogs run like mad, for a hug from a bear means sure death to a dog. If they got a slap from his paws, over they'd go. Dogs new to the business were often killed by the bears."

"Were there many bears near your home, Mr. Wood?" asked Mr. Maxwell.