I’d never seen a moose in person before I lived in
It would get so cold in the winter months that the moose would venture out of the mountains and come to town in search of food and places to stay until spring came. One such moose took up residence in the backyard for a while one year. I wish I had taken pictures of it, but I wasn’t as good about taking pics in those days as I am now. This was a wonder to see and I kick myself today, but I can’t go back to those days, not that I would ever want to. I don’t know how I withstood that brutal cold.
The moose would wander around
Anchorage and the other smaller towns, much
as they did on the TV show, Northern Exposure, a few decades ago, if any of you
ever watched that. There are quirky
people living in Alaska
too, just as on that TV show. You can
drive five minutes out of town and be in complete untouched wilderness. I think the isolation does something to your
Moose pictures by Ron Niebrugge
I was friends with some people who lived in the country (outside
The guys were all hunters and had lived in
Alaska for a number of years. Every year they’d go on a moose hunt, kill
their quantity, and pack them out of the forest. This particular guy and his girlfriend had a
small building built for curing meat. Once
arriving home, they would cut the moose up in large pieces and leave to hang in
the curing shed at just above 32°F for three weeks. This all happened before the butchering
party. Sometimes other friends would use
this curing shed for their kills also.
I never saw so much raw meat and blood in my life and I never expected to become a moose butcher, not in any wildest stretch of the imagination. This wasn’t a scene for the squeamish. I had no experience with that and didn’t care to have any. Nevertheless, I spent all night in that house working with the other girls at a long piece of plywood held up by sawhorses that served as a table. The owners had several makeshift tables like this scattered around the house. The plywood lay covered in paper with huge hunks of meat lying at one end.
In another area there was a roll of white butcher paper and someone was there wrapping up the cut meat into individual portions. They labeled the packages and put them into a cooler. Everyone had on crude aprons and worked quickly with big knives.
I thought we’d never reach the end of the moose meat, but we did just before daybreak. For helping with the task, I got a few packages of meat like everyone else there. The rest went into the freezer of the owners, or hauled home by the friends whose meat we also cut up.
Now I’m not a huntress and would probably never shoot anything myself but would opt for veggies instead. But let’s face it, this moose was already dead, so I’m glad it didn’t go to waste at least. After a while, I tried the meat they gave me and it was very good, moist and more tender than beef. I haven’t had moose since.