An Amazing Alaskan Woman story!!!

McCarthy Travel Blog

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Susan and Jack's cabin, they try to use as much solar power in the summer as possible

I worked with a buddy, Jack,  surveying for the state of Alaska.  He is a trapper and homesteaded some land around the McCarthy area.  He met a great woman in Chitina, Alaska, Susan, and asked her if she wanted to go snowmachining.  Susan, moved up from Florida some time before meeting Jack.  They probable me in there late thirties or early forties, each had a previous child that had grown up.  Like I said Jack Homesteaded some land and had a cabin along the McCarthy road.  Jack and Susan got married and Susan moved in with Jack.  As Jack worked for the state of Alaska as a surveyor, he worked most of his time away from home which left Susan at home to tend to the cabin and such.

the cabin, they have cable and internet out there too...
  Susan had to change the oil in the generator, saw logs out of the way that fell onto their drive way and tend to the their dogs and cabin.  The following storey Susan wrote about one of her experiences at the cabin alone.  I was fortunate to visit their cabin one weekend.  The drive way is 1.6 miles long.  I drank two beers and smoke one swisher sweet cigar driving that whole drive way.  I had to go so slow the mesquitoes flew in one window and out the other at their leisure.  IT WAS GREAT. 

 

So her is Susan's story:

Memorial Day 2005 was one that I won’t soon forget. A friend had emailed me suggesting a few moments of silence and meditation at 3:00 that afternoon.

side view of the cabin
I had planned on it, but in reality, at that exact moment, I was frantically shooting a pistol into the air, trying to save my dogs (and myself!) from a crazed moose in the yard!

My husband, Jack, and I live off of the McCarthy Road. Our homestead is nestled on the banks of the Chokosna River, and a 1.6 mile, two-rut driveway connects our home to the road. Jack’s job as a surveyor takes him away from home often during the working season.

Luckily, he had been able to get home for the holiday weekend. We enjoyed working together to get the gardens in and even managed to squeeze in a couple of barbeques before it was time for him to head back to Fairbanks on Memorial Day.

Jack
The driveway was still a little muddy, so, as during every breakup, the vehicles were parked at the McCarthy Road and we had been traveling to the house by 4-wheeler. We loaded his gear into the trailer and headed slowly down to the road. On our way out of the yard, Jack un-clipped his dog Buttercup from her chain and she bounded down the trail with us.

Around here, when it comes to dogs, we have his, Buttercup, and mine, Maya. Both are MacKenzie River husky/wolf/Malamute mixes (who don’t get along) so they are chained in separate dog yards at alternate sides of the property. They are my fond companions and my first alert to visitors and wildlife during the months that I spend alone.

The mosquitoes were ferocious at the end of the driveway. We quickly loaded Jack’s gear into his truck, said good-bye, and he started off down the road.

Susan showing thier solar panel set up
I turned the machine around and Buttercup and I headed back up the trail. Usually, as we near the house, Buttercup is tiring and running a little slower. However this time, she broke into a run as we approached the house and I knew something was up. As I made the last turn before the yard, I stopped dead in my tracks. A cow moose and newborn calf were standing 25 feet in front of me and Buttercup ran straight for them!

I never travel down the driveway without my shotgun. I quickly pulled it off my back and got it ready in case I needed it. The cow immediately started to attack the dog, trying her best to chase her down and kick her. But, Buttercup’s speed and agility saved her. I called for her to back off and come to me and she obeyed instantly while I made sure the moose didn’t follow.

the Chokosna River, their fresh water source, even in the winter
With Buttercup at bay, the cow ran into the middle of the yard, ten feet from our front door, followed by the tiny calf. After standing there, about 100 yards away from me, for what seemed like an eternity, both moose started wandering toward the back of the yard and I inched forward on the machine, thinking I might persuade them to keep going.

At that moment, Maya spotted her and burst into a fit of barking. To my horror, the cow spun and ran toward her, attacking with her head down, ears back and hair raised! I could hear Maya yelping in pain as I rushed the machine across the yard to the house and jumped down. As I ran closer with my heart racing, I found the moose stomping, kicking, and trying to bite my poor dog as she spun around on her chain trying to dodge the blows.

Jack with his winter trapping work
Her house was overturned, and she raced back and forth around trees and her house to avoid the angry moose. So angry, in fact, that she did not see her panicked calf flee down the bank to the river.

Buttercup was ready to lash into her again but I called her back, then fired a shotgun blast into the air in the cow’s general direction . She stopped for a moment, then lashed into Maya again. I was frantic and yelling, trying to distract her before she killed my dog. I inched closer and stood behind a large spruce and fired high again. However, without realizing it, I had reached the point of no return. She could now reach me faster than I could get back to the safety of the house. At that moment, she decided to come for me!

In three bounding leaps she was around my tree and close enough for me to reach out and touch her nose! I started running immediately when I saw her coming toward me, but she gained on me so fast that I couldn’t get away.

the walking bridge to McCarthy and Kennicot that seems to wash out each year with 'breakup'
Suddenly, my shotgun was knocked from my hand and I fell to the ground. In that moment of horror, I realized that I had made a grave mistake in trying to protect my beloved dog and I was probably going to get badly hurt, or worse. I’m not sure if I tripped on her leg or on a tree root, but I went down hard.

In amazement, I realized I wasn’t hurt so I scrambled away and ran to the house. In fact, Maya barked so crazily when she saw the moose coming after me that she lured her back and, I believe, saved me from a stomping. I found Buttercup on the back porch and got her inside, then strapped my pistol to my hip since my shotgun was still lying on the ground with a broken sling. The next time I ran outside, the moose jumped over Maya and ran down the bank toward the river, out of sight.

bridge on the McCarthy Road, which use to be a track for the railroad to the Kennicot copper mine.

Moments later, she ran back into the yard at the exact spot where she had left the calf, snorting and grunting loudly. I realized that my troubles were not over; she had become separated from her calf and could not find it. For another half hour, she ran crazily through the yard several more times. She made another move toward Maya and I fired the pistol into the air again. This time she retreated behind Maya’s yard, but still very close. I told the dog to hush, and she was completely silent as we watched the moose cross the river, walk down the opposite bank, and re-cross to our side, sniffing the ground. Finally, she picked up the scent of the calf and walked downriver.

I carefully walked out and put Maya in an outbuilding in case the moose returned. But she never did...at least not that night. The dog yard was in disarray with moose hair scattered everywhere. My poor dog was spooked for days after her experience but unhurt except for a bloody nose. Buttercup was completely untouched. Although in my panic I don’t remember being kicked, I had a dark purple bruise on the back of my thigh that looked suspiciously like a moose hoof! Afterwards, looking at her tracks and the place where I had fallen, I don’t know how she could have missed me!

Three days later the dogs started barking furiously early in the morning. I looked out to see a grizzly in the back yard! Using my usual scare tactic, I fired a pistol round off and the bear scampered away. But to my amazement, I saw something move in our field and out stepped the cow and calf! I suddenly realized that the bear had been less than 100 yards behind them and I might have saved the tiny newborn’s life. At least that time. Both moose trotted off down the driveway together.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen the cow in the yard two more times this week without her calf so a bear probably did catch up with them. But Maya, Buttercup and I survived our close encounter and I learned an important lesson about protecting my own safety before I try to protect my dogs. Life in the woods involves constant assessment of risk, and I try to be very careful. This Memorial Day I risked too much, but I was lucky. I’m even more cautious out there now and I keep my distance!

 

Ann_Hells says:
Oh man, scary. Sounds like an exciting life.. but I'd probably get eaten haha.
Posted on: Feb 11, 2008
markinldn says:
I live not that far from the woods but fortunately the biggest predator of all is a fox around here... lol :D
Posted on: Feb 11, 2008
the_bloodsucker says:
great blog! =D
Posted on: Feb 10, 2008
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Susan and Jacks cabin, they try t…
Susan and Jack's cabin, they try …
the cabin, they have cable and int…
the cabin, they have cable and in…
side view of the cabin
side view of the cabin
Jack
Jack
Susan showing thier solar panel se…
Susan showing thier solar panel s…
the Chokosna River, their fresh wa…
the Chokosna River, their fresh w…
Jack with his winter trapping work
Jack with his winter trapping work
the walking bridge to McCarthy and…
the walking bridge to McCarthy an…
bridge on the McCarthy Road, which…
bridge on the McCarthy Road, whic…
McCarthy
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