An Amazing Alaskan Woman story!!!
McCarthy Travel Blog› entry 5 of 6 › view all entries
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!