We were moose hunting. The plan was to reach East Bay before daylight, and then walk as far as Salmon River which, I learned, isn’t a river at all. It’s a freakishly foreign site – a long wide clearing of weathered rock, the beautiful river long ago killed off by the Province of Newfoundland when they dammed it – and damned it – for hydro.
I’ve never seen anyone long so lustily for a love affair with large traditional electricity generating projects, as the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador does. I suppose it makes insecure politicians feel worthy when they can crawl into bed with big hydro. I’m betting the big boys in their blue suits find this fact funny, and profitable, while the ratepayers of Newfoundland and Labrador lose their ancient rivers, and their salmon lose their lives – billions of salmon that for tens of thousands of years were genetically programmed to swim to the bottom of East Bay, but are no more.
So I found it difficult to enjoy the day outdoors when I couldn’t stop imagining politicians sleeping with the big boys who control this continent’s hydro – which was a shame, because I was supposed to be searching for food for McCallum families.
We were in Area 20, a very large tract of land between North, and East, Bay, where we saw a big black bear and many lovely mergansers. And where I got scolded when, upon discovering the skeletal remains of a dolphin or porpoise, I got a little excited and made too much noise given our goal was not to scare away moose.
I don’t know how anybody can call what I was doing, ‘hunting,’ when the entire time I was on the hills, my eyes were focused on my feet. I couldn’t take my site off the territory I intended to place my next step upon. That’s how rugged the landscape is. One foot in front of the other was all I could concentrate on. The moose I was supposed to be looking for might have been right beside me but I wouldn’t have noticed, because all I could see was the next hazardous rock, treacherous tree root, and slippery puddle of mud.
One thing directly beside me that I deliberately didn’t notice was the sudden drop towards the sea. But I was the only one overwhelmed by my whereabouts. The father on this team had seen it all before – today was just another joyous walk in the woods for him. His son and daughter-in-law weren’t bothered by anything, either. He was always up for a hike, and she, in her pink Ducks Unlimited cap, as competent a hunter as any male, was quite contented to be cradling her rifle – a black, scoped, 7-lb. 660 mm Savage Arms thirty ought six (.30-06). It was obvious how much she wanted the moose that the licence in her pocket entitled her to. And that was a treat to witness, the enthusiasm and energy she brought to the hunt.
But a moose was not ours to have this warm September day, until, upon our return, one of my neighbours indirectly dropped some on my supper plate. He’d found it up Facheux Bay two days earlier, and was now seeing to it that it fed at least fifteen families – that activity being a much more pleasant pursuit to ponder than the thought of Newfoundland and Labrador politicians sleeping with big wealthy boys in blue suits.