Forteau hunters rescue moose calf

Animal had fallen through the ice on Pinware River


Published on March 16, 2017

Bill Saulter (pictured) and Scott Saulter of Forteau rescued a moose calf stuck in the ice in Pinware River. When the Saulters came upon the calf, nothing but its head was sticking up out of the ice. Here, Bill can be seen with one of the shovels just before they started digging out the creature.

©Submitted Photo

There’s a moose that owes its life to two Labrador hunters.

On a bright Monday afternoon, March 13, Bill Saulter and his nephew Scott Saulter of Forteau, got on their snowmobiles and headed into their cabin.

It was to be your typical winter day in the country, checking traps and enjoying the great outdoors in the Big Land.

They didn’t expect to become heroes to an animal in serious distress.

As they drove along Pinware River, Bill, who was driving ahead, stopped upon a moose calf. It had fallen through the ice and was stuck in the river. With its fur drenched in water, the calf had been struggling desperately to get out.

By this time it looked exhausted.

After being rescued, the calf rested near Bill and Scott Saulter’s snowmobiles.

©Submitted Photo

No tracks were around, suggesting the animal had been stuck there for some time. There was no sign that a moose had been around at all, in fact, except for the young, antlerless head sticking up out of the hole.

It was clearly a matter of life and death for the calf.

Bill waited for his nephew to catch up and together they decided to take action.

“We can’t leave him there, we got to try to get him out,” said Scott.

The two men grabbed their shovels and started digging. They also started beating down the snow with their snowshoes. But this proved unsuccessful and the calf was still unable to get out of the hole on its own.

Bill and Scott had to find another means to complete the rescue operation.

They got a rope and used a long stick to get it down around the calf’s stomach, since they couldn’t reach down that far, and tie it around. They tied the other end of the rope onto one of the snowmobiles and drove ahead.

It was a struggle and Scott estimates it took an hour or more.

But the momentum from the machine managed to finally pull the weakened animal out without injuring it.

Free at last from its perilous predicament, but not free of exhaustion, the calf rested near Bill and Scott’s snowmobiles.

After approximately 20 minutes, it stood up and headed down the trail.

But as it trekked along, the simple creature kept doing a curious thing. Every few steps, it would stop and look back at its two rescuers: a strange look of some kind of recognition, breaking across the barrier between man and beast.

Scott believes it was a look of appreciation, a way to sort of thank them.

“He was thanking us, I’d say,” he said. “He never tried to run away, he was too tired, but he was happy enough to get out I think.”

At that point, they left the animal and continued on their journey. They returned about an hour and a half later, and found it resting again.

It eventually got up and headed into the woods. That was the last Bill and Scott saw of the creature.

They expect the calf will be able to find its mother and survive.

“Lucky to do what we did, or he wouldn’t have made it,” said Scott. “Lucky for him.”

stephen.roberts@tc.tc