By Greg Clusiau
For Donny Newman, it was just another normal day of checking his trap-line. This time, however, Newman had brought along Trigger, his buddy’s nine month old silver lab, just to let him stretch his legs some and get a little exercise.
Trigger was good company and things were going as planned until Donny pulled over in the Isabella area to check some pine martin traps.
Freshly plowed, the road was winged out over the shoulder and gave the false impression of solid ground. Donny’s truck sank into the ditch and he became stuck. The was just the beginning of bad things to come.
Leaving the truck where it was, he planned on shoveling it out after he came out of the woods.
Donning new aluminum snowshoes, Newman climbed over a 4’ embankment and started into the swamp when he heard what he thought was a snort. Stopping and looking around, he didn’t see anything and made another couple steps before hearing it again.
Glancing into the dark shadows, a large cow moose was spotted. The two made eye contact and as the stare down continued Newman noticed she had a calf with her and begin to back-track. About four steps into the retreat, Trigger noticed the animal as well and started barking. That’s all it took.
Ears laid back, it was “game on” and the moose was on top of Donny before he knew what happened. Knocked down, face first, into the deep snow, the assault begin.
Luckily Newman had a back-pack on, which was full of trapping bait. Almost a foot thick, packed with meat, it acted as a cushion, taking the brunt of six to seven deadly front hoof kicks. The 800 pound animal destroyed the pack and pushed Newman deep into the snow. Curled up into a fetal position, he took the blows, hoping for the best, praying the large animal would give up, thinking him dead.
It was at this time that Trigger leaped into action, attacking the moose. The young dog, who had only met Donny for the first time on this day, let his instincts take over and went after the moose.
Distracted, the cow went after the dog, who ran up and onto the road. A chase ensued, with both of them disappearing from sight. The calf followed behind.
Minutes later, Trigger returned, unscathed, with not a mark on him. He had saved Donny’s life, even though he had started the fight in the first place. Once the moose heard the familiar canine bark, a winter of fending off wolves spurred her into the fight scene, moose hair was littered across the deep snow.
Adrenalin allowed Donny, who had a cut hand, sore shoulder, and generally hurting all over, to shovel the truck out and finish the remaining three hours of his trap line.
Grateful for his little buddy helping him out, a stop was made at the local Dairy Queen on the way home, where Trigger enjoyed his own “chicken strip basket.” It had been quite a day.
Once home, the stiffness set in and Newman realized he was in worse shape than he figured. A next day trip to the doctor revealed torn ligaments and muscles in his neck and shoulder, along with a dislocated hip.
Reflecting upon the ordeal, Donny said “Well I feel sorry for the moose because the snow is so deep. They have to use my snowshoe trails to get around up there and I still love and respect moose. The woods belongs to them and we should be careful not to get into their space and should admire them from a distance. Thankfully Trigger prevented me from becoming a welcome mat. I feel lucky to be able to limp away and trap another day.”
Newman said another 4” higher and the moose would have kicked him in the back of his head. Also, a snowshoe was stepped on, right behind his heel, and although he can still use it, it is bent and will be “mounted” on the wall as a remembrance of a close call with Mother Nature. All of this happened 20’ off the road.