Moose Hunting in a Canadian Winter
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Moose Hunting in a Canadian Winter

Moose Hunting in a Canadian Winter


Moose Hunting in a Canadian Winter

When the winter snow-fall lies heavy and deep

In rounded hillock and drifted heap,
And the frosty flakes like diamonds shine
On the boughs of the hemlock and plumy pine;
Then forth to the northern wilderness
The hardy trappers and hunters press,

The snow lieth deep, the snow lies white,
It fills the hollows, it tops the height;
The frozen river the ice-bound lakes:
The brook lies mute, and choked in its bed;
You cannot trace where its channels led;
The cedar branch is bent to the ground,
The spruce with a weighty burden is crown’d;
Afar spreads a silent and crystal waste,
Where the features of nature are all effac’d.

But valiant a hunter hath heart of steel;
He buckles the snow shoes firm to his heal;
His Indian blanket and buckskin dress
Suit well with rugged wilderness;
A leathern girdle surrounds his waist.
Wherein his axe and wood-knife are plac’d:
Then forth, at crimson dawning of day,
With his heavy rifle he takes his way.

The snow lies hard, for the keen, cold night
Hath form’s a crust both solid and bright:
So the hunter strides on with steadfast tread
Wherever the icy deserts may spread;
Knowing well the great moose and cariboo,
With their clattering hoofs, must wallow through;
Although they be fleet as bird on the wing,
When o’er the firm turf of the forest they spring,
Yet when helpless they sink in the yielding snow,
They’re an easy prey to their resolute foe.

The great northern stag, with antlers so broad,
With hoofs that can fence or assault like a sword,
Is a terrible foe; so, hunter, beware,
Nor rashly the dangerous champion dare:
His many-tin’d antlers are like spikes of the oak,
As sharp as a dagger, as fatal their stroke:
Those prongs they would toss both hunter and hound,
Their stab would impale them like worms of the ground,
First drive the ounce-bullet through skull and through brain,
Till he paint with his gore the snow of the plain;
Then draw a keen edge of your blade o’er his throat,
And sound the death-slogan with shrill bugle-note.

In the far-away northernmost wilds of Maine,
Where the murmuring pines all the year complain,
In the unknown Arrostook’s lonesome world,
Or where the waters of Moosehead are curl’d,
The stalwart wood-cutter pitches his camp,
In his cabin logs trims his winter lamp;
And oft when the moose-herd hath form’d its “yard,”
And trampled the snows like pavement hard,
The woodsman forsakes his sled and his team,
And his harvest of logs by the frozen stream;
And, arm’s with his axe and his rifle, he goes
To slaughter the moose blocked in by the snows;
And many a savory banquet doth cheer
The fireside joys of his wintry year,
With the haunch of the moose and the dappled deer.

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