CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada08 Jan 1966, Sat • Page 83
THIS is a story of valor. It is the strange but true story of a Hereford bull, a photographer and me. But to fully understand our brave act we must first go back to that day in November when I was called into my boss’s office. “Jim,” he said, “sit down. I have a job for you.” “Great, Chief,” I said.
“We are in the middle of the hunting season again,” he went on, “and at this very minute the woods are alive with amateur hunters who don’t know the difference between a moose and a cow. They keep shooting horses and cows and even themselves to prove it.” “Sure, Chief,” I said. “Well, Jim, you are going to get a cow and . . .” “A COW!” I said. “… or a bull, drive up to northern Ontario, put it on the roof of your car and drive back,” he said. “You should get some great reaction and prove my point.”
And that’s how it all began. That’s why, at the height of the deer and moose season, thousands of people saw Kingston photographer Fred Ross and me driving around with that animal on the roof. Before proceeding further, I think it is only fitting to extend sincere thanks to all those people who saw us; they were a great help. To those who called our passenger a Hereford bull, our compliments. To those who believed it was a moose, we say nice try. To that man in Peterborough who agreed we had been right in cutting the antlers off our deer so we wouldn’t scratch the paint on the roof we say . . . Sorry, I’m afraid we still can’t think of a thing to say to him.
We put the show on the road or, if you prefer, the bull on the roof at Sudbury. The beast, as you have’ surely guessed by now, had passed away. He had been, in case you haven’t guessed, in the trunk of our car, all 400 pounds of him. Our original plan had been to hoist him up on the roof with a block and tackle but it was cold in Sudbury and snowing. It being Sunday, we decided to let somebody else do the heavy work. We pulled up to a service station and I told the attendant what we had and what we wanted. He thought he might be able to help. “But I’ll have to check with the boss,” he said. I followed him inside the station. “George,” he said, “they have this cow …” “Bull,” I corrected…. in the trunk and they wanna put it on the roof.” George looked at his man and then he looked at me. “Bull he said. “Bull,” I replied. “Sounds like a job for the Cannonball,” he said. Cannonball, George’s big, powerful tow truck, handled the job with ease and we were soon headed south with the bull up top.
We knew we had a winner as soon as we met the first car. We were moving slowly and it slowed down when the driver saw us coming. There were five people in the car and, while we could not hear what they said, there was only one word on their lips: COW. We pressed on. By the time we hit North Bay hundreds of motorists and pedestrians, many of them hunters, had displayed some of the greatest double-takes you have ever seen. So we figured it was time to stop. Ross parked the car in front of a Chinese restaurant on North Bay’s Main street, went in and ordered something to eat. I stayed behind and pretended to secure the ropes. In no time at all there was a crowd around the car. “How was the moose hunt?” one of them asked. “See for yourself,” I told him. He walked all around the car, very slowly, looking at our prize from all sides. “Nice size,” he said.
“Have you ever seen a bigger one?” “Oh, they go a lot bigger than that,” said the man. “You should try your luck up around Mooso-nee. They say it’s real good for them up there. We wondered then and we wonder now whether the guy actually believed it was a moose. Meanwhile, Ross was inside choking on his won ton soup as he watched and listened to the Chinese waiters. I arrived in time to hear one ask: “Bear?” “Moose, said Ross. “Hen!” said the waiter and walked away.
By now traffic around our end of the main drag was hot and heavy; word spreads fast when you have a bull on your roof. We didn’t want to cause any traffic jams so we decided to leave town. Just south of Huntsville we were stopped by the police. Ontario Provincial Police Constable Len Schloendorf wanted to know if we had a bill of sale “for that.” We had one the carcass had been purchased from a farmer at Kingston. We levelled with him. We were, we said, conducting a survey. Schloendorf asked as they always do for Ross’s driving permit, saw it, took a few more glances at the bull and waved us on. But we had a feeling he wasn’t really satisfied. We were right. He wasn’t.
A few miles down the road he’ stopped us again. Would we follow him, please? He wanted to check this thing out in detail. We followed him to the police station at Bracebridge where we met Constable Art Dawson, who was on radio duty that night. He and Schloendorf both wanted to know the story. Schloendorf sat down at the teletype and started to punch out a message to the Motor Vehicle Registration branch in Toronto. He was going to ask them whether the rented car we were driving really belonged to the people we said it did. “Hold it, said Ross. “I think I can save you the trouble. I have a letter here from the police chief in Kingston and . . .
They checked us out anyway but, after they had detained us for about 40 minutes, they were laughing. They explained then that they had heard of us from the Huntsville detachment. We had passed the police station there and I recalled the officer who had been standing in the window, because the double-take he took when he saw us was by far the best of the trip. “He called us,” Dawson explained. “But it was difficult to make out what he was saying, he was laughing so much.
Before we left the police they told us that a few years ago someone had shot a Hereford bull “one just like yours” in their area and, convinced he had bagged a moose, had strapped a moose licence to one of the animal’s hind legs, loaded it on the roof of his car and headed home. He didn’t get far.
We got motel rooms at Bracebridge that night and parked our car out front. There was just enough light to do the trick. A few minutes after we settled in someone rapped on our door. It was Constable Nels Kennedy of the local police. “I have to ask,” he said. “I couldn’t face driving past that thing all night without knowing the story. Did you shoot it?”
In return for the facts he told us the one about a hunter who went out for deer in the area not long ago and saw a white goat. He killed it, thinking it was a white deer. He didn’t get far either. Traffic past our motel was heavy that night. Hunters would come up, stop their cars, get out and take a close look. And just at the right moment Ross or I would open the door and shout: “Beauty, isn’t he? Nine times out of 10 they would agree and walk away doubled up with laughter. At times I would open the door, walk out and say: “The only question now is how to cook it. Do you guys know anything about cooking venison? I hear that red wine …” It worked every time.
The next day we pushed on past the little town of Udney on Highway 69 and didn’t stop until we were forced to by cattle crossing the road near Brechin. Two farmers looked at our bull, looked at their herd and broke up. They were Hereford farmers and their animals looked just like our “moose.” We parked on the main street of Lindsay. Ross got out and walked away. I pulled my cap down over my eyes and pretended to sleep. A crowd gathered in no time and one man’s curiosity soon got the best of him.
He rapped, gently, on the window. “Yes, sir,” I said. “Is that, he wanted to know, “a deer or a cow? “Moose,” said I. “Lovely, just lovely,” he said and walked away. I drove the car around town for a while to let Ross get pictures of the people. We stayed long enough for Stu Mewburn, a photographer with the Lindsay paper, to hear about our bull. He saw me turning a corner and Ross nearby with his camera. “What do you know about it?” asked Mewburn. “Not a thing but it looks like a picture to me,” said Ross, who then got a picture of Stu taking a shot of our bull. Peterborough was really good to us. We hit town just before noon and parked in the heart of the downtown area.
Within 15 minutes the local press, radio and TV boys were on the story. We made page 1 of The Peterborough Examiner and later discovered other newspapers and the Canadian Press had carried the story of the hunters who had shot the bull by mistake. A little later in the day we pulled into the Royal Burger drive-in restaurant on the edge of town for a bite to eat. It is one of those places where you shout your order into a microphone.
We knew they could see us and we knew they could see our bull. “Two burgers, two large milks and an order of French fries!” shouted Ross. The girl on the other end repeated the order. We waited a few minutes and then drove up to the window for the food. The bull was about 24 inches from her nose but she didn’t crack a smile. Just before we left the restaurant a man from inside the place came out to the car and asked what this was all about. He said he had a reporter on the line who wanted to know if there really was a car in front of the Royal Burger with a bull on its roof. We told him we preferred not to comment “I understand,” he said. We left town.
We moved south on Highway 14 past the little towns of Bonarlaw and Harold and when we got to Stirling we saw a man coming out of the post office. Ross pulled up. I rolled down the window. ‘Tell me, sir,” I said, “do we turn right or left to get to Belleville?” He said left. I thanked him and started to roll up the window. “Out hunting?” he asked. “Yep, moose. And, with one eye on our bull and one eye on me, he asked cautiously: “Get one?” Proudly, I pointed to the roof and volunteered that we hadn’t done too badly on our first time out “for the big ones.”
He cautioned us to stick to the back roads and was still standing there when we went into the turn toward Belleville. We stopped for gas at Belleville. “Nice size, eh?” Ross asked the attendant “Beautiful,” replied the man on the pump. Ross wasn’t satisfied. “Have you seen many coming through?” he asked. “Four yesterday.” “Do they run much bigger than this?” “That’s the biggest one I’ve ever seen.” Ross handed him a $20 bill and we waited for him to go into the station for change. Several men in the window were laughing and we figured the man would get clued in before he returned. We were right
“That’s a steer,” he said with confidence when he got back. “Well, you’re close,” said Ross. “It’s a bull.” “Oh, a bull, ehr “Yep, bull moose,” said Ross. “They say they are good eating.” said the man, confused as ever. “Tender,” said Ross and away we went. After emptying a tavern at Napanee we went on to Kingston, where we parked the car in a shopping centre lot. Ross disappeared and I started to secure the ropes.
I soon had a crowd and one of them, a young man in his twenties, got me over to one side and in hushed tones out of the corner of his mouth said: “Mister, that isn’t a moose.” “You’re kidding,” I said. “Look, I’ll lay you $100 to $1 that that is a Hereford bull. Moose are a lot darker than that and they have long noses.” “You’re sure that isn’t a moose?” “Look, my dad raised Herefords for years and I know one when I see one,” he said. “If I were you I would get it the hell off this lot in a hurry.” When he left another fellow took his place. “What have you got there?” he asked. “Moose; what else?” I replied. “Well, all I can say is it’s a good thing you didn’t go duck hunting.” “How’s that?” “You woulda shot an airplane,” he replied.
CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ontario, Canada08 Jan 1966, Sat • Page 83
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