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Moose in my world 

Ranger Rich

I go way back with the giant, awkward, goofy-looking, hairy beast known as the North American moose (scientific name Rushus limbaughsus).

My 13-year-old dog, for example, is Moose, a name chosen because of his droopy jowls and black fur and the way he likes to rub his antlers on a tree.

And some 25 years ago I had a fantastic moment involving a moose in a clear-cut forest patch high in the Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming. And by "fantastic," I mean the 900-pound animal charged at me and I ran away, perhaps making small-girl noises.

Then, just before Christmas 2001, a moose wandered into our village and meandered for days along Monument Creek near Colorado College — eating, drinking, lurching around aimlessly and desperately searching for a mate. Or as CC students call it, going on "block break."

On that winter day, with the moose actually looking at us, I dropped to one knee and asked my girlfriend Susie to marry me.

Footnote: She said yes, and today, 11 years after that magical, enchanted day, she still hates moose. (Last Saturday morning, as I laughed hysterically at Rocky and Bullwinkle, she actually began to cry.)

Anyway, my friend Jake shot a bull moose a week ago near the Colorado town of Grand Lake. Even though I have a long and storied history with moose, I was happy. Because moose kill old men as they walk to church. As the men walk to church, I mean. Not the moose.

Speaking of which, back in August, Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul "Champion of Women's Rights" Ryan actually said this:

"President Obama said in tough times people cling to their guns and their religion. Hey, I'm a Catholic deer hunter. I'm happy to be clinging to my guns and my religion."

In summary — and I approve this message — Paul Ryan hunts Catholic deer. (Maybe he leaves a buck in the collection basket. Or a little doe in the envelope.)

Sorry. The point here, and I don't have one, is that we should shoot more moose so they can't kill or maim us, as they've seemed to enjoy doing since being reintroduced to Colorado in the late 1970s. According to biologists, flying squirrels were reintroduced a few years later, and by 1985 the duo had their own popular cartoon. (See disappointed, disgusted wife above.)

Anyway, in March 2006, 92-year-old Louis Heckert of Grand Lake was walking to church when a moose attacked him on the sidewalk. The man died a few days later. Others in the northern Colorado town have been injured in moose attacks, and many have been threatened.

Take Mike Turner, 58, who lived for 16 years in Monument and recently moved to Ohio. (I assume to get away from the angry moose.)

"A friend, Rick Spurgeon, got chased by a moose just last week up near Grand Lake," Turner said. "Charged him. And years ago a big bull moose followed me for a mile in the woods. They're big and aggressive and have no fear."

Last week, after 15 years of applying for a Colorado moose hunting license and finally getting rewarded — you can only get one moose tag in your lifetime in Colorado — the aforementioned Jake, a recent CU-Boulder grad and the son of a deer old, I mean dear old friend, shot a moose.

He and his dad hunted hard for nearly two weeks, and on the big day Jake tracked the bull for four hours through deep snow before getting a shot.

"It was a pretty big deal," Jake said. "I'd tried for so long for a license. Then when I finally saw the moose and it finally happened, I felt more relieved than anything. It was great."

And while I know there might be an anti-hunting sentiment among some readers, I celebrate. Because today there's one less moose to attack us as we walk to church, where Paul Ryan is crouched beside a pew, his ears standing at full attention if you know what I mean, preparing to shoot a Catholic deer.

Rich Tosches (rangerrich@csindy.com) also writes a Sunday column in the Denver Post.

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