When Don Baldwin and two of his buddies went out for a four-day ice fishing weekend, they came home with much more than just fish stories.
While Baldwin, James Lambert, and Greg Alton just had a so-so long weekend of fishing, they managed to haul in a 900-pound moose that had fallen through the ice last week on the English River near Mattawa Lake, about 20 minutes northeast of Ignace.
It seems the three-year-old moose had fallen through the ice around 9:30 a.m. Monday when it was first spotted by Eugene Pastupa, a worker in the area with Cliff Sawyer Logging. He called the Ministry of Natural Resources in Ignace, and helped the trio rescue the moose.
Baldwin said it took the four of them about an hour to lasso the moose and bring him up to safety. A good thing, he stressed, adding he didn’t think the moose would last much longer in the frigid water.
"We were quite relieved to get him up. When he got up on the ice, he looked beat and he was shivering," recalled Baldwin, adding he’s never before been in such a situation before.
"I’ve come across a few dead ones but never a live one before," he laughed.
"He was toast, he was almost dead," stressed Lambert, adding the moose did not put up a fight when he was being rescued.
"He was going down hard."
But the rescue mission did leave the moose minus his set of antlers as both sides were ripped off his head, forcing Baldwin to lasso the moose around his neck and bring him to solid ice, which he estimated to be about three and-a-half to four inches thick.
As a memento, Baldwin kept the antlers, which had about two inches of ice on them.
"We just pulled him up by hand with a tow rope on the third throw," Baldwin said. "After we got him up, he had no fight in him so we stayed with him for about half-an-hour.
"Then he walked towards the shore and trotted away like a normal moose," he added.