Fredericton — Today it seems the bridge between man and moose is wider than ever, with CBC trumpeting the fact that New Brunswick hunters have taken down 3,686 moose in one of the largest harvests on record.
While most hunters would view this as a professional triumph, for one, at least, it is a personal tragedy.
“I was once like them,” said 43-year-old former hunter Gary Belmont. “I participated in seven moose lotteries over the years, and I’m ashamed to say that I even…well, let’s just say I took part.”
He lowered his gaze to his interlocked fingers. For a moment, he didn’t speak.
“The most beautiful thing about Lauren — if I could choose just one — would be her ability to open her heart and forgive.”
As Belmont tells it, he first met Lauren in the early days of this year’s hunt. He was determined, he said, to bag a moose in the first week of the season.
He had staked out his spot in a wooded area just outside of Burton. He figured if he took a six pack and the latest issue of Field & Stream with him, he could wait comfortably for several hours for one to show up.
It was just 30 minutes before she appeared before him. One look, he says, was all it took.
“It was love at first sight. Definitely,” he told The Manatee. “But even from the get-go we knew that we were going to have a difficult road ahead. First of all, I didn’t have a licence.”
As the weeks progressed, the pair became inseparable. Belmont would join her for long jaunts in the forest, while he introduced her to the luxuries of human society, such as music, art, and SpongeBob SquarePants memes.
Belmont’s friends and family say that they were aware of the budding romance, but that the exact nature of this relationship remained unclear to them.
“What do you mean?” asked Belmont. “Are you asking if we…Well, I mean, that’s sort of a personal question, isn’t it?”
At this point, Belmont placed his hand over the recorder and winked while giving a “thumbs up” gesture.
Not all of Belmont’s colleagues were as supportive, however.
“It’s disgusting,” said fellow hunter Marcel Cloutier. “That moose was clearly underage.”
Refusing to acknowledge the validity of their relationship, Cloutier saw Lauren as fair game. So, when he saw his opportunity, he took it.
“We were having lunch when it happened,” Belmont said, his eyes beginning to moisten. “A hero sandwich for me, a head of lettuce for her…it was then that the shot rang out.”
Belmont described Lauren’s final moments, holding her large head in his lap and stroking her bulbous nose as the life slowly left her body.
Now in tears, Belmont admitted to one lasting consolation.
“The steak, though, was fantastic,” he sobbed.