A Minnesota man and his son stumbled across the holy grail of shed hunting finds.
Minnesota shed hunters Chris Erickson and his 17-year-old son Richie stumbled across something most shed hunters will never see; two dead bull moose dead after fighting to the death sometime in the fall.
It's the kind of find that is both incredibly exciting, but also very bittersweet.
"It's a once-in-10-lifetimes chance," Chris Erickson told the Duluth News Tribune. "but if I could let them go, I would. I'd rather it didn't happen and I could have found their sheds for the next five years."
The father and son team were paddling to their shed hunting camp near Grand Marais last Saturday when they spotted eagles and turkey vultures circling overhead. It turned out the birds were circling a small pond. And out in the center, the Ericksons could see the ribs and at least one tip of a moose antler.
But they didn't expect there were two bulls in the pond. And Chris didn't find out until he tried to pull the first one free from the chest-deep waters.
"I was pulling on this antler, rolling it around," he told the Duluth News Tribune. "As I was doing that, a snout surfaced and it scared me. There shouldn't have been one where it was."
It was only then the father and son realized they had found something truly rare. "My guess is that they probably fought in October and drowned in this pond," Erickson said.
Getting the two moose out was easier said than done. He got the carcasses near shore, but Chris and Richie were forced to return the next day with their friend Jason Lamppa to work on getting the heads fee.
Not having an ax or saw made things much more difficult as they only had a knife on hand. The shed hunters even utilized a .40 caliber handgun to help separate the spine from the head of one of the moose. But eventually they got the heads and antlers free.
The Minnesota DNR issued Erickson a permit to keep them. He believes the larger of the two bulls might make the Minnesota Big Game records book. He also told the Duluth News Tribune he might consider selling the two skulls in the future.
"I'd kind of like them to go to a Cabela's or something where everyone could see them," he told the paper.
While deer and elk seem to be found locked-up in a fight to the death quite regularly, locked moose are something of a rarity. Last year two big bulls were found similarly frozen in the ice of a pond in Unalakeet, Alaska.
Congratulations to Chris and Richie on the find of a lifetime and a lasting memory!