Theodore Roosevelt’s Description of His Last Big Game Hunt: A Bull Moose

The most evocative and complete description of a hunt by Roosevelt to reach the market.

Purchase $25,000

His original, unique signed statement, quoted in full in his book, “A Book-Lovers Holiday in the Open”:  “We shouted, but it paid no heed to us; we then reversed our canoe, and paddled in the opposite direction; but following us and threatening us, the bull moose turned and walked the same way...

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Theodore Roosevelt’s Description of His Last Big Game Hunt: A Bull Moose

The most evocative and complete description of a hunt by Roosevelt to reach the market.

His original, unique signed statement, quoted in full in his book, “A Book-Lovers Holiday in the Open”:  “We shouted, but it paid no heed to us; we then reversed our canoe, and paddled in the opposite direction; but following us and threatening us, the bull moose turned and walked the same way we did… I fired into him again; both shots were fatal; he recrossed the little stream and fell to a third shot; but when we approached, he rose grunting and started towards us.”

Theodore Roosevelt loved the outdoor life, and felt the most alive when out in the open air of the wilderness. Born with physical ailments, he saw these as a challenge. His son Kermit tells of TR’s trips with his children, in which he would challenge them to get from point A to point B moving only in a straight line, going around nothing, not even a river or mountain, to arrive at the destination.  In crucial moments of his life, he sought the solace of the outdoors.  When his wife and mother died, he looked to a rancher’s life in the West. And when the tumult of politics was over and his second presidential term had passed, he again turned to the outdoors and hunting for reinvigoration. He hunted all over the world, from the old American West to the heart of Africa to Amazonia, looking for large and wild game.  On African safari immediately after leaving the White House, he gathered specimens for the Smithsonian.  In 1913, after his failed 1912 bid for the Presidency at the head of the Progressive Party ticket, Roosevelt again looked to outdoor exploration, a trip into one of the least hospitable, least known regions of the world – the heart of the Amazon. In each of these places, he took his trusty Springfield Rifle, which he had acquired as President in 1904 and which was delivered to him at the White House.

“When half a mile from our proposed landing place, we saw an old bull moose on the shore. We paddled up to within a hundred yards of it. We supposed that when it saw us, it would take to the woods. It however walked along the edge of the water parallel to our canoe, looking at us. We passed it, and gave it our wind, thinking this would surely cause it to run. But it merely raised its hair on its withers and shook its horns and followed after the canoe.”

In July 1915, after giving a major political speech and seeing his youngest son off to college, the old “Bull Moose” took some time off to hunt a bull moose. Roosevelt spent most of September hunting moose and caribou with Dr. Alexander Lambert in Quebec Province. He had a game license to shoot one moose. Roosevelt with two guides was hunting from a canoe on a lake in the Ste. Anne River country northwest of Quebec. On the morning of September 19, 1915, he shot a bull with antlers spreading fifty-two inches. The photo of TR with his kill and hunting partner is one of the iconic images of TR the hunter.

Late that same afternoon, returning to camp, the party encountered another large bull on the same lake. The bag limit being one moose, TR and his guides tried to evade the moose by landing elsewhere, but the moose followed. In the end, TR had to shoot the moose.

“After about ten minutes, the trail approached the little stream; then the moose suddenly appeared, rushing towards us at a slashing trot, its hair ruffled and tossing his head. Arthur Lirette, who is one of the game wardens of the Tourilli Club, called out to me to shoot, or the moose would do us mischief, in a last effort to frighten it, I fired over its head, but it paid no heed to this and rushed the stream at us. Arthur again called “Tirez [shoot], monsieur, tirez, vite, vite, vite”, and 1 fired into the moose’s chest, when he was less than twenty feet away, coming full tilt at us, grunting, shaking his head, his ears back and his hair brindled; the shot stopped him; I fired into him again; both shots were fatal; he recrossed the little stream and fell to a third shot; but when we approached, he rose grunting and started towards us. I killed him. If I had not stopped him, he would certainly have killed one or more of our party; and at twenty feet I had to shoot as straight as I knew how or he would have reached us.”

Roosevelt described the events of this hunting incident in his book, “A Book-Lovers Holiday in the Open,” about hunting and the strenuous life outdoors in North and South America, and Africa, which he dedicated to his sons Archie and Quentin. This book was a tour de force, a testament to his accomplishments as hunter and explorer.  He also discussed cougar hunts, travels across the Navajo desert, his wild hunting companions, and animals he had hunted. We have previously carried his original signed manuscript created for this book, with his sketches of the antlers and the rifle. Now we have his original signed description of the incident in the book, as provided to the Quebec authorities and subsequently published. It is the most evocative, powerful, and complete description of a hunt of TR ever to reach the market.

Document signed, Province of Quebec, District of Quebec, September 24, 1915, filed September 29, 1915. “I, THEODORE ROOSEVELT, residing at Oyster Bay in the United States of America do solemnly declare as follows: That I have just returned from a trip in the Tourilli Club limits as a Guest of Dr. Alexander Lambert, I had the ordinary game license No. 25 issued to me on the 6th day of September inst. On September the nineteenth, on Lake Croche, having with me as guides, Arthur Lirette and Odilon Genest, I killed an old bull moose as authorized by the  license, which only permitted me to kill one moose. That afternoon, shortly after three o’clock, we were returning in our canoe to the West end of the Lake, where a portage trail led to our camp; a small stream runs besides the portage trail; when half a mile from our proposed landing place, we saw an old bull moose on the shore. We paddled up to within a hundred yards of it. We supposed that when it saw us, it would take to the woods. It however walked along the edge of the water parallel to our canoe, looking at us. We passed it, and gave it our wind, thinking this would surely cause it to run. But it merely raised its hair on its withers and shook its horns and followed after the canoe. We shouted, but it paid no heed to us; we then reversed our canoe,and paddled in the opposite direction; but following us and threatening us, the bull moose turned and walked the same way we did, we renewed our former course, and thereupon so did the moose, where the water was shallow, we did not venture near it: but when the water was deep, we went within fifty yards; and it then thrashed the branches of a young tree with its antlers, and pawed the earth and advanced a little way into the water towards us, walking parallel to our canoe. It reached the portage trail, it turned and walked up this trail and sniffed at our morning’s tracks; and we supposed it had fled; but on but on nearing the landing place, we saw it standing in the trail, and it rushed down towards us and we had to back quickly into deep water; we paddled on round the shore, hoping it would get tired and go; we shouted and tried to frighten it, but it merely shook its head and stamped on the ground and bounded in a circle; then it swaggered along grunting, it kept its mouth open, and lolled out its tongue and when it turned towards us, it ran its tongue over its muzzle, thus it accompanied us to and fro for an hour, cutting us off whenever we tried to land. Then it turned and went up to the little stream, shaking its head, and galloping or bounding not trotting for fifty yards, it disappeared around a bend of a stream, we waited a few minutes, and landed, and started along the portage trail for camp.

“After about ten minutes, the trail approached the little stream; then the moose suddenly appeared, rushing towards us at a slashing trot, its hair ruffled and tossing his head. Arthur Lirette, who is one of the game wardens of the Tourilli Club, called out to me to shoot, or the moose would do us mischief, in a last effort to frighten it, I fired over its head, but it paid no heed to this and rushed the stream at us. Arthur again called “Tirez [shoot], monsieur, tirez, vite, vite, vite”, and 1 fired into the moose’s chest, when he was less than twenty feet away, coming full tilt at us, grunting, shaking his head, his ears back and his hair brindled; the shot stopped him; I fired into him again; both shots were fatal; he recrossed the little stream and fell to a third shot; but when we approached, he rose grunting and started towards us. I killed him. If I had not stopped him, he would certainly have killed one or more of our party; and at twenty feet I had to shoot as straight as I knew how or he would have reached us. I had done everything possible in my power to scare him away for an hour and a quarter, and I solemnly declare that I killed him only when it was imperatively necessary, in order to prevent the loss of one or more of our own lives, and I make this solemn declaration conscientiously, believing it to be true, and knowing that it is of the same force and effect as if made under oath, and by virtue of the Canada Evidence Act 1893. Theodore Roosevelt. The notary writes below, “Declared before me this 24th day of September, 1915”. The two guides, Arthur Lirette and Odilon Genest, have signed a corroborating statement below.

TR would later note that this experience had so rattled him that he would do nothing like it again.

The most significant statement of Theodore Roosevelt on hunting that we have seen, and all the more so being TR’s last big game hunt.

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