What It’s Like to Necropsy a Moose

It’s physical and sensual. It’s not an exercise in hypothetical counter-factuals or wonderings about brains in vats or the playing of a clever devil’s advocate. It’s hot and uncomfortable and smelly. You flail in vain at ginormous mosquitos with your forearms and shoulders (because your hands are covered in rubber gloves which are covered in moose grease and hold a sharp knife); you record information on a necropsy card; you walk ever-widening circles in search of bones dragged off and chewed on under a balsam fir tree; you cut the tendons between metatarsus and femur, and find the skull and the lower mandible; you tag, and bag, and carry them home.

But unless you have no soul or imagination it’s also stunning and humbling. Someone who was intelligent and sensitive and brave, who had no interest in being killed and eaten, fought very hard but died here. And others, who were also intelligent and sensitive and brave, who also fought very hard, were fed here. And the breeze picks up. Little lonely ghosts of an adrenalin-drenched drama linger in this place – you can feel them.  And it’s appropriate to breathe in and to be deeply silenced by this truth.