Elderly Cree woman and daughters’ annual moose hunt a family tradition

By | September 22, 2020

Pretty much everyone loves a good moose hunting tale… but it’s even better when the group that brings down the bull is made up of an elderly Cree woman and her two daughters.

Mary Jane Albert, 62, is from Norway House Cree Nation, about 450 kilometres north of Winnipeg, and goes moose hunting every year with her sister and her mother. 

This Sunday, she caught her first moose of the season.

“Well, I don’t like to brag. I’m just happy to be with my mom and to go moose hunting with her,” said Albert, who shot the moose. 

Albert works as a health care aide in the community. Her mother, Alice Albert, is 81.

“I always take my vacation in September and go moose hunting with my mom and my sister, usually the three of us,” said Albert.

This weekend, the trio drove out to their family’s trapline, which is just outside Norway House. 

After they arrived, they used a boat to travel to a place where they could make phone calls home. On the way back to the family cabin, something caught Mary Jane Albert’s attention.

Mary Jane Albert (left) with her mother Alice Albert during a previous year’s hunt. At 81, Alice is still giving her daughters tips on how to hunt. (Hilda Albert)

“I seen something in the bush there moving around and it was two moose there,” she said.

“And then we kind of slowly turned around to go back to where we came from, and then I took some moose pee out so they could smell it from my boat.”

To get the moose closer to the boat, she used moose calls that her late father had taught her. 

Because she was the one holding the gun waiting for the shot, she had to rely on her sister Laura’s boat driving skills.

“I told her to drive and she doesn’t know how to drive that boat. We were just going in circles and all over the place,” she laughed.

“I was telling her that the [moose] was there and I was just yelling at her.”

Mary Jane Albert said that once Laura figured out how to steer the boat, they floated slowly toward the two moose.  

“And then I started shooting… and I hit the first one right away,” she said.

Family affair

She learned how to hunt from her dad Samuel, who died around 15 years ago.

“I came back here and started learning the ways that my dad used to hunt… And then my mother… she’s teaching us a lot of hunting,” she said. 

According to Norway House resident Hilda Albert, the family are well respected hunters in the community.

“Mary Jane is the only woman I know that can bring a moose down in Norway House,” said Hilda Albert, in a Facebook message to CBC News. 

“Mary Jane and Laura started taking their mother out after her husband passed.”

Since then, Alice Albert and her daughters have hunted together as a family on their own.

“This is not the first time [that we got a moose],” said Alice Albert.

“I wasn’t so surprised.”

Alice Albert said she loves to be with her daughters on the land.

“I like it in the bush,” she said.

Mary Jane Albert said her favourite part of going out into the bush together with her mother and sister is hearing stories of the past.

“It’s telling all the stories, all the moose, where they killed all of the moose. Where they came from. Where their trap is. Being out in the woods, they showed me where all of the moose walked so I know where to go and look for it,” she said.

With the help of community members, the women took the moose out of the bush and helped to prepare it together on Monday.

“It’s a lot of work,” she said.

“When you shoot it, it’s so exciting. But afterwards, when you have to cut everything up, the meat and all that stuff, it’s hard. It’s tiring.” 

She said she loves to cook moose meat as stew and stir-fry, but her favourite way to cook it is fried with fried onions and potatoes.

They plan to share the meat with people who helped prepare it, as well the people who need it in the community.

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