Wednesday, February 8th, 2023
Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Once-in-lifetime find: battle-locked dead moose

Gilbert, Minn. – A moose shed is a rare, treasured find among
shed antler hunters. But a pair of antlers? How about two pairs,
still attached to the bodies of deceased bulls, and locked

Tim Bradach, a 32-year veteran police officer in Gilbert,
usually tries to begin his search for moose sheds in early January.
This year he didn’t head into the woods for his first hunt until
Jan. 18.

And he’d only been searching for an hour when he came upon his
unique find.

“I hit the mother lode here,” he said.

Bradach was on a snow machine when he saw one antler poking
through the snow on public land in Lake County, near his St. Louis
County hunting cabin.

“That would’ve made my day,” he said of finding a single antler.
Upon further investigation, he noticed not one, but two antlers, a
rather unusual find in itself. Digging into the snow, Bradach
eventually exposed two sets of antlers, each upon the head of a
moose carcass, locked together.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” he said.

And they weren’t just your average antlers; both had the
potential to make the Minnesota Record Book, Bradach estimated.

Bradach believes the animals had been dead since at least
November, and may have died earlier than that. The carcasses had
been chewed on somewhat, but hadn’t been fully consumed by wolves
or other carnivores.

“The bodies were smelly, and there was some deterioration,” he

Bradach used a chain saw to cut the head off one of the animals;
he cut around the antlers on the other. He then enlisted the help
of friends to clean up the skull plates and antlers.

“It was quite the messy, smelly operation,” he said. Part of the
process involved ladling scalding water onto the skull plates. A
Dremel-type tool also was used to removed flesh. When all was done,
he had “quite the prize.”

A friend, an official scorer, on Monday took measurements on the
racks. The larger of the sets scored over 170, Bradach said. The
smaller one was over 150. The minimum score for record book entries
is 150.

Bradach said those scores aren’t yet “official,” because he
hasn’t determined when the mandatory 60-day drying period begins in
such a unique case.

He also has contacted the Minnesota DNR, and Conservation
Officer Matt Frericks was set to issue him a possession permit
earlier this week. Permits aren’t needed for sheds, “But since this
is a rare, different situation, we’ll issue (Bradach) a permit (for
future documentation),” Frericks said.

Whitetails locked together during a breeding-season fight isn’t
uncommon, but Bradach said moose antlers “don’t really lend
themselves to getting hooked up or tied together.”

The bigger moose had triple brow tines, and one point was stuck
in its adversary, but Bradach doesn’t believe that would’ve killed
the smaller animal.

The antlers of the two moose remain locked together, but Bradach
isn’t sure what he’ll do with them yet. The 51-year-old has found
plenty of moose antlers in the past; he says he’s found two or
three antlers many years, and has found as many as a dozen to 15
antlers other years. He drew a moose permit – in 1995 – and killed
a bull while hunting.

The massive dual moose antler find might never be equalled, but
Bradach expects to find a few more this year; this weekend he’ll
retire after 32 years serving Gilbert as a police officer.

The moose population in northeastern Minnesota has steadily
declined in recent years, according to the DNR. The current
estimate is about 7,600 animals.

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