The Story – Forever Locked
On October 9th, 2003, Ray Deragon, an avid hunter and outdoorsman, spent the day scouting a remote tract of woodlands in the Gile State Forest, Springfield, NH. While walking along an old trail, Ray approached an area that caught his attention because he recognized the strong odor in the air of some animal that had died recently. Following his nose, Ray discovered something that few have seen. Two large bull moose had engaged in a fight and died. Bulls fight during the rutting period to vie for breeding privileges with receptive cows in the area. During the battle, their two massive sets of antlers had become inextricably locked. Unable to separate from one another, the bulls, exhausted, stressed, and unable to eat or drink, eventually succumbed to nature.
Ray then contacted Conservation Officer John Wimsatt and explained what he had discovered. The men returned to the area to take a closer look. CO Wimsatt estimated that the moose had been dead for approximately one to two weeks. The two mature bulls had likely clashed antlers during the last few days of September. It is rare for battling bulls to permanently lock racks, but in this case, unusual palmation and fate contributed to the permanent locking of the antler sets. Once tightly locked, the bulls hopelessly tried to separate and eventually died.
As the two continued to examine the carcasses, the question surfaced as to what to do, or not do with them. Coyotes, other predators, and ravens had heavily fed on the main bodies of both moose. Decomposition was well in progress. But, what did remain in unspoiled condition, was a mass of entangled antlers that was unlike anything the two had ever seen. CO Wimsatt photographed the scene to document the event. The men then carefully removed both heads of the moose while maintaining the tightly locked antlers. Ray and John had to figure how to get the heads back to John’s truck. They retrieved John’s canoe from his truck and proceeded to load the heads and locked antlers into the canoe and dragged them down the mountain. One bull sported a 53-inch spread while the other displayed an impressive 61-inch spread! The estimated weight of the heads and antlers was about 300 pounds! The antlers remained permanently locked and have never been separated.
Click here to learn about the creation of the exhibit, the early years of the exhibit and where we are today.