SUDBURY -- It's a rite of passage for every fisherman, to have that "big" story to share.

Travis Burke and Greg Miller now have quite the whopper after their excursion over the May long weekend.

The pair were fishing in the woods near St. Charles, east of Sudbury, when they came across a moose.

"We were coming up to a very narrow point and we saw something in the distance," said Miller. "At first we thought it was a deer, but as we approached, we noticed it was a baby moose, a couple of days to maybe two-weeks-old."

The moose appeared to be struggling, he said. It was shivering from the cold and stood on an outcropping of rock to keep its head above water.

"We stood back for a while to see if it would go up on its own, but it seemed to be stuck, so we approached it and very cautiously," Burke said. "My partner Greg off the front of the boat was able to grab it and we brought it across to the other side, being the safest place to bring the moose aboard."

However, the calf didn't appear content and was looking for a way to jump back into the lake.

The two men deduced it was trying to reach its mom on the other side of the lake.So they got back into the water to usher it over to the far side and carried the young moose up the steep side of rocks.

"It was a pretty steep rock, rock ledge, and she got stuck at the bottom, partly in the water. You could tell she was cold, she wouldn't have survived for very long if we hadn't come along," said Burke.

"You always see moose and bears in the distance … This is something that will never happen again."

It's a first for both men, who have lived in northern Ontario for their entire lives and are no stranger to venturing into the bush.

Most people in the north know it's standard practice to leave the animals alone, but in this case, one expert believes they did everything right.

"The female, 90 per cent of the time, is going to come and pick it up and be fine," said Laurentian University biologist Frank Mallory. "So my view is these gentlemen, whoever they were, did the right thing - they left the moose out there in the wild and that's exactly what they should do."

Mallory says far too often, people make the mistake of thinking an animal is orphaned and bring it to a rescue centre. He says more often than not, it's best to leave moose in the wild.

Moose are notoriously shy, he said, and in this case, the mother could have been hiding behind a tree.

The experience has given the two friends and anglers an experience they won't soon forget.

"She wasn't getting out of there unless we did something," said Miller. "I'll never forget that."