Look up the definition of Canadian in the dictionary and you’re likely to see a photo of Mike Ranta. Our favorite cross-continent canoeist (and 2015 C&K Expedition of the Year Award winner) is a friendly, happy-go-lucky, red canoe-paddling Canadian. (Need more evidence? Check out the Tim Hortons and beer references on his Facebook page, and his trademark homemade birchbark hat.) Ranta is a native of Atikokan, Ontario — Canada’s canoe capital, located on the doorstep of Quetico Provincial Park and Minnesota’s Boundary Waters. It turns out, Ranta is also gifted in rescuing iconic Canadian wildlife.

One morning in June, on Saskatchewan’s Qu’Appelle River and two months into his ongoing paddle across Canada, Ranta and his dog, Spitz, encountered a mother moose and calf. By chance, Ranta captured the scene on video: In short, the newborn moose panics and tumbles into the river, where it becomes entrapped in a submerged tree. Ranta then springs into action — hoping the mother moose won’t become defensive. “I felt obliged to help,” he says. “But it was a little terrified. I’m way more terrified of a mama moose than a mama bear.”

— Read more on Ranta’s current 4,750-mile solo expedition, now hitting its home stretch in New Brunswick. 

— Watch more on Ranta’s historic 2014 solo single-season expedition across Canada.