(KMSP) - Every family has stories and traditions that are handed down from generation to generation.
For the Engers, many of those stories revolve around "Lester the Moose" and his long, strange journey back into their possession.
This tale of moose and men began in 1909 when Melvin Enger hopped on a train with nothing but his rifle and a backpack to go moose hunting up north.
He returned with a 19-point moosehead, which hung in his farmhouse in Orrock, Minn. It stayed there until the mid '70s when his grandson, Terry decided to take it to his frat house at St. Cloud State University, where Lester, as his then-girlfriend now-wife named him, became quite the party animal.
"At one point, he had his own mailbox and would receive mail from graduates. For a while, he even had a newsletter going, which didn't last too long. Yeah, Lester was well known around St. Cloud State," Terry Enger said.
After he left college, Terry lost track of Lester, but stories about him were passed down through four generations of the Enger family.
Terry's son, Josh, started looking for Lester about eight years ago, but he was disappointed to learn the moosehead was missing from the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity house.
"I had never seen Lester myself because he was already in the frat house. I had always envisioned him him as kind of this iconic figure and part of our family's history. I always had this desire to see Lester the Moose," Josh Engel said.
It turns out Lester had been thrown in a dumpster after being damaged by a flood in the late '90s, but a fraternity member now living in North Carolina had rescued him and left him in a storage unit for nearly 20 years.
Josh had a taxidermist restore Lester to his former glory and surprised his dad with the long lost memento at his retirement party last week.
"I couldn't believe it. I thought it was a different moose somehow. It's a mockup or whatever. But this is Lester. I went back and counted each point of every picture and this is it, " Terry said.
"When they actually unveiled it, the shock in the room was astounding. Terry and I looked at the each other and tears came. We realized it was Big Lester. So excited. So proud," said Debbie, Terry's wife.
Both Josh and his dad are hunters who've bagged their fair share of trophy bucks.
But looking for Lester turned out to be the hunt of a lifetime and he'll always be dear to their hearts.
"We'll be telling Lester The Moose stories for at least another 100 years and hopefully longer than that. Hopefully he doesn't get away from us again now that we got him back," Terry said.
Enger plans on putting Lester above the fireplace in his new home in Pequot Lakes. The family will move Lester there over the Thanksgiving weekend.