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Sharing in the hunt

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Thursday, December 06, 2007

Deh Gah Got'ie Koe/Fort Providence - Two groups of Junior Rangers from different areas of the North have forged a bond through a bison hunt.

From Nov. 8 to 13, 17 Junior Rangers from Fort Providence shared their way of hunting with five of their counterparts from Taloyoak, Nunavut. The hunt was part of an exchange between the two groups.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Westlin Sabourin, left, and Tom Farcy pose with one of two bison shot during a Junior Ranger hunt near Fort Providence. - photos courtesy of David Jackson

The exchange started in September when five Junior Rangers from Fort Providence travelled to Taloyoak to take part in some hunting, said Ranger Sgt. Clifford Vandell. Bad weather conditions prevented a seal hunt but the Rangers travelled by quad and shot a number of caribou.

To reciprocate, a group of Junior Rangers and their leader were invited to Fort Providence to take part in a bison hunt, said Vandell, who organized the event.

Poor weather and plane trouble delayed the Taloyoak group so the Fort Providence Junior Rangers along with six Rangers and six volunteers travelled ahead by snowmobiles on Nov. 8 to prepare the camp. A ride of approximately 35 kilometres brought the group to the Horn River where they stayed in six cabins that were donated by residents for the occasion.

The hunt didn't take place for another four days but the youth were kept busy, said Vandell.

Leaders try to take the group out two or three times a year. Part of the experience is learning how to take care of a camp, said Vandell.

Junior Rangers were tasked with setting up the camp, gathering firewood, checking nets under the ice and doing the other chores that are needed to maintain a camp.

"It was some good training for them," he said.

With the camp well looked after, the hunt was put into motion.

Using two tags that they had, Vandell and Ranger Dennis Bonnetrouge shot the bison.

The first bison was killed in the morning on Nov. 12. It was part of a herd found near the village, said Vandell. Later in the day at a different location near Mills Lake, Bonnetrouge killed the second bison, a smaller male.

The Junior Rangers from Taloyoak were part of both hunting parties.

"It was a good experience for them," Vandell said.

With the easy part finished, the smaller bison was taken by toboggan to the site of the first kill where both animals were skinned and cut up. All of the Junior Rangers were encouraged to watch the process.

"They need to watch first before they can do it," said Vandell.

The animals became part of the exchange when one hide was given to the Ranger Sgt. from Taloyoak. The second hide was capped and given to David Jackson so it could be sent to a taxidermist.

"It was a fantastic trip," said Jackson, a teacher at Deh Gah school, who took part in the event with some of his students.

Jackson, who tried his hand at skinning the bison, said he'd never experienced anything like the trip before.

Some of the Junior Rangers came away with different experiences from the trip.

How to skin a bison was the main thing Preston Sabourin learned.

"It was kind of gross," said Sabourin.

Climbing big, snow-covered trees and gathering wood were the highlights of the trip for Rocky Gargan.

"The best part of the trip was the ride," said Roland Nadli.

Overall the trip was a success, said Vandell.

"Everybody had fun. It was good," he said.