The Hunter Home From The Hill

More on the history of hunting in the East Kootenay.



“The fascination of shooting as a sport depends almost wholly on whether you are at the right or wrong end of the gun.” P.G. Wodehouse

Jim Cameron

Maple-roasted rack of venison, grilled rainbow trout, pan-seared duck breast with blueberry sauce and a fine bottle of pinot noir; the hunter’s choice cuisine. But first you have to kill it, although, as clever hunters know, the wine is generally killed differently than the meat.

Sometimes, in fact, you have to catch your prey after you kill it, as E.J. Peltier and Charles Armstrong discovered in September, 1902, when they travelled in the company of a borrowed bird dog to a lake on the St. Mary Prairie to do a little duck hunting. They shot well, the ducks dropped in the lake and the dog refused to budge. Not to be snookered by a canine, Mr. Peltier shrugged off his clothes, climbed into the saddle of his trusty steed and headed for the middle of the lake. Hanging on by the mane he and the horse swam from duck to duck and gathered them all; a perfect poster boy for Super Natural British Columbia.

Much to his chagrin Lester Clapp, in an oft-repeated tale, met with misfortune while hunting ducks near Twin Lakes. Taking a break he sat down to rest against a tree for a smoke when he spotted a lone mallard coming towards him in full flight. He raised his shotgun and fired at a distance of some 30 yards. His aim was true but the duck did not falter. It flew directly into Mr. Clapp’s head, crushing both his cigar (Mr. Clapp’s, not the duck’s) and his pride, before falling dead to the ground (the duck, not Mr. Clapp).

Thomas Caven, a conductor for the CPR, did away with the whole rifle thing completely in 1916, when his train, No. 514, heading east, struck and killed an elk. On the return journey Mr. Caven stopped the train to investigate and found that the elk’s head had been cut off close to the shoulders, leaving it in perfect shape for subsequent mounting.

Fred Ryckman failed in the capture of a big game trophy in October, 1915, when he  organized party of hunters to bring down a bear that Mr. Ryckman claimed was relentlessly raiding his pigsty and making off with the bacon. The men stationed themselves nearby in the dark of night and, hearing the squealing of the pigs, advanced forward to let loose a terrific volley. Upon close inspection they discovered the bullet-ridden body of Mr. Ryckman’s bulldog. Mission accomplished, more or less.

Tragically, it is sometimes the hunter who becomes the target. Not as often as might be thought but, needless to say, there are more than a few graves in the Old General cemetery occupied by those who, with a loaded gun in their hands, made one mistake. Perhaps Charles Campbell had it right when he opened his shooting gallery on Baker Street in 1903; after all, he was the local undertaker.

Those on record as having died by a single misplaced bullet include Joseph Tacier, a CPR worker, who was among the first in the city to suffer death by misadventure with a gun; in fact he was one of the first in the city to suffer death, period. He was working in the Cranbrook rail yard when he slid his rifle backwards onto a handcar, caught the trigger in some tools, shot himself in the stomach and died soon after.

In 1913, Edgar Rawles brought down a grouse with a .22 caliber pistol. When the bird showed continued signs of life he picked it up with one hand and shot himself in the stomach with the other. He walked two miles to his camp and died the next day.

In April, 1905, W.C. Cook, the CPR station agent at Fort Steele Junction, went out with his rifle and didn’t return. An ensuing search revealed his rifle and clothes on the shore of a small lake. His body was discovered in the water not far from the dead duck he was apparently trying to swim to retrieve when he was overcome by cramps.

Edward Trowse shot himself in the chest with a 30-30 rifle in 1913, when he struck the hammer of the weapon on a rock upon which he was seated while hunting up Gold Creek. He died instantly and, ironically, was carried down the mountain in a deer hide.

Robby Boyter somehow shot himself through the lung with his father’s shotgun in April, 1919, while leading a team of horses. He managed to walk home but died the next day.

In a bizarre accident, Alban Michel shot his friend, 11-year-old Gabriel Ignacz, on Christmas Eve, at St. Eugene Mission. The two boys were playfully arguing over possession of a gun when it went off, blowing away Gabriel’s hand and sending a piece of bone into his stomach which killed him almost immediately.

On the other hand, there is the tale, first heard in 1912, of local game warden Jim Bates encountering a hunter with his gun in the mountains during the closed season. “Good country for hunting,” said the warden. “It certainly is,” replied the hunter, adding, “I killed one of the finest bucks yesterday I ever saw. He must have weighed over two hundred pounds.” “I see,” said the warden, “and do you know who you are talking to?” “No, I’m afraid I don’t,” answered the hunter. “Well, sir,” said Bates, “I am the chief game warden of this district.” “And do you know who you are talking to,” asked the hunter? “No, I do not,” said Bates. “Well, sir,” said the hunter, “you are talking to the biggest liar in British Columbia.”

Just Posted

The latest EKASS survey confirms a steady decline in substance use among EK youth over the years. (image compilation via Pixabay)
Latest survey shows steady decline in adolescent substance use over the years

Starting in 2002, the survey has been conducted every two years to monitor changes in substance use patterns, attitudes and behaviors amongst East Kootenay youth.

The Aquatic Centre at Western Financial Place.
Cranbrook Aquatic Center to close temporarily

The annual shutdown of the Aquatic Center at Western Financial Place will begin earlier than scheduled this year and does not have a defined end date at this time.

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

It happened this week in 1914

June 6 -12: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the archived newspapers held at the Cranbrook History Centre and Archives

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Thursday, June 10, mentioned Grand Forks among two other COVID “hot spots” in B.C. Photo: Screenshot - YouTube COVID-19 BC Update, June 10, 2021
PHO Henry says West Kootenay city is a COVID ‘hot spot’ in B.C.

There are 11 cases of COVID-19 in the Grand Forks local health area, according the BC CDC

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read