Turtle Mountain Metis - Hunting

Wild game was plentiful and made frequent appearances on Métis dinner tables. Because the Métis hunted to feed themselves, the activity occurred both in and out of season—people had to eat. Hunting off-season or inside the boundaries of the Turtle Mountain Forestry Reserve was frequently practiced, but had to be done discretely, as it was against the law.

A popular hunting activity was coordinating deer runs. Several families or groups of neighbours would get together to do this: “Hunters would be put in certain places and riders on horseback would go around and chase the deer out to the hunters” (Lorne Conway). Sometimes horses weren’t involved, and everyone would go on foot if the snow wasn’t too deep. Betty Canada remembers taking her turn walking the bush during deer runs: “I had my own rifle. Tom [Ducharme] would pick us up with the team and we’d spend all day out west. At least 10 people would go. We’d have a fire at noon  and roast our frozen sandwiches, and tell stories. Sometimes we bagged a couple of deer and sometimes we didn’t.”

Children were also a part of the hunt, doing what they could to put food on the table. Harold Alberts was only seven years old when he shot his first deer. Betty Carey remembers setting snares for rabbits on the way to school with her brother. In the afternoon on their way home they would collect the rabbits, and their mom would fry them up or put them in a soup for dinner. As a child, Norman Goodon (Lorraine Goo- don’s husband) didn’t have time for pastimes such as playing cards. He was always running around with his slingshot, seeing what he could get. “My dog would chase a rabbit under a brush pile, and I’d get him in the head when he’d stick it out. The dog would chase a partridge or a squirrel up a tree and I’d get under him and shoot him.”

Having such a constantly available source of food eased the pressure on families to make money to spend on groceries. More than saving money, hunting created a lifestyle.

Source: Vantage Points II: (Download Complete Article)