enforcement: not for the meek
Ray V. Fetterly
gelding, a farm plug tied in the willows, laid his ears back in defiance
of the strange approaching steed and its overcoat-clad rider. The early
morning hoarfrost cast a scene of ornamental tranquility over the southern
slopes of the Riding Mountain National Park. Several inches of new snow
completed the peacefulness and stark beauty on this November morning
7:05 a.m.. My very first realization of the seriousness, danger and
anxiety of the job was about to be brought abruptly to the fore. I had
been on the job a mere nine days. A half-mile inside the park I found
it anything but peaceful. In a moment it would erupt into a violent
confrontation and a test of wills between the resolve of a young park
warden and an equally determined early morning hunter.
horse Flick, went from a fast trot to an abrupt halt in the face of
a leveled .30.30 carbine. The poacher levered a live shell into the
chamber. Not more than ten feet away he snarled a defiant, "Hold it
right there...now get your hands up!" His white angry face left no doubt
of his will and intentions. He would by any means or method, frighten
off this bothersome obstacle on horseback and either continue the hunt
or make good his escape.
the horse would be shot, I proceeded to point out the error of the poacher's
ways. But the madman in dirty overalls only sneered again, shouldered
his rifle and brought it up to my midsection. In the meantime the issued
.303 lay comfortably in the saddle scabbard, where in retrospect I am
glad it remained.
thoughts entered my mind and I was annoyed at the thought of a bullet
hole through my new sheepskin lined overcoat. I thought of my dear mother
(recently widowed) and how she would cry again. But who would tell her?
No one knew where I was. Her son would be dead somewhere in the bush
perhaps never to be found. As I tried to maneuver my horse into a more
advantageous position, the poacher fired a shot. How close, I did not
wish to know.
he reloaded and brought his gun up again, snarling a, "Now get to hell
out of here!" At this awful moment, there was instilled in me a need
for immediate departure. Pushing the horse hard through an entanglement
of young poplar, willow and underbrush out onto an unused sleigh road,
I beat a hasty but not so dignified retreat. At a fast gallop for three
miles finally reaching the nearest farm, farmer Mike Baraniuk was on
his way to the barn, in preparation for the morning milking. As I excitedly
explained my presence, the unmoved farmer calmly said, "Now lad, just
calm down. I'll drive you to the phone at Mountain Road (six miles)
but first we take care of your horse. Then, we'll go in and have a cup
sides, the lathered animal was unsaddled in the warm stable and given
a good rub down, some fresh hay and blanketed. Soon however, we were
on our way where a phone call to my Chief Warden brought RCMP Corporal
Bill Stewart and Park Warden Bud Armstrong to my aid and a search for
the suspect began.
of elimination brought us to an all night stakeout at the backwoods
farm of Harry Z. (not his real name). In the log house was an old man
and a teenage girl. The supper table was set for three. In the stable
was an empty stall. On a hook near the stall post hung a matching blind
bridle to the one on the poacher's horse. It was known the farm owner
had a team of black workhorses and one was missing. We watched the place
from a distance throughout the night but no one came.
through unnamed sources our suspect had that day left the district for
winter employment in the woods of Ontario. The winter passed and in
April, 1953 Harry Z. was arrested. He was fined $150, a substantial
penalty at that time.
V. Fetterly is a retired Manitoba conservation officer.