Friends of Fintry Provincial Park
The Octagon – September, 2023
As I write this, and as if to declare the end of the school summer holidays, the rains have arrived. The parched earth, the tinder dry forests and our overworked firefighters must be doing a happy dance. However, although this helps, it will take a much more prolonged rain to really get everything thoroughly soaked and people can breathe easily again.
We are devastated that so many families along Westside Road, West Kelowna and Lake Country have lost their homes and our thoughts and prayers go out to them as they now try to come to grips with their loss and try to get their lives back together.
The Friends of Fintry are so disappointed that our much-anticipated Highland Fair had to be cancelled because of the wildfire “Order” that came down just two days before the Fair was to happen. With our events, musicians, competitions and lots of new vendors all signed up for what promised to be an exciting day, we now have to postpone it totally until next year. Fintry Provincial Park and consequently the Manor House are both closed until further notice. Not the way we wanted to end this season. We are however, still hopeful that we may be able to open at some point in September so check our website for updates.
Some new additions to the Fintry collection are now mounted in the Ben Lee Room and a very interesting story now follows courtesy of Dan Bruce and our donor, Dusty Cooper.
. “Dusty ” and “Rusty”, our new Dall sheep mounts, can now be seen flanking the video screen in the Ben Lee Room. These are the gifts of Dusty and Janelle Cooper, of Lake Country, and our Board Member, Roy Lysholt is seen here in the process of installing the heads in their place.
Dall’s sheep, of which there are three sub-species, appear to be more closely related to the Asiatic species of wild sheep than to the American one so frequently met with on Westside Road. Our new specimens are examples of Ovis dalli dalli, as opposed to the Peninsular Dall, Ovis dalli kenaiensis or Ovis dallistonei, the Stone or Black Sheep.
Dusty Cooper has kindly given this account (below) of the hunt for the one-horned ram. For a wild sheep to lose a horn, and expose the horn-core, there could have been an unusually serious battle with a rival ram, or even a bad fall. Whatever happened, it is very likely that the animal would not have survived much longer in the wild.
ONE HORN DALL SHEEP
By Dusty Cooper
I was guiding for Dall Sheep in the Northwest Territory (NWT) in the early 1980s. I had been guiding in the Mackenzie Mountains since 1975. During a hunt on the upper Fritz River and based out of a spike camp our crew was setup on the river and at the base of a mountain where we had seen sheep the day before. The small crew consisted of my wife, who was camp cook, another assistant guide, and a horse wrangler. We had two hunters in our camp at this time, which both were looking for Dall Sheep and Caribou. Above our spike camp we saw a good bunch of “Dall Sheep Rams” on a large rock outcrop feeding in a grassy area. While I was looking at the sheep through a spotting scope, I noticed some exceptional rams in the group. So, I took my hunter, and we started climbing up the side of the mountain to make our way toward the sheep. While climbing we had to keep concealed from the sheep to ensure they do not notice us coming their direction, this meant moving through rock crevasses and small creek drainages.
Once we thought we were in the area we had last seen them we made our way to a large rock overhang to hide behind and start glassing (binoculars) for the sheep. Even after our 5-hour climb, to our delight the sheep were still in the same area, where some were feeding and others laying down. They were now approximately 150 yards away from us at this time. One thing that was very different then I had ever seen before, one large adult ram was missing a horn. Was it that he fell off a cliff earlier on and broke it off, or fighting with another ram? Many questions came through our mind, but one thing for sure he was a “One Horn Ram”.
After a bit of a discussion with my hunter he said that he preferred one of the other large adult rams and did not want to take the one horned ram. So, I said to him, if you don’t mind after you shoot your ram successfully would you hand me your rifle so I can take the one horned ram. Providing they stay close by, and all do not run off in a scurry. So, once we decided and got situated, my hunter shot the ram he wanted and handed me the rifle so I could take the one horn ram. We hiked over to where the rams were laying and noticed that the one horn ram was bleeding from the missing horn core on his head. We assumed that it had not been long before this that he must have lost his horn. I was glad that I took this ram as he was likely having difficulty and very well could have gotten infected and died from this earlier injury.
After we cleaned up the rams and packed the meat, cape, and horns on our packs we started to head down the mountain toward spike camp. We took a break and sat down for a moment and had a drink of water by one of the small creeks running down the mountain. I decided to take my binoculars out and have a look at camp in the valley bottom next to the river. To my disbelief I became in panic mode as I saw a grizzly bear not far from our camp heading that direction. Noting that my wife was alone in camp preparing a dinner for that night and did not know what was about to approach her!
NWT Big Game Guide
On an entirely different topic, those of our readers who are members of the Okanagan Historical Society will notice an article in the latest (87th) report of the OHS, “James Teit and Coiled Basketry “. One of the illustrations shows the very large basket now atop the bookcase in the Dressing Room at Fintry.
We certainly hope that we can resume our tours later in September so that you can come and see Dusty and Rusty and some other new additions in the Manor House!
Looking forward to better days ahead…..
Friends of Fintry Provincial Park