Stitch Manitowabi brings back trophy rack and a great tale

Wiiky hunter bags big elk at Burwash from 1,292 feet using vintage .303

WIIKWEMKOONG—As the majestic elk came running out in full gallop, responding to a single moose call, still a quarter mile away, Gzaagidwin Anishinaabe (Andrew Stitch Manitowabi) knelt, watching intently through the sights of his venerable British .303 rifle.

The elk was 394 metres away, 1,292 feet in British parlance, so far away that as Mr. Manitowabi slowly let out his breath and gently squeezed the trigger, the loud report of the rifle had passed before the slug hit home.

“I stood up and we heard the ‘putts’,” he recalled. “I stood up and watched it stagger and drop. We were speechless.”

When he reached the carcass, Mr. Manitowabi and his nephews discovered that the Wiikwemkoong hunter had nailed the shot. “Right in the armpit, a lung shot,” he said.

“Tom Hare said, ‘that’s a Tommy Prince shot’,” recalled Mr. Manitowabi. Tommy Prince was a legendary and highly decorated Canadian war hero, a crack shot and founding member of the renown Devil’s Brigade during the Second World War. He was from a small Manitoba First Nation community.

The shot was impressive and the elk massive, so the real work began as the hunting party set about dressing and preparing the meat for transport home to the waiting freezers.

“My nephews were impressed and so appreciative,” said Mr. Manitowabi. As he switched from hunter to butcher he was able to “teach them what I’ve been taught in preparing the process of harvest for their families.”

When the summer months come in normal times, Mr. Manitowabi can be found in traditional Anishinaabe regalia, taking part in powwows across the region, but his engagement in a traditional lifestyle extends far beyond the dance arena to form a foundation of his everyday life.

“I kept the ivories from the elk’s jaw and will wear them as a gift from my Dbendijig for providing such a harvest,” he said.