Thom van Eeghen, elk rancher

Growing up Thom always searched for the challenges beyond scholarly study. That meant applying his innate skills to form new animal husbandry ways. Not only did he find a life of evolving challenges with animals, he found the very best occupation with elk.

Working in New Zealand with livestock, Thom would notice the free-roaming elk on the fringes of the farms. He would often pause and study the elks’ expressions which seemed to be saying; can you work with me Thom? As if they were issuing a proposition.

At that point in time there was no-one to demonstrate how to farm elk and, most importantly, undomesticated elk have no desire to adapt to the farming methods that other animals do.

Thom’s new challenge would involve understanding, appreciating and working with the elk’s natural behavior and rhythms. Yet there were no books available on the subject. No information on a right or wrong way.

To understand and appreciate more, Thom came to Canada where there existed a diversity of elk, and importantly; an oral history around them. The history that told of our forebearers in this region and how they managed to subsist here in the Ottawa Valley. Elk are a part of that legacy story.

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