Editors Blog

Big Bucks North of the Border

Note: Deer & Deer Hunting Editor Dan Schmidt has just returned from a weeklong hunt near Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.  This is the first installment of a five-part blog series on his adventure. Check back each day this week for updates.

D&DH Editor Dan Schmidt found he would have to endure many lines and complete lots of paperwork on his travels to Saskatchewan.

I don’t know who originally penned the phrase "Go Big or Go Home," but it was certainly a diehard buck hunter. Translation: If you’re going to travel 1,144 miles to hunt whitetails, you best hone your mental edge before stepping foot on that plane.

I’ve spent the past eight months doing just that. If you know me — and know me well — you know that I love releasing the bowstring and squeezing the trigger. I just love deer hunting (and venison) that much. But when CVA’s Chad Schearer invited me to leave Wisconsin last week and hunt the wilds of Saskatchewan with him, I knew that this was a "big or nothing" proposition. I also knew that — despite the fact that we’d be hunting deep-woods bucks over bait — this would be anything but a slam dunk. 

It certainly wasn’t. And I learned that months before the trip happened. This was my first trip out of the country since the early 2000s. Yeah, a lot has changed since then.

Although I traveled just last week, the paperwork began four months ago when I had to apply for my first U.S. Passport. In August, I spent a good part of two days shuttling between work, our county courthouse, my safety deposit box (to retrieve my birth certificate) and the U.S. Post Office. I was lucky I started the process months in advance, because the passport showed up at my home just a few weeks ago.

From there, it was more paperwork. From copies of my firearms declarations (for entry into Canada) to the names, phone numbers and addresses of everyone I would come in contact with while visiting (every form printed off in triplicate) … I stepped into the airport feeling more like an income tax auditor than a wide-eyed deer hunter.

It’s a good thing I had all of that paperwork with me, because the lines and additional paperwork at the Canadian customs took nearly as long as my connecting flight from Minneapolis to Saskatoon. But all’s well that ends well, right? I began my journey to the airport at 4 a.m. last Saturday. By 7 p.m., I was standing in Mo Heisler’s Garden River Outfitters camp with eight other diehard whitetail hunters admiring some of those massive, dark-chocolate-colored  racks that has made Saskatchewan famous.

A hunter from New Jersey admires a 195-inch buck taken at Garden River Outfitters.

Click here to read part 2: "Welcome to the Whitetail Jungle."

9 thoughts on “Big Bucks North of the Border

  1. Sam Menard

    I’m a Canadian and have hunted in Saskatchewan on self-guided hunts 5 times. I prefer self-guided as the thought of sitting in front of bait at site that someone else picked just doesn’t appeal to me, To each his own I guess. The one benefit about going with an outfitter is the opportunity to hunt on exclusive land that pretty much no one else hunts. That increases the odds that you will kill a bigger than average buck. Although I never did kill a buck bigger than one that I killed in Ontario, I did see a couple of whoppers.

    One final comment. There’s been a few comments about the fees and rules relating to bringing a firearm into Canada. Just for the record, the rules for a Canadian to bring a firearm into the USA are just as, or more, complicated, You need to fill out forms and submit them before you show up at the border. You also need to pruduce a state hunting licence – even if you are only intending to pass through the country.

    Happy Hunting!

  2. Bob Baldwin

    totally agree that the FEE’s NEED to Go

    From Ky I drive up from here .Between the Canadian Fee’s and the Airline Regulations it is Just too Much hassle .

    Love the hunting there but now seem to be drawn to Kansas and Nebraska . South Dakota is also a great place for deer hunting

  3. Paul Blackburn

    I know it’s big bucks in Canada, but from what I ‘ve seen in hunting shows, you might be luck if you see a big monster buck at all.Would I like to go – yes ,and no. I can take it or leave it. I would like to kill a record buck buck in my home state, and I have.There are states in our country that have lots of big bucks, and the cost to hunt them is ridiculous, also. the coust to hunt is preventive.The game and fish,is not doing what they should to help this economy. By bringing the cost of hunting license down they could help this country,and business in those states by letting hunters that are bring money for food ,hotels etc. Why should it take years to get a license to hunt anywhere in America. Citizens should come together and vote to change these high cost of hunting license – to hunt another state. Don’t put up with this kind of B.S. anymore.We shouldn’t be ripped of by our game and fish commission go to them and tell them about these ridiculous fee’s, vote them out- if necessary. Lets get rid of this kind of ridiculoueness.

  4. chad l philip

    ive never went to canada.but,from what i see on tv its not much diffrent then hunting the big woods of ashland wisconsin,u have to bait,and u could go for days without seeing anything.but there are some huge deer there also.good luck,ill deffinetly keep up with the story…

  5. Tom Moore

    When Canada started charging a fee to bring a gun into the country for hunts, I stopped going to Canada. I never went there for hunts. I just went there for fishing trips. In my mind untill the fee is lifted, no one from USA should go there for any reason.

  6. Peter Wood - Hunt Talk

    With the new federal conservative government abolishing the hated long gun registry shortly, hunters from USA will be able to hunt in Canada with less hassle and costly permits and border customs headaches

  7. richard moody

    i agree about the travel its a headache anymore .. i been going up to canada since 1989..the hunting is great but the airlines with all there extra costs with everything (luggage, change o. love the hunting but seroiuly thinking about no going anymoref flights, hotel stay overs)

    1. mysteryrich

      i agree about the travel its a head ache anymore..i been going up there since 1989..took some very nice deer.. the whitetail hunting is 2nd to none its the best in the world BUT the airlines are out of control with all there fees over weight over sized change fees then the fee to bring your gun into canada the over night stays in edmonton then 5500.00 for a trip you sit up in a tree for 6 days 900 dollars a day for that ?….lol.. then you get outfitters that go home all day while you are out hunting when they should be out scouting for you. they also show you trail pics of deer from there hunting spots they also have pics of deer that were shot on there web sites from people that didnt shoot them hunting with then show you pics of local people that were lucky…just be very careful selecting a outfitters there are still some great outfitters up there …good luck…5500.00 dollar trip turns into a 7500.00 trip very quickly

  8. Jeff Marx

    Canada has really gotten to be a hassle for deer hunting. I went through the same thing you did when I traveled there last year for a deer hunt. Yes the experience was fun and different but honestly the travel hassles and expenses really made me wonder if it was worth going back anytime soon.

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