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.
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.