The pursuit of waterfowl is always humbling. And Canada's prairie is a place we have spent many falls, chasing the first flights of the migration.
As a co-owner of Habitat Flats Central Prairie Lodges, Max Cochran has been afforded the privilege to spend the early season in Canada, scouting, guiding and dodging the occasional roadside moose — hey, everything is more wild in the Great White North — and he tapped us in to tackling Canada.
If you're considering a Canadian hunt (and you should be), there are a few things you need to know. Whether you go with an outfitter or want to DIY it, we'll get you headed in the right direction, so you can come home with a cooler full of birds€¦and memories.
1. Ruling out an outfitter: Whether you plan on a guided hunt or doing it yourself, understand what you value most in your hunt and what path will allow you to accomplish that. If you define success with full limits, oftentimes the outfitter is your best option with his local knowledge.
The good ones take great care of you and allow you to experience the wild with them. But do you're homework. There are plenty of lazy guides laying in wait to take your hard-earned money.
2. Lack of respect: Respect the people, culture, and way of life. Canada is its own country. Be worldly and polite and it will take you far. Don't argue with game wardens, farmers, customs agents or local authorities. It will get you nowhere, and you're making life difficult for the rest of us who want to continue hunting here.
3. Ignorance of the law: Don't rely on your know-it-all buddy or web chat fodder. Call a local official and get it right from the source. No different than in the U.S., each province has its own local and international laws.
4. Don't let your trip begin and end at Customs: There is nothing worse than spending the time, money, and effort for a Canadian adventure and getting stopped at customs without the right paperwork. They do not negotiate.
Research what you will need to gain entry into the country. Your passport, proper gun and ammo forms and authorization for your retriever (if you plan on bringing him) are just a few necessities. Canada has many different laws and regulations that may not allow certain people or items to come into the country.
5. Leave it as you found it: No matter the setting, pick up all your belongings, including shell casings and trash after the hunt. Not only is it the right thing to do, but if you ever want to hunt that spot again, clean it up. Leave a mess and that farmer is bound to tell everyone to turn you away.
6. Always keep the tank half full: You never know where your next fuel station might be in rural Canada. And if you plan to use a credit card make sure it has a pin number as some pay-at-the-pumps will lock your card in. If you don't have a pin it won't release the card, so you better hope the attendant is friendly.
7. Have an exit plan: Canada has very liberal limits, which is why many people come here. But just because you can kill 100 birds a day doesn't mean you can eat all of them.
Take possession limits into consideration, and have a responsible and legal plan to put your harvest to use. And remember, you cannot transport breasted out birds home, the wing must stay on and the birds must be properly tagged.