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US-Canada Border Will Be Open for 2021 Waterfowl Hunting Season

The long wait is over for waterfowlers as the Canadian government makes plan to reopen the border in early August.

US-Canada Border Will Be Open for 2021 Waterfowl Hunting Season

With an official reopening date now set, American waterfowlers get ready to head back acorss the northern border. (oksana.perkins/ photo)

The US-Canada border has been closed with stringent travel restrictions since March 2020. American waterfowlers haven’t been able to travel above the border and have been anxiously awaiting any news as to if it will reopen prior to the 2021 fall hunting season.

Border Breakthrough

Wildfowl has been holding the line and watching for several months now and even made a prediction in the editor’s call of the August Giant Gear Issue that Canada would allow fully vaccinated Americans into the country before this year’s season. Our predication made headway when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a statement on July 15 saying the country may allow fully vaccinated Americans to enter Canada as early as mid-August or early September—just as the hunting season kicks off. Protecting its citizens against the deadly COVID-19 virus has been the main rationale for keeping the world’s longest international border closed. According to his statement, the border might reopen as long as the current trends of vaccination rates and declining infections among Canadians continue. Plans are in place and the country expects to be prepared to handle non-essential American visitors—including duck and goose hunters—once the country has reached the goal of seeing 75 percent of its eligible residents fully vaccinated. With a projection expected to reach 80 percent by the end of July, a sense of hope and a glimmer of relief is being felt by all.

The long-awaited news about a border reopening date was finally given on July 19, when Trudeau announced the country plans to allow fully vaccinated Americans to enter Canada, beginning on August 9, with additional countries being allowed to enter on September 7. Upon entry, visitors will be expected to have received a full series of vaccinations from Health Canada approved Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines. A digital “vaccine passport” system, health screenings, questionnaires, and random COVID-19 testing are also expected to be encountered. Be sure to stay tuned to Wildfowl as we’ll provide any additional developments as we learn about them.

Greenhead Green Light

Ryan Reynolds, owner/operator of Apex Waterfowling out of Biggar, Saskatchewan, who runs fall hunts for ducks, geese (dark and white), and Sandhill cranes, as well as spring snow goose hunts, says this recent development could not be timelier. “We originally got shut down from COVID two weeks before the spring snow goose season of 2020. We had full books but lost out that entire year. We ran a few Canadian clients, but it was only a fraction of what we would have done.”

Huge limit of birds with Apex Waterfowling
The northern Canadian prairies offer some of the world's best waterfowl hunting with so many excited at the prospect of returning north this fall. (Photo courtesy of Apex Waterfowling)

A professional waterfowl hunting guide of 19 years, Reynolds says this is exciting news that he and his counterparts have been waiting on for over a year—16 months to be exact. “We’ve done everything we can to plan ahead and now it looks like we’ll finally be able to execute on it. Even now with a set date and soft guidelines, we are very excited, but there won’t be any celebration until that first flight of Americans hits the ground.” In the meantime, Reynolds is now confirming flights with clients and looking forward to spending the next five weeks in preparation as he awaits more specific details. His optimism soars as he eagerly anticipates opening day, “That first sunrise with clients is going to be a very special morning for me.”

The Chance to Freelance

James Wille, and the crew from White Rock Decoys focus on nomadically targeting snow geese across Saskatchewan at the end of September as they come off the tundra. Since we heard from Wille in our original border update, the team has been getting themselves prepared and are thrilled with the recent news. “We’ve been ready to go and after this announcement, we called and booked our hotel and connected with the other groups of guys we hunt with in Saskatchewan, and we’re all ready to go full throttle. We loaded up on ammo, purchased all our stamps, and made sure everyone in our group is on the same page.”

White Rock Decoys snow goose hunting
There is nothing quite like hunting waterfowl in Canada during the fall migration. (Photo courtesy of White Rock Decoys)

Since learning of the reopening date, Wille has downloaded the “Arrive Canada” mobile app and encourages hunters to do their own research and get familiar with the process. “If you are planning to go, read the guidelines, understand what you’ll need, and be prepared to follow the rules. It doesn’t look like anything too extreme, but we’re prepared to jump through any hoops we may encounter.”

Click here for more information about traveling into Canada.

Whether you have your name in a guide’s book or plan to freelance the northern prairies this fall, this news is the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. It’s time to gear up and get ready and do whatever it is that you need to do to be able to head north for the fall hunting season—see you up north.

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