How to Wreck a Refuge Hunter

The best thing about hunting in the Canadian Prairies is the unbelievable amount of birds one sees in a day. On a decent day we will see anywhere from 30k-100k. Now not all are coming to us, some are flying or feeding. I do take it for granted that there are endless birds to hunt and also the ability to get permission to hunt. We have access to over 100 square miles of fields. I cannot even imagine what our friends down south have to do get a place to hunt.

We had 2 new friends from Fresno California ( Brad  & Chuck ) come up and check things out in Saskatchewan. Brad had been talking to Andy about his trips to Canada and Andy had put Brad into contact with me. I told Brad about what we do, how we hunt, and the sheer numbers of birds we see each day. Both Brad and Chuck decided to come up and visit us during  October 15-21.

Matt P, Lyle S. , and myself met the guys at the Marengo Hotel and we talked about the upcoming morning. We had met a landowner on the side of a dirt road and had gotten permission to hunt a bunch of birds that were feeding on a wheat field near a slough. We found a rockpile to put our blinds up against to minimize the time needed to stubble up in the morning. Things looked good, we were ready to go. After a good sleep we hit the field to setup and we ran into a major snag. 4 days earlier we had to do a quick field take down after a horrific rainstorm (see article here). The gear was packed wet and we had no way to dry out the decoys and blinds. The temperature was below freezing and the windsocks froze up as we set the decoy spread up. We still did fairly well and Chuck informed me that he had shot more geese that morning than he had his entire life. Chuck shot his first blue-phase snow goose. The guys were happy and amazed at the volumes of birds. I was disappointed that the equipment let us down but that’s hunting. We did a quick evening hunt, shot a few more birds and called it a day.

The next day we got landowner permission to hunt a ‘flat as a pancake’ lentil field. I had watched thousands of birds hitting this field. I personally talked to the landowner as he was working his combine the previous evening. We found a patch of lentils that had not been harvested so we plopped our blinds into that patch and covered up. As we were setting up that morning 3 trucks pulled up in the dark. Needless to say they saw those birds on our field and wanted to hunt there. Too bad they came late and had not received landowner permission. We watched the trucks rip around to the neighbouring fields looking for a place to setup. They did find a rockpile and decided to set up 400 yards away from us. Of all the hundreds of open miles they chose to be retards and do the no class thing. They were sky busting birds all morning and a terrible hunting morning. Since they were amateurs and morons they of course took down their equipment around 9:30. As they stopped shooting it allowed us to kill birds without them flaring the flocks. ALWAYS stick out the morning. We had minimal luck and we took the spread down and setup on the back end of the lentil field. That evening we SMASHED birds and we had a tornado of thousands of Specks hit us at once. I have had snow tornadoes but these were all Specks and man was it loud. Chuck and Brad were amazed and to be honest so was I but I wouldn’t admit it at the time.

The last day that we could hunt we setup about a mile away where we smashed them the night before. I say about 30k on this field and got landowner permission to hunt it. We did ok and saw birds everywhere. We cleaned birds that morning and gave Brad and Chuck a list of landowner names and the county maps with all the landowners listed on it. We showed them how to setup decoys and find birds, it was now time for the lads to figure it out for themselves for the next few days. When they finished their hunt 3 days later they took Lyle and myself out for dinner in Calgary (where they were flying out of). We heard how the days went and how they struggled to find birds the first day but made a call to a great landowner who farms about 75 square miles. They put a licking on 32 birds on their last morning.

Brad & Chuck had fun, when they first arrived they informed me that this was a ‘once in a lifetime’ trip for them. They told me of how refuge hunting goes in California and how Canada is 100% opposite to that. We thoroughly wrecked those refuge hunters. Brad for sure will come back to Canada perhaps with Andy next year.

Once again, we take for granted what we have here in Canada. That being the best waterfowl hunting in North America. After spending time with our great Californian friends I remembered how truly lucky I am to be a Canadian Prairie Waterfowl Hunter.

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