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How To Bring Ducks Back From Canada

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October 17, 2013

How To Bring Ducks Back From Canada

By David Draper

As I write this, I'm just making my way back from McLennan, Alberta, heading down Canada Highway 49 with Field & Stream contributor and Alberta native Brad Fenson at the wheel. He and I have been up here testing out the new 3 1/2-inch Browning A5 shotgun and Federal's Black Cloud High Velocity and Close Range loads on the area's waterfowl. Although we hit a lull in the migration, I'm happy to report both the gun and loads performed as expected on the birds called into range by our guide Kevin McNeil of Blue Sky Outfitters.

The small cooler sitting on the tailgate of Brad's truck is filled with three limits of ducks—24 in total—that I managed to scratch over the course of the past three days. Tomorrow morning, the ducks will accompany me through customs at the Edmonton International Airport and onto the plane to Denver as a carry-on bag. By the weekend, I'll be home enjoying some fresh grilled mallards and duck pho.

A lot of American hunters are hesitant about hunting in Canada due to misinformation or just plain ignorance about the difficulty in bringing birds back across the border. Those who do come to Canada to hunt waterfowl rarely bring birds back home—instead eating what they can while they're here and donating the rest, or leaving it up the outfitter to distribute the birds to families in the area. That's a shame because bringing birds back to the U.S. is easy and, if you use a carry-on sized bag, doesn't require paying any extra baggage fees.

The key to hassle-free importation of birds is ensuring they have been processed correctly, with at least one wing still attached for identification, as you can see in the photo. You've heard me preach a lot about using the whole bird and ideally, I'd do just that, but I had to make some concessions for the size of my carry-on cooler, so on this trip the birds got breasted instead. That allowed me to take a full three-day possession limit home as allowed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, versus just a single day's limit. At customs, I'll be asked to fill out a declaration form, listing the number and species of birds being imported. Other than that, I'm anticipating no problems coming across the border.

If you've ever thought about coming to Canada to experience some epic waterfowling, I'd encourage you to book a trip. Even when the hunting is tough, it's as good as anything you'll ever experience in the U.S. And, when you do hit the migration at its peak, the hunting is unbelievable, with hundreds of ducks swarming you at shooting light and wave after wave of geese fluttering into the decoys. By bringing that bounty home, you'll be able to recall the experience again and again with every bite.

Comments (4)

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from kps87218 wrote 26 weeks 2 days ago

How do you keep a wing on a bird when you breast it?

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 26 weeks 1 day ago

Looks like those Black Cloud shells do a lot of damage!

So, the possession limit on honkers here in Ontario is unlimited this year. So how would that work out taking them back across the border. Are you limited by US possession limits or Canadian ones? I am confused. Also, if the goose meat is processed into jerky or sausage, is there any limitation on how much one can bring back?

I live in Canada and travel to Montana to hunt pheasants. Sometimes I bring some processed goose meat back with me. No one at the border has ever expressed any interest in it. I know that I can only bring back Montana's pheasant possession limit. Montana only insists on a foot being attached to pheasant carcass not a wing as in most other jurisdictions (makes total sense!). Wondering how that would work moving the carcasses across borders.

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from Double D wrote 26 weeks 1 day ago

Ontario Honker - From my research and what I've been told, possession limit does include game that has been processed. It's in your possession until you actually consume the bird (or gift it). Now, how they will be able to tell what or how many birds make up the sausage or jerky is all speculation. Short of a DNA test or unsympathetic judge, I'm not sure how you could be charged with being over. Note: I'm not a lawyer, so this is pure speculation.

As for Canada versus US possession limits, that's an excellent question and one I'm not 100% sure about. I actually planned to reach out to my local CO today to ask him. My understanding is that you're allowed the Canadian possession limit in addition to a U.S. limit, but I'd be darn sure to have the birds tagged with species, location of kill and license number. Again, I hope to have a more definitive answer for you, but I would encourage anyone with questions about possession limit to contact their local CO as that's who will be interpreting the law.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 25 weeks 6 days ago

Of bigger concern to me is brining birds across state borders. How do I prove that the pheasants I have came from Montana? And if Montana requires a foot attached and the home state requires a wing attached, then what should I leave attached when hunting from another state in Montana? As far as big game goes, most states require that non-residents report their kills even if residents are not required to do so. Presumably that paperwork would suffice to answer any questions in the state of residency.

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from kps87218 wrote 26 weeks 2 days ago

How do you keep a wing on a bird when you breast it?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 26 weeks 1 day ago

Looks like those Black Cloud shells do a lot of damage!

So, the possession limit on honkers here in Ontario is unlimited this year. So how would that work out taking them back across the border. Are you limited by US possession limits or Canadian ones? I am confused. Also, if the goose meat is processed into jerky or sausage, is there any limitation on how much one can bring back?

I live in Canada and travel to Montana to hunt pheasants. Sometimes I bring some processed goose meat back with me. No one at the border has ever expressed any interest in it. I know that I can only bring back Montana's pheasant possession limit. Montana only insists on a foot being attached to pheasant carcass not a wing as in most other jurisdictions (makes total sense!). Wondering how that would work moving the carcasses across borders.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Double D wrote 26 weeks 1 day ago

Ontario Honker - From my research and what I've been told, possession limit does include game that has been processed. It's in your possession until you actually consume the bird (or gift it). Now, how they will be able to tell what or how many birds make up the sausage or jerky is all speculation. Short of a DNA test or unsympathetic judge, I'm not sure how you could be charged with being over. Note: I'm not a lawyer, so this is pure speculation.

As for Canada versus US possession limits, that's an excellent question and one I'm not 100% sure about. I actually planned to reach out to my local CO today to ask him. My understanding is that you're allowed the Canadian possession limit in addition to a U.S. limit, but I'd be darn sure to have the birds tagged with species, location of kill and license number. Again, I hope to have a more definitive answer for you, but I would encourage anyone with questions about possession limit to contact their local CO as that's who will be interpreting the law.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 25 weeks 6 days ago

Of bigger concern to me is brining birds across state borders. How do I prove that the pheasants I have came from Montana? And if Montana requires a foot attached and the home state requires a wing attached, then what should I leave attached when hunting from another state in Montana? As far as big game goes, most states require that non-residents report their kills even if residents are not required to do so. Presumably that paperwork would suffice to answer any questions in the state of residency.

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