Trip Report: Canadian Snow Bucks

Trip Report: Canadian Snow Bucks

Trip Report: Canadian Snow Bucks

When my buddy Andy Dyess from Jackson, Mississippi, hunted in northern Saskatchewan last year, this is what he shot...a monster that scored more than 165 B&C; points.Field & Stream Online Editors
Trip Report: Canadian Snow Bucks

Trip Report: Canadian Snow Bucks

Last winter, Andy and I decided we'd hunt Saskatchewan this year -" me for my first hunt in the province; and Andy for his fifth or sixth. We booked with the guiding service that Andy represents and hunted with last year -" Winding Creek Guiding (www.windingcreekguiding.ca.) Owned by Wayne Wright and John Joa, Winding Creek is a member of the Saskatchewan Outfitters Association (www.soa.ca). They have an exclusive lease to 213,000 acres near Vermette Lake (see map). It's a bit of a haul to get there, but when you know there are huge bucks up there, it's worth it.Field & Stream Online Editors
Canadian Snow Bucks

Canadian Snow Bucks

Ever since we booked the trip in early 2007, I'd been planning it, dreaming about it, just waiting for November 9 to come. I was all packed a month ahead of time: Sorel Arctic boots, Northern Outfitters coat and pants, Patagonia base layers, Columbia Sportswear socks and liners, plus a ton of HeatMax pads and Toasty Toes. The departure date finally did roll around, and I was soon on an Air Canada jet from New York to Toronto, and then on to Saskatoon. After an overnight in town, Andy and I picked up our rental Ford F150 and headed out on Route 16 West, north to Battleford and beyond.Field & Stream Online Editors
Canadian Snow Bucks

Canadian Snow Bucks

Past Meadow Lake, Route 903 became a snow-covered dirt road. This was a 3 ¿¿-hour drive straight though the woods. Make sure you've got enough gas on this leg of the trip, as there aren't any stations.Field & Stream Online Editors
Canadian Snow Bucks

Canadian Snow Bucks

Camp at last, near Vermette Lake. Camp consists of two mobile homes -" one is the bunkhouse, with three rooms; the other is the dining hall and recreational area. The camp can take up to 8 hunters at a time, though owners Joa and Wright really limit the number. Last year only four hunters went to camp. This year, only 8 guys hunted deer for the season. "We don't want to pressure the herd too much," Wright told me. "We want to ensure that everyone has a quality hunt, with a chance for a real trophy."Field & Stream Online Editors
Canadian Snow Bucks

Canadian Snow Bucks

Baiting is legal in Saskatchewan, and, with few deer per square mile in the province, is pretty much the only way of seeing bucks on a regular basis. Here, Wright adds sweet peas, alfalfa, and wheat to a baitpile. Baits are refreshed every couple of days, if they're being hit.Field & Stream Online Editors
Canadian Snow Bucks

Canadian Snow Bucks

Andy, my fellow hunter Craig Barnes, and Wright, by the grain wagon.Field & Stream Online Editors
Canadian Snow Bucks

Canadian Snow Bucks

All hunting is done from enclosed shooting houses. This year, John and Wayne have decided to replace all of the older, and much smaller, shooting houses with bigger and more comfortable models. After replenishing a number of bait sites, we did have time on Sunday (no hunting allowed) to pull one house and replace it with a new model. When Wayne asked me which site I wanted to hunt in the morning, I chose site No. 31. Not only did it have a new house, but I had noticed a lot of hoofprints in the snow, including some huge ones with drag marks, indicating a big deer, possibly a buck.Field & Stream Online Editors
Canadian Snow Bucks

Canadian Snow Bucks

That's my stand the day before my hunt. The temperatures were warm for early November -" around 25 degrees Fahrenheit -" so I passed on installing a propane heater. I decided to wait on that and use it if the thermometer dipped well below 0 -" as it often does.Field & Stream Online Editors
Canadian Snow Bucks

Canadian Snow Bucks

First morning, Nov 12 -" the view from the shooting house.Field & Stream Online Editors
Canadian Snow Bucks

Canadian Snow Bucks

At 10 o'clock, a doe came down the trail in front of me, moving quickly, tail clamped down. She didn't stop at the bait, but just kept going. That kind of body language told me she was being followed...and she was, 15 minutes later, by a big-bodied 10-pointer. I passed on him, as his rack was spindly, and it was just the first morning. What would I do the rest of the week if I shot a buck the first morning? It didn't take me long to find out, as this guy came down the trail 10 minutes later. With a big body, lots of points (12), and a dark rack, this buck was an absolute no-brainer.Field & Stream Online Editors
Canadian Snow Bucks

Canadian Snow Bucks

That's me with Wayne, who had dropped me at the stand early in the morning. My rifle is an Ultra Light Arms .30/06, and I was shooting 165-grain Federal Vital Shok bullets. The deer was 100 yards away, and the bullet passed through both its lungs.Field & Stream Online Editors
Canadian Snow Bucks

Canadian Snow Bucks

You ever try to drag a 290-pound deer? Here, Andy helps me get him to the truck. We had to stop for a rest every 50 yards. Imagine if there hadn't been any snow!Field & Stream Online Editors
Canadian Snow Bucks

Canadian Snow Bucks

What do you do in camp for three days when you're already tagged out? I helped bait some of the stations.Field & Stream Online Editors
Canadian Snow Bucks

Canadian Snow Bucks

I also went for a long quad ride by myself. Here, I'm about four miles from camp. Imagine being so far out there that there is easily no human being with four miles of you in any direction.Field & Stream Online Editors
Canadian Snow Bucks

Canadian Snow Bucks

Wolf tracks were all over the place. This one was as big as my hand-"I'm guessing that wolf weighed at least 200 pounds.Field & Stream Online Editors
Canadian Snow Bucks

Canadian Snow Bucks

Vermette Lake. Wright told me he likes to ice fish there for walleyes and lakers once it freezes up.Field & Stream Online Editors
Canadian Snow Bucks

Canadian Snow Bucks

The week flew by, and before I knew it, we were headed back to Saskatoon. Andy picked up a group of six hunters from Mississippi and took them back to Winding Creek after dropping me at the airport. They had three straight days of snow, and didn't see many deer at all. Then the snows stopped, the temperature dropped and, as Andy told me, it's was almost like a deer faucet was turned on, with big bucks showing up everywhere. This is Hunter Maggio, from Dallas, Texas. Hunter, age 15, went up to Winding Creek with his dad, Bryan, and brother, Hans. Hunter shot this monster on Thanksgiving morning...the first morning in his life that he had been alone in a stand. He wasn't sure if it was a big enough deer, so he watched it chase does around the bait site for 40 minutes before finally pulling trigger. The buck scored 158 2/8, and weighed about 310 pounds.Field & Stream Online Editors
Canadian Snow Bucks

Canadian Snow Bucks

Hunter's father, Bryan, shot this the next morning-"a 10-pointer that had just been fighting with another buck. This deer had broken G-2s, and cuts all over the place. He scored about 140, and aged out at 3 ¿¿ years old.Field & Stream Online Editors
Canadian Snow Bucks

Canadian Snow Bucks

Ben Wilson of Terry, Mississippi, shot this nice 4x4 the day after Thanksgiving. Ben saw him the first day, and then sat on stand (his blind was called the 'green coffin' because it was so small), for four more days before he showed up again. This is real wilderness hunting -" not much left of that on the planet, in my experience. To book a hunt, call Andy Dyess at Pearl River Outfitters, 601-856-0933 or 601-624-9832 or check out the Winding Creek website. Winding Creek only books 18 hunters maximum a year-"the price is $4700 for six days of hunting (no hunting is allowed on Sunday), not including airfare, truck rental, and overnights in Saskatoon). You can also find other reputable outfitters through the Saskatchewan Outfitters Association website or by going to www.sasktourism.com.Field & Stream Online Editors