by Nick Costas, Montana
After a successful spring chasing snows in Saskatchewan, we decided to head back this fall for dark geese, ducks and white geese. Fall in Canada is said to be the time where the birds are unpressured, permission is easy, and the hunting is lights out without much effort. That very well may be the case for a lot of people. For us, it was tougher. We had some great hunts and some not so great hunts, but none of our hunts were easy.
Our goal was to target consistently Speckled Belly Geese and Canada Geese on this trip. We had an area picked out and high hopes of blacked out fields of dark geese and ducks swarming the area like gnats. Unfortunately, the area was loaded with snows and we only saw one solid feed of Canadas. As bad as I wanted to stay and hunt those Canadas, we decided to move to a better area. We stayed in 7 towns in 8 days. It wasn’t ideal but it was the way it went. The dark geese were way more concentrated in a certain part of the providence than we had originally intended. Ducks and snows seemed to be everywhere we went, but we wanted to stick to our plan of chasing dark geese. Once we got in the right area the numbers of geese were unreal.
There were a lot of hunters in Saskatchewan this fall. We ran into hunters everywhere we went. Talking about all the guys and gals in camo walking around at the gas station. We even had a group of ten guys show up in a field that a farmer had given us both permission to hunt one morning.
The ammunition we chose for this trip was Baschieri & Pellagri Magnum Steel 12 gauge 1&1/8 ounce 2’s. We decided to go with 2’s because of the variety of waterfowl that we may shoot in the same hunt. With ducks, big honkers, lessers, snows, and specks. A BP Magnum Steel #2 is all you need. These are stone-cold killers.
The ducks were funny this year in Canada. We had two awesome duck hunts but they were call shy and skittish like late season birds. It was a little frustrating at the time but looking back on it, was pretty cool to adapt and still make it happen. The lessers (younger Canada geese) and Speckled Belly Geese made our trip. We had a couple hunts that were just unreal for the lessers and specks, even a few snow geese slipped up throughout the week.
Top Secret to Success: Windshield time.
Driving can be the last thing you want to do sometimes. But I promise you that scouting isn’t ever going to be as bad as sitting in the wrong field watching the sunrise because you are too lazy to scout. Keep driving and looking at the maps. Buzzer beaters happen all the time.
5 Tips: Freelance Hunting in Canada
- Scout hard but make sure you scout smart. Don’t just scout to scout. Have a purpose and a plan. Be persistent and stick to the plan, and your success will follow.
- Stay organized as possible. Try to re-organize gear and clean your gun every day, even if it is the last thing you want to do. You will be very grateful that you did towards the end of the trip.
- Focus on your hide. Just because you are on the X does not mean you can cut a corner on your hide, don’t forget they are wild birds.
- Don’t Speed. Canadians drive slow, and they do not mess around with speeding tickets. Trust us on this one.
- Don’t be afraid to pick up and move areas, the ones who stay on the move stay ahead.
After this trip, I reflected and debriefed with my hunting partners about what we did well vs. what we could have done better. I realized that my passion for waterfowl comes from the hard hunts and the low times. Without the tough weather, moon cycles, frosted decoys, pressured area, the field with no hide, or whatever else could be the problem; it just would not be the same. Waterfowl is an endurance game, you must put in the time over, and over, and over. You will get burned and it will frustrate you. But when you do get it right, it’s the best feeling in the world.
Nick Costas is a hunter and photographer based out of Bozeman, Montana. Nick loves all types of hunting but his passion is waterfowl hunting. Nick is the newest member of BASCHIERRI & PELLAGRI Family. He is excited to contribute photos of B&P shells from the field this upcoming season.