Whitetail deer are the most populous big game animal in the United States, so why should a hunter travel to Canada to hunt them? The photo above helps make the case, but I tapped two outfitters to help explain the advantages of a Canadian whitetail safari.


“Most stateside hunters have never hunted deer where there are caribou, elk, mule deer, grizzly bear, black bear, and wolves, lots of wolves,” said Ron Nemecheck of North River Outfitting. “Feel free to take a couple of those home with you,” he added with a laugh. “I hunt North Central Alberta and the chance to hunt in snow and really cold weather may be very different than conditions back home, especially if clients live in the Southern or Southwestern United States.”

The rifle season in Alberta covers the month of November, which allows US sportsmen to plan around their back-home seasons in the quest for a giant buck.

“The season opens November 1,” said Nemechek, “when the bucks are feeling the urge, but the does are disinterested. Inevitably, between November 8 and 10 the rut kicks in and the chase is on.”

Central Alberta hunts can be much like the Midwest, with its enormous grain and alfalfa fields. The bulk of Nemechek’s hunting occurs in the boreal forest farther north. In those areas, deer are larger in body size than those in more agricultural regions and possess one other important characteristic.

“If you see and pass on a buck in the bush, you may never see it again,” Nemechek said. “These deer often reach old age due to very limited hunting pressure, but their territories are large and secluded. Ten to 20 percent of our clients bag a buck of 170 or more and about that many again see or miss one that big. You have to be ready. The buck you see in the first five minutes of a weeklong booking may be just as big or bigger than one you’ll see until the hunt ends. I tell hunters to look for a number of long, tall points and heavy mass. A buck with those characteristics will score well.”


Vern Hyllestad with a Saskatchewan record whitetail by bow taken on one of his hunts.
Vern Hyllestad with a Saskatchewan record whitetail by bow taken on one of his hunts.

Alberta’s neighbor to the east is Canada’s other big buck powerhouse. Vern Hyllestad of Sask Can Outfitters was quick to tout the advantages of a Canadian whitetail hunt.

“The amount of hunters out in the woods with us and how many big deer they actually shoot says it all,” he says. “In all of Saskatchewan there may be 2,500 US hunters while back in the States, how many hunters will be out there after the same big deer? That’s why your chances are way greater for shooting a big deer with us.”

Hyllestad believes the amount of big deer in Saskatchewan is what keeps his clients coming back.

“We had a high count of 15 rack bucks one day and we have gotten as high as 25 in one day in good years. It’s phenomenal and keeps clients on the edge of their seat. You would almost think that it’s penned hunting, but its wild hunting and it blows a guy’s mind at how much depth there is. Our stands are three miles apart, not 300 yards apart. We have so much wild ground that a big buck may only show up once. Some of our hunts are on the border of national parks and buck may leave that sanctuary to check a doe and then quickly return.”

As in Alberta, deer hunters may see other game, but Sask Can concentrates on whitetail deer. “We try to do good job at one thing rather than a poor job at a bunch of things. You will see wolves, lynx, and things like that.” Hyllestad said.

Season flexibility is another plus for Saskatchewan.

“If the only time you can come is October 15,” Hyllestad continued, “I can run you archery, muzzleloader, or rifle due to the flexibility of my zones and the regulations we have.”

Images courtesy SCI/Joe Byers

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7 thoughts on “SCI Highlight: Why Would an American Want to Hunt Canadian Whitetail?

  1. Some of those Alberta and Saskatchewan deer are monsters. I was told by an RCMP office that near Prince Albert a guy came in to the cafe parking lot with a white tail so big it filled the pickup bed. He, at first, though he would have to charge the guy with killing an elk out of season. I’m planning on going one of these days. I’d be happy just to see one.

    One thing though, I feel the wolf population created these impressive deer and should not be shot out of ignorance. Where we have no wolves the deer are small and sickly.

    1. These deer got this big because this type of deer gets this big. Smaller deer in other areas are different types of deer or simply younger. Not necessarily sickly. In Texas even the biggest deer barely reach 200lbs. Avg is about 140 lbs on the hoof. In Minnesota we have several types, some hybrids, but our fawns in fall are about 120-140 on the hoof. Wolves have nothing to do with this. They do not ‘steward’ the outdoors. As a result of their opportunistic nature they get the sick, old, and weak. But when they encounter a healthy herd they get the smallest, most vulnerable. This absolutely includes some prime specimen that are at an early stage in development. Wolves are not in any way discerning. In fact even in the wilderness now there are now reports of overpopulation and the decimation of localized herds of caribou, whitetail, elk, etc. They don’t make sure they they eat everything before they kill again. That is what you get from a wolf, perpetual destruction. It’s only anecdotal and circumstantial that they take out the weak, sick, and old.

      Also no one is saying to extinct them. Just stop perpetuating more of them.

      1. And every report of wolves destroying everything is backed up be cattlemen and ignores the basic logic that 100,000 years of wolves and deer coexisting was not a problem but now it is? Explain it to me how that works.

      2. Cattlemen are the ones who are out there everyday with the resource that the wolves want to eat. It’s not 100,000 years ago. Numbers. We have more people now than ever. We have more wolves now than ever. You might see people as a scourge (some are), but you can’t just sweep the earth of them, can you? TOO MANY wolves is the problem. Through the protection of them, and the planting of them into areas they weren’t before is a problem. They will always exist, we don’t need them in places they never were at numbers more than ever with the least amount of habitat ever. By ignoring their destructive nature doesn’t fix anything. If you would like to reduce the human “footprint”, just like the anti CO2 reductionists, start with yourself. If you want to see a wolf go to the zoo.

      3. look up “predator-prey relationship”. Mother nature is a B***h. In the cycle, wolves nearly kill all deer, then they starve, and then the deer population comes up, and then the wolves come up. And it all happens again. Nothing wrong with Man decreasing the troughs and peaks of that cycle by shooting both deer and wolves.

      4. And you got your biology degree where? Please post peer reviewed scientific papers supporting your position.

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