Low dollar attracting more American hunters to Saskatchewan

It appears a cheap Canadian buck is helping bring back American hunters looking to snag a buck of their own.

Scarcity of white-tailed deer drove some U.S. hunters away, low Canadian dollar bringing them back

Saskatchewan white-tailed deer are a major attraction for hunters north and south of the border. (The Associated Press)

It appears a cheap Canadian buck is helping bring back American hunters looking to snag a buck of their own.

The Saskatchewan outfitting industry is seeing an increase in U.S. hunters coming to the province after a low white-tailed deer population affected interest.

"It's definitely the product that we have to offer and the marketing and advertising that the individual outfitters provide," said Harvey Kroll president of the Saskatchewan Outfitters Association.

Kroll credits the strength of the U.S. economy and the efforts of those in the industry in Saskatchewan attracting American hunters from all over the U.S.

"We have some of the best fishing in the world. We have some of the best bird hunting and we have some of the best big game hunting that you can find anywhere in the world," Kroll said.

Rough winters affected deer 

Part of the reason hunting numbers were down: scarcity of the prized buck, which was caused by a couple of nasty winters.

"We've had two major winter events, which really decimated the white-tail population, and white tail is the primary target that a lot of American hunters might focus on Saskatchewan for," said Darrell Crabbe of the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation.

"Those mature bucks the American clients would try to be focused on are usually some of the first to perish in some of those winter events," Crabbe said.

According to Tourism Saskatchewan's most recent numbers, there has been an increase in licences to American hunters.

  • In 2015, Americans purchased 13,224 hunting licences in Saskatchewan — an increase of 2.4 per cent over the 2014 season.
  • ​In 2015, Americans purchased 1,583 guided bear licences, 1,748 guided white-tailed deer licences, 110 guided moose licences and 9,783 game bird licences.
  • ​The number of licences purchased increased across all species and from all major markets.
  • Most American hunters who come to Saskatchewan are from Texas, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania.

Saskatchewan deer some of the best in the world

"The genetics in Saskatchewan for white-tail deer is really second to none," said Crabbe, noting that the highest scoring white-tail deer ever hunted was in Saskatchewan.

Crabbe said resident hunting numbers have been steadily rising for the past 10 years. 

All big game hunters who are non-residents of Canada need to use an outfitter.

Crabbe said behind gaming, hunting and angling are Saskatchewan's next best tourist attraction, bringing $500 million into the province.

American hunter chooses fall in Sask. over a trip to Tahiti

Bob Farrell has been travelling to Saskatchewan from his home in Montana to hunt snow geese and ducks since 2000. 

"I started coming because the hunting opportunities are incredible and the landscape this time of year is awesome," said Farrell.

"I have friends up there that are really like family." 

Farrell said the dollar doesn't really affect him because he drives from his home in Livingston, Montana. Bird hunters do not need to use outfitters to hunt in the province.

"Folks from Saskatchewan are some of the finest people I've ever met. There's really no place I'd rather be at that time (fall) than Saskatchewan," Farrell said. 

"You could say, 'would you like to go to Paris for a week? Nope I'd rather be in Saskatchewan. 'You want to go to Tahiti?' Not in October or November," Farrell said.

With files from Alicia Bridges