Editor’s Note: Cody Robbins of Live 2 Hunt TV and his wife Kelsy live on a ranch in Saskatchewan, Canada, and hunt Canada and the U.S. every year.
My wife, Kelsy, and I got married on July 15, 2012. We had been working together for 4 years before we got married. After we had spent that much time together working in the outdoor industry, Kelsy and I were pretty sure we could make it through any difficulty life might throw at us.
I'm often asked, “Cody, you’ve lived in Canada all your life. Many whitetail hunters dream of going to Canada one day and hunting the big whitetails and mule deer that live there. What advice will you give someone on how, when and why to hunt with a Canadian outfitter when he or she finally decides to take that Canadian deer hunt of a lifetime?” To find a Canadian outfitter who will give you the best chance of taking the buck of your dreams, ask a lot of people who’ve hunted with this outfitter in Canada, and learn what their experiences have been. Referrals are always the best way to find an outfitter and a guide who will work hard and help you take the buck of your dreams. If you don’t know anyone who has hunted in Canada before, I suggest that you watch outdoor TV programs, especially the shows about hunting in Canada. Usually, on those TV shows, they’ll show you what the lodge looks like, what kind of food to expect and what type of hunting this outfitter has available. Then contact that outfitter, and ask him for references.
Back in the 1990s, when Milo Hanson shot his world-record Canadian buck that scored 213-5/8 on Boone and Crockett, people began to flock to Canada to hunt big whitetails. But today, many places in the States are also growing monster bucks. Outfitters in the States have learned how to manage their deer herds, provide supplemental feed and use trail cameras to find big bucks for their hunters. In the last 25 years, a huge emphasis has been placed on growing large bucks in the wild. But, there are still places in Saskatchewan where you can find really-big trophy bucks. In the last 2 years, we've had two really-hard winters, so the deer numbers are down. For that reason, Jim Shockey closed his whitetail camp to allow the deer numbers to build back up before he starts taking hunters there again. So, before you plan a trip to Canada, you definitely need to do your homework to learn what outfitter still has access to the size of bucks you want to attempt to take.
Here’s one of the best ways to be able to tell if an outfitter is really good. When you call and talk about the possibilities of hunting with him, he may say, “We really would like to have you hunt with us, but the earliest we can book you is 3 years from now.” Most of the best outfitters have large numbers of returning clients. So, if I lived in the States and wanted to come to Canada, especially Saskatchewan, to take a really-big whitetail, I’d start planning and booking 3 years in advance. But, you still can’t bypass talking to references who’ve hunted with that outfitter before. If you want to try and take a really-large Canadian whitetail or mule deer, I would suggest that you call a TV host. Ask their opinion of the outfitters they’ve hunted with in Canada. Most TV hosts I know are more than happy to help you get information and make decisions on places they’ve hunted. Those TV hosts can tell you what to expect from the outfitter, what the food is like, what the weather is like, what style of hunting you can expect, and what size deer they’ve seen when they’ve hunted in Canada with an outfitter.
Another question I'm often asked is: “How much money do I need to save to hunt with a Canadian outfitter?” Of course, prices vary, depending on location and the size of animals that the outfitter has on the properties he hunts. A ballpark figure would be around $4,000. Some of the outfitters I'm familiar with include Fred Lackie at Candle Lake Outfitters; Harley Nault, an Alberta hunting outfitter from Pierceland, Saskatchewan, phone: 306-839-4402 or cell: 306-839-7708; and of course, Jim Shockey.
To learn more about hunting, check out John E. Phillips’ new eBook, “Bowhunting Deer: Mossy Oaks Pros Know Bucks and Bows.” You also can download a free Kindle app that enables you to read the book on your iPad, computer or SmartPhone.
For information on making jerky from your elk and other big game animals to provide a protein-rich snack, you can download a free book.
Tomorrow: The Difficulty of Hunting Canadian Whitetails with Cody Robbins