No Canada? No Problem! - Spend Your Time and Money In The U.S.
I love Canada, I truly do but I’m not a fan of the Canadian government and its policies.
I heard it over and over last year, “man, with the border closed down, my Canada trip got put on the back burner.” Or, “Covid really put a crimp in my hunting plans last fall.”
Well, I’ve got some bad news for you… don’t plan on hunting Canada this fall either.
Our neighbor to the north has not announced whether or not they will be opening their border to hunters this fall. My bet is that they probably won’t but if they do, there will most likely be stringent rules applied to those wanting to hunt there. Think vaccine passports, quarantine periods, etc. That begs the question, “is it worth it?” Well, I cannot and will not answer that question for you. I can give you some options to think about for hunting birds this fall.
Let’s break it down...
September/October - Those of us who cut our goose hunting teeth on early honkers know just how much fun those steamy September mornings can be and there’s no better place to scratch that early-season goose hunting itch than the Midwest. North Dakota has the earliest season but Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan and others follow close behind. You can do this DIY but if you were planning on spending money to hunt in Canada why not spend it here instead with an American guide?
Let’s not forget about America’s most popular game bird either, doves! There are more doves taken each year in the U.S. than any other bird but if you’re like me and live in a state where the birds don’t hang around long you’ve probably never experienced a “real” dove hunt. Maybe 2021 should be the year you go to a high-profile dove state, like Texas, and see what all the fuss is about. Again, there are tons of outfitters whose lives would benefit greatly from your money.
Teal? Oh you betcha! September teal are a blast and there are lots of states whose early teal seasons are well worth the effort and drive time to get there. The closest for me is Nebraska and I’m betting that if your state doesn’t have an early teal season that there’s one not too far away. DIY or outfitted, the choice is yours.
Mid-September sees grouse and woodcock seasons open in the northern tier of states, including the mountain West for various grouse species. I personally cannot think of a better western vacation than a cast and blast trip to a western state for grouse and trout fishing. Both are easily done DIY with whatever level of accommodation your heart desires. If the West is too far, northern Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin offer up superb cast and blast opportunities as well.
By October my mind is totally on ducks and pheasants in the Dakotas, need I say more? Again, DIY or outfitted, your call. Honkers in the Midwest combined with ruffed grouse and woodcock? Yes please! The point is that this early fall time of year can be spectacular if you make it that way.
November/December - There are ducks and geese just about everywhere but I’d be looking at a duck club in the flooded timber someplace for mallards, namely Arkansas. This is a classic American duck hunt that everyone should partake in if possible. I for one would rather blow the money I’d saved for Canada on one of these hunts than anything else on this list. Go with a good outfitter but call them now as openings for the best guides are rare as hen’s teeth. This is a hunt that I would not do DIY, I don’t have the knowledge or equipment to make it enjoyable.
This time of year can also be great for hunting Texas, I’m specifically thinking cranes. The popularity of crane hunting has grown in the past few years and I for one have the itch to go see what it’s all about.
Let’s also not forget about the West Coast at this time. A few days filled with pintails and widgeon would be alright by me. Or if you’ve got a sea duck bent heading to either coast or Alaska would be fun too.
Oh, and how could I forget mallards and geese in the corn and barley of the West or on the skinny water of Nebraska?
So many birds, so little time! My point is this; don’t let travel restrictions to Canada ruin your fall. Take the money and time you were going to spend on a trip up north and spend it right here in the States. There are lots of hardworking folks who could use our hunter dollars this fall right here in America and let’s face it, we’ve got some pretty stellar hunting right in our own backyard.