The fall deer hunter's are picked up in Swan River, MB from their hotel/airport around 2:30pm on Sunday and returned Saturday evening. For those driving up in the fall we appreciate you timing your arrival for around 2:30pm Sunday as this allows the morning to prepare the camp for the arrival of the next week's hunters. In Saskatchewan there is no hunting allowed on Sunday's. We therefore use this day as our turn-around-day. For the spring bear hunt, we pick our hunters up around 12:30 PM at their hotel or the airport, and return them Saturday afternoon back to their hotel/airport. All hunts are for six days from Monday through Saturday.
Most definitely!!! Years ago Saskatchewan had a two buck zone where we outfit. We never allowed our hunters to harvest two bucks as we feel you cannot manage a deer herd by not knowing if you are going to kill 25 or 50 deer. As well, we felt a large number of 125 -135 class bucks would be harvested as "Friday" bucks which again would hinder our goal of trophy hunting. We have over the last 10 years bought 8 quarters of fringe land bordering against the forest. We grow alfalfa, clover, peas, canola, wheat and fall rye which are all designed to sustain and enhance our deer heard. Predator control is an ongoing commitment against coyotes and wolves. We also have our own exclusive outfitting operating area in the forest which further allows us to manage the deer herd. We hunt approximately 600 square miles of forest/fringe land.
Usually the best farts come with age. Like good cheese. Unfortunately, animals have a heightened sense of smell, and these wonderful events can scare off a potential trophy. Typically the best ones were never recorded, but ask your guide to tell you the myth. We try to avoid giving baked beans to client before a hunt.
Our success is directly proportional to the quality of hunter in camp. If we have good hunters in camp our success rate is high. However, if you want to smoke, move around, etc. on the tree stands, our success rate decreases. Secondly a differentiation needs to be made between actual success and opportunity. When calculating actual success only an animal that was harvested is counted. However, last year we had seven different hunters (bear and deer) who missed shots under 100 yards at walking or standing animals. We feel that if a reasonable opportunity was given we have done our job. That being said, many will harvest an animal after missing, yet we don't actually count our success as greater than the animals harvested. Thunder Hills Outfitters feels that with good scouting by knowledgeable guides in our wilderness/fringe areas' and proper stand placement we are able to maintain a high standard of opportunity and success. Remember our motto is: "You are only as good as your last year!" 85%+ of our clients have an opportunity at a trophy animal. Thirdly, a definition of trophy is hard as well. One hunter harvests a 7' black bear while another harvests a 5.5' blonde bear. Is one a trophy any less that the other? Does the 120 class 1st buck shot by a 12 year old young man on his 1st hunt mean his trophy is any less a trophy then the 160 shot by a repeat client? We feel the answer is no! A trophy is what you define as a trophy. We have the trophy animals that will bring you back year after year, but it is also the overall hunt experience and memories that linger for years to come that make the hunt. An interesting note is that as many of our clients repeat, they lift their standard higher with each animal harvested. They now pass on good bucks/bears as they hunt for one of the "Boonies".
In the spring bear camp a 6' - 6.5' bear is a realistic expectation measured from the tip of his nose to tail. However, as stated earlier, many clients will harvest a colour-phase bear as a trophy in it's own right. Every year a few bruiser bruins are taken in the 7.5' - 8.5' range. These old bears are the equivalent to harvesting a Boone and Crocket buck. The whitetail deer harvested range in size from 125 - 200+ B+C (gross) This being said a reasonable expectation is between 135 - 145. Historically we on average harvest 14 - 24 bucks greater than 150 with generally 1 - 3 over 170 gross B+C. Past clients feel that a 1 in 25 opportunity at a Boonie is great odds when you consider for most hunters the chance of a B+C are one in a million. (We only take 50 hunters per season.)
For spring/fall bear you will be hunting from a tree stand approximately 12-15 feet up. The feeding station will be around 50 yards away for rifle hunters and 12-20 yards away for the bear hunters. In October we watch the scrapes, scrapelines, rubs and game trails of the deer. The tree stands are set up to the side of these using the prevailing wind advantage that allows the deer to come to you. We have developed our own tree stands with a wide base, this gives the hunter extra "foot room" on the stand which is appreciated.
Most hunters realize that a variety of factors influence when the peak of the rut will be. In Saskatchewan the rut generally falls sometime between the 10th and the 24th of November. We hunt the pre-rut, rut and just after the rut (a five week season) as this has proven to be when the big bucks are moving. Overall, all five weeks are comparable for numbers of deer sighted and harvested. Your guides will adjust their approach and tactics depending on weather, deer patterns, etc.
NO! We are hunting a wild deer herd. These animals survive from predators (hunters included) by utilizing their senses, their sense of smell is one of their greatest assets. When you begin burning fossil fuels, propane etc., in a stand the area has to be polluted with these smells. We feel this seriously decreases your opportunity on a trophy animal. We have developed a unique method of camouflage combined with warmth. Our clients all find it is very successful and appreciated.
This question arises from clients that have had past experiences with other outfitters which were not appreciated. Others may operate this way however, we do not. Thunder Hills Outfitters makes every effort to avoid surprises, any questions may be directed to us or asked of our references. Items not included in our price include the following... flight/travel to and from Saskatoon/Swan River, License costs, pre and post hunt accommodation (if you arrive before Sunday we can recommend a motel and pick you up there. If you drive, we will provide a safe place to park your vehicle while hunting), gratuities, and miscellaneous personal spending. Always included in the price are... guiding, accommodations, meals, transportation during the hunt, all taxes and as one client put it "110% effort to meet your expectations. They do everything in their power to make sure your trip is successful and enjoyable."
Bullet placement and type of bullet are far more critical than caliber for deer. By law the caliber has to be .243 or higher. We strongly advocate buying quality shells. The Fail-safe, Trophy-Bonded Bear Claw, Barnes-X, Sierra-Grand Slam, Nosler Partition are your top line bullets. Good expansion combined with retained bullet weight make these your "knock down" bullets. When you look at the over all cost of the hunt, $5 - $10 extra for premium shells are really the cheapest part. When dealing with the "old bruins" a .30 caliber or better is recommended. However, move to the upper end of bullet weights utilizing the same premium shells/bullets noted for deer.
As stated previously, success is directly proportional to the quality of hunter, however, Canadian deer populations are much smaller than in other area's of North America. On average you will see from 0 - 30 deer per day, with 0 - 6 being bucks, 20 - 70 deer per week, 3 - 18 bucks per week. Bears are somewhat harder to give accurate numbers on. 0 - 5 bears per day, with 5 - 12 bears prior to harvesting. We generally tend to be finished hunting by Weds. or Thurs. on bears.