Our Alberta whitetail hunts took a step backwards in 2017. After coming off an incredible 2016 season at 91 percent success, our November hunts fell to 60 percent this year. The reality was that I was very humbled, having gone into the season believing we were going to have an even better year than last after seeing a mild winter. Without question, the antler growth was down going off of trail camera photos of particular bucks that we had on camera from the previous year. With an early freeze-up, having the coldest first week of November that I can remember, we were able to access pretty much all old hunting grounds, yet we struggled to turn up shooter class bucks for all clients.
Despite all of this, the bucks taken were very solid as can be seen by these photos of the better bucks. From top, and left to right, are Matt Kerzner, Pete Diego, Dan Becker, Kelly Rupp, Chuck Fornari, Gary Lijewski, John Rampolla; and Cesar Nieves with a wolf. Following those are a few trail camera photos including Dan Becker's and Kelly Rupp's bucks.
Our goose numbers remained high, while duck numbers fell from the 2016 season. We held onto a solid daily run on geese throughout the 2017 season, yet we just never did get ourselves into several of our typical big duck shoots. I would put blame to the local area being much drier then last season. It seems that almost always our big duck years come as we see an overly wet fall, but the trade off for us is that we are able to access the fields much easier with our big travel blind system. Those of you looking for a hunt that works around a comfortable blind system with cushioned seats and propane heat, and yet not sacrificing the overall hunt, should consider this hunt. There is no lying down in a lay-down blind; our blind system continues to be a game-changer, meaning we hold onto an extremely high amount of repeat business.
Below are just a few photos from our 2017 season, top to bottom and left to right: The swamp buggy was used for just the first five days of the season before we could begin leaving the machine back at the lodge; The joys of our blind system... comfort and heat as part of the gang awaits shooting time; 105 geese taken mid-day after we didn’t fire a shot for the first three hours; Another 90 plus bird shoot; Despite having the blind in a wrong position, we still nailed down 95 birds this morning; 88 geese on what turned out to be a classic morning.
Our waterfowl season was jump-started with two back-to-back resident waterfowl shoots of 80 and 91 birds on very nice decoying birds (see first photo).
Morning Sun Retrievers owners, Kevin & Wendy McClarin of Crimora, VA, sent Pepper back up for a second year of retrieving for our operation. With just over 170 birds taken in the first two days of hunting, her season marathon started on a quick note. She has been a blessing both on the field and on the home front (second photo).