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Bagging Canada's Prized Game Birds

The second largest country in the world is also one of the most beautiful. Canada, that mammoth of the Northern Hemisphere, has nearly ninety percent of its population living along the country's southern border. The rest of the vast untamed landscape is a wilderness of thick boreal forests, cloud-kissed mountain ranges, rolling hills and prairies, winding rivers, majestic waterfalls, and pristine arctic plains.

Over 70,000 plant and animal species have made their home in this area of North America. Many more of these creatures remain undiscovered in the lush labyrinthine countryside. Canada is also home to some 462 species of birds. Some of these avian creatures can be found in Canada all year round while others spend their winters in the south in search for better feeding and breeding grounds.

In British Columbia, avid bird hunters will be amazed at the 362 species of birds that flock there regularly. Ontario has been known to host as many as 318 species at any given time. Complete hosts of migratory bird species make their way to warmer climes in the fall, seeking a plentiful food supplies and a place to lay their young. Some geese can travel as much as 1,000 kilometers in a day from the Arctic regions all the way to Canada and the United States.

Some of the many migratory species that find their way into Canada include American Black Ducks, Ptarmigans, American Goldfinches, Northern Gannets, Seabirds, Canadian Snow-Geese, Mallards, Ruffed Grouse, the Canadian Duck, Canadian Geese, Wood Ducks, and Common Eiders, among many other species.

Hunters from Canada, and from all over the world, likewise flock to the country during bird and waterfowl seasons late in the year. Canada has a strong policy on habitat protection and bird conservation practices that require hunters to stick to the legal limits for migratory bird harvesting. These laws continue to secure the future of the avian populations in Canada, and ensure that bird and other waterfowl hunting as a tourist attraction in the country remains bright. Migratory birds and other waterfowl hunting is a huge Canadian tourist enterprise, with hundreds of outfitters available across the country to assist hunters in bagging their prize.

The Saskatchewan province is home to outstanding waterfowl hunting, particularly around the area’s lakes, marshes and grain fields. The southern part of Saskatchewan is ripe for opportunities to bag migratory birds that make the area part of their regular stops.

Duck hunting and goose hunting can be had along the bodies of water found in Quill Lakes, Lake Diefenbaker, and along the Frenchman River Valley, Big Muddy Badlands, and Qu’Apelle Valley. Apart from these Canadian waterfowl, there are also upland game birds in large numbers, like pheasants, Hungarian partridges, ruffed grouse and sharp-tailed grouse. Their numbers are sometimes so overwhelming that they roost on fence lines, walk across rural dirt roads, and even spend the night in abandoned farm yards. Anywhere in Saskatchewan with tall grass and abundant shrubbery serve as hangouts for these migratory birds.

There are a great number of guided and unguided hunts that are available in Canada. They can be found on Canadian outfitters’ websites on the Internet. Open season for migratory bird hunting starts in early September, and offer hunters an enjoyable time along the fields and prairies of Canada.

Most hunters revel in the slow ambling pace across the countryside along overgrown trails. As the marshes slowly come to life with the hoots of owls and howls of coyotes, ruffies and spruce grouse make prime hunting fare.

Another breathtaking experience is the sight and sound of huge numbers of the magnificent Canadian goose winging up from the marshlands to seek food, giving the hunter an unparalleled target of Canadian geese in flight. Most hunters use whistles to lure mallards, or decoys to lure waterfowl like the wily Canadian snow goose. Snow geese hunting in Canada can be an exhilarating adventure.

In Canada, the Migratory Birds Convention Act, or MBCA, that is handled by the Canadian Wildlife Services (WBS), in cooperation with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) work together to manage the populations of these migratory birds. The CWS is responsible for establishing the hunting seasons and bag limits for each known species of migratory birds each year. The information is then published on the Migratory Birds Regulations, Schedule I.

Ontario also has large numbers of migratory birds that give such popularity to Canadian waterfowl hunting, such as duck hunting and goose hunting. Hunting season in Canada usually starts around early September, and runs through to October and November. During the open season, hunters are allowed to bag migratory waterfowl such as Ducks, Geese, Show Geese, Rails, ad Brant, among many others. Other regions and provinces have specific hunting seasons for migratory birds that are published and posted where hunters of the area can read them.

The Migratory Birds Regulations, as based on the Migratory Birds Convention Act of 1994, also makes it known to the public that particular migratory birds are endangered species and cannot be harvested. Species that are protected by law include loons, trumpeter swans, the Ferruginous Hawk, burrowing owls rusty blackbirds, loggerhead shrikes, and McCown’s Longspur, among others.
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