Saskatchewan worthy of bucket list

  • Article by: MITCH PETRIE , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 10, 2012 - 4:38 PM

Primary breeding ground is perfect spot for "amazing experience" to share with kids.

hide

Twin Cities hunter and startribune.com/outdoors blogger Mitch Petrie on a dream waterfowling hunt in Saskatchewan with his two sons, Aaron and Theo.

Photo: Special To The Star Tribune, -

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

What's on your bucket list? For me, a waterfowl hunt in Canada long had been in the top 10 adventures I'd wanted to experience.

Last summer, I mentioned this to Minnetonka resident Kirk Bernhagen, a frequent traveler to Canada. Bernhagen smiled and said, "Dude, check it off ... we're going to Saskatchewan in October."

Over the past 19 years, Bernhagen has made two hunting trips per year to Saskatchewan. For the past seven years, he's shared the experience with his 14-year-old son, Jack. He also enjoys introducing other fathers and sons to northern waterfowling.

"For me, it's all about the kids and giving them this amazing experience,'' he said.

Sharing that sentiment, I brought along my sons, Theo, 13, and Aaron 11, and our good friend, Pat Pinske, from Mankato.

Pinske is a longtime waterfowl fanatic and master caller.

"I used to go to parks in Mankato and Rochester just to listen to ducks and geese and see how they communicate," Pinske said. "I've fooled quite a few over the years.''

At 10 hours from Minneapolis, Saskatchewan is closer than some might think. Geographically located in south-central Canada, the province is a primary breeding ground for North American ducks.

After a day of travel and a short night of rest, we were ready to hunt.

Our first outing proved challenging. The wind swirled, and the birds didn't cooperate. We still managed to fell a dozen ducks and geese, after several encounters with flocks of 100 or more.

That evening, we scouted for places to hunt in the coming days. While we didn't target snow geese, we couldn't help but stop occasionally and watch in wonder as "tornadoes'' of these birds spiraled into crop fields, and rose again.

During one of these amazing encounters, we pulled alongside a truck with Minnesota plates. Behind the wheel was Lake Crystal resident Larry Adermann and his son, Paul, who lives in River Falls, Wis.

Together, they've hunted the Canadian prairies since 1996, and they explained that the bulk of the snow goose migration already had occurred several weeks previously.

Still, the Adermanns managed to bag limits of both geese and ducks.

Our second day in the field, we had decent shooting, taking 14 geese, including my first two snows, and a handful of ducks.

On our third day, everything came together.

Having finished setting out our decoys 30 minutes before shooting time, we sat that morning in our blinds, awaiting the sunrise.

When first light arrived, Kirk Bernhagen whispered that a flock of four geese was "on the table," heading our way. Coaxing them toward us, Pinske's call issued comforting growls.

Four shots later, the geese were on the ground.

It was then that Theo popped out of his layout blind, disoriented.

"Why didn't you wake me?'' he asked.

A rude start of the day for him, to be sure, but a great beginning for the rest of us.

Soon, bunches of up to 20 mallards and pintails rolled in faster than we could reload. Flock sizes grew quickly, and in time multitudes of more than 100 ducks each approached our spread.

In 45 minutes, we each reached our daily limit of eight ducks. Then we passed the next few hours reveling in our success, while coaxing in a few additional geese.

Finally, we picked up our decoys.

"Gentlemen,'' Bernhagen said as he exchanged high-fives with Pinske and me, "that's a Saskatchewan duck hunt!"

Editor's note: Mitch Petrie is executive producer of Muddy Boot Productions and blogs at startribune.com/outdoors.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Utah 6:00 PM
Orlando
Charlotte 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Brooklyn 6:30 PM
Cleveland
Washington 6:30 PM
Miami
Minnesota 6:30 PM
Boston
Toronto 6:30 PM
Detroit
Chicago 7:00 PM
Memphis
Portland 7:00 PM
San Antonio
LA Clippers 8:00 PM
Denver
Oklahoma City 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Tampa Bay 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Anaheim 6:30 PM
Ottawa
NY Islanders 6:30 PM
Detroit
Boston 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Dallas 8:00 PM
Calgary
Wilberforce 71 FINAL
Youngstown St 92
Jackson State 49 FINAL
Tulane 56
Siena 5:00 PM
Radford
Stillman 6:00 PM
Alabama
Case Western Reserve 6:00 PM
Bucknell
Niagara 6:00 PM
Buffalo
SD Christian 6:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Concordia (MI) 6:00 PM
Central Mich
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Dartmouth
North Florida 6:00 PM
Florida A&M
Hiwassee 6:00 PM
Gardner-Webb
Tennessee St 6:00 PM
Hampton
NC A&T 6:00 PM
Kent State
Central Penn College 6:00 PM
Liberty
Bethune-Cookman 6:00 PM
Mercer
Eastern Ky 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Northern Ky 6:00 PM
Morehead State
Northern Ariz 6:00 PM
Norfolk State
MD-Eastern Shore 6:00 PM
Old Dominion
St Marys-CA 6:00 PM
St Johns
Clemson 6:00 PM
South Carolina
Tenn Tech 6:00 PM
Tennessee
Washington-MD 6:00 PM
William & Mary
Furman 6:30 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
South Dakota St 6:30 PM
CS-Bakersfield
Milligan 7:00 PM
Lamar
LSU-Alexandria 7:00 PM
ULM
Southern Utah 7:00 PM
Loyola-Chicago
Chattanooga 7:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Seattle 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Lipscomb 7:00 PM
Princeton
Winthrop 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana
Dickinson State 7:00 PM
North Dakota
New Orleans 7:05 PM
Southern Ill
TX-Pan American 8:00 PM
Creighton
Colorado State 8:00 PM
Denver
Alabama A&M 8:00 PM
Marquette
Ark-Pine Bluff 8:00 PM
Texas Tech
Eastern Wash 9:00 PM
California
Idaho State 9:05 PM
Utah State
Arizona 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 10:59 PM
Chaminade
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Ohio Valley 33 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
East Tenn St 48 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 61
Cal-Irvine 44 FINAL
Purdue 69
Campbell 63 FINAL
Stetson 76
Jacksonville St 70 FINAL
Charleston Southern 43
Louisiana 64 FINAL
Alcorn State 57
Denver 63 FINAL
Wright State 72
Blue Mountain 30 FINAL
Central Arkansas 71
Texas State 51 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 40
Albany 57 2nd Half 2:34
Pepperdine 36
TX-San Antonio 45 2nd Half 3:30
Houston 48
Yale 36 2nd Half 14:20
Bucknell 40
Northern Colorado 32 2nd Half 15:07
Fla Gulf Coast 46
Belmont 48 1st Half 0:59
Mercer 28
Massachusetts 28 1st Half 1:42
Georgia State 35
George Mason 29 1st Half 1:49
Winthrop 22
Portland State 3 1st Half 15:03
Princeton 15
UCLA 5:00 PM
Samford
Mobile 5:00 PM
Alabama State
Nicholls 5:30 PM
Texas Tech
Toledo 5:30 PM
Nevada
UMass Lowell 5:30 PM
(13) Duke
St Marys-CA 6:00 PM
Virginia
McNeese State 6:00 PM
Rice
McMurry 6:00 PM
Houston Baptist
NJIT 6:00 PM
Seton Hall
(6) North Carolina 6:00 PM
Maine
Lafayette 6:00 PM
Stony Brook
Siena 6:00 PM
Binghamton
Longwood 6:00 PM
Clemson
Savannah State 6:00 PM
Florida State
(19) Syracuse 6:00 PM
(9) Baylor
Buffalo 6:00 PM
Manhattan
Ohio U 6:00 PM
La Salle
Canisius 6:00 PM
Michigan
Davidson 6:00 PM
NC State
Northern Ky 6:00 PM
Delaware
Saint Louis 6:30 PM
Austin Peay
(25) DePaul 6:30 PM
(2) Connecticut
Florida Atlantic 7:00 PM
Long Beach St
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Tulane
Miss Valley St 7:00 PM
Memphis
Ark-Pine Bluff 7:00 PM
UAB
Bowling Green 7:05 PM
Illinois State
Arkansas State 7:05 PM
Missouri State
ULM 7:05 PM
Wichita State
(16) Oregon State 8:00 PM
Southern Ill
Utah Valley U 8:30 PM
Montana
Pacific 9:00 PM
New Mexico St
No Dakota State 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Utah State 9:00 PM
Sacramento St
Bethesda (CA) 9:00 PM
Fresno State
LSU 9:30 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close