Written By: The Canada In The Rough Crew 08/2018
The diversity of hunting adventures in Canada, and the sheer number of them, never ceases to amaze us. One of our most memorable hunts of this past season was visiting Kaska Goose Lodge, to hunt snow geese along Manitoba’s Hudson Bay coast. Not only is the lodge located in one of the most unique places in Canada, but with helicopter transportation to and from your hunts, amazing fishing, and the opportunity to see some of Canada’s most stunning wildlife, Kaska offers a waterfowl hunting trip unlike any other.
Our adventure started at a small airstrip in late September about twenty minutes outside of Winnipeg. Just as the sun started to break the horizon, our Cessna Grand Caravan lifted into the sky. The early morning rays lit up the countless lakes and rivers that crisscross the rugged but beautiful Manitoba wilderness. After our wheels hit the dirt runway, we were greeted by the Lodge’s owner, Randy Duvell, as well as many of the team members and soon made our way to our lodge. Inside we found a beautifully decorated living room with a wood burning fireplace and many pictures and taxidermy on the walls. With all the comforts of home, including wifi for those that want to stay connected, you would never feel as far away from civilization as you really are.
Kaska Goose Lodge is located on an island along the Kaskattama River, in the Hudson Bay Lowlands. From the air you can truly appreciate its remoteness. The waterfowl hunting camp consists of a large main lodge, which houses the dining room and kitchen. Then there is a large house for the hunters to stay in and other buildings for the guides. After unpacking our equipment, we were handed some fishing gear and headed to the river for some world-class brook trout fishing. And when we say “world-class” we truly mean world-class. During an average hour of fishing, you can hook-up with over forty hard fighting and beautiful brook trout. The wide and rocky riverbed is flanked by bright yellow willows and empties out into the Hudson Bay. The scenery alone can hold you in a trance-like state as you appreciate the beauty of the area, only to be jolted awake by a tug on your line and a dancing brook trout in the river.
After an amazing couple of hours of fishing, we headed back to camp and climbed into a helicopter that would take us on a tour of the areas we would be hunting. As we flew just above the treetops with the ocean on our right, the thick timber quickly gave way to the barren but beautiful tundra. Low lying vegetation and brightly colored willows make up most of the ground cover in this area. The Hudson Bay Lowlands are a sea of colors this time of year: the deep reds and bright yellows of the tundra clashing with the harsh blues of the rivers and small lakes. Surrounding the waterways were numerous flocks of geese and ducks, all feeding on some of the natural vegetation like wild celery. They are bulking up before they eventually make their way south for their annual migration. From snow geese to several sub species of Canada geese to many different species of ducks, the lakes, rivers and skies were full of waterfowl.
As we were scouting multiple hunting locations, we spotted something large and white down on the tundra. As we got closer, we realized it was a massive polar bear lying lazily in his sand pit along the coast. For as long as Randy can remember, this area has been home to many polar bears during the summer and early fall. These beautiful creatures like to lay in sand pits to keep cool during the warmer months, as they wait for the ice to freeze on Hudson Bay. During our flight we encountered several more polar bears, some laying in the sand, others out patrolling the tundra, and even one heading into the ocean for a swim. After an amazing time watching the polar bears, we reluctantly headed back to camp. On the way back, we spotted a large black bear along the river, and two wolves, one black and one white, as they made their way across the tundra. It’s not uncommon to also see moose, arctic foxes, woodland caribou and even wolverines in this area. It’s no surprise why a helicopter tour is so popular for those visiting the lodge.
Back at camp, we were treated to an amazing dinner in the main lodge. We laughed and reminisced about the many unbelievable adventures we already had, and we hadn’t even started hunting yet.
Our first hunting day began with a hearty breakfast, followed by an adrenaline filled helicopter ride to our hunting location on the tundra. As we touched down on the wet lowlands, we quickly disembarked and gathered our gear from the chopper. The down draft from the spinning blades kicked up loose leaves from the nearby willows as we made our way from the chopper to the blind. We watched as the helicopter lifted into the air and disappeared into the distance, leaving us strikingly alone on the vast tundra.
We soon started setting out decoys and brushing in our natural willow blind, which lay twenty yards from a small flooded area. With the decoys set and blind ready, we hunkered down and loaded our shotguns with the excitement rising. When hunting with Kaska Goose Lodge you often spend the full day out in the field, so we prepared ourselves for the long sit. We soon had our first flock of snow geese headed our way. As we hid in our blind, the electronic snow goose caller sounded off in the background, and the geese came closer and closer, until we finally stood up and shouldered our guns. We picked out our birds and squeezed the trigger and watched the geese start to fall. This would be the first of many flocks we would have come into our setup throughout the day. By the end of it, we had harvested several snow geese, including a banded blue goose.
As our week continued, we hunted various spots along the bay, from pit blinds to natural willow blinds, and we managed to harvest a mix of snow and Canada geese every day. Unfortunately, some challenging weather conditions throughout the week made for a tough hunt but that’s the special part about hunting at Kaska. Even if you hit the edge of the waterfowl migration or the weather doesn’t cooperate, all the other amazing fishing and sightseeing adventures you get to partake in makes for a true ‘one-of-a-kind’ hunting adventure.