Mat Schauer’s Northern Skies Outfitters in Saskatchewan, Canada exemplifies top-shelf hunting for ducks, Canada geese, snow geese and cranes. Taking time from his hectic fall schedule, he shares a few interesting things he’s learned along the way to include mallard field feeding behaviors, snow goose inebriation, important client considerations, community involvement and lots more.


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Silver Linings: A Reduction in Hunting Pressure

Ramsey Russell: Welcome back to Duck Season Somewhere, where I am in Saskatchewan with our long time US Hunt list outfit Mr. Mat Schauer of Northern Skies Outfitters here in Saskatchewan, wintertime is finally arriving or so it seems, it was probably, oh, I don’t know. It had to have been crowded in the mid 80s and 90s when I first got here about 2 or 3 weeks ago and now it’s a little chilly outside. Matt, how you been, man?

Mat Schauer: We’ve been good, it’s definitely getting a little bit chilly. We’ve seen the first ice on the refuge this morning looking out the lodge window when you wake up and see the sunrise and see half the lakes crusted over, it’s about to get good, about to get cold.

Ramsey Russell: Tell me how your season’s been going so far because I have had plenty of clients come up here and come back beaming about the fun they had with you and I know a lot of them have already rebooked. But how’s your season progressed? When did you all start and what was the weather like and what was the hunting like and why are these clients so damn happy?

Mat Schauer: Well, we start our season every year September 1st, that’s opening day for Saskatchewan, it’s just been a fantastic season this year. We had a good local hatch, good local production of Canada geese, had great dark goose hunting all the way through, just really good numbers, really good bird numbers in the area and with all the COVID stuff, the vaccine requirements, that’s kind of ease the hunting pressure on these birds the last two years in the early part of the season, so it’s really easy to hunt in the best spot when you got 10, 15 different big Canada goose feeds to choose from.

Ramsey Russell: That is silver lining to that goddamn pandemic is the fact that, it did cut some hunting pressure down, didn’t it?

Mat Schauer: Yeah. It significantly reduced the hunting pressure at least in our part of the provenance.

Ramsey Russell: I’ve been hearing so much about Prairie Canada and all the US, practically a lot of Prairie Canada being bone dry, being drought. And when I was over, I was west of here and the farmers had a really good wheat and wheat crop, barley crop because they got some seasonal rain when the grass needed it, but they hadn’t had rain to speak of since July. With you all having such a good local hatch of the big Canadas and mallards, does that mean you all had a little bit of water or was it the seasonal thing, the timing thing or what?

Mat Schauer: Yeah. We just had the perfect storm here this year. We had record snow falls last winter, you talked to the folks here at the local RM, they’re plowing roads with bulldozers. They couldn’t clear it with snow plows anymore, it was stacked up too high. We come in here for our spring hunting, we come 2 weeks before we intend to hunt and our parking lot had 10 foot of snow just sitting. We needed heavy equipment just to get in here and open the camp up. Now, all that snow melted, refilled a ton of these potholes that hadn’t had water in them for years, some of these potholes have been dry for 10 years, they’ve all got water in them again. And then to top that off, we had great seasonal rains through the summer, just about once a week, it would rain, every week. The farmers around, happiest farmers I’ve seen in years, they’ve all got record producing crops with record commodity prices to boot. So just a good year to be interacting with any farmers in Saskatchewan.

Ramsey Russell: They might take mama on a vacation this year. Then did it dry again or is it still been pretty good. Because like over west of here, they hadn’t had rain to speak of since July.

Mat Schauer: No. I know Southwest, especially. I’ve got some friends that hunt down that part of the providence and I know it’s been very tough, very dry, very much drought over there still, we’ve just been real fortunate where we’re part of this Carrot River Valley and it’s an area that almost always gets more moisture than a lot of Saskatchewan. But this year, it definitely had more than its fair share, but not so much that it caused any problems. And the great thing for us was that the rain was steady every week all the way through the end of August and last week, August, we had rain right before season came in and I think we’ve only had one rain day since.

Ramsey Russell: That’s fantastic. How hard is it to kill ducks up here? What’s it like for you all running clients early September when it was so warm?

Mat Schauer: So the September duck hunting here is a little bit different, the first crops to come out on a typical year are peas. So we hunt a lot of harvested pea fields and the ducks that are in the area will hit them, but the ducks that are hitting those peas, the first few weeks of September are all mature adult mallards. You get some mature pintails as well, but most of your ducks, it’s going to be mature adult birds, it doesn’t matter how the hatch was or how many new ducks there are around, they can’t digest those harder grains yet, they haven’t fully developed by the 1st of September and with that, you’re hunting just mature birds, so you’re very early season setups, so you think it would be the easiest ducks to kill of the whole season, but sometimes you really got to be on you’re a-game because you’re hunting birds that have seen some decoy spreads in the past and you do have that advantage though of the opening weeks and they hadn’t seen one this year.

Ramsey Russell: That’s something I learned up here with you a few years ago, we had gone out and there’s a crowd of us and shot our good dark goose limit, shot our mallard limits and as I was going through the mallard like a bird nerd, I was shocked, I’m almost scared that there were absolutely no hatchier birds. 8 limits of mallards 0 hatchier. I’m like, was there a poor hatch? And you’re like, no, the young birds have got to grow up to a point, I wonder why? I wonder how old they got to be before they start feeding in these fields, do you know?

Mat Schauer: I don’t know the exact age, I’m not a biologist, I’m just fortunate to know enough biologists that tipped me off on things like this over the years and along the way, but I know that we start seeing them kind of end of September, we’ll start seeing some of those young of the year birds in our daily bag and progress more as we get into October, through about mid-October. And then, kind of mid-October when start to get cold, then you start to see a lot of the local birds kind of blowing out of the area and you’re hunting mostly geese or ducks that have migrated in from farther North.

Best Time to Hunt Waterfowl in Canada

And we just passed that full moon and I think those full moons bring in a lot of the new birds of October.

Ramsey Russell: Man, that’s a lot to get your mind wrapped around, here in the headwaters, you start off hunting local birds, local dark geese, local ducks, but then there’s almost like a migratory transition, but it’s not migratory, it’s just those hatchier birds start to come into the fields. Dumber birds acting like new birds, I’m guessing because they hadn’t seen all the tricks like those adults have.

Mat Schauer: No, absolutely. When those hatchier birds start hitting the fields, all of a sudden, you start seeing big feeds of mallards out there in the fields that you hadn’t seen before and it’s no weather event or anything that’s come to bring them on, it’s just they switch from feeding from water to water to feeding from water up into the dry fields and after they taste their first cereal grains, they’re addicted to. I mean, they decoy like champs.

Ramsey Russell: They like a lot. And then a lot of the gray bird, the big gray birds and the mommas and daddies and babies start to kind of transition out and here come more migrators. And it’s just a repeat process for I guess the whole season.

Mat Schauer: Yeah. And we just passed that full moon and I think those full moons bring in a lot of the new birds of October.

Ramsey Russell: Did you all see a lot come in with that full moon?

Mat Schauer: Yeah. And you don’t often see them throughout the day arriving, but you wake up the next morning and here they are. But we definitely had the cold front here, kind of time itself right with this October full moon and we saw significant push of new ducks come in from the north.

Ramsey Russell: And there were 2 days of really good north wind, some of the best wind I’ve seen in nearly a month.

Mat Schauer: Oh, absolutely. Blowing 30 miles an hour.

Ramsey Russell: Blow your cap off your head. And when do the snow geese show up?

Mat Schauer: Our first push of snow geysers typically right around the 13th, 14th of September on a normal year, a lot of that factors in on how a hatch was. Now if the hatch was real poor, we’ll have snow geese showing up in good numbers already 1st of September. If the snow geese hatch was normal, then around the 15th of September. It takes so much time for them to mature after they hatched in order to make that flight over the trees. So if it’s a year where there was decent production, we shouldn’t see really significant numbers of snow geese tell about the 15th of September.

Ramsey Russell: So you’ve got a pretty good idea of what production is looking like, just ballpark on when the geese show up. They will show up a little bit earlier if they’re not having to wait on the hatchier bird to molt out and be able to fly.

Mat Schauer: Absolutely. And we’ve seen it, I would say it was maybe fall of 2018. We’d just come off a great spring season of 2017, our great hunt of 2017 and into 2018 in the fall, we saw huge numbers of snows show up here, the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th of September, I mean, hundreds of thousands of birds in the area that normally aren’t here until mid to late September and ultimately, the way that pointed out was that there was no juvenile birds, they didn’t have to wait for the young birds to be mature enough to make the flight, so they come early. There’s nothing to keep them on the tundra if they’re not raising young.

Ramsey Russell: They’re coming from a lot of different parts of the tundra, so is it a trickle event with the snows coming in? Are the specks coming in pretty much the same time?

Mat Schauer: Yeah. The specks are very similar and with the snows, there was a few here right out the gate this year, 2nd, 3rd of September. We had a few showing up and there was some talk amongst the guides and a little bit of worry that it might have been a tougher hatchier than –

Ramsey Russell: You shared that with me, yeah, you told me, you were worried about it.

Mat Schauer: But then the trickle slowed right down and we saw the bigger pushes start to show up on the calendar where they should, if they had an average or above average hatch, so that’s always good. And we’re always hoping this time of the year, we’re really watching for geese to show up. Now, we’ve had a lot of snows in the area, we’ve got a lot that have already come through, but I know that any push of the birds that come from now until the end of the month will just be rich with young birds. Because the only reason for them to stay up north this late would be because they’re still waiting for the young birds to mature and make that flight.

Ramsey Russell: I was here about 3 weeks ago northwest of here and there were snows around and then the wind started blowing 5, 10 miles an hour out of north, I think it was the September moon, it was pretty damn bright, whatever it was and buddy, we woke up one day and there were sections full of snows that showed up. Was that pretty much the same here too? Did you all just wake up one day around September 24th, 1st of October, did you see a whole bunch of snows show up?

Mat Schauer: Yeah. I would say they trickled in more this year, there wasn’t a significant movement day and some years there is an event just like you’re describing, but in our particular area, I would say that they really just kind of trickled in, the numbers kind of ramped up slowly and I’d say we probably hit peak numbers at the end of September there and they’ve been kind of stable to declining just a little bit ever since this last cold snap definitely moved some birds around, but it wasn’t a significant pushes of them leaving the area and we did have a few small pockets arrive from the north that are very rich with the gray birds.

Ramsey Russell: You’re basing a lot of this, how many scouts do you have out running around?

Mat Schauer: We’ve got 6 guys out every night.

What We Love About Hunting

…you’re going down a dirt road, there’s a big smoke plume behind you, big Canadian flag out front, moose trotting across the field, big flock of Canada geese, it puts goosebumps on me just thinking about …

Ramsey Russell: And you all got an interesting way, you don’t mind me talking about this. What I’ve always loved about hunting with you all, my guides are always fresh. I mean, you all are running a long season 60 days, lots of groups, but it’s not the same old guide every single day, man. You all transition those guys, those guys every couple of morning, get to sleep in and go scout instead of just get up the crack of dawn and work and then go scout. I mean, it’s really kind of a moving pace to keep those guides, keep them bright and keep them energetic. Am I right?

Mat Schauer: Yeah. That’s part of and part of it is just the birds will be in one area and not another area as much. Our staff, we break our area that we hunt around our lodge into 6 different slices of pie, we go approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes away from the lodge, about as far as we scout in any direction, but each guide is really responsible for one slice of that pie and scouting that area, knowing what the birds are doing in that area, maintaining farmer relationships through that area and that whole network. So if there’s a ton of birds in one guy’s area, he may have the hunt every morning for 4 days, 5 days in a row. But if the birds in another guy’s area aren’t getting any pressure then, he may end up with quite a few mornings off as we switch into hunting another guys area or we’re going to send 6 guys out and we’re going to hunt the 2 best options in the morning and we’re going to hunt the 2 best options again in the evening every day. And doing that, we’re always hunting in the best possible locations.

Ramsey Russell: And over the course of the season without compromising a good guide, he does get a few mornings of sleep, instead of just getting burned out over the whole –

Mat Schauer: Yeah. Absolutely.

Ramsey Russell: I think, it makes a huge difference, I really do. I’ve been here a bunch of times and I think it makes just a tremendous difference, after 30 something days of getting up and going at it and putting out decoys and taking care of clients, just that one morning just to catch up a little bit, I think it really keeps him fresh and keeps him sharp.

Mat Schauer: Yeah. And we don’t want to wear the guides out here in Saskatchewan on in fall because I think that’s one thing that really separates us from a lot of outfitters is, I feel like we have the best guides, I know everybody feels like they have the best guides in the industry, but I really do feel that we have the best guides and I think a big part of having the best guides is the best guides are good at anything they do. They’re people with a good work ethic, good people skills and there’s no lack of employment out there for somebody like that. So, we have lodges all the way down the flyway and all the way back up in order to keep our guys working 9.5, 10 months of the year, it’s a full time job and it’s a lifestyle, they got to love it and you can’t beat them to death in the first 2 months season up here in Saskatchewan in the fall, they need to be able to stay sharp for the whole season.

Ramsey Russell: That keeps them going good, doesn’t it?

Mat Schauer: Yes, sir.

Ramsey Russell: You mentioned COVID earlier and on October 1st that mandatory vaccination and all that app and all that BS is just out the window now. So we’re right back where we were in 2019, aren’t we?

Mat Schauer: Yeah. We’re starting October 1st, they pulled all the restrictions, Canada’s open.

Ramsey Russell: Did your phone start ringing?

Mat Schauer: Oh, absolutely. And we had a lot of clientele, I would say 30% that they didn’t want vaccines and that kind of stuff. So they had to delay their trips and delay some of their Canada hunting plans. Well, we had other guys that were on a waiting list to get in, so those guys get in and now all the folks that were wanting to get in prior to COVID or were planning to hunt prior to COVID, well, they want to get back in, so things have been busy.

Ramsey Russell: It’s hoppin’ isn’t it? And I mean, I’m so relieved that that thing is finally over us. It was just a big stick in the spokes for everybody and the hunting industry and hunters alike. And I got stuck, man. I just couldn’t stand sitting at home more and I just never will ever, I’ve been here a million times, it seems like the Canada and last year, crossing that border for the first time, the little port I go through, you leave and you’re going down a dirt road, there’s a big smoke plume behind you, big Canadian flag out front, moose trotting across the field, big flock of Canada geese, it puts goosebumps on me just thinking about and I’m like, god, I can’t believe I missed 2 years of this. It was a lot like coming home. To me starting the season, the real season right up here at the headwaters, there’s nothing else like it to see it, to experience just what we’ve been talking about past few minutes. All those birds up here just are like nothing else. Dear lord, please don’t ever let me miss another 2 years of that again.

Mat Schauer: Oh, absolutely. I just missed one year because even as an outfitter and a business owner and a property owner, we couldn’t get in and I missed it, I genuinely missed it.

Waterfowl Outfitting in Canada

… if an outfitter license had come up for sale, we were going to buy it because it was a dream of ours to outfit in a place where the waterfowl hunting was this good. 

Ramsey Russell: Mat, you talk about, I know and I think it does make a huge difference that you all aren’t just a 2 month outfitter, you’re running 9, 10 months a year flyway wide, man. And we’re going to dig into that on one of these species here in a minute. But how long have you been in business and how long have you been in Canada? Talk about that a little bit. Talk about your experience in Canada.

Mat Schauer: So I’ve been in the outfitting business for about 20 years now. I started hunting in Canada, I don’t even know how many years ago it was, probably darn near 20 years ago. And me and miss Jan Hunt Canada, this is the first place I ever took miss Jan waterfowl hunting and just brought her up here and brought her 10 cases of shotgun shells and we hunted for 2 weeks and that was her introduction to waterfowling hunting. Well, we had always said that if an outfitter license ever came up for sale, we’ve hunted all across the provenance and made good friends everywhere we’ve been and had great hunting all over Saskatchewan, but in this particular area, we had always said, if an outfitter license had come up for sale, we were going to buy it because it was a dream of ours to outfit in a place where the waterfowl hunting was this good. So when it came up for sale, I think we maybe waited 6 hours or so and tried to wheel and deal the best price, but we definitely snatched it up and haven’t had a regret since.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah. What inspired you to build and lay out your lodge like you did, where you did, because it’s a very well put together lodge.

Mat Schauer: Well, I’ve rented a lot of lodges and I’ve owned other lodges in the US over the years, so I’ve been in and out of a lot of hunting lodges and I know what works and I know mostly all the things that didn’t work in most of the properties I’ve been in the past, so we tried to eliminate everything that didn’t work or that we didn’t like and overemphasize the things that we did like. As far as the location of the lodge, Canada’s beautiful, you can have a beautiful view just about anywhere you build, but I couldn’t think of a better place to build than on this hilltop overlooking a national wildlife sanctuary, we’ve always got birds on the lake, you can look out the window and really have a pulse on the migration every day of the season I can see the population of waterfowl that changes on the sanctuary and see a lot of the snows are coming in more, the red heads are here and then they’re gone and watch the different stages of ducks and different kinds of ducks come through, I couldn’t ask for a better place to be positioned.

Ramsey Russell: Heck of a view. You bring up a good point, you look out you all’s camp window, it’s wider than that. You know what those snow geese were doing, don’t you?

Mat Schauer: Yeah. Oh, absolutely. We know what’s going on in the area and you can tell a lot just by looking out the window, there’s a reason we got a $3500 spotting scope sitting there. And it’s nice to look through and watch the odd eagle or whatnot, but I want to look out there in the lake and see what kind of ducks we got, how many of them we got.

Ramsey Russell: Many years ago, you invited me to come up here and hey, just come up here and check it out, I’d like to meet you and we did and we hit it right off. One of the very first things that I noticed and remember to this day, you all were at a much smaller place, you were renting somewhere and I thought it was excellent. And one of coolest things I remembered was, your package was inclusive number 1, but I just never will forget a whole line of boot dryers that you had built, not just bought a bunch of these little things, but you had this really nice boot dryer and every morning, my feet were warming, it was just something about putting me in a warm boot and I just remembered myself, man, that is very small, but very important detail. What other little details do you like to incorporate?

Mat Schauer: Well, there there’s so many different things and it it’s hard to think of anything right now.

Ramsey Russell: I’m not trying to ham you up on proprietary tracers now. But really, the details. And really and truly, to me, the best outfitters like a lot of the ones we represent they pay attention to the very small details. And that’s what I’m trying to bear out Mat, you’re a detail guy.

What Makes Northern Outfitters the Best Canada Waterfowl Hunt?

Mat Schauer: Well, I do. And I ask every customer when they leave, what would made your trip betters or anything that we’re lacking and we take that feedback very seriously. And I’m ecstatic if they have nothing, but I’m even more excited if they have something for me and it’s something I can do something about and make that much better. We’ve had a lot of hunters that have had difficulty traveling with firearms, so we’ve added a gun room and brand new Benelli shotguns, Beretta shotguns and even some Brownings for the guys that are hardcore. We’ve kind of got the whole – we got over under semiautomatics, we’ve got 20 gauges.

Ramsey Russell: 12 gauges.

Mat Schauer: 12 gauges. It’s been really, an eye opener for me, the amount of guys willing to pick up a 20 gauge this season, now that we added a full inventory of 20 gauge, a lot of guys even bring their own gun, they come with the 12 see that we got the 20 gauges one of those try that out and they don’t fire a shell out of the 12 gauge.

Ramsey Russell: There’s a sub bore revolution, sub gauge revolution underway right now in the United States. And for the past, since September, for the last 6 weeks, I’ve been shooting 28 gauge, I’m running kind of light on ammo, I didn’t pack enough 28 gauge Boss shotshells, but I’ve shot everything from blue winged teal to big Canada geese and I don’t feel undergunned at all. And it’s time, the birds are here. Why not scale back just a little bit and make it a little more sport, make it a little more something. So I think it’s great, it does pride me a bit that people are grabbing up the 20 gauges up here.

Mat Schauer: Yeah. It’s a little bit of a shift, I think, in the way people look at waterfowl hunting. I guess, I look at duck and goose hunting a little different than a lot of guys because I’m fortunate to have gotten to do a ton of it. But I like to shoot a sub gauge, I’ve got that 410 over under I was showing you and I like to shoot it just because it makes the hunt last a little longer. I know full well when I go into the field with a 410, I’m not going to kill as many geese as I would with a 12 gauge or as anybody probably would with a 12 gauge, but it takes time to find the field, it takes time to set up the decoys and get everything in place and the fun is shooting the geese. I’m not trying to shoot the geese anyway. Working them in close and you only get into one that are in really close and with that 410, you get to do that and your hunt’s going to last twice as long because you’re not going to you’re not going to triple with an over under to start with. And you’re probably not going to get every use you attempt to get because it’s a 410. And if I get to the end of the hunt and the geese are all done flying and I didn’t get a full limit while I got every ounce of fun out of that hunt I could get.

Ramsey Russell: About the second or third time I was up here many years ago now or it seems like a long time ago and I just remembered this as you were talking, you come up to me in the kitchen and said, have you ever heard of something called Boss shotshells? I go, no. You go, well, you need to. And you had a client come in, tell that story about Brandon coming up here for the first time and how you became aware of this cartridge at the time that was just a father’s project for his son that’s turned into a phenomena.

Mat Schauer: Well, what happened with it, it wasn’t even in Canada where I met Brandon, he was a customer of ours and Arkansas spring snow goose hunts and he had been bringing these shotgun shells down for him and his son and he was a generous guy who always brought some extras and shared them with the guides and the guides had come back to our guide house and they’d talk all about these shotgun shells and they’d ask them to bring a few more next year and I got to shoot his loads. They were just hand loads that he was making for, he was loading special for his son, I believe and then different ones for him. But the ones that some of those shells use low and were just amazing, the performance, you could tell night and day when you were shooting snow geese, the difference between those hand loads and I had the boys bring back some when they were raving about him just because I was suspicious that he was smuggling lead shot out there into the field, but no, they were legit and the boys kept asking for more and more. And I don’t know if that was part of what spurred him into manufacturing it and distributing it –

Ramsey Russell: Was it 2 inch and 3 quarter inch that he was loading back then for spring snows?

Mat Schauer: Yeah. 2 and 3 quarter inch, they were great shells and when he did kind of move forward, I guess, a little bit into the production stuff, he gave us a bunch of samples to try out before he went to the market with it and yeah, we’re fortunate enough to be some of the first guys that got to shoot it at geese in the wild, and it’s some incredible stuff.

Ramsey Russell: Well, I’ve sure enjoyed shooting it. It was funny because you had mentioned it and now that I’ve called, I do recall that you weren’t willing to sharing it with me, you just told me about it.

Mat Schauer: Yeah, I probably didn’t have very much on hand at that time, it’s precious stuff.

Ramsey Russell: Precious stuff, man. I get it.

Mat Schauer: It’s still hard to get at times.

Ramsey Russell: It’s still hard to get at times. That’s just because of their success, but they’re shortly thereafter, I was not far from here down in Minnesota and bumped into Zach and he did try it and the rest is history, man. I won’t shoot anything but, I absolutely, and I’ve run through practically their entire product line, everybody listening knows I’m huge on them and I just absolutely love it. It just brought me back to my roots going back to it ain’t lead, but it’s the closest thing to shooting lead and that’s how I grew up and that’s why I love shooting. To go back shooting 2 and 3 quarter inch, let alone to now start shooting 28 gauge up here at big giant Canada’s and everything else, it’s been life changing for me, it’s been life changing. And of course, I encourage everybody to go shoot some, it’ll make a believer out of it. But thank you for the introduction, Mat. I owe it to you because you threw it on the radar first, man. Where do you go from here? We’re sitting here in mid-October, coming up on mid-October, what’s the next 3 weeks of your season going to look from where you’re at? You got a lot of snows on the landscape right now, you still got big Canada, little Canada, a few brown geese, ducks coming in, what’s going to be the tail end? How’s it going to end for you?

Mixed Bags: Saskatchewan’s Variety of Waterfowl

 It’s getting cold and snowy and the snow geese are gone, so our tail end of our season up here right now, real great mixed bags, we’ve got specks, we’ve got big honkers, little honkers, like you said, just a real variety, everything. 

Mat Schauer: Well, right now, we’re kind of into the last quarter of the Saskatchewan season here. From here, we’ll go through the end of October, October 31st, generally where we pull the plug for the year, not so much because the birds are completely gone from area, but deer seasons are opening all over the US and we just don’t have a lot of hunter interest in that first week of November up in Saskatchewan. It’s getting cold and snowy and the snow geese are gone, so our tail end of our season up here right now, real great mixed bags, we’ve got specks, we’ve got big honkers, little honkers, like you said, just a real variety, everything. The guys are both out this afternoon, two groups and I’m confident they’ll come back with 2 limits of snows this evening yet. We’ll watch those snows kind of fade out between here and the end of the month with some smaller pockets of snow showing up, again, depending on that hatch. If there were some big hatch colonies or little areas where they hatched really well, but the hatch was a little bit late, those are the geese that push in the late part of October and they are exceptional geese to hunt. They kind of snow geese were 80% of flock as juvenile birds and they just come into the decoys, turn around, come back in again, you shoot at them, they turn around, they come back in again, it don’t take a whole lot of geese to shoot a limit when they willing to decoy 5 times in a row. The duck hunting is the big draw of the tail end of October. We our duck numbers now will kind of revolve and stay consistently good, but as the month goes by, the fairy tale end of the month, we will get a big push of ducks, typically with that later cold snap in October. And a lot of the hens will move out and we start to get all these drakes. And you know you’re getting near the end of the migration when you drive around or I put the spotting scope out on the lake and you just see drake mallards, you won’t see any hens, you just see green heads and you get the guys that want to shoot green heads that just want to shoot green want a strap full of green heads, well, that’s the time to hunt them is at the tail end of October because everything’s a green head, you have a hard time finding a hen.

Ramsey Russell: They may still be moulting a little bit, a little bit of pin feather, but it’s been my observation that a drake mallard can have about a 50% percent green head and I mean it just stands out, let alone these birds. I’ve been seeing the last several days bright green heads, they’re still molting, they’re still pin feather, it ain’t like I’d want to go stick one on my wall, but I tell you what, just for a duck hunter, it’s something to get excited about, you can pick those drake pretty easy.

Mat Schauer: Yeah, they’re getting real easy to spot now and here in the next week or so, it seems like that just flips the switch and those pin feathers start disappearing completely. And what we see and I don’t know, maybe the molt process starts a little earlier farther north, but these northern ducks coming in, they’ll be full color and it seems like. And about 20th of October through the end of the month is when we really start to see that transition.

Ramsey Russell: It begs the question, I just want to ask you this and go into the subject a little bit. How would you describe in general terms or specific terms, most of the guests that come up here, regards their interest in ducks or geese? Would you say that most guys interested from the United States is duck oriented or goose oriented?

Mat Schauer: Some of both. First thing I do when I get a phone call, the first question I’m going to have for anybody that’s looking for a hunt is, what are you looking to hunt? Are you looking to hunt snow geese? Are looking to hunt Sandhill cranes? Are you looking to hunt mallards? What’s your number one? In Saskatchewan, we’re going to try to put you on the best hunt we can or whatever there is available. But if I know that your number one thing you want to do is kill a green head, I’m going to tell you that you need to wait for some dates to come available between the 15th of October and the end of the month and the later you come, the more plentiful the green heads are going to be. We can kill mallards earlier than that and plenty of them, but they’re not going to be the beautiful green head mallard that everybody envisions. They’re going to be molted and they’re going to have them pin feathers and come the first week of September, you’re going to have a hard time telling a hen from a drake.

Ramsey Russell: To me, what you all be interested in, if you take my advice, tell Mat you want to just come hunting. Because Mat, what I think you all do good, like for example, just a minute ago, you said you got two groups out, they’re going to come in with a lot of white birds, that tells me this morning they went out shot a lot of ducks, a lot of dark birds.

Mat Schauer: Yeah. We went on after dark geese this morning, we got our darks, afternoons are for snows.

Ramsey Russell: Is that a pretty standard program chasing the big Canadas and the mallards in the morning and then chasing light geese or cranes in the afternoon?

Mat Schauer: Yeah. Prior to anything before the 15th of October Saskatchewan laws, you can’t shoot dark geese, no speckled bellies, no Canada geese after 12 o’clock. So we try to really focus our morning hunts, Canada geese, speckled bellies and ducks usually come as a happy bonus along with those Canada geese. Now if we have hunters that want to focus on ducks, if that’s their number one priority, we’re going out on morning duck hunt, if that’s their number one priority, we’re going to go out make sure we get those ducks and then in the afternoon, we’ll go for snows.

Sky Carp?

 And you chase them in that whole life cycle, but I tell anybody, man, for decoying snow geese, I don’t know anywhere better than Saskatchewan or let’s just say Prairie Canada in the fall and the spring. 

Ramsey Russell: Is there still a stigma around snow geese do you think?

Mat Schauer: A little bit. We’ll have different guys come through camp and they’re not interested in shooting sky carp or eating sky carp, but after you –

Ramsey Russell: You make them a believer on both counts, don’t you?

Mat Schauer: We do. After you’ve been in there and you’ve really hunted them and you’ve got to be under a thousand of them and watch them come in, feet down right into your lap, hunting them seems like a lot more fun. And after you’ve had Ms. Jan, cook them, eating them seems like a lot more fun.

Ramsey Russell: I ain’t going to call them out by name, but I should. I got a good friend from down to Mississippi came up here with a group of Mississippi boys last year and that’s all he talked about was them white bird. He said, I cannot believe how much fun that was when those birds were decoying like that. And that’s the thing about snow geese and we’re fixing to get into snow geese because you’re the guy that chases them from here to their wintering grounds and back to here. And you chase them in that whole life cycle, but I tell anybody, man, for decoying snow geese, I don’t know anywhere better than Saskatchewan or let’s just say Prairie Canada in the fall and the spring. I don’t know what it is about that border, that international border, but the birds on this side of it decoy, they freaking decoy. Am I right?

Mat Schauer: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And I think there’s different reasons both spring and fall, why they decoy and why it’s better, but they are definitely does seem to be a real. You can kill some in the Dakotas or decoy them good in the Dakotas, but the farther south they get, you need an advantage and you can’t use the electronic calls in the US in the fall and that handicaps the guy a little bit decoying those birds for sure.

Ramsey Russell: Talk about snow goose hunting on this side of the border because that’s a very good point in the fall up here and in the spring up here, you all are putting out white spreads with E-callers and that does make a huge difference, doesn’t it?

Mat Schauer: Yeah. When you’ve got real recordings of live geese, that definitely is an extra bonus.

Ramsey Russell: We recently interviewed a biologist from up here about snow geese and he and I got to talking, about how – we talk about sky carp, I think we even talked about that because we were talking about snow geese’s table fare and I’ve had Canadians and outfitters both up here, tell me, that is their favorite bird to eat on the Canadian prairie are snow geese. And it’s been my observation, think about it, right now, all these birds you’re hunting adults and juveniles both, they’re staging, they are gorging themselves and building fat accumulation because they got to fly 2000 mile, 3000 mile flight south, they got to carry through, they’re fixing to fly south, they need them energy reserves and that biologist was saying, when they get down to the wintering grounds, they convert the protein. And that’s why their meat becomes darker, the breast changes shape. But boy there towards the end of it, they start hitting a different feed, building up those fat reserves to fly back south and it changes. And I’ve literally shot snow geese, shot one, 4 or 5 days ago that from 35 yards high, he was so full of fat when he hit the ground, he just popped open the skin was so fat laden, it just split like pantyhose. Have you seen that?

Mat Schauer: Yeah. We see fat on these birds they’re going south, but as far north as we are here, we’re really the first stop. So we shoot a lot of birds that have just come, you can roll one over and see his back end stained purple from eating blueberries on the tundra a lot of times. I mean, these are fresh arrivals from the north a lot of times. So, our birds haven’t necessarily had the chance to get some of those major fat reserves you’re talking about on them yet. Our spring birds on the other hand the spring birds we shoot when they’re staged here, they look like they’re carrying two sticks of butter.

Hunting Strategies in Canada

But these geese are very susceptible to the way we hunt them up here, so we’re fortunate to be able to do it out of a blind with a solid wood floor where you just have the comfort. 

Ramsey Russell: Yeah. Talk about some of the hunting strategies without giving up any trade secrets and I know you got a bunch of them Mat. Talk about some of the hunting strategies here in Canada in the fall versus further south where you hunt them.

Mat Schauer: We just hunt a different way up here in the fall because we can. We hunt these A frame blind trailers where everybody’s sitting, we got a nice shelf in there for your coffee, you can stand up to shoot, it’s a very comfortable way to hunt. You can do it laying out in a layout blind out here, you put on a white suit and lay out in the decoys and do it. But these geese are very susceptible to the way we hunt them up here, so we’re fortunate to be able to do it out of a blind with a solid wood floor where you just have the comfort. So if you can hunt snow geese and decoy them feet down in the decoys, 10 yards away from the blind and do it in a blind where you’re out of the wind and just have the best comfort, that’s a big part of what we do here in the fall. It’s not any trick, I guess in killing them, but we don’t hunt them necessarily in that way because it’s the fast way to hunt a snow goose in Canada in the fall.

Ramsey Russell: But it works.

Mat Schauer: But it works. It’s comfortable and we’ve got clients that are 85 years old, they can still continue to waterfowl hunt to do what they love because we can set up a blind and cater to them like that.

Ramsey Russell: I’ve hunted with you all up here in the fall that we have used chair backs and there weren’t any 80 year old clients in the in the spread. But you all have got what you call a tiki hut, which is the most ingenious and most comfortable blind I have ever hunted out of. Can you describe that? What is your tiki hut?

Mat Schauer: So it’s a 28 foot long trailer blind, it’s roughly like –

Ramsey Russell: It’s like a pit blind on a double axel trailer.

Mat Schauer: Yeah. It’s roughly the dimensions of an A frame, a conventional A frame blind, but we make the floor a little wider, I think we’re 7 foot across on the floor, so you got a lot of room around your feet for a bag or anything else you might have in there. But the opening on the top is very similar to a conventional A frame blind and it has a hydraulic axles on it, so we can drive it out in the field right to where we need to be, right to wherever the geese were and we can drop it down and there’s some attention paid to how it sat in relation to the wind and the sun and everything else. But when you’ve got it set up right and you got decoys out there and you brush it up properly, the geese don’t pay any attention, the ducks don’t pay any attention to it, it’s just another clump a brush out in the field.

Ramsey Russell: Because we are in the parklands, there’s a lot of woods around here, a lot of wood clumps, lot of grown up fence rows. But when you all brush that thing up, I’ve got a roof above me, I’ve got walls around me, if the wind’s blowing 20 miles an hour, I’m out of the wind. When I go to shoot, I can stand up, I’m not having to lay down or do a sit up, which it can be difficult with older age and it works and it’s comfortable. And I’ve hunted up here with you enough out of that tiki hut to have to just look up and feel like I can reach up and grab a snow goose or a crane or a duck or a Canada, they’re just right all over on top of me. And I hear more about how comfortable clients were from returning clients than any other thing up here is, man, he got that situation figured out.

Mat Schauer: Good. Well, I hope that’s what you hear. It works great, it just does, it keeps you like you said, out of the wind, very comfortable, we’ve got cushion benches and you stand up to shoot and where we provide all the ammunition as part of our package up here, everybody shoots better when they’re sure footed. Even if you’re standing on some lumpy ground, you’re not going to shoot as good as if you’re standing on a solid 3 quarter inch thick plywood floor, you’re sure footed, that’s where you’re going to shoot your best.

Ramsey Russell: That’s right. And that matters.

Mat Schauer: It does. The amount of shotgun shells we go through in a year, I want you to hit with as many of them as possible, because it costs me money when you miss.

Ramsey Russell: I heard that. Getting back to snow geese, the spreads up here aren’t near as big as down in Arkansas in spring, are they? You don’t have to be.

A Migration Game

You’re hunting migrating geese and you’re making big spreads to kind of pull down these migrating geese because in spring hunting in the US, you can try to chase the feeds, but what happens is you go out and set up on a field where the geese were feeding last night and if it’s a day where geese are migrating, those geese that you set up on, they’re not coming back to that field, they’re going to 200 miles farther north of you. 

Mat Schauer: No. Spring hunting in the US, at least for us, it’s very much a migration game. You’re hunting migrating geese and you’re making big spreads to kind of pull down these migrating geese because in spring hunting in the US, you can try to chase the feeds, but what happens is you go out and set up on a field where the geese were feeding last night and if it’s a day where geese are migrating, those geese that you set up on, they’re not coming back to that field, they’re going to 200 miles farther north of you. So you don’t have these pattern geese coming back to feed there the next morning. You’re essentially hunting migrating geese with a decoy spread that’s not big enough more than likely if you try to hunt spring geese in the states the same way we do up here. Now, another thing that happens in the US, down there in Arkansas, we hunt a lot of geese down there and there’s a time and a place to try to go to the feeds down there and hunt them, but you got to be very careful there that those geese get very conditioned in a hurry to go to a feed all as one big bunch in the morning. They get off the roost, the whole deal comes in as one big flock, gets into the decoys, you get one good rip at them and then they land in the field across the street and now all day long, the only geese you have to hunt the rest of the day are migrating geese and those migrating geese are just going to get pulled into those live geese all day long. So that’s kind of a pretty big rookie mistake, I guess in spring snow geese hunting is these guys will set up on that feed only to have the one good rip in the morning and then it’s over there sitting across the street and pulling all the traffic birds, all the migrators away.

Ramsey Russell: Versus up here, you got those 6 guys going out into 6 pie slices, scouting those geese and you’re setting up on the X every time. Those 2 groups that are out this evening, they’re on the X where these geese have already been feeding.

Mat Schauer: We’re not just setting up in the field they’re feeding, but we’re setting up in the spot in the field that they’re feeding. Because the geese have picked the spot, they want to be in the field, they know where they want to go back to, and that’s where we want to be. And you never know for sure why they’re in a certain spot, maybe, the combine operator was a little tired that night and wasn’t paying attention and a little too much grain slipped by. But the geese know where they want to be in that field and you got to be right in the spot they want.

Ramsey Russell: What is it verse here in the fall, south on the winter and ground hunting migrating birds, versus coming back up here you all’s spring seasons is what, mid-April to mid-May, that time frame up here in Canada?

Mat Schauer: Yeah. Late April through mid-May.

Spring Hunting in Canada

But on top of those hormones going on, you’ve also got these snow geese that are eating fermented barley in the field and every once in a while, you’ll have one land in the decoys and he’s in the bag enough where he can’t hardly stand, they’ll tip over.

Ramsey Russell: We’ve talked about hunting here in the fall, we’ve talked about hunting down in the wintering ground, now we’re talking about hunting back up here in the spring as the birds are staging again before going to the Arctic, what is hunting them like then?

Mat Schauer: So we’re in a real neat situation here in the spring, we’re kind of the last stop on their northward journey before they go to the nesting ground, so they get here in the spring and they’ll show up mid-April depending on the snowpack and everything, could be late April, but they’ll get here and they’ll just kind of keep coming and keep coming and the numbers in the area keep building because there’s none leaving, they’re all coming and coming and the numbers build and build and they’re in the area, they’re gorging, feeding all day long every day putting on this fat so they can go sit on a nest for 30 days. As they’re doing that, the grain that’s available to them is all the barley that’s been out in this field over the winter had snow sitting on it and it’s starting to decompose and it’s starting to ferment a little bit. So it’s a real neat situation because these snow geese are getting here, they’re in breeding mode, they’re getting ready to nest. So, if you’re a big game hunter at all, you know what the white tail rut is, I call that May season, the snow goose rut, because a lot of hormones going on in those birds and all that, they make some bad decisions. But on top of those hormones going on, you’ve also got these snow geese that are eating fermented barley in the field and every once in a while, you’ll have one land in the decoys and he’s in the bag enough where he can’t hardly stand, they’ll tip over.

Ramsey Russell: God, I had never heard that one.

Mat Schauer: Yeah. So it’s really the perfect storm snow goose hunting because they’re all adult mature birds, the juvenile birds are still back in the Dakota somewhere or in the southern part of the Providence, there in no hurry because they don’t nest their first year. So the birds that are here are mature birds, they’re loaded up with hormones, they’re loaded up with fermented barley and they put on this layer of fat. Like I said before, they’re heading back home to the tundra to nest, but they’re carrying two sticks of butter on every one of them and they can’t fly that high. So the later you get in May, a lot of times you see birds come the 15th of May, the birds you see flying around where everybody’s used in the US, you see snow geese flying around nosebleed high, way up there. Well, up here, they get so much fat on them that they can barely fly high enough to get over the tree tops, they’ve got those fat reserves and they’re not burning extra fat to gain altitude because they don’t need it, there’s not the hunting pressure.

Ramsey Russell: You’re kind of describing like Otis version on Mayberry RFD of a snow goose.

Mat Schauer: Yes, sir. And for the ones that come in the morning to your decoys in May, they’re coming they see your decoys and they’re in the spot where they were yesterday, so they’re excited about it, and they’re coming. Well, sometimes they’ll get almost to you and maybe they’ve sobered up, they didn’t eat enough barley last night to still be drunk. So they realize, this is decoys, there’s something wrong here, they start flapping their little wings as hard as they can Ramsey and they can’t get any altitude, they’ve just gotten too big, they can’t pull out so you can forcefully decoy them.

Ramsey Russell: Great story. Speaking of, you mentioned Jan’s cooking earlier, she does these waterfowl right and there’s a lot of people saying I don’t eat waterfowl. One time I asked you and I had eaten for almost a week, Jan’s great cooking. As a matter of fact, I had a guy in the restaurant business here at the time and he had told me that morning, he said, man, there’s nothing I have eaten here that I wouldn’t serve at my restaurant. And that was the highest compliment to me. But I asked you one time, why come you don’t serve a steak every now and again? And you said, would it be the best steak you’d ever had? I said, no, no way, that might be knowing Jan’s cooking, but I’ve eaten some damn good steaks. And you asked me, Mat, you said, well, have you ever eaten better goose? And honestly, no, I have not. She really does a good job with these birds here and I’m excited to hear that, I don’t know when she’s going to do it, cooking, working with you 9 months out of the year, but I’m excited here she’s got a cookbook coming and you all better print a bunch. But talk about if you can, talk a little bit about how she developed these recipes, what some of her hall mark recipes are and what the client reaction is to it.

Fancy Goose Cooking 

Mat Schauer: Well, we always serve some snow geese. We could serve Canada goose, we could serve mallard, we could serve speckle bellies, we choose to serve snow geese because to our taste, it’s the least gamey of any of the birds coming through. So it’s the most widely favored by all of our hunters and camp. Now she’s got a bunch of different recipes and I’m no cook, I’m good at eating it, but I no cook, so I couldn’t give you all the secrets to cooking if I wanted to.

Ramsey Russell: What’s the name of the big ones you’ve got going around this year I heard about. One of her new –

Mat Schauer: Yeah, so her new one, I think we’re actually having it for dinner tonight, she’s got fancy goose.

Ramsey Russell: Fancy goose.

Mat Schauer: And it’s a goose prepared similar to a steak, I believe, but she’s got some potatoes and bacon and things that go along with it and on it and the presentation of it is amazing and the taste of it’s even better.

Ramsey Russell: Does she invent these recipes herself?

Mat Schauer: That one, yeah. That one’s a 100% was her invention. Now she makes a snow goose Oscar and I guess, she kind of adapted maybe a chicken Oscar into that where she serves a snow goose steak with kind of a crab and asparagus and a holiday sauce.

Ramsey Russell: I’ve had that before.

Mat Schauer: That one’s always a big hit. And we’ve had Kentucky fried snow goose with a white country gravy on real to a certain crowd. Not everybody wants deep fried snow goose, but anybody that eats it, wants it. But it’s 2022 some deep fryers might be racist.

Getting into the Outfitter Business

 I hunted everything. I didn’t discriminate when I was young, anything.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah. I forgot to ask you earlier, but where are you from and what are your hunting origins and what led you to get into the outfitting business?

Mat Schauer: Well, I’m from Western Minnesota originally, little town of Green Isle and I didn’t grow up with a family that hunted, grew up on a small farm and hunting was something that always interests me, I had cousins that hunted, but they’d never had time to take me with and I saw hunting as maybe a good way to sneak out of a few chores around the farm for a couple hours and get out there and I just kind of went out and self-taught and reading tons of magazine articles and just kind of found my way through it and as I got older, met friends that were also into it and learn things from my peers in the industry or just in the hunting world. And kind of stumbled into outfitting more accidentally than anything I was an electrical contractor and had some time off in the spring seasons, because in Minnesota, doing electrical work, it’s cold in the winter and if you’re doing electrical work on new construction as your primary income, well, there’s not a lot of new construction. You can only dig so many basements before the ground freezes and then you got to wait for it to thaw. So I ended up with this window at time, where I didn’t have anything to do and all my friends had other jobs, so I didn’t have anybody to go do anything with, I would just go south and hunt because they could and met people along the way and before you knew it, next year, there’s people asking, well, can we meet up at the same hotel at the same time, you’re going to be in that same area, let’s hunt together again. Well, another year goes by and then it’s a guy, the same guy wants to meet up, stay at that same hotel and I’m going to bring the decoys and he’s going to pay for the hotel and now he’s got his brother-in-law or his coworker that’s going to bring all the food. And pretty soon, I’m out there hunting with a bunch of guys that I don’t know any of them and I’m thinking, man, this day and age, I about have to have insurance, what if somebody gets hurt out here or something and it’s on my watch or my responsibility, so I decided, I’ve got to commit to it one way or the other and I decided to be an outfitter and being an outfitter and an electrician didn’t go hand in hand for very long before both businesses were cutting into the other one and I ultimately had to just pick a path. And probably could have been a much wealthier electrician, but I wouldn’t trade the outfitting business for anything, the amount of people I’ve got to meet, stories I have to tell, it’s been an amazing ride.

Ramsey Russell: When you grew up hunting in Western Minnesota, was it primarily waterfowl?

Mat Schauer: I hunted everything. I didn’t discriminate when I was young, anything.

Ramsey Russell: Did your dad bring in to it or family member?

Mat Schauer: No, I didn’t have any family that hunted. They worked. Matter of fact, all the years I’ve been in the outfitting business and I’ve had this camp in Canada, I’ve tried to get my dad up here to go on a goose hunt and I’ve never been able to talk him into it. He’s always got too much work to do around the yard. But when in 2019, when we built our brand new facility here, he was the first one here to help with. As soon as he heard we had work to do, there he was. So, that’s how I was raised.

Ramsey Russell: That’s fantastic. One of the last questions I got for you is, you all are obviously a huge part of the local community. What are some of the ways that you participate and have become a part of this community here in Saskatchewan?

Mat Schauer: Oh, we do all sorts of stuff to become really part of the community and as much as we can to help out our Canadian neighbors and friends. A lot of the land access in Canada, Canada’s got laws against leasing land for the purpose of hunting. So, your ability to access the properties you need to hunt is it’s all about friendships and all about people, it’s not about money. You can’t give the farmers money to access the land, so it’s a lot of time spent in the community helping out whoever might need help, we do sponsor some hockey teams and things like that around the area, try to sponsor some agricultural scholarships at local schools things like that just anything you can to give back to the community and maintain that involvement because it’s so crucial for having the access to the places you need to hunt.

Ramsey Russell: Well, the times I’ve been here every time I’ve been with you, I’ve met a lot of the locals that, if I didn’t know you, whatever, it just seems to me that there’s a real friendship going like a long-time friendship, like a neighbor and that’s big volumes to me when you see, become friends and become a part of the community. It’s not just a guy coming in, shooting does, going back home, you’ve become a part of this community in a lot of different ways. You spend a lot of time up here, a lot of time over the course of a year, some may say you spend more time up here, then I spend in my own house these days with all this traveling around? I mean, it’s hard not to become a part of community.

Mat Schauer: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. When you spend that much time in a place, you get to know and it’s a small community where everybody knows everybody. So it doesn’t take long at all and you just kind of become a part of it.

Ramsey Russell: What are some of the Canadian things you enjoy doing besides hunting? I tell you why I asked that question is, around your lodge, I love seeing them Bison skulls, you pull out of the mud around here, that’s crazy, isn’t it?

Mat Schauer: Oh, yeah. They’ve got incredible shed antler hunting up here, I enjoy going out looking for shed antlers in the spring before our spring season starts are sneaking out right after just right here around the lodge, we’ve got elk, we’ve got moose, we’ve got mule deer, tons of elk, you’ll have to look around the lodge we’ve got some sheds in there that are probably 350 inch, 400 inch bulls and they’re just laying around. In the States, that’s a big thing. Tons of people do it, it’s hard to get into good places where you’re going to actually find horns, unless you own the ground and up here, they want you to go out and get them so they don’t end up in their tractor tires. Now there’s a catch to it, you can’t bring it even back to the states or at least I don’t know the proper channels or paperwork you need to bring it back, I don’t think there is a way to bring it back. But I’m fortunate enough to have the lodge here where I can collect them and put them in the window sills and around the camp.

Ramsey Russell: I just enjoy looking at them and boy, I loved and I don’t know, there’s something about those Bison skulls that just captivate my imagination.

Mat Schauer: Yeah. That’s a pretty neat thing that we’ve got a few of those bison skull around and everybody right here around the sanctuary has on this lake, I guess. I’m told it went dry in the 70s and when the lake was dry, you could walk out there on the mud and find these bison skulls and even some elk skulls, bison I don’t know if they were a 100 years ago had walked out there and got stuck in the mud and drowned or died.

Ramsey Russell: At least a 100 years ago probably.

Mat Schauer: Maybe even longer, but pretty neat. And everybody around the lake has a few of them in their home or in their garage and definitely something unique right to the local community.

What to Expect from a Northern Skies Outfitters, Saskatchewan Hunt

And really, you’re not going to be laying on that ground a lot, you’re going to be in a tiki hut or in a ground in one of you all’s signature blinds up here about as comfortable as it gets?

Ramsey Russell: Mat, real quick before we wrap up, run everybody through your Northern Skies Outfitters, Saskatchewan package. What a typical package, typical stay, typical setup look like for those listening that might be interested?

Mat Schauer: Sure. Our hunts up here are during the month of September, October or again, in mid-April through May 20th. As far as what’s included in the package, meals, lodging, shotgun shells, hunting license, really kind of the whole deal that you need to bring your own alcohol if you want alcohol, but outside of that, we’ve got you covered and we’re fine with some special requests too when it comes to some of the pop and that kind of things you want to have around the lodge.

Ramsey Russell: And for those that don’t want the inconvenience of traveling with a firearm, you’ve got a whole wall over here, they’re welcome to rent from.

Mat Schauer: Absolutely. And with the current COVID still, not really COVID restrictions, but what happened was COVID, resulted in no travel to Canada and that let Delta restrict some of its flights. So now the flights to get into Canada route either through Calgary or Toronto and it’s gotten to be a bigger

Ramsey Russell: Toronto is a booger getting through with firearms.

Mat Schauer: Yeah. It’s gotten to be a bigger inconvenience to fly with a gun to Canada than it used to be. So because of that was the only complaint we’ve really had out of our customers in the last 2 years of any significance was traveling with the firearm up here was a pain in the butt through Toronto. So to combat that, we’ve added a full selection of rental guns, we just charge $50 a day for them and it makes it super convenient. Most of the guys can rent a gun from us cheaper than they could pack the extra bit of luggage to bring their own gun up and then they don’t have any of the inconvenience with customs and the extra headaches.

Ramsey Russell: And in terms of packing to come to Canada without a gun, leave the waders at home, you all don’t get off of these water wetlands, it’s dry field hunting for ducks and look at the weather forecast, pack more on boats and bibs, it’s pretty simple. And really, you’re not going to be laying on that ground a lot, you’re going to be in a tiki hut or in a ground in one of you all’s signature blinds up here about as comfortable as it gets?

Mat Schauer: Yeah. If it’s not going to rain, you don’t need rubber boots, you just need footwear that’s going to keep your feet warm. And most of the season, warm isn’t even that big of an issue, most years, I’d say it’s October 10th before I need anything beyond tennis shoes to go on a goose hunt.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah. Fantastic. Folks, you all been listening to my buddy, Mat Schauer, Northern Skies Outfitters, Saskatchewan, to contact him directly his name and his number and his email address is at our US Hunt List, go check him out. Mat, thank you, I’m looking forward to eating dinner tonight. Folks, thank you all for listening to this episode of Ducks Season Somewhere, see you next time.


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Benelli USA Shotguns. Trust is earned. By the numbers, I’ve bagged 121 waterfowl subspecies bagged on 6 continents, 20 countries, 36 US states and growing. I spend up to 225 days per year chasing ducks, geese and swans worldwide, and I don’t use shotgun for the brand name or the cool factor. Y’all know me way better than that. I’ve shot, Benelli Shotguns for over two decades. I continue shooting Benelli shotguns for their simplicity, utter reliability and superior performance. Whether hunting near home or halfway across the world, that’s the stuff that matters.

HuntProof, the premier mobile waterfowl app, is an absolute game changer. Quickly and easily attribute each hunt or scouting report to include automatic weather and pinpoint mapping; summarize waterfowl harvest by season, goose and duck species; share with friends within your network; type a hunt narrative and add photos. Migrational predictor algorithms estimate bird activity and, based on past hunt data will use weather conditions and hunt history to even suggest which blind will likely be most productive!

Inukshuk Professional Dog Food Our beloved retrievers are high-performing athletes that live to recover downed birds regardless of conditions. That’s why Char Dawg is powered by Inukshuk. With up to 720 kcals/ cup, Inukshuk Professional Dog Food is the highest-energy, highest-quality dog food available. Highly digestible, calorie-dense formulas reduce meal size and waste. Loaded with essential omega fatty acids, Inuk-nuk keeps coats shining, joints moving, noses on point. Produced in New Brunswick, Canada, using only best-of-best ingredients, Inukshuk is sold directly to consumers. I’ll feed nothing but Inukshuk. It’s like rocket fuel. The proof is in Char Dawg’s performance.

Tetra Hearing Delivers premium technology that’s specifically calibrated for the users own hearing and is comfortable, giving hunters a natural hearing experience, while still protecting their hearing. Using patent-pending Specialized Target Optimization™ (STO), the world’s first hearing technology designed optimize hearing for hunters in their specific hunting environments. TETRA gives hunters an edge and gives them their edge back. Can you hear me now?! Dang straight I can. Thanks to Tetra Hearing!

Voormi Wool-based technology is engineered to perform. Wool is nature’s miracle fiber. It’s light, wicks moisture, is inherently warm even when wet. It’s comfortable over a wide temperature gradient, naturally anti-microbial, remaining odor free. But Voormi is not your ordinary wool. It’s new breed of proprietary thermal wool takes it next level–it doesn’t itch, is surface-hardened to bead water from shaking duck dogs, and is available in your favorite earth tones and a couple unique concealment patterns. With wool-based solutions at the yarn level, Voormi eliminates the unwordly glow that’s common during low light while wearing synthetics. The high-e hoodie and base layers are personal favorites that I wear worldwide. Voormi’s growing line of innovative of performance products is authenticity with humility. It’s the practical hunting gear that we real duck hunters deserve.

Mojo Outdoors, most recognized name brand decoy number one maker of motion and spinning wing decoys in the world. More than just the best spinning wing decoys on the market, their ever growing product line includes all kinds of cool stuff. Magnetic Pick Stick, Scoot and Shoot Turkey Decoys much, much more. And don’t forget my personal favorite, yes sir, they also make the one – the only – world-famous Spoonzilla. When I pranked Terry Denman in Mexico with a “smiling mallard” nobody ever dreamed it would become the most talked about decoy of the century. I’ve used Mojo decoys worldwide, everywhere I’ve ever duck hunted from Azerbaijan to Argentina. I absolutely never leave home without one. Mojo Outdoors, forever changing the way you hunt ducks.

BOSS Shotshells copper-plated bismuth-tin alloy is the good ol’ days again. Steel shot’s come a long way in the past 30 years, but we’ll never, ever perform like good old fashioned lead. Say goodbye to all that gimmicky high recoil compensation science hype, and hello to superior performance. Know your pattern, take ethical shots, make clean kills. That is the BOSS Way. The good old days are now.

Tom Beckbe The Tom Beckbe lifestyle is timeless, harkening an American era that hunting gear lasted generations. Classic design and rugged materials withstand the elements. The Tensas Jacket is like the one my grandfather wore. Like the one I still wear. Because high-quality Tom Beckbe gear lasts. Forever. For the hunt.

Flashback Decoy by Duck Creek Decoy Works. It almost pains me to tell y’all about Duck Creek Decoy Work’s new Flashback Decoy because in  the words of Flashback Decoy inventor Tyler Baskfield, duck hunting gear really is “an arms race.” At my Mississippi camp, his flashback decoy has been a top-secret weapon among my personal bag of tricks. It behaves exactly like a feeding mallard, making slick-as-glass water roil to life. And now that my secret’s out I’ll tell y’all something else: I’ve got 3 of them.

Ducks Unlimited takes a continental, landscape approach to wetland conservation. Since 1937, DU has conserved almost 15 million acres of waterfowl habitat across North America. While DU works in all 50 states, the organization focuses its efforts and resources on the habitats most beneficial to waterfowl.

It really is Duck Season Somewhere for 365 days. Ramsey Russell’s Duck Season Somewhere podcast is available anywhere you listen to podcasts. Please subscribe, rate and review Duck Season Somewhere podcast. Share your favorite episodes with friends. Business inquiries or comments contact Ramsey Russell at And be sure to check out our new GetDucks Shop.  Connect with Ramsey Russell as he chases waterfowl hunting experiences worldwide year-round: Insta @ramseyrussellgetducks, YouTube @DuckSeasonSomewherePodcast,  Facebook @GetDucks