Following 3 incredible days of waterfowling, Ramsey meets with Prairie Limits Outfitters partners Brian Cramer and Ben Webster. Located in Saskatchewan and now in its 5th successful season in business, Prairie Limits Outfitters delivers total-package waterfowl hunting experiences. Cramer and Webster describe forming their collective vision for their service, telling about how they met and what all goes into making dreams a reality for themselves and for guests. Whether looking for your next great adventure or just interested in what hunting’s like elsewhere, y’all will appreciate their perspective.
Prairie Outfitters Saskatchewan, Canada
Everybody on the staff, everybody coming in from the field, everybody smiling all the time, which is exactly what hunting camp should be.
Ramsey Russell: Welcome back to Duck Season Somewhere, today I’m in Saskatchewan and man, what a trip. First morning, we’re on the top of a hill shooting the heck out of specklebelly, second morning, every big goose in Saskatchewan wanted to be where we were and the third morning was cackler central and besides all that, what I noticed is the thing I like about this hunting lodge and the thing that I will most remember are the two meals because all the tables are full of the guide staff and the clients, everybody huddled up breaking bread laughing, having a good time and smiling. Everybody on the staff, everybody coming in from the field, everybody smiling all the time, which is exactly what hunting camp should be. And the two guys making that possible here at Prairie Limits Outfitters are Ben Webster and Brian Cramer, how you guys doing, man? Reigning champions, what you all talking out there on corn hole, reigning corn hole champions.
Brian Cramer: Reigning champs, thanks to Betty, actually.
Ramsey Russell: Does anybody even try to compete with you anymore?
Brian Cramer: They all line up and try Ramsey, but we set them all down one at a time.
Ramsey Russell: How’s this season going compared to other seasons, seasons in the past?
Brian Cramer: Well, from my point of view, I run a lodge operation so now that we’re beyond COVID and hopefully we continue down the right path, our bookings are picking up again, guys are getting comfortable coming back to Canada, the nice thing is they drop the vaccine mandate, which is going to be huge for all the hardcore hunters that we have out there. Got rid of the app, so our phone has been ringing off the hook, we’ve got a lot of bookings already for next year and from there, I’ve got a phenomenal staff and Benny runs it real well. So I’ll let him speak on the hunting part of it.
Ben Webster: So I run the outside operations, the day to day with the guides, all the hunts who’s going where, what they’re hunting, that whole outside scheme of the hunting operation and every season we’ve had has been great, but this season has just been phenomenal, spectacular.
Brian Cramer: Even with this weather, I just amazed at how well our guys have done with birds in this hot weather, no wind, everything that should say you shouldn’t be successful, they’ve worked through all that.
Ramsey Russell: The harder you work, the luckier you get, I think.
Brian Cramer: Yeah, I think there’s a lot of truth to that, Ramsey.
Ramsey Russell: Speaking to the staff, Ben, I was here, I think you all’s first year, that’s when the lodge was built 2018. Is that the year you all went into business?
Ben Webster: It wasn’t even finished yet.
Ramsey Russell: And I was thinking on the drive up Char dog was a 9 week old puppy when I first and the lodge smell like sawdust then. You weren’t here at that time, it still smelled like sawdust, there were still some sawdust piles, you all opened up right here in downtown of this community. And I thought it was great then, but the first thing I noticed at supper was how big your staff is. I mean, how many people are on your staff?
Ben Webster: We’ve got 9 guides and scouts slash a couple of scouts are van drivers when we need them for our premier package. And then on Brian’s side of thing, you’ve got what?
Brian Cramer: 3. I got myself, my son that helps out and then we have two of the best cooks in Canada, Miss Tilly, Miss Donna, we also have another educated chef that comes in and fills in when we need him DJ, another local.
Ben Webster: He also runs our kitchen in the spring.
Brian Cramer: Right, runs it for all of our spring hunts and then we have two cleaning ladies that are phenomenal. So, been very blessed with all the staff and people that we’ve had and to find the cooks that we’ve had in this small town has been incredible.
Ramsey Russell: Everything runs like a well-oiled machine and I don’t know where to start, back on your staff Ben, I want to ask you this. You’ve got guys from Canada, Michigan, Wyoming, all over, all young, all aggressive, all hard working, all happy, all of them seem to have a good sense about them. In terms of waterfowl hunting, how do you find these guys? I know your emails must blow up when people want the job. Hey, I’ve been duck hunting since I was 4 years old and I want a job. How do you sift through the chaff to get to the wheat kernels? Because it makes a difference. I’m telling you, every one of your staff that I’ve met is top notch, every one of them.
Brian Cramer: I think that speaks volumes to Ben. Ben’s been in this industry a long time and he’s got a kind of a reputation and people that want to get into this or make a career out of this somewhat at that point, they want to come to Canada to work, they know the kind of operation that Ben runs and they want to get recognized that way. It’s me sitting back and watching that, if I was a guy who want to get in this business, you want to be with someone that’s very successful and I think that brings a lot of people to Ben.
The Day of a Waterfowl Hunting Outfitter
They’re more than just someone who can blow a call and run a hunt, I mean, they got great personalities, they got great people skills, great teamwork and they know what it’s all about to get the job done, it makes my life easy, makes Ben’s life a lot easier for sure.
Ramsey Russell: I think it does. Ben, what do you demand? Because this hunt doesn’t happen by accident, it’s hot, there’s a full moon and all the hunters are happy. What do you demand to your outfitters, your guide staff, how many hats are they wearing through the course of the day? What do they do?
Ben Webster: Wake up scout, help each other set up, obviously, someone runs a hunt, we all clean birds together, someone might be driving the van and then we do it again that evening, same thing. We have a guides meeting sometimes twice a day, usually the one guy’s meetings while we’re cleaning birds and the other one’s at the end of the night trying to figure out what everybody’s going to do. But the main thing for me is work ethic and a good attitude. I kind of took a different approach this season than I really ever have in the past instead of going with this gung-ho BA goose hunter that everybody knows, not that I don’t have some phenomenal hunters in general as guides. But the main thing was I need is team work, hard work and a good attitude because it’s a long season you’re together, if you get one bad apple, it can really screw the whole team over and just can create some bad turmoil.
Ramsey Russell: As somebody that hunts with a lot of people and sees a lot of operations, I think you got it, I can’t say enough about it, I think you’ve really got that in hand, but they’ve all got just super attitudes.
Brian Cramer: They’re more than just someone who can blow a call and run a hunt, I mean, they got great personalities, they got great people skills, great teamwork and they know what it’s all about to get the job done, it makes my life easy, makes Ben’s life a lot easier for sure.
Ramsey Russell: Because you got a lot of irons in the fire yourself, Brian.
Brian Cramer: Yeah.
Ramsey Russell: I mean, I got here the other night and I must say it was 9 o’clock at night, it couldn’t be much later because I go to bed early and there were people, your son taking out the trash and always something, somebody’s always moving here. I mean, it’s spotless and it runs good and it runs like it’s supposed to. What was your vision Brian for setting up this lodge and setting up this operation?
Brian Cramer: Mainly, been around a lot of places and gone hunting and every time you go somewhere you look at it and you think, what would I do to make that better or more comfortable or what would that need? And when we started this project, the goal was when Rusty and I came up here to try to find a place to run this operation and there was nothing up here hardly, this kind of fell into our lap, it was an old hardware, it wasn’t even that old, it was actually a new building for this area, it was a perfect square building, metal building and we just built it from there, knew what we wanted to have for people here, put in enough of the amenities to make it very comfortable for everybody, enough room for everybody to be comfortable, they can either hang in a group or they can get off and have their alone time. We got very comfortable furniture, some entertainment, we got a pool table, so there’s a lot of things to do. I always say there’s more to it than just hunting, it’s the whole experience they have when they’re here, yeah, total package. And it’s great because it’s fun to watch guys come in that don’t know each other and they leave as friends and a lot of them book back together when you guys going to come, we’re going to come at that same time, so it’s fun to watch the dynamics as that unfolds during their trip here.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, I can see that. A lot of people when they go to build a lodge like this, they want to be out in the middle of nowhere, this is in a downtown community, I’d say you’re probably the top business in this community and if I need something from the grocery stores right across the street, I can go where my dogs out down at the park, I mean, it’s so convenient, it’s utterly convenient. But like, you say, the guest services, the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in, very comfortable recliners. Let’s talk about the food because I don’t want the afternoons, I stayed around yesterday and those two ladies from the time they walked in to the time that the hunter showed up, they did nothing but bake.
Brian Cramer: Yeah. I just hope to fit in my truck at the end of two months to get home after eating their food for 2 months, but Miss Tilley and Miss Donna, she gets here first thing in the morning to start breakfast and she doesn’t stop till she goes home, she works 12, 14 hours a day, it’s just incredible and they absolutely love it. And there’s too much that they’re here, they’re great together, I keep asking them, do you want me to bring in some more help? Nope. She kind of treats it as, this is my kitchen, I belong here, I don’t want anybody in here messing things up and it’s just let them go and they do it. They take their food and then they make it incredible.
Ramsey Russell: I asked her last night how many loaves of bread she turned out in the season and she had no idea.
Brian Cramer: We’re probably going to go through and these are the larger bags, I think we’re at 22 bags of flour already.
Ramsey Russell: And I asked her, where she learnt it, where did you learn to bake? Because you got to figure minus 50 minus 30 long as winter, they got to do something. As far back in her family, she can remember the women been baking and then if the big loaves of bread aren’t enough, she starts – I walk in it smelled like cinnamon in here, she’s got these big cinnamon roll, they’re unbelievable.
Brian Cramer: That’s her special, these cinnamon rolls and she makes them for every group that comes in. So every 3 days she’s making cinnamon rolls and the guys have been here before, they’re like, what day is cinnamon cay or cinnamon roll day? And even our guides, they start hiding them on each other, they’ll steal them in the morning and hide them out of their trucks and then the guys will be stealing them out of their trucks, so it’s pretty funny to watch them. She makes 2 or 3 big trays and they are gone that day.
Ramsey Russell: I can believe that. And then the whole countertop right there, slab full of cookies and everything else, it’s unbelievable.
The Best Goose Dish I’ve Ever Eaten
Brian Cramer: Yeah. It’s not easy to walk by that counter, that’s for sure.
Ramsey Russell: The first or second night I was here all day long, you and Ben and the guide staff kept talking about ginger goose, DJ’s ginger goose, holy cow. By far the best meal I’ve had since I left home and absolutely the best, best goose I’ve ever eaten. And that’s like a signature dish, he makes for you all? How often does he cook that?
Brian Cramer: Well, we try to make it, 4, 5, 6 times through the season. It’s a recipe that he’s had long before he started for us and he literally, he worked in some restaurants up here, all the locals would come to his restaurant the night that he would make it, they would pack the house.
Ramsey Russell: That is his signature dish.
Brian Cramer: That’s his signature dish, yeah.
Ben Webster: From scratch.
Ramsey Russell: Absolutely. When he come in here and he had all that ginger and he was fresh grinding it and I would describe it, if somebody asked me what it was like and I would describe it as something like I’ve seen it people eat it PF Chang’s because he fried, he went and cut that goose in the nuggets, tenderized it and fried it that was the last thing he did because first, he worshiped over this sauce with the fresh ground ginger and all kind of and he said there was salt and there was savory and there was sweet and there was spice, it hit all the four angles with it and just boiled over and watched it like a mother hen and then got his rice going, got his veggies going and when he brought the goose and he just put it all together and it just vanished like a magic act, it vanished, it was so good. And he said, he felt Ben that spring snow goose made even better. You think so? Do you get a lot of clients that say, I don’t like goose?
Ben Webster: We got a lot of clients that say they don’t like snow goose specifically and I think it’s the best eating.
Ramsey Russell: I do too.
Ben Webster: It seems to be the most tender for whatever reason, right behind speck.
Ramsey Russell: Full of fat, I agree. I don’t know how they got such a bad rap – I guess, I do know how they got such a bad rap from 150 years ago being a marsh bird, but they’re not marsh birds anymore and they eat very good and you all do a big spring snow goose season up here, don’t you?
Ben Webster: It’s about 4 hard weeks for sure, sometimes we can stretch it to about 5, it just depends on –
Ramsey Russell: When are those day? Because if I want to come and get in on some spring snow goose hunting, when would I come and do that?
Ben Webster: About April 15th to May 15th, it’s basically about a month long, we can sometimes start hunting them the 8th to 10th of April. But it’s a little risky to book it because it could be cold, there could be still tons of snow and ice in early April. So we tend not to book any time before April 15th.
Ramsey Russell: Here’s something interesting, I’m going to ask you and I asked a few of the crowd, a few of the groups I hunted with, duck or geese, are you here for ducks or geese? Me personally, I’m here for the geese. I’m going to shoot the duck, but I want to hunt the geese because I just don’t get to do that back home. And these are all wild birds, these aren’t resident nothing, these are wild, big Canada’s, cacklers, speck, snows, ross, it’s all wild birds. What about most of the other clients that come up here?
Everybody Wants to Shoot Ducks
At the end of the day, we’re still hunting wild birds and weather plays a factor into it. But everything else that we can control, we do to the very best.
Ben Webster: I think it’s a mixture, but definitely ducks. Everybody wants to shoot their ducks, which I get it.
Brian Cramer: Not a lot of guys dry field ducks, like a lot of our first timers here, they get to hunt ducks in a dry field and it sure beats the heck out of putting on waders and stumbling around the water.
Ramsey Russell: Totally different experience. This morning and it’s like the geese are the show to me, but both mornings, last couple of morning we shot great numbers of ducks, I think yesterday we limited and today, we may have been a half dozen off, I mean, but they were just in between the volley on geese for me, that’s what they mean to me up here. But it’s spectacular just sitting in a layout blind or in A-frame and having those big flocks of mallards tuck around and start to work in good. I mean, just amazing, it’s worth coming up here for.
Brian Cramer: When you get flocks of 25, 50, 75, 100, 150 right on your doorstep, I mean, that’s pretty special to watch.
Ramsey Russell: It says a lot to me that, you all got about two seasons under your belt, then COVID hit, but here you are absolutely full, your whole calendar is full this fall. And so many of the clients I met here in the brief time I was here were all repeat clients, why do you think that is Brian?
Brian Cramer: Well, I know what it is, hunting is a big part of it. The experience, I think when they come here and to see the quality of our place, the quality of our staff, we do all the little things that make it special and I think they leave here, they are very happy with what they experienced and they want to do it again and that’s our goal. Our goal is to make it the best time we can possibly make it, we take care of all the things that we can take care of. At the end of the day, we’re still hunting wild birds and weather plays a factor into it. But everything else that we can control, we do to the very best.
Ramsey Russell: Well, good point in case, I got here and there were a few guys here and I asked you, I said, oh, it must be a light week, you go, no, two groups are late and they got all snarled up in the airlines. And it said something to me is, one thing, if you’re the airline messes you up, lose your bag and you don’t come in until 9 o’clock. But I just couldn’t imagine having to go to a little hole in the wall hotel, the restaurant done shut down at 6 o’clock because it’s a Friday night or whatever, but they walked in here and they had fresh rib eyes waiting on them and everything just fell into place and I mean, it showed immediately.
Ben Webster: Oh, we make them feel at home while they’re here and then we make a pile in the field, I mean, that’s the ultimate goal. It’s the hospitality on top of phenomenal hunting.
Ramsey Russell: Do you see that a lot in your Kansas operation too? I know you just see that, but it’s all about the total experience, isn’t it?
Ben Webster: Definitely.
Ramsey Russell: What do you do when the duck guides throw you a curveball? You see what I’m saying? I mean, because there’s no guarantee, there’s no guarantee limit, there’s no guarantee that it’s going to be a barn burner. And the truth of matter is, I don’t like those hunts that are so fast and furious, it becomes chaotic, I like just a nice even simmer. But there are a few curveballs this week because of the full moon, but man, everybody just beaming and happy. I think my whole point is, I think it said a lot about the total experience, the total package, don’t you?
Ben Webster: 100%. When the weather’s not in your favor or the birds aren’t acting right, you just got to work harder, that’s the only option.
Ramsey Russell: You all cover a big area? How big do you all cover?
Ben Webster: About an hour radius, sometimes we’ll go an hour and 15.
Ramsey Russell: And you got all these guys out scouting, are you all looking for a specific something or do you all just go for a hot feed? It could be white, it could be gray, it could be brown, it could be a mix. What are you all looking for?
Perfect Waterfowl Hunting Conditions
And then one fall we came back and Ben gives me a call and he says, hey, what do you think about opening up an outfitter in Canada?
Ben Webster: Depends on the situation, we never pass up a hot feed, period. I mean, you always pin it, you get the land owner information, if it’s really good, obviously, you want to get permission right there on the spot also, but there’ll be nights or mornings where techs are coming to me, hey, I need ducks, hey, I got my ducks, we need snows for tonight, I’m always on the phone communicating with either the guys running the hunt, but also the scouts and we’re in a big group chain, so it’ll be like, hey, make sure you check on the snow pins, we need ducks and everybody kind of somewhat keys in on that if they’re in the right area for it, but they never pass up on a good feed.
Ramsey Russell: You all are like a team, you all are in constant communication all day long.
Ben Webster: Always, if there’s no communication, it doesn’t work.
Ramsey Russell: That makes sense because like the guys from Maryland I hunted with this morning, the other day had a great, I think they limit it out on darks and then went out that afternoon and nothing but snows and some of the footage I saw was incredible. So, that’s what it takes, isn’t it? Keep the ball rolling. Do you all target Sandhill cranes here at all?
Ben Webster: Not very often. This year we actually didn’t target them, they just didn’t really push through like usual, we’re only good for 1 to 2, maybe three crane hunts tops, we just don’t get enough. We’ll get the occasional group that’s like, hey, we’ve had a great week, like you got cranes and we can just go try and we’ll have 150, 200 cranes in a field with some ducks or some honkers and we’ll go do a little combo shoot and they love it because they got to check that bird off the list. But that flight is quite a bit east of us to really get into the cranes.
Ramsey Russell: But you all are in the specks corridor for down here, this is where the specks are, I mean, it’s a funnel that comes right down through here, you all are in that funnel.
Brian Cramer: Isn’t that a fun bird to hunt?
Ramsey Russell: I love them, especially this of year.
Brian Cramer: Yeah, that is a cool goose.
Ramsey Russell: We had one today and we got, I say we, our guide got greedy and I don’t blame him, nobody was in because the bird made a pass and just weren’t right, so they kind of went swirled and worked around a little bit and they made us another pass and I popped up thinking he was fixing the shot, he didn’t, he wanted to get him to kill hole and they finally bugger out like geese sometimes do, not that speck, it was a bunch of cacklers, I couldn’t see them until he just appeared by himself, he come back talking to us and I love shooting them brown birds. I want to ask you, how did you all two meet? Because that was a good story.
Brian Cramer: So, I’ve hunted a lot of places out west and was actually, waterfowl birds both and I was looking for some place new to go and I watched the grind show quite a bit and Ben’s outfit was on the grind and I watched Ben on the show and I look more for people than I do the hunt, like, who’s going to be fun, who knows what they’re doing? And I watch Ben on that show and I go, I think I want to go hunt with this guy. So went out there hunting with him for like 3 years in a row, we became kind of buddies and end up hunting up here in Canada together and had some really fun times. And then one fall we came back and Ben gives me a call and he says, hey, what do you think about opening up an outfitter in Canada? And he totally caught me off guard and I thought, is he out of his mind? And I said, give me two weeks, think about this and he was looking at – there was two license in sale in Alberta that he was looking at and then he calls me back and says, those sold, but there’s some zones available in a really good area, he says, that would work out real well. I said, all right, let me think about it. And I went to bed and I was so excited, I couldn’t even sleep the more I thought about it and got up called Ben, I said, I’m in, let’s go.
Ramsey Russell: You didn’t take two weeks?
Brian Cramer: No, like 3 days and away we went. And my wife had said to me, she goes, you sure you want to do this and everything she says, it was a sign because every time we hit a hurdle, something would fall on our lap, every time we got to a dead end something better would fall –
Ramsey Russell: Like what?
Brian Cramer: Well, for instance, when we were up here, this building wasn’t even for sale. So we were looking at houses, we looked at some other buildings in town, nothing was going to work for what we wanted to do and all of a sudden our realtor gets a call last minute because we’re leaving on that day. He says the hardware just came up for sale in town, we were in this town. Pulled in, walked in the front door, looked at it and I said, made him an offer, they counter, we made another offer, we gave our final offer as we’re going to the airport, they accepted it and it was a done deal within like 2 days and off we go.
Ramsey Russell: Does this town remind you all of Bayberry RFD?
Brian Cramer: It does.
Ramsey Russell: Because the first time I was here, all them years ago, there was a lady, we’d be all sitting here, she just walked that front door and walk down you all hall and out to take a shortcut through your building to the back room.
Brian Cramer: It’s like anybody come in and take a shower, it’s like the whole town comes through here but –
Ramsey Russell: Because you are an integral part of the community.
Brian Cramer: Exactly. There’s so many great people up here, it’s like, when I’m gone and we miss them, it’s like, you stay in contact with them, it’s like, hey, what’s going on, you kind of know them and their family and everything, it’s that great small town feeling.
The Importance of Local Outfitters
I think every single person that flew in showed up without their gun, they didn’t have to bring a lot of gear, some of them had some light little bags, you all got some very inclusive package offers up here.
Ramsey Russell: How important is it to you as a local business as an outfitter? Because a lot of outfitters benefit the local communities and interact with the locals, but I don’t know, you seem to take it to a different level. How important is that to you?
Brian Cramer: I think it’s huge. To belong, to do things, to participate in events that they have, we do a lot of donations to the community and things that they have. We rent our facility out to them in our off season, like the Christmas parties are here, we have families that come in and do their Christmas baking here, they have their Christmas party here, they have their graduation parties here, they have their wedding parties here, all kinds of events that they come here, the hockey team stays here, it’s really cool to be a part of that.
Ramsey Russell: So many rural communities here in America are just perishing. Kids are moving all the way and all of a sudden here comes this business, sets up the shop, right in the middle of downtown and just kind of – I trying to say, fans the cold and blow it back into a flame is what it seems like to me, it had to bring a little bit of enthusiasm.
Brian Cramer: Oh, it did. There was a lot of excitement, we were the talk of the town, a lot of interest in the community, hey, what’s going on? I think initially they were like, oh, it’s Americans, but then they found out that we really did care about the town and what we wanted to do and how we were going to stay here and make things better and add to what they already have and they really accepted us once that happened.
Ramsey Russell: Those steaks you cook the other night were absolutely delicious, tender and flavorful, where did you get the beef?
Brian Cramer: That came from one of our local farmers, Jeff Watson and he has some of the cutest girls you will ever see, these little girls come in there 12 and 10 and they sat right there and talked to us just like an adult would, she was incredible. And she had a cow, we bought it through the 4 each, then this year I says, go get another one picked out, he said because we’re going to buy another one.
Ben Webster: So his name was Meatloaf. He’s good meatloaf.
Brian Cramer: Yeah, he’s got a beautiful family, these girls, they’re pretty special.
Ramsey Russell: What other ways do you interact with the community? You aren’t sponsoring a little league hockey team or something, are you?
Brian Cramer: But we sponsored a men’s hockey team this year, we did their shirts. Yeah. We did another basket drive thing for the girls that work at the post office. We feed a lot of people that come in, we’ll have a big dinner for the community sometimes, if we have an off night, we’ll invite in certain farmers or people to come in, it’s always open to farmers come in and have coffee and desserts or anything, get a lot of guys that will stop in every now and then, for a little BS session in town.
Ben Webster: The door is always open, that’s the main thing. I mean, if they’re not shy, they can come in and get a free meal and the same time –
Ramsey Russell: There’s not lot of amenities that would satisfy those activities here. There’s a bowling alley that I saw everybody in town going to last night and there’s a little co-op grocery store that’s about it.
Brian Cramer: Yeah, there’s a little restaurant down here, a couple doors down that you’ll get some of the town people going in there and have coffee and then there’s a little grab and go over here that gets a lot of the highway traffic.
Ramsey Russell: But how much time, like the season opens when? September 1st runs through about end of October.
Brian Cramer: We booked the end of October, seasons actually goes into early January, but we’re here, September 1st to the end of October.
Ramsey Russell: And then back when?
Brian Cramer: We’ll start somewhere around the 12th to the 15th of April and then run until 15th, 18th of May.
Ramsey Russell: And when do you all get here preseason? What’s required for you all to set up shop for the fall season?
Ben Webster: Usually like 4 days.
Brian Cramer: So this year, I begged and begged and we built a new slash storage unit out back and Ben, who has a new baby boy that was getting ready to crawl and I hauled Ben out of that, which he’s been a bulldog up here working and him and Jack came up and we start building this building, so in about 8 to 10 days, we erected this 20 by 24 building 2 stories and then Dylan finally got here from his goat hunt and helped us get it finished. So we got it up and running by time season started, it had to be some kind of record, I know that.
Ramsey Russell: It looks good too, the storage building looks good.
Brian Cramer: Yeah, it does look good, the boys did a good job. So no, normally we don’t come that early, but that was the 20th of August, so it made this season seem longer being away from your loved ones, when you do that. And I know it’s been tough on Ben and he just does a great job doing that.
Ramsey Russell: Do you all ever come back up here, like say between the end of snow goose season and then do you ever just come back up here in the summertime just to check on it?
Brian Cramer: We talk about it, we want to do a fishing trip one time before our spring season, the problem is up until this point, going through COVID and stuff and we were still kind of putting the pieces together somewhat. So we’re always busy working, we don’t have that time, the luxury of time to be – Ben’s got multiple businesses back in Kansas, I have a business back in Michigan that require a lot of attention, so it’s hard to do that. Hopefully here shortly we can do that.
Ramsey Russell: Your other business must be a people business also.
Brian Cramer: I do. I have self-physical therapy equipment.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, definitely. Talk about your different package options because you got a couple of nice package options, I think every single person that flew in showed up without their gun, they didn’t have to bring a lot of gear, some of them had some light little bags, you all got some very inclusive package offers up here.
Brian Cramer: So, we actually eliminated our one, we had a premier package. So now what we’re going to do is and everybody know we’re all living through this hell that we’re going through right now with the prices of everything and inflation the way it is, gas in Canada is not cheap by all means. So we used to do a premier package which included your transportation to and from the airport to and from the fields and a gun rental, so now we’re going to do the same thing. We’re going to just do our standard package and then have add ons and it depends on the size of their group, the cost it’s going to be for the transportation and then the gun rental. And then the other thing that we do on top of that too is a lot of guys don’t want to take their birds back and then they have it here while they’re here, they going to take jerky to the blind, they can take summer sausage to the blind plus all the other Miss Tilley goodies that we have, so that’s worked out very well for us. And then our DJ, our chef, he does all of our processing of that meat, so that works out very good for us.
Ramsey Russell: That does work out good. It’s all very good, we’ve eaten a lot of that stuff here, beef jerky and everything. Do
you think it’s just the crossing the border to make and having to fly and all that kind of stuff is why people don’t want to bring their birds home?
Brian Cramer: Well, if you look at it, you’re up here minimum three days, so in three days you can take back 3 days limits, well, that’s a lot of birds. So you got 32 geese, 32 ducks and you could have up to 60 snows, well, you need a lot of coolers to take that back.
Ramsey Russell: That’s a lot of weight, a lot of added baggage.
Brian Cramer: Yeah, so just the cost in taking that back is expensive.
Ramsey Russell: You got to have wing attached, but not the skin, the government’s got it all messed up, don’t they?
Brian Cramer: Yeah. If you’re driving it makes a lot easier and there’s always been the rumor mill where they’re trying to allow you to process that meat where you can take the breast, just the breast out of it and Ben probably knows more about that than I do. But it’s been in the talk of –
Ramsey Russell: Canada has actually modernized their possession limits like that. They have done a lot of – to make it less deterrent to hunters until you get to that US border and then the US federal government says, oh, no, we’re going to be to deter it, so it seems.
Brian Cramer: Right. They’re trying to eliminate all the waste from hunters and I get it, it’s difficult. We process a lot of birds here, think about how many birds that we shoot in a season that we have to process tag, do all the correct paperwork to get that stuff back home.
Ramsey Russell: It’s a lot of work. But you all keep up with that, I mean, it’s like, every single hunt I’ve been here, the birds are piled up behind hunter, out with the white tag, I mean, it’s a big deal, isn’t it?
Brian Cramer: Ben’s got a great program for that to keep all that organized. And when them guys leave, their freezers are empty, the birds are gone home or they go to the processor.
Ramsey Russell: Do the locals like some of the processed meat that you all provide?
Brian Cramer: They love it. We do a lot with our farmers, we do a lot with our local, our neighbors, a lot of people that could use the help. So it’s a nice way for us to say thank you to the community too.
Ramsey Russell: About 20 years ago I was hunting over somewhere out in Alberta and two local kids beat us to the field and rather than getting in a scuffle, we just said, why don’t we all hunt together? And we did and I mean, just one of them, the first big snow front duck geese, the whole work coming in, we were piling them up and two kids, probably the most birds they had ever seen and we got ready to divvy up, he said, I can’t take them all, the last time I did, my dad whooped my ass. But my experience up here talking to locals and farmers and things of that nature, they love clean birds and processed birds, they love it. You all don’t see a lot of local hunters up here, do you?
Brian Cramer: Not too much. We ran into that a little bit this year, we showed up to a field and there was three guys and their three sons, young sons, too young to even hunt and we all hunted together, had a great morning, we take some of our farmers hunting a lot of times, this year, I think we’ve had two groups of farmers Ben?
Ben Webster: Yeah, if they want to go, more than welcome anytime.
Brian Cramer: Which is nice for them because they just show up and they get to hunt if they have to leave early to go, start to work, get farming going, it’s just a nice day for them.
Ramsey Russell: I mean, it’s hard for me to get my mind wrapped around living here and seeing all this living sky of birds flying around and not really being a goose or duck hunter and a friend described me one time, not far from here in Saskatchewan, he had knocked on the door and had been hunting up a farm and one day the farmer’s wife said, well, I’d like to go out and watch. He goes, really? And so they both showed up and he picked a thermos of coffee for them in the blind and he said their eyes were as big as their heads because their whole lives, they been out here seeing all these birds, but they’ve never been in a spread and seen them get within feet of them and they said, now we get it, now we see what you like about it. He said, they kept coming back several times just to drink their morning coffee and experience that. I’ll tell you something interesting happened to me, Brian, a few weeks ago hunt with my buddies not far from here, found a – it wasn’t a big shoot, just a little station area between these lakes, there were ducks and a little slew and white geese and dark geese and it had been perfect for 2 or 3 of us just to hide with a minimal spread, shoot our ducks and wrap up real quick last morning, knocked on the door and the lady said, no, I’m sorry, I don’t want Americans on my property. It hurt my feeling for a week and my buddy goes, well, I’m from Nova Scotia, they go, yeah, we don’t want anybody. What do you think that’s coming from? I know you got an idea where that may be coming from and I’m leading up to a question about how you all have established yourself in the community and with an hour and a half radius of public building relationships, what’s going on that people are coming up here and taking ownership and overstepping their boundaries?
Ben Webster: Only takes one bad apple.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah. What are some of the examples that you don’t do?
Ben Webster: Unless the birds are in their swass, they don’t need us to hunt them. We should be very thankful that they let us on because they don’t have to, they’re not hurting their crops when they’re just already harvested fields. So, you got to take care of your people and they’ll take care of you, just like this community. There’s farms that we’re getting on now after 5 years in business or I guess four seasons just because we’re still here, the words spreading that, we’re good people and we’re taking care of people in the community and it’s spreading and they’re like, yeah, let’s try it, you can hunt this year.
Brian Cramer: Take care of their land, clean up after yourselves –
Ramsey Russell: And by cleaning up, you don’t mean just pick up the candy bar wrappers, man, I’m telling you every shell, every piece of brass, several magnetic sticks are coming out swinging around, today Nick was even like, man, this farmer in particular, he made sure that there wasn’t so much as a blade of grass had been brought in from another field.
Brian Cramer: The boys rake all that stuff up. Yeah, it’s just like, when you’re done, the only thing that’s left there is a little matted down grass from the blinds, but other than that, it looks like you were never there. And the boys are very good about that and they go back and double check and triple check and they don’t leave that field till it’s done.
Ramsey Russell: Have you all started running into it or ever run into a guy saying, no, I don’t want to just because he’s had bad experience with others.
Ben Webster: Yeah. You got some guys that are worried about club root, which isn’t very prevalent in our area, but I get it.
Ramsey Russell: Is it mostly got to do with canola? Well, that ain’t no good for duck anyway. I was proud to see it wasn’t just a terrible amount of canola this year on the landscape.
Brian Cramer: There is right here, close to us, which is good, which means the next year it won’t be and then hopefully we get a little water this winter, it’s getting dry up here right now in the fall.
Ramsey Russell: It really is getting dry. It is it much drier now than it was when you all started setting up shop out here?
Brian Cramer: When we first came up here, the banks are overflowing with water. The last two years –
Ben Webster: Everything out of water, up to the top.
Brian Cramer: Like out of its borders, it was up higher than it had been where it normally is. And then we had a dry year and lost a little water, then we had another dry year. This year was kind of strange, we came up in the spring, it was very dry like we drove in every field, the dust was flying, which is crazy for that time of year and when we left, it was really dry to the point where we were concerned that the farmer’s crops wouldn’t germinate, the ground was that dry. And after we got back home, they had that blizzard in North Dakota and southern parts of Saskatchewan, they had 2 blizzards, 40 some inches, 30 some inches and that was under water, which they needed water bad. And then up here it started raining, they got a lot of rain through the summer, the farmers’ crops this year were excellent, probably the best they’ve had in years. So that helped. And then up until probably the end of July, there was a lot of water here, but it hasn’t rained since it’s enough to spit a couple of days, but that’s it, not enough to even wet the ground.
Ben Webster: We haven’t used the quads once yet. I mean, wearing a t-shirt today, it’s October 9th, 10th?
Ramsey Russell: I’ve been choking up dust for three weeks since I’ve been up here in Canada, it’s dusty everywhere.
Brian Cramer: Not only has it been dry, the first 10 days I’m telling Ramsey, the one week was 88°, 89°, 92°, 94°, 96°, 97° that one night we were hunting them ducks.
Ben Webster: It’s so hot in the evening, you can’t even run your dog.
Brian Cramer: And I’m like, holy cow and we were still getting birds, that’s the crazy thing.
Ben Webster: Our clients were wearing their hunting boots and shorts, it was a comical site to see.
Brian Cramer: It was not comical, it was not a pleasant sight to see.
Hunting & Scouting in Saskatchewan
Ramsey Russell: How does that affect your hunting and scouting when it gets real dry on the landscape like this?
Ben Webster: It does congregate the birds a little bit. So there’ll be those little hidden pockets that I know about since I’ve been doing this for so long –
Ramsey Russell: You talked about yesterday walking in a mile and a half to look at something, I don’t know how in the world – you do the same thing down in Kansas. Somebody asked me the other night, one of the gentlemen said, I’m going to go down there and hunt for Canada, but he ain’t good, I go hell, yeah, I don’t know. It’s like, you got a 500ft view or 5000ft view that – you just find out of the middle of nowhere places you just couldn’t see unless you walked over the hill and looked down and saw it.
Brian Cramer: Here’s how good he is. So, 5 years we’ve been doing this, right? My goal is to find a pile of birds somewhere that Ben doesn’t know about. I call him, I go, Ben, hey, I just saw this pocket of birds, right? Yeah, it’s on, so and so’s farm, they’re on that one side, they’re big up feet to get, every time I’m like, I’m going to get him one of these days.
Ben Webster: It just goes back to that communication. I got to keep in communication with my guys because I never stopped thinking. So like, sometimes in the evenings it drives me crazy to go on hunts because they’re blowing me up, I’m trying to run a hunt, but I’m also trying to think about the next day, I’m always thinking about the next hunt, that’s how the machine keeps rolling right?
Ramsey Russell: So it concentrates your birds and you just have to manage them a little bit differently?
Ben Webster: But some people think Alberta is better because you can hunt geese in the afternoon, I can’t hunt dark geese in the afternoon until October 15th. I actually prefer it because I can leave my dark geese alone every single night and focus on ducks and snow geese in the afternoon only. If they shoot their docks in a lot of darks in the morning, early in September, unfortunately, they’re done in the afternoon, but once the snows show up, I mean, we’re hunting every afternoon for Canadas.
Ramsey Russell: You shoot a trigger that much in the morning, you could probably use an afternoon off, I know, I could.
Ben Webster: Nobody’s upset about it, they just get a little bit bored. I mean, but that’s why we got a pool table –
Ramsey Russell: Maybe they have to up their belt around all them cookies and stuff, plenty of cold beer. Guys, how can anybody listening, you all are US Hunt List Outfitter and go to ushuntlist.com. Check out Prairie Limits Outfitters, Saskatchewan waterfowl hunting. What are some of you all other social media platforms, they can get in touch with you?
Ramsey Russell: Folks, you all hear him it’s a great hunt, trust me, this is what Saskatchewan is supposed to be about, it’s what hunting count is supposed to be about, hard working folks, a lot of happy staff, a lots of birds. 97° to more temperate, it’s some good bird hunting up here. You’ve been listening to Ben Webster and Brian Cramer, we’re Prairie Limits Outfitters, come check them out. Thank you all for listening to this episode of Duck Season Somewhere, we’ll see you next time.