Discover What Alberta has to Offer
As of 2016, an astounding 1,576 animals from Alberta have qualified for the Boone and Crockett Club’s (B&C) record book. And best of all, 595 of these entries have been taken since the year 2000. The good old days of hunting in Alberta are right now. Alberta boasts an incredible variety of big game and bird game in part because of its size – encompassing 255,541 square miles, Alberta is the fourth largest province in Canada. In fact, it’s 95 per cent as large as Texas. There are five major ecoregions (prairies, parkland, mountains, foothills and boreal forest) that provide a tremendous diversity of wildlife habitat. It’s the combination of Alberta’s large size and its habitat diversity that results in so many great hunting opportunities and outstanding trophies. Hunting opportunities are available throughout the spring, fall and winter, and Alberta’s position along the east slope of the Rockies ensures a welcoming climate. Fall days are typically warm and sunny with cool nights and, in higher elevations, frost on the ground in the mornings. As November dawns, many parts of the province have snow, with below-freezing temperatures being the norm, trending downward as the end of the month nears. Bighorn sheep Alberta is synonymous with record-book bighorn sheep; an incredible 354 qualifying rams have made the Book, with 61 entered since 2000. Alberta boasts a new world-record bighorn, picked up in 2010, that scores an impressive 209 4/8 and we’re also home to the largest hunter killed bighorn, the 208 3/8 ram taken by Guinn D. Crousen in 2000. In fact, Alberta rams occupy the top eight positions in the Boone and Crockett record book. There’s a legitimate chance of taking a record-book ram virtually anywhere along the majestic Rocky Mountains during the September/October season, from Waterton Lakes National Park in the south to the Willmore Wilderness Area in the north. There’s also a November archery season that offers excellent opportunity for bow hunters. Alberta’s mountains are rugged and challenging to hunt, so hunters should get in shape in preparation for hunting bighorns. Hunts range from deep wilderness experiences on horseback to challenging backpack hunts on the front ranges. The scenery is fantastic and you’ll come away with memories that will last a lifetime.
Alberta is the go-to destination to tag outstanding whitetails, producing many typical and non-typical record-book deer annually. Records indicate that 212 non-typical whitetails and 328 typical whitetail deer qualified for the B&C records up to 2016. Some of the largest bucks are taken in the transition zone between the aspen parklands and the boreal forest, but many qualifying bucks have also been taken in the foothills and prairies. Hunts run from August to November, with both archery and rifle hunts offered. Late-season hunters should be prepared to hunt in cold conditions and be dressed for sub-freezing temperatures. Stand hunting remains one of the best ways to take a trophy buck, so patience and perseverance are essential. Those hunters who can sit on stand all day will be rewarded! It’s possible to take big whitetail bucks any time during the open season, with different techniques being utilized depending on the location and time of the season.
Outstanding black bear hunting in Alberta is offered in both the spring (April 1 to June 15) and fall (Aug. 25 to Nov. 30) seasons, with both archery and rifle hunting opportunities available. B&C records indicate that 126 Alberta black bears have been entered in the record book. Black bear numbers are relatively high wherever they’re found in Alberta and our outfitters are well-equipped and knowledgeable. Much of the hunting is done from stands over bait, but there are many spot and-stalk opportunities available, too.
Resident hunting pressure on black bears remains relatively light, so non-residents encounter little competition from locals. Alberta rates in the top 10 provinces/states producing Boone and Crockett bears in North America and there’s the added bonus that colour-phase bears are quite common. Further, many areas in Alberta offer hunters two black bear tags.
Alberta continues to produce some remarkably large Canada moose, a consequence of outstanding habitat and limited entry draws for residents that has resulted in greater carryover of trophy bulls. In total, 164 moose from Alberta have made the B&C record book, with over 25 per cent of these entered since 2000. While hunters can take a trophy bull moose anytime during the September to November season, the late September/early October rut is extremely popular. Having a huge bull moose respond to a skilful guide’s call is an experience not soon forgotten. Each year sees the opening of additional moose hunting opportunities in the province, as these large ungulates are rapidly expanding their range in Alberta.
Although Alberta is at the northern edge of pronghorn antelope range, it has been producing some exceptional bucks in the past decade, with a new Alberta record of 90 inches taken in 2013. There are 53 bucks from Alberta in the B&C record book, with half of those taken since the year 2000. Interestingly, trophy bucks have been taken from most locations throughout their Alberta range, using both the bow and rifle, and in both the September and October seasons. Your chances for taking an exceptional buck are good, but antelope inhabit open terrain so be prepared for shots up to 300-plus yards during the rifle season. During the archery season, however, bucks readily respond to decoys and it’s not uncommon to have a dozen or more bucks within bow range during the height of the rut.
Alberta is a top destination for record book mule deer. They’ve made a huge comeback over the past couple of decades as a result of limited-entry draws for resident hunters, which has allowed bucks to grow older and bigger. Alberta is hands down the best place in Canada for the non-resident hunter to bag a trophy mule deer. Seasons run from August to November, with outstanding bucks taken throughout the province. The “Broder Buck,” which scored an unbelievable 355 2/8 (shot in 1926 by Ed Broder near Chip Lake, west of Edmonton), still stands as the all-time, number one, non-typical mule deer in the world. One hundred and eight Alberta mule deer bucks are found in the B&C book, with over half of those taken since 2000. The hunting just keeps getting better, year after year.
Alberta’s top typical elk (419 6/8) was taken by Clarence Brown in the Panther River drainage and it still stands as the eighth largest American elk ever killed. Sixty-one Alberta elk have been entered in the B&C record book, with many outstanding bulls taken during the last few years. Hunters have an opportunity to bag a trophy bull in the prairies, mountains, foothills, parklands and boreal zones; our elk hunting is that good. Seasons run August through November. As a bonus, hunters can choose what style of hunt they’d like to enjoy, from early-season archery hunts to mid-September rifle hunts (during the rut) or late November hunts, near the close of the season when elk leave the high country in the mountains and migrate to the lower elevation foothills. Like moose, Alberta’s elk are rapidly expanding their range, creating exciting new hunting opportunities. Pronghorn antelope Although Alberta is at the northern edge of pronghorn antelope range, it has been producing some exceptional bucks in the past decade, with a new Alberta record of 90 inches taken in 2013. There are 53 bucks from Alberta in the B&C record book, with half of those taken since the year 2000. Interestingly, trophy bucks have been taken from most locations throughout their Alberta range, using both the bow and rifle, and in both the September and October seasons. Your chances for taking an exceptional buck are good, but antelope inhabit open terrain so be prepared for shots up to 300-plus yards during the rifle season. During the respond to decoys and it’s not uncommon to have a dozen or more bucks within bow range during the height of the rut.
If it’s predators you’re after, look no further than Alberta. Wolf and coyote numbers are at an all-time high and they’re expanding their range. During recent hunts, hunters have reported seeing as many as a dozen coyotes on a single quarter-section of land on the prairies. While coyotes and wolves are often combined with other big game hunts, many outfitters offer winter hunts specifically targeting these wily canines. Cougars are managed on a quota syste in Alberta and this ensures that we can offer the best hunting for trophy cats in North America. Alberta is the only province or state to have three cougars scoring 16 inches or greater in the B&C record book. There are currently 117 cougars in the book from Alberta, with five of those in the top 10, and that number grows each season. Hunting is typically done with hounds and hunters can expect to encounter some spectacular terrain on these challenging winter hunts. If you’re looking for a big-bodied, huge-skulled tom, look no further than Alberta.
The largest free-ranging herd of wild bison in the world is found in the remote area of northern Alberta bordering Wood Buffalo National Park. Huge bulls are taken each winter and spring by bow and rifle hunters; you can also combine these hunts with wolves and black bears. If you’re interested in a northern Alberta adventure that’s perhaps a little bit off the chart, consider a bison hunt – you won’t be disappointed. Hunts take place in remote forested landscapes, so hunters should be prepared for fairly rigorous conditions. This area is Alberta’s last frontier and access is very limited.
Waterfowl populations continue to thrive and Alberta remains as the premier destination for duck and goose hunters. From the southern prairies, north through the parkland and on up into the Peace River region, opportunities have never been better. Goose hunters can select from giant Canadas, speckle-bellies, snows and even Ross’ geese. For the avid duck hunter, Alberta offers what is arguably the best mallard hunting in North America, with generous limits and an abundance of birds. And with more than a dozen other species of ducks present, those seeking a mixed bag will be amply rewarded. Hunters most commonly shoot grain stubble fields from layout blinds, but pothole shooting offers some of the most exciting shooting opportunities for ducks. Seasons begin in September, though hunters enjoy tremendous field shoots for ducks and Canada geese that extend throughout November and into December. Alberta also offered its first spring snow goose season in 2016, for those looking to take advantage of their burgeoning populations.
Upland bird populations are on the upswing in Alberta, with populations of ruffed grouse, grey (Hungarian) partridge, pheasants, ptarmigan, sharp tailed grouse, blue grouse and spruce grouse locally abundant throughout much of their range in the province. The ruffed grouse cycle is on the upswing in central and northern Alberta; this speaks well for those hunters after moose, elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer who are interested in taking birds on the side. In the south, sharp tails, pheasants and Hungarian partridge provide considerable opportunities as a stand-alone species or as an added bonus after your big game or waterfowl hunt. Hunting pressure is generally low for upland birds across Alberta.
Alberta’s Professional Outfitters are all licensed and insured, and your deposit is protected should anything unexpected occur. With more than 460 qualified professionals, Alberta’s outfitters are ready to make your dream hunt a reality. To book your hunt of a lifetime in Alberta, check out the Member Directory (low resolution).
Scenery that will take your breath away!