Experience hunting giant, free-ranging wood bison in the spring near Wood Buffalo National Park in Northern Alberta! Here there are several native herds that have always existed in this remote corner of the province. At 2600 lbs, these bulls rank as the largest hoofed animals in North America, and only second largest in the world after Asiatic water buffalo. This is a dangerous and remote hunt, preferably conducted in the spring, but winter hunts can also be arranged upon request. A second bison can be taken by any hunter for a trophy fee of only USD$3,000. Wolves can also be harvested at no charge under the authority of any unfilled bison tag. This is a demanding adventure hunt, offered on a limited basis. Hunters should be experienced and in good physical condition. In addition, this species will soon be reclassified by SCI separate from Plains Bison increasing demand and reducing availability. There may be no other place in North America to hunt native, trophy free-ranging wood bison in their natural habitat!
ALBERTA BISON HUNTING
Spring – Days start at 6 am, only getting dark at 11 pm. Using 4×4 ATVs or at times on Ski-Doo to access this remote country you can expect to cover as many as 50 miles in a day in search of bison. Our outfitter has over a decade of experience with high success rates. Temperatures are pleasant ranging from 45°F – 70°F, with frosty mornings and residual snow persisting (1-3 feet) in the early part of the season. Green up only begins in early to mid-June. Expect long days in the field so bagged lunches are usually the norm while out hunting. It is exciting cutting a track and locating a herd of bison on the move! Typical shots are between 50 and 150 yards, with shot placement being extremely critical. Angry wounded bison will stalk and circle waiting for a perfect moment to charge. These bison are also known for “mobbing” a predator, all attacking together at once. When you consider these bison reach speeds of 60 km per hour, it is easy to see why they are dangerous to hunt, particularly in the winter while wearing snowshoes.
Winter – Only offered on a specific client by client basis, winter hunts are conducted from November to March (preferably February or March), in temperatures ranging from +10°F to -40°F. Early mornings under the northern lights make for hard work, short daylight hours, and an exhilarating experience overall. Depending on snow levels, transportation during hunts is either by ski-doo or 4×4 ATV’s. With temperatures hovering around the -40°F mark, winter hunts are dangerous in and of themselves, never mind the buffalo! Wood bison are most aggressive when wounded or upon being attacked and threatened.
Deep snow makes any retreat on snowshoes very difficult. Primary reasons for offering a winter hunt is for select hunters desiring a winter wood bison cape only, as well as increased odds at connecting with a prime pelted wolf. More hunting effort is usually required so winter packages are 9 days rather than 6 days, offered at USD$15000. Nothing is more fulfilling however.
Fall – A good alternative to the above options is a fall hunt. Limited to one week in October, we conduct these hunts for those seeking excellent capes under fair but cool weather. Pricing and hunting techniques do not differ at all form spring hunts. These hunts are very limited so please inquire for details or availability.
Bonus Wolf Hunting – This package provides opportunities to harvest wolves, both as a specifically targeted animal or as a target of opportunity while hunting wood bison. Hunters may shoot a wolf under the authority of their unfilled bison tag(s). Once tagged out however, a $4,000 trophy fee applies to wolf hunting. Success rates are good, with some hunting conducted directly over the freshly harvested bison carcasses. The best hunting tends to be in the winter months when wolf pelts are also at their most prime during
Conditions and Setting
Spring in Canada’s boreal forest is a beautiful time and place. Black spruce dominates upland areas, and the willows, alders, and tamarack establish the lower, wetter spots. Cool nights and morning frosts should be expected, which generally eliminates biting insects this time of year. Expect temperatures to range from 45°F to 70°F, but colder or warmer conditions and stormy weather could always be possible. Some years snow persists in the season, other years can be wet. The majority of each day will be spent traveling small trails and glassing open areas from high spots in strategic locations while searching for a trophy wood bison.
Winter in the boreal forest, is cold, dark, quiet with a sense of loneliness. Hunts are conducted anytime from November to March, in temperatures ranging from +10°F to 40°F, with lows in the -30’s. Depending on snow levels which can be anywhere from 3-8 feet deep, transportation during this hunt can be either be ski-doo or 4×4 ATVs. Daylight is a factor to consider however, with 7 hours in November, 5 hours in December, 6 hours in January, 8 hours in February, and 10 hours in March.
WOOD BISON HUNT ACCOMMODATIONS
This hunt is typically conducted from lodge style facilities for the spring hunts, but at times hotels or bed and breakfasts are used, depending on the location of the Bison. To access and hunt some of the very remote regions, tent camps are also used. Accommodations during the winter hunt are Bed and Breakfast style hotels or motels, so as to be within daily striking distance of the Wood Bison herds at that time of the year.
The majority of the hunts are based out of High-Level Alberta or Fort Smith NWT, both of which are both accessible by road or smaller commuter airlines. The best jump-off point is Edmonton Alberta, where connecting flights to High Level can be booked with either Northwestern Airlines (http://nwal.ca/) at 1 877-872-2216 or Central Mountain Air (https://flycma.com/) at 1 888-865-8585. Flights are typically 1 hour 40 minutes. Should you wish to drive, the High Level is approximately 9 hours north of Edmonton. Should your hunt be based out of Fort Smith NWT, the best option is to book flights seeing as the drive from Edmonton is roughly 16 hours. At this point the outfitter will greet you and take you to your accommodations near the hunting area.
Getting Meat and Trophies Home
This population is separated both genetically & geographically from the American Plains Bison, being a far larger animal with an isolated population. Within the next two years SCI will designate them a separate species which will place the hunt in higher demand to collector hunter, which will increase the demand and reduce availability. If you have ever been interested in experiencing this hunt, now is an excellent time to take advantage. These Wood Bison however do not qualify for B&C because of the 3 to 5% genetic contribution with Plains Bison, and so, Alberta does not recognize them as a recognized species, which some might agree is surprising. The fact that they are not technically 100% pure endangered Wood Bison, makes them fully exportable to the US and bypasses all the CITES red tape however.
Despite not falling under CITES stipulations directly, there is a bit of administration on the Alberta side of things, and below is an explanation of the process.
Technically these bison do not need a CITES permit, and instead the Alberta government provides the outfitter with a letter addendum which qualifies the application with CITES. What this means however is that the hide, skull, and meat must remain in Canada until the paperwork clears and Alberta Conservation officers affix the letter and a metal tag to your Bison. At this point it will be cleared by the US Fish and Wildlife inspectors and can enter the United States. This process is done mainly through the taxidermist in Alberta in conjunction with the outfitter after you have left from your hunt. The whole process should take about a month or two. Please know there is no tedious importation paperwork required on the part of the hunter for this process however. The taxidermist and outfitter take care of the majority of the administration. The skulls are huge and using beetles simple takes too long so they must be boiled. Meanwhile the hides are very thick which lengthens tanning/processing times. They are simply huge animals.
$10,000: 6-Day 1×1 Spring Hunt for trophy Wood Bison May/June -2016/17/18. A 2nd Bison trophy fee only USD$3500. Wolf can be added for $USD4000 or hunted at NO CHARGE with any unfiled bison tag
$15,000: 9-Day 1×1 Winter Hunt for trophy Wood Bison February/March -2016/17/18. A 2nd Bison trophy fee only USD$3500. Wolf can be added for $USD4000 or hunted at NO CHARGE with any unfiled bison tag
Non-hunting Observers welcome for a daily rate of $150.00 per person
$100 Albert Hunting license and $50 per Wolf tag
~ Round trip transportation to and from the airport in either High-Level Alberta or Fort Smith NWT
~ All vehicle transportation while in the hunting area, and during hunt
~ 1×1 professional guiding
~ All accommodations and meals during hunt
~ Bonus wolf hunting opportunities at no charge with any unfilled Wood Bison license
~ Field dressing, capeing and trophy care of bison and prep for the taxidermist
~ Meat preparation, wrapping and bagging for home
Not included in the cost
~ Government Taxes (5% Goods and Service Tax)
~ Tags or Licensing,
~ Tips and gratuities,
~ Pre and post-trip accommodations and travel
~ Shipping, crating and handling of trophy to the taxidermist