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  • Rob Oliver

Getting An Early Start

"Here they come" someone at the other end of the blind whispered. Sure enough, as if held by a tractor beam a flock of twenty-five Canada Geese were headed straight for us. They did not circle, or gain elevation for a look, they simply set their wings and began their glide into the landing spot in the decoys. Finally, at twenty yards, someone shouted "Take 'em". When the shooting stopped we'd definitely done some damage. This string of events was to be repeated several times over the next few days.

We had been invited to hunt with Travis and Cassie Vreeling of Mossy Ridge Outfitting (mossyridgelogworks). Their hunting area is located six hours north of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, making them some of the first to contact birds headed south for their annual migration.

Travis and Cassie were both raised in this part of Alberta so they are very well acquainted with the area and know most of the local landowners. In the offseason, Travis builds log homes and Cassie, rides herd of their two daughters and their six month old Labrador pup, Merle. A few years ago Travis constructed a beautiful log home for a family and he is able to lease it in the fall to lodge hunters in. Cassie is an excellent cook and provides meals fit for royalty for their clients.

The waterfowl season opens September 1st where they are located. Most of the hunting is done in harvested pea or cereal grain fields out of willow blinds or layouts. At that time of the years there are Canada Geese and a surprising number of White-Fronted Geese. A few years ago, the regulations changed removing the restriction on white-fronts, so hunters are now able to shoot eight per day, if they like.

Mossy Ridge is a fairly new operation but is first class in every aspect. Travis plans on focusing of waterfowl early in September and then will shift his focus to moose, elk and bears which are all found in the area. In fact, while shooting geese one morning the boys shared the field with a black bear who was foraging in the same field. Whenever, they would shoot he'd lift his head and then go back to eating. Truly, a unique experience for hunters used to hunting in more southern climes.

The experience of being some of the first people to encounter waterfowl on their migration south is very unique even for seasoned hunters. The birds tend to stay in the fields all day unlike further south where they fly in the morning and then in the afternoon. The variety of wildlife in the area and the diversity of habitat makes the experience truly different from other traditional hunting areas for waterfowl.

Lest you think it's all about the humans, Quinn, Wade's Labrador, thought Christmas had come early this year, and indeed it had. As the only dog in camp he had plenty of retrieving opportunities which suited him just fine. Sometimes he had so many opportunities he seemed overwhelmed at the prospects. Kind of looking at a field full of baled hay and wondering where you are going to start picking up. However, you could see the wheels turning and he improved in his task each day. Truly a great opportunity for a hard-charging, bird-loving dog.

We'd highly recommend booking a hunt with Mossy Ridge Outfitters, either for waterfowl or big game. You can contact them via their website by telephone 780-836-6456.

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