© Submitted photo
Award recipients from Saturday night‚Äôs annual awards banquet gather at the Prince Albert Wildlife Federation north of the city on Saturday night.
Birch Hills-based hunter Bob Bodnarchuk nabbed a black bear for the Saskatchewan record books in 2013.
A highlight to Saturday night‚Äôs Prince Albert Wildlife Federation awards banquet, Bodnarchuk‚Äôs bear measured 20 and 5/16 in the Boone and Crockett system of measurement for big game heads, member Jim Tiessen said.
The bear was hunted on the North Saskatchewan River east of Prince Albert, Tiessen said -- a unique kill that joined others in receiving commendation at Saturday‚Äôs banquet.
The Daily Herald stopped by the Wildlife Federation building north of Prince Albert in the late evening after the crowd had died down, to learn the latest on local hunting culture.
They key thing for hunting enthusiasts, now, is to find younger hunters to join their ranks, Tiessen said as the event wound down.
‚ÄúThe number of hunters in Saskatchewan is going down -- in particular bird hunting,‚ÄĚ he said.
‚ÄúThere are fewer people who hunt birds, now, like geese and grouse and ducks and so on. I don‚Äôt know the reason for all of that, but those numbers are down.‚ÄĚ
Big game is still attracting a decent number of hunters, albeit not as many as they‚Äôve seen in the past.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre always encouraging young people to take up the sport, but it‚Äôs tough in today‚Äôs world to encourage the use of firearms and going out to hunt something and bringing home the meat,‚ÄĚ Tiessen said. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs not a part of what many young people are about, anymore.
‚ÄúAs a hunter myself, there‚Äôs no greater thrill than to be in a field and see a sunrise and see animals and be in pursuit ‚Ä¶ and being able to harvest an animal and to use it in your family‚Äôs food source -- there‚Äôs pride in that.‚ÄĚ
Hunting is a personal thing, he said, noting that one can‚Äôt simply read about hunting and then bag a deer -- they must be mentored.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a personal thing,‚ÄĚ Tiessen concluded. ‚ÄúHunting is personal. You can‚Äôt convince someone who isn‚Äôt interested in it to suddenly take it up. You have to show them, lead them.
‚ÄúI always encourage the people in our club to take young people out, get them to learn how to fish, how to hunt, get them to experience that out of doors experience.‚ÄĚ
Fish and game are a renewable resource that if maintained properly, as the Prince Albert Wildlife Federation encourages, will always be there, he said.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a renewable resource, so it‚Äôs there to be used,‚ÄĚ he said, adding that if they aren‚Äôt used, nature will find its way of thinning out the herd.
The winter of 2012 was a good example of this, Tiessen said, noting that a particularly harsh winter cut big game numbers down significantly.
In 2012, 60 white tail deer made the Saskatchewan records books,‚ÄĚ Tiessen said, adding that 2013 saw a dwindling haul of 14.
‚ÄúThat indicates that a lot of the four to six-year-old buck who were out there died in the winter of 2012,‚ÄĚ he concluded.
Despite a dwindling tock in some areas, 22 awards punctuated Saturday‚Äôs awards banquet, he said, noting that the organization‚Äôs membership of about 470 people remains strong -- albeit not what it once was.
With Prince Albert‚Äôs proximity to various lakes and an expansive wilderness, Tiessen said that it‚Äôs somewhat bewildering that their ranks aren‚Äôt stronger than they currently are.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs close,‚ÄĚ he said of wilderness. ‚ÄúAll we have to do is do it ‚Ä¶ The real world is outside these doors -- that‚Äôs where you experience it.‚ÄĚ
For more information on the Prince Albert Wildlife Federation they can be contacted at 306-764-8970.