It’s no secret that hunting in Northern climates can be brutally cold, and acclimating to those conditions often requires taking a second look at the gear you’ll be toting. Chasing big whitetails in northern Saskatchewan in the middle of November provided no exceptions. Even during seasonally “mild” conditions—a balmy 35 degrees—all-day sits provide plenty of time and opportunity for the cold to work its icy magic.
On this hunt, I strategically chose each garment of clothing on my back and each item in my gear bag to be more than prepared for frigid temps. Although this was a guided hunt and many things were already on place by the time I reached Overflow River Outfitters, my concrete-sequential personality forced me to ensure I was over-prepared that and everything I might need was in its proper place.
I’m a lifelong subscriber to the Larry Weishuhn mantra, “You can never have too much gun,” and that’s exactly why I chose to carry a Remington Model 700 XCR (Xtreme Conditions Rife), chambered in .300 Rem. Ultra Mag. I knew Saskatchewan had plenty of potential to produce 300-pound whitetails, as was the case with my buck, and I wanted extra insurance in a firearm and caliber that could get the job done. I must admit I was a bit nervous the first time I shouldered the rifle—the phrase “.300 Rem Ultra Mag.” was enough to make my hamstrings tighten—but the first 180-grain pill I delivered was enough to cure my “flinchitis.” Based on recoil alone, I would’ve never guessed I was shooting a firearm of that caliber: What a kitten.
Cresting the Remington Model 700 XCR with Swarovski 1.7-10X42mm Z6 riflescope made it the James Bond of the whitetail woods: extremely attractive and extremely lethal. The versatility offered by the Z6 riflescope compounds the nearly unlimited capabilities of the rifle. This one-combo-hunts-all outfit is ideal for the pursuit of any big game animal. In fact, this exact combo made it to the top of my Christmas list last year—I’m still waiting on that.
Remington Power Level ammunition enables the .300 Rem. Ultra Mag. to function as three firearms in one (see NAH Managing Editor Dave Maas’ “Feel The Power” sidebar in the August, 2008, issue of NAH). Expecting to encounter larger-than-normal whitetails on this hunt, I elected to use Power Level III ammo to maximize the knockdown potential of the gun at long ranges.
I’m a firm believer that toting great binoculars on any hunt is as vital to my success as the bow or gun I’m carrying. But for Saskatchewan, I chose Swarovski 10X42 EL binoculars to give me an extra edge during the high-activity, low-light conditions.
I chose Gamehide’s Wild StormHide bibs and Legend StormHide parka to keep me hunting comfortably through the fluctuating temperatures of a long, all-day hunt. Sitting still all day is enough of a challenge for me, and I knew I would never last if I got cold. Also, because I don’t like to wear a glove when shooting, I also wore Gamehide’s shooting glove/mitt, which allowed me to keep my hands warm while giving my index finger direct contact with the trigger. An insulated blaze stocking hat and neck gaiter provided me with all the wind-stopping protection I needed.
To complete my outer-wear ensemble, I wore a Cabela’s Canadian Cover-up snow-camo parka to be in accordance with Saskatchewan law.
Because hunting whitetails in Saskatchewan involves all-day sits, I chose LaCrosse Alpha Iceman boots to keep my tootsies warm. These boots are a bit bulky to be used for long hikes, but they’re perfectly designed to keep a stationary foot warm for long periods of time in very cold temperatures. I you’re anything like me, your toes are always the first body part to complain of the cold, but they remained warm and content throughout their stay in the Alpha Icemans.
Cabela’s medium-weight Polar-Tec Power Dry top and bottoms. Exceptional for wicking moisture from the body, the Power Dry under layer kept me from getting cold after breaking a slight sweat while walking to my blind in the morning.
DAYPACK AND CONTENTS:
For stationary hunts, I like to use a simple camo backpack as my daypack. It’s light, and there’s more than enough room to house all the tools and goods I need, which included:
-Schrade Old Timer 160OT hunting knife
-Schrade Tough nine-bulb LED flashlight
-Cannon digital camera with image stabilization technology … to counter my buck-fever shakes.
-Hunter’s Specialties True Talker and Illusion Extinguisher deer calls
-Real rattling antlers
-Toilet paper: Charmin’s “On The Go” is perfect for the hunter who needs to take care of some unexpected paperwork in the woods!
-Miscellaneous snacks and water
After much preparation, and a pinch of luck in my pocket, I was able to make the most of my Saskatchewan adventure.