It is easy to tell that hunting season is here. With all the funny social media posts, compounded by the 1,500 messages each day from hunters wanting clarification on hunting scenarios and laws, the season is well under way.
Every year, I marvel at the number of social media posts that provide incorrect information. This is why it is a good idea to contact the Ministry of Environment if you have a specific question or are unsure about something.
To contact the ministry, you can call the Inquiry centre toll Free at 1-800-567-4224, or email your question to email@example.com.
Why take the chance? You could end up being charged and receive a one-year hunting suspension.
Many people refer to the Hunters’ and Trappers’ Guide, which is a great resource. Just remember that those are only a summary of the regulations. The complete regulations that govern hunting are available online, free of charge at publications.gov.sk.ca/freelaw/.
This is part of the reason I do this column, because we want to get the right information out. That being said, there are many excellent questions being asked out there. So, I picked some random questions that people were asking on some of the online sites I follow.
Q: While out goose hunting in a field, can I bring along a rifle to shoot coyotes?
I always wonder what the angle is in scenarios like this because coyotes attacking decoys is not a problem that I am aware of. If they are taking your downed birds – then perhaps you have not done your due diligence in retrieval.
The Migratory Birds Convention Act makes it clear that you cannot use any rifle to hunt waterfowl.
A Saskatchewan resident can carry a rifle and shoot coyotes while hunting waterfowl. However, the situation may cause the hunter to come under scrutiny of the conservation officer if a rifle is discovered while the hunters are in their blinds, for the reasons outlined above, so the best advice would be to leave the rifle secured in the vehicle until the goose hunting is completed.
The same answer would go for someone hunting with a bow or muzzle loader. You could carry a rifle with you for hunting coyotes as long as it was not being used to hunt the species for which you are licensed.
Please note that a person hunting coyotes cannot lawfully accompany a licenced big game hunter.
During a big game season in particular areas, such as the Regina/Moose Jaw Wildlife Management Zone, you cannot carry a rifle other than a muzzle loading rifle.
Q: Can I carry two rifles at the same time? Can I carry a shot gun and rifle at the same time?
One scenario, let’s say it is the Saskatchewan resident either sex white-tailed season for rifle. Also open at that time is the Saskatchewan resident pheasant season. This would mean that if you had a licence for both, you could carry both a shotgun and a rifle.
In this case a hunter would be advised to wear proper big game hunting colours to ensure they could lawfully hunt white-tailed deer if one is encountered. For safety reasons, it is not a bad idea for pheasant hunters to wear hunting colors during an open big game season.
Q: Can I have more than one shotgun in my blind while hunting waterfowl?
You are not allowed to have more than one shotgun at any one time while hunting waterfowl unless the second shotgun is unloaded and disassembled or unloaded and encased. The intent of this regulation is to ensure that a hunter does not exceed the three shots shell limit by having a second shotgun readily available.
Q: I just finished my hunter safety course. When can I go out hunting? When can I go myself?
Welcome to the hunting family! Now that you have completed your Firearm Safety/ Hunter Education Course (FS/HE) you can legally purchase a licence to hunt in Saskatchewan. However, there are responsibilities that go hand-in-hand with that privilege.
First, you must be at least 12 years old before you can lawfully hunt in Saskatchewan. All first time purchasers of hunting licences will be asked to confirm they hold a FS/HE certificate.
You must make sure that you are carrying your own licence and tags…don’t forget them at home, and don’t let anyone else carry them.
If you are between 12 and 15 years of age, while hunting, you have to be under the direct supervision of someone who is over the age of 18. If that person is not your legal guardian, then you need to have your parents sign your licence, which gives permission and authorization to another person to take you hunting.
If you are 16 years of age or older, you can legally hunt in Saskatchewan on your own. However, federal legislation states that persons under the age of 18 must possess a Federal Minors permit.
Finally, you can use a firearm to hunt that belongs to another individual, as long as you are under their direct supervision and they have a valid Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL).
Q: We sometimes get into conflicts with guides when we are hunting the same area. What are the rules surrounding who has access to the land first?
Land that is not posted may be interpreted as implied consent, but it is an ethical hunter who gets permission anyway. This is particularly true when it comes to accessing a field to hunt migratory game birds.
Remember that just because you hunted that parcel of land one day, it does not give you unlimited access to it for the rest of the year. There are also some different rules that distinguish between a sport hunter and an outfitter.
All outfitters are a commercial business and must have written permission to hunt/operate on private land. This is a condition of their outfitting licence.
This written permission must be made available to any conservation officer who asks for it.
Sport hunters do not require written permission to hunt on private land, but make sure you understand the landowner’s intentions for your access.
Q: I have a question relating to the dress requirements. Can I wear a full outer suit of white, or orange? The guide makes it sound like you can only wear a vest.
The intent of the legislation from the Wildlife Regulations is to wear an outer garment that allows you to be clearly visible from a distance…it’s a safety issue.
A vest coloured blaze orange, scarlet, white or bright yellow must be worn while hunting big game with a rifle or while hunting in a designated rifle-only season. Headwear can be any one of those colours except white.
The minimum requirement is an outer garment that covers the torso (vest), but you are allowed to wear a jacket or a full outer suit of the required colours as these garments exceed the legal requirement.
Orange camo and beige camo are not legal colours.
Remember that all persons accompanying a big game hunter during a rifle season must also wear legal colours.
I have many more questions, and next column I plan to do a rapid fire type question answer column so we get as many answered as possible. Until next time, keep your crosshairs level.
Ministry of Environment conservation officer Lindsey Leko has spent more than 25 years as a conservation officer in Saskatchewan. For many years, Officer Leko contributed a column to local papers on a variety of issues related to hunting, fishing, and other resource-related issues. If you have questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.