Species: Bear, Deer, Elk, Grouse, Moose, Ptarmigan Season: Fall
Best Hunt: Elk
Wedged between ranch land and the craggy spires of the Rocky Mountains, Alberta’s foothills stretch northwest in a series of rolling hills and long ridges, forming a perfect blend of aspen parklands, lodgepole forests, montane meadows and mountain streams that braid, gather and become rivers. This is country where you could gladly lose yourself wandering the game trails that wind up to subalpine basins, afire with autumn colours. Deer, moose and bear thrive here, and when the dog days of summer play out, the madding bugles of bull elk echo off the mountainsides. Aside from a few herds that have expanded eastward into the plains, most of Alberta’s 26,000 elk are here in the foothills. Mature herd bulls carry the massive, long-tined antlers typical of the Rocky Mountain subspecies and, if you’re impressed by such things, they dominate the first several pages of the record books. For a mega-dose of adrenalin, it’s hard to beat the first two weeks of September when the bulls are in full bugle, and only the archery seasons are open in most management units. Firearms seasons begin between the middle and the end of the month, once the bugle tapers off. Albertans and Canadian non-residents accompanied by a host hunter can hunt on their own; hunters from outside Canada need to book through an outfitter. While there is access via a number of resource roads, the best elk hunting is well off the beaten path, either by all-terrain vehicle (check the regulations) or on foot. Go there on horseback with a packhorse in tow, however, and you’ll never want to leave.