HUNTING IS HUNTING
Whether you’re a specialist, a generalist or something in-between, you’re a hunter through and through
My good buddy Tom Foss from Calgary is what I would call a specialist when it comes to hunting. While he’s hunted most of North America’s game animals, and a handful of species overseas, the vast majority of his time and financial resources have gone into hunting sheep. Tom is strictly a bowhunter, and he’s taken five—yes, five—Grand Slams of North American Wild Sheep with his bow (a Grand Slam comprises a Stone’s, Dall’s, bighorn and desert bighorn sheep). Many consider taking just one Grand Slam with a rifle to be the pinnacle of North American hunting, and fewer than 200 archers have completed a Grand Slam since the first records were kept in 1956. Completing it five times definitely puts Tom in an elite group.
Another good friend of mine, David Fishley, runs a very successful waterfowl outfitting business in Alberta. He basically lives and breathes hunting ducks and geese throughout September and October. Once his outfitting season is over, what does he do? Hunt more waterfowl, of course, heading out at least five days a week in the management unit around Calgary until the season closes in late December. Although David also hunts big game in November, I wouldn’t hesitate to call him a waterfowl specialist.
My buddy Jeff Eno from the Yukon, on the other hand, is the classic generalist. He’s hunted on six continents, and there’s no real rhyme nor reason behind the species and destinations he’s chosen to hunt, other than they sounded like amazing adventures. As with many generalists, Jeff was born with wanderlust, and he’s lived in some incredibly remote regions of Canada. An extrovert, he makes friends wherever he travels, and he’s always dreaming about the next adventure. He has also taken a Grand Slam of North American Sheep, but he has no plans to chase a second slam. Says Jeff: “There’s way too much of the world left to experience.”
I consider myself a generalist, as well, although for a good part of my life I would have called myself a bighorn sheep specialist. I once lived and breathed bighorn hunting, from scouting for 10 months of the year to spending nearly every spare day in September and October in the mountains chasing full curls.
I’ve been fortunate to take three bighorns in Alberta, and I’ve been along on another 20 or so successful sheep hunts in Alberta and elsewhere in North America, either as the hunter or a hunting buddy. In 2020, I completed my own Grand Slam, but like Jeff, it’s one and done for me. I agree there’s just too much more to experience, but that in no way diminishes those who do chose to specialize—or otherwise. Whatever path you take is a personal choice, and not superior or inferior to another.