These 3 Canadians were recently honoured with prestigious U.S. accolades for their outdoor accomplishments


Way to represent! This past winter saw three Canadians honoured with prestigious accolades in the U.S. for their noteworthy outdoor accomplishments on this side of the border. And the awards go to…



The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) established this award in 1993 to honour those who have made significant and outstanding contributions towards fisheries conservation. For that, Carleton University’s Steven J. Cooke (above) more than fits the bill. As Professor of Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology, and Canada Research Professor, he has long been at the forefront of developing management strategies for recreational fisheries in Canada and abroad. Indeed, Outdoor Canada’s fishing editor, Gord Pyzer, often cites Cooke’s groundbreaking scientific work in his columns and features.

“With an unwavering dedication to advancing the science and management of recreational fisheries, Dr. Cooke’s research leadership has profoundly impacted policies and practices worldwide,” states the IGFA press release announcing the award. “His interdisciplinary approach has led to pioneering contributions, including catch-and-release guidelines for numerous fish species and innovative strategies for fisheries management.”

As IGFA concludes, Cooke “stands as a luminary figure in aquatic conservation.”



For Cochrane, Alberta’s Vanessa Harrop (above), 2022 was a milestone year in her big-game hunting career. Not only did she become one of only 14 women to complete the Super 10 of North American big game, she also took a N.W.T. muskox that ranks fourth overall in the Boone and Crockett records and second in Safari Club International’s rifle category. And it was that muskox that earned the co-host of Outdoor Quest TV the Bob Speegle Super Slam Summit Award in the rifle category, presented by Grand Slam Club/Ovis (GSCO).


Awarded early this past February at the SCI convention in Nashville, Tennessee, the honour recognizes the top overall North American trophy animal submitted each year in both archery and firearms categories, as determined by a GSCO committee. The prize is named after the legendary Bob Speegle, the first hunter to ever register two separate Super Slams, one with firearms, the other with a bow.

To date, Harrop has hunted on five continents, taking several other record-book animals in the process. In response to winning the coveted award, she says she hopes other women can take inspiration from her journey, as she has from those who have gone before her.


In Outdoor Canada’s 2023 Hunting Special, Whitehorse resident Vern Peters (above) recounts one of his most memorable hunts for Dall’s sheep in the wilderness high country of the Yukon. Featuring a mix of wry humour, attention to detail and reverence for his quarry, his article “Lofty goal” certainly caught the eye of some very important folks in the world of sheep hunting. This past January at the Wild Sheep Foundation’s Sheep Week Show in Reno, Nevada, Peters was officially crowned as the 2024 recipient of the prestigious Jack O’Connor Writer’s Award.

Presented by the Jack O’Connor Hunting Heritage and Education Center and the Wild Sheep Foundation, the award honours the centre’s namesake, the late Jack O’Connor. A prolific outdoor writer, he served for 31 years as the shooting editor of Outdoor Life magazine, and considered wild sheep to be the most challenging big-game animal to hunt.

O’Connor was also an early proponent of wild sheep conservation, an attribute Peters clearly shares. So noted Greg Betzold, director of the O’Connor centre, when informing Peters of the award: “Your article embodies those conservation and ethical values and shares them with your readers.”