USA or Canada: The Better Country for Outdoorsmen

by admin on 09-30-2014 in Hunting

canadian and USA flag

Hunting and fishing statistics firm Southwick Associates found in a 2012 data analysis that white-tailed deer are the game of choice for 83 percent of hunters in the United States. American hunters spent about $22 billion that same year, while their neighbors north of the border spend only $1.2 billion per year, with deer, moose, and turkeys being the most popular game.

Both the fishing and hunting industries in Canada are greatly boosted by American tourism. A 2006 Travel Motivation and Attitudes Survey found that 9.2 million fishermen and 32 million hunters from the U.S. crossed the border to partake in their favorite outdoor activities at least once that year.

There's no definitive answer as to whether the U.S. or Canada is better for outdoor activities. Obviously Canada is the bigger hunting and fishing tourism draw, but the U.S. has its advantages in certain areas.

State and Federal Hunting Regulations

All U.S. states have laws regulating hunting and fishing within its borders. Wyoming, for instance, has separate licenses for different game. Non-residents pay $2,500 for a bison hunting license, whereas Wyoming residents pay only $400. Contrarily a lifetime hunting license in Iowa costs residents only $52, whereas non-residents pay $200 for the season. Varmints, such as rabbits, raccoons, and squirrels, typically are the only game that do not have specific seasons in most states and don't require a license to hunt.

Canadian hunting is also regulated by both federal and provincial statutes. Migratory bird hunting licenses are issued exclusively by the Canadian Wildlife Service, while federal law in the U.S. supersedes all state laws pertaining to this type of hunting. Ontario residents must first get an Outdoors Card, then all the required tags and specific licenses for their game of choice, and to fish. Several states and provinces on both sides have a limited number of tags and licenses they issue for certain game each year.

Laws pertaining to firearms are far more friendly to hunters in the United States. Hunting with handguns, and even carrying them for protection, is illegal all across Canada. Most U.S. states allow hunting with handguns during certain seasons. Buying a firearm in Canada requires extensive background checks, whereas U.S. residents can buy any firearm they choose at some gun shows with no background check at all.

Americans can take firearms into Canada by filing a Non-Resident Firearms Declaration when crossing the border. Canadians can bring firearms to the U.S. but the process is far more tedious. Processing these requests can also take up to three months, so you'll need to plan far ahead.

Indistinguishable Angling

Failed negotiations between U.S. and Canadian government officials over commercial tuna fishing in the Northwest provides a bit of insight into a bitter rivalry. The Pacific Albacore Tuna Treaty of 1981 expired in 2011 and was not renewed after bitter negotiations between the two sides broke down. A truce was reached in 2013, which allowed 45 Canadian vessels into U.S. waters while an unlimited number of commercial U.S. vessels were allowed in Canada. Canadian fishermen in British Columbia believe the truce is lopsided in favor of Washington and Oregon-based fisheries, which serve as fuel to this ongoing feud.

The species of fish you seek will ultimately determine which country is best. Walleye is one of the most popular targets in Canada due to their abundance, with salmon and pike also being popular. Trout and catfish are two top U.S. species, with many states and municipalities artificially stocking their waters with them.

Canada and U.S. boating laws are very similar as they pertain to anglers. A boating license is valid for life in most jurisdictions on both sides of the border. While boating under the influence of alcohol is illegal in both countries, the laws are more strict in some Canadian provinces. Ontario, for example, outlaws alcohol entirely on boats unless the vessel is classified as a house.

Final Analysis

Canada has far more remote lands and waters to explore with little to no interference from other people or law enforcement. The U.S. is the most gun-friendly developed country in the world, which makes it a top hunting destination. Far more Americans travel north for hunting and fishing excursions, a fact that speaks for itself without further evaluation. Outdoorsmen will enjoy themselves either way and should experience both at some point in their lives.

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