Frequently Asked Questions

What to expect:

Can I hunt multiple species of animals?
In the spring, you can hunt grizzly bear, black bear and wild turkey. In the Fall you can hunt many different animals at the same time. Being able to hunt multiple species of animals at the same time is one of the benefits of hunting in British Columbia. There are days when you can see elk, mountain goat, mule deer, whitetail, moose, black bear and grizzly bear, all on the same day. You do not have to travel far within the territory to be in the habitat of all of these animals. We outfit all of our hunts as “combo” to take advantage of this – the only incremental cost as you add animals listed in our base packages is the government license fees.

Are trophy elk a possibility in our area?
We have been doing very well on our elk hunts. Since the Kootenay region in BC introduced its 6pt restriction, we have been getting more, and better bulls. Our average size elk is 280-290, but we have some very large elk in our areas. Our Sawtooth territory is in the Purcell Mountains which has thick undergrowth and excellent nutrition. The area is renowned for its uniquely heavy-antlered elk. A lot of our elk Hunters are “elk connoisseurs” and come here specifically for the opportunity at large bulls. 

Do you hunt out of tent camps pack in style or other?
In our Sawtooth area, we have 2 very nice main lodges from which we do about 40-50% of hunting. During the week, you might visit one or more of our backcountry cabins or tent camps for 1-2 nights at a time. This allows you to experience different territory and game during the hunt. Some clients hunt right out of the main lodge where we can still access a tremendous amount of territory. For example, you may hike up one creek basin one day and a different one the next. We also try to tailor our hunts to the physical limitations of our guests. Some places are fabulous, but not for the faint of heart, but we also have some good areas that are not as hard to get to. In our Grizzly Basin area, we hunt mostly out of cabins that are accessible via horseback.

How is most of your hunting conducted on foot, horseback or other?
It depends on where we are hunting, and the interest of the hunter. We use horses to access some areas and then hunt by foot. For other areas, it is easier to just hike in. In those cases, we will use pack horses as much as possible to take out the meat. If you want to use horses more than hiking or vice versa, we can accommodate as much as possible. In our Sawtooth area – we use whatever mode of transportation we consider best to give you the highest chances of success.

What are the physical requirements for your hunts?
In general, the better shape you are in, the higher chances of success hunting with us. We have a pretty diverse range of area to hunt, and if we know beforehand, we can plan to hunt the areas that are easier to reach. We have a 65+ year old retired gentleman who comes every year and consistently scores on trophy animals. The good news is that we generally do not have to give up on the quality of the hunt to do this. However, if you are hunting elk and they not bugling or if it is warm and raining, the hunters that connect are those that get up earlier, stay out the longest, and can go farther and higher. Generally, it is better if you can hike a couple of miles per day. You should be in very good physical condition if you go sheep hunting with us as you will probably have to do a lot of hiking and climbing. Also, keep in mind that most of our hunting is done between 4,000 and 6,000 ft. elevation, so there is a little less oxygen than many are used to. If you are not already in good shape, we suggest that you prepare for your hunt by beginning an exercise routine several months before your trip. You should of course, consult your physician before undertaking any increased physical activity.

So how easy is the hunting?
This is a hunt, not a shoot. Yes, we have put clients in front of trophy animals their first hour or day of hunting, but this does not happen often. Also, sometimes you will see lots of animals one day, and none the next or for even several days if the weather is bad. This is to be expected with hunting, no matter how good the area is. We ask that you come with the expectation that you will hunt the whole time you are here and that the opportunities may only happen on the last hour of the last day of the hunt. You should also realize that there is no guarantee that you will shoot an animal. You will be much happier during your hunt if you come in with these expectations, and we will of course try our hardest to exceed this expectation. In the Grizzly Basin area, you will see more animals because the terrain is more open. In the Sawtooth area, there are just as many animals present, and you will see game, but sometimes you have to go into an area trusting they are there while our guides work to coax them out in the open.

What is the average distance for a shot?
When hunting with a rifle – the average shot distance is 200-300 yards.

What are the accommodations like?
Main Lodges – New log lodge in our Sawtooth area – top notch – with flush toilets. We have running water and generator for electricity in these lodges – wood stoves for heat. Outpost Camps – They are generally log or frame construction, have a wood stove, beds with mattresses. Some have running water. Given that inaccessibility of many of these cabins, they can best be described as “rustic”. We are in the process of updating a number of these. Tent Camps – we have a few tent camps – they will generally have a small wood stove and cots.

How many hunters do you have in camp at one time?
We generally only take 4 hunters out of a lodge at any one time – and most of our backcountry cabins would only have a maximum of 2 hunters. If you bring 4 hunters, we could offer you exclusivity in one of the main lodges.

Will I see any other hunters?
We generally try to separate our clients such that they are hunting different areas and will not see each other. Our hunting concession grants us exclusive rights to guide and outfit commercial hunting expeditions in our area. However, the hunting laws in BC allow residents to hunt on crown land – so we could never guarantee that you will not see any other hunters. We hunt over a vast area and in some pretty remote valleys – and the pressure is usually quite minimal. We have not had problems in the past where local hunters have interfered with our hunting and we try to maintain good relationships with local residents.

Do you offer archery hunts?
Yes, we do offer archery hunts. This is a 7 day archery only hunt September 1-9. Any bull may be taken then. Muzzleloader season runs concurrently with rifle season – September 10- October 20th where there is a 6pt. or better restriction. Note, it is OK to also archery hunt during rifle season as we can put your into valleys where you will get little or no overlap with other hunters. Archery moose and mountain goat hunting begins in September.

Can I go fishing while I hunt?
Yes Sawtooth area: The St. Mary River is one of the premier trout streams of the BC Kootenays. It begins high in the Purcell Mountains and flows eastward until it empties into Kootenay River. Its crystal clear waters boast westslope cutthroat trout that will take a well presented fly. Many tributaries contain a few resident trout and also act as spawning streams for the trout in the St. Mary.

The summer season opens June 15 every year and the dry fly action carries right on through to mid October. The Bull River is packed full of healthy, wild, native cutthroat trout ranging from 14 to 18 inches with an occasional fish in the 20″ range. The trout are very thick, “Big Shouldered” fish due to the single, barbless hook restriction and the high levels of insect productivity. See licensing requirements on the BC Ministry of Environment website.

Regulations: Licenses, Tags, Permits, Border Crossing

Do I have to enter a drawing to receive the tags to hunt?
No – we are allocated a certain number of tags and take care of all of the licenses and tags prior to you joining us for the hunt.

Are there size/point limitations on animals to be hunted?
Here are the current minimum size/point restrictions. One important role of your guide is to make sure that animals are harvested under the current government regulations and it is important to follow his or her direction. However, you are also responsible for knowing what is legal.

Animal Government Restriction (point or sex) Sawtooth – self-imposed additional restriction
Elk (archery – Sept 1st – 9th) Any bull None
Elk (gun or bow – Sept 10th – October 20th) At least 6 points on one side None
Mountain Goat None Billies (Males) only
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep Full curl rams only None
Grizzly Bear No sows with cubs Boars (Males) only
Mule Deer At least 4 points on one side (not counting a brow tine) None
Whitetail Deer Any antlered deer None
Moose Any bull None
Black bear No sows with cubs None
Cougar, Bobcat, Lynx and Wolf None Males only

So why do we self-impose additional restrictions on our Mountain Goat and Grizzly Bear hunts? Scientific studies have shown that Mountain Goat and Grizzly Bear populations are extremely sensitive to the harvest of females. In our view, the government does not make it illegal to harvest female Mountain Goat and Grizzly bear because it is difficult to determine sex of these 2 animals in the field. Therefore, they adjust their harvest quotas to account for a certain expectation of females being taken. It is in the best interest to the future of hunting these 2 animals in BC if we attempt to limit our harvest of females. Our hunters must respect the judgment of their guide for determining the sex of these animals when hunting – and the guide may ask you not to shoot a particular Grizzly Bear or Mountain Goat if he is very confident that it is a female. We have very good populations of both of these animals, so there is an excellent chance of finding a male for both species.

What do I need for crossing the Canadian border?
Generally, crossing this border is straight-forward and will include going through immigration and customs both ways. Ensure you have the necessary papers. Passports are required now for all travel into and out of Canada. Border agents may also ask to see a return air ticket as well as the hunting contract between you and Sawtooth Outftters.

At the end of your hunt, we will provide you with a government-issued “End of Hunt” form. It will list the animals you hunted, the animals harvested and the number of days hunted in each game management unit. The BC wildlife branch uses this information for game management purposes and you are required by law to sign this form upon the completion of your hunt. The border crossing agents may also ask to see this form when crossing back across the border.

What am I allowed to bring to Canada?
In addition to your personal gear required for the hunt, you may bring the following into Canada:

  • 200 cigarettes (= 1 carton), or 50 cigars, or 14 ounces of tobacco
  • 40 imperial ounces (= 1 bottle) of liquor or wine, or 24 x 355-milliliter (12-ounce) bottles or cans of beer for personal consumption
  • Gifts up to the value of C$60 per gift.
  • You can bring in a small amount of food for your own consumption.

Note: You are no longer able to carry lighters on carry-on bags with major US airlines, so if you bring a lighter, we suggest that you put it in your checked baggage if you are flying

Do I need a gun permit to bring my gun into Canada?
Yes, but it is a fairly simple process. The paperwork is on our website for download. You have to fill out a form and hand it in to the customs officer when crossing the border. We have not had any problems in the past with our hunters doing this.

Rifle barrels need to be at least 18.5 inches and the overall gun length must be greater than 26 inches. No handguns are allowed.

Can I come into Canada if I have a past driving under the influence (DUI) charge?
Canadian Immigration and Visitor regulations restrict persons with convictions that would be considered criminal charges in Canada to enter Canada. If you have had a DUI (driving under the influence) charge against you, any time in the near or far past, and if it shows up on your records in the US (which can be accessed by our Customs & Immigration officers through co-operative agreements between the US and Canada) then you may be denied entry to Canada. Random checks are common.

A one-time application can be made at the Canadian border for approximately $200 Cdn., taking up to 4 hours to complete, or a permanent application for visitor entry can be made through the Canadian Embassies in the US for a lesser amount ($35 Cdn.); however, this process can take 6 months or more. Some visitors with such convictions have been successful by pre-arranging their border crossing application and carrying letters from their home police force, clergy, etc. indicating their compliance with the rules over the past few years. We suggest you communicate with a Canadian Immigration office prior to your planned trip if you have such a past charge.

Call Canada Border Crossing Services for help 1(204) 488-6350 or 1-800-438-7020

Am I required by law to wear hunter orange clothing in British Columbia?

Preparing for you hunt – including location and travel:

How do I get to your hunting area?
For your travel options, click here. Detailed driving directions to our 3 main camps are also available once you register to hunt with us

How much gear can I bring? What should I bring?
You should be prepared to have a pack that weighs 50-60 lbs (excluding gun/bow) that you can take with you for anywhere from 2-7 days in an outpost cabin. You can then have another pack which you can keep at the main lodge (along with hard gun case, etc.) – this can be an additional 50-60 lbs.

For a recommended list of things to bring, click here

What is the weather like on your hunts?
Here are the historical high and low average temperatures by month. Generally, the high temperatures occur at midday, the lows at night. There is usually a fair amount of rain in the month of September.

Average Temp Fahrenheit Average Temp Celsius
Month High Low High Low
January 24 6 -4 -14
February 32 12 0 -11
March 40 17 4 -8
April 56 29 13 -1
May 66 38 18 3
June 71 44 21 6
July 82 47 27 8
August 79 46 26 7
September 70 39 21 3
October 54 31 12 0
November 36 21 2 -6
December 26 12 -3 -11

Source: Environment Canada

If I am hunting with a rifle, what caliber gun should I bring? 
This is really a personal preference – and, in our experience, it is more important to be accurate, than have the “optimal” caliber of weapon. Also, a big factor to consider is the effective range for the weapon you will be using. A 30-30 or 270 is fine as long as you limit the distance of your shots. The 300 magnum class calibers are our personal favorites and are good for any game animal we offer and can maintain killing power out to considerable distances. In addition to the 300 magnum calibers, other commonly used calibers include the 7mm magnum, 30-06, and 338 magnum.

What grain bullet should I shoot?
We recommend 170-200 grain bullets

I would like to book a hotel the day before or after my hunt – where should I stay?

Hotels in Kimberley

Here are suggestions on hotels – in order from very nice – to good

We have arranged very high-quality accommodation, at a great price for our clients in Kimberley. We encourage you to book your room at the Polaris Lodge, located at the Kimberley Alpine Ski and Golf resort in Kimberley BC. We have arranged a single room for $79.00 per night (suites and 2 bedroom units are a bit more). This includes free shuttle to and from the Cranbrook airport (needs to be arranged at least 24 hours before). You also have access to a pool, exercise room, underground parking and buffet breakfast ($9.95 per person). Kelsey’s Restaurant and the Stemwinder Bar are also on the premises. Tell them you are with Sawtooth or Grizzly Basin Outfitters when you call to reserve your room to get this special rate. These accommodations are rated between 4 and 5 stars, and we are sure you will be very pleased with your stay there.

The number to call for reservations is 1-877-282-1200 or the 250-427-5175.

Hotels in Cranbrook

Here are suggestions on hotels – in order from very nice – to good

Prestige Inn – Cranbrook
209 Van Horne Street South
Cranbrook, BC V1C 6R9
1 250-417-0444

Heritage Inn – Cranbrook
803 Cranbrook Street North
Cranbrook, BC V1C 3S2
(250) 489-4301

Sandman Inn – Cranbrook
405 Cranbrook St,
Cranbrook, BC V1C 3R5
(250) 426-4236

Booking a Hunt:

How much of a deposit is required to reserve a date?
A $2000 up-front non-refundable deposit reserves your hunt. We then require the deposit to be 40% of the package price (i.e., not with all of the licenses and tags, taxes etc.) by January of the hunt year. This is non-refundable – but you can send a replacement. Please sign the contract and liability waiver on our website prior to sending the deposit.

How far ahead can you book?
We book hunters up to 4 years in advance. By booking early, you can lock into the prices at current rates. We generally review our prices every November.

How do I book?
You can register and sign up for your hunt by clicking here

Can you provide references?
Check out some recent quotes from satisfied hunters by clicking here

We would also be happy to provide you with references to call or e-mail – including people who harvested game and those who did not. Just give us a call, or fill out the form here – and we will send you an e-mail with names and contact information. To protect their privacy, we do not post the contact information of past clients on our website.

Our hunts have been featured 2 times on the Eastman’s Hunting Journal TV show and on “The Federal Experience” on Versus TV.

Tipping Etiquette
This is a difficult and sensitive topic – and one that we get all the time. Hunters often give their guides tips, and over the years, this has become standard practice in the industry. The amount of the tip varies greatly, but the average received by our guides is somewhere between 5 and 10% of the hunt package price. You be the judge of what you want to give, if anything, and hunting guide understands that the amount can vary depending on the background of the hunter and the perceived success of the hunt. Also, it is our belief that the tip should not depend on getting an animal on the ground. You should base it on your perception of how hard the guide works for you and their knowledge and expertise (which we know will be top notch).

Trophy Care:

What trophy preparation do you do?
We will take care of quartering and packing the animal out in field as well as any skinning and field caping.

You will cover the cost of having the meat butchered. Some hunters that live close choose to take the quartered meat with them. Alternatively, you can have the meat prepared by a local butcher in Kimberley. We would take care of delivering the meat to him. The butcher in Kimberley currently charges 40-45 cents/finished lb for basic cutting and wrapping. He also makes excellent sausage, which costs $2/lb . We will take care of getting him the quartered meat and he will cut it and freeze it before you leave. If there is not enough time to get the butchering and freezing done, the meat can be shipped to you (shipping charges would apply). We take as much meat as we can out of the bush (and what is required by law), but you may take home what you want. Whatever meat you do not use, will be either donated to a local food bank, or consumed by the guides and their families. You only have to pay the butcher for what you want to take home.

Do you offer taxidermy services?
This is a personal preference. Many people have their favorite local taxidermist and prefer to take their trophy there. However, we can arrange to get your trophy to a local taxidermist who will take care of mounting and shipping the trophy to you (including any paperwork for crossing the border).

Fees for transporting game
Airlines charge a range of fees for excess baggage (i.e., for more than 2 pieces of checked in luggage). The fees currently range from a low of $25 on Southwest Airlines, to a high of $100 on Continental. Most airlines charge $50 per extra piece. In addition, any individual piece of baggage that is over 50 pounds is charged an extra $25-$50. Check with your airline of choice on its specific policy.

Can I get more information?
We have tried to put as much information as possible on our web site. But we always like to talk about the hunts and welcome phone calls and e-mails anytime. Just remember that we are often out in the mountains preparing for or conducting the hunts, so it can sometimes take a few days to get back to you.