After 25 years of working in Alberta’s oil industry, Doug and Rita Hayes moved to Saskatchewan to pursue their passion for hunting and the outdoors. North 49 Outfitting and Wilderness Tours Ltd. is now in its fourth season of operation and is anticipating an ever-growing number of guests on the hunt for trophy bucks, as well as upland bird and black bear. In just a few years, Doug, and his wife Rita, have grown their business into a comfortable and all-embracing outfitting experience, serving customers from the province of Alberta, and as far south as the states of Alabama, Maryland and Texas.
North 49 Outfitting and Wilderness Tours Ltd. is the culmination of Doug Hayes’ goal to make guiding his full-time job. Growing up in northern Ontario, Doug learned how to hunt and navigate remote wilderness at an early age. The years since then have further honed his skills as an experienced hunter and outdoors-man as his operation holds an impressive 53 allocations for white-tailed deer in his area. “I don’t know if we’ll ever run 50. We’ll probably start with something reasonable unless the deer population goes crazy.” Said Doug, noting that he has no plans to run a large-scale hunting outfit.
Operating within the aspen-parkland region of north-eastern Saskatchewan affords North 49 access to some of the most bountiful territory in the province – a marked advantage for hunters of any skill level. With exclusive outfitting rights to the southern fringe of the Porcupine Hills, this secluded territory, located three hours from Saskatoon or Regina, strikes a perfect balance between farmland and forest.
Building North 49 Outfitting and Wilderness Tours Ltd. has been a work of passion, but not without the laid-back and relaxed attitude that comes naturally with a lodge in the northern forest. It is a lifestyle that gets shared with each and every guest that walks through their doors. Upon your arrival, you are welcomed with a Thanksgiving-style turkey dinner, served by Rita with all of the essentials, from cranberry sauce to mashed potatoes. For each long day you spend outside or in the stands, you can always expect to come back to warm hospitality, home-cooked meals and sweet desserts.
“I think our favorite meal is that first night. We have a big turkey dinner and it’s just like Christmas or Thanksgiving – like a home away from home” Doug said. “It gets our guests on the right track and we can discuss what’s going to happen for the week. We’re here to look after you and a big meal seems to get everyone off on the right foot.” The first night ends with a look through photos and trail-cam videos – a teaser for the days ahead.
After being exclusive to white-tailed deer for the past three years, Doug said he is excited to be offering black bear and game bird outfitting for the upcoming 2016 season. Doug and Rita also plan on attending trade shows in Sacramento, CA in January; Harrisburg, PA in February and Salt Lake City, UT in March where they look forward to meeting new hunters.
“I’ve hunted my whole life and I get more gratitude out of taking someone out to a stand, then picking them up at night to hear about how many deer they saw in a day.” When asked about what guests are saying about North 49 Outfitting and Wilderness Tours Ltd., Doug responded “all of our customers have left very happy either because of the stands, the hunting, the accommodations, or how we’ve looked after them. We haven’t had complaints and that’s a nice feeling.”
CLICK HERE to read a story on North 49 Outfitting and Wilderness Tours Ltd. from Sportsman’s News.
Going to Saskatchewan to hunt big whitetails is a dream for many. It has been on my bucket list for years, but the bitter cold temperatures and the lack of top quality of outfitters has kept me in the lower 48 to get my whitetail fix every year.
In 2015, I met Doug and Rita Hayes at the Salt Lake City, ISE show and immediately knew that they were a different kind of outfitter. They had come from a totally different business and had been very successful. They wanted to take their passion for hunting and the outdoors and turn it into a business which is usually a recipe for great success as long as you have the right resources.
All of the initial background checks were off the charts and we planned a trip for prime rut dates in November of 2015 to evaluate the workings of this operation. We were to arrive the week of Thanksgiving for five good, but cold days of hunting.
When we pulled into the lodge, I knew why everyone had raved about this place. You only get one chance to make a first impression and Doug and Rita take it to an entirely different level. The lodge was decorated with all the Christmas trimmings and full of cheer. Our hosts were even more gracious on the hunt than they were at the show. Rita’s pristine attention to detail and decorator background has the lodge looking like it belonged on the cover of a magazine. The first evening meal was right in line with everything else we had experienced so far and set the stage for the rest of the trip.
Doug runs numerous trail cameras and has a good inventory about the critters on his properties. He takes the time to show the clients what stands you will be sitting and what deer you might likely see although an unexpected and unseen giant could show up any time during these rut times.
If you are worried about roughing it and being cold on one of these hunts, you can rest easy when you book a trip with North 49. They have installed elevated blinds which will easily sit two people and they are all equipped with propane Buddy Heaters to make sure you can endure a full day of sitting to get the most out of your hunt. As if this isn’t enough, you are sent to the stand with a thermos of hot soup, coffee, lunch, and all goodies and baked goods you can cram into your lunchbox.
The best part about the operation is the hunting. They manage the area for quality and want all of their clients to have multiple opportunities at big mature deer and so far 4 years into their operation they are running 100% on those opportunities. We were no exception. On our first morning of hunting we had a 150 class 8 point in our shooting area 20 minutes before legal shooting light and we would have taken him had he stayed long enough. Things worked out for the best as 2 minutes into legal shooting light, we had a monster eleven point walk out of the woods and we put the smack down on this giant. It was truly and explanation point on checking off this kind of hunt from my bucket list.
Doug and Rita are some of the best operators I’ve ever had the chance to meet. Our first morning kill has something to do with luck, but a lot more to do with proper management. They are a great outfitter and regardless of whether you hunt deer, bears, waterfowl, or moose, you are guaranteed a great time with great hospitality. They do everything 110%.
– written by Michael Deming