As you plan a Quebec hunting or fishing adventure, especially if it’s your first time, you’re going to come across some terms that you may not recognize or, at least, understand completely. When you’re spending money and signing on the dotted line, it’s important you understand everything about the agreement.
Three terms you’ll come across to which you need to understand the differences are: drive-to, fly-in, and fly-to. It’s pretty obvious that each is a different level of service when it comes to how you’ll be transported to the lodge or camp, but beyond that there are differences in the gear you’ll need to bring and some tips important to maximizing enjoyment of your adventure.
On a drive-to trip, you are responsible for your own road transportation all the way to camp. Most times, you’ll drive your own vehicle, but it’s possible you might fly into an airport and rent a vehicle to drive to camp. That decision is up to you, and you are responsible for the related costs.
Even though an adventure is billed as “drive-to” it’s wise to ask your outfitter the condition of the roads. Are they paved all the way to camp? Are there times of the year a 4-wheel-drive vehicle is required? Are there bridges all the way, or are some stream/river crossings driving through flowing water?
At many drive-to locations it’s are entirely possible you can bring your own boat, but don’t assume that’s the case. You might be on a lake without any good access for personal boats. Or, perhaps, the nearest launch is so far away from your camp, it’s just not practical.
If you decide to bring your boat, but the camp is down miles and miles of gravel road, you may want to do some extra preparation to prevent nicking up the paint finish on your rig. And you might want to take steps to seal out the dust if it’s dry. Again, communicate with your outfitter.
On a fly-in trip, you are flown from an airport, landing strip, or floatplane base directly to your camp. While float planes are the most common form of fly-in transportation, you should confirm that with your outfitter. Some camps have airstrips to which you’ll be flown in a plan with wheels. In some cases, outfitters employ helicopters to fly clients into camps, but it’s pretty rare.
One of the things you’ll want to find out is if your gear will be flown inside the plane or strapped to the outside. Either is acceptable, but if it will be outside, you’ll want to consider waterproof bags. If you’re on a fly-in with firearms, it’s smart to pack your gun in a soft case inside a locking hard side case. Then when you head out from base in the float plane you can leave the hard case behind to use on the way home, and have the protection of the soft case to use on the small plane that will be flying you into camp.
Prior to fly-in trips, your outfitter will nearly always provide you with a weight limit for your gear ahead of time. Take this seriously! Weigh your gear, and don’t show up over the weight limit, expecting to get it onboard the fly-in plane. Extra flights are crazy expensive, and if your gear is overweight, you will have to either pay for an additional flight or leave some things behind. (One way to cheat, a little bit, is to wear your heaviest clothing on the fly-in plane – boots, heavy coats, etc. This can knock several pounds off the weight of your gear. However, you should expect to be weighed, too, as fly-in safety depends on overall weight and balancing the load properly.)
Fly-to trips are those in which commercial or charter airlines transportation brings you to a town, village, or base near your destination. You’ll be picked up there and taken to the camp, lodge, or cabin by a mode of transportation provided by your outfitter. This might be car or truck, ATV, boat, or a fly-in plane of some type. In Quebec, this is what happens all the time for hunting/fishing destinations like the Far North or Anticosti Island.
The key to avoiding unpleasant surprises on a fly-to trip is making sure you understand who is responsible for what. Is the cost of the flight part of the overall package or is it an added cost? Who is responsible for making arrangements and reservations? Where do you get the tickets? Are overnight stays required getting from one form of transportation to another? Who is responsible for those?
Fly-to is the most common for hunters and anglers coming from the U.S. who won’t be driving into Canada. It’s a fine, care-free way to plan a Quebec outdoor adventure, but again, you want to understand and prepare properly ahead of time so the actual travel to camp is “uneventful.” Uneventfully is the best way to travel.
By Bill Miller