Little River Lodge

the author and friends enjoy a traditional deer hunt in northern ontario

Growing up in a family of old-style deer hunters who insisted on using doggers to push deer to waiting watchers, I was ecstatic when Little River Lodge announced it was offering traditional deer drives.

Little River Lodge is nestled at the convergence of the Little Pickerel River and five lakes, with hunting grounds easily accessible by boat. I volunteered to be a dogger for the week and at 6 am a hearty breakfast and coffee was the charge I needed as our party of 18 hunters shuffled into boats.

As we motored down the lake, the November air chilled my nose with the ironic sting of a hot coal. Reaching our destination, “Drive Master” Carson led us into the bush, dropping doggers off at strategic ridges and instructing us that he would start the drive with one long wolf howl.

Deer hunters leave early by boat from Little Rive Lodge in Loring-Restoule Region
Deer hunters leave early by boat from Little Rive Lodge in Loring-Restoule Region. (Photo credit: Dale Hainer)

With that initial howl from the boss, we systematically tramped our ridges, howling out to not only drive deer south but also to keep in line with the other doggers. The gunshots in the distance sang out that we were doing our job. It was an exhilarating feeling!

Following the drive doggers reunited with watchers. Questions of who shot, where, and what was fired and we worked together with deer recovery. The atmosphere remained highly jovial although this shooter's bullets found trees instead of deerskin.

As the watchers returned to their boats and headed for the next watch, we took the opportunity to rest our legs and have a quick bush snack of venison jerky prepared by veteran guide Vicki Druery.

This scenario was repeated twice more until, following the third drive, I could smell wood smoke and hear the crackling of a fire. Some of the watchers could hear us closing in and started preparing the noon lunch location.

Deer hunters enjoy a mid day bush lunch break at Little Rive Lodge in Loring-Restoule Region
Deer hunters enjoy a mid-day bush lunch break at Little Rive Lodge in Loring-Restoule Region. (Photo credit: Dale Hainer)

Eighteen of us clambered together. Canned goods, hotdogs, and sandwiches started flying out of backpacks, and crotch sticks were cut to toast sandwiches over the fire. Although the day was not the coldest, I enjoyed the flames, taking the opportunity to remove my upper garments and hang them around the fire to drive out the sweat. Dousing the lunch fire meant there were more deer to chase!

Dogging throughout the week gave me the opportunity to gauge the year’s acorn crop and speculate on grouse populations, black bear locales, and wolf numbers. I was even visited by an inquisitive moose. I will never understand why moose are so interested in me prior to the moose season?

By week’s end, seven deer hung from the meat pole, and twice that many had been witnessed fleeing past watchers. Sleep had come easy for me every evening and often began in the boat on the return trip to the lodge.

Contact Information

Little River Lodge
Carson and Ellen Hainer
1652 Little River Road, Golden Valley ON P0H 1N0
PH:(705) 757-5723.

About Dale Hainer

Dale Hainer, born 1960 into a family of hunters, anglers, trappers and farmers, pursued a career with the Ontario Fire Service at age 19. Throughout his life, he maintained his roots to the land and shared his tales while being a professional outdoor writer, photographer and videographer. Retired at age 50 from the Service, he now spends countless hours creating more adventures to share with you. Member of the Outdoor Writers of Canada.

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