BIG Game Paradise in the North
Welcome to Northeastern Ontario, an outdoors person’s paradise! Extending from the French River all the way up to the Hudson Bay coast, this vast Region offers a great variety of world-class hunting opportunities to choose from. Look no further than Northeastern Ontario for BIG game like black bear, moose, and white-tailed deer, along with waterfowl and upland game birds.
The early hunting season brings opportunities for waterfowl and upland game such as Canada geese, ducks, and grouse. Early September marks goose opener, which is followed by ducks, and then the post popular opener—grouse (aka partridge)—during mid-September, depending on your Wildlife Management Unit (WMU). Always check your local regulations for critical dates, possession limits, and any other questions regarding hunting regulations in Northeastern Ontario.
If BIG game is what you are looking for, opportunities can be found across the Region from August into December. The fall bear hunt starts off this fantastic series of events and runs from early August until the end of October. Later into this season there is the potential for a trophy hunt as the animals prepare for winter hibernation. The spring bear hunt has also been reinstated this year, and will provide more and earlier opportunities for hunters. The entire Region is available for this five-year pilot project. As hunters, we play a big part in wildlife management and this is one of the main reasons for the return of the spring bear hunt.
Moose hunting season is a big draw for many big game hunters and rightfully so. This majestic animal is near the top of the food chain and many trophy bulls have eluded even the most experienced hunters. Some changes have been made to the calf season, now limited to two weeks. However, many opportunities can be found throughout the region. Cow and bull tags can still be obtained and the vastness of the region can provide ample opportunities.
Last but definitely not least is white-tailed deer season, which has the longest duration with multiple hunts including bow, rifle, and muzzle loaders. Deer season lasts from mid-October to mid-December. This two-month window provides sufficient opportunity to harvest the buck of a lifetime. Northeastern Ontario is home to a very healthy white-tailed population, with some BIG bodied animals living throughout.
If any of these opportunities appeal to you, please look into the Ontario Hunting Regulations for more information, including dates and WMUs. Big game in the region has draw deadlines for obtaining seals for moose, antlerless deer, and controlled deer. Make sure to check the regulations early so that you don’t miss out. The first draw deadline is around June 1. The regulations are a great tool to have, and I highly recommend a thorough review prior to heading out on any hunt.
Big game hunting shouldn’t be just about killing an animal so that you can fill a freezer. There is an element of reverence and respect involved when entering your hunting area. Remember that we are all guests in the outdoors and big game’s environment. We should always respect the woods and the wildlife that inhabits them. Harvest management during the hunt is a must and will provide great rewards for years to come. Focus on harvesting mature game, both male and female—just because you see antlers does not mean that it is a kill.
Some questions to ask yourself while hunting, and prior to harvesting an animal in your sights, are: Does the animal need to live for next year’s populations? Is this animal going to mature to be a trophy? Does this animal have good genetics to produce others of its calibre? Answers to these important questions will make sure that there are healthy populations of high-quality animals for years to come.
We are extremely lucky here in Northeastern Ontario to have the wildlife resources that we do, and we should all strive to keep it that way for future generations. There are many outfitters, lodges, and areas of Crown land to choose from in order to harvest the BIG game animal of a lifetime. I wish you all great success in your upcoming hunting season and hope that you get a chance to experience what Northeastern Ontario has to offer.