Is Western Ontario Worth A Look to Hunt Whitetail Deer?


Published: March - 2013

Western Ontario appeared on the radar screens of serious whitetail deer hunters when news of the 199 7/8 B&C "Dryden buck" hit the internet in 2003. Almost overnight, this thinly-populated area began to see a huge influx of nonresident hunters who took home scores of bucks with heavy, chocolate-colored horns. A decade later, is the region still worth consideration for a trophy whitetail hunt? The area encompasses thousands of square miles, mostly huge tracts of north woods bush. Although agriculture is prevalent in some areas, crops are typically hay and other cattle grains, rather than the high-protein corn and soybean crops that allow large deer herds to thrive in the Midwestern US. However, despite harsh winters and wolf predation, the overall deer population is generally very healthy. It's common to see dozens of deer in an evening, mostly does and fawns. Generally, deer densities are moderate compared with much of the US, but trophy quality may be higher. In doing my research, I spoke with Bruce Ranta, an avid hunter and recently-retired biologist with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources in Kenora. Ranta feels that trophy quality has declined noticeably over the last five years, largely because there are no effective restrictions on deer hunting in the area. While nonresident moose or bear hunters must be accompanied by a guide or registered with a tourist outfitter, there is generally no such requirement to hunt deer, though nonresidents can only take bucks. Long seasons that begin with an archery hunt in early October and end with a rifle hunt in mid-December allow hunters to spend weeks trying to fill their buck tag, for the price of an over-the-counter license, food, gas and accommodations. This is a fraction of the cost of a one-week guided hunt in Alberta or Saskatchewan. As much of western Ontario is public or "Crown" land, and all of it is less than a day's drive from Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, some areas have simply been overhunted for bucks. The recent decline in the number of big bucks and the economic slowdown in the US have meant a downturn in hunting pressure,........(continued)
 
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