Hunting season right around the corner

After the great weather we’ve had over the past week here in Sunset Country, it’s tough to even begin thinking about the upcoming hunting season.
However, we all know that a change in the weather is coming soon and before long, some of us will be hanging up the fishing gear and hunting season will be in full swing.
Across Sunset Country, those of us who enjoy hunting are quite fortunate because of all the great opportunities we have just outside our door—from birds to big game. Although things could be better for deer and moose, they could be worse, too.
The migratory game bird season opens this week. While I have been fishing over the past couple of weeks, I’ve noticed quite a few ducks and geese in the shallow, weedy bays and I anticipate more will start showing up as it gets colder up north.
When I was in high school, my friends and I spent quite a few evenings duck hunting in the fall and then I went for about 10 years without going at all.
Last year we started doing it again and had a great time, so I’m really looking forward to it again this year.
I’m far from any kind of good cook but I found chopping up duck breast and using it in a stew via a crock pot was great.
Ruffed grouse hunting, simple as it is, is my favourite hunting to do around here. Last year was the best grouse hunting I can remember since I was a little kid and my dad used to take me.
My wife and I ate grouse for dinner at least once a week throughout the hunting season last year (they are one of our favourite things on the planet to eat).
With the early, dry spring that we had, I expect the grouse hunting to be good again this year. The small game season, which includes grouse, opens Sept. 15 and we certainly are looking forward to it!
Over the past eight or nine years, guiding American deer hunters has consumed me during the fall season. It was a good money-making endeavour before a long winter and it was a lot of fun.
After the cold, nasty winter of 2014, we lost a lot of our deer population outside of the urban areas, where they survive the winter much easier.
Last year I decided to take a break from the guiding because the deer population declined so significantly. I’m not planning to do it this year, either, but hopefully we’ll get another easy winter and the population will start to rebound.
That being said, there still are deer around for those who want to work hard and hunt; it’s just not at the same world-class level that is was at prior to 2010.
There has been a lot of discussion lately about the changes to the moose hunt in Ontario. Fewer tags and only a two-week season where hunters are allowed to shoot calves are the big changes.
The reality is, our moose populations continue to decline so something has to be done. There also is nowhere else in Canada where hunters can just freely shoot calf moose the way they have been able to in Ontario, so it is what it is.
Hopefully, we can figure out how to help the moose populations get moving back in the right direction. Moose are a unique animal, amazingly graceful for being as big as they are, and the lean meat is so good to eat.
All in all, we live in a great place for hunting here in Northwestern Ontario, with all the open, public land and plentiful wildlife. For folks who are not hunters but have interest in it, I can tell you that it is a great activity if you live in this part of the world.
It’s a great excuse to get outdoors and it’s an activity that you can share with friends and family.
New hunters need to take an Ontario Hunter’s Safety Course, which typically takes place through the winter months. Watch for advertisements in the newspaper for upcoming courses.
Here’s to a great hunting season in the woods.

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