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Deer in The Deep North

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Deer in The Deep North

White Tailed Deer in Northwestern Ontario. • Credit: Photo by Frank Keseru

Northwestern Ontario has a reputation of being one of the best deer hunting destinations in North America.

A remote area of Northern Ontario is a deer hunter's dream.



Northwestern Ontario has a reputation of being one of the best deer hunting destinations in North America. And with thousands of lakes scattered across the region, you can access remote hunting areas by water, where many of the deer may have never seen a human.

Bill and Nell Godin have spent their entire lives in the Rainy River district and have owned and operated Lake Despair Lodge since 1997. Located about 35 km northwest of Fort Frances on the shores of Lake Despair, it is at the end of the road in a remote area of the province. Bill Godin uses his years of experience hunting on lakes around his resort to show mostly non-resident hunters a good time. Over the years, many of his hunters have taken trophy deer off islands that dot the lakes around his camp.

A Full Day Hunt

When you hunt with Bill Godin, you are going to be tired at the end of the day. Godin expects his hunters to be up early and ready to go well before daylight & Nell always has morning coffee ready in the lodge, and a hot dinner on the table when hunters return at the end of the day. She is one of the best cooks I know.

Bill Godin is pictured here with another Northwestern Ontario white-tailed Deer harvested on Lake Despair.
Bill Godin is pictured here with another Northwestern Ontario white-tailed deer harvested on Lake Despair.

Serious hunting on the water means that whoever is driving the boat needs to know where they are going, even in the dark. Godin usually launches his boat about the time the sun is rising over the trees. If a deer is taken by one of his hunters near the end of the day, the ride back in might take place hours after the sun goes down. Navigating at night is almost impossible unless you intimately know the waters that you’re traveling, especially on smaller lakes that are not mapped out on GPS units.

Fortunately, those those hunting with Godin are in good hands.

More Than One Way to Hunt Deer

In the big bush country we have in Northwest Ontario, there are several ways to hunt whitetails. Godin has tree stands and ground blinds, and situates hunters as he sees fit based on the weather and intelligence from trail cameras.

He also likes to do drives on the islands and peninsulas of the lakes around his camp. "On days when the weather is bad, say it’s raining or snowing or it’s really windy, doing drives is an effective way to hunt," says Godin. "It’s also fun for everybody because it’s more social and you’re moving all day long."

Godin also makes sure that everybody knows the rules about hunting around water: there is absolutely no shooting deer while they are in the water or shooting from the boat. Safe shooting is always the number one priority, he says.

"Most of the places we drive, we have done many times over the years, so we have a pretty good idea of where the deer are going to make their exit."

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