I will never forget my dad having his arms wrapped around me and whispering in my ear, how to aim that old 1950s pellet gun. Patience was clearly a virtue that he possessed, as there were two boys younger than me in the family. One at a time he would sit, explain and teach us to shoot that old pellet gun. Then from there we were not satisfied, so into the woods we would go, cut down our own cedar bows and make a real bow and arrow. What a memory in that back yard with dad, Paul, and Kevin shooting for hours on end and chasing every poor critter that lived within a mile of our country home. Memories I will cherish forever and experiences I value and now work hard to re-live with my four kids.
Now, I make a living as a hunter, and the same passion and love for it has never left. You see, if you were to ask any hunter why he hunts, it’s never about “killing” an animal. In fact hunters don’t even call it that, we “harvest” them. The word hunt conjures up all kinds of ideas, but for me, it’s the journey, the adventure and the chase! That same chase that can turn your world upside down, and pump your adrenaline levels through the roof just at the sound of a single duck quack, moose grunt or twig snap.
It's surreal. Hunting is being one on one with nature. It’s a moment in time where you truly go back to your roots, the same roots that generations before us and thousands of years before them have been experiencing. Once there, it’s the smells, the sights, the sounds and the hunt, the hunt of the animal you are pursuing and trying to outsmart.
If you're considering hunting, I urge you to do so because simply put - it’s amazing experience. Hunting is an experience for all walks of life, ages, genders and communities. I've listed a few of my recommended first steps to becoming a hunter below, to get you started.
Firsts steps to becoming a hunter;
If you can learn about hunting with a friend or family member, it's always more fun that way. It will be a great motivation to have someone else there.
Get Licensed, Learn Regulations
Call the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and find a list of hunting course instructors in your area. Once you find one, call and see about scheduling your course. A hunting course is a must to hunt, but the firearms course is an option if you are choosing to hunt with archery gear only. I recommend getting both courses at the same time; you then have them for life and can then hunt what gives you the best opportunity later by choosing gun or bow.
Find Your Post
Select the area and region you want to hunt. For example, the Northeastern Ontario region is one of the finest. It has an abundance of deer, moose and bear. They also have an amazing small game, waterfowl and upland bird population. The benefit of this region is that many species can be hunted during the same time of year, which makes for diverse and exciting hunting.
Research The Area
Call local tourism groups, and local outfitters to find out all the information you can on the area, hunting seasons and wildlife. If you can afford an experienced guide I highly recommend it. If not, go anyway, rent a lodge or a cabin and talk to the local people in the area.
Choosing a Firearm: Gun or Bow?
Knowing what and where you will hunt will be the key to the next step - choosing a firearm, bow, or both. When big game hunting, choosing a rifle that can ethically harvest all three is advised. For archery, choosing between vertical and horizontal is a very personal choice and both take big game animals ethically. For upland birds, small game and waterfowl, a shot gun is what you need, just different ammunition for the same gun for different species is all that is required. I suggest visiting a local store and hearing all your options from the employees for getting the right one.
Meeting the legal requirements of hunter orange learned in your course will be key, but when not required and what to wear under it will be determined by what time of year and style of hunting you are doing. I recommend finding a good outdoor store and speaking to the employees there to get their suggestions. Try on lots and be comfortable, warm and dry!
Get Out There
Once ready for the field, get out there and enjoy nature. Learning tricks and tactics will take a lifetime, we are all still learning. Do not let inexperience keep you from the woods. A few simple rules, waterfowl trust their eyes and ears, so great camo and little movement is key. Big game have great eyes and ears but will beat you with their nose long before seeing you. Always make sure the wind is blowing in your face when hunting big game and you are facing where the animal is expected to come from.
Enjoy the adventure and remember, if you go home empty handed that’s part of the experience. Enjoy it.
Now, as a professional hunter along with my two brothers we love to see people start hunting. Year after year, we get to hear the great stories of people’s first hunts. Having just returned from filming an amazing bear hunt with Olive The Lake Lodge in Marten River, ON, we can strongly encourage anyone to look into the Northeastern Ontario region for a great hunt. The animals are plentiful and the chance for big moose, bear and deer is very realistic. But even better than the great hunting experience, is the great meat in the freezer to feed your family for the winter.