Sunset Country has become one of the most popular and well-known whitetail deer destinations in North America
Editor's Note: In his first article on this site, Jeff Gustafson, host of "Fishing with Gussy", gives some great hunting tips before and during your deer hunt. As a professional angler and hunter, Gussy uses his vast experience to give us some advice to help make our hunts successful. For more information about deer hunting trips in Ontario's Sunset Country, go here.
Over the past decade, Northwest Ontario's Sunset Country Region has become one of the most popular and well-known whitetail deer destinations in North America. Hundreds of outfitters and resorts operate all over this vast, remote area that is relatively easy to access by both land and air to make it the top choice for hunters that want the do-it-yourself experience. Since it is big country, hunters must work hard scouting good areas and do things right to have success. The rewards can be huge however with many World-Class animals harvested from the region every year.
Pre-hunt preparations should include finding a place to base out of. Hunters looking for options can find everything they want at the region's travel website www.ontariodeerhunting.ca. Once you book your trip, then it's time to start looking at maps. Google maps remain the top option for scouting likely areas like cutovers, old burns, pinch points or swamp systems to check out on foot once you arrive in Ontario. Your outfitters will be able to direct you to some good general areas that have produced good results in the past.
When you actually hit the woods it's all about keeping your eyes peeled for a fresh sign indicating the presence of mature whitetail bucks. Start walking on deer trails and watch for large tree rubs or ground scrapes. They will indicate that deer are living in these areas. Once you find some good sign, which usually isn't to difficult in most areas, then it's time to find a good place to set up your stand or ground blind. Sitting all day in high percentage areas remains the best tactic to cross paths with a big buck, especially during the late October, early November timeframe when the rut occurs and bucks start to cover more ground looking for active does.
The best areas to set up your hunting spots are heavily used trails, which deer will use throughout the day. If you are fortunate to find a large ground scrape, they can be used by several bucks during the pre-rut timeframe are the best natural attraction to hunt. Don't overlook beaver dams as well. Deer will use these to cross from one section of land to another to avoid walking through the water.
Having the luxury of a few days to scout before actually hunting can allow you set up trail cameras on likely locations to get an idea of how many deer are using an area, at what times and the size of animals in these areas. Remember to set up your trail cameras so they are looking away from the mid-day sun so they are not backlit and hard to see.
The predominant winds in this area are west/northwest during the fall, though south and east winds can prevail. Hunters should consider setting up three or four spots with at least one to accommodate south or east wind. One thing about whitetail deer, especially mature bucks, is that you cannot trick their powerful nose so you always want to hunt locations with the wind in your favour.
Since we have such rugged landscape in Northwest Ontario, all the rocks and hills allow hunters to use ground blinds in a more effective manner than many other places because the ground elevation can be used to keep your scent above the areas that you're planning to watch for deer. Ground blinds are much more comfortable than tree stands on those nasty weather days and they are safer as well. Setting ground blinds up on the sides of hills can allow you to have a good vantage point over an area and helps to keep your scent under control.