Take the next step in big game hunting

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Hunting bears is the best opportunity for area hunters who feel they are ready for the “next step” in big game hunting. And the best part — quality black bear hunts are not only affordable but just a reasonable one-day drive away.

Ontario

After several years of unfounded protection, Ontario’s black bear numbers have increased to the point of overrunning many areas of forested landscape, enough so that those in charge have smartly granted limited spring black bear hunting.

Once a rich tradition, spring hunts are now offered by many of the same camps and outfitters that sold them “back when” and are increasingly popular with lower 48, nonresident hunters.

What we can now refer to as the “new” spring bear seasons are tightly monitored and carefully controlled.

With nearly 100 percent hunter success rates, indicating obvious high bear numbers in most areas, both hunters and outfitters are hoping that spring bear hunts are here to stay.

False claims

It is important to understand why decades of Ontario spring bear hunts were stopped. At the time, emotional activists claimed falsely that hunters were killing high numbers of sows with cubs, thus dooming the cubs to starvation or death by predation.

In truth, very rarely a sow with cubs was mistakenly taken by spring hunters because almost all spring hunters hunt over bait allowing them time to study an approaching bear to make sure it does not have cubs in tow.

Why is the part of the story important? Because wildlife management, to be effective, has to be based on facts, stakeholder input and common sense, not emotional demands.

Fortunately, Ontario black bear hunters are permitted to hunt with nearly any weapon including vertical and crossbows, shotguns with slugs, rifles and muzzleloaders.

Commercial outfitters and camps are limited in the number of tags they receive and the area they access. Spring bear season in Ontario is a short span of three weeks in late May and early June.

To hunt this spring hunters need to hustle because many outfitters and camps are booked for the season, but some have a spot or two available but nearly all are selling spots for 2020.

Most hunts are six days long and come in several packages, meaning self-guided, do it yourself, fly-in, and in between.

Smart hunters, who have not made arrangements in person at a local outdoor show, will go online and do some serious homework, converse with outfitters and contact references.

In addition to the $1,500 to $2,500 camp charge add nonresident license, $250; Ontario Outdoor Card, $10; firearm border check, $25; trophy export tag, $35; and tips.

Spring bear hunts are not guaranteed, but harvest rates are at or near 100 percent. Camps and outfitters are across the providence, which means straight north of Toronto to hundreds of miles to the west.

Ask

The No. 1 question to ask? Is the quoted price of doing business in Canadian or U.S. funds? Keep in mind that a U.S. dollar is worth more than $1.30 Canadian.

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Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian.

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