Are you excited for hunting season?
Just about everyone is going a bit stir crazy right now, which is understandable after 2+ months of following stay-at-home guidelines. Thankfully, some of the COVID-19 restrictions are starting to relax, and just in time for hunting season!
Hunting small game is one thing, but if you want to head out and hunt some larger game, you’re going to need to enter a big game draw. Here’s what you need to know about big game draws in Ontario:
Why Are There Draws to Hunt Big Game?
If you’re new to the hunting world, you might think that all you need is a gun and a license. Not so fast!
In Ontario, you need to apply to a Big Game Draw to take advantage of certain hunting opportunities. Without the validation tags you can get from the draw, you can’t legally hunt any big game. While this might seem like an unnecessary level of bureaucracy, there’s an excellent reason for it.
It’s the responsibility of all of us to protect the environment and the population of wild species. In this way, hunting actually serves a vital purpose in wildlife conservation.
Every year, wildlife biologists examine all species of big game, analyzing their current population and distribution. They then calculate how many animals can be sustainably hunted to maintain the population goal for each species. Their findings directly determine how many validation tags will be available in big game draws.
For example, if there’s a high population of deer during hunting season, more tags will be available to help manage the growth of the herd. On the other hand, if the deer population is low, fewer tags will be made available, as they want to allow the herd’s numbers to increase to a healthier level.
When Do You Need to Enter the Draw?
Thankfully, Ontario gives hunters ample time to apply for the big game draws. In fact, applications for many of them are open right now!
Antlerless Deer: The application period for antlerless deer tags is between March 1st and June 30th. You must buy your hunting license before applying to the draw, and you must have a valid Outdoors Card. The draw is only available for individuals. The results of the draw will be available online by August 1st.
Moose: The application period for moose tags is between April 15th to June 1st. You must buy your hunting license before applying to the draw, and you must have a valid Outdoors Card. The draw is available to individuals and groups of up to 15 people. The results of the draw will be available online by August 1st.
Elk: The application period for elk tags is between April 15th to June 10th. You can purchase your hunting license after you’re successful in getting a tag. You must have a valid Outdoors Card. The draw is available to individuals and groups of up to 4 people. The results of the draw will be available online by August 1st. There is a $15 plus HST non-refundable charge per hunter.
Controlled Deer: The application period for controlled deer tags is between August 1st and August 31st. You can purchase your hunting license after you’re successful in getting a tag. You must have a valid Outdoors Card. The draw is available to individuals and groups of up to 4 people. The results of the draw will be available online by October 10th.
How Do You Apply for the Big Game Draws?
There are a few methods of applying for the big game draws:
- You can visit the Fish and Wildlife Licensing Service online.
- You can call an automated phone line, toll-free, at 1-800-288-1155.
- You can visit a ServiceOntario location or a private license issuer.
Given current circumstances, it’s best to apply for the big game draws online or by phone. Though some ServiceOntario locations are still open during this pandemic, many have closed down. Regardless, the Ontario government recommends that no one goes to a ServiceOntario location if at all possible. Private license issuers are also likely closed due to physical distancing guidelines.
What Else Do You Need?
To hunt any big game, you need appropriate firearms. One of the best ways to get excited about hunting season is by purchasing a new rifle, shotgun, or bow!
This time of year many gun collectors and enthusiasts log onto GTA Guns Auctions to bid on some beautiful firearms, just in time for hunting season. They might simply want the firearms for their collections, or they might want to head out into the woods to hunt some game.
We hold our GTA Guns auctions every month, and the best part is that they’re entirely online. Such a format has allowed us to keep our auctions going throughout the pandemic.
Hunting is the perfect sport for this time of year and this period in history. You get to leave the house and enjoy the great outdoors. Just be sure to follow all physical distancing guidelines and have fun!