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Northwestern Ontario Whitetails

Posted by 
July 30, 2013
Published in News & Tips > Hunting > Deer
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NorthwesternOntarioWhitetails blog
Trophy-quality bucks can still be found in northwestern Ontario. Photo courtesy of Jeff Gustafson Outdoors

The area of northwestern Ontario roughly bounded by the towns of Kenora, Ignace and Fort Frances is sometimes called "The Whitetail Triangle." In 2003, this area appeared on the radar screens of serious whitetail hunters when the "Dryden buck" hit the internet — a typical buck net scoring 199 7/8 B&C that was killed illegally. Almost overnight, this thinly-populated area of the Ontario began to see a huge influx of non-resident hunters who took home scores of bucks with heavy, chocolate-colored horns. A decade later, although local experts feel that trophy quality has declined in some areas, there are still opportunities for big bucks.

The area encompasses thousands of square miles, with huge tracts of north woods bush. Although agriculture is prevalent in certain areas, crops are typically hay and other cattle grains, rather than high-protein corn and soybean crops. However, despite harsh winters, and wolf predation, the overall deer population is generally very healthy. Perhaps too healthy, as in some areas it's common to see dozens of deer each evening, mostly does and fawns, including right in the town of Kenora. As northwestern Ontario is less than a day's drive from Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, hunters from the U.S. still flock to the area each year, but because non-residents are only allowed to take bucks, this hunting pressure does little to manage the overall herd in areas that may have too many deer. Generally, however, deer densities are moderate compared with much of the U.S.

While non-resident moose or bear hunters must be accompanied by a guide or registered with a tourist outfitter, there is generally no such requirement to hunt deer; however, your best opportunity to tag a big buck is by hunting with a quality outfitter. There are literally dozens of outfitters in the region, most of whom also offer some hunting for moose, bear, wolf, waterfowl and grouse at various times. Your best odds lay with an outfitter that is serious about deer hunting and scouts extensively, hunts either private land or very remote areas of public land to control hunting pressure and takes only a small number of hunters each year.

There's a huge variation in what is offered by local outfitters, ranging from total do-it-yourself hunts with nothing more than accommodations provided, right up to fully-guided, all-inclusive packages. Most outfitters in the region lean toward semi-guided housekeeping packages. All of them hunt from stands primarily, but some organize small drives as well. As much of this region is big woods, baiting is widely practiced, but even that varies. Some outfitters offer carefully chosen, pre-baited stand sites, while others have little more than a shooting lane cleared in the bush with the hunter required to bring his own treestand or ground blind and bring or purchase bait. It's critical to ask and understand exactly what's included for accommodations, meals, guiding, etc.

Two such outfitters are Jeff Gustafson Outdoors and Indian Point Camp. Contact the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources for more information on hunting in northwestern Ontario.

Good hunting.

Tagged under Read 3489 times Last modified on February 9, 2017
Don Sangster
expert

Don Sangster hails from Mississauga, Ontario, and is an avid multi-species angler and hunter; he describes one as his passion and the other as his obsession — which is which varies with the seasons. He's been a professional outdoor writer and photographer since 1999, and is a frequent contributor to numerous North American print and web publications.

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  • Guest

    Guest (Dave Bennett)

    Great Article Don!We have some monster whitetails in this region of Ontario but they can be difficult to pattern.Well scouted and carefully chosen stand locations are key to bagging a trophy. Well established baits can draw deer from a large area.Check out my website for a look at some of the great bucks we have to offer our clients. Search Dave Bennett Outdoors

  • Guest

    Guest (Don Sangster)

    Thanks Dave. Too many hunters think that baiting deer is as simple as tossing out a handful of corn or apples any old place. Guides/outfitters like you and Jeff Gustafson have it figured out.<br /><br />I plan to be up there this November. I'd love to say hello.

  • Guest

    Guest (Brad Doerksen)

    I've been guiding hunters for many years around Lake of the Woods and the guests success rate has been close to 100%. Because of the lack of crop land and the abundance of thick cover, hunting big bucks becomes a challenge even for locals. Mature bucks weighing 300 plus are not unusual. With head gear to match!