Wild Boars in Ontario

Ask any farmer or landowner from the southern United States and they will tell you feral pigs, otherwise know as the Eurasian Wild Pig are one of the biggest nuisances they face.  With populations at unprecedented levels and their presence being felt in 39 states (or more), these beasts terrorize farmers and landowners by destroying crops and rooting up land.  Simple put they are the definition of invasive.

So why discuss them on a blog centred around Southern Ontario?

It seems we too may soon have to deal with these invasive pests according to recent memorandum released by the Ministry of Natural Resources.  Apparently feral pigs have been spotted in the united counties of Prescott and Russell which are located east of Ottawa between Ottawa and Hawkesbury.  According to the memorandum, the MNR have authorized farmers and hunters to kill feral pigs under the authority of a small game licence (See a copy of the memorandum below).

All pertinent hunting rules and regulations regarding safety still remain in effect while hunting these animals and all kills or sighting should be reported to the ministry of natural resources at 1-800-667-1940. Those interested in more information on Wild boars in Ontario are also encouraged to contact the MNR.  In addition, “Wildboars in Canada” is a website dedicated to tracking sightings and encounters across the province.

http://wildboarcanada.ca/#sthash.ra8UktVY.dpbs

Invasive species can be a problem for any ecosystem and those found in Ontario are no exception.  Do your part and report any sightings of feral pigs, or any other invasive species for that matter, to the MNR.

 

http://www.invadingspecies.com/

Cheers

Al

P.S (If you see one, don’t be afraid to leave a comment below or send an email.  I make a mean smoked bacon and I have no problems travelling!)

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Canadian Canoe Routes

I am not sure why I haven’t posted a link to Canadian Canoe Routes before.  It has been such a vital component to all the trips I have planned that I am ashamed I haven’t promoted it sooner.  I know, the hardcore paddlers out there already know that this is the definitive resource for finding a canoe route Canada.  But for those beginners who are planning their first portaging/ canoeing trip, or for those finding it difficult to find the right trip for them, this post is for you.

So, Canada Canoe routes. What is it?

Canadian Canoe Routes is a website dedicated to documenting canoe routes across the Canadian wilderness (as well as some in the US).  It provides users with a database of canoe routes that can be searched by a variety of criteria which allows for very specific search criteria input.  Only interested in loops? no problem, CCR has your back.  Only want something under with a length of 50km or less? Easy, CCR lets you choose the length of trip your interested in.

So what info does it provide.  In a nut shell, everything you need to know to plan a trip.  it includes details on distance, directions, possible camp sites, maps (in some cases links to where to buy maps), warnings, trip reports, and helpful hints from past adventurers who have done the trip.  Each route is assigned a difficulty level and an estimated time required to complete.

The site includes additional resources such as a forum, tips on cooking and food preparation, gear reviews, safety tips and pretty much anything you would need to plan and execute a trip.

This has to be the most comprehensive conglomerate of information on the topic of canoeing in Canada and in my opinion a must for your web browsers favourite list.

http://www.myccr.com/

Cheers from my desk

Albert

Provincial Park Hunting?

Most of us don’t even consider Provincial Parks when we think of places to hunt.  Myself included.  Then a couple years back I was asked to join a winter camping trip with a group of friends to a provincial park north of Peterborough and I was surprised when one of the guys mentioned he was brining along a firearm.  Of course I was skeptical at first but after some extensive research I was surprised to find out that many provincial parks in Ontario allow hunting.

I feel I should immediately clarify to avoid confusion and misunderstanding, Hunting is only permitted in a select few parks, so please don’t head into the care camping heart of Algonquin or Bon Echo decked out in camo with your with your favourite 12 gauge.  You will scare a lot of people, piss off the park warden and get into heaps of legal trouble.

To elaborate, most parks that allow hunting are non operational and have hunting built into their management policies and landuse.  It is very important to be 100% clear on this if you plan to participate in hunting on these lands.  How do you find this info out?  Well there are several sources, one being the MNR crown landuse atlas website https://www.ontario.ca/environment-and-energy/crown-land-use-policy-atlas .   Check the info section on each park parcel using the “Get Land Use Information” tool.  Each of these parcels should have a report available in PDF in either French or English.  The permitted uses will either be clearly listed or will reference a ministry land use policy.  Another way would be to head to  http://www.ontario.ca/environment-and-energy/provincial-park-management-direction and find your park of interest from the list.  Once found, take a read at its management policy and confirm the permitted uses.

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Since my first hunt on that winter camping trip I have often considered travelling back to one of these parks to hunt.  Finally, about a week ago, I found some time and a friend and I headed out to for a quick morning hike and hunt in one of these non-operation parks.  Our target was small game and conditions couldn’t have been better with crisp temperatures in the early morning, broken by some sun warming approaching noon.

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Ice had already claimed most of the smaller lakes and a light skiff of snow covered the ground.  Quite the perfect setting for observing tracks!

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The trip was very refreshing and served to provide us with some welcomed weekend exercise.  Interestingly enough, it was obvious we were not the only ones hunting as we came across a mineral lick and a crossbow bolt just off the path.

The hunt itself went very well if three birds being flushed with a moderate amount of effort.  Of the three we even managed to harvest one (pictured below).

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We had a great time exploring a new area and observing some pretty interesting geologic formations found in the park.  However, as enjoyable as it was, the concept of conservation was never too far from our minds.

Fundamentally, these areas are put in place to conserve a specific feature, be it geologic, protected animal, plant, or features of cultural importance. Because of this intent, I firmly believe that conservation should be the underlying guideline for all uses in these areas.  And although hunting in these areas can be a great experience, it is important for us as hunters to remember that we share them with other people and wildlife.  Being public places, they can be susceptible to over hunting, accidents and can be the site for disputes between hunters and non-hunters.  Respect and practicing safe, legal,  hunting practises are the key concepts here.

Remember, these areas are there for the enjoyment of all, not just one.

Cheers from the wild

Albert

Deer Fat Misconceptions

One of the things I have always been told about deer hunting is that the quality of meat if always directly proportional to how well you clean away the fat.  I can still hear the bellow of the senior hunters while processing of our game last year: “Who left so much fat on here? Don’t you know it will make the meat taste like garbage”.

As I am still a young hunter with much to learn I accepted this as gospel and moved on with other lessons. Truth be told, I have had bad venison experiences, and after trying “fat free” venison, I had no reason to doubt the previous advice. That is, until now.

Its no secret one of my inspirations in the field and in the kitchen, is the great american chef/hunter, Hank Shaw.  Hank is the brains behind several books and the website, hunter- Angler – Gardener – Cook.  A website dedicated to providing no nonsense guidance to harvesting wild food and to promoting the wild pursuits in general.  I eagerly read anything Hank writes and often employ his recipes following my own forrrays in the field.

So when a notification popped up on my Facebook feed titled “Demystifying Deer Fat” from Hank’s site I instantly delved into the article.

The article covers many of the misconceptions surrounding deer fat and gives detailed reasons for the various negative tastes people often report.  He also provided many alternatives for using deer fat and suggests that not all deer fat tastes horrible.  To date this is one of the best articles I have read on the matter.  So good in fact, it has me considering keeping a bit of deer fat around this season to test the theories presented in the article.

If your a hunter and you process your own meat, give it a read.

http://honest-food.net/2014/10/13/cooking-deer-fat/

Hunting season approaches, so good luck to all who are taking part this year.

Cheers from my desk,

Albert

Proposed Changes to the Walleye and Bass Fishery on Lake Nippissing

Im sure from my posts on here, all my readers are well aware that I absolutely love fishing Lake Nippissing.  In my view, it has some of the best walleye fishing anywhere in the province (for numbers at least).  As a big supporter of the lake, I know many people enjoy harvesting walleye from this water body.  Knowing this I felt compelled to share the upcoming changes with my readership.

Basically the changes are:

For walleye, a change from current slot size of 40 to 60 centimetres (15.7 to 23.6 inches) to a zero possession of walleye less than 46 centimetres (18 inches) in length to come into effect May 17, 2014. There are no changes to catch limits.

• For smallmouth and largemouth bass, a change to the opening date of fishing season to open one week earlier, starting June 21, 2014 (3rd Saturday in June instead of 4th). There are no changes to catch limits.

Though these changes are not reflected in the current Ontario Fishing Regulation Summary (2014), the changes are effective as of May 17, 2014 and will be reflected in the 2015 version of the Ontario Fishing Regulation Summary.

These changes are intended to support the recovery of the walleye population by allowing juvenile walleye to grow and spawn at least once in their lifetime and by promoting other angling opportunities.

(excerpt taken from the EBR posting below)

http://www.ebr.gov.on.ca/ERS-WEB-External/displaynoticecontent.do?noticeId=MTIyMjgx&statusId=MTgzMzA1&language=en

Opinions on this change will vary I am sure.  Either way I strongly encourage you to comment on this or reach out to your local OFAH chapter to voice your opinion.

Your thoughts aren’t heard if there not voiced.

A Leisurely Afternoon Hike at Lemoines Point –

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Spring is finally here in southern Ontario.  Well mostly here.  We still have a dusting of snow in some spots, and there is lots of snow left in the wooded areas.  Regardless, the remnants of snow aren’t stopping me and my family from enjoying the outdoors and it certainly hasn’t stopped mother nature from thumbing her nose at old man winter.

Sunday came and the temperature was a balmy 6 degrees Celsius with full on sun.  My wife and I bundled up the little one, leashed the dog and headed to one of our favourite spots around Kingston: Lemoines Point.

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Lemoines point has always been one of our favourite spots to walk the dog and take a step into nature.  The park itself is a conservation area that covers 136 hectares and is located on the west side of Kingston near the airport.  Although minutes from the city and heavily trodden  by the local Kingstoniains, this park still seems to support a vibrant wildlife scene and maintains its wild charms.

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Our walk began at the Rotary park entrance which is near the Collins bay Marina.

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Immediately upon entering the park we were bombarded with a plethora or birds.  Sightings included chickadees and other smaller birds, morning doves, robins, a woodpecker, colourful blue jays and even a peregrine falcon

(couldn’t snap a shot 😦 of the falcon)

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(below is a shot of the author with one of the parks residents)

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Possibly, one of the most notable things about the park (aside from its bio diversity) is the resident population of tamed chickadees that will willingly eat bird seed from your hand.  Loads of fun for young kids and adults too.

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Aside from the plethora of birds, Lemoines point is home to many types of terrestrial animals.  Some of which we encountered on our walk.  The little guy below seemed to have a craving for peanuts and sunflower seeds! One good thing about sharing your home with local kingstonians is that, if your cute and furry,  they make sure your well fed!

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We continued our walk though the woods eager to see the next animal.  Lemoines point is funny that way; some days there is nothing but the birds to see, and then there are days like today….

As we turned the corner of one of the trails we saw movement in the woods.  There ahead of us was a beautiful white tail deer eating some of the grain and peanuts left by the parks patrons.  Lucky right? Well lucky was an understatement, because a couple minutes later the rest of the herd broke out of the bushes and we were staring at 6 healthy deer.

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The deer weren’t shy at all as they pranced down the path towards us.  Obviously they were used to being fed by the parks patrons and they have lost their fear of humans.  Normally I’d say this is a bad thing, but seeing as how the park is pretty well segregated from anywhere else, I’d say this specific arrangement works out pretty well for all parties involved.  The deer get fed, and the patrons get lots to look at.

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After an hour and a half, our walk was coming to a close.  On our way out our attention was captured by one last creature chattering away in the trees.  Id say this creature looked a bit “squirrely” wouldn’t you say? (Excuse the bad pun)

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Its amazing some of the natural treasures we have so close to our homes. All it takes is the effort to get up and out and go see it for yourself.

Personally, I cant think of many better ways to  spend an hour and a half on a Sunday afternoon.

Cheers from the Wild

Albert

 

Accessible Bathymetry for Ontario Lakes

I am a firm believer in knowing as much about a lake as possible before heading out on the water. In my experience, doing my homework has changed the out come of many a days fishing; turning it from a likely bad or mediocre day to a raging success. Although it takes work to understand the waters you are fishing, the benefits are enormous. Correction, it used to take a lot of work… Now thanks to Navionics and National Prostaff, the hard part is done for you.

Historically, access to lake info would only come from experience, paper maps, or expensive GPS units with map chips. Then came the navionics app for mobile devices. As awesome as the mobile app was, it cost a bit of $ to own. Now Navionics and National Prostaff haved moved this data to a free online data delivery system. Although not so portable, the website can expedite the research process for finding new water or even help to enhance your understanding of your favourite “go to” lake. Although it doesn’t contain all the data the chip has, it covers most medium to large sized lakes with sufficient precision to make a big difference in the way you approach a lake.

So give it a gander and see if you learn a thing or two about the lakes you love.

Cheers from the Wild
Albert

http://nationalprostaff.com/navionics.php

Here is a screen shot from the website:
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