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

Lyme Disease Awareness

I recently found out that Steave Rinella, one of America’s most prominent young hunters and food advocates was diagnosed with Lyme Disease.  I felt compelled to post about this issue to raise awareness amongst Canadian Hunters.

Lyme disease is present throughout southern Ontario.  Transmitted by a small insect know as a deer tick, this disease is caused by a bacterium known as Borrelia Burgdorferi.  The disease is treatable, but gets progressively worse if left with out medical attention.

“The first symptom of the disease may include the appearance of a red target like rash around the bite.  Although this rash is not always present on an infected individual.

The common symptoms are:

  • fatigue;
  • chills;
  • fever;
  • headache;
  • muscle and joint pain; and
  • swollen lymph nodes.

If untreated, the second stage of the disease, known as disseminated Lyme disease, can last up to  several months and include:

  • central and peripheral nervous system disorders;
  • multiple skin rashes;
  • arthritis and arthritic symptoms;
  • heart palpitations; and
  • extreme fatigue and general weakness.

If the disease remains untreated, the third stage can last months to years with symptoms that can include  recurring arthritis and neurological problems.”  – Public Health Agency of Canada

As an avid outdoor enthusiast I take Lyme disease very seriously and perform self checks after every outing in the woods.  This is a good habit to get into and can lead to early detection of a bite.  If bitten, see your local doctor or health clinic for removal and to obtain a test for Lyme disease.  Be safe out there!

Cheers From the Wild

Albert

Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation

http://canlyme.com/

Great source for info on Lyme Disease:

http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/id-mi/lyme-fs-eng.php

Steve Rinella’s personal Site and TV series website:

http://www.stevenrinella.com/

http://themeateater.com/

Ontario Trails Map

Looking to get out for some hiking in Ontario.

Check out this handy little interactive map showing trail locations near you!

http://www.ontariotrailsmap.com/ontariotrails.html?town=toronto#

 

Awesome Job Ontario Trails Council!

Harvesting Wild Leeks

Ontario is blessed with foragable wild foods for almost every season.  The least of which is definitely not Spring.  Spring in Ontario, means some of the finest table fare can be gathered including leeks, fiddle heads, cattail hearts and morels.

Finding most of these treasures can be difficult as they are heavily dependant on temperature, sufficient rain and their ability to hide from other foragers!  Thankfully leeks are one of the easiest to spot due to the stark contrast of their green on the brown hue of last years fallen leaves.  Leeks are also very plentiful in Ontario and can often been seen after the first couple weeks of 10 – 15 degree weather.  Just remember when looking for leeks early on, the contrasting green is the key.  They are one of the first plants to sprout.  Also, you will probably smell the delicious onion odour a mile a way!

*****Please keep in mind when you are harvesting wild leeks it is best to only remove one or two leeks from a cluster or, more preferably, clip off the green and leave the bulb in the ground.  This way they will continue to proliferate in the area.  Consider it an investment for next year!

My recent foraging trip saw me getting up at 5:30, heading out my door at 6:00, stopping quickly at Tim’s on highway 15 and blasting up Sydenham Road by 6:15.

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I met with a friend of mine at a favourite spot about an hour north of Kingston.  Set with bags, a large bladed knife for digging leeks and our trout gear (cause you never know when a fishing oppourtunity will present itself), we headed up the trail with eyes focused on the ground in search of green gold.  I guess it was by chance then that my friend spotted a decent sized Barred Owl perched on a nearby pine.

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Quite the specimen!  Further down the trail, and after some failed attempts at some speckles in a few local lakes, we found the spot we were looking for and began our harvest.

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Lots of leeks to be had but no sign of any other forageables.  Lots of signs of spring and remnants from last winter. I am always impressed by how fresh and stunning Southern Ontario looks in the spring.  Not to mention how tasty it can be too!  More on this once I have cooked a few of these tasty guys into a soup or two.

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Hiking in Ontario – The Ultimate Resource

Do you enjoy a little jaunt in the woods from time to time?  Perhaps your a seasoned trekker who has spent half their life pounding trails.  Well if your either of these or at any point in between, and you live in Ontario, I have the perfect website for you:

http://www.hikeontario.com/bulletin/links.htm

Just like it sounds, Hike Ontario is a website dedicated to hiking in Ontario.  I am not going to “re-invent the wheel” by summarizing what they are about.  Instead I have just included a quote below from their mandate section:

Hike Ontario is the sole provider of province-wide hiking information and services. Hike Ontario is also unique amongst Canada ‘s provinces and territories in many of the services it provides to this province’s hiking associations and citizens. Eighty-five percent of Canadians walk for leisure and recreation.  Thus, Hike Ontario acts as the voice for over 9 million hikers and walkers in Ontario.

Hike Ontario recognizes and supports trails throughout Ontario and appreciates that every trail is unique. Every trail can’t be all things to all people but all trails can play beneficial roles. Trails play roles in the economy, play roles in the environment and perhaps most importantly, play roles in our health.

While Hike Ontario recognizes the diversity of trails and trail uses, our focus is on the representation and promotion of pedestrian based trails and their benefits, focusing specifically on;

Connectivity, Economics, Education, Environmental, Health, Heritage, Recreation Transportation 

Hike Ontario does not make or maintain trails,  nor does it offer organized hiking/walking events, except through its member associations. Hike Ontario is the umbrella organization  that provides these province-wide associations with resources  and services to build on these long-established local and regional                  initiatives in a way in which complements and enhances them.”

Bottom line:

  • great resource for finding tails throughout ontario
  • provides links to trail associations
  • provides links to equipment suppliers
  • Promotes getting active in the outdoors, specifically in Ontario.

Algonquin Park Map

Algonquin Park is undoubtedly a core symbol of Canada and represents the biodiversity of Ontario.  It is majestic, mysterious, and for many, limited only to the campgrounds adjacent to Highway 60 which traverses the south arm of the park.  I was once a part of this group, albeit a happy member.  So when my first chance came to enjoy the interior of the park I was interested, but skeptical.  Turns out, interior campling is not all that hard as long as you do your research and little preparation.  I hope to discuss this topic at great length but for now, feel free to peruse the link below which contains a pretty sweet map of the park, its lakes, camp site, fishing oppourtunities and canoe routes.

http://www.algonquinmap.com/

Cheers

Al

Hiking Opportunities near Kingston, Ontario

Hiking oppoutunities in the Kingston, Ontario area as provided by the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve Community.

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http://www.frontenacarchbiosphere.ca/explore/fab-trails/hike/hiking-trails

This resource impressed me when I stumbled upon it for the first time.  Although it does not include all the hiking oppourtunities in the area it does include some of the more well know and better maintained trails, parks and reserves.

Enjoy!

UPDATE 2017-02-28 – The map is no longer available at the old link.  I have replaced the link with a list of trails instead.

Cheers

Al