As the first light breaks through the dense canopy of Ontario’s vast wilderness, I find myself perched in a tree stand, awaiting the arrival of one of nature’s most magnificent creatures: Ontarios own black bear. The anticipation is palpable, and the sound of my heart pounding in my chest drowns out the song of a nearby warbler.
Amidst Ontario’s breathtaking terrain, black bears (Ursus americanus) thrive in numbers that exceed 100,000. These majestic animals can be found roaming dense forests, meandering along meadowed riverbanks, and even foraging in the outskirts of rural towns. Their elusive nature and imposing presence make them a highly sought-after quarry for hunters.
The bear hunting season in Ontario typically begins in mid-August and continues through mid-October, with a second spring season from mid-May to mid-June. However, before embarking on this thrilling pursuit, all prospective hunters must obtain the necessary licenses and adhere to the province’s strict hunting regulations. A non-resident bear hunting license, as well as an Outdoors Card, are required for those hailing from outside Ontario. Additionally, hunters must utilize the services of a licensed bear outfitter, ensuring that both safety and conservation measures are upheld.
Once you’ve acquired the proper documentation, it’s time to select your preferred hunting method. In Ontario, black bears can be hunted using rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, or archery equipment, each offering its own unique challenges and rewards.
The most popular method is baiting, where hunters place a bait pile in a carefully chosen location to attract bears. This requires patience, skill, and a keen understanding of bear behavior. Hunters must place their bait pile well in advance, allowing bears to become accustomed to its presence. The ideal bait pile location is near a water source, with ample cover for the approaching bear and an advantageous position for the hunter. Once the stage is set, a silent vigil ensues as the hunter waits, poised for the perfect shot.
Another method for pursuing bears in Ontario is spot and stalk hunting, which involves tracking bears through their natural habitat. This more active approach demands both physical fitness and an intimate knowledge of the wilderness. A successful spot and stalk hunt requires perseverance, stealth, and sharp senses to locate the quarry and move within range for a clean shot.
Regardless of the chosen method, the pursuit of the mighty bruin in Ontario’s wildlands is an unforgettable experience that will leave even the most seasoned hunter with a profound sense of awe and respect for this powerful creature. The adrenaline rush of finally drawing back the bowstring or steadying the rifle as a bear lumbers into view is a moment that will be etched into your memory for years to come.