Monday, September 23, 2013

Southern Ontario Whitetailed Deer Primer

Well it's that time of year again.  Here's some basic information that might make the difference between a pleasant fall outing and putting meat in the freezer.


White tailed deer are the most abundant of all North American big game animals.  These phantoms of the woodlands can be found from Canada’s extreme north to the southernmost regions of Texas.  Deriving their name from the white underside of their tail, a white tail deer will “flash” its tail as a warning signal to other deer in the vicinity.  A signal that no hunter wants to see, because it means you’ve been busted.

The female (doe) usually weighs between 90 and 130 pounds (50 to 60 kg), but some weigh in excess of 130 pounds (60 kg). The deer's coat is a reddish-brown in the spring and summer, and turns to a grey-brown throughout the fall and winter. The bucks shed their antlers around February, and begin growing them back in the early spring.


White tailed deer can be found in a wide variety of habitat ranging from forest to open fields.  One sure place to watch is riparian habitat, or the fringes of wetlands, lakes, and rivers.
In the north, look for stands of conifers with easy access to water.  White tails often travel the same trails so if you find a well used trail look for fresh sign and scout out a location that affords good visibility of the trail while allowing you to remain hidden.

Of the 16 sub species of white tailed deer found in North America, only three are found in Canada.  The northern white tail ranges from Western Ontario to Nova Scotia while the Dakota white tail ranges from the Ontario / Manitoba border westward to the foothills of the Rockies.  Then there is the small pocket of Tawny deer located in Southeastern British Columbia.


During the spring and summer the white-tailed deer’s diet consists of leafy material from a variety of woody plants, grasses, herbs, and broad leafed plants. It also includes such delicacies as fiddleheads, mushrooms, and blueberries.

When summer’s bounty disappears, the deer must depend largely on the twigs and buds that are within their reach. Acorns are a favorite autumn food for white-tailed deer living in eastern Canada, and in Western Canada grain piles left in fields attract white-tailed deer throughout the autumn and winter.  Apples and other fall fruits are also a favorite autumn food of whitetails so don’t overlook that abandoned fruit orchard.  But after the snow flies they start to browse on twigs, branches, or even cedar boughs.  If you have ever eaten venison from a deer that was browsing on cedar you’re sure to remember the distinctive flavor.


The peak of the rut occurs sometime around the last two weeks of November in most of Canada, although it can occur a bit earlier or later in various regions of the country.
Does usually give birth to one or two fawns sometime around the end of may to the first part of June, but it is not uncommon to see birthing take place well into the summer months.

Hunting Considerations

White tailed deer tend to be crepuscular, meaning that they are most active in the hours around dusk and dawn.  However, they can be found on the move throughout the day, so don’t limit your hunting activities to dawn and dusk.  Many deer are taken at times when most hunters are lounging in camp.

Deer have keen senses of hearing, smell, and sight.  Whether you are bow hunting from a tree stand or hunting the perimeter of marshlands with a rifle, understanding the art of stealth is a real asset. 

OFAH and OCOA Encourage a Safe and Responsible Hunting Sason

It’s an exciting time of year for big game hunters and waterfowlers alike. Tens of thousands of hunters will be hitting the bush, field or water this fall to take advantage of the many great wild game and migratory bird opportunities in the province, and to enjoy their hunting heritage. The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) and the Ontario Conservation Officers Association (OCOA) would like to wish all outdoor enthusiasts a great season and remind them to ensure they have the latest information on regulations in their wildlife management unit, to obtain and carry all necessary permits and licenses, to obey the law, but most of all remember safety first.

“Hunting in Ontario offers many rewards, including healthy recreation in the outdoors and a lifelong connection with wildlife,” said OFAH Executive Director Angelo Lombardo. “It’s also an opportunity to spend time with family and friends and take part in a true Canadian tradition. However, responsible hunters know that a license to hunt is not a license to trespass. The vast majority of hunters in Ontario ask permission to hunt on privately-owned land, build good relationships with landowners, and show their respect and appreciation for having the privilege to hunt on private property.”

“As a hunter myself, I understand the need to show the utmost respect to both landowners and other hunters,” said OCOA President Joe McCambridge. “I encourage all hunters to put consideration for others before the need to bag a trophy deer or get a limit of geese – this will ensure a safe and enjoyable hunt for all.”

Anyone who observes illegal or unsafe hunting activity is asked to help Conservation Officers protect our natural resources and ensure public safety by calling the MNR’s violation reporting line at 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7677), or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

For more information about natural resources regulations and enforcement, please visit the OCOA website at or contact your local Conservation Officer.

With over 100,000 members, supporters and subscribers, and 710 member clubs, the OFAH is the largest non-profit conservation-based organization in Ontario. For more information, visit and stay connected with Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Is Your Personal Hunting and Fishing Data At Risk?

Having just applied for my 2012 antlerless deer tag there is one issue of particular concern to me right now. It is our right to privacy when dealing with government organizations. Yes, I know that governments are entitled to use our personal information for their own purposes, but we have never given them a mandate to share personal information with a foreign government. There is a real potential for that to happen now that the Ontario Government has contracted the management of our fish and game licensing system to an American firm.

The database of all Ontario fish and game licensing records now resides in Nashville, Tennessee. There was little fanfare or flag waving on the part of the provincial government regarding the issue, as is the norm when governments of all levels want to show that they have created efficiencies that will save money. So I have to wonder if this is simply an exercise in “creative accounting” rather than a matter of true cost reduction or improved efficiency. I’m sure that government representatives and bureaucrats have an iron-clad contract stating that all records are the property of the Ontario Government and as such are proprietary, confidential, and in compliance with our Privacy Protection Act, but if you think that U.S. Homeland Security won’t trump the Ontario Government when information is in the hands of a U.S. company, think again.

Contracting out by governments may be the right thing to do in some instances, but not when individual privacy is at risk; so two thumbs down to the McGuinty government on this one.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Faces of Freedom - Wounded Veterans' Hunt Gives New Hope

The explosion changed Darrell Rostek’s life in an instant. The Improvised Explosive Device (IED) abruptly ended the Master Corporal’s tour in Afghanistan. He returned to Canada suffering from severe injuries to his head, back and knees. His battle now became personal. He had to find a way to recover, build strength and make a healthy return to society. It wasn’t easy.

“When I first came back, I was in total denial,” says Rostek. “It took a whole year to come out of my shell. The toughest thing was telling myself, ‘Go get some help; you’re not a sissy’.

The long road back for Winnipeg-based Rostek includes participating in the Faces of Freedom - Wounded Veterans’ Hunt September 28 to October 1, 2011. Three Canadian and three American veterans will attend the four-day waterfowl hunt near Minnedosa, Manitoba. The event is hosted by the Manitoba Wildlife Federation (MWF), Delta Waterfowl Foundation and Cabela’s.

Chris Heald, MWF Vice President, says the goal of the hunt is to express gratitude and respect for our soldiers and let them know they are not forgotten. “Bringing Canadian and American veterans together to share in the joy of the outdoors provides an opportunity for friendship, healing and adjustment to civilian life,” says Heald.

MCpl. Rostek, a life-long outdoors enthusiast, says time spent in the outdoors, away from the distractions of the city, is one of the best environments for healing. “There’s something about sitting with other wounded vets, fishing or just enjoying the outdoors. You start talking about what’s so wrong and how to get over it. Many people don’t understand what we go through.”

The Canadian and American veterans will be introduced to waterfowl hunting in Manitoba’s renowned ‘pot hole’ country. It’s a rare opportunity for soldiers from two countries, who fought in the same conflict, to help each other deal with personal challenges back home.

Rob Olson, President of Delta Waterfowl, will be one of several guides helping with the hunt. “I can’t imagine a better thing I’ll do all year,” says Olson. “This is about people making a sacrifice that I can’t even comprehend. I couldn’t have more respect for these guys."

Rostek is considering a new career in social work, aimed at helping wounded veterans make the difficult transition back into society. “Afghanistan is winding up,“ says Rostek. “But for us it never ends.”

The Faces of Freedom - Wounded Veterans’ Hunt itinerary includes four days of hunting, September 28 - October 1; a fundraising dinner hosted by Winnipeg Blue Bombers stars Buck Pierce and Glenn January in Portage la Prairie - September 28; and a pre-game salute to the veterans at the Winnipeg Blue Bombers home game Vs. the Montreal Alouettes, September 30.
Thanks to Delta Waterfowl for this release.  Be sure to visit regularly:
For more information contact
Chris Heald
Chair, Faces of Freedom
Vice President, Manitoba Wildlife Federation

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pre-season Southern Ontario Turkey

The sloppy month of March is half over already and the first signs of spring are in the air. It's time for thoughts to turn to from ice fishing to turkey hunting. Now is a great time to beat the March doldrums by heading out to do some early season scouting. But remember that if you actually locate birds they may not be there at the end of April when our Southern Ontario turkey season opens. Birds often move as much as two to three miles from their winter roosts to mating and nesting habitat.

What you're looking for right now is that prime nesting habitat; don't be as concerned about where the birds are as you are with where they're likely to be at the end of next month. Look for a stand of mature hardwoods that blend with large clearings or open fields. This will provide ideal protection, food, and roosts for spring gobblers. Pay attention to natural and man-made obstacles like creeks, dense undercover, and fences, that are likely to stop even a determined gobbler dead in his tracks.

Take your GPS along and mark all likely setups and obstacles. Later you can transfer that data to a topographical map of the area and get a good idea of the overall lay of the land. If you stumble across a likely looking bush or field try to find the owner and ask permission to hunt his land this spring. If you gain nothing else you'll beat the winter doldrums by getting out in the bush and filling your lungs with some great Southern Ontario fresh air.

©2011 Lloyd Fridenburg – All rights reserved click here for copyright permissions

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Long Gun Registry Survives – for Now

If you want to raise the hackles of Canadian farmers, hunters, and trappers just mention the long gun registry. I have watched with biased interest over the past several weeks as we edged closer to the vote and what I saw was just plain ugly. In the end the vote was no longer about the long gun registry; it was about fear. Nobody was concerned with the facts and from the numerous articles and posts that I've read far too many Canadians are completely unaware of just how tightly firearms are controlled in Canada, even without the registry.

There are two extremist camps in the fight and neither one wants to see the registry live. On one side you have the anti gun, anti hunting, animal rights types whose objective it is to see all guns in Canada confiscated and firearms ownership made illegal. On the other side you have the gun lobby who feels that we should have the American right to bear arms. What you saw during the debates leading up to the vote was these two groups firing missiles at each other. If you listened closely to the rhetoric you would think that the survival of the human race hung in the balance.

And the media, always hungry for a controversial issue to latch onto was no better. Stories were written in newspapers and aired on TV and radio. Objectivity – the foundation of good reporting – ceased to exist as reporters were forced to follow the personal views of their editors and producers.

Everyone that was opposed to the registry was classed as a fanatical right wing Conservative. I suggest that the only link to Conservatives for a vast majority of those in favor of shutting down the registry is in the fact that the Conservative Party were the ones to bring forth and support the bill. Personally I am non partisan and vote in favor of good legislation, no matter what party brings it forward, but I simply cannot abide "feel good / do nothing" legislation. This was bad legislation when it was first introduced, it is bad legislation now, and it will continue to be bad legislation until the day that it is finally scrapped.

©2010 Lloyd Fridenburg – All rights reserved click here for copyright permissions

Monday, April 19, 2010

Time your Southern Ontario Turkey Hunt

So every astute turkey hunter knows that the best way to put that spring gobbler in the bag is to learn where the birds roost, hit the bush well before dawn, and get ready to bag your bird soon after. We'll let me be the one to admit that getting up at 4:00 a.m., driving to the bush, stumbling another km or more in the dark, and sitting quietly in the predawn darkness has never been one of my favorite things to do. I tend to be an early riser but I do like to see the sun up before me. Watching and listening to the woods awaken around you is an experience that is never forgotten, but I for one don't need that experience every time I go hunting.

If you know your territory, there is a great chance of bagging Mr. Gobbler before he gets the sleep out of his eyes and is looking for his early morning mating partner. But they don't simply vanish for the rest of the day after that; they're still out there looking for love, but there are some peak times to keep in mind.

Personally I love heading to the bush during the mid morning. The hens that were attracted to the gobbling toms first thing in the morning have started to disperse to feed or find nesting spots. That leaves the amorous toms looking for love in all the wrong places and often starting to gobble up a storm in an attempt to find his girl…or another one. Another bonus of heading to the bush a bit later is that the diehard early morning hunters have often packed it in by mid morning, leaving the entire bush and all the birds to you.

Although they may not gobble quite as much as in the morning, mid-afternoon is another good time to head out. The birds are again actively looking for mates and often come quickly to calls or to a hen decoy. Be on guard though because they are more likely to run in without signaling their approach with a round of gobbles and can often sneak up on unwary hunters.

So don't get into the rut of thinking that just because you didn't hit the bush before dawn that all is lost. Some of the best hunting, with the least pressure, can be had later in the day. Above all practice a safety first policy and have a great spring turkey hunt.

©2010 Lloyd Fridenburg – All rights reserved click here for copyright permissions