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A cold, wet spring with water-saturated snow and high levels of precipitation has caused serious flooding in Ontario. Properties, water safety, fish, wildlife, and recreational opportunities have all been affected.

Major flooding took place in eastern Ontario, along the Ottawa River, and in the Rideau and Mississippi Valley watersheds, in Essex County in the southwest, and in Muskoka in central Ontario.

In some areas, navigation has been closed to boaters, and it remains to be seen what, if any, impacts the flooding will have on fish spawning.

Havoc in Ottawa area

Brian Stratton, Manager of Engineering Services for the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA) said this year’s flooding was worse than in 2017, the worst year previous.

Flows reached 6,000 cubic metres per second, 50% worse than in a high-water year, he said. A state of emergency was declared in Ottawa in late April. Hardest hit were Constance Bay, Cumberland, and Britannia Bay on the east end of Ottawa.

The RVCA covers the Rideau River Valley watershed, which drains more than 4,000 square kilometres of eastern Ontario and flows, for the most part, towards the Ottawa River. About 620,000 people live in the watershed including part of the City of Ottawa.

The first flood warning was issued on April 19. Waters have stabilized, but the flood warning is still in effect. Stratton believes waters will remain high into June.

No fishing

On May 14, Minister of Transportation Marc Garneau expanded areas where navigation is prohibited due to flooding. In Ontario, that includes the Ottawa River between the Otto Holden Dam (near Mattawa) and the Deux Montagnes Lake (near Hudson, Quebec) and the Mattawa River, between Hurdman Dam and confluence of Mattawa River and Ottawa River.  Pleasure craft and human-powered craft, such as canoes or kayaks fall under the prohibition, which means angling opportunities in these areas are off limits.

Effects on fish unknown

Jennifer Lamoureux, RVCA aquatic and fish habitat biologist, said fish spawning success in flood conditions will vary based on the species, the river or lake system, and the quality of habitat needed to spawn.

“It’s complicated,” she said.

She said flood-related changes in water temperature, water quality, levels, velocities, food supplies, as well as habitat conditions and requirements could all affect spawning efforts.

She said northern pike might benefit due to more available spawning habitat and water levels that support the development of their young, provided water levels do not recede too quickly.

Walleye and suckers in systems most affected by flood levels and high flows could be adversely affected, since flow water levels might make spawning difficult.

Mississippi Valley not spared

Flooding also hit record levels in the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority (MVCA) watershed, which covers the Mississippi River from Mazinaw Lake to Ottawa, and the Carp River watershed. MVCA issued its first flood outlook advisory on March 4 and first flood warning in April. Weeks later, many waterfront property owners are still dealing with flood damage.

Community Relations Coordinator Shannon Gutoskie said, “It was a record year throughout the watershed, and rivaled or exceeded levels set in 1998.” She also cautioned, “Since flows and levels remain higher than normal in many areas, anglers (boaters) should exercise caution as new hazards may exist on the waterways that are not currently visible given the high water.”

Southwestern sees six storm events

Essex County in southwestern Ontario also experienced flooding in the Leamington area, on the lakeshore, as a result of high Lake Erie levels and storm events. The flooding also caused a temporary closure of creeks in the area, damage to roads and shoreline properties, as well as erosion.

Essex Region Conservation Authority Director of Communications Danielle Stuebing said, “(As of mid-May) we have had six storm events in one season, which is very concerning.”

Muskoka gets reprieve

Muskoka District flooding subsided in mid-May, but municipalities in the District were under a State of Emergency from April 28 to May 13.

Transport Canada restricted navigation on the Moon River, Lake Muskoka, and the north and south branches of the Muskoka River, ending on May 15. Some roads accessing waterways and waterfront cottages and homes were also impassible at times and property damage and drinking water quality issues arose, too.   

“Lake Muskoka is still high, but is expected to return to the normal operating zone in the next couple of days. Lake Rosseau and Lake Joseph remain high, but water levels are slowly decreasing. The majority of lakes and rivers within the watershed experienced some impacts from the high water levels and river flows this spring,” said Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) Assistant Media Relations Officer Nicole Michalchuk.

“The more natural the shoreline, the more resilient it is to the effects of high water. While it is difficult to measure how fish spawning may be affected at this stage, we do not anticipate any long-term effects, as local native fish species are adapted to high water levels and flows in the spring.”

She added the MNRF is creating an internal task force to consult with municipal and industry leaders as well as Indigenous people to discuss how to better prepare for future floods and reduce impacts when they happen.

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The Ontario Government announced it would be investing $100,000 in the Hats for Hides program in a news release Tuesday.

“Our government supports Ontario’s hunters and recognizes that they are good stewards of our resources,” Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry John Yakabuski says in the release.

The investment is returning after the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) cut funding to the program in 2013. Hats for Hides’ long-time partner, BRT Provisioners, then took over buying the hats and crests for distribution and kept the program alive.

Hats for Hides collects hides from hunters at specific collection depots. The hides are then prepared for selling. The hunter, in turn, receives a combination of hats and crests.

According to the Hats for Hides website, hides collected at Indigenous depots go towards the creation of leather sold at Pow Wows or are turned into artesian goods, while hides gathered at the other collection depots “are salted, graded, and saved to be sold into the market at the end of the season.”

“We want to work with hunters to ensure no part of their harvest is wasted while supporting a local business and local jobs,” Yakabuski says in the release.

The government’s renewed financial support for the program comes on the heels of the April announcement of budget cuts to the MNRF.

For more outdoors news, click here

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When Sam Groenewegen arrived home from work on May 2, he didn’t expect to experience a once-in-a-lifetime event. By the time that evening was over, that’s exactly what he had done.

The 22-year-old Woodstock man was greeted by his brothers Nick and Mas who said they thought they saw a big set of antlers sticking out of the bank of an undisclosed waterway in East Dorra township in southwestern Ontario, near Woodstock.

Sam asked to be taken to the find, thinking they might have discovered the remains of a big whitetail buck. After 45 minutes of shovelling, however, he had unearthed an old pair of elk antlers still partially attached to a skull – an unusual find since elk have not roamed that part of the province in over a century.

He believes the animal was buried and then exposed due to recent bank erosion.

“When I finally freed both antlers from the bank, I started screaming at the top of my lungs. I was so excited,” he said.

After making the find, he called the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and the Royal Ontario Museum to report the find.

He is planning to get the elk antlers carbon dated to estimate their age, and hopes to get them mounted with a plaque detailing that information afterwards.

For more outdoors news, click here

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Ontario Out Of Doors by Tim Allard - 1w ago

Swing jigs are trending. Big on the bass scene, these articulating jigs can be just as good for walleye. Here are some of their advantages, along with a few proven presentations for ‘eyes.

Articulation = better action

The big deal about a swing jig is that the hook moves separately from the head. This results in more bait action compared to a traditional jig with a fixed hook.

Added action is one reason Fishing The WildSide’s Chip Leer of Walker, Minnesota, likes Northland Fishing Tackle’s Swivel-Head Jig for live bait and plastics. It features a stand-up, football head with a swivel linked to a Crawler-Hauler slow-death-style hook.

“When you pull it across bottom, it [the hook] rotates, or thumps, and spins and adds a slow, enticing, little, lifelike action to whatever you’ve got on the back. And, the slow-death roll, for whatever reason, is incredibly deadly,” Leer said. “It provides action, so it gets the fish’s attention, but it’s going at a slow enough rate that a fish doesn’t have to overly exert itself to make a meal of it.”

Swing out of snags

Swing jigs are more snag-friendly than a fixed jig, says JP DeRose, Ontario professional angler and TV host of JP DeRose, Breaking Boundaries.

JP DeRose: Photo courtesy of Breaking Boundaries

“The hook point is really what catches you, and that’s the attraction of a swing head,” said DeRose. “If your bait with the hook happens to hit structure, it has the ability to swing up and away, and you get less snags that way.”

DeRose uses Freedom Tackle’s line of swing jigs.These feature a recessed brass chamber pocket that prevents the hook from swinging more than 90 degrees in any direction. This ensures the hook can’t flip around and snag the line, but will still move freely to add action to a bait.

Easy to eat

Another plus of a swing jig’s hinged hook is it makes it easy for bottom-feeding walleye to take the bait, says Leer. When a walleye sucks in the bait to feed, it only needs to exert enough force to make the baited swing-hook enter its mouth. It’s a different story with a fixed-hook jig, where walleye must eat the weighted head, along with the baited hook.

This is moot when walleye are aggressive and smashing jigs, but for light-striking fish a swing jig is likely to result in more positive hook-sets.

Leer’s bait picks
Chip Leer: Photo Courtesy of Fishing the Wildside

Leer most often fishes the Swing-Head slow-death style with a night crawler. He threads the worm on the hook past the keeper barb, then pinches off the worm tail, leaving a couple of centimetres dangling beyond the hook bend.

In clear water, Leer may also use a shiner minnow. The corkscrewing action of the hook causes the minnow to roll side-to-side and flash, which attracts walleye. He rigs the minnow by running the hook through its mouth and out the gill slit. Then turns the minnow and inserts the hook into its side, leaving the hook point buried under the skin.

Lastly, when fishing quickly for reaction bites, Leer reaches for worm or minnow plastics.

Straight-down slow death
JP DeRose

For fishing shallow:
• 1/8- or 1/4-ounce swing jig
• 7’1″ medium, extra-fast spinning rod
• 2500- or 3000-sized reel
• 10-pound braid
•6- to 10-foot, 12- to 14-pound fluorocarbon leader

When rip-jigging weeds:
• 1/4-to 3/8-ounce swing jig
• medium-heavy rod

In deep water or fast current:
• 3/4-ounce football jig
• medium-power casting rod
•20-pound braided line and a 14- to 16-pound leader

While the Swivel-Head jig was designed for bottom-contact presentations, Leer says it can be fished vertically in rivers with slow to moderate current. Hold the boat over walleye marked on the fish finder, then lower the jig into the strike zone. Keep the line vertical and the hook will slowly, seductively spin in the flow.

Seductive swimbaits

Using a swing-jig makes paddle-tail plastics even more potent.

“Walleye are so good at picking up on vibrations,” said DeRose. “When you can add side-to-side wobble with tail kick, you’re better off than with a fixed jig head.”

For shallow and mid-depth areas with minimal cover, he prefers the Freedom Tackle Zodiac jig. If it’s a rocky bottom, he’ll use their football jig. The Hydra jig is reserved for heavy cover.

Freedom’s interchangeable hook design lets DeRose tinker with different hooks. Swapping hooks just takes a flick of the wrist to slide it on or off the stainless steel wire clip. Currently, DeRose is using a Mustad No. 1/0 straight worm hook for a 2.8-inch Jackall Rhythm Wave and a No. 3/0 for a 3.8-inch model. The hook’s longer shank means fewer short-striking walleye get away.

Chip Leer

All-around good set-up:
• 1/8-, 1/4-, or 3/8-ounce Swivel-Heads
• 6’6″ to 7′ medium spinning rod
• 2000-sized reel
• 6-pound braid
•3- to 4-foot, 6-pound fluorocarbon leader

DeRose catches walleye from a range of areas using this rig. He’ll cast and swim it along bottom when fishing flats, breaks, and bars. It’s also deadly when rip-jigged around vegetation. He’s even caught walleye trolling a 1⁄16-ounce version of the rig behind a Dipsy Diver and downrigger with charter Captain Paul Powis on Lake Erie using that whole “show them something different” theory.

If you haven’t cast a swing jig yet, consider them this season. They won’t replace traditional jigs, but the advantages are too good to ignore.

Click here to learn how to use jerkbait to catch walleye

The post Swing-jig walleye appeared first on Ontario OUT of DOORS.

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Ontario Out Of Doors by Steve Galea - 2w ago

In the hilly part of the Canadian Shield where I hunt turkeys, one of the most common scenarios begins with a gobbler sounding off on a ridge top. When this happens, if you aren’t up there already, you have two options: you can either call that bird down or move up the ridge to close the gap. I’ve taken birds both ways. Before you decide, here are a few things to consider.

You have two options: run and gun or sit and call

Run and gun:


• Often, the birds you encounter in hilly country are close and it doesn’t take much of a move to get within gun range.

• Spring cover and topography in hill country often allows an undetected approach.

• If a gobbler is calling and strutting along a ridge top, you can wait until he steps out of sight beyond the crest of the ridge top before you move.


• It’s risky. One wrong move gets you busted.

• Not advisable if other hunters are nearby.

Best Practices

• Move only when terrain and cover hides you from the gobbler.

• If the gobbler goes silent, don’t move until you can confirm his location by sight or sound. He could be searching for you.

• Use distant sounds such as chainsaws to mask your approach.

• Ensure other birds will not bust you before you move.

• If the gobbler is strutting predictably back and forth along a ridge top, wait till he gets to the far end of the strut zone before moving. Ideally you will intercept him on the return.

• If the gobbler retreats down the other side of the ridge, set up on the reverse slope on top and try to call him back.

Sit and call


• You stand a better chance of remaining undetected and not spooking a bird.

• He’s probably going to quickly see your decoys.


• Gobblers run ridges because it allows them to be better heard and seen by hens and gives them a better vantage point. Therefore they are sometimes reluctant to leave high ground.

• The gobbler might draw in hens from a distance or from the other side of the ridge. When that happens, you are beaten.

• If a fence or other obstacle is between you and the gobbler, he might not cross it.

Best Practices

• Once he sees your decoys, shut up or call sparingly.

• Be patient. Sometimes it takes time for them to decide to leave the ridge top.

• When that gobbler does commit, he’s probably headed directly to your decoys to display.

• If you aren’t using decoys, position yourself to face the gobbler’s likeliest approach. Often, this is down the most gentle or open part of the slope.

• Decide on markers that define your effective range and be prepared to shoot when the gobbler provides a good shot opportunity within it.

• Take the first good shot opportunity. There’s a lot of cover and uneven terrain in the Canadian Shield and it’s possible for a gobbler to spend a lot time within range yet remain obstructed.

For more turkey tips and tricks click here!

The post High ground gobblers appeared first on Ontario OUT of DOORS.

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Dark green: Days when fish and game are most active.
Light green: Days when fish and game are more active than usual.
Unofficial key dates: 
May 1: Black bear season opens in most WMUs; walleye and pike opener FMZ 14
May 4: Walleye and pike opener FMZ 20
May 11: Walleye and pike general opener southern Ontario, World Migratory Bird Day
May 17: Walleye and pike opener FMZ 12
May 18: Walleye general opener northern Ontario
May 22: International Day for Biological Diversity
May 31: Moose draw deadline

Day SunRise SunSet MoonRise MoonSet MinorAM MajorAM MinorPM MajorPM
1 6:10 8:23 5:10a 5:01p 3:23 9:33 3:44 9:54
2 6:09 8:24 5:33a 6:04p 4:00 10:11 4:22 10:32
3 6:07 8:26 5:56a 7:08p 4:39 10:50 5:01 11:13
4 6:06 8:27 6:22a 8:15p 5:22 11:33 5:45 11:57
5 6:04 8:28 6:50a 9:23p 6:09 11:53 6:34 12:21
6 6:03 8:29 7:23a 10:31p 7:01 12:48 7:27 1:14
7 6:02 8:31 8:03a 11:36p 7:59 1:45 8:26 2:13
8 6:00 8:32 8:51a NoMoon 9:00 2:46 9:29 3:15
9 5:59 8:33 9:48a 12:38a 10:04 3:49 10:33 4:18
10 5:58 8:34 10:52a 1:32a 11:07 4:53 11:36 5:22
11 5:56 8:35 12:03p 2:20a ----- 5:53 12:08 6:22
12 5:55 8:37 1:17p 3:00a 12:36 6:50 1:04 7:18
13 5:54 8:38 2:32p 3:34a 1:29 7:42 1:55 8:08
14 5:53 8:39 3:47p 4:04a 2:17 8:29 2:42 8:55
15 5:52 8:40 5:00p 4:32a 3:01 9:14 3:26 9:39
16 5:51 8:41 6:13p 5:00a 3:45 9:58 4:10 10:23
17 5:49 8:43 7:26p 5:28a 4:31 10:43 4:56 11:09
18 5:48 8:44 8:37p 5:58a 5:19 11:32 5:45 11:58
19 5:47 8:45 9:46p 6:32a 6:11 12:00 6:37 12:24
20 5:46 8:46 10:49p 7:12a 7:07 12:53 7:33 1:20
21 5:45 8:47 11:45p 7:58a 8:04 1:51 8:31 2:17
22 5:44 8:48 NoMoon 8:49a 9:02 2:49 9:28 3:15
23 5:44 8:49 12:34a 9:44a 9:59 3:46 10:24 4:11
24 5:43 8:50 1:16a 10:43a 10:52 4:40 11:16 5:04
25 5:42 8:51 1:51a 11:43a 11:43 5:31 ----- 5:54
26 5:41 8:52 2:22a 12:44p 12:05 6:18 12:29 6:40
27 5:40 8:53 2:48a 1:45p 12:50 7:01 1:11 7:22
28 5:40 8:54 3:12a 2:47p 1:30 7:41 1:51 8:02
29 5:39 8:55 3:35a 3:49p 2:08 8:19 2:29 8:40
30 5:38 8:56 3:58a 4:52p 2:45 8:56 3:07 9:18
31 5:38 8:57 4:22a 5:58p 3:23 9:35 3:46 9:58

MajorAM/PM: Daily times when fish and animals are likely to be most active. Periods last two hours, beginning at listed time.

To get appropriate sunrise and sunset times for your area, visit the Government of Canada’s weather website.

Download the full 2019 solunar table PDF.

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Student learning about aquatic species

What can happen when a golf course changes its game?

We humans are an ever-expanding species. Our demand for living space, close-to-home convenience, and things that are cheap and fast all have a negative impact on our environment. The result? Pollution, habitat loss, and displaced wildlife.

With the human population increasing and fewer natural spaces, can we still make room for woods, water, and wildlife? Urban sprawl often has us treating wildlife as pests, without regard for their need for space.

What can golf courses do?

A golf course, by its nature, is largely an expanse of shortly trimmed lawn that lacks in wildlife potential and is looked upon by most conservationists as a desert. However, almost all golf courses also have areas of rough grassland that are not intensively managed and may even be out of bounds to players. These spaces can be managed to protect wetlands, wildflower meadows, or woodlands, all of which can be home to fish and wildlife.

Ponds and lakes do well on golf courses, and so long as care is taken to prevent nutrients from leaching into the water, they can provide great benefits for biodiversity. Ponds can be used to store water for times of drought or hold water to “slow the flow” to prevent flooding elsewhere.

Trees have an aesthetic and amenity value. They help shield golfers from wind and can also provide habitat for a whole range of plants and animals.

As development edges ever closer to the Greenbelt, golf courses in Ontario can be part of the solution for preserving green space and protecting natural areas.

Conservation the Royal Ashburn way

Back in 2008, one such golf course, Royal Ashburn, put a conservation initiative in place. The course is located just north of Whitby, Ontario, and sits on the fringe of the Oak Ridges Moraine, which is a naturally protected green space. Royal Ashburn has been environmentally enhanced by the construction of a wetland encompassing approximately 20 acres, that are home to an abundance of native flora and fauna.

The wetland, made up of three connected cells, is located in a natural watershed on the golf course and is maintained by an artesian well that can control the depth of water in each cell, with Agri-Drain water control structures. This ensures an ideal habitat for aquatic species such as fish, wild rice, frogs, ducks, geese, and more.

David Paterson, owner of Royal Ashburn, described the motivation for making the improvements. “It’s important to our family to give back to nature and to the community,” he said.

Charity with Ashburn

With support from its partners, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, Ducks Unlimited Canada, and Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority, Royal Ashburn has held an annual charity golf event that raises money to send school children on day-long field trips to a working wetland. To date, the charity event has raised over a quarter million dollars and has provided well over 100 field trips. Proceeds have also supported a number of great community conservation initiatives. “As partners, we are all proud of these accomplishments. They demonstrate a strong sense of community and willingness to support conservation.”

 “The Royal Ashburn wetland project is maintaining and enhancing our current 10% cover in the Lynde Creek watershed which improves the water quality for the communities downstream and helps protect the redside dace, a provincially designated threatened species in the Lynde watershed,” noted Paterson.

Not only do wetlands protect valuable areas for fish and waterfowl, they have also expanded large areas to suit needs of larger wildlife, like deer and wild turkey.

The benefits of a natural environment

I am in no way a very good golfer, but I do enjoy the game, as does my nine-year-old daughter…but a big part of the enjoyment we get out of golf is a chance to see wildlife in a natural environment.

Humans also benefit from a natural environment. Turf can improve the air we breathe as it takes carbon dioxide from the air and releases the oxygen we need. A landscape of turf, trees, and shrubs about 2,000 square feet in size generates enough oxygen for one person for one year.

In addition to benefits from exercise, research has shown that looking at a pleasant outdoor view, such as a golf course, can be healthy. In one study, hospital patients recovered faster when they had a view of turf, trees, and open spaces. In another study, employees of businesses with well-designed landscaping and well-maintained turf had a more positive job attitude.

Imagine a place that makes people happy and supports wildlife conservation.

There are over 100 golf courses within a one-hour drive of Toronto. Just imagine the benefits for wildlife in urban areas if the efforts at Royal Ashburn were implemented by every course.

Click here more info on Royal Ashburn Golf Club.

The post “Fore” the benefit of woods, water, and wildlife appeared first on Ontario OUT of DOORS.

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Ontario has a new Big Game Management Advisory Committee, (BGMAC.)  The announcement introducing the committee, made on April 17, fulfilled a promise to the outdoors community by the Ford government.

The committee’s function is to provide advice to the Natural Resources Minister respecting policy and programs related to the management of species of big game in Ontario. BGMAC members will also review and recommend changes to the allocation of hunting opportunities for big game as may be requested by the minister. Lastly, they will provide advice on other matters requested by the minister.


The BGMAC is chaired by well-known hunter John Kaplanis of Thunder Bay. Committee members are Bradley Greaves of Ignace, E. Allen Hyde of Pembroke, Elford Wiens and Glenn Rivard of Thunder Bay, Gary Couillard of Matheson, Fern Duquette of Atikokan, and Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) Wildlife Biologist Keith Munro of Peterborough.

The BGMAC consists of members with diverse knowledge and experience in moose management and quota review, moose hunting, tourist outfitter operations, and previous experience on wildlife advisory committees. Though the committee is also tasked to help improve deer, bear, and elk management in Ontario, its initial job will be to develop recommendations on moose management, with a focus on how quotas are developed, and how tags are allocated to hunters through the draw.

Focus on moose

“We have heard concerns from hunters that the current approach, specifically the moose tag draw system, is not working for hunters or ensuring sustainability,” said Natural Resources Minister John Yakabuski. “We’re acting on those concerns and delivering on our promise to make life easier for Ontario’s hunters, while ensuring sustainable populations and continued hunting opportunities.”

The member and Chair have been appointed for a two-year term, with possibility of re-appointment. They will meet in person three times a year, with additional conference calls as required. The committee reports directly to the Natural Resources Minister.

“Over the next two years, our goal is to make moose hunting fairer, more accessible and simpler for hunters. Work is already underway to make immediate improvements to online resources so that we can better communicate with hunters,” said Yakabuski. “As the review unfolds, we will continue to listen and engage hunters and stakeholders to help us improve how tag quotas are developed and distributed.”

“BGMAC’s focus on reviewing the tag allocation and draw processes is an important first step to improving moose hunting in the short term. But the OFAH has been calling for a complete review of moose management for years, and we’re hopeful that the committee’s focus will expand once these short-term objectives are completed,” said Mark Ryckman, OFAH manager of policy.

Public input sought

The BGMAC will host six listening meetings in May. Locations and dates are as follows:

  • St. Thomas – May 21, 2019
  • Peterborough – May 22, 2019
  • North Bay – May 23, 2019
  • Sault Ste. Marie – May 28, 2019
  • Thunder Bay – May 29, 2019
  • Dryden – May 30, 2019

Hunters, organizations, and the public are encouraged to attend these sessions and contribute their ideas on how to improve moose management. Go to Ontario.ca/moose for more details on the listening sessions.

Click here for more information on big game.

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Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Office in Peterborough

The Ford government’s provincial budget, released on April 11, has reduced the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s (MNRF) budget by $161.7 million, with the bulk of that coming from the Emergency Forest Firefighting portion.

A summary of MNRF budgets on page 294 of the 2019 Ontario Budget shows that the base MNRF budget planned for 2019-2020 is $602.4 million, which is $19.6 million less than the interim budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year and $61.6 million less than the actual budget of 2017-2018.

The Emergency Forest Firefighting budget planned for 2019-2020 is now $69.8 million, which is $142.2 million less than the interim budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year and $47.2 million less than the actual budget of 2017-2018.

It is still unknown how the budget reductions are going to affect MNRF programs, services and staffing levels. OOD did submit questions asking how the cuts would be applied within the MNRF, and was directed to find the information in the 2019 Budget, however specifics of how individual ministries will apply their funding changes are not detailed in that document.

MNRF Director of Communications Justine Lewkowicz did say that the reduction in Emergency Forest Fighting budget has been misrepresented by some media sources.

“The Ontario government provides base funding of almost $70 million each year to support front-line efforts to fight wildland fires,” she said. “Funding is re-evaluated as the fire season unfolds. Last year, over 1,300 fires were recorded across the province, which was significantly higher than the 10-year average of 757 fires. Our government invested an additional $142 million for emergency firefighting in 2018 to protect our communities. We will continue to dedicate necessary resources to ensure the safety and protection of our communities.”

Viewed that way, the Emergency Forest Firefighting budget is at a normal level that will require adjustment depending on the severity of the fire season.

Details of how the cuts will affect other aspects of the MNRF will be added as they become available.

Click here for the latest hunting and fishing news.

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Calling in a boisterous gobbler in full strut is a thrilling dimension of the hunt and it’s not a secret art. With a bit of practice on a box call, mouth call, or pot-and-peg call, you can be talking turkey.

Box-call basics

To yelp (a searching call)

Pass the paddle lightly over the top of the sideboard, from the outside of the call toward the centre.

At some place in that movement the tone will change from high to low. That’s the sweet spot. Take note of that spot and pass the paddle repeatedly over it with a snappy pace to create the yelp.

Experiment with downward pressure on the paddle to find the best sound. Too much will make it screech, not enough will make too soft a sound.

Don’t lift the paddle off the board for the backstroke so it can’t smack down on the board, which might spook your tom. Press harder on the paddle to yelp louder.

To cluck (a short-range searching call)

Extend your left thumb up over the sideboard as as topper for the paddle.

Put the paddle up against your thumb and tap on it with a slightly downward motion to create clucks.

Your thumb acts as a stop and a spring to push the paddle back into place for another tap.

Experiment with the downward pressure until you get a cluck that seems to pop off the call, then practise with that pressure until it’s automatic for you.

Cluck sparingly in a random sequence, with skips and delays instead of the steady beat of the yelp.

To purr (turkey small talk)

Scrape the paddle slowly over the sideboard with light to medium pressure to find the spot where it skips and makes the trill sound of the purr.

Experiment with your pressure and different places on the sideboard to find the sweet spot for the best purr.

Pot-and-peg basics

First, rough up the entire surface of your pot with the abrasive provided or recommended for it.

Experiment to find the position where the call makes the best sounds easily and always use it in that position so it’ll make the perfect yelp or cluck every time.

To purr

Place the peg in the upper third of the pot and pull the peg toward you or diagonally, slowly in a half-circle motion with light pressure so it skips, making the trilling sound.

Experiment with the angle, the pressure, and the placement of the peg on the pot for the best sound.

To cluck

Jerk the peg toward you with a short, quick motion so the cluck seems to pop off the call.

Light pressure makes soft clucks. Heavy pressure makes loud ones.

The outer third of the pot makes high-toned clucks and the middle makes low clucks.

To create emotion and realism, mix clucks with yelps.

To yelp

Place the tip of the peg on the pot surface a third of the way from the top rim, with the peg leaning away from you, about 10 or 15 degrees from vertical.

Draw a 1-inch oval with the peg, pulling it toward you with medium pressure, then circling back to where you started.

Don’t lift the peg off the pot for the backstroke; the soft scrape of the backstroke doesn’t spook turkeys, but tapping the striker on the pot might.

Most calls produce a high pitch out near the rim and a lower pitch as you move to the centre, so drawing it toward yourself from near the top will produce the desired two-tone yelp.

Move the peg with your wrist rather than with your fingers.

If you move the peg with your fingers you’ll change the angle of the peg and lose consistency in sound.

Repeat the oval motion for a series of yelps. Keep the rhythm snappy. To yelp louder, use more pressure.

How to hold it

If you are right handed, grip the pot lightly with all five fingertips of your left hand spaced evenly around the rim of the pot.

Or, encircle the rim with your thumb and second finger and grip it lightly. (Lefties, reverse hands.) Lightly grip the peg as you would a pencil, with your thumb midway on the shaft.

To call consistently you need to anchor your peg hand on the rim of the pot. Place the fleshy heel of your hand (below your little finger) on the rim of the pot to stabilize it.

Always use the same anchor point to achieve consistency.

Mouth-call basics

Though they are the hardest to learn, mouth calls are worth the effort.

Their greatest advantage is being hands free so you can cluck or purr without visible movement when you need a nearby tom to raise his head or take one more step to give you a clear shot.

How to use it

Place the call in the roof of your mouth, just behind the front teeth.

This triggers the gag reflex in some people but it can be overcome by simply keeping the call in place until your brain gets used to it.

The open end of the horseshoe faces forward and the shortest reed goes on the bottom.

Push the call up to the roof of your mouth and let it seal there with moisture and pressure from your tongue.

To run the call, huff the air up from your chest. Don’t blow it as in whistling or blowing out candles.

You can trim a little off the tape with sharp scissors to make it smaller.

A proper-fitting call will seal against the top of the mouth, just inside the teeth, forcing air to pass between the reeds and the tongue.

To yelp

Huff the word “kee-yoke,” without activating your vocal cords. This will produce the high note and low note of the yelp. Experiment with tongue pressure, volume of air, and call placement to find the best combination for consistent yelps. The lips can be opened or partially closed to vary the volume. String six to 10 yelps together with a snappy beat like you have heard real hens do.

To cluck

Mouth the word “pit” or “pert” or alternate back and forth between the two words. Make it pop from your mouth because the cluck is a short, sharp sound.

To purr

Buzz the lips as with a motorboat sound while gently forcing air over the reeds with light tongue pressure on the call. Practise with the volume of air and tongue pressure till you can make a consistent purr. Another method is to gargle in the throat with heavier tongue pressure on the call. Vary the tone and add emotional inflection into the purr by opening and closing the lips and increasing or decreasing air from the chest.

Locator calls

Spring toms can often be incited to gobble by a loud noise nearby. So before you venture into the woods and bump a tom, blow a locator call to see if you can trigger a gobble. Crow, owl, peacock, and coyote calls do the job. The advantage of using a locator call is that the tom will soon forget about that noise, so you have time to get to a good set-up. If you attract him with a hen call, he might come in right away, before you can be set up and ready.

Click here to view our wild turkey hunting section.

The post Turkey calling crash course appeared first on Ontario OUT of DOORS.

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