The Ultimate Guide to Hunting in Ontario: Tips and Tricks

Chelsea Hansler // May 13

Many people believe that to hunt you will require your own land or permission on private property, often slowing them down from their next adventure. What you may not realize is that Ontario is scattered with hunting opportunities if you know the correct rules and regulations. Please refer to the OFAH website prior to any excursion to ensure you are following all the proper regulations. 

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Where to Hunt in Ontario

Crown Land

Crown land is land that is owned by the provincial government. Throughout Ontario, and especially in the northern areas, there is an abundance of crown land.

Municipal/County Forests

In some areas, there are small parcels of land owned and operated by a municipal government. Many of these provide hunting opportunities but be sure to check in with the municipality as they are permitted to restrict or allow hunting in these areas. 

Provincial Parks

Some provincial parks allow hunting, but you must refer to the Hunting Regulations Summary for a list, and then contact the park office directly regarding any restrictions.

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Provincial Wildlife Areas

These parcels of land are owned by the province of Ontario and managed through partnerships with non-government agencies. There are sanctuaries and stopover sites for migrating birds which usually include wetlands. It is best to contact local wildlife offices prior to hunting to confirm any specific rules or regulations.

Conservation Area

A conservation area is managed by groups of municipalities that work with partners to protect watersheds and natural habitats.

Private Land

Private land consists of any land that the owner grants a hunter permission to hunt on. The hunter must obtain permission from the landowner (written is preferred) before hunting on their land.

Hunting Seasons and Bag Limits in Ontario

Ontario offers a diverse range of hunting opportunities, with specific seasons and bag limits set by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Understanding these regulations is crucial for responsible hunting and wildlife conservation.

Big Game Seasons and Bag Limits

For big game enthusiasts, Ontario offers exciting opportunities to hunt species such as white-tailed deer, black bear, and moose. Each species has designated hunting seasons and bag limits.

White-tailed Deer

The white-tailed deer hunting season typically runs from mid-September to early December, with variations across different hunting zones. Bag limits may differ based on factors such as the hunting zone, the type of license held, and the method of hunting. It is important to consult the official Hunting Regulations Summary for the specific rules and bag limits applicable to your desired hunting area.

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Black Bear

Black bear hunting seasons in Ontario are typically from spring to fall, with varying dates depending on the hunting zone and the type of hunt (e.g., archery, rifle, muzzleloader). Bag limits are also determined based on factors such as hunting zones, license type, and gender of the bear. As regulations can change from year to year, it is essential to refer to the most up-to-date Hunting Regulations Summary for accurate information.

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Moose hunting in Ontario is a highly anticipated season for many hunters. The hunting season for moose varies across different zones and is typically held in the fall. Bag limits are determined based on factors such as hunting zones, license type, and whether the hunt is for bulls or cows. It is important to familiarize yourself with the specific regulations and bag limits outlined in the Hunting Regulations Summary before embarking on your moose hunting adventure.

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Small Game Seasons and Bag Limits

Ontario also offers opportunities for hunting small game species, including upland game birds, waterfowl, and small mammals such as rabbits and squirrels. Understanding the seasons and bag limits for these species is essential for a successful and sustainable hunting experience.

Upland Game Birds

Upland game bird hunting in Ontario provides an exciting opportunity to pursue species such as ruffed grouse, spruce grouse, and Hungarian partridge. The hunting season typically runs from mid-September to December, but specific dates may vary based on the hunting zone and species. Bag limits may also differ depending on the species and hunting zone. Make sure to consult the Hunting Regulations Summary for accurate information on seasons and bag limits.


Waterfowl hunting is a popular pursuit in Ontario, with species like ducks and geese attracting many hunters. The waterfowl hunting season is divided into different zones and periods, including both early and regular seasons. Bag limits for each species can vary depending on factors such as hunting zones, hunting period, and specific species. It is crucial to refer to the Hunting Regulations Summary for comprehensive details on waterfowl hunting seasons and bag limits.

Small Mammals

Hunting small mammals such as rabbits and squirrels provides opportunities for both novice and experienced hunters. The hunting seasons for these species typically align with other small-game hunting seasons. Bag limits and specific regulations may vary, so it is essential to consult the Hunting Regulations Summary for accurate information on hunting seasons and bag limits for small mammals.

Licensing Requirements for Hunting in Ontario

To engage in hunting activities in Ontario, it is crucial to understand the licensing requirements set by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Whether you are a resident or a non-resident, obtaining the appropriate licenses and permits is necessary to ensure a legal and responsible hunting experience.

Resident Licenses

Residents of Ontario have the advantage of being eligible for resident hunting licenses. These licenses are specifically designed for individuals who are permanent residents of the province. As a resident, you have the opportunity to obtain various types of licenses based on the game species you wish to hunt.

Small Game License

The Small Game License allows residents to hunt small game species such as rabbit, squirrel, and upland game birds. It provides the flexibility to pursue these species during their respective hunting seasons. Before obtaining a Small Game License, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the specific regulations and bag limits for each species.

Deer License

The Deer License is required for residents who want to hunt white-tailed deer in Ontario. This license provides the opportunity to participate in the deer hunting season and is subject to specific regulations, including bag limits and hunting methods. It is vital to refer to the official Hunting Regulations Summary for the most up-to-date information on deer hunting regulations.

Moose License

For residents interested in pursuing the magnificent moose, a Moose License is necessary. This license grants permission to participate in the moose hunting season and is subject to specific regulations based on hunting zones, the gender of the moose (bulls or cows), and hunting methods. Understanding the regulations and bag limits for moose hunting is crucial to ensure compliance with the law.

Non-Resident Licenses

Non-residents also have the opportunity to hunt in Ontario by obtaining the appropriate licenses. These licenses allow individuals from outside the province or country to experience the unique hunting opportunities Ontario has to offer. However, non-residents should be aware that additional requirements may apply, and it is important to familiarize themselves with the regulations.

Non-Resident Hunting License

The Non-Resident Hunting License is the primary license required for non-residents to engage in hunting activities in Ontario. This license grants permission to hunt various game species, including big game and small game. However, it is important to note that non-resident hunters may be subject to different regulations, such as limitations on hunting zones or specific seasons.

Outdoors Card

In addition to the Non-Resident Hunting License, non-residents are also required to obtain an Outdoors Card. The Outdoors Card serves as identification and provides important information about the hunter, including their name, address, and hunting preferences. This card is necessary to purchase hunting licenses and permits in Ontario.

Additional Permits and Tags

In certain situations, additional permits and tags may be required for specific hunting activities in Ontario. These permits and tags are designed to ensure the sustainable management of wildlife populations and contribute to conservation efforts.

Firearm Acquisition Certificate (FAC)

If you plan to use a firearm for hunting in Ontario, you must possess a valid Firearm Acquisition Certificate (FAC). This certificate confirms that you have met the requirements set by the Canadian Firearms Program and are authorized to acquire and possess firearms.

Migratory Game Bird Hunting Permit

For hunters interested in pursuing migratory game birds such as ducks and geese, a Migratory Game Bird Hunting Permit is necessary. This permit is regulated by the Canadian Wildlife Service and ensures compliance with federal regulations regarding the hunting of migratory birds.

Restricted Game Species in Ontario

Ontario's hunting scene offers a diverse range of game species, each with its own set of regulations and restrictions. Understanding the rules and guidelines surrounding restricted game species is essential for responsible hunting and conservation efforts. In this section, we will explore some of the notable game species in Ontario that have special regulations and restrictions due to conservation concerns or population management efforts.

Gray Wolf

The gray wolf, also known as the timber wolf, is a magnificent predator that inhabits various regions of Ontario. Due to its ecological significance and population management considerations, specific regulations apply to hunting gray wolves. Currently, the hunting of gray wolves is not permitted in most parts of Ontario. This restriction aims to protect the species and maintain a balanced ecosystem.

Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake

The eastern Massasauga rattlesnake is Ontario's only venomous snake species and is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. To ensure the survival of this important reptile, it is strictly protected, and hunting or capturing eastern Massasauga rattlesnakes is strictly prohibited. If encountered during a hunting excursion, it is essential to admire these fascinating creatures from a safe distance and respect their protected status.

Peregrine Falcon

The peregrine falcon, a remarkable bird of prey, faced severe declines in its population due to habitat loss and the detrimental effects of certain pesticides. Recognizing the need for conservation efforts, the hunting of peregrine falcons is strictly prohibited in Ontario. These majestic birds have made a remarkable recovery in recent years, and strict protection measures continue to ensure their thriving presence in the province.

Eastern Hog-nosed Snake

The eastern hog-nosed snake, a harmless and fascinating reptile, is another species that receive special protection in Ontario. Its unique defensive behavior, where it flattens its head, hisses, and plays dead, makes it an intriguing sight in the wild. Hunting or capturing eastern hog-nosed snakes is strictly prohibited due to their vulnerable status in the province. Observing and appreciating these snakes in their natural habitat is an enriching experience for nature enthusiasts.

Blanding's Turtle

Ontario is home to the Blanding's turtle, a species at risk due to habitat loss, road mortality, and other factors. The Blanding's turtle is listed as a threatened species, and hunting or capturing these turtles is strictly prohibited. Protecting their nesting sites, conserving wetlands, and minimizing human disturbance is crucial for the survival of this unique turtle species. Encountering a Blanding's turtle in the wild is a special opportunity, and conservation efforts are vital to ensure their continued presence.

Hunting Guides and Outfitters in Ontario

When it comes to hunting in Ontario, having the expertise and assistance of professional hunting guides and outfitters can greatly enhance your experience. Whether you are a seasoned hunter or a non-resident exploring hunting opportunities in Ontario, hiring a knowledgeable guide or outfitter can provide numerous benefits. In this section, we will delve into the advantages of working with hunting guides and outfitters and how they can help you plan and organize successful hunting trips.

Expert Knowledge and Experience

Hunting guides and outfitters in Ontario possess extensive knowledge and experience in the local hunting terrain and wildlife behavior. They are intimately familiar with the best hunting areas, seasonal patterns, and the habits of different game species. This expertise can be invaluable, especially for non-resident hunters who may not be familiar with Ontario's diverse landscapes and hunting regulations. By relying on the knowledge and experience of guides and outfitters, hunters can optimize their chances of a successful hunt.

Access to Prime Hunting Areas

One of the significant advantages of hiring a hunting guide or outfitter is gaining access to prime hunting areas that may be otherwise challenging to locate or access independently. Guides and outfitters often have exclusive agreements or permits that allow them to operate in restricted or private hunting grounds. These areas are carefully managed to ensure sustainable hunting practices and offer a higher likelihood of encountering game species. By partnering with a reputable guide or outfitter, hunters can gain access to these coveted hunting locations.

Logistics and Equipment

Planning a hunting trip involves numerous logistical considerations, from scouting locations to securing necessary permits and licenses. Hunting guides and outfitters are well-versed in handling these logistical aspects, alleviating the stress and ensuring a smooth hunting experience. They can assist with organizing transportation, arranging accommodations, and providing the necessary hunting equipment. For non-resident hunters who may not have access to their own gear, guides and outfitters can often provide quality firearms, ammunition, blinds, and other essential equipment.

Safety and Compliance

Hunting guides and outfitters prioritize safety and ensure compliance with hunting regulations. They are well-trained in firearm safety, wilderness first aid, and emergency preparedness. By working with a professional guide or outfitter, hunters can enjoy peace of mind knowing that safety measures are in place and that they are hunting within legal boundaries. Guides and outfitters stay updated on the latest hunting regulations, bag limits, and seasonal restrictions, ensuring that hunters remain in full compliance with the law.

Commonly asked questions about hunting in Ontario:

What can you legally hunt in Ontario?

In Ontario, you can legally hunt various game species, including white-tailed deer, black bear, moose, wild turkey, waterfowl, upland game birds, and small game such as rabbit and squirrel. However, it is important to note that specific regulations, licenses, and seasons apply to each species.

Does Ontario have good hunting?

Yes, Ontario is known for its excellent hunting opportunities. The province boasts diverse landscapes and abundant wildlife populations, making it a popular destination for hunters. Whether you're interested in big game hunting or pursuing waterfowl and upland game birds, Ontario offers a wide range of hunting experiences for enthusiasts.

Can non-residents hunt deer in Ontario?

Yes, non-residents are allowed to hunt deer in Ontario. However, they must obtain the appropriate licenses and follow the regulations set by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Non-resident hunters may need to engage the services of an outfitter or guide, depending on the specific hunting area and game species.

Is it legal to hunt in Ontario?

Yes, hunting is legal in Ontario, but it is regulated by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to ensure the sustainable management of wildlife populations. Hunters must adhere to licensing requirements, follow specific hunting seasons and bag limits, and comply with other regulations governing firearms, hunting methods, and safety. It is important to familiarize yourself with the current laws and regulations before engaging in hunting activities in Ontario.

Commonly asked questions about where to hunt in Ontario:

Where is the best hunting in Ontario?

The best hunting spots in Ontario vary depending on the game you're interested in. Algonquin Provincial Park, Northern Ontario, and areas near Lake Superior are popular hunting regions. It's advisable to research specific game species and consult local hunting authorities or experienced hunters for accurate information.

Where can you hunt in Ontario?

In Ontario, hunting is permitted in different areas, including Crown land, private properties with landowner permission, and specific hunting zones. Crown land is publicly owned and generally allows hunting unless otherwise specified. There are also hunting outfitters and lodges across the province offering guided hunting experiences. Ensure you check regulations, obtain necessary licenses and permits before hunting.

How to find public land to hunt in Ontario?

To find public hunting land in Ontario, visit the Ontario government's website or contact the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. They provide information about Crown land, hunting zones, and any applicable restrictions. Online resources and mobile apps are available that offer maps and details about public land suitable for hunting. Always verify the information and check for updates before planning your hunting trip.

You'll love the hunt in Ontario!

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About the Author

Chelsea Hansler

Hunter, mother, wife, artist, gardener, homesteader; these are a few of the titles that best describe Chelsea. She is a wife and a mother to two beautiful 4- and 5-year-old “babies”. After serving time in the Canadian Armed Forces, she moved to a tiny home in Northern Ontario, Canada. They are surrounded by thousands of acres of crown land and closer to home you will find her abundance of chickens, a mini horse, 2 cows, and their hounds. They strive to live a simple country life, hunting, gathering, and growing their own food. Everything her family does revolves around the outdoors and living this lifestyle. Chelsea is an artist, creating one-of-a-kind pieces focused mainly on this lifestyle.