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The Quest for Canada's Famous Wild Game

It may be a relatively young nation, but Canada is just about the biggest country in the whole of the Western Hemisphere. Sprawled across 3.8 million square miles, Canada's landmass encompasses 40% of the North American Continent.

Both the provinces and territories of Canada offer the amazingly beautiful landscape of water falls and glaciers, endless green forests and ancient lava flows, cloud-kissed mountains and wide open fields, rivers that seem to wind along forever, and at night, the incomparable incandescent sight of dancing Northern Lights.

Canada presents the best opportunities to bag black bear, moose, and whitetail deer, among other big game. No other country in the world holds the honor of being the premier game animal destination for hunters everywhere.

Both breathtakingly scenic and wildly untamed, Canada's beauty beckons the adventurous hunter to sample of its awe-inspiring outdoors teeming with both big and small game found in the natural paradise of its vast wilderness.

Canada's lakes and rugged coastlines are prime fishing grounds, and from its inland central forests, to the craggy mountains in the west, to the pure expanse of vast arctic plains, hunting both big game and waterfowl will evoke a feeling in every hunter of being the very first human beings to have set foot on the land.

There are hundreds of outfitters spanning the provinces of Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan, among the other regions in Canada. With the availability of drive-to or fly-in expeditions, there is an array of choices on which hunting lodge, cabin, or remote outpost camp to sign up with.

In Canada, wolves, bears, arctic birds, caribou and cougars roam freely, and hunting parties will find respite from the wild in remarkable campgrounds, rustic lodges and hundreds of historical sites where pioneers once boldly blazed new trails. Hunting parties will also find spectacular natural wonders like Manitoba's Baldy Mountain, Duck Mountain, and Provincial Park where the ice age glaciers have steadily retreated over the course of the past 10,000 years.

Canada's Hunting History

Based on archeologists digs through the decades, it is believed that the area of Canada that is now British Columbia was inhabited as early as 8000 B.C. by a prehistoric people whose forebears had crossed the land bridges connecting Asia to North America. In the north, the Indian tribes of the Tsimshian started their settlements, the Haida built homes along the Coast, and the Kwakiutl populated Vancouver Island, developing a rich economy of hunting, fishing and whaling. In Saskatchewan, nomadic Indians wandered the plains hunting buffalo.

By the time European explorers came upon this vast and beautiful wilderness, there were over 300,000 Inuit and other Indians living along southern Ontario, St. Laurence Valley and other parts of what is now Canada. These early inhabitants, particularly the Micmacs, moved according to the seasons, following game that mostly consisted of caribou, whales and seals.

Such was their skill at hunting, that in the 16th and 17th centuries, the European newcomers were able to start a lively trade in furs. While hunting was at the heart of these natives’ subsistence – for food, fur, hides and skins – eventually the hunt evolved from being a necessary activity for survival, to a sacred ritual that marked the beginning of manhood, and finally to the pursuit of game solely for the thrill of the hunt.

Canada's lush countryside and its wild forestlands, hills and mountains are home to a vast number of some of the most magnificent game animals ever seen. This has made Canada a year-round, season-for-season hunting ground for seekers of wild game from all over the world.

The Nature-Loving Canadians

It seems that hunting in Canada is a national pastime that runs in the blood. A significant survey held in 1996 assessed the nature and wildlife affinity of about 20 million Canadians representing approximately 85% of the population from the ages of 15 and older. Nature-related activities were placed at a premium, with a total of 1.5 billion days devoted to nature trips and taking part in activities like recreational fishing and hunting.

In 1996, approximately one in 20 Canadian citizens pursued game in the Canadian forests. With a high rate of interest in hunting, Canadians who actively hunted took an average of 12.7 hunting trips annually, with 16.9 days each year that the average participant spent going on out on hunts.

Hunting in Canada is considered such a popular pastime that in 1996, annual expenditures for these types of activities alone were estimated to reach almost $11 billion.

The hunting industry in Canada is a massive one that helps power its tourism and the economy. To provide constant supply for this countrywide, and worldwide, obsession for hunting game, Canada maintains various nature preserves and sanctuaries to protect big game and small game animals, and thousands of species of game fowl, as well as the wild habitats that sustain them.

Preparing the Equipment

Bow hunting presents the hunter to a back-to-basics take on hunting. Significantly different from gun hunting, bow hunting has a long and colorful history in many prehistoric cultures. It takes good track work, familiarity with the terrain and quarry, as well as accuracy to be able to bag a good-sized game trophy.

Rifle hunting, on the other hand, will only be successful if the hunter carries the right gun. The top hunting rifles have been designed and created especially for hunting. They are stronger, more stable, and will stand the test of rough use and the outdoors for many years.

Hunters who prefer a tough challenge venture out with old-fashioned black powder rifles for black powder hunting. The rifle requires the use of balls, powder, patches, a loading ramrod, solvent, patch lube and a ball pulling worm. It only allows for one shot, and the hunter will need to get close to the animal before taking careful and deliberate aim before firing. Infinite patience and lots of skill are needed to be successful at black powder hunting.

Shotguns are the most versatile weapon favored by most waterfowl and migratory bird hunters. Shotgun hunting is usually reserved for small game and is accurate for up to 30 yards or more. In Canada, hunting law prohibits the use of handguns, and it is illegal to own or purchase a handgun for the purpose of hunting. Handgun hunting, even when using a licensed firearm, is punishable under Canadian law.

Canada Is Rife With Trophy Game

The wildlife of Canada can be found in great numbers within the vast boreal forests. Big game such as moose, black bear and deer, as well as grouse, ducks and other migratory birds and waterfowl abound.

These game animals eat berries, grubs, fish and other small mammals. Bears in particular, have been known to take expeditions of their own into local surrounding towns in autumn to raid garbage cans for food. Black bear hunting and Grizzly bear hunting in Alberta is a particular favorite for bow hunting enthusiasts and rifle hunting aficionados who come to Canada to bag this prize game.

Big game hunting in Canada can be an experience of a lifetime. The locations for big game hunts can, by themselves, be huge challenges to conquer. From the mountains and down to the tundra, hunters can bring down elk, moose, caribou, deer and black bear.

Deer hunting, particularly whitetail deer hunting, can be had deep in the Northern Ontario bush, and in the regions of Peace and Kootenay. The hard work of getting to know the lay of the land, being familiar with the animals’ habits, and tracking the quarry can bag that trophy buck every hunter has dreamed of having. Elk hunting is also popular as the animals are everywhere, sometimes more than most hunters can handle. Elk are prized trophies, standard fare for Taxidermy tables in Canada.

Moose hunting is also doing particularly well. The mountain pine beetle pestilence has led to a lot of timberland being felled, giving moose lots of space for feeding grounds. Moose have been sighted aplenty in the northwest, in areas of the Skeena, Peace, and Omineca regions.

The North American Buffalo, or Bison, is a creature of the prairies. This big game trophy can be bagged in wintertime when the fur on their hides is thickest and most attractive. Caribou hunting grounds are plentiful in Newfoundland near the Bay Du Norde Wilderness reserve, where wide stretches of well-preserved and mostly untouched hunting areas abound.

Coyote hunting, fox hunting and wolf hunting provide exciting bouts between hunters and these swift, cunning animals. Coyotes flourish in central Alberta with open season during their breeding period in the spring. The smallest fox in the world, the Swift Fox is found only in the regions and provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Wolves are found in Canada and Alaska, and are known for putting hunters through tough tests of tracking and pursuit.

Canada has stretches of wild rice beds where enormous populations of Canada geese, grouse, partridge, and numerous species of migratory birds feast every season. With a hunting dog in tow, these wild rice beds are the perfect place for duck hunting or goose hunting in season.

Pheasant hunting can be had in the snowy prairies of Canada, while Ptarmigan hunting in Newfoundland is one of the most popular upland game bird pursuits. The Thompson region is famous for its blue, ruffed and spruce grouse hunting expeditions.

Canada is also home to plenty of big game hunting guides and outfitters that offer assistance in booking hunts and guides. Hunting lodges and hunting cabins are also plentiful, and serve as cozy places where hunters can retire at the end of the day for a rest and a warm meal.

Hunting enthusiasts who come to Canada in quest of game will find themselves unprepared for the stunning vistas and awesome adventures to be had in this untamed land where the rich heritage and natural beauty of fauna and flora still prevail.
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