Fishing and Hunting in Ontario

While I have a bit of down time here, since I’ve been working on my truck, and the weather is a bit too warm for my liking, I thought I might do a post on fishing and hunting.

I used to participate in both these activities, until the government required us to jump through so many hoops that it became no fun at all. Recently though, I have been considering reexamining the possibility of taking up these activities again.

My interest is not for the sport of it at all. My interest lies with two factors. One, the personal economic benefit. Can I catch enough fish and game to offset the cost of food? Second, the possible increase in nutrition from eating wild food sources.

Let me break this down a bit. Taking into account all expenses required to go fishing, such as Outdoors Card, Fishing License, fishing and hunting equipment, and gas required to get to the fishing/hunting location, will it be cost effective to be able to supply some of my food requirements this way?

Also, something that would have to be taken into account would be fish and game limits. This can become a very convoluted process, due to the fact that there are so many regulations to be aware of with both fishing and hunting. This is the very reason that I stopped participating in these activities in the first place.

Nutrition is another very debatable subject. We all know that our lakes and rivers are not as clean as they used to be, which is mostly because of businesses, not individual people. Logging and mining in this area has done more harm to the waterways than any one of us could do by over using fish and game resources. Yet, we are the ones who pay for it by having to abide by hundreds of regulations, that not even the most avid hunter or fisherman could possibly remember.

However, one has to ask, are the fish we’re getting from China more toxic than the fish we can catch here in Ontario? In China, of course, there are not too many pollution laws, or oversight of the food industry. Here, we do have some oversight, although I don’t feel that it’s as much as we might think. The food industry, for the most part, is just like every other business, it’s main concern is money.

So, there lies the conundrum. Will fishing and hunting add any personal value that would justify me taking up these, so called, sports?

In order to assess this properly, I’ve had to do a lot of research regarding these two activities, and try to interject them into my own personal situation. Cost vs Benefit is the equation.

On the cost side we have; Outdoors Card – 3.22
Conservation Fishing License – 16.18
Small Game Hunting License – 24.02

Total – 49.88

The Outdoors Card is good for 3 years, so I divided the cost by 3 to get the yearly cost. The Conservation Fishing License is cheaper than the Sport Fishing License, but the catch limits are lower also.

So, the total static costs to partake in these two activities is almost $50. per year. There would also be equipment costs, and maintenance of said equipment, such as replacing lost lures, buying bait and ammo. These costs are not so easy to determine, so I’m not going to add them on just yet.

The cost of fuel to get to the fishing or hunting locations does have to be factored in too, but I do have to consider that, even if I wasn’t fishing or hunting, I may have still gone to these places for recreational purposes. Therefore, this cost is not all that clear cut. I would probably have to assign a percentage to fuel consumption in order to include it.

A big factor in the Cost vs Benefit equation will be fish/game limits, which are set by the government. So, for example, if I go to a location for the purpose of fishing, and I happen to catch two brook trout right away, I have then reached my limit, and am no longer allowed to keep any more fish. Also, with fishing regulations, the catch limit, which in this case is two, is also the possession limit. This means that you can only have two brook trout in your possession, anywhere. This means at home in the freezer, in the vehicle, in the boat, in your pocket, anywhere!

I’m sure that this rule is not followed by many. You have to take into account the possibility of a Conservation Officer coming to your home and checking your freezer which, by the way, they do have the authority to do. I’m just stating the actual regulations here, and if I’m going to go through the whole process of becoming legally entitled to fish and hunt, why would I negate all that by then doing something that is considered illegal? So, for the purpose of this post, we’re talking about what’s considered ‘legal’ means of obtaining fish and game.

On the benefits side of the equation I can only estimate the costs of actually buying the fish, or game. Whole Trout – $20.00 ea.
Whole Rabbit – $20.00 ea.
Grouse – $20.00 ea.

I have seen both trout and rabbits in the grocery store for around these prices. I’ve never seen grouse, but I feel the cost is probably fairly accurate if they were sold in the grocery store.

So, technically, if I caught two trout, and put them in my freezer for one year, I would not be able to catch any more for that year. Of course, it’s not likely that this would happen, but it’s possible. Small game, on the other hand, has much more generous limits, and in some cases, no limits, such as varying hare. So it might be more beneficial, if I can catch them, to concentrate on hunting more than fishing.

It should also be noted that setting snares for the varying hare is a legal hunting activity here in Northern Ontario, not so down south. And, given the fact that there is no limit on varying hares, many snares could be set, increasing the chances of success. Also, the season for this is very long, from Sept. 1 to June 15, a full ten months. This is mostly why I’m considering a small game license.

I’ve done all the research that I can do on the facts, the only real way to determine if it will be cost effective is to do it, and then balance the sheets, so to speak. I would need to eat the fish almost as fast as I catch them, but the small game could be kept indefinitely.

Anyway, next week, in Ontario, they have a yearly week-long free fishing event. I will use this free fishing week to do some investigating on how many fish I could typically expect to catch. It could turn out that I’m a terrible fisherman, and an even worse hunter, so some actual doing is in order. I will, of course, be posting on my blog about my success or lack thereof.

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