Hunting season is here

Lindsey Leko

Recently, I slipped into Cabela’s on a weekend and noticed that most people were browsing in the firearms, ammunition and clothing areas, compared to May when everyone was in the fishing section.

So I gathered a few things and stashed them so I could come back later when my wife was not around!

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This is also the time when we start seeing pictures of harvested big game animals and limits of waterfowl and upland birds, which means hunting season is here.

Many of the hunting seasons open in early September. It is always best to check the Hunters’ and Trappers’ Guide, as some open Sept. 1 and some open Sept. 15. All migratory bird hunting starts Sept. 1 and upland seasons start Sept. 15 for everything but pheasant, which opens Oct. 1. Ptarmigan opens Nov. 1.

A few of the new changes have generated questions and inquiries, including the removal of the minimum firearm restriction for hunting big game.

Recent amendments now allow most common centre-fire rifle cartridges to be used to hunt big game. This regulation recognizes that advances in cartridge design have justified allowing smaller calibre firearms for hunting big game species. However, the ministry still recommends cartridges larger than .23 calibre continue to be used for big game species such as moose, elk and black bear. 

Hunting big game with a smaller caliber can create some challenges for hunters. I’d much rather be sure that my larger caliber rifle puts the animal down without any doubt, rather than possibly wounding it and having to spend a long hard day tracking it.

It is likely that the vast majority of hunters will continue to use the same firearms that they have always used, and it should be noted that the .23 calibre minimum is still in place for shotguns and muzzle loading firearms. For more information regarding this amendment, please refer to the 2018 Hunters’ and Trappers’ Guide or contact your local ministry field office.

In addition, if you wish to set out trail cameras, blinds or stands on private land, you will need permission from the landowner prior to putting them out.

I was also recently asked if a landowner could charge a fee for hunting wildlife on their land. The answer is no. The rights to wildlife belong to the Crown, which means that it is unlawful to charge people to access your land for the purposes of hunting.

I appreciate that some may think that the wildlife lives on your land and may even live off your crops, but it is still unlawful to charge a fee to hunt on the land. If we allowed landowners to charge for access to hunting, it would severely limit the access to hunting opportunities in the province.

A couple of other questions that were posed to me recently include:

Q: Can I charge a fee to have some Americans stay in my empty farm house while they are hunting ducks?

Yes. This is perfectly legal, as you are simply acting the same as a hotel. You can charge for accommodations, but you cannot charge for any other type of service, such as access to your land, showing them where to hunt or providing maps. You cannot act as a guide outfitter. 

Q: Is it true that I can receive a reward if I provide information to the TIP program?

Yes, this is true. You may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000 if the information that you provide leads to a conviction. Calls are taken seven days a week, 24-hours a day and you may remain anonymous.

Q: If I got my licence and cannot use it, or purchased the wrong licence, can I get a refund?

No. You cannot get a refund if you just did not get time to get out hunting, or if you were unsuccessful in harvesting an animal.

There are some cases where a refund for a game licence will be considered. Examples of these may be a licence issued in error, an administrative error or in a case where the applicant cannot use the licence due to a medical emergency/injury or natural disaster.

Visit your local field office if you have questions regarding the potential for a licence refund. In some cases, a refund can be issued on the spot.

Well, until next time. It’s time to sight in your rifle!

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