Hundreds of local residents enjoyed annual hunting season

 

By Jessica Tulpin

THE Ontario government recently made hunting more affordable for residents by introducing a licence fee freeze, announced on January 10th. The move will see that hunting licence fees are not increased this year in addition to the removal of the $2 service charge. As well, two new licence-free fishing days have been added on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
This is welcomed by hundreds of local hunters who delight in the great outdoors with family and friends while harvesting nature’s bounty.
Fred Pankhurst’s family has been hunting for generations. The lifelong Port Dover resident taught his sons, Matthew and Adam to hunt at a young age. The family relishes their time together outdoors hunting for deer, geese, ducks and rabbits locally and moose and, up north, bear.
Mr. Pankhurst says his family typically goes out for whatever game is in season to fill their freezers with the meat they are able to harvest. He said the 2018 season wasn’t very successful but he notes that every season is different and each presents its own unique challenges.
Weather plays a major role in determining if birds will be flying or deer will be running in the areas in which his family hunts.
He says he loves hunting because he enjoys the company of his sons and other fellow hunters. He and his family eat the meat from the animals they harvest.
“I just like to get out into the outdoors.” He says that although hunting can be a lot of fun, he takes safety very seriously.
“If you go out, be sure you learn the safety aspects of hunting. Safety is the biggest thing for me,” he said.
A local, long-time waterfowler is Wayne King who enjoyed a few trips out in a boat looking for geese and ducks with a professional guide. In his younger years he had all the necessary equipment to head out on his own but has since downsized. He hasn’t lost his passion for nature and enjoys going out to watch the birds fly with the aid of a guide. This past season he was able to harvest a couple mallard ducks and a few Canada geese which he had made into mild Italian sausage by a local meat packer.
“It’s the experience of it. I get just as much joy just watching them fly. They are marvellous flyers,” he said of geese and ducks. He recalls a time when he was out hunting the wetlands of Holland Marsh when two black ducks flew under a rainbow in the sky and the sun reflected under their wings creating a flash of beautiful silver light. His memory of that scene is as vivid today as when it happened decades ago.
“I have a lot of fond memories of hunting and calling,” he said mentioning that he and his children won titles in goose and duck calling championships years ago. His son would often go hunting for waterfowl with him.
“It’s the camaraderie of being with other hunters. The fond memories I have will last forever.”
The family tradition of hunting is a strong one for 20 year-old Sawyer Thompson. He says he has been hunting with his family since he was strong enough to hold a gun. He went out as often as he could this past goose season and was able to harvest a few birds.
The 2018 season overall was lacklustre due to the mild weather in the region and the absence of a real cold snap. He also pointed out that the explosion of the local coyote population in recent years has made hunting more difficult as deer and small game have fallen prey to or are hiding.
The ambitious young hunter hunts for anything that’s in season, allowing him to fill his freezer with meat. When asked what motivates him to hunt he replied, “food — it helps with the grocery bill. It’s also a major stress reliever,” he said, adding that getting out into the fresh air can be relaxing.
“It’s a family tradition, we’ve been hunting for generations. I think everyone should get their hunting licence. You gain a lot more respect for nature and for animals when you hunt. There’s nothing better than harvesting your own food,” he said proudly.
For more information on upcoming hunting season dates and regulations visit ontario.ca/hunting

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