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Joined: 09/15/2009
Posts: 3
Brand New to Hunting

I am planning on taking up hunting and I need to know what I need to do it. I would like to hunt big game like bears, deer, and moose to eat and to mount the heads. Obviously I need a rifle, what are some good beginner's rifles? I do have experience with guns like assault rifles, light machine guns, and general purpose machine guns. Also, what licenses and permits do I need? Any tips or suggestions for good hunting locations or recommendations for good butchers? I am in Southern Ontario.

saskie's picture
Location: West Carleton, Ottawa, Canada
Joined: 12/23/2002
Posts: 1264
Brand New to Hunting

First of all - Welcome to the site.

Not sure what you may have already, but what you need to hunt in Ontario is:

1. Pass the Canadian Firearm Safety Course. This will allow you to get your firearm licence (Possesion and Acquisition Licence or PAL - often still referred to by its old name the FAC). No, military TOETs don't count. Sorry.

No PAL is required to hunt with a Crossbow or bow.

2. In Ontario you have to pass the OFAH Hunter Education course. If you can prove (from an old licence or course certificate) that you have hunted previously or taken a course in another province or state you can challenge the exam (its not that hard). If you have no experience, you have to take the course. This will let you get your Hunters Outdoors Card (it's different from the fishing version if you already have one of those)

3. You need a licence for the species you wish to hunt. Deer licences are sold over the counter at most sporting goods and hardware stores. Antlerless deer (doe tags) are by draw only, and that's closed for the year. Only certain wildlife management zones allow moose or bear hunting (they're listed in the regulations guide). Calf moose tags are sold over the counter, adult moose (cow or bull) are by draw, which is also closed for the year. Bear (where permitted) is over the counter.

4. Then you're good to go - just find a spot, being mindful not to trepass on private land without permission. Crown land maps are available at all MNR offices and (I think) ServiceOntario outlets.

As for best rifles...that debate will rage forever and to be honest the list is almost endless. Almost any rifle calibred above a .243 can work. (In Ontario there's no "minimum" calibre size like most other provinces, but it has to be a centrefire rifle, which imposes a practical lower limit of sorts at .223 (5.56mm).

Since you specifically mentioned Southern Ontario, be aware that most zones in S Ont only allow hunting with a shotgun, muzzloader or bow due to the population density. Before you fork over the cash for a rifle, have an idea which zones you'll be hunting in and make sure that it allows rifle hunting.

More important that the rifle is the shooter - any animal with a bullet in its heart is a dead animal. This especially relevent since unless you are extremely lucky with the draws deer will be what you'll probably end up hunting the most. With larger game, it is desireable to have a rifle with enough punch to get through the shoulder bones and into the vitals if you're off your mark by a smidge. Being a good shot is more important than having a good rifle 99% of the time. Get one that you can shoot well and practice, practice, practice.

That being said the 30/06 is almost universally acknowledged as the best all-around calibre, especially since you have experience with weapons and (I'm assuming) know how to manage recoil. I don't care what anyone says - a 30/06 kicks.

Other popular choices in the "all-around" category are .270, .303 British, .308, any of the 7mm family, and .300 Mag.

If you end up having to go the shotgun/muzzleloader route, 12ga is highly reccomended, and if you plan on doing a lot of hunting big game, its well worth the money to get a dedicated slug gun. Muzzleloaders are great, but make sure you either get a good instructional guide or have someone teach you how to use them properly.

Modern ones (inline, 209 primed) are easy as pie to maintain and shoot, but they definitely are more labour intensive than a rifle.

Have fun.

Here's some useful links:




Joined: 04/20/2009
Posts: 29
Brand New to Hunting

Another thing to consider is to maybe go hunting with a buddy or someone who has some experience until you are comfortable with going it alone. This will help shorten the learning curve for you.
It's not just pint and shot then off you go. Take your time and you'll be surprised how and what you pick up on. Always be safe for your sake and others.

Good Luck and enjoy what mother nature has to offer.