Rifle season on Manitoulin Island opens this Monday

MANITOULIN—Rifle season for deer opens this upcoming Monday, November 21 on Manitoulin Island and runs until Sunday, November 27.

While many hunters have already been to their camp this fall preparing for the hunt or bow hunting, many others will be arriving this weekend.

This year there are two exciting buck contests on the Island. The first is the long running Bridal Veil Esso contest which is open to individuals and hunt camps on the Island. Hunters bring in their field dressed deer to be weighed to vie for the biggest buck and doe. Proceeds raised from the event go towards local charities.

The contest began in 1991 by owners Dave and Sharon Montgomery.

New this year, the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) and the Township of Assiginack have partnered to host a deer contest.

The organizers are asking hunters to bring in their does, buck or fawns for the purpose of collecting data. All entries will be entered into a draw for each of the three categories of buck, doe and fawn and a $100 cash prize will be awarded to a winner in each division.

The contest will start on Tuesday, November 22 and run until Thursday, November 24 from 7 to 9 pm at White’s Shell garage.

Hats for Hides will also be running throughout the week at the Old Dump Road in M’Chigeeng from 8 am to 5 pm. Call Dominic Bebonang at 705-377-4130 for more information.

The MNRF and College Boreal are again partnering to conduct a deer check station.

“The check station, which has been operated every second year since 2006, will be open from Wednesday, November 23 to Saturday, November 26 from 9 am to 5 pm at the Espanola Mall parking lot,” said Wayne Selinger of the MNRF. “The check station provides valuable data regarding the age/sex structure of the harvest and the condition of harvested animals. Hunters are encouraged to participate. There will also be a chronic wasting disease (CWD) sampling crew at the check station. The target sample size is 460 white-tails pooled across wildlife management units 36, 43 A (Manitoulin), 43 B (Manitoulin), 44 and 45.”

“The deer population in Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) 43A is considered to be stable, with a slight population increase noted between 2010 and 2015,” continued Mr. Selinger. “In WMU 43B populations have been slowly increasing since 2011. Winter 2016 was very mild which should have made for good fawn recruitment this year. Recognizing the need to balance deer abundance with agricultural impacts, antlerless tag allocations were increased from 250 to 400 tags in WMU 43A and from 3,500 to 4,500 tags in WMU 43B for 2016.”

There are also CWD depot stations set up on Manitoulin at Manitoulin Streams in Manitowaning and the Bridal Veil Esso in Kagawong, which started during bow season on Manitoulin in early October.

The deer heads are placed into bags, labeled and placed into a freezer which will be picked up and sent to Guelph for sampling for CWD. When the hunter brings in the deer head they will fill out a form with information about where they harvested the deer and they will received a crest in exchange

Larissa Nituch, senior wildlife research technician with the MNRF, said that the location of the CWD surveillance program varies each year based on a number of factors and was last held here in 2008.

“There is no evidence that CWD is present in Ontario or on Manitoulin, but it is an important program to ensure that it isn’t,” said Ms. Nituch.

She told The Expositor on Monday that the heads on Manitoulin have not been collected yet, but will be following rifle season and tested for CWD.

Have a safe and happy hunting week.