Regions restrict deer hunting to save young bucks
MRCs in the Outaouais are striving to preserve local deer populations, in an effort to guarantee the future of hunting in the region.
MRC des Collines-de-l’Outaouais Prefect Marc Carrière said that in order to guarantee a more balanced male-female ratio for white-tailed deer, the MRC needs to restrict hunters from killing young, male deer.
“The problem is that there are fewer and fewer large males. Hunters are shooting male deer too young,” said Carrière.
“What biologists say is that we should have a ratio of two males per three females in Quebec. But in the Outaouais, there seems to be one male per seven to 10 females.”
The Council of Mayors of the MRC des Collines passed a resolution on Sept. 15 to ask the Ministry of the Faune, des Forêts et des Parc (MFFP) for new regulations that would restore deer populations.
Before the vote was passed, Carrière consulted with hunters in the MRC — most of whom agree that restrictions are necessary to preserve the longevity of the sport. A 2020 proposal by Unis pour la Faunt (UPF) guided this MRC vote. In the said proposal, the UPF explained that the purpose of these measures is to “provide a more liberal harvest [...] to all hunters.”
Some hunters in the Outaouais, like long-time Low resident Michel Charon, see this regulation as a necessary sacrifice to preserve the future of the sport.
The MRC de la Vallée-de-la-Gatineau is also petitioning the province to enforce tighter hunting laws that would protect young male deer.
Charon hunts for sport on his Lac de la Marche property. During the first couple of weeks in November – rifle hunting season – Charon hunts white-tailed deer with a group of six friends.
On Oct. 21, Charon sat in his mountain-top hunting cabin and looked through a small window surrounded by pictures of his grandchildren. Through this window, he points his barrel at unsuspecting deer during hunting season.
Charon said he supports more hunting restrictions to preserve future deer populations.
Charon also explained that limited hunting is a part of his hunting ethos. If government were to impose new restrictions, he said it wouldn’t affect his practices.
“We’re six guys that hunt together, but after we get two deer, we stop,” explained Charon, who has been hunting in Low for 50 years. “We’re not here to destroy the forest; first and foremost, we’re here for the sport.”
What Charon said he is worried about is the length of the hunting season.
“What I find deplorable with the law is that those who hunt with guns need to make the sacrifices. Those who use bows and arrows can hunt whenever they want,” he said, referring to the fact that bow hunters can hunt for three months in the year.
In hunting zone 10 West – which includes the MRC des Collines-de-l’Outaouais and the MRC de la Vallée-de-la-Gatineau – the 2022 hunting season for white-tailed deer spans three months but is divided into three hunting periods: bow and crossbow hunting from Oct. 1 to Oct. 14; then, shotgun and muzzle-loading firearm hunters can join the crossbow and bow hunters from Oct. 15 to Oct. 19. Finally, those who hunt with rifles can join the rest of the hunters in the final hunting period of the year, Nov. 5 to 20.
“If you want to hunt ‘a la Robinhood’, that’s fine with me. But those hunters should start at the same time as everyone else — at the start of November to the third week of the month, and that’s it,” said Charon.
In addition to preserving the longevity of the sport, hunting is economically viable for the province.
According to Quebec’s white-tailed deer management plan for 2020-2027, hunting in the province generates $100 million, while creating 1,000 jobs.