Winter fun in the great outdoors!

With another winter fishing season well under way, ice anglers are reminded to always keep ice safety as the number one concern.

Winter anglers out on the ice this month should always let someone know where they will be fishing, and when they plan to return. It makes good sense from a safety standpoint! I would also recommend if you travel on our frozen lakes, and rivers with an ATV, snowmobile or passenger vehicle, do not venture far off the beaten path. Too many folks have gone through the ice this winter, especially in Quebec where six snowmobilers plunged to their death, after venturing away from the established trail on massive Lac Saint Jean. Two snowmobilers were pulled to safety from the icy waters in Prince Edward Country last week, and another person was rescued from Rice Lake in the Kawartha Region.

Stories like these reinforce the need for improved vigilance while travelling on the ice, so please be careful this winter.

Proper attire

Appropriate winter clothing and specialized equipment are also good safety measures. Some anglers use heavy survival suits and even carry sets of ice picks, while others go so far as driving modified ‘ice cars’ with the doors and windows removed, in case of an untimely plunge. Tearing-off your car doors is extreme but the point is that ice can crack in a moment’s notice regardless of the conditions. Remember that ice will not freeze at a uniform thickness, especially near at the start of the season where near-shore ice is always thicker than ice further out. Ice over flowing water, or near the presence of springs, is especially dangerous and unstable.

Deer feeding

It has been an enjoyable winter thus far ‘deer-wise’ on my property, one of those rare years when my whitetail herd did not flee with the arrival of January’s snowfall. Observing winter whitetail behaviour is a fascinating pastime. The herd dynamic is different in the colder months than it is the rest of the year; however, a definite hierarchy remains in place. The older, more mature animals eat first leaving the fawns to fend for themselves. Even adult does in a family group take precedent, before allowing their yearling offspring and fawns to feed. I always make sure to have several feed locations available, away from my main feed trough to avoid competition.

Despite what some armchair conservationists might believe, this small-scale supplemental feeding program will not hinder the whitetails’ chance at survival. It is akin to feeding birds at a bird feeder. Most of the whitetail’s winter diet is composed of tree browse. The province of Quebec has even go so far as to ban winter whitetail feeding, with the recent Chronic Wasting disease (CWD) scare. I have hopes that this widespread panic will not make its way into Ontario.

Quebec Outfitters Federation Website

All you hunting and fishing enthusiasts who plan to visit Quebec this year should check out the Quebec Outfitters Federation website. With a full array of camps, cabins and lodges opportunities throughout the province, the Outfitters Federation Site lays-out suitable vacation destinations for whatever outdoor pursuit is your preference. Just across the river, in the Outaouais region alone, there are 31 hunting and fishing outfitters catering to avid sportsmen, and women alike. I have visited several of the Province’s lodges over the years for bear, moose and deer hunting, as well as top angling opportunities. If you are considering a hunting or fishing trip of a lifetime this winter, or spring, visit the Quebec Outfitters Federation (QOF):

Bounder magazine – spring issue

With spring just around the corner, keep an eye out for the spring issue of Bounder Magazine. The popular men’s magazine is available at Stinson’s in Pembroke and many other locations around the Ottawa Valley. For more information on Bounder magazine: