There are many ways to get into a hunting ground near Toronto or any real city. In my opinion, there are three main ways to obtain it, which I will elaborate below. At the end of the day, my friends don't rely entirely on one approach, even though we now have a small amount of land (which I'll discuss later)
Future articles will describe in more detail the specific types of land you can hunt and how you can get into that land - this is an overview.
Within two hours drive from Toronto, the public hunting area is far beyond people's imagination. These include:
County Lands and Forests, like Simcoe County Forests
Conservation areas that allow hunting, like the Luther Marsh
Provincial Parks that allow hunting, like Presq’uile Provincial Park
Based on your experience in camping and country hiking, some of these options may appeal to you more than others. But you can easily access public land, very cheap. The main resources you need are a computer, a car and, of course, time. There is no substitute for research before you go. The Internet (and Google Maps) is a wonderful thing.
One of the most useful research tools is the crown land use policy Atlas of Ontario, which is completely free of charge and quite accurate. This atlas will show you some details. Crown land is located in Ontario. This tool is your best way to plan crown land travel and will help prevent you from accidentally invading private land.
As you've noticed, most crown land is in Northern Ontario. But, as I mentioned above, we'll discuss some other options in a later article. In some areas, animals are even released (for example, pheasants on some county land). With a little research and planning, you can do a day's hunting near Toronto. Although Ontario does not have a system comparable to that of the United States Bureau of land management, or even the Western provinces, it is still a huge free resource that we, as taxpayers, have the right to enjoy.
Private land owned by strangers
In the search for public hunting land, I noticed how much farmland there was in southern Ontario. Many farmers hunt, or at least respect hunting, and often come into contact with hunting.
So if you politely ask, respect their rules, and usually act pleasantly, some farmers may be willing to let you hunt on their property. It sounds crazy, but knocking is the best way to get in. The worst part is that someone will say no. Be yourself, speak slowly, and don't ask for the best money or where Tom is.
A few years ago, when I was scouting for turkeys in Norfolk County, I saw a large flock of turkeys in a field behind a semi-finished new house. I knocked and a young lady answered. She said her father was not in, but when I explained my request, she gave me his phone number. I called him and asked if I could find him in the back on the day of the start, and he was happy to agree and then provided the basic rules.
At the end of the day, the best way is to keep everything as it is and pretend to be a VIP. Don't litter, don't drive across the fields, and try to reduce noise and gunfire. It is important not to bring more people than the landlord expected.
The second effective way is to find farms on the Internet. Some farmers have their phone numbers on the website, and some even have a tag or link to their hunting policy. These farmers are usually very approachable and welcome hunters to help reduce the number of people who destroy crops or livestock. One of my suggestions is to provide your services as a predator hunter. It's good to harvest a big Tom, but most farmers don't want coyotes to eat their chickens or sheep, so they take the initiative to help control the numbers.
Social network access
Now you probably have the right to enter private territory to hunt, but you don't know it exists at all. Sometimes it's obvious, sometimes it's not obvious at all. It took a good friend of mine two years to realize that a family friend would allow her to hunt on a holiday estate in rural Ontario. Now he can find good Turkey hunters an hour's drive from downtown Toronto.
So, how to access his social network? Talk to people. Tell them you've started hunting. The word spread quickly, and before you knew it, someone would break in and say, "My uncle's farm is full of deer, you might hunt," or "I didn't know you were hunting. My father likes hunting, and I'll let him take you out.".
Sometimes, the connection is even closer to home. Many mountain people own or have the right to enter the hut. Usually, there are animals on that land, just don't expect it to be hunting. Maybe you can only find squirrels to hunt, it doesn't matter. Squirrel meat is delicious. It's a very interesting way of hunting. Or, next to your hut, there's a lot of crown land, where the deer are quite indifferent. It's a great opportunity to enter the hunt without having to go north or pay to guide the deer. Yes, there will be a lot of trial and error, and most of it will be space, but it will be fun and challenging. When you finally harvest an animal, it will be very rewarding.
Over the past three years, I've been constantly surprised at how much contact I have, how much I have to hunt and be outdoors, I didn't realize. I'm also impressed by the generosity of strangers, so never forget to say thank you to your host. A bottle of wine or Bourbon is usually a great gift to keep drinking for years. Even if you can get in, don't think you'll have it forever. Take every trip and outing as a gift and never take it for granted.