Fall is a busy time for hunting on Manitoulin Island! It is important to take aim at COVID-19 by preventing its spread. Here how to stay safe and make the most of your hunting experience during the pandemic.
NOTE: Due to rising COVID-19 cases in the province, Ontario’s Medical Officer of Health is urging everyone to limit trips outside of home for only essential purposes like work, school, groceries, medical appointments and outdoor physical activity. In addition, travel to other regions of Ontario — especially those areas with high rates of COVID-19 transmission to places with low COVID-19 transmission rates — should only be for essential purposes as well. Please keep this in mind before deciding to go hunting.
Hunting and COVID-19 Prevention
Before You Go
- Do not put other hunters or individuals at risk. If you’re sick with COVID-19 symptoms, stay home and self-isolate. Use Ontario’s online COVID-19 Self-Assessment tool to see what to do next or call the Health Unit at 1-866-522-9200
- If going to a hunt camp, follow any travel advisories. Before going out, also consider COVID-19 transmission rates in the area where you want to hunt.
- Ensure physical distancing on the drive to the hunt camp/site. Stick to 2 people per vehicle. The second person should sit in the back, passenger-side seat to ensure proper distance from the driver. Masks should also be worn on the trip. The only exception to this 2-person limit is if travelling in the same vehicle with people from your own household.
- Pack supplies to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Take soap, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, face coverings/masks, and cleaning/disinfectant supplies.
At Your Hunting Site/Hunt Camp
- Keep hunting groups at one camp to 10 people or less to comply with Ontario’s indoor gathering limits. The exception would be if people can divide into groups of 10 or less, each with its separate accommodations such as tents, trailers, or separate buildings (and each of which would have its own specific indoor gathering limit). In this case, the maximum number of people allowed on the entire camp property would be up to 25 people (as per Ontario’s limit on outdoor gatherings). **NOTE: The Township recognizes that this advice is, in some cases, inconsistent with existing prohibitions on tents/trailers. This is a compromise, for this hunting season only, to support everyone’s best efforts to protect themselves, their friends, family and community, from COVID-19.
- Keep your distance from others. While camp life is often communal, try to maintain 2 metres (6 feet) from other hunters who are outside your household.
- Bring your own tent/trailer in which to sleep and cook. This reduces your exposure to others.
- If physical distancing isn’t possible, wear face coverings/masks. This applies at camp or in hunting blinds (especially if enclosed).
- Socialize outdoors rather than inside buildings. Being outdoors reduces the spread of COVID-19.
- Avoid buffet-style meals. Have people prepare/cook their own meals, ideally in their own tent/trailer. If eating a meal together, have one person make/serve the meal and have them wear a face covering while doing so.
- Regularly wash your hands with soap and water. If you don’t have access to soap, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Sneeze and cough into your sleeve.
- Clean and disinfect common and high-touch surfaces at the camp.
- Do not share hunting gear/equipment or personal items (e.g. cigarettes, drinks, cutlery). It’s best to only use your own items.
- Track the names and contact information of people in your hunting party, just in case contact tracing is needed should someone get COVID-19.
- NOTE: Conservation Officers with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry have the power to enforce and issue fines for breaches of COVID-19 gathering limits and other rules.
If someone develops one or more symptoms of COVID-19 while hunting, have a plan to communicate with the group and have the individual self-isolate immediately. Call the Health Unit at 1.866.522.9200, for further direction. Contact 911 if symptoms are severe.
Hunting Safety Rules
- All hunters must wear solid hunter orange clothing (minimum 400 square inches above the waist) and a hunter orange head cover during gun seasons for deer, moose and elk. Outside the gun season for deer, moose and elk, these requirements also apply to bear hunters who are not hunting from a tree stand.
- Handle firearms with care and attention at all times.
- Never shoot unless you are absolutely sure of your target and what lies beyond it.
- It’s illegal to shoot from a vehicle or carry a loaded firearm in or on a vehicle.
- It is illegal to discharge a firearm from or across the travelled portion of a right of way for public vehicular traffic.
- Never drink alcohol and hunt.
- If you hunt from a tree stand, always wear a safety harness and use a rope to raise and lower your unloaded firearm.
General Safety Tips
- Tell someone where you will be hunting and when you will be returning.
- Know the weather conditions in your hunting area and dress accordingly.
- In an emergency, stay calm and stay put.
- Avoid hypothermia. Know how to treat it if it strikes.
- Keep rested, hydrated and well-nourished.
- Carry a survival kit and a small first aid kit with you at all times.
- Know how to build a fire in all weather conditions and carry the supplies to start one.
- Carry a map and compass or GPS unit and know how to use them.