The call of the wild is undeniable even to modern humans. Hunting is a primal way for humans to continue engaging with the wilderness. However, there are quite a few game-hunting regulations that modern humans must be aware of.
The Canadian wilderness is vast and diverse and is proportionately rich in fauna. Ontario is home to vast water bodies teeming with fish and a diverse landscape replete with game animals of all sizes.
This article has you all covered about the permit requirements so you can let loose the hunter or angler in you!
1. The Outdoors Card is a Must
To hunt or fish in Ontario, first and foremost you would need to own an ‘Outdoors Card’. The Outdoors Card is a wallet-friendly plastic ID card issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.
The Ministry supports outdoor recreation opportunities, regulates information shared with private companies, and bolsters the resource sector by promoting economic opportunities.
The Outdoors Card and any associated licence is non-transferable. The conservation officers and other officials use it for administrative purposes.
Additionally, to hunt or fish, you would need to buy fishing and hunting licences that offer different validity periods depending on your requirements. Read more on this in the Fishing and Hunting Licence section.
If you buy these additional licences at the same time you purchase/renew the Outdoors Card, your card will have these licences printed on the back.
1.1. Who Needs the Outdoors Card?
Generally, anyone who wants to hunt or fish in Ontario needs an Outdoors Card and licence to fish/hunt with them.
- Ontario and Canadian residents
- Non-Canadian resident (neither an Ontario resident nor a Canadian), and
- Apprentice hunters- Only Ontario residents aged 12-14 years. They qualify to participate in the Hunter Apprenticeship Safety Program.
1.2. Validity and Renewal
The Outdoors Card is valid for three calendar years and expires on December 31st of the designated expiring year, after which you need to renew. Each year, the renewal window commences on the first Tuesday of December.
1.2.1. Where to Update or Buy?
The Outdoors Card can be bought/renewed at:
- Online: at Fish and Wildlife Licensing Service Account
- Via phone: 1-800-288-1155
- In-person: with a hunting and fishing licence issuer or
- At a participating Service Ontario location
Tip: Remember to save the Licence Summary in digital format on your smartphone or laptop when buying online.
1.2.2. Requirements to Update/Buy
To update or buy your Outdoors Card, you would need your demographic information like date of birth, biological information, mailing and residential address.
To update the name and address on your valid Outdoors Card, notify the Fish and Wildlife Licensing Service. Remember to contact them within ten days of the change.
1.2.3. Cost and Delivery
An Outdoors Card costs $8.57 +HST for renewing, buying or replacing a stolen Outdoors Card, payable either by credit or debit card of Visa or Mastercard. After they get the plastic card mailed to you, you may take up to 20 days to receive it.
Tip: American Express is not accepted for this transaction.
2. Fishing and Hunting Licence
As a rule of thumb, to fish and hunt in Ontario, you would need a fishing and hunting licence in paper or digital format to accompany the Outdoors Card. This applies to all resident statuses.
If you have bought a fishing licence when buying an Ontario outdoor card, then the card will have all your valid fishing licences printed on the back.
2.1. Fishing Licences
A valid Ontario Outdoors Card and licence for fishing is needed to fish in Ontario. Recreational fishing licenses are of two types:
- Sport fishing licence: This allows for normal catch limits. It is meant for anglers who want full privileges for catching and possession of fish.
- Conservation fishing licence: This is for anglers who want to release live fish. It allocates reduced catch limits.
2.1.1. Validity and Renewal of Fishing Licences
Like the Outdoors Card, fishing licences have a calendar year validity and expire on December 31st of the designated expiring year.
The duration of validity of fishing licences varies as follows:
1-year validity (for sport and conservation fishing)
3-year validity (for sport and conservation fishing)
Additionally, you may also opt for a fishing licence for a shorter duration:
- One day sport fishing licence
- Eight-day fishing licence validity (for sport and conservation fishing), only valid for non-Canadian residents
Tip: For the 1-day licence, both Canadians and non-Canadian residents won’t need to buy the Outdoors Card.
You may purchase, update, or renew your fishing licenses from participating licence issuers or online (see above). The requirements are the same as well.
2.1.2. Fee for Fishing Licence
In addition to purchasing the Outdoors Card, there is an additional fishing licence fee with an incremental rate depending on the duration of its validity.
2.1.3. Who Does Not Need a Fishing Licence?
Are you under 18 years of age? Hurray! All resident status may fish within the waters of Ontario without a licence. The same applies to Canadian residents who are 65 or older. Carry a government-issued ID card at the time of fishing.
However, non-Canadian residents under 18 must be accompanied by an adult possessing an Outdoors Card and a valid licence for fishing. All catch is part of the limit mentioned in the licence summary. You may get allocated with your limits to fish by obtaining your card and licence.
2.2. Hunting Licences
Generally, Ontario allows hunting only if one is at least 16 years old (15 with parental consent). A valid Outdoors Card and valid hunting licence summary for hunting are required at all times for Ontario residents and non-residents.
Hunting licences are classified as:
Small game licence (like wild turkey, porcupine, fox, etc.)
Big game licence (includes elk, black bear, etc.)
Licence Tag: They also sell tags as a part of a hunting licence for certain game hunting.
Note: A non-Ontario resident needs to avail of a licenced bear operator’s service to hunt black bears.
2.2.1. Validity and Renewal of Hunting Licence
Similar to the Outdoors Card and fishing licences, hunting licences have calendar year validity and expire on December 31st of the designated expiring year. The license periods or hunting tags vary accordingly depending on whether the hunting licence is for small or large game animals.
You may purchase or update/renew your hunting licence and tags using any method for procuring the Outdoors Card (see above). The requirements are the same as well.
220.127.116.11. Age Restrictions
Only Ontario residents between 12 and 14 are eligible for Ontario’s Hunter Apprenticeship Safety Program for small game hunting. They are not eligible for big game hunting.
As the accompanying hunting accreditation, you may present proof of your passing the Hunting Licence Examination or an Ontario Hunting Licence Verification Certificate showing an Ontario licence to hunt was issued to you.
18.104.22.168. Additional Information for Non-Resident Hunters
Plan well ahead for hunting seasons by emailing the appropriate hunter accreditation to NRISC@ontario.ca, which would take about 15 business days to process.
Alternatively, submit in person at participating locations of Service Ontario or the licence issuer (see links above). This option allows you to go hunting immediately after that.
An appropriate hunter accreditation includes a hunting licence issued to you by a competent authority as a resident after January 1st, 1968, or a hunter education certificate issued in the same year. Learn more about hunting licences for non-residents on the Ontario government’s website.
Also, have your federal firearms accreditation documentation ready when applying as a non-resident of Ontario.
2.2.2. Fee for Hunting Licences
In addition to purchasing the Outdoors Card, there is an additional hunting licence fee for Canadian residents and a significantly higher price range for non-residents of Ontario. The fee also varies for which game you want to hunt.
I have not received my Outdoors Card, and it is past the expected date for arrival. What should I do?
Log into your Fish and Wildlife Licensing Service Account and recheck your entered information. You may also call the Natural Resources Information and Support Center at the Client Services Section Fish and Wildlife Services Branch Ministry at 1-800-387-7011.
I am expecting my Outdoors Card to arrive soon. Can I go hunting before it comes?
While waiting for your card to arrive, you may carry the Licence Summary you received when purchasing the Outdoors Card for going out to fish or hunt. Both digital and hardcopy formats are accepted.
Where can I know more about big game hunting in Ontario?
Check out the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry website to learn about big game hunting requirements, hunt draws, and applying for licences and tags.
What credentials do I need to hunt in Ontario?
Learn how to prepare yourself to be eligible to hunt in Ontario in the Hunter Education webpage of Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry website. Topics like ‘Ontario hunter education course’ and ‘Canadian firearms safety course’ are covered here.
So, How to Update Your Ontario Fishing Hunting and Outdoors Card?
Updating your Ontario Outdoors Card for hunting and fishing can be as exciting as when you got a new one. Simply follow the details given in this article regarding important details, such as the renewal period and procedures to be followed to successfully renew your Outdoors Card.
Don’t miss out on fully enjoying your new Outdoors Card by planning well ahead and buying your fishing and/or hunting licences too!