So, as I said a few posts ago, I’ve been thinking about fishing, having bought a new rod and reel. With the weather getting warmer, I’ve been looking forward to using my flexible time to hit the road and maybe go up to my favorite Crown Land site to do some fishing.
I figured that I should check out the fishing license requirements, so I went on line and was surprised to find that between the new “Outdoor Card” and the actual fishing license, I’d probably have to pay around $35 to be allowed to go fishing in Ontario. The idea of grabbing a pole and heading out into the bush is tightly monitored by regulations, and you have to pay the government for the privilege. Not only that, but when looking at the regulations for when fishing is allowed for certain fish, I found a book with two dozen fishing zones each have a dozen pages of regulation telling you when you can fish for a particular species, how big it has to be and how many you are allowed to catch. The regulation vary over zones, and each zone has half a dozen pages of exceptions where the regulations are stipulated by a particular lake or river. Thankfully they don’t require you to take a course, but careful study of the document (and probably keeping the document with you when you go on a trip) is really necessary if you’re going to do it by the book. The regulations depending on species, location and time of year combine to make thousands of possible variations.
I’ve been in love with the outdoors for over 40 years. I’ve probably spent close to a thousand days camping, hiking or canoeing. I’ve introduced hundreds of youth to natural beauty and outdoor skills. In all those years for some reason I never involved myself in fishing or hunting. Now that things are winding down and I have more time for myself I have begun educating myself in those areas, and I’m beginning to realize why I never bothered with them before.
If I were to purchase a gun for hunting purposes, aside from the hundreds of dollars in courses and licenses to just purchase a firearm, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the regulations are even more complex and stringent for hunting. Not to mention the fact that you need at least one hunting course (and in many cases more than one) to hunt, plus tags for the animal you may be hunting. Even after going through all of that, for some species you still have to be part of a lottery system, and you may not receive permission to hunt at all. The cost for many people would be outside their means.
If you purchased a .22 rifle and just wanted to shoot at targets, there’s no easy way to do that either. Most municipalities have by-laws prohibiting the discharge of firearms within their boundaries. If you go beyond municipalities into Crown Land for example, then you can be stopped at any time and charged if you have a firearm that is not permitted for hunting anything that is in season. The assumption is that if you are carrying a firearm and not properly licensed for hunting, you’re poaching. So taking a few targets out into the middle of nowhere and practicing your shooting, or calibrating your gun, is not an option. Doing it on your own property in almost all cases is not an option.
The only real option is to join a gun club, which often costs you about $500 – $700 a year plus the initial membership levy. And once again, you’re not guaranteed to be accepted. If they have a high membership in a particular year, or just don’t like you, they don’t have to accept you.
So I thought I’d take my bow and arrow out to practice a little archery. After seeing The Hunger Games, using a bow in a survival situation (and I am a survival instructor) may be the way to go. However, being caught in the bush with a bow is the same as being caught with a gun. They assume you’re poaching and so you can be fined. At least there is no law (yet) saying that I can’t set up an archery target in the back yard of my own property, -well, unless you are in some suburban communities, which do have regulations against that.
So, in despair I decided to take my camera and go for a hike. At least you don’t need licenses and courses in order to take pictures. I’ve always wanted to do a photo study of the Bruce Peninsula part of the Bruce Trail. Some of the scenery on the east coast of the peninsula is spectacular. The problem is that the whole area has been designated as a National Park, so now I’m not allowed to legally camp anywhere other than the crowded public camgrounds. I tried that last Fall and was disgusted when, on Fri. night, an army of drunk high school and college students invaded, staying up and partying loudly all night. Years ago you could hike the Bruce Trail and camp where you wished as you ambled along its length. Now you have to register for specific campsites in advance either on line or by going out of your way to a special office in Tobermory. These campsites are spaced at long intervals, meaning that you can’t take your time in between.
Hell, maybe I’ll just stay home and watch TV.
BY THE WAY, I’M PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE THAT THIS IS POST #500 ON THIS BLOG. I’LL TRY TO COME UP WITH SOME WORTHY COMMENT ABOUT THAT FOR #501.