A deer camouflaged in a field of tall grass.

Crown Land hunting in Ontario

A deer camouflaged in a field of tall grass.

Crown Land in Ontario, Canada offers some great hunting opportunities. 

Background on Crown Land 

Crown Land is the name for all land owned by the federal or provincial government. The name Crown Land is still used today, as Canada is part of the British Commonwealth. The term Crown Land in essence means Public Land.

Crown Land in Canada represents about 89% of Canada’s land area, almost 9 million sq km. Approximately 41% is federal Crown Land, 48% is provincial Crown Land and the remaining is privately owned. Only 4% of the federal Crown Land is in the provinces, and Ontario is one of those provinces. Crown Land provides the country and the provinces with most of their profits from natural resources, mostly provincial, rented for logging and mineral exploration rights. Revenues flow to the relevant government and may constitute a major income stream. Crown Land may also be rented by individuals wishing to build homes or cottages.

The vast majority, 87%, of Ontario is Crown Land, of which 95% is in northern Ontario. It's managed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and is used for economic development, tourism and recreation.

Crown Land hunting in Ontario

So, what does all of that mean to you as a tourist? It differs depending on what you want to hunt. 

If you are coming to hunt bear or moose and you are not a Canadian resident, you cannot hunt on Crown Land. You must book with an Ontario outfitter or accommodation that offers bear or moose tags.

Non-resident deer hunters are permitted to hunt on Crown Land and are therefore not required to use the services of an outfitter, nor are they obliged to hunt with an immediate relative.

If you are looking to hunt deer or some smaller game, continue reading.

Step 1

Make sure to check on the hunting regulations to ensure you are booking your camping dates that coincide with the season for hunting. Download hunting regulations.

Step 2

If you are looking for an opportunity on Crown Land, you will need a non-resident camping permit to camp on Crown Land north of the French and Mattawa rivers, unless otherwise prohibited. You can camp for up to 21 days in a calendar year on the same site. You do not need a permit if you:

  • rent a camping unit (e.g. tent, trailer, etc.) from a person who conducts business in Ontario
  • own property in Ontario (or your spouse owns property in Ontario)
  • carry out duties as part of employment in Canada 
  • stay on watercraft equipped for overnight accommodation, anchored over provincial Crown Land covered by water (stays are limited to 21 days)
  • are a charitable or non-profit group that is authorized by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) to camp (to confirm eligibility, call 1-855-613-4256 well in advance of your trip)

Step 3

The next step would be to select areas where you would like to camp. Please make sure prior to purchasing your permit that your chosen areas do indeed allow hunting. To research land usage for Crown Land your best option is the Ontario Crown Land Use Policy Atlas. This tool contains area-specific land use policy for Crown Lands in central and northern Ontario. This area represents more than 39 million hectares of land and water. Taking into account that 1 hectare is 1.8 football fields, imagine the size. The Atlas allows users to view Crown Land use area boundaries and create maps for a variety of purposes, including recreational. Before you hunt leased land, you must receive permission from the leaseholder to hunt on that land, and you cannot camp on leased Crown Land.

If you are unsure if a property is Crown Land or owned, it is your responsibility to find out if someone owns the land you wish to hunt on and to determine if entry is prohibited or certain activities like hunting are prohibited. If unsure, stay out. If a wounded animal runs onto private property where notice has been given that entry is prohibited or certain activities like hunting have been prohibited, you must seek permission to retrieve the animal.

Of note, the Atlas is being expanded to include southern Ontario and far North community-based land use plans Bookmark the Atlas and visit often to find even more opportunities in the future.

Step 4

Beginning November 2023, all new and existing users must have a My Ontario Account to access the registry.  You will no longer be able to use ONe-Key authentication to sign in. 

Please read the Natural Resources Registration Guide to learn how to create your My Ontario Account and a Natural Resources Registry Profile.   

Once you create a profile, start a new submission and choose Non-Resident Camping Permit(s) Crown Land Camping Permits for camping on Crown land, non-operating provincial parks and conservation reserves. 

Carry your permit with you anytime you are camping. 

Step 5

Print your permit (which you received via email) and carry it with you while camping. Be sure what you print is not confirmation of application or payment, it should be the actual permit.

Of special note: you must be able to show your permit to an officer if requested.

The officers in Ontario are known as Conservation Officers. Ontario’s Conservation Officers work for the MNRF (Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry) and they enforce laws related to natural resources in Ontario, including wildlife, sport and commercial fishing, hunting, and Crown Lands and forests.

A major part of a Conservation Officer’s job is education which will ensure that hunters, anglers, campers and other members of the public know about the laws governing Ontario’s natural resources.

When people break the laws, Conservation Officers can lay charges and will collect physical evidence. They routinely patrol both provincial and federal Crown Land as well as private land. Conservation Officers are the only Ontario Public Service staff that carry a sidearm. They do critical front line work that protects Ontario’s natural resources, and they face the same risks as other peace officers who enforce the law. These officers are a very important piece of our Crown Land teams that protect these natural resources that Ontario is so well known for.

Step 6

You also need to take care of the essential steps to hunt in the province of Ontario. As a non-resident of Ontario, you will need:

  1. an Outdoors Card
  2. hunter accreditation on file with the Fish and Wildlife Licensing Service
  3. all required hunting licences and tags for the game you wish to hunt

For your Outdoors Card you must submit your hunter accreditation by contacting the Natural Resources Information Support Centre prior to visiting Ontario, or visit a licence issuer or participating Service Ontario before purchasing hunting products online.

Purchase your licence and tag for deer.

Step 7

Planning on bringing a firearm or bow across the border? Click here to learn about preparing to cross the border.

Ontario is home to over 250,000 lakes, 39 million hectares of Crown Land and an unlimited amount of opportunity for you to come and visit and enjoy what we have to offer. 

So, plan your stay and travel safely.

Last updated: May 24, 2024

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