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How to Become a Hunting & Fishing Guide in Ontario, Canada

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Although there are no formal educational requirements to become a hunting or fishing guide in Ontario, that doesn't mean that just anyone can do the job. You still need to have the right licenses, and most guides have years of recreational experience in fishing or hunting. Nevertheless, if you genuinely have the aptitude for the outdoors required for success in this career, getting licensed won't be difficult and you'll already have the hunting or fishing experience you need to get started.

Get Your Ontario Outdoors Card and Tags

Decide what kind of trips you want to lead--hunting trips, fishing trips or both. Knowing your plans in advance will help you decide which licenses you need to purchase and keep you from spending money on permissions you don't need.

Take the Ontario Hunter Education Course if you're interested in leading hunting groups. When you apply for a hunting license, you'll need to present proof that you've taken the course and passed the final exam.

Sign up for the Canadian Firearms Safety Course if you want to lead hunting groups that use firearms. If you only plan to hunt without guns, you don't need to take the course according to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Gun hunters need to present proof that they've taken the firearms course and passed its exam before the Ontario government will issue licenses permitting firearm-based hunting.

Apply for an Outdoors Card and for the tags you need, based on the kinds of hunting and fishing that you want to do. Depending on what tags you need, you may need to send a mail-in application, visit a ServiceOntario Centre or go to an Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources office.

Educate Yourself and Get Hired

Make sure that you know the hunting seasons and laws for the type of game that you want to hunt. Ontario changes these rules from year to year, so review the laws that affect you before the regularly scheduled hunting season begins.

Think about where you have the most hunting and fishing experience, and contact lodges and guide businesses that operate in that general area to inquire about potential employment. You can pitch your expertise convincingly if you already know the best spots and techniques from past recreational expeditions. Consider John Butt's Outdoors' professional guides, who each boast extensive fishing and hunting experience in the regions they cover. If you have difficulty finding work, fish or hunt in a concentrated area in your spare time. Visit local lodges, hotels and hunting/fishing hot spots to network with outdoor enthusiasts and market your skills.

Consider formal guide education. Although nothing compares to real experience and first-hand knowledge of the area you want to work in, the Canadian Wilderness Guide School can help you learn customer relations skills, navigational skills and advanced angling techniques to get your foot in the door at the lodge of your choice or tp start your own guide business.


A professional writer since 2006, Colleen Reinhart has held positions in technical writing and marketing. She also writes lifestyle, health and business articles. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Business degree from the University of Waterloo, and a Master's degree in speech-language pathology from the University of Toronto.

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