Since the days of the voyageurs, northwestern Ontario’s Thunder Bay has served as a key conduit between Eastern Canada and the vast western lands, and it continues to fulfill this role. Created through the amalgamation of Fort William and Port Arthur in 1970, the modern city also serves as the regional business hub. But it’s the abundant wildlife at Thunder Bay’s doorstep that makes it truly attractive to hunters.
Roughly half of Ontario’s population of some 100,000 moose dwell in the northwestern part of the province, that sparsely populated expanse of Precambrian rock and forest that stretches from the western end of Lake Superior to Manitoba. White-tailed deer, meanwhile, thrive in the farmlands and acreages around Thunder Bay, although it’s in the rugged backcountry where you’ll find the bigbodied, heavy-antlered bucks.
Black bears are also numerous, with 30 to 50 bruins per 100 square kilometres of God’s country. And—mum’s the word—there’s exceptional field hunting for Canada geese and mallards just west of the city limits. Grouse are plentiful as well, and this is about as far west as you can go and still get in a good day of woodcock hunting during the October flights.
Most of the big-box stores are represented in Thunder Bay, many in conjunction with one of the city’s half-dozen shopping malls. Shops that cater exclusively to hunters include D&R Sporting Goods and Riverside Outdoors.