Parc national Kuururjuaq, Nunavik © OutPost

Hunting and fishing

For Québecers, blessed with abundant wildlife, hunting and fishing are more than just sports: they’re a unique opportunity to get back to basics. Outfitters offer accommodations, equipment, guides and other logistical support—in a word, all the amenities needed to facilitate encounters with the large cervids, black bears, wildfowl, small game and fish that inhabit this vast wilderness.

Hunting and fishing zones

Québec is divided into 29 hunting and fishing zones (note that zone 25 is devoted exclusively to fishing). At all times, hunters and anglers must abide by the rules and requirements that apply to the zone they are in.

Québec has more than 600 outfitters, businesses specialized in organizing hunting and fishing getaways.

White-tailed deer

Deer hunting generally takes place between September and November, based on hunting zone and type of weapon. The hands-down dream destination is Île d’Anticosti (7,940-km2), whose incredible deer population draws hunters from all over North America and Europe.

Moose

The male moose is crowned with magnificent antlers that can measure up to 1.60 m  in width. Moose hunting takes place in the fall (September–October), with expeditions consisting of two to four participants, depending on the zone. Bag limits are also determined by zone, with one moose allowed per two, three or sometimes four hunters. Moose are particularly numerous in Gaspésie.

Caribou

Québec is home to two great caribou herds, the Rivière aux Feuilles herd and the Rivière George herd. These massive groups move in columns in a constant circular migration that takes them across Québec’s Nunavik and Eeyou Istchee Baie-James regions. Non-residents interested in hunting north of the 52nd parallel are required to use the services of an outfitter.

White-tailed deer, Île d'Anticosti © TQ/J. Schell
Caribou, Nunavik © TQ/H. Wittenborn
Moose, Gaspésie © TQ/J.-P. Huard

The black bear, very common across Québec, is subject to both a spring (May–June) and fall (September–October) hunt. These remarkable hunts take place on grounds carefully prepared by outfitters who lay bear bait. Hunters aim for their targets from a hide… that is, unless a rare chance encounter should occur!

The black bear at a glance

Superb runners, climbers and swimmers, black bears spend the winter in a den that they carefully chose in the fall. This hibernation lets them avoid the fight for survival that most mammals face in winter. Adult males, stocky and massive, weigh about 80 kg, although they’ve been known to weigh up to 160 kg. Females are much smaller and on average weigh no more than 60 kg.

Black bear, Laurentides © TQ/Gignac

A wide variety of dabbling and diving ducks, including the mallard and teal, stop by Québec's lakes and rivers before embarking on their fall migration. Duck hunting is practised from the shore or nearby. In forests, hunters will encounter partridge and grouse, prized for their tasty meat. These birds thrive near lakes or streams, as does the hare, an animal whose coat whitens shortly before the first snows fall. In Northern Québec, hunters can go ptarmigan hunting as well.

Snow geese and Canada geese

Immense flocks of snow geese make migratory stopovers on the shores of the St. Lawrence, primarily between Cap-Tourmente, Montmagny and Lac Saint-Pierre. The Canada goose, a favourite among hunters, can also be seen in this area. These birds are hunted from concealed enclosures, in the fall during periods established in line with regulations governing the hunting of migratory birds. A spring snow goose hunt is also permitted, under certain conditions.

Canada goose, Réserve faunique Mastigouche, Mauricie © TQ/J. Fiset
Hare, Duplessis © TQ/C. Ritchie
Spruce grouse, Gaspésie © TQ/J.-P. Huard

Québec is blessed with over 60 rivers where Atlantic salmon can be fished. These rivers are found mainly on the maritime coast of the St. Lawrence in the Côte-Nord, Charlevoix, Gaspésie and Bas-Saint-Laurent regions. They’re managed by outfitters holding exclusive rights, wildlife reserves boasting 500 km of salmon rivers and ZECs (controlled harvesting zones) whose salmon rivers cover close to 1,300 km.

Salmon at a glance

Many anglers will tell you with the greatest authority that salmon fishing between July and August is the only type of fishing worthy of the name. Atlantic salmon, caught only by fly fishing on some of Québec's prettiest rivers, is a precious resource, protected and controlled to ensure its survival. Fishing for Atlantic salmon takes a special permit.

Salmon fishing, Petite rivière Cascapédia, Gaspésie © TQ/P. Laramée
Fly fishing, Rivière Saint-Jean, Gaspésie © TQ/ P. Laramée
Salmon, Duplessis © TQ/J. Schell

The number one favourite among sport fishers in Québec is the yellow walleye, which can be fished virtually year-round. Equally common is the northern pike, a thrilling quarry to try and snag. The large- and small-mouth bass are found in lakes and rivers with low currents. Several other species inhabit Québec's large water bodies, including the sturgeon and the muskellunge.

Salmonids

The ouananiche or landlocked salmon is as feisty and delicious as its Atlantic cousin. Favouring clear, cold waters, the brook trout is abundant in Québec, particularly in the Lanaudière and Laurentides regions. Better adapted to a northern climate, the Arctic char is found almost exclusively in Québec's Far North regions and is enjoyed by Inuit. Rainbow trout, along with brown or sea trout, can reach a very respectable weight and are just as tasty. Lake trout, a powerful fighting fish, thrives in cold lakes and dives deep as the temperature climbs.

Walleye, Montérégie © TQ/P. Campeau,