Searching for game
Searching for big game at night
When you have shot a big game animal, you must allow a certain amount of time before starting your search, depending on the part of the animal that was hit.
This allows time for the animal to bleed out. It will often be found dead a few hundred metres from where it was shot. However, your search may have to continue until nightfall, after legal hunting hours.
Please note that the Act respecting the conservation and development of wildlife specifies that no person shall abandon the edible flesh of large game that he or she killed while hunting.
How to search legally for big game at night
The night search for injured large game must comply with certain legal provisions. Therefore, it cannot be done with a projector or with a weapon.
In these circumstances, the use of a portable medium-intensity battery-powered light, such as a flashlight or headlamp, is appropriate. Such a device will allow you to track the injured animal and eventually find it if it is dead or sufficiently weakened to prevent flight. The same type of light fixture should be used when you have to travel at night to get to your hide or hunting camp.
If, during the search, you realize that the animal is fleeing ahead of you, you must wait again. In this case, you should note where you last saw signs of the animal’s passage and turn back, even if this means waiting for sunrise to resume the search at the site.
If a search must continue after the end of the hunting time, the same principle applies: the search must be conducted without weapons.
Using a dog to locate an injured big game animal
You may have difficulty finding a big game animal that you have shot, or worse, you may have to abandon your search because the injured animal has not left sufficient traces for you to follow it.
In Québec, it is possible to use dogs to find big wounded game whose hunter has lost its track. These animals, called bloodhounds, are specially trained in this role and are accompanied by reknowned handlers.
What the Act and regulations say
The Act respecting the conservation and development of wildlife now provides a framework for the search for injured game while hunting with a bloodhound. A pilot project will document the activities of bloodhound handlers (in French only) and develop new regulations that will govern the search and killing of injured game.
It should be noted that the Act prohibits the use of dogs in areas where large game is found. A dog used to find injured game must therefore always be kept on a lead rope.
In addition, a dog used in a search is not roaming, because it is following its master’s orders to perform a specific task, i.e. finding a big game animal that has been injured and is probably dead. Consequently, a dog trained for this purpose may be used in these circumstances.
The Hunting Regulations specify that hunting with dogs is only permitted for small game hunting. Therefore, it is prohibited to use a dog to hunt white-tailed deer, moose or black bear.
You may also use a dog at night or after the end of the hunting season, provided you comply with the rules set out in the section entitled Searching for big game at night.
Using the services of a bloodhound handler
The majority of bloodhound handlers are part of the Association des conducteurs de chiens de sang du Québec, which also trains them.
The research services they carry out using bloodhounds make it possible to:
- Avoid unnecessary suffering to an animal injured in hunting, and;
- Limit the waste of venison, in cases where the game is not found by the hunter.
Last update: March 22, 2023