A cougar in the wild area
A wolf in winter
Elk in nature
Bears on Vancouver Island

The content is valid until June 30, 2024.

Big Game Hunting on Vancouver Island

Big Game is a large animal pursued and hunted, especially for sport. However, big game hunting on Vancouver Island, despite being an adventure, is not just entertainment. Most hunters know the hunting of game animals among the most memorable experiences of their lives. They use their big game products for food, clothing, decoration, implements, and even weapons.
Hunting can be done for several purposes, including conservation. For instance, hunters help wildlife managers control the population of different species. Therefore, big game harvesting is an efficient tool to conserve wildlife and habitat if managed and studied properly.
For this purpose, the federal and provincial governments in Canada have regulated hunting and trapping. These regulations use different factors such as hunting methods, bag limits, protected area designation, seasonal restrictions, licensing and registration, and other techniques to control and manage hunting. The laws and policies for this purpose are divided into different regions in BC, and big game hunting on Vancouver Island is no exception.
It is also part of Vancouver Island's Indigenous peoples' tradition to hunt big game animals. Some of these animals are significant in number. Among them are cougars. Of 4000 cougars that live in BC, 600-800 exist on Vancouver Island. Also, over 7,000 black bears are on the island. Having such potential has made Vancouver Island an ideal destination for hunting big game animals.

Big Game Animals on Vancouver Island

According to BC Law, hunting big game on Vancouver Island can be done for particular species. Among them are black-tailed deer, fallow deer, black bear, wolf, and cougar.

Bear Hunting

Hunting bear on Vancouver Island is for black bears. With over 7,000 black bears, Vancouver Island is one of the densest places in the world for hunting this big game animal. Your bear hunting tour on Vancouver Island can be done in different provinces with variable prices, distribution, and methods.

Cougar Hunting

British Columbia is a cat hunting destination. Among these wild cats and the largest species of them are cougars (Mountain Lion). It is one of North America's most efficient predators, which gives you an opportunity to start your cougar hunting trip on Vancouver Island.

Elk Hunting

Roosevelt elk is a subspecies of elks that is indigenous to Vancouver Island. It is the only species of elk family that can be found on the island. Of 3,200 Roosevelt elk that exist in BC, 3,000 of them live on Vancouver Island. Elk hunting is a challenging sport because this big game animal has a particular habitat.

Black-tailed Deer Hunting

Vancouver Island is home to Columbia black-tailed deer and Sitka black-tailed deer. Hunting black-tailed deer is challenging, but the meat is worth a try. Besides being challenging, black-tailed deer hunting is highly prized because it is the kind of deer that mostly seeks cover.

Fallow Deer Hunting

Hunting fallow deer is exceptional for big game hunters, whether legal or illegal hunters. No closed season, no bag limit, and no licence describe fallow deer hunting on Vancouver Island. Based on estimations, there still remain 500 to 1000 and maybe more deer on Vancouver Island.

Wolf Hunting

Wolf hunting on Vancouver Island has a history going back half a century ago. These wolves are big game predators indigenous to the northern regions, but they are instead spread all over Vancouver Island. Track this predator, which is a trophy hunting for hunters.

Vancouver Island Big Game Hunters

Big game hunting requires physical and mental strength. Hunters also may have challenges with weather conditions. Some big game animals prefer being in remote areas, away from road access and the accompanying negative human activity. That is why being prepared for all difficulties, challenges and even barriers is necessary.

Your hunt may be sensitive, as most big game animals are. The keen sense of smell, vision, and hearing are characteristics that some are described with. Prepare for them before by using equipment like scent sprays and blinds. Once you are at your hunting site, be quiet and wait for your hunt.

There are bonuses in your big game hunting trip that you can make to opportunities. While you plan to harvest a specific animal, your hunting trip may combine with other big game or small game animals. If you have the required licence, that would be a chance.
As the open season for all big game animals matters, do your hunt at its legal time. You have possibilities for hunting numbers of them every season, but for black bears, it is double. Hunters can chase black bears in spring and fall.
If you are after trophies, don't skip big game hunting. Your trophy could be fur, head, horns or antlers, and even preserving the entire animal via taxidermy.
Big-game hunting requires safety tips. Always remember them and follow the recommendations of your guide.
For some big game hunting trips, non-hunters are accepted and welcome by paying the price.

According to the hunting and trapping synopsis, all hunters (residents, non-residents and non-resident aliens) must obtain an FWID (BC Fish and Wildlife ID) to access hunting programs and services in BC. Hunters with a Hunter Number were assigned an FWID. Hunters without a Hunter Number are required to produce documentation that proves residency, identity, and hunter safety training (required for purchasing all hunting licences except initiation, youth, restricted non-resident/ alien and special area) to obtain an FWID.
Proof of hunter safety training includes:

- A Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Education (CORE) certificate.

- A document issued by another territory or province of Canada.

- A government of an international jurisdiction evidencing successful completion of a hunter safety training course.

Big Game Hunting Seasons on Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island Big Game Outfitters

British Columbia Government published regulations for hunting. According to its Hunting and Trapping Regulations Synopsis, non-resident and non-resident alien hunters are required to be accompanied by a guide outfitter, assistant guide outfitter or a holder of a permit to accompany at all times when hunting big game, regardless of the type of licence (restricted or unrestricted) they have.

Big game outfitters know how to track your target animal through "telltale signs" like foot tracks, claws and bite marks, and scent markers. Finding a spot to suit you makes your hunting trip unforgettable, and outfitters also make it easier for you. They know the feeding and living areas of the big game. Outfitters can also lead you to the habitats of other big or small game animals to maximize your chances for other species.

Having a checklist for your big game hunting is necessary, but you may not have all the gear. Outfitters provide you with equipment and teach you how to use them. They try to ensure that every hunter involved in that trip would have the best chance of a successful hunt.

Big Game Hunting Methods on Vancouver Island

It is time to find your big game by applying all the knowledge and skills you have for hunting. How do you spot and stalk? Do you use decoys? Do you prefer the help of big game indicating dogs? Now you are in nature and staying still and quiet, hearing your own heartbeat. Any movement makes you cautious of your big game nearby. You have been prepared for this moment, and your shot will end your hunting trip. How would you do that? Maybe traditional hunting methods like bow hunting or rifle hunting.

Rifles (Rimfire & Centrefire) and Shotguns

Firearms are easy to use. One can quickly shoot with a rifle and quickly load it. Hunters may also utilize larger ones to bring down big game such as black bears, elk, and deer. Hunting black bears, cougars, wolves, and deers are possible using centrefire rifles or shotguns with a bore size of 20 gauge or larger and using shells of shot size No. 1 Buck or larger. Using shotguns for elks is forbidden on Vancouver Island, but harvesting this big game with centrefire rifles is possible.

Spot and Stalk

You need to be an experienced hunter to spot and stalk your big game. Each animal has its own behaviour in touch with nature. Identifying its tracks and signs helps hunters know if it is nearby. Most hunters prefer tracking their big game instead of waiting for it to draw to them. For this purpose, you may need equipment. A beginner with a big game guide who is a skilled tracker can almost guarantee contact with the game.

Bow Hunting

Bowhunting is a quiet method for hunting your game. It allows you to bag several animals and doesn't make other animals run away. Its power isn't the same as a rifle, but hunters almost use it to harvest big species because small ones are hard to shoot. Besides big game open seasons, bowhunting is permitted during special bow-only seasons.

Hunting with Decoys

Decoys are excellent tools to draw a particular animal to a hunter. Using decoys reduces the skill level that a hunter needs. Hunters set decoys at specific spots of fowl-enticing calls or scents within sight of camouflaged hunters. In this way, they increase the success rate.

Hunting with Dogs

Hunting dogs hunt with or for hunters. For some big game animals like cougar, the process of locating in snow would be hard. Dogs help and stay on the scent of a cougar track. It can be done for other big game animals like elk and wolves. But it is necessary to teach the dog not to scare away the game, and it must be on a leash when used to hunt deer and elk. Unleashed dogs may be used to hunt black bears or cougars.


A call is a method of hunting. Knowing its meaning, usage, and practice would be necessary. You can use recorded or electronic calls to call wildlife like wolves and cougars. Some hunters make calls with their hands and mouths, and some use store-bought or homemade devices for hunting calls.


Currently, a hunter can use traps for wolves and is required, by law, to use only the specific traps included in BC's trapping regulations which have been certified under the Agreement on International Humane (the AIHTS). Applying a killing snare, modified (foot-hold), killing trap, live box trap, and foot snare are possible; however, there are some considerations.

Hunting from a Blind

Some ways of hunting from a blind like blinds treestand or ground blind can be available on request for big game such as black bear, black-tailed deer, fallow deer, wolf, and elk. Guides keep very close contact with you while you are on the stand.

Big Game Hunting Cost on Vancouver Island

The price of hunting big game on Vancouver Island may vary. Several factors influence package prices for big game hunting: duration, hunting methods, licence, tags, services, guide, and tax. But generally, the cost may start at $2,500.

If you are interested in big game customized tours on Vancouver Island at a reasonable price, we at Vanisle Hunters make it easy for you. So, please fill in the following form and wait for our response.

Big Game Customized Tours on Vancouver Island

If you are interested in big game hunting on Vancouver Island, please fill in the form below. We at Vanisle Hunters offer custom tours and exclusive hunting trips at their best.
Choose which big game you are interested in, where and when you plan to start your hunting trip, how long you need to be in nature, mention the number of your companions, and add any other options you want to match your desire and exceed your expectation.
We will schedule a call or message to discuss your interests and how we can make them a reality. After that, we will send you a proposed package and fine-tune it until it's what you want with a competitive price.
Duck & Goose
Snowshoe Hare
Band-tailed pigeon

Big Game Hunting Gear on Vancouver Island

Before heading out to hunt your big game on Vancouver Island, it is necessary to prepare a checklist of what you need.
First of all, having a backpack is required for your equipment. Your clothes may include hiking boots, waterproof pants and jacket, socks, hunting pants, short-sleeve shirt, long-sleeve shirt, gloves, hat, and layer clothing.
As you may spend hours or days in nature, don't forget about camping items and food or snacks. Rifle or archery equipment and heavy grain ammunition are your harvesting necessities. Binoculars, duffle bags, and tracking tools can also be on your hunting list.

Big Game vs. Small Game Hunting on Vancouver Island

Some hunters prefer to go after small game, and others may favour big game. Choosing between them mostly depends on your purpose, price, licence, skill, and the potential of the area you want to hunt.

1. Big game hunting is a type of hunting ideal for hunting large animals almost over 40 pounds (18 kg) in weight.
2. Big game hunting can generally be done with more powerful guns.
3. A licence for harvesting a specific big game is more expensive than a small one.
4. Many hunters tend to choose their hunt among big game animals to have a trophy.

1. Small game hunting is a type of hunting that includes animals that are small in size. They are generally under 40 pounds (18 kg).
2. Hunting methods for small game animals are guns like 20-gauge shotguns and other smaller firearms.
3. The price of a licence for small game hunting tends to be less expensive than a big game hunting licence.

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Big Game Regulations on Vancouver Island

✓ Hunting regulations are subject to change from time to time. It is the responsibility of a hunter to be informed of the current regulations.
✓ If a non-resident youth wants to hunt big game, he/she must be accompanied by a guide outfitter, assistant guide outfitter or a holder of a permit to accompany.
✓ During its open season, do your big game hunt except for fallow deer, which has "no close season."
✓ Hunting big game like fallow deer has no bag limits for now.
✓ Sometimes, the hunting period is for a specific method like bow only.
✓ Using dogs is permitted in the hunting of all game animals. It is mandatory to keep them on a leash when hunting deer and elk.
✓ Children under 18 should be accompanied by and under the close supervision of a person above 18 who owns the licence, except for fallow deer, which does not need any licence on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.
✓ Big game licence fees on Vancouver Island vary for BC and non-BC residents. No species licence is required for wolves.
✓ Trapping seasons for a big game animal on Vancouver Island include wolves.
✓ You can use recorded or electronic calls to hunt a wolf or cougar.
✓ It is unlawful to hunt, take, wound or kill big game while swimming, except if it has been previously wounded.
✓ It is unlawful to feed dangerous wildlife except when legally engaged in hunting or trapping where baiting is authorized (wolf only).

Protected Areas of Vancouver Island, Based on the BC Act

Licence for Big Game Hunting on Vancouver Island

A hunting licence is a must on Vancouver Island. There are three different types of hunting licences. Whether you are a BC resident or non-resident, you have to follow big game hunting rules as a licence holder. A BC resident hunter must have a Fish & Wildlife ID, age, and several other conditions. Licences are offered at various prices for each type of licence and species. For more information about big game licences on Vancouver Island, visit the Hunting Licence on Vancouver Island.

Big Game Hunting on Vancouver Island Common Questions

Big game hunting is the act of hunting animals almost over 40 pounds (18 kg) in weight, which are legally allowed to harvest.
Bear, cougar, elk, deer, black-tailed deer, fallow deer, and wolf are among the big game animals you can harvest on Vancouver Island.
Hunting big game usually confronts hunters with difficulties, and it needs experience, which most of the time, big game outfitters take care of that. Always be prepared for your big game. Calling, using decoys and traps may ease your hunting trip. As the number of fallow deer on Vancouver Island is significant, you may have more possibilities to hunt a big game animal like that.
Small and big game hunting differs in hunting methods, equipment, licences, tags, prices, and trophies. Big game hunters are required to have more physical strength. There would be less difficult to take your small game out of the woods. Also, the practice of small game hunting teaches you valuable skills necessary for hunting big game.
As you can not hunt big game animals against the law, and these regulations are based on scientific studies, any harmful impact would be restricted. Hunters use their big game products for food, clothing, decoration, implements, and weapons. Also, sometimes this act is to conserve the ecosystem or control the animals' number.
Hunting big game on Vancouver Island is not illegal, but you have to consider some terms and conditions for hunting before planning for a hunt, including open seasons, bag limits, tags, licences, and hunting methods.
Big game hunting is not an easy sport. You have to know anything about your hunt and apply safety tips and regulations to minimize any danger.
Trophy hunting is to obtain an animal's body parts like heads, hides or claws, and even the whole body. Trophy hunters hang these parts on the wall and pose in photos.
The cost of a big game hunting tour on Vancouver Island depends on duration, hunting methods, licence, tags, services, guide, and tax. Generally, it may start at 2,500$.
Roosevelt elk and cougar are among the most expensive hunts on Vancouver Island.
Among the big game animals on Vancouver Island, fallow deer hunting does not need any licence.

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