FAQs

General | Duck Hunting | Stubble Quail | Deer Hunting |

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) do not detail the legal obligations of game hunters. Copies of legislation containing the full legal requirements for hunting game in Victoria may be viewed in the Laws section of this website

Please telephone 136 186 if you require any further information.

Recreational game hunting in Victoria

Why is recreational game hunting regulated in Victoria?

Game hunting in Victoria is regulated to:

  • Provide continued sustainable (except where other management objectives seek to control or reduce populations), humane, ethical and safe recreational hunting opportunities.
  • Ensure equitable sharing of game resources between stakeholders.
  • Minimise the destruction of non-game species.
  • Ensure the protection of wildlife habitats.

How is game hunting managed in a sustainable manner?

To remain sustainable, game harvest levels must not exceed the annual rate of production. There are a number of mechanisms that can be used to regulate harvest levels, including season length, bag limits, number of hunters and the times and places where hunting can occur. In Victoria, the most commonly applied harvest regulators are season length and bag limits, but in certain instances, tighter controls (eg. balloted hunting) are used to achieve particular management objectives.

How is the timing of open and close seasons used to manage hunting?

Open and close seasons are one of the most common management tools used by wildlife agencies throughout the world to ensure the conservation of game resources and reduce hunting disturbance to both game and other wildlife during important stages of their life cycle. Open seasons are timed so as not to impact on productivity or core breeding stocks. The length of an open season is also used as a mechanism to regulate harvest, as harvest levels are known to show a positive relationship with increasing time.

The primary consideration when setting open season dates is the probable impact that hunting will have on the species at a particular given time. Although the need to provide hunting opportunity is important, it must come second to minimising any likely detrimental impact on the status of the population and must be consistent with the biology of the species.

For game populations, harvesting is generally timed to coincide with the post-breeding period when the population is temporarily increased by replacement and recruitment and the activities of hunters are less likely to damage breeding stocks. Close seasons allow game to breed undisturbed prior to hunting, maximising production and reducing the risk of any long-term effects of harvesting on the total population. Local elimination of small breeding populations of game species is also less likely than with a twelve-month season. The use of open and close seasons also means that enforcement efforts can be concentrated into particular periods.

In addition to protecting game during periods of vulnerability, close seasons can also be a useful tool to ensure that hunting activity is conducted during periods consistent with other land management activities or peaks in other recreational pursuits. In most cases, these periods are not considered suitable for hunting anyway, due to high levels of disturbance which can disrupt hunting activities. To a large extent, hunting takes place during the colder months (autumn and early winter) when other recreational activities are reduced and the chance of conflict is less likely. In instances where there may be significant conflict or some threat to public safety, areas or periods may be closed to hunting.

How is the length of the open and close seasons used to regulate hunting?

The length of the open season is used as a mechanism to regulate harvest levels, as levels are known to increase with longer seasons. If, for example, hunting is reducing a game animal population excessively, shortening of the open season could reduce the harvest to a sustainable level.

What effect do bag limits have and why are they set at certain levels?

Bag limits are used to restrict the number of animals taken on a daily or a seasonal basis and are used to ensure that harvesting does not compromise the long-term conservation status of the population. Bag limits can apply to a species generally or they can be more specific and set different limits for sex and/or age categories. The regulation of harvests using bag limits can also result in a more even distribution of game among hunters and can limit or prevent the accumulation of game species for illegal commercial sale.

Bag limits have their greatest impact when set below levels that most hunters can achieve. If bag limits are excessively high, they have little effect on regulating the total harvest. High bag limits may also act as a goal that some hunters may strive to fulfil, placing unnecessary pressure on game populations and possibly leading to poor shooting practises. High bag limits that are rarely attained by the majority can also discourage goal-oriented hunters and can result in both the general and hunting communities believing that management is poor and that the population is not capable of sustaining such high levels of harvest.

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What characteristics do game species have?

Typically, game species are common and occur in relatively large numbers, have a high replacement potential, mature quickly and can breed at an early age, have high rates of turnover, are fast escapers and are very wary or cryptic in nature. These characteristics make game animals challenging to hunt but also mean that they are resilient to harvesting and able to adapt to extreme and unpredictable environmental conditions.

What game species may be hunted during an open season in Victoria?*

There are eight species of native duck, one species of native quail, six species of introduced deer, and introduced pheasants, partridges and quail that are declared as game and have an open season.

The game duck are: Pacific Black Duck; Grey Teal; Hardhead (White-eyed Duck); Australian Shelduck (Mountain Duck); Pink-eared Duck; Maned Duck (Wood Duck); Blue-winged Shoveler; and Chestnut Teal.

Game birds also include the native Stubble Quail, and introduced Californian, European and Japanese Quail, pheasants, and partridges.

The game deer for which there are open seasons are: Sambar Deer; Hog Deer, Red Deer, Rusa Deer, Chital Deer and Fallow Deer.

How many game hunters are there in Victoria?

As of 30 June 2015, there were 47,007 hunters licensed to hunt game in Victoria, consisting of 25,989 duck hunters, 28,890 potential quail hunters and 30,506 deer hunters. Some hunters are licensed to hunt in more than one category.

How does GMA monitor game hunting activity?

The GMA conducts a number of monitoring activities each year to collect information relating to the harvesting and management of game species in Victoria.

To collect general information, 3500 game licence holders participate in a telephone survey over the open season of each game species. Data collected are used to provide indices of harvest levels, hunter effort and success, identify periods of increased harvest pressure and areas where hunting pressure is greatest. This information also allows the GMA to monitor annual changes and trends in hunter attitudes and perceptions towards the management of game and game hunting in Victoria.

Waterfowl are monitored in a number of ways, including the use of aerial and on-ground surveys and in-field inspections of the harvest. Together with South Australia and Queensland, Victoria contributes to an annual aerial survey of waterfowl that has been conducted by the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service for about twenty years. The aerial survey provides an index of waterbird populations on over 1,500 wetlands across eastern Australia.

The survey is conducted annually in October and observers assess waterbird populations on all wetlands with an area in excess of 1 ha, within ten 30 km wide survey bands from central Queensland to southern Victoria and South Australia. Information collected provides a population index for 50 waterbird species occurring on the wetland areas surveyed. Results are published and provide important ecological data on the abundance and distribution of game duck and associated species, the extent of habitat availability, the incidence of breeding amongst surveyed populations, in addition to providing information on the status of endangered species.

Since 1987, the government agencies, together with volunteers from Field and Game Australia, Birds Australia and the Bird Observers Club of Australia, have conducted the Summer Waterfowl Count which monitors over 100 Victorian wetlands to provide information on game duck distribution and abundance, waterbird breeding and large concentrations of protected species. The collected data are used to consider management options for that year's duck season and provide hunters with information on the distribution and abundance of ducks shortly before the opening weekend.

In recent years, the Department of Environment and Primary Industries, together with volunteers from Field and Game Australia, have also conducted a survey event in November. This monitoring program surveys game bird and habitat availability on 21 long-term sites and provides supplementary information to other survey programs.

Over the opening weekend of the duck season, government officers examine hunters' bags at major hunting wetlands to provide information on the species and number taken and the age class and moult stages of the harvest.

Biological information on the Hog Deer harvest is collected at checking stations, where Hog Deer must be presented within 24 hours of being taken, and from the Hog Deer Tag return forms that must be mailed to the GMA at the end of the Hog Deer season. Data on Hog Deer weight, age, sex, reproductive condition, and date, time and location of take and are collected and the information entered into a customised database. A summary sheet of the data collected at checking stations in the previous year is provided to Hog Deer hunters who obtain Hog Deer Tags.

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Duck hunting

Does a duck season have to be announced each year?

No. The duck season and bag limits are already set in the Wildlife (Game) Regulations 2012.  Announcements only need to occur if the Minister decides a modification to seasonal arrangements is required, for example as a result of prolonged drought conditions.  Modifications could apply to season length, bag limits, where hunting occurs or the methods used for hunting.

How are ducks hunted?

Hunters are permitted to use shotguns with a gauge no greater than 12 to hunt for ducks. The majority of duck hunters wade in lakes or other water bodies looking for game ducks, however, others use boats or wait on the shore. Some build hides, often weeks before they hunt, and some use decoys or callers to lure birds to within shotgun range. Other duck hunters rely on stalking or their knowledge of birds' flight paths, positioning themselves where they expect birds to fly. Some use dogs to retrieve downed birds while others rely on wading or the use of boats.

Why does the open season for ducks run from the third Saturday in March to the second Monday in June each year?*

The duck open season is timed to occur when the population is at its maximum and to avoid periods of vulnerability. The close season is timed to prevent hunting during times of peak reproductive activity, impaired flying ability during moulting, and temperature extremes, low population levels and food shortage.

Waterfowl in eastern Australia display a regular breeding peak in late winter and spring (August-November), with some breeding commencing as early as June and extending as late as January. Following breeding, chicks must be given the opportunity to mature to the point where they are self-sufficient and strong in flight. For adult birds, moulting occurs soon after breeding, with large flocks of moulting birds often observed in February each year. During late winter, population levels are at their lowest and ducks are subject to environmental extremes and food shortages and preliminary breeding activity may occur.

Important events in the annual life cycle of south-eastern Australian waterfowl:

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec







Breeding
Fledging






Fledging
Moulting





Moulting





Food low








Weather extremes









Low numbers





Open season





Why is the daily bag limit for duck in Victoria set at a maximum of 10 birds, which includes no more than 2 Australasian (Blue-winged) Shovelers?*

A daily bag limit of 10 birds was first introduced in 1931 and, in 1932, the bag was increased to 20 birds for opening day only and 10 for every other day of the season, although other restrictions applied at various times to individual species. This arrangement was introduced to compensate for the fact that hunting was not permitted on Sundays and remained in place until 1988. In 1986, the prohibition on hunting on Sundays was lifted and the need to allow twice the daily bag limit on opening Saturday was no longer relevant. The current daily bag limit of 10 birds per day for the whole season was established after a review of duck hunting in 1988 found that the 20 birds per day limit on opening day was contributing to unsustainable harvesting.

The current bag limit of 10 birds per day ensures that the long-term conservation status of waterfowl is not threatened and that the surplus of game ducks available for harvest is shared equitably among all recreational duck hunters, while maintaining local populations. The lower limit for Australasian Shoveler is in response to a naturally low population level, restricted distribution and specific habitat requirements of the species.

Bag limits have their greatest impact when set below levels that most hunters can achieve. If bag limits are excessively high, they have little effect on regulating the total harvest. High bag limits may also act as a goal that some hunters may strive to fulfil, placing unnecessary pressure on game populations and possibly leading to poor shooting practises. High bag limits that are rarely attained by the majority can also discourage goal-oriented hunters and can result in both the general and hunting communities believing that management is poor and that the population is not capable of sustaining such high levels of harvest.

The bag limit of ten birds per day minimises any long-term effects of harvesting on the overall population (under "normal" environmental conditions) and ensures that the harvest of game duck is shared equitably among recreational duck hunters. The bag limit does not reduce hunting opportunities for the majority of duck hunters, as few individuals have the necessary skill, perseverance or opportunity to take more than 10 ducks per day. The average opening day bag of game duck over the last five seasons has been approximately two birds per hunter and the average total seasonal harvest for each hunter over the same period is approximately thirty birds.

A recent review of recreational duck hunting in New South Wales found that the eastern Australian waterfowl population was in decline, due largely to a loss and degradation of habitat. An increase in harvest levels as a result of an increase to bag limits would not be consistent with this finding or the precautionary principle of management.

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Why is the bag limit reduced in some years?

The normal bag limit is 10 birds per day and is set in regulation. However, under some circumstances, there may be a need to review the bag limit to ensure that harvest levels do not result in excessive harvesting. In these circumstances, the Minister may vary the bag limit, but those arrangements will only apply for that year and will then revert to that set in regulation.

The bag limit may be reduced when wetland availability has been significantly reduced during dry periods, lowering bird numbers and restricting breeding. In these circumstances, the bag limit is reduced to protect south-eastern Australian duck populations from over-harvesting and to provide a fairer distribution of birds among hunters.

Why are so many ducks present in some areas during poor seasons?

During drought conditions or periods of severe rainfall deficiency, habitat availability declines as wetlands dry. Under these circumstances, habitat is generally restricted to coastal refuges, large water storages or artificial structures like dams and irrigation channels. This can result in large concentrations of waterbirds, including ducks, on the available habitat and give the perception that duck numbers have increased. These large flocks represent the residual population and form the core breeding stock for the next year. Over-harvesting of these stocks could reduce future productivity.

Why is duck hunting restricted to between half an hour before sunrise to half an hour after sunset?

Outside these times, light conditions are insufficient for positive identification of species under all weather conditions and accurate marksmanship may be compromised.

Why must a fully-feathered wing be left on game ducks until hunters reach their normal place of residence or until immediately prior to cooking?

This regulation enables wildlife officers to quickly and accurately identify all waterfowl in a hunter's possession and reduces the amount of time that officers need to inspect hunters' bags.

Leaving the wing on a bird also assists the GMA in collecting harvest data during bag surveys and can provide information on the age and moult of ducks.

Wetland closures

Why are some wetlands occasionally closed to hunting?

Wetlands can be closed for a variety of reasons. The most common reason for closing wetlands is to protect late-breeding waterbirds from disturbance. Other reasons include protecting significant numbers of non-game birds (eg. Freckled Duck) that may be using a wetland or to provide refuge to waterbirds and game species during periods of drought.

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How are wetlands closed?

Wetlands may be closed in either of two ways. If there is sufficient time, a 72-hour closure is initiated. Such a closure is advertised at least three days before it is due to come into effect. Seventy two-hour closures may remain in place for the whole season.

If there is an urgent need to close a wetland, it can be done on 24 hours' notice. These emergency closures can only be implemented after consultation with the Emergency Closures Advisory Committee which contains nominees from hunting organisations and the Minister. Emergency closures can only last for seven days. Emergency closures allow the GMA to implement a further closure with 72 hours' notice if required.

Closures are always advertised in a major newspaper in the public notices section. Hunting organisations are notified and signs are erected at the wetlands to alert hunters to the closure.

For how long are wetlands closed?

Wetlands only need to be closed for as long as the reason for the closure remains and may be reopened when the reason for closure no longer applies. For example, if a wetland is closed to protect breeding waterbirds, once the breeding is completed and chicks have fledged, the closure will be lifted.

Can I take an unlicensed companion into a wetland during the open season?

Public safety legislation is in place to minimise confrontations between duck hunters and protesters. Primarily, the legislation is enforced by Police, not Game Officers, and applies to approximately 200 duck hunting wetlands in Victoria.

People who do not hold a current Victorian Firearms Licence (or interstate equivalent) and a current Game Licence endorsed for "game birds including duck" are not permitted to enter onto or within twenty five metres of the waters edge of specified wetlands over the open season during times specified in the legislation "from midnight on the opening day of the duck season until 10:00am; and from two hours before sunset on the opening day until 10:00am on every other day of the season. Note that the exclusion period ends at 30 minutes after sunset on the last day of the duck season." There is an exception for persons exempted by the Game Management Authority.

Unlicensed people, except persons exempted by the Game Management Authority, are also prohibited from approaching within ten metres of a hunter hunting ducks during permitted hunting times during the duck open season.

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Public safety legislation

If you are hunting and are approached by protesters, the best course of action is to avoid confrontation. You may have to shift to another location to continue your hunting, but it is better to have that inconvenience than to be involved in a potentially dangerous situation.

In most cases, there will be Police in the area to make sure that confrontation is minimised, for everyone's safety. Make sure that you do not start a confrontation or help one to continue.

Non-toxic shot

Can lead shot be used to hunt ducks in Victoria?

Generally, only non-toxic shot may be used to hunt ducks in Victoria. However, there is an exemption to this regulation for hunters using muzzle loading, Damascus steel or twist-barrelled shotguns.

What types of non-toxic shot can be used for duck hunting?

The approved non-toxic shot list has been updated to reflect advances in technology. These shot types have been extensively tested and found to be non-toxic to waterfowl and other wildlife. Allowing these additional shot types opens the market and provides greater choice to duck hunters given the types of hunting they do and their shooting skills. The shot listed below must reflect the percentage composition for each metal as described in Schedule 7 of the Wildlife Game Regulations 2012

  • Bismuth-tin
  • Iron (steel)
  • Iron-tungsten
  • Iron-tungsten-nickel
  • Tungsten-bronze
  • Tungsten-iron-copper-nickel
  • Tungsten-matrix
  • Tungsten-polymer
  • Tungsten-tin
  • Tungsten-tin-bismuth
  • Tungsten-tin-iron-nickel
  • Tungsten-iron-polymer

All of these alternatives are safe to use and are non-toxic to wildlife. They do, however, vary in price and availability. Hunters should contact their local ammunition retailer to discuss their non-toxic shot options.

How can wildlife officers detect toxic shot?

Wildlife Officers in the field are provided with devices that can detect lead or other toxic substances (eg zinc) in cartridges without having to open or destroy them.

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Is non-toxic shot safe to use in my gun?

If hunters have any queries about non-toxic shot alternatives and their firearm's ability to use new shot types, they should contact their firearm's manufacturer or a gunsmith for expert advice.

Can lead shot be used to hunt Stubble Quail on State Game Reserves?

The prohibition on the use of lead shot on State Game Reserves only applies to duck hunting and does not apply to quail hunting on the 16 State Game Reserves where Stubble Quail hunting is permitted.

Duck hunters may be in possession of lead shot on a State Game Reserve or any other area where they intend to hunt duck, provided it is secured in a vehicle. This allows duck hunters to carry lead shot into an area where they intend to hunt duck should they plan to hunt species other than duck elsewhere.

Where lead shot is in a vehicle, to be secured, the ammunition must be stored in a closed case or container and stowed in the boot or storage area (that is not the glove box) of a sedan/dual cab/wagon. For a ute or single cab, the shot must be stored in a closed case or container and stowed in a part of the vehicle not readily accessible by any occupant of the vehicle.

Can lead shot be used to hunt other species?

The prohibition on lead shot only applies to duck hunting. Hunters may still use lead shot to hunt quail and pest animals (rabbits, foxes etc.). Lead shot may also continue to be used for clay target shooting.

Pest animals cannot be shot on State Game Reserves.

Where can hunters get more information on non-toxic shot?

A comprehensive education program is available to inform hunters of the conservation, practical and safety issues relevant to non-toxic shot. For more information on non-toxic shot, see the link "Non-toxic shot".

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Stubble Quail hunting

How are Stubble Quail hunted?

Only shotguns with a gauge no greater than 12 may be used to hunt quail in Victoria. Stubble Quail are generally hunted using two methods. The first is known as "walking up" and involves hunters flushing quail by walking through areas where they expect to encounter birds. The second uses gun dogs to locate and flush birds and to locate and retrieve downed birds.

Why is the open season for Stubble Quail run from the first Saturday in April to the last day in June each year in Victoria?

The open season for Stubble Quail is timed to occur when the population is at its maximum and to avoid periods of vulnerability. The closed season is timed to prevent hunting during breeding, moulting, temperature extremes and food shortage. There is a regular annual peak in Stubble Quail breeding between August and December, with some breeding occurring into late summer. For adult birds, moulting occurs soon after breeding. The end of the open season is timed to avoid the late winter period when the Stubble Quail population is at its lowest, under stress from environmental extremes and food shortages and when preliminary breeding activity occurs.

There is some evidence of a frequent second peak in the breeding cycle that coincides with autumn rains which result in a flush of plant growth, providing quality food and cover resources. Because of this, it has been suggested that the Stubble Quail season could be divided into two distinct periods, avoiding any autumn breeding events and taking greater advantage of the post-breeding harvestable surplus. Further scientific evidence specific to Victorian conditions is required before an educated and informed decision to change the season dates could be made.

Important events in the annual life cycle of Stubble Quail in Victoria:

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec


Breeding


Breeding
Fled.

Fledging


Fledging
Moult.






Moulting





Food low








Weather extremes









Low numbers






Open season





The bag limit of twenty birds per day for Stubble Quail minimises any long-term effects of harvesting on the overall population and ensures that the harvest of Stubble Quail is shared equitably among recreational quail hunters. The bag limit does not reduce hunting opportunities for the majority of quail hunters, as few individuals have the necessary skill, perseverance or opportunity to take more than 20 quail per day. The average opening day bag of Stubble Quail over the last five seasons has been approximately eight birds per hunter and the average total seasonal harvest for each hunter over the same period is approximately thirty-four birds.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that Stubble Quail numbers have declined in recent decades, a phenomenon consistent with the reduction of many other ground-dwelling game birds in other developed countries throughout the world. Reports from both hunters and researchers suggest that changes to agricultural practices have degraded already highly modified agricultural environments, which once provided suitable Stubble Quail habitat. Intensified range management and clean farming practices using herbicides and pesticides are known to compromise quail habitat by reducing relative food abundance and degrading nesting, brood rearing and protective cover. Any increase to the bag would be inconsistent with a probable declining population or the precautionary principle of management.

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Deer hunting

How are deer hunted?

Deer are hunted using a variety of methods but two are particularly popular. The first is known as stalking and involves the hunter seeking out a deer and looking for "sign" (eg. faeces, hoof imprints, tree rubs) that may indicate the presence of an animal. Stalking is generally done alone, however, some hunters use gundogs or deer hunting dogs to locate and flush Sambar Deer and to locate and retrieve downed animals. The second form of deer hunting is known as hound hunting and involves a team of hunters who are positioned strategically around an area and hounds are used to trail and flush deer towards the hunters. The hounds are started on the fresh marks of a deer and hunters use the baying of the hounds to help them to locate the animal. The deer may "bail" (hold its ground) rather than flush. Hounds may only be used to hunt Sambar deer. Gundogs and deer hunting dogs can be used to hunt all deer species except Hog Deer in Victoria.

Why is the spotlighting of deer prohibited?

The avoidance behaviour and cryptic nature of deer makes them difficult to hunt during daylight hours. However, at night under a spotlight, they are particularly vulnerable and may be easily shot. Spotlighting of deer has the potential to increase the total seasonal harvest, reducing hunting opportunity for law-abiding hunters. The majority of illegal spotlighting activity occurs from vehicles on public roads or thoroughfares, compounding the potential for firearm-related incidents. The use of spotlights to hunt game is also considered to be unethical.

The illegal spotlighting of deer has been a significant problem for a number of years despite it being illegal to:

  • Hunt deer at night.
  • Hunt deer with the use of an artificial light.
  • Carry a loaded firearm in a vehicle.
  • Use a spotlight from a vehicle on a public road.
  • Possess a loaded firearm or discharge a firearm on or across a public road or thoroughfare.

The spotlighting of deer is not only illegal, but it is dangerous, unethical, and reduces recreational hunting opportunities for law-abiding hunters.

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Sambar Deer

Why is there a year-long open season for hunting Sambar Deer by stalking?

Being an Asiatic species, Sambar Deer are capable of breeding at any time of the year. Periods of vulnerability, therefore, are not well defined, and a closed season is not needed to protect the population during a time of susceptibility to over-hunting. The twelve-month season for stalking of Sambar Deer appears not to have any negative impacts on the success of the species, as anecdotal evidence suggests that the Sambar Deer population continues to extend its range, density appears to be increasing and harvest levels remain high.

Why is there an unrestricted bag limit for Sambar Deer?

The unrestricted bag limit for Sambar Deer appears to have little noticeable effect on the success of the species. Since its introduction, the population has flourished in the Eastern Highlands of Victoria and Sambar Deer have steadily extended their range into New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory to become Australia's most successful deer species. It would also appear that their density is increasing, despite an annual seasonal harvest in Victoria in excess of 30,000 animals.

Why does the open season for hunting Sambar Deer with hounds start 1 April and finish 30 November?

When Easter falls within the season, hound hunting is closed from the Thursday before Easter until the Thursday after Easter, inclusive.

The close season during the warmer months reduces potential conflicts of interest between hound hunters, local residents and other user groups during peak periods of public land use (ie. the summer holiday period). Hounds are more susceptible to heat exhaustion and snakebite during the warmer months, so a close season that coincides with the hotter months of the year has minimal impact on the majority of hound hunters.

Important events in the annual life cycle of Sambar Deer in Victoria:

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec








Breeding


Velvet











Calving








Food low








Weather extremes



Open season for stalking



Approximate open season for hound hunting

Note: Breeding and calving in Sambar Deer can occur at anytime throughout the year. The above represents peak breeding and calving periods that have been identified in the Australian literature.

Why is there a maximum of five hounds allowed during hound hunting of Sambar Deer?

A maximum of five hounds per hunt aids hunters to control the movements of the hounds once a hunt has commenced and reduces the probability of hounds being lost. It is considered that there is little point hunting with greater than five hounds because most of the hounds in a larger pack only run with the leaders and do not contribute significantly to the hunt. Any more than five hounds can make the team "unwieldy". This restriction in number reduces the potential for hounds to become lost or enter prohibited areas. To enable younger dogs to be trained, eight hounds may be used provided that three of the eight are pups in training less than 12 months of age.

All hounds over 12 months of age must be registered with the GMA.  All hounds under 12 months of age must be authorised by the GMA. Application forms for authorising hound pups are available here.

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Numbers of hunters that can hunt Sambar Deer with hounds at any one time.

To develop the skills of younger hunters, a hound team can consist of 12 hunters provided that two are Provisional Game Licence holders under the age of 18.  When hunting, they must be under the direct supervision of an adult hunter who is the holder of a Victorian Game Licence endorsed to take or hunt Sambar Deer with the use of hounds.

A team may also consist of 12 hunters provided that two are holders of a Non-resident of Australia Game Licence.  They are exempt from obtaining a pass in the Sambar Deer hunting with hounds test, however they must be under the direct supervision of an adult hunter who is the holder of a valid Victorian Game Licence endorsed to take or hunt Sambar Deer with the use of hounds.

What are the permitted hound breeds and breed standards?

Only pure Beagles, pure Bloodhounds and pure Harriers conforming to Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) breed standards can be used to hunt Sambar Deer.  These hound breeds must also conform to the following regulated heights measured at the withers:

  • Bloodhound    69 cm or under
  • Beagle    40 cm or under
  • Harrier    53.5 cm or under

What are the identification requirements for hounds?

Hound owners are required to include their full name and hound registration number on a permanent tag or label fixed to the collar of the hound.

Many hunters like to put additional information on a hound collar to assist in recovery of a hound should it become temporarily lost. While this is not required under the game laws, it makes good sense to do so.

What are the registration requirements for hounds?

Consistent with the Domestic Animals Act 1994, the new hunting laws require that all hounds registered for hunting must be microchipped.

All hounds used to hunt Sambar Deer in Victoria must be registered with the Secretary to the Department of Environment and Primary Industries.  Hounds will be recommended to the Secretary by a person or body with relevant expertise for registration following a physical assessment against the breed standards.

Hound assessments

There are currently three organisations with approved hound assessors; the Australian Deer Association, the Victorian Deer Association and Victorian Hound Hunters Incorporated.  Approved hound assessors undergo training and are certified by the Secretary as a person with relevant expertise.  To have hounds registered, hunters should contact one of the respective approved hunting organisations to obtain details of their accredited hound assessors:

Once hounds mature (over 12 months of age) and after an assessment, they can be registered for the life of that hound or until ownership is transferred.

Details of all registered hounds and their owners are stored and maintained on a central GMA database in accordance with principles set out in the Information Privacy Act 2000 (hunters can obtain a copy of their recorded Personal Information for verification or correction by contacting the Customer Service Centre on 136 ¬186). This database is used to assist Game Officers in identifying hounds and their owners.  At present, there is no fee charged to hunters for registering hounds with the Department.

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Hounds over 12 months of age

All hounds must be presented to and assessed by an approved hound assessor.  Only pure Beagles, pure Harriers and pure Bloodhounds conforming to the ANKC Illustrated Breed Standard, Hound Group 4 and height limit prescribed in the Wildlife (Game) Regulations 2012 can be recommended for registration.

Beagles must not exceed 40 cm at the withers, Harriers must not exceed 53.5 cm at the withers and Bloodhounds must not exceed 69 cm at the withers.

Hounds that have not been recommended for approval by a hound assessor will not be considered for registration.

In order to effectively assess a hound, the hound must be a minimum of 12 months old to ensure it exhibits adult characteristics.  Mature hounds that have been assessed and conform to the ANKC Breed Standards and the prescribed height limit will be registered for life after being accepted by the Secretary.  Life-time registration remains in place until the hound is transferred to a new owner, surrendered, suspended or cancelled.

Copies of the ANKC breed standards for Beagles, Harriers and Bloodhounds can be obtained from the ANKC website at: www.ankc.org.au

Hounds under 12 months of age

As hounds under 12 months of age cannot be effectively assessed against the ANKC Breed Standards or the requirements specified in the Wildlife (Game) Regulations 2012 they cannot be recommended to the GMA for registration.

In order to use hounds under 12 months of age to hunt Sambar Deer, hunters will need to obtain a written authorisation from the GMA.

Hounds under 12 months of age must still be authorised to hunt, however they will not be assessed against the ANKC Breed Standards and height requirements.

The GMA has developed an application form and a pro forma authorisation to enable owners of hounds under 12 months of age to seek written authorisation to use such hounds for hunting Sambar Deer.  Application forms are available from the approved hunting organisations.  Alternatively, an online application form is available here.

Hound owners using hounds under 12 months of age for Sambar Deer hunting must carry the authorisation with them at all times while hunting.

No unregistered hounds or hounds without authorisation from the Secretary to hunt Sambar Deer may be used for Sambar Deer hunting.

Cancellation of registration

The registration of a hound may be cancelled if:

  •  that hound subsequently displays any characteristics outside the breed standards or height requirements;
  • the hound is found in circumstances that contravene the Wildlife (Game) Regulations 2012; or
  • the owner is found guilty of an offence under the Wildlife Act 1975.

If a hound has its registration cancelled, a notice of cancellation advising of the reasons for cancellation will be forwarded to the registered hound owner to allow him or her to make a submission to the Secretary on why the hound's registration should not be cancelled.

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What areas are available for hound hunting?

The use of hounds for hunting Sambar Deer to Crown land (where dogs are permitted, e.g. State Forest) and private land (with the permission of the land owner or manager) within the area bounded generally on the south by the Princes Highway, on the west by the Hume Highway and the north by the New South Wales border.

The areas closed to all deer hunting around Warburton and surrounds and Rubicon and surrounds, as well as the closure of deer hunting with the use of hounds around Jamieson and Marysville.

Additional areas closed to deer hunting. One of these relate specifically to hound hunting and two applies to all forms of deer hunting. These closures apply in the following areas:

  • the area immediately around the township of Warburton (closed to all forms of deer hunting).
  • the area immediately around Mt Timbertop and the Timbertop Campus of Geelong Grammar, near the township of Merrijig (closed to all forms of deer hunting).
  • the Buttercup Lane area adjacent to the township of Merrijig (closed to hound hunting only).

Deer may be hunted on private property within these areas with the permission of the owner or occupier of those lands.

What does the test for hound hunters involve?

Under the Wildlife (Game) Regulations 2012, all hunters wishing to hunt Sambar Deer with hounds must pass a test. The test includes questions on the legal requirements for hound hunting, firearm safety, ethics in hunting as well as other issues associated with this form of hunting.

The test has been developed in conjunction with hunting organisations. All applicants for a game licence to hunt Sambar Deer with scent-trailing hounds are required to pass the test before hunting. For more information on this test, please select the link "Hound Hunting Booklet".

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Hog Deer

Why is the open season for Hog Deer restricted to a single month from April 1 to the April 30 each year?

The total Victorian population of Hog Deer consists of a number of small, isolated populations and is under pressure from a decline in habitat quality and quantity as land is cleared and freshwater marshes and wetlands are drained. Therefore, when considering the timing of the open season, it is important to ensure the population is at its maximum and that hunting does not occur during periods of stress or vulnerability.

The current month-long Hog Deer season in April is considered to be consistent with the biology of the species as, generally, the majority of hinds have conceived, stags are in hard antler and calves born in spring have been weaned and are self-sufficient before the season opens. The open season avoids hunting during the peak breeding period in Summer, when stags are particularly vulnerable, and avoids any disruption to mating, which may affect productivity. An April season also avoids the hardships of winter when population levels are at their lowest and deer are subject to environmental extremes and food shortages.

The restricted length of the Hog Deer season is also used as a mechanism to regulate harvest. While it is considered that the current yield of Hog Deer is sustainable, should the season length be extended beyond one month, there is some concern that the increased level of take could not be sustained. Should the season be extended in length, it is considered that alternative measures would need to be employed to limit harvest to an appropriate level. This could be done by further restricting the bag limit or limiting the number of hunters permitted to hunt.

Important events in the annual life cycle of Hog Deer in Victoria:

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Breed.









Breed.







Calving










Velvet





Low numbers








Food low








Weather extremes






Open







Note: Breeding and calving in Hog Deer can occur at anytime throughout the year. The above represents peak breeding and calving periods that have been identified in the Australian literature.

Why is the seasonal bag limit for Hog Deer limited to a single male and a single female deer?

The seasonal bag limit is set to one male and one female per hunter to ensure that hunting remains sustainable and does not threaten the status of the Victorian Hog Deer population. This limit does not restrict hunting opportunities for the majority of Hog Deer hunters, as data show that on average only about 25% of Hog Deer hunters harvest an animal each year. Biological data collected from over 1100 Hog Deer (from 1997-2011) at checking stations confirms that current harvest restrictions are not threatening the security of the Hog Deer population. However, at times, extreme environmental conditions, such as prolonged drought, may require some re-evaluation of harvesting strategies to ensure sustainability.

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Why is there a Tag and checking station system for Hog Deer?

Tag and checking station requirements are used to monitor and enforce harvest levels of the Hog Deer population. The Tag requirements provide the Department with a means of ensuring that hunters adhere to bag limits. Checking stations make it substantially more difficult for hunters to legitimise deer taken illegally outside the declared open season or those taken using illegal methods such as a spotlight. By reducing the number of deer taken illegally, hunting opportunities for legitimate hunters in Victoria increase. The Tag and checking station requirements also provide hunters and the Department with important information on the status and health of Victoria's Hog Deer population and assist in the sustainable management of the species.

For more information on Hog Deer Hunting, Please select the link "Hog Deer Hunting Factsheet".

Why are some hunting opportunities balloted?

Balloted hunting is a system designed to provide hunting opportunities in an equitable manner where hunter numbers must be strictly controlled to either regulate hunting activity or to regulate the harvest or both. Under a balloted system, prospective hunters enter a draw from which a limited number are selected to participate in the hunt. The number of hunters selected is determined by the number of animals that can be harvested without threatening the sustainability of the local populations.

A balloted hunt allows managers to determine where and when hunts occur, the number of hunters and specific harvest composition to achieve the desired population management objectives. Balloted hunting provides a level of control over hunting that may not be afforded by common management methods.

Balloted hunts also provide greater control where unrestricted hunting activity could pose safety concerns for the general public, including other hunters.

Red Deer

Why is there an unrestricted bag limit and a year-long open season for hunting Red Deer?

The year-long open season and unrestricted bag limit is designed to assist private land owners to significantly reduce or eliminate Red Deer, particularly in the isolated herds across Victoria that are causing problems for landowners or having a detrimental effect on conservation values.

Why is there an unrestricted bag limit for Red Deer?

Red Deer are restricted in their range and the only substantial population occurs in the Grampians in western Victoria. The majority of the population occurs within the Grampians National Park where hunting is prohibited, and on areas of private property where access is restricted. This provides a degree of protection for the species and the limited season length also restricts the level of take. It is considered, therefore, that an unrestricted daily bag limit is sustainable. The current level of harvesting appears to be having no detrimental impact on the sustainability of the population.

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Fallow Deer

Why is there an unrestricted bag limit and a year-long open season for hunting Fallow Deer?

The year-long open season and unrestricted bag limit is designed to assist private land owners to significantly reduce or eliminate Fallow Deer, particularly herds that are causing problems for landowners or having a detrimental effect on conservation values.

Ethics

Why should hunters pay attention to ethics in hunting?

The community expects hunters to pay attention to ethics now more than ever and to have more respect and consideration for the animals they hunt and the environments they hunt in.

You can find out more about the ethical hunting of waterfowl and deer.

What guidelines are there to advise hunters on ethics?

There is a "Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals in Hunting" under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. This Code Aims to prevent cruelty and encourage considerate treatment of animals that are hunted. If hunters adhere to the Code, they cannot be prosecuted for cruelty. Read the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals in Hunting.