Deer hunting methods and laws

To recreationally hunt deer in Victoria, deer hunters need to be aware of the hunting laws found in Wildlife (Game) Regulations 2012 and the Wildlife Act 1975.

There are other general hunting laws contained in other acts on land management, firearms, and animal welfare.

Deer hunters must also follow approved hunting methods and equipment; must comply with bag limits, seasons (for Hog Deer), and hunting times (no recreational night hunting); and must have a current Game Licence endorsed for hunting deer: either stalking and/or hunting Sambar Deer with hounds.

Laws for hunting with hounds Firearm Laws
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The following are the minimum legal requirements for firearm, bow, and crossbow equipment when hunting for deer in Victoria.

Firearm/Bow

Sambar, Rusa, and Red Deer

Hog, Fallow, and Chital Deer

Centrefire rifle
A minimum calibre of .270" (6.85 mm) with a minimum projectile weight of 130 grains (8.45 grams)
A minimum calibre of .243" (6.17 mm) with a minimum projectile weight of 80 grains (5.18 grams)
Muzzle-loading rifle
A minimum calibre of .45" (11.45 mm) with a minimum projectile weight of 230 grains (14.91 grams)
A minimum calibre of .38" (9.65 mm) with a minimum projectile weight of 200 grains (12.96 grams)
Long, recurve, and
compound bows
A minimum draw weight of 50 pounds (22.5 kilograms), using an arrow fitted with a broadhead having a combined minimum weight of 400 grains (26 grams) and at least two cutting blades
A minimum draw weight of 45 pounds (20 kilograms), using an arrow fitted with a broadhead having a combined minimum weight of 350 grains (22.5 grams) and at least two blades
Crossbow
A minimum draw weight of 150 pounds (68 kilograms), using a bolt fitted with a broadhead having a total minimum weight of 400 grains (26 grams) and at least two blades
A minimum draw weight of 120 pounds (54.4 kilograms), using a bolt fitted with a broadhead having a total minimum weight of 350 grains (22.5 grams) and at least two blades
Smooth-bore
firearms
A minimum bore of 20 and a maximum bore of 12, using a single solid projectile with a minimum weight of 245 grains (15.88 grams); SG’s (buck shot) must not be used. The firearm must be fitted with a front and rear iron sight (other than a beaded sight or sights), a telescopic sight, or a reflex sight.
A minimum bore of 20 and a maximum bore of 12, using a single solid projectile with a minimum weight of 245 grains (15.88 grams); SG’s (buck shot) must not be used. The firearm must be fitted with a front and rear iron sight (other than a beaded sight or sights), a telescopic sight, or a reflex sight.

Hunting Deer with Gundogs or Deer hunting dogs

Hunters may use a trained dog to help them locate, flush, point, or trail deer. Dogs can be of particular use when locating downed animals that could be lost. Hunters must be able to train their dog(s) to a level that allows the dog to complete its hunting task without chasing other animals and/or attacking the deer being hunted.

  • Dogs can be used only on land classifications that permit people to be in possession of dogs (e.g. dogs cannot be taken into National Parks).
  • Hog Deer cannot be hunted with the aid of dogs.
  • However, all other deer species can be hunted with the aid of gundogs or approved deer hunting dogs.
  • Deer hunters cannot hunt with more than two gundogs or deer hunting dogs, individually or with a team of hunters.

Hunting Sambar Deer with hounds

  • Deer hunters must have an endorsement on their Game Licence to be allowed to hunt with hounds.
  • Hound hunting is seasonal, with the season starting on 1 April each year and ending on 30 November.
  • When Easter falls within the season, hound hunting is closed from the Thursday before Easter until the Thursday after Easter, inclusive.

In Victoria, Hog Deer hunting is permitted under strict regulations to ensure the species is hunted sustainably.

Hog Deer are a highly valued game species, and bag limits are set to allow hunters to take one male and one female Hog Deer per season.

The Hog Deer season is open only in the month of April each year (i.e. 1–30 April).

Before hunting Hog Deer, hunters must obtain Hog Deer tags from the Game Management Authority. Each hunter is issued two tags: one male and one female. These tags are issued to a hunter and cannot be lent or sold, and can only be used in the season they were obtained.

When a Hog Deer is taken, the Hog Deer tag must be immediately attached to the hind leg.

You cannot possess a Hog Deer without the tag being attached. Tags cannot be removed until details have been recorded at a checking station. Checking stations have been established to monitor the take of Hog Deer and provide information on the health of the Hog Deer population.

All harvested Hog Deer must be presented to a checking station within 24 hours of being taken.

At a checking station, hunters will be asked to produce their Game Licence, and details are recorded.

The harvested deer will have shoulder height, girth, length, and weight recorded. Stags will have the antlers measured and photographed. The reproductive condition of hinds will be recorded. Samples may also be taken; this includes the removal of the jaw bone for ageing purposes.

Completed Hog Deer tag return forms must be sent to the Game Management Authority within 28 days of the last day of the open season.

There are balloted Hog Deer hunting opportunities which occur outside the April season (usually February, March, and May) and in areas where hunting is usually prohibited. Currently these areas are Blond Bay State Game Reserve, Boole Poole Peninsula within Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park, and Snake Island within Nooramunga Marine Coastal Park.

The ballot is administered by the Blond Bay Hog Deer Advisory Group.

Deer cannot be recreationally hunted at night or with the use of spotlights.

A spotlight is defined as any source of artificial light, infrared device, night vision, or heat-detecting device.

A spotlight does not include:

  • A domestic light used for domestic purposes. This could include such lights as torches, lanterns, and work lights used around camp.
  • An emergency light used for emergency purposes, such as handheld torches or headlamps used to navigate out of the bush or 12-volt lights used when working on your vehicle.
  • A light fitted to your vehicle that complies with the Road Safety (Vehicles) Regulations 2009. This covers all spotlights and work lights that are fitted on your vehicle in a legal manner.

Spotlights in Recognised Deer Habitat

Hunters travelling in vehicles between 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise in recognised deer habitat can be in possession of a firearm and spotlight as long as:

The firearm is unloaded and stored in a securely fastened case or container (e.g. gun bag or gun case) that is stowed in the boot or storage area of a sedan, dual cab, or wagon and is not readily accessible to any occupant of the vehicle.

  • For utes or single cabs, the firearm is unloaded and stored in a securely fastened case or container and stowed in a part of the vehicle not readily accessible to any occupant of the vehicle. The best approach here is to fit a lockable steel box to the tray and store the firearm in there.
  • Any ammunition is stored separately and is in a part of the vehicle not readily accessible. A glove box cannot be used to store ammunition in recognised deer habitat.
  • Any spotlight in or on the vehicle is not in use.

Spotlights and Firearms When on Foot

Hunters on foot in recognised deer habitat between 30 minutes after sunset and 30 minutes before sunrise in recognised deer habitat can use an artificial light (e.g. torch or headlamp) for on-foot navigation purposes as long as:

  • The firearm and magazine is unloaded, meaning all cartridges must be removed from the firearm and any magazine.
  • Ammunition is stored in a closed case or container. This could include a backpack or cartridge case.
  • The artificial light is not fitted to any part of the firearm or a scope or other fitting attached to the firearm.

Exemptions From Spotlight Regulations

  • Landowners/occupiers or their agents who are using a spotlight for the purpose of controlling pest animals to a distance of 250 metres outside the property boundary.
  • Landowners or their agents controlling deer (not including Hog Deer) that are causing damage on their property, acting in accordance with an Order under the Wildlife Act 1975.

Page last updated: 09 Dec 2019