When to hunt

(Photo by Reg Gordon)

The table below shows when you can hunt Victoria's game deer species.

Deer species/hunting methodOpen SeasonBag Limit
Hog Deer1 April - 30 April each yearOne male and one female
Red DeerAll yearNo limit
Sambar Deer (stalking only)All yearNo limit
Sambar Deer (hound hunting)1 April - 30 November each year. Except the period from the Friday before Easter Sunday to the Wednesday after Easter Sunday (inclusive), when Easter falls in April.No limit
Fallow DeerAll yearNo limit
Chital DeerAll yearNo limit
Rusa DeerAll yearNo limit
+ Expand all- Collapse all

There is a year-long open season for hunting Sambar Deer by stalking (i.e. without the use of hounds).

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.

The open season for hunting Sambar Deer using scent-trailing hounds is restricted to 1 April - 30 November each year excluding the period from the Thursday before Easter Sunday to the Thursday after Sunday, when Easter fall in April.

     Food low    
     Weather extremes    
Open Season for stalking

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.

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). Scent-trailing 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.

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

Breed.          Breed.
     Low numbers    
     Food low    
     Weather extremes    

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.

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.

Further information is outlined on Hunting Hog Deer in Victoria.

There is a year-long open season for hunting Red Deer.

Red Deer have a short rutting (mating) period that lasts only three to four weeks, beginning in late March/early April. Most hinds give birth to single young in November or December after an eight-month gestation period. Stags cast their antlers during September and October and regrow them by mid-February.

There is a year-long open season for hunting Fallow Deer, with hunting permitted in State Forest and other areas of unoccupied Crown Land where the carriage and use of firearms is permitted. Hunting can also be carried out on private property with the permission of the land owner/manager. Fallow Deer can not be hunted in National Parks, reserves or other sanctuaries.

The year-long open season 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.

Page last updated: 14 Jul 2022