Where to hunt
Some areas open to hunting can be easily identified due to distinct and easily recognisable boundaries (e.g. roads); others can be difficult to identify and are only defined by physical features or lines on a map.
The Game Management Authority (GMA), and land managers like the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and Parks Victoria, will do their best to assist you when trying to identify areas that are available to hunting, but hunters need to do some homework too.
To help us help you, we recommend that you:
- Identify the general area that you wish to hunt
- Obtain a map of the area and narrow it down to areas likely to have game
- Talk to Park Rangers about the location of Park boundaries
- If you intend to use a firearm to hunt, consider the Firearms Safety Code and remember that even though an area may be open to hunting, the use of firearms may be prohibited under the Firearms Act 1996 for safety reasons
- For Crown land, find out from the local DELWP office whether the area is under licence or leased. Some lessees and licences do not allow hunting on leased or licensed lands.
Information about the areas open to hunting is available from a wide range of sources, including GMA publications and staff, the GMA Customer Service Centre, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Parks Victoria, hunting organisations, parish plans, up-to-date maps, private landowners and Victoria Police.
Remember, find out for yourself. If in doubt about the legality of hunting in a particular area, do not hunt there until you are sure. Hunting in a prohibited area could result in the loss of your Game and Firearms Licences and/or the seizure and confiscation of your firearm, vehicle or other belongings.
Above all, act responsibly and ensure that your actions will not put the safety of your-self or others at risk. Avoid hunting close to boundaries. Never carry a loaded firearm or use a firearm in a town or public place (see section 3 of the Summary Offences Act 1996) eg. picnic area, camp site or on or over any area of public or private land where hunting is not permitted.
Also, you must not carry a loaded firearm on any thoroughfare or place open to or used by the public for passage with vehicles. Never shoot on or across public roads or tracks or towards populated areas, including camping and picnic areas and walking tracks.
There are many land classifications throughout Victoria and, depending on the type, hunting may or may not be permitted. The accompanying table - 'Hunting locations explained' - provides general information on where you may hunt.
Hunting locations explained
|Location||Is hunting permitted?|
|State forest, forest parks (Cobboboonee and Otway) and other unoccupied Crown land||Game species may be hunted during the open season only. Pest animals may be hunted at any time. Deer hunting only is permitted in the Thomson River Forest Reserve|
|State Game Reserves||Game species may be hunted, but only during the open season. All State Game Reserves are open for duck hunting. Where specified, quail, Hog and Sambar Deer hunting can also occur, and some pest animal hunting is permitted during the duck season (see ‘State Game Reserves’ below for details)|
|Sanctuaries||Game species may not be hunted at any time. Pest animals may be hunted|
|Melbourne water catchment areas||Hunting of any type is not permitted at any time|
|Flora and fauna reserves and nature conservation reserves||Hunting of any type is not permitted at any time|
|National parks, state parks, coastal parks, wilderness parks and regional parks||Generally, hunting of any type is not permitted at any time, but there are some exceptions, with several National and Wilderness Park(s) open to deer hunting and areas of Coastal Park(s) open to both Hog Deer, quail and duck hunting, during prescribed seasons. Except for the Lake Albacutya Park, pest animal hunting is not permitted. See 'National, state, wilderness, coastal and regional parks' for details|
|Alpine resorts||Hunting of any type is not permitted at any time|
|Licensed Crown land|
Game (during the open season) and pest animals (at any time) may be hunted, (some exceptions apply to land licensed under the Land Act 1958, see below for details)
|Private land||Game (only during the open season) and pest animals may be hunted, but only with the permission of the landowner/manager|
Generally, hunting for pest animals and game species is permitted in all state forests, forest parks (Cobboboonee and Otway) and unoccupied Crown land (i.e. Crown land that is not leased or licensed). However, some restrictions may apply.
Hunters are advised to consult the local DELWP office for specific information about any restrictions that apply to the area of a state forest, forest park or unoccupied Crown land where they wish to hunt. Remember, many people use state forests for recreation and/or their livelihood.
Pest animals may be hunted at any time throughout the year. However, hunting for game species is only allowed during the open season and permitted times for that species. Make sure that you know when the open seasons are.
Deer hunting by stalking is permitted in the Thomson River Forest Reserve and with the use of hounds or gundogs in parts of the reserve. In this reserve, hunting pest animals is not permitted.
In the Delatite Arm Reserve at Lake Eildon, an unloaded shotgun may be carried during the duck season.
Duck hunting can occur in all State Game Reserves. Hunters can also hunt foxes, rabbits and hares on State Game Reserves, with a shotgun and during the open season for duck only
Jack Smith Lake, Dowd Morass, Ewings Morass, Clydebank Morass, Heart Morass and Lake Coleman State Game Reserve are open for Hog Deer hunting during the Hog Deer season. Ewings Morass is open to Sambar Deer hunting.
There are 16 State Game Reserves open to quail hunting.
Game species may not be hunted at any time in areas declared to be Sanctuaries. However, pest animals may be hunted.
Major Victorian sanctuaries are Mount Cole Sanctuary, Gunbower Island Sanctuary and Kow Swamp. The location of other sanctuaries should be checked with the local DELWP office.
A number of catchments and reservoirs in the outer metropolitan and central highlands area are controlled by Melbourne Water and are part of the metropolitan water supply system. Public entry to these areas is prohibited.
Carrying and using firearms in these areas is prohibited.
Most national, state, wilderness, coastal and regional parks are closed to hunting at all times. However, you are allowed to hunt in the parks listed below, subject to various conditions.
Hunters must not possess a firearm in, or transport a firearm through, a park (except in some instances) when hunting is prohibited. Also, where hunting is allowed, firearms must only be those calibres or gauges permitted for the species available for hunting in that park.
For further information, contact Parks Victoria on 131 963.
Alpine National Park and Avon Wilderness Park: Sambar Deer may be hunted by stalking only in parts of the Alpine National Park and in the whole of the Avon Wilderness Park from 15 February to 15 December. The use of dogs to hunt Sambar Deer is not permitted in these parks. Pest animals and other species must not be hunted in these parks.
Baw Baw National Park: Sambar Deer may be hunted by stalking only in the area east of Thomson Valley Road from 1 May to 25 October each year. The use of dogs to hunt Sambar Deer is not permitted in this park. Pest animals and other species must not be hunted in this park.
Cape Conran Coastal Park: On Sydenham Inlet in the park, game duck may be hunted during the open season. Dogs are allowed for the flushing or retrieval of ducks during the open season.
Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park: In certain sections, game duck, Stubble Quail and Hog Deer may be hunted in season. Dogs are allowed for the flushing or retrieval of game ducks during the duck season. Check with Parks Victoria for details. Pest animals and other species must not be hunted in this park. Hunters must have a permit from Parks Victoria to erect a hide or to cut vegetation or a hide in the Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park.
Lake Albacutya Park: The hunting of pest and feral animals (rabbits, foxes or cats) is allowed, as is the hunting of game duck during the open season. Dogs are allowed for retrieval of game ducks during the duck open season. Hunting is not permitted in part of the park at the Western Beach visitor facilities, including near the boat ramp.
Lake Eildon National Park: In certain sections in the south-east of the park, Sambar Deer may be hunted from the first Saturday after Easter, being 14 April, until 30 November 2012. The use of dogs to hunt deer is not permitted in this park. Pest animals and other species must not be hunted in this park.
Mitchell River National Park: Sambar Deer hunting by stalking is permitted east of the Mitchell River and south of Hortons and Calvi Tracks from 15 February to 15 December. The use of dogs to hunt deer is not permitted in this park. Pest animals and other species must not be hunted in this park.
Tara Range Park Deer: Hunting (not in the close season) by stalking is permitted in this park from 15 February to 15 December. The use of dogs to hunt deer is not permitted in this park. Pest animals and other species must not be hunted in this park.
Nooramunga Marine and Coastal Park: Hunting for Hog Deer and game duck is permitted in certain sections in season. Pest animals and other species must not be hunted in this park.
Parks Victoria is responsible for managing national, state, wilderness, coastal, regional and metropolitan parks and other conservation areas, such as State Game Reserves.
All alpine resorts are closed to hunting at all times. However, you are allowed to transport a dog and firearms through a resort, providing the dogs are in a vehicle and the guns are in a safe and locked compartment.
Game species in season and pest animals may be hunted on leased Crown land, provided that hunters have obtained the permission of the lessee to enter the area.
Remember, people usually use leased land for their livelihood. Never shoot on or across an area of leased Crown land without the permission of the lessee and never shoot across public roads or tracks or towards populated areas, including camping and picnic areas and walking tracks.
If you are in doubt about the status of a particular area, contact your local DELWP office.
Hunting for game species (during the open season) and pest animals (anytime) is permitted on licensed Crown land. However, some exceptions may apply. If an area is licensed under the Land Act 1958, hunters must obtain the permission of the licensee before carrying or using firearms on that area. This generally includes areas such as roads and water frontages, which may be under license. If an area of Crown land is subject to a license under the Land Act 1958, licensed game hunters do not need to seek permission if they’re travelling through these areas to access other areas of Crown land open to hunting.
If you are in doubt about the status of a particular area, or require any further information, contact your local DEECA office.
Game species in season and pest animals may be hunted on private land provided the hunters have obtained the permission of the landowner/manager.
If you are in doubt about the status of a particular area, or require any further information, contact your local DELWP office or Parks Victoria.
The southern bank of the Murray River, including the original location of that bank beneath impounded waters such as Lake Mulwala and Lake Hume, is the State border between Victoria and New South Wales. South of that border, game ducks may be hunted during the open season on any area open to duck hunting. This includes flood waters that have flowed over the southern bank of the Murray River into Victoria.
If you are hunting ducks on Lake Mulwala or Lake Hume during the open season, it is your responsibility to be aware of your location on those lakes. The hunting of ducks in NSW is not permitted, unless as part of the NSW Game Bird Management Program. For more information, phone the NSW DPI on (02) 6391 3750.
The Goulburn-Murray Water Authority permits duck hunting on some of its water storages during the duck season. Please visit its website for maps of water storages which detail where you can hunt. Maps on popular duck hunting locations like Lake Hume, Eildon, Nagambie, Eppalock and Cairn Curran Reservoir are available from the website.
Parks Victoria has developed an information sheet for hunters on Lake Bolac.