Deer Research

Many deer species were introduced to Victoria by the Acclimatisation Society in the mid-1800s and some have become established. Others have established through illegal releases or as escapees from deer farms. Of these, Sambar, Fallow and Red Deer are well established in Victoria.

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In order to manage game species effectively it is important to quantify the numbers harvested. Each year the Game Management Authority conducts phone surveys to estimate the number of deer, duck and quail harvested in the state.

The following reports detail the results of the those surveys.


2021 Victorian deer harvest report (Full Report)


2020 Victorian deer harvest report (Full Report)


2019 Victorian deer harvest report (Full Report)


2018 Victorian Hog Deer harvest report  (Full Report)

2018 Victorian deer harvest report (PDF version)


Estimates of the 2017 deer harvest in Victoria (PDF version)

2017 Victorian Hog Deer harvest report (PDF version)

Estimates of harvest for deer, duck and quail from 1985 to 2015: Combining mail and telephone survey results (PDF version)


Estimate of deer harvest in Victoria 2016 (PDF Version)

2016 Deer harvest summary sheet (PDF Version)

Results of 2016 balloted Hog Deer hunting at Blond Bay State Game Reserve and Boole Poole Peninsula (PDF version)

Wilsons Promontory National Park Hog Deer Control Program Report  2016 (PDF Version)


Estimate of harvest for deer in Victoria 2014 and 2015 (PDF version)

Wilsons Promontory National Park Hog Deer Control Program Report 2015

Hog Deer checking station Survey 2015


Estimates of harvest for deer, duck and quail in Victoria (PDF version)


Estimates of harvest for deer, duck and quail in Victoria (PDF version) (Word Version)


Estimates of harvest for deer, duck and quail in Victoria (PDF version) (Word Version)


Estimates of harvest for deer, duck and quail in Victoria (PDF version) (Word Version)


Estimates of harvest for deer, duck and quail in Victoria (PDF version) (Word Version)


Estimates of harvest for deer, duck and quail in Victoria (PDF version) (Word Version)

The GMA is currently conducting research into hound hunting for Sambar Deer in Victoria, in collaboration with the Australian Deer Association. The aim of the research is to better understand what drives the effectiveness and efficiency of hound hunting. This research relies on hunters collecting and providing the GMA with data including hound pack size and shooting distance, which we then compare to geographic data to help measure efficiency in particular locations. The information provided by hound hunters allows us to describe the various factors that influence hunt outcomes, such as hunt length. Hound hunting crews have volunteered to contribute to the research through the Australian Deer Association.

Previous research has relied on hunter surveys and measuring catch-per-unit-effort for the whole day, even if only part of the day was spent hunting. This research will provide greater insights on a more detailed scale and allow us to get a more accurate picture of the efficiency and effectiveness of hound hunting in Victoria.

It is anticipated that the research will conclude in late-2021.

The GMA is conducting research into the use of lead-free bullets for game deer hunting in Victoria.

The research is trialling the efficacy of commercially available lead-free bullets to determine if they are comparable to traditional lead-based products used to hunt Victorian deer species.

Lead-free products are becoming more common in the market and some countries are moving away from the use of toxic lead in bullets. This is largely due to the negative impacts of lead on the environment, scavenging wildlife (through ingestion of lead fragments in gut piles etc.) and human health (through ingestion of lead fragments in gut meat). While research has been conducted overseas to assess the efficacy of lead-free bullets (including some deer species that occur in Australia), no trials have been conducted in Australia, and many deer species hunted in Victoria have not been included in past assessments (e.g. Sambar Deer).

Hunters have volunteered to participate in the research through the Australian Deer Association. The research will contribute to knowledge in this area, on a global scale, while also providing new information for the Australian context.

It is anticipated that the research will conclude in late-2021.

Results of a study have been published comparing the killing efficiency and animal welfare outcomes of lead-based and lead-free (copper-based) bullets for ground shooting of Sambar Deer in Victoria.

Data from recreational hunters and professional shooters was collected during 2020–2021. Shooters recorded rifle calibre, bullet mass and type, shooting distance, anatomical zones struck by bullets, and frequency of bullet exit wounds, amongst other things. The distance each deer moved from the point of bullet impact to point of incapacitation (known as flight distance) was also recorded.

Recreational and professional deer shooters recorded data from 124 deer shot with lead bullets and 152 seer shot with copper bullets. Approximately 87 per cent of the deer were killed with a single shot. The frequency of non-fatal wounding was less than 4 per cent for both bullet types and there was no distinct difference in the probability of a single shot kill for deer shot with either bullet type.

The study found that lead-based and lead-free bullets produced similar shooting efficiency and animal welfare outcomes for ground-based shooting of Sambar Deer. Average flight distances were slightly longer for lead-free bullets (35 metres) compared to lead-based bullets (22 metres).  Both distances were well within the standard identified from a model developed to measure animal welfare outcomes from shooting.

This study concludes that the use of lead-free ammunition for hunting Sambar Deer would have minimal impact on shooting efficiency or animal welfare outcomes.

We would like to thank those who participated in the research, including the Australian Deer Association for identifying members who took part.

The GMA partly funded the study.

For more information, read A comparison of lead-based and lead-free bullets for shooting Sambar Deer in Australia. (PDF - 2.5 MB)

Hog Deer research

Hog Deer (Axis porcinus porcinus) are a valued social resource and highly prized game species for many stakeholders in Victoria.  However, they are introduced fauna and in some circumstances can contribute to negative impacts on native biodiversity.  In addition, some landowners do not share the same appreciation for the deer or its intrinsic value due to the effects the deer may have on primary production.  Therefore it is important to monitor this important species to ensure that it is managed sustainably.

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This study estimated the abundance and distribution of Hog Deer across their range as well as investigate the genetics of the Hog Deer population to examine genetic diversity, population structure and connectivity between local populations, as well as effective population size.

The abundance and density of Hog Deer was estimated using data from 100 camera traps set at 50 sites across their range in coastal Gippsland from Lower Tarwin to Point Hicks during November and December 2018.

Read the study on Abundance and population genetics of Hog Deer

Parks Victoria, in partnership with the Australian Deer Association, Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (Vic Branch) and the Game Management Authority, conducted a trial Hog Deer control program at Wilsons Promontory National Park between 18-20 August 2015.

The program seeks to build knowledge and understanding of the impact of the population of Hog Deer on the Prom, its habitat and endangered and vulnerable plant species within the park.  It was developed to ensure everything is being done to protect and preserve the health of Wilsons Promontory and that it remains a world-class national park and tourism attraction.

The reports which summarise the data collected during the control programs can be found in the harvest report section of the GMA website.

A recent study using genetic sequencing to estimate the population structure and diversity of Hog Deer in Victoria has confirmed that DNA can be used to map populations.

The findings come from a PhD project examining the genetics of hog deer in Victoria which was partly funded by the GMA.

The research aimed to investigate the population genetic structure and diversity of Hog Deer in Victoria and identify possible movement between populations.

A total of 231 hog deer tissue samples were collected from Hog Deer checking stations and field samples from hunters in Gippsland between 2008 and 2017. DNA was extracted to identify markers which could provide information on how individual deer genetically relate to each other to determine population diversity.

Results identified four distinct genetic clusters of deer and also provided evidence of recent translocations. Despite the low genetic diversity observed, the presence of distinct generic clusters across the Hog Deer range indicates population structure.

This research provides important insights into the genetic diversity of Hog Deer in Victoria and suggests that future management may need to consider genetics to support game management and pest animal objectives.

See the full study: Genetic analysis of Hog Deer in Victoria/Australia and its applications to invasive species and game management.

Page last updated: 03 Nov 2022