Ultimate Guide to Hunting in Australia
Thinking of hunting in Australia?
Be sure to read our Ultimate Guide to Hunting in Australia before you head out. Know which species you can legally hunt in Australia.
Why do people go hunting? Some people may say because it’s a sport, others may say it’s a way for them to relax and it might just be a way to get food on the table for some. For whatever reason one has to go hunting, one must know what laws guide the state or territory where they hunt.
Aussie feral pig
Every state and territory has its particular laws which guide hunters, although in some cases, a state or territory may allow hunting of animals which are under the pest species (feral dogs, feral goats, feral pigs, foxes, hares, and rabbits) at any time of the year provided that the hunter has the landowner’s permission. For one to hunt in a country like Australia, it is required that you have the basic understanding of the do’s and don’ts that guide the state. Australia has certain laws which protects animals and also guides hunters on which animal they can hunt and what time of the year they can hunt.
Animals that can be hunted in Australia are classified into two groups; Feral – animals living in the wild but have domestic origins. They can be hunted at any time. The other group is known as Game – animals hunted for sports or food. They are protected and can only be hunted during the open season. As far back as the 18th Century, European settlers introduced many of these species which can be hunted in Australia such as rabbits, hares, cats, foxes, goats, pigs, dogs, deer, donkeys, horses and feral cattle, camels and water buffalo.
Today, Australia can boast of six species of deer in its wildlife:
The Chital deer, also known as the Indian spotted deer, it has three tined antlers and is said to be active throughout the day. Chital are light to dark brown with permanent white spots which appear as broken lines running along the body.
- Hog Deer, a close relative of chital and also the smallest of the six species, its colour ranges from an even dark brown during winter to a rich reddish-brown in summer at which time light coloured spots along the sides and on either side of the dark dorsal stripe are visible in individuals. The Hog Deer has three tined antlers.
- Sambar, the largest deer species found in Australia, they are mostly brown with a mix of grey or almost black colours on them and have three tined antlers
- Rusa, a smaller deer with three tined antlers and a close relative of Sambar with identical grey-brown which varies based on individuals and different seasons.
- Fallow deer, scientifically referred to as Dama dama is the world’s most common species of deer. Its colour changes due to the season, in the summer it is light to reddish brown with white spots while in the winter it changes to greyish brown.
- Red deer is one of the largest deer species and ranges from a dull brown in winter coat to a rich reddish brown in summer, however, a permanent straw-coloured rump or caudal patch is can be seen all through the year
It is good for hunters to stay abreast of the current licensing and regulations they should abide by in various states/territories so as to avoid problems with the law. Below are some states with their various laws:
It would be good to note that hunting is restricted to pest animals on private property and may only be carried out with the landowner’s permission. Hunting in ACT only requires a valid firearms licence.
Hunting of specific deer in NSW can only be done during the open season. Hunting of other deer and specified game animals can only be done on private land and crown land at any time throughout the year.
Game species include ducks, wild deer, California quails, partridges, pheasants, peafowl and turkeys. Note that dogs, cats and hares are classified as both feral and game.
On the other hand, NT allows hunters with valid firearms licence to hunt feral animals on private land with the landowner’s permission with the exception of feral pigs and waterfowl, for which a permit is required. NT considers many animals feral including animals that can be hunted anywhere in Australia, which includes Arabian camels, buffaloes, cane toads, donkeys, feral cats, horses, wild dogs, feral cattle, house sparrows, pigeons, sambar deer, rusa deer and turtle doves.
Laws within the state do not favour waterfowl hunters who require a permit to hunt and may only do so during the declared open season. Species waterfowl hunters can hunt are magpie geese, Pacific black duck, wandering whistling duck, plumed whistling duck, grey teal, pink-eared duck, hardhead duck, and maned duck.
Unlike other states, there are no species referred to as game animals, most animals are considered pests. Hunters are required to have a licence to carry firearms, they also require a permit to hunt some native species while all pest species may be hunted at any time of the year with the landowner’s permission. The red deer, chital, fallow deer, rusa, dingo, feral dog, rabbits, hares, cats, foxes, goats, pigs, dogs, donkeys, horses and feral cattle are often hunted.
In SA, there are species that can be hunted during the declared open season while there are others that can be hunted at any time of the year. Hunters are allowed to hunt game species during the open season which include stubble quail, Pacific black duck, grey teal, chestnut teal, Australian shelduck, pink-eared duck and maned duck. They are also allowed to hunt camels, deer, starling, domestic pigeon, European blackbird and the spotted turtle-dove at any time of the year.
Hunting of pests and feral creatures in Tasmania can be done legally on private, state and crown land. However, hunters require a game licence in order to hunt. Hunters are allowed to hunt pests on crown land at any time but can only hunt on private and state land with clear permission from the owner of the private land. In Tasmania game species are classified as: deer, wild duck, brown quail and pheasant. For non-commercial purposes, muttonbirds and wallabies may also be hunted.
Hunters with permission from private landowners and state forest are allowed to hunt pest or feral animals. This state has no restriction for such hunt except for hunting of game species which can only be done during the open season under a state licence scheme. Hunters are allowed to hunt several game species including stubble quail, pheasants, partridges, European quail, California quail, Pacific black duck, grey teal, hardhead, Australian shelduck, pink-eared duck, Australian wood duck, chestnut teal, Australasian shoveller, hog deer, red deer, sambar deer and fallow deer. Hares and feral dogs are classified as pests, and can be hunted at any time throughout the year.
Hunters are allowed to hunt only feral species but they can only hunt on private land with permission and a valid firearms licence. Feral species include camels, donkeys, feral cattle, feral dogs, feral horse, hares and starling.