Rules and regulations

Game and feral animal hunting in NSW is subject to regulations to ensure the safety of all users of public land. The conditions which apply to legal hunting in NSW are set out in the Game and Feral Animal Control Act 2002 and the Game and Feral Animal Control Regulation 2012. In particular, Schedule 1 of the Game and Feral Animal Control Regulation 2012 sets out the mandatory conditions of NSW Game Hunting Licences.

As the regulatory authority, DPI is responsible for enforcement of and compliance with these conditions. Breaches of the regulations result in serious penalties.

Additional requirements apply depending on whether you are hunting on public land or hunting on private land, such as the general and specific conditions of Written Permissions issued to hunt on public land.

Licensing

Hunters are required to hold a valid hunting licence if they are hunting on public land, or if they are hunting deer or other game animals on private land.

Different licence types apply to different types of hunting. Some people may be exempt from the licensing requirement.

A condition of holding a game hunting licence is compliance with the regulations.

Hunters must also carry their valid hunting licence with them at all times while hunting. The licence must be produced immediately when requested by an authorised inspector, NSW Police officer or the landowner. If a hunter loses, damages or misplaces their licence they can apply for a new one (fees apply).

Permission to hunt

A hunter must have permission from the owner or manager of the land they wish to hunt on to do so.

For public land in NSW, DPI is able to grant written permission to hunters on behalf of other land managers.

Written permission for declared public land hunting

If a hunter holds a NSW restricted game hunting licence (R-licence), they are able to apply for written permission to hunt on specified public lands.

A copy of the written permission to hunt must be carried at all times when hunting and must be produced immediately when requested by an authorised inspector, NSW Police officer or the land owner.

Written permissions issued by DPI are subject to standard conditions that are agreed to when a hunt is booked. Individual hunting areas may also have special conditions that must be agreed to. GPS data downloads are compulsory and form part of your written permission conditions.

Junior hunters

Licensed juniors, over the age of 12 and under the age of 18, must hunt under the close personal supervision of a licensed person who is at least 18 years old. The junior hunter must also hold the same type of licence as the supervising adult hunter.

Junior hunters are not eligible to hold a hunting guide or commercial hunting licence.

Juniors using firearms

If a junior hunter is using firearms, they must hold a minor's firearms training permit as well as a junior hunting licence. Minor's firearms permits are issued by the NSW Police Force Firearms Registry.

Game animal regulations

Special conditions apply to game licence holders when hunting deer or other game animals in NSW.

Game fleeing from fire or smoke

Game animals cannot be hunted if they are fleeing from fire or smoke.

Release of game animals

It is illegal to release game animals for the purpose of hunting.

Deer hunting regulations

When hunting deer, hunters must not use:

  • spotlights, artificial lights (including infrared devices) or electronic devices that enhance vision or hearing
  • sights that project a beam or recorded sounds
  • baits, lures, decoys or live animals (except deer callers and planted crops)
  • an aircraft, watercraft or motor vehicle.

Other special conditions on deer hunting include:

  • deer may only be hunted during daylight hours (from half an hour before sunrise up to half an hour after sunset)
  • dogs may only be used to locate, point or flush deer and must not chase the deer. Scent trailing hounds are not permitted to be used in NSW
  • a person hunting alone may use one dog to hunt deer or a group may use up to two dogs to hunt deer.

Deer seasons

Some species of deer have specific times of the year when they breed. Hunting at these times is restricted due to an increased likelihood of animal welfare concerns.

The following seasons apply to deer hunting in NSW:

Deer species Hunting season
Fallow, Red and Wapiti deer 1 March to 31 October
Hog deer 1 April to 30 April
Chital, Sambar and Rusa deer All year

The regulations that apply to the hunting of deer by licensed hunters can be suspended by the Department where deer are causing unacceptable impacts on primary production, the environment or community values.

More information:

Ecological Deer Management

Ecological Deer Management (EDM) is in place in four forests in southern NSW. The program is in place to ensure fair and equitable access to all hunters and as a management strategy for wild deer herds.

Game bird regulations

When hunting game birds, hunters must not use:

  • baits, lures, decoys or live animals (except artificial callers, planted crops and any decoy made to resemble a game bird or a call resembling that of a game bird)
  • an aircraft, watercraft or motor vehicle.

Other special conditions on game bird hunting include:

  • Dogs may only be used to locate, point, flush or retrieve.
  • Dogs may be used in a field trial conducted by a hunting club or organisation approved by DPI.

Hunting with dogs

All dogs being used to hunt must:

  • wear a collar which has a metal tag or label attached with the name, address and telephone number of the owner of the dog
  • be microchipped
  • not chase any other species of animal.

These requirements are in addition to the special conditions for hunting deer and other game animals using dogs.

Using dogs to hunt pigs on public land

Part 13 of Schedule 1 of the Game and Feral Animal Control Regulation 2012 sets out the general conditions that apply to any hunting of pigs using dogs on public land. These conditions are:

  • dogs must only locate, bail or hold pigs - they must not be allowed to maul or kill pigs and hunters must take all necessary steps to ensure that their dogs do not inflict unnecessary pain on the pig
  • a licence holder hunting alone must not use more than three dogs for locating, holding or bailing pigs
  • a group of licence holders must not use more than five dogs for locating, holding or bailing pigs
  • dogs must be microchipped, wearing a collar with a metal tag or label attached which shows the name, address and telephone number of the owner of the dog, and must be wearing a radio tracking collar or be on a lead
  • the licence holder using the dog must ensure it does not chase any other species of animal
  • the licence holder must not leave or abandon the dog on public land.

Code of Practice

The Game and Feral Animal Control Act 2002 sets out a Code of Practice for licensed hunters. The code is mandatory and penalties may apply for non-compliance.