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There are many things to consider when first becoming involved in hunting. At times, it can be difficult to know where to start. SSAA Victoria suggests every new hunter connect with like-minded people who can provide support and advice to new hunters, through its sub-clubs. Below are some tips for inexperienced hunters who are keen to learn more about the pastime.

Connect with a sub-club

SSAA Victoria has three hunting-specific sub-clubs: the Deerstalkers Club, the Field Hunters Club and the Working Gun Dogs of Australia. Anyone who is interested in trying hunting is encouraged to first join a sub-club and connect with experienced hunters, who can provide support to inexperienced hunters. These clubs often host social gatherings, training courses, guest speaker nights and organised hunts for their members.

Enrol in a course

Along with enrolling in any courses offered by the SSAA Victoria sub-clubs, the Association encourages all new shotgun shooters to enrol in the Shotgunning Education Program. The Shotgunning Education Program is run in conjunction with Game Management Authority and Field and Game Australia. It is held across the State, throughout the year. This program is also beneficial for clay target shooters. For more information on the Shotgunning Education Program, click here.

Main field positions

There are four main field positions used by hunters when using a rifle: prone, sitting, kneeling and standing. Before taking a shot, the hunter should be in the most stable position possible. If a target animal has been selected and there is time, using the support of a tree, fence post or bipod/shooting stick can improve stability, which will ensure an accurate shot and a clean, quick kill.

Shotgun stance

When using a shotgun, ensure the shooter’s body faces towards the target in a boxing-like stance. Place the left foot (for the right-handed shooter) half a step ahead of the right and lean the body slightly forward, resting with more weight on the left leg. Extend the left arm and grip the shotgun fore-end firmly enough to be able to swing the body and the shotgun in any direction. Hold the right arm and shoulder up and place the shotgun butt snugly into the right shoulder. The shot should be made by squeezing the trigger as the barrel is swung to move ahead of the target. The follow-through is the same as in golf, in that, the swing must continue after the trigger has been squeezed.

Sighting-in in the field

Bring a target if you need to sight in a rifle in a State Forest or on private land. Shooting at signs and trees is unacceptable as it presents a ricochet risk. Shooting at signs is also against the law.

Recommended minimum calibre

As an ethical hunter, you want to be sure that the cartridge you are using is powerful enough to produce a clean, quick one-shot kill. The following information suggests firearm and cartridge types for a variety of species. Of course, these are just general suggestions and with experience, you may develop your own preference suited to your needs.

Additionally, there are certain rules governing the size of cartridge used when hunting certain species, so the following information should be used only as a general guide. Victoria has minimum legal calibres for certain species of deer. Being a responsible and ethical hunter, you should always endeavour to be up-to-date with any regulations that indicate a specific cartridge type or calibre for a particular animal.

Game animal Minimum suggested cartridge Maximum range
Rabbits and hares .22 Rimfire 100m
Foxes and feral cats .22 Rimfire 100m
Kangaroos .222 Remington 150m
Wild dogs .222 Remington 200m
Feral goats .22-250 Remington 100m
Feral pigs .243 Winchester 150m
Small deer .243 Winchester 150m
Large deer .270 Winchester 200m

NOTE: Shotguns may also be used with shot sizes to suit all species from #10 to solid projectiles.

Identify your target

Before squeezing the trigger all hunters should ensure they can 100 per cent positively identify their target. If in doubt, do not shoot.

Shot placement

To achieve a quick and ethical kill, the hunter must aim either at the head, to destroy the major centres at the back of the brain near the spinal cord or at the chest to destroy the heart, lungs and great blood vessels.

Ten basic rules of firearm safety

  1. Treat every firearm as loaded
  2. Always point firearms in a safe direction
  3. Load a firearms only when ready to fire
  4. Identify your target beyond all doubt
  5. Check your firing zone
  6. Store firearms and ammunition safely
  7. Avoid alcohol and drugs when handling firearms
  8. Never have loaded firearms in the car, home or camp
  9. Never fire at hard surfaces or water
  10. Don’t climb fences or obstacles with loaded firearms

Etiquette for hunting on private land

  • Leave gates as you find them
  • Ask permission before lighting fires
  • Keep cooking fires as small as possible
  • Put your fires out properly before leaving
  • Never gather firewood and use a chain-saw without prior permission
  • Keep clear of stock routes
  • Drive only on defined tracks
  • Be especially careful with target identification and danger zones if spotlighting
  • Keep away from water troughs
  • Never contaminate stock water with soaps
  • Take your rubbish away with you
  • Ensure the property owner is well aware of your movements
  • If you are successful, offer to share your game with the owner
  • Report any suspicious or unusual events to the owner
  • Don’t keep returning to the property with new people
  • Look after the areas as if they were your own
  • All personal waste must be buried

Respect the hunt

When you are enjoying Victoria’s great hunting opportunities, be mindful that the future of hunting depends on how you conduct yourself as a hunter. Every hunter should be an ambassador for the recreation.

As a responsible hunter you should always:

  • Respect animals: Only take what you can use; make optimal use of harvested quarry; shoot only when you can retrieve your quarry; shoot only when a humane result is possible; use the right equipment to effectively and humanely hunt animals; look after your hunting dogs.
  • Respect the environment: Take all your litter (including empty cartridges) with you; bury or remove animal remains; drive only on designated tracks; keep campfires safe; leave your campsite clean; protect our wetlands and waterways; take part in efforts to protect and restore wildlife habitats.
  • Respect other hunters: Be respectful and courteous if hunting or camping in the same area as other people; be safe and abide by the law so everyone is on a level playing field; share your knowledge and skills with others.
  • Respect the hunt: Hunt safely and abide by the Firearms Safety Code; lead by example; respect our cultural heritage; always hunt within the law and report illegal behaviour; uphold the highest ethical standards; promote and praise good behaviour; know your skill limits and hunt within them; improve and maintain your skills through practice and/or joining a sub-club.
  • Respect non-hunters: Help others and be courteous; thoughtfully carry hunting equipment and harvested quarry; respect the opinions of non-hunters; only enter private property with permission; share the harvest with a non-hunter and promote the culinary/sustainability benefits of hunting.
  • Respect the laws: Take time to know the laws and act within them at all times; work with Authorised Officers; don’t tolerate illegal behaviour; report suspected offenders on 136 186.