Modern recreational hunting is an activity that occurs across every state and territory in Australia, with hunters coming from every walk of life, and numbers are estimated to be from 200,000 individuals to over 300,0001. Each state and territory within the federation have their own set of rules, policies and procedures, and regulations that oversee the practice of recreational hunting. Due to the non-uniformity of the rules between states and territories, this article will give a brief overview into generalised hunting practices on the national level.

1 The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is a frequent pest to Australia and is frequently hunted. Image source: Zach Williams, The Hunting Connection Podcast

The recreational hunting in Australia specifically targets species that are not native to Australia, of which there are over 25 species which are legal to hunt2. These animals are targeted due to being what is known as an invasive species, which are species living in an area they are not native to and have been introduced through various means, and are capable of doing irreparable damage to the Australian environment and ecosystem3. Some examples of legally recreationally huntable animals in Australia include feral pigs and foxes.

Damage done by these animals

The aforementioned animals are damaging to the Australian landscape in their own unique way, from local area faunal extinction to crop yield and health, it is important they are dealt with adequately.

Feral pigs

Feral pigs may be one of Australia’s most damaging pest animals, with an estimated population of up to 24 million individuals4. These animals destroy crops, thoroughly degrade the quality of soil and water they encounter, massively prey on native species, and spread many diseases and weeds5.


The red fox has been a serious ecological headache since its introduction in the late 1800’s, as it has been the direct and indirect cause of numerous native fauna extinctions, on a local and national level6. The red fox is not only a threat to the native environment, but to the agricultural sector too, with foxes being known to prey on young livestock7.

Where we hunt

The areas available to recreational hunters within Australia vary between the respective states and territories, which each state taking a varied approach in their means. Some states, such as New South Wales, have state-level programs which enable an individual to hunt in designated areas of state forest or crown land. All states allow for hunting on private property, however some states such as Queensland, only allow recreational hunting on private properties.

Why this is a problem

Only allowing recreational hunting to partake on private properties allows for a near unchecked population of invasives to continue their path of destruction to the fragile and unique environment and ecosystem, until funds allow for a governmental cull. This approach also denies the state the economic benefits enjoyed by other states that recreational hunting brings through allowing public land hunts8.

How we hunt

2 Hunters have many tools available, rifles and quad bikes are a popular combination, allowing for accuracy and access to many locations. Image source: author

The recreational hunters of Australia employ multiple methods to complete their hunt. One of the most popular methods is via use of a firearm, which can be either a rifle or shotgun, on foot or from a vehicle. These hunts, under certain conditions, may be done either during the day or at night-time, using night aids such as spotlights and/or thermal optics. Bowhunting is another form of hunting that the Australian recreational hunter enjoys, as most states do not have restrictions on the purchase or sale of bows.

Why we hunt


3 Many people feel a deep-rooted connection to the land during their hunts, to each other, and the stories and memories formed during these times cannot be topped. Image source: author

As with every recreational activity, the reasons why Australian recreational hunters hunt varies person to person. Many may hunt solely for food purposes, as a single deer may be able to feed a person or family for weeks to months per animal. Many farmers must hunt to protect their crops and livestock, as this is their life, and these things affect their profitability for the season. Numerous hunters engage in recreational hunting practices for the satisfaction associated with environmental and ecological conservation. While others may feel the deep-rooted need to connect themselves with the land, with where their food comes from, or may gain other benefits such as hunting increasing their mental health. Whatever their reason may be, recreational hunting in Australia is an important past time for many people, for the beautiful Australian environment, and the agricultural and economic sectors.

Authors notes:

If you enjoyed this article, please do share it, it means a lot to us. We wish to spread a positive message about hunting and shooting, to garner a good image for our community and help dispel some of the negative myths about us. If you'd like to spread the message, check out our "Conservation" line of tee shirts.

By Daniel Kuhl



  1. Finch, N., et al., Expenditure and motivation of Australian recreational hunters. Wildlife Research, 2014. 41(1): p. 76-83.
  2. SSAA. What can you hunt. 2022; Available from:
  3. Lockwood, J.L., M.F. Hoopes, and M.P. Marchetti, Invasion ecology. 2nd ed. ed. 2013, Chichester, West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.
  4. Hone, J., How many feral pigs in Australia? An update. Australian Journal of Zoology, 2019. 67(4): p. 215-220.
  5. Government, Q. Feral Pig. 2021; Available from:,and%20livestock%2C%20and%20carry%20diseases.
  6. Short, J., The extinction of rat-kangaroos (Marsupialia:Potoroidae) in New South Wales, Australia. Biological Conservation, 1998. 86(3): p. 365-377.
  7. Government, Q. Fox. 2021; Available from:
  8. RMCG, Economic and social impacts of recreational hunting and shooting. 2019: RMCG.
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