Demand for duck hunting licences surges as compulsory shooting tests loom 

All publicity is good publicity, an observation that rings true as interest in duck hunting rises in the wake of Victoria’s threats to ban the sport.

Now that a ban has been ruled out by the state government, there appears to be strong demand to sit Waterfowl Identification Tests (WIT), which are compulsory before gaining a waterfowl hunting licence. 

Field & Game Australia is running a campaign to have 2500 people sit the WIT this year, and is running subsidised courses at just $10. 

The Electrical Trades Union (ETU), which ran a strong campaign against the now-abandoned attempt to ban duck hunting, reports being “inundated” by members who want to take up the sport, and next week it will host a free duck identification training night followed by a WIT at its North Melbourne headquarters (see image above). 

The SSAA is running courses at $90 each. 

Meanwhile, the Victorian government has confirmed it will implement the Waterfowl Wounding Reduction Action Plan that will mandate shooting tests for bird hunters as part of the licensing process.

The action plan was prepared by a group comprising hunting organisations such as the SSAA and Field & Game, the Victorian Game Management Authority, animal welfare representatives and international consultants on bird hunting. 

The tests will require shooters to hit a minimum number of clay targets in a practical test designed to simulate ducks in flight. They may also have to show they can estimate ranges.

Regulations for the testing will be drawn up this year and introduced before the 2025 duck hunting season.

Once the regulations are in place, all new licence applicants will have to pass the proficiency test and existing hunting licence holders will be encouraged to do the test. 

A similar test will be implemented for deer hunters in the future. 

The change is likely to be a boon for gun clubs, who will not only be encouraged to host the tests but will have the opportunity to provide training prior to tests, earning income and potentially enlisting new members.

“We are delighted that Minister Dimopoulos has committed to finalising and implementing the action plan that provides a clear pathway for hunting to continue while meeting community expectations,” SSAA Victoria’s hunting development manager, David Laird, told The Weekly Times.




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Mick Matheson

Mick grew up with guns and journalism, and has included both in his career. A life-long hunter, he has long-distant military experience and holds licence categories A, B and H. In the glory days of print media, he edited six national magazines in total, and has written about, photographed and filmed firearms and hunting for more than 15 years.