Increase in hunters brings Victoria’s game licence numbers close to 60,000

Victoria now has nearly 60,000 licensed game hunters – a number which has increased dramatically in recent years, according to the 2023 Game Management Authority (GMA) Licensing Statistics report.

The recently released report shows that on 30 June this year, there were 59,682 game licences on issue in the state, with the majority (48,038) including an endorsement for deer hunting.

Duck-hunting endorsements totalled 22,193, while 26,940 licences have a quail-hunting endorsement. Licence-holders can be endorsed for more than one type of game – for example, someone could be endorsed to hunt deer and ducks, after passing the appropriate waterfowl identification test.

The number of game licence holders has more than doubled (up 105%) since 30 June 1996, and deer hunting licences have exploded in popularity since then, with a 550% increase.

The report includes some interesting demographic data too, notably that 96% of game licence holders (57,016 people) are men; and that the majority are aged between 28 and 57.

While numerically low, the percentage of women participating in hunting has grown significantly, and they are also represented across all aged groups: there are 69 women aged over 68 with a game licence, and 199 females in the 12-17 age group.

In addition to hunting licences, the state’s Wildlife Act 1975 also allows for authorisations to take game for the purposes of management, conservation, protection or control of game, for Aboriginal cultural purposes, and “for the purposes of the management, conservation, protection or control of wildlife or for the purposes of education about wildlife, research into wildlife or scientific or other study of wildlife”. 

In the 2022-23 financial year, 752 authorisations were issued for animal management, conservation or protection reasons, but no authorisations were issued for Aboriginal cultural purposes or research, scientific, or study reasons.

Hunting hounds are also included in the statistics, with the report noting there are 384 registered hunting hounds in Victoria. This is considerably down from the peak of 1197 in 2013, but a notable increase over the 182 hounds registered in 2021.

Licensed hunters live throughout Victoria but there’s no surprise to see there are large numbers of them living in suburban Melbourne, as well as larger regional centres such as Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat, Shepparton and the Latrobe Valley. 

Deer hunters in particular tend to be located in either Melbourne or the state’s eastern regions.

Given the increasingly political nature of hunting in Victoria, it is great to see strong and increasing numbers of people obtaining hunting licences and getting out into the bush and wetlands – especially since it is well established that hunting has a positive economic impact on rural communities.

For more information on hunting in Victoria, including obtaining a game licence so you can enjoy it for yourself, visit the GMA website.




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Royce Wilson

Royce is something rare in Australia: A journalist who really likes guns. He has been interested in firearms as long as he can remember, and is particularly interested in military and police firearms from the 19th Century to the present. In addition to historical and collectible firearms, he is also a keen video gamer and has written for several major newspapers and websites on that subject.