Sambar deer hunting

More females, more fallow: the shift in Victoria’s hunting habits

Victorian deer hunting are shooting more females and more fallow than ever before, and the total deer harvest remains large. 

The latest figures published by the Game Management Authority reveal an estimated 123,376 deer were taken by hunters in 2022, slightly higher than in 2021 but short of the record set in 2019 of 173,800. 

Victorian deer harvest 2009-2023
This chart produced by the GMA shows estimated deer harvest (the squares) per year. The vertical lines show possible statistical variation in the estimates; the blue line shows the estimated average and the shaded area is the possible variation in the average

The GMA’s researchers point out the figures have been skewed by the recent effects of COVID-19 lockdowns and the Black Summer bushfires, which significantly affected hunting seasons in 2019-2021. 

Their conclusion is that the apparently high figures are lower than they might have been, given that the annual deer kill had been increasing at a rate of 17% before 2019. 

In other words, hunting in the Victoria is still to get properly back on track since the events of 2019-2021.

Still, there are many interesting figures in the 2022 estimates, including the notable increase in the number of fallow deer taken, up from 35,400 in 2021 to 41,180 in 2022 — an increase of roughly 20%.

Fallow were more commonly taken on private property than public land, whereas sambar deer were more often taken on public land. 

And while hunters shot almost as many male sambar as females, 62% of their fallow deer were female, suggesting a preference for hunting them for meat more than trophies.

Sambar were still the most common deer hunted, accounting for 62% of the total tally, followed by fallow. Fewer than 1400 red deer were shot, while about 4% of the harvest was not identified.

No other deer species were reported.

The numbers of licensed deer hunters in Victoria increased to a high of 50,478 in 2022, of which about half hunted deer during the year.

Hunters were apparently more efficient, taken less time to hunt their deer.

Active hunters took an average of five deer each.

The most productive regions were Victoria’s north (the Goulburn Broken region and North East region) followed by the two Gippsland regions in the east. Deer were taken in all parts of the state. 

The GMA figures are estimates based on the answers given by 2400 game-licence holders who participated in telephone surveys during and after the hunting season. 

The full report is available on the GMA website.




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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.