The SSAA encourages all hunters to display appropriate firearm-handling skills, acceptable conduct and responsibility to themselves and others when out in the field. Hunters should endeavour to understand their targeted species, appreciate the environment and participate with and be mindful of the welfare of others. To do this, hunters are advised to read the following tips.
Ethical hunters need to practise to maintain a satisfactory degree of shooting skill. To be proficient, you need to develop a sound understanding of the basic techniques of shooting. The best way to achieve this is by regular visits to the range.
There are four main field positions used by hunters when using a rifle. These are commonly referred to as the prone, sitting, kneeling and standing positions.
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, it would be wise for the hunter to gain the advantage of a supported position such as using a tree or fence post to improve stability. This will ensure an accurate shot and a clean instantaneous kill.
When using a shotgun, the best way to use the shotgun is to ensure the shooter’s body faces towards the target in a boxing-like stance. The left foot (for the right-handed shooter) should be half a step ahead of the right and the body should be leaning slightly forward, resting with more weight on the left leg. The left arm should be extended and the left hand should grip the fore-end firmly enough to be able to swing the body and the shotgun in any direction. The right arm should be held up and the butt held snugly into the right shoulder. The shoulder should be kept high. The shot should be made by pulling 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 pulled.
Know your target
It doesn’t matter if you are new to hunting or have been hunting for many years, educating yourself about your target animal is a key to hunting success. Knowing as much as possible about your target animal will give you an advantage and increase your success. Reading books and articles about a particular target animal will allow the hunter to gain a basic understanding on the animal’s biology and its behaviour. These are two important details that should be investigated prior to hunting because they can directly relate to where and how you can find the target animal. You don’t need to become an expert, but the more information you read and understand about your target animal will go a long way in making your hunting trips more successful.
By understanding the way an animal lives and behaves, the hunter can then determine what type or method of hunting will achieve the best results. Knowing when a certain species becomes active allows you to concentrate your hunting effort around those times and this increases your chances of greater success. Apart from the timing of your activities, your understanding of the target animal will help you determine the most effective method of hunting, be it whistling, spotlighting, flushing, hiding or stalking.
Choosing the right cartridge
Whether you are going to shoot clays, hunt rabbits or take up target shooting, using the right firearm and cartridge choice is vital. The following information suggests what type of firearm/cartridge you could use for a variety of species. Of course, these are just general suggestions. With experience, you may develop your own preference suited to your needs.
When just starting out as a shooter, trying to figure out and understand the different cartridges types can be very confusing, especially if you are thinking about hunting different animals.
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. There are certain rules governing the size of cartridge used when hunting certain species, so this information should be used only as a general guide. States such as Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales have minimum legal calibres that must be used 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.
|Minimum suggested rifle cartridges for hunting game animals|
|Game animal||Minimum suggested cartridge||Maximum range|
|Rabbits and hares||.22RF||100m|
|Foxes and feral cats||.22RF||100m|
|Dingoes and wild dogs||.222 Remington||200m|
|Feral goats||.22-250 Remington||100m|
|Feral pigs||.243 Winchester||150m|
|Small deer*||.243 Winchester||150m|
|Big deer*||.270 Winchester||200m|
|*subject to legal minimum calibre set by state regulations|
Consideration for others is an important responsibility for you and your group, as well as other parties. The hunter who leaves the area in a mess, shoots without proper care, is rude or inconsiderate will reduce the enjoyment and efficiency of all concerned and runs the risk of limiting the access of the location to others. Plan your trip and let people know the route that you are taking. Overdue or late hunters cause considerable concern that could require the mobilisation of expensive resources for a search and rescue operation. Careful people also consider the impact of their activities on the environment. Responsible hunters ensure such impact is minimal by removing rubbish, extinguishing fires, not polluting streams or dams and leaving campsites in their natural condition.
Two to four hunters make for manageable groups where the hunters can share experiences and support one another in times of emergency. Hunters operating in groups can share some items of equipment. When backpacking and travelling, this is an important consideration for weight reduction.
When planning your trip, you should talk to your hunting mates and decide what is needed and create a list of the items each has to bring. The list should be reviewed to see if it includes any unnecessary items, which could be left out to reduce weight and bulk. This is especially important if you are backpacking into a remote area. Preventing the double-up of items will reduce equipment weight, which can have a positive effect on energy and fuel consumption. This is also a worthwhile thought with the current cost of fuel.
Some of the other considerations a hunter should make when planning a trip include water availability at the site, fuel required to get there and back, first-aid supplies to be packed in a kit, maps of the area and surrounding region, GPS and spare batteries, food supplies and spares parts, accommodation requirements such as tents or swag, anticipated weather conditions, communication needs and the hunting equipment required. Each one of these considerations leads to many questions that must be asked and answered before heading out on a trip. A simple thing such the availability of potable water at the campsite will determine whether there is a need to carry sufficient water to cover the whole trip. Also, knowing how far away the nearest petrol station is will determine if you will need to carry a fuel supply with you and how far away from help you may be.
On a trip, the hunter will need clothing appropriate to the area. Australia has diverse conditions, from the moist, damp tropics to the hot, dry interior to the cold and wet alpine regions. Some districts have very hot days and very cold nights all in one day. Hunters should ensure that they take clothing that is suited to the region, season and likely day/night temperatures they will experience.
For safety reasons, it is suggested that hunters who use camouflage consider wearing an item of blaze orange clothing such as a hat or vest. This increases their visibility to other hunters and is a legal requirement when hunting on public land in some states. The last thing any hunter needs is to be mistaken for game themselves and taking a precaution such as wearing orange blaze clothing will prevent such an accident happening.