Hunting on Properties Close to Town - The Loose Cannon
I have access to a property that borders on a town of 4,000 people. The owner is having problems with fox. He is not allowed to poison, because of the risk of poisoned bait being carried into town and killing domestic pets.
Can I shoot on this property and control his foxes without problems with the Police?
I live in rural NSW.
This is an interesting question. It is not so much a ‘legal question’, as a hunt management and safety question, although the these overlap.
There is no rule, anywhere in Australia that states you cannot shoot 1km from a main road or town, although I have commented previously, this view is welded into Australian folk lore.
It also raises many of the ‘cone of fire’, ricochet and noise issues that I have discussed previously when discussing small acreages, although here I note that you have several thousand acres at your disposal, and your only difficulty with habitation is on one side of the property.
I live in NSW in an area adjoining the ACT, and one local farmer who is literally eaten out of house and home because of ACT Green insanity toward Kangaroos, arranged a shoot a couple of years ago.
The cones of fire saw projectiles go into a mound of earth, and only frangible bullets were used. Nevertheless, these events attract the drama-queens, and some locals were claiming bullets flew past their heads. Following a number of complaints being made to Police, the shoot was terminated after only a few hours.
AVOID BEING A NUISANCE TO POLICE
The major issue would appear to be the public ringing Police and the ‘nuisance’ this caused them.
I suspect for this reason, that you are not going to be able to shoot at them with a high-power rifle.
I suggest you give this matter a lot of thought before you start shooting, and visit the local Licensing Sergeant and discuss the problem and how the control problem can be managed.
PLAN HUNTING WITH A TOPOGRAPHICAL MAP
Take with you a Topographical Map with the property clearly marked, and indicate the directions shots shall be taken in, and steps taken to ensure that spent projectiles are going to go to ground safely.
I used to keep a Crossbow at my mother in law’s when she was alive and residing in Deloraine Tasmania. Sadly, Tasmania has now caught the NSW insanity bug regarding crossbows, and Sylvia is no longer alive, but I know from my experience with one, that while I would not regard one an equal substitute for a rifle, that one would be my first thought in a situation such as yours.
I would use calls to bring foxes into 30 yards or so- as we used to in the 70’s when hunting them with a shotgun to minimise pelt damage, and then dispatch the fox with the cross-bow.
It could be worthwhile talking to the licensing Policeman to see if he would support a Prohibited Weapons Permit for a Cross-bow for use on this property.
Another alternative is a sound moderator.
Moderators do not make firearms ‘Hollywood quiet’, and the only way you can achieve significant noise moderation is to fire subsonic loads. This may mean using a heavier projectile to achieve this end.
You are probably not going to just be able to stick a moderator on the end of your usual rifle and get an optimal result, and you may need to choose a particular chambering for this purpose, and select a rate of barrel twist that shall stabilize the desired slow moving large projectile.
Another alternative, that you would want to use with a moderator for optimal effect, but which could otherwise work would be subsonic loads. Here great care should be exercised, as paradoxically firearms can blow up as a result of combustion changes associated with very light loads, and so a specialist powder such as Trail Boss should be used.
HIGH POWERED PCP AIR RIFLES
Some overseas shooters are using PCP Air rifles in larger chambering’s such as .25, .30 or .357 to shoot fox and coyote size animals, in situations such as yours. This is a niche market, that I have no personal experience in, and I am not aware of any such firearms in Australia, although one could be imported if local importers do not have one immediately at hand.
The Benjamin Air-bow is nothing more than one of these airguns that is firing a .357 cal arrow shaft instead of a rifle projectile, and in its PCP rifle form shoots .357 handgun bullets.
Here, I do not know how an ‘Air-bow’ would compare to a Cross-bow. One advantage is that it can be held on a normal firearms licence and would not require a special Permit and the type of nonsensical conditions that these attract.
I cannot comment on the noise that the Air-bow or PCP air rifle they would make, and suggest you may like to do some ‘Googling’ and one may be worth a try.
Also, the Air-bow uses non-standard arrows, and I do not know how costing compares to generic Crossbow quarrels.
Also discuss publicisation via local media of the fox problem with Police, and perhaps get the local Council supporting it and helping to publicise your activities. After all, they do not want foxes foraging in the town either, because this will create pest problems for them.
It sounds to me as though you have found yourself an interesting place to hunt, and adjusting hunting techniques to suit the particular needs of the property should give you particular satisfaction.
Please let me know how you get on.
JOIN THE FIGHT.
National Firearms Lawyer
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Simon Munslow is a lawyer who has a lifelong interest in shooting, having acquired his first firearm at the age of nine, and has had an active interest in firearms law since writing a thesis on the topic over thirty years ago at University.
Simon Munslow practices extensively in Firearms Law matters throughout Australia.
He is a regular contributor to the Australian Sporting Shooter magazine’s website on Firearms law matters, has published articles on firearms reviews and firearms law, and occasionally is asked to comment in the broader media on firearms matters.
This article is written for general information only and does not constitute advice.
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