Is It Legal To Hunt In The UK?
As a prepper, you are probably expecting at some point during a SHTF event that you will need to hunt to survive.
Hunting might be your only option of finding nutritious and high energy foods once the masses strip the shelves of Asda and Morrisons within the first few weeks of a major disaster, and supply chains eventually buckle.
Unfortunately, many animals are not going to just let you hunt them and eat them. There is a lot of debate around the legalities of hunting animals in the UK. Whether this be using dogs to help hunt or just yourself and whatever you can find to hunt an animal with.
The Hunting Act 2004 was implemented on the 18th of November 2004 and was passed in an attempt to control the hunting of certain species of hares and other mammals using dogs.
The act bans the hunting of animals with dogs such as deer, mink, hare and foxes as this is considered cruel.
You can still hunt legally in the UK, however hunters should obey a particular set of very specific rules when hunting. The hunting laws in the UK apply to:
- The type of hunting equipment you can use, such as dogs and firearms
- The dates of when you can legally hunt certain animals
- Which species of animal you can hunt
Laws Surrounding Hunting Mammals In The UK
You are required to adhere to hunting rules when hunting deer. This includes what type of ammunition you can use as well as what type of firearms you can use. Deer hunting can only be done within a certain timeframe or season.
It is illegal to hunt or shoot deer when using dogs to chase them or if you are using any kind of vehicle. You will also require a hunting licence to shoot and hunt for deer.
Fox hunting was banned in November 2004. However, you can get around the legalities by taking part in trail hunting or drag hunting where you use a dog to help track, hunt down and kill the fox.
Fines can be implemented for the use of more than one dog, you also run the risk of having your dogs and hunting equipment confiscated.
You can shoot, hunt and trap many other animals according to UK law. However, some of these can only be hunted in season. Other mammals that you can hunt and shoot in the UK include mink, rabbits, weasels, mice, stoat, grey squirrel, brown rats and feral cats.
Bird Hunting and Shooting
You can thankfully shoot and hunt many birds in the UK. Vermin birds such as pigeons can be shot any time of year however you are required by law to wait until ‘shooting season’ in the UK before you can shoot or hunt certain species of bird.
Seasons will vary depending on the species of bird.
If you wish to own a rifle or a shotgun in the UK, you will be required to apply for a firearm license in compliance with UK gun laws. It should be worth noting that you do not need a firearm certificate for:
- Air pistols which have less than a total of 6ft.lbs of power
- Air rifles which have less than a total of 12ft.lbs of power
According to the UK laws, it is illegal to use the following when hunting:
- Burst fire or full automatic weapons
- Explosives (such as grenades). This does not include legal ammunition
- Compound and recurve bows or crossbows of any kind
It is legal, however, to shoot, trap and kill animals which pose any immediate threat to both humans and livestock. However, this must be done in the most humane way possible and you are encouraged to try different options first.
Hunting in England and Wales – You cannot hunt or kill any game within any county throughout England and Wales on Christmas day or any Sunday. Game refers to hare, black grouse, red grouse, pheasant and partridge.
Hunting in Scotland – There are no restrictions which you must adhere to when hunting in Scotland on Sundays or Christmas day however it is usually seldom done at these times.
Hunting in Northern Ireland – It is considered an offence if you kill any hare, gamebird or wild bird on a Sunday. There are no restrictions for killing hare, game bird or wild birds on Christmas as long as Christmas day does not fall on a Sunday. Deer can also be shot on any day that falls within the open season.
Hunting in Isle of Man – You cannot take game or kill on a Sunday. You can on Christmas day provided it does not fall on a Sunday.
Hunting in Guernsey – Shooting is not allowed on Christmas day or Sunday.
Hunting in Jersey – You may not use a firearm to kill any animal or bird on Good Friday, Christmas day or Sunday. Unless, you are acting under the terms and conditions of a hunting licence.
Now that you’re brought up to scratch on the legalities of hunting in the UK it is important to regularly monitor government websites to watch for any updates or changes to the hunting laws in the UK.
In the event of a SHTF event, as a UK prepper you may be required to hunt for food. Of course, if governance is non-existent then you will not need to worry about any hunting laws in the UK as they will no longer exist and everything that has fur, fins or feathers is fair game.
If you do plan on legally hunting in the meantime, be sure to brush up on all of the hunting rules as well as obtaining the necessary fire arm certificates to avoid any fines, penalties or trouble with local police who may not take too kindly to people using fire arms in close proximity to public areas.
A great way to start is by joining an air rifle club or clay pigeon shoot to get a feel for hunting weapons. You can even apply to be a beater on a shoot to get into the atmosphere of shooting.