Code of Practice (safe hunting procedures)

There are many modes of hunting foxes and other feral animals.

FOXBUSTERS wish every hunt to be successful but more importantly “SAFE”

The following are guidelines are based on common sense and collective experience.

Spotlight Shooting Code of Practice

Spotlight shooting is a potentially dangerous activity, because it involves the transport and use of firearms on a vehicle moving over uneven terrain, sometimes at considerable speed. A firearm injury is a very serious matter. Safety is everyone’s responsibility.  The driver and shooters should not be fatigued or have consumed alcohol for 24hrs prior to the hunt, nor during the hunt.

When spotlighting shooting from “Rover“, or any other suitably equipped vehicle, maximum duty of care must be taken to provide secure firearm holders, the vehicle maintained in safe working condition and driven with as much care as possible.

Safe Operational Practices (SOPS)

  1. The driver is in charge of the whole operation and needs to be acquainted with the passengers’ names and level of experience and competence in advance.
  2. The driver will delegate a person experienced in safe firearm use to supervise shooters and spotlighters on the back of the vehicle. The delegated supervisor’s responsibility means he/she has the authority to have his/her directions and instructions respected and followed. Any person with a safety issue should raise it immediately with the supervisor or driver.
  3. All firearms used are to be licensed and used by the licensed holder or used with the permission and under the supervision of the license holder.
  4. Firearms must be, during the hunt, transported in safe manner so that an accidental discharge is not possible and only made ready to fire just prior to target acquisition.
  5. The firearm must be made safe again immediately after a firing session.
  6. Shooters must be familiar with every aspect of the safe and effective use of that
    firearm. Such familiarisation may not be an option on the night. (Dependent on
    the shooter’s experience and competence)
  7. Firearms must be made safe, and returned to their holders if possible when a
    passenger or the driver is exiting the vehicle. “Guns Up” should be called out to warn others that you are about to leave the vehicle and for them to make sure their firearm is safe. Bear in mind people are wearing earmuffs. Firearms should never be discharged when persons are not safely on board the shooting vehicle.
  8. At the conclusion of the hunt, people may be tired and inattentive. The unloading and making safe of firearms should be done as a Buddy System whereby you unload your firearm under the watchful eye of a buddy. Making sure that the firearm is pointing in a safe direction at all times. This is a safety double check.

Non-compliance of SOPS could result in the cancellation of the hunt.

Enjoy your hunt, may it be safe and successful.


FOXBUSTERS Hunting From a Vehicle Code of Practice


1.      One driver/shooter.

2.      One driver/shooter and one passenger shooter.

3.      One driver/shooter and two passenger shooters.

4.      One driver and one passenger shooter.

5.      One driver and two passenger shooters.


Any more persons – shooters or passengers – significantly increases the risk of mistakes and possible injuries unless the vehicle is customised to accommodate higher numbers of persons.


v  All firearms must be UNLOADED (no cartridge in chamber) when in transit.

v  All firearms must be UNLOADED (no cartridge in chamber) when unattended.  Unattended is when the firearm is not in the hands of and in control of the shooter.

v  The firearm should only be loaded, when game is present and in control of the shooter and pointed away from any part of the vehicle and any part of occupants.  The firearm must be SAFE.   SAFE means open breach or reliable safety catch on, so the firearm cannot accidently discharge.

v  The firearm should only be made ready to fire when the target is in view, in range and presented where a successful hit be made allowing for a safe background.  A safe background means that there is nothing that shouldn’t be struck by projectiles behind the target and 30degrees either side of the target.

v  After shots are fired, the firearm must be UNLOADED again displaying the UNLOADED firearm condition to a buddy.



Ø  Extreme care must be taken when alighting from the vehicle to engage the target.  The firearm must be SAFE and not allowed to point towards any part of the vehicle and occupants.  Made ready to fire only when trained toward the target.

Ø  At the conclusion of the hunt, particular care must be taken.  All firearms must be checked as they must be unloaded – breech open – before being transferred to other vehicles or secure storage.  Firearms should be stored uncocked to preserve the integrity of the firing spring.


On Foot Hunting Code of Practice

FOXBUSTERS On Foot Hunting Code of Practice
A party of walking hunters should have a maximum of three members. Two is much safer. None of the hunters should have consumed alcohol, illicit or recreational drugs 24 hours prior to the hunt nor during the hunt.


  • Firearms are best equipped with a sling so that extended hunting involves less fatigue.
  • The firearm should never be allowed to point toward another person and should be carried in an UNLOADED condition, preferably with the muzzle pointing upwards. Muzzle down involves the risk of inadvertently pointing toward feet and legs.
  • Prior to sighting quarry, the hunter to take the shot, should be nominated.
  • When the quarry is sighted, the nominated hunter may proceed ahead of the group, load his/her firearm but keeping it in a SAFE (SAFE means open breach or reliable safety catch on, so the firearm cannot accidentally discharge) condition so an accidental discharge is not possible. Only make ready to fire just prior to target acquisition.
  • UNLOAD the firearm after the shot/shots have been fired.
  • Should the quarry be only wounded, the firearm must be made SAFE again before pursuing the wounded animal. If other members of the party are involved in the pursuit, they must keep their firearms unloaded and not move ahead of the nominated hunter. Should the quarry move to the side, then the hunter on that side becomes the nominated hunter and may load and shoot. The original nominated hunter must make his/her firearm SAFE.
  • A party of thee should try to maintain a triangle so that it is clear that the hunter closest to the quarry is automatically the nominated hunter unless by arrangement otherwise. If the original nominated hunter is to remain in that status, other members of the party fall behind so the nominated hunter remains closest to the quarry. A hunter must never shoot if anyone is closer to the quarry than they are.

Calling foxes with decoy sounds.

  • When choosing suitable site and before the calling starts, the hunters must locate themselves in a comfortable position with cover or camouflage for concealment with a clear view facing as omnidirectional as possible and away from other hunters.
  • Firearms may be loaded but SAFE until the fox appears then made ready to fire. When that hunt concludes, all firearms must be UNLOADED before proceeding.
  • Never climb through a fence with a loaded firearm.
  • Shooting at flat surfaces such as water or hard ground increases the risk of ricochets with some projectile types.


National Firearms Safety Code – Northern Territory Police, Fire and …

2 thoughts on “Code of Practice (safe hunting procedures)

  1. There is not a provision for driver or passenger leaving the cab of the vehicle when a shot is about to be taken.
    Back in the early 1960s a group of four of us, in a single cab utility, had a spotlighting system where there was a driver and passenger in the cabin and a spotlight operator and shooter in the back. These tasks were rotated so that everybody had a fair share.
    One night when I was the shooter I was tracking a moving rabbit through the telescopic sight and on the point of firing the sight picture disappeared. The passenger had dismounted and ran in front of me of. He claimed that because it was taking some time for the shot to be taken that we, in the back, had not seen the rabbit.

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