What is night hunting

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In the category: nature conservation
Night hunt for hoofed game
Positioning of the ÖJV
Principles of the ÖJV
According to the principles of the ÖJV, sensible hunting methods must be as effective as possible, with little disruption and therefore animal welfare. On the one hand, they have to take into account wildlife biology, and on the other hand, the hunting of hoofed game should be geared towards the preservation and promotion of near-natural habitats. In addition, the hunt has the task of enabling near-natural forestry and preventing unreasonable damage to agriculture.

According to current hunting law, the regulation of night hunting is measured with two different standards due to an outdated grazing justice that is incomprehensible from an ethical and practical hunting point of view. Predatory game as a supposed pest and competitor may be hunted at night without restrictions. The wild boar, which is equal to this in many respects (no shooting planning, less care when firing, short closed season only for parent animals), although it counts as "big game", is also free of birds at night. The rest of the hoofed game and game birds (with a few exceptions) may not be hunted. Due to the high level of damage pressure, special permits apply to red deer in many regions.
Ultimately, it is not a game of wild biology, but arguments of the German "pasture-fair" arbitrariness and meanwhile obsolete hunting traditions that determine this selection.

From a humanized point of view, the spontaneous idea often arises to allow the harassed animals, which have been exposed to long hunting stress, to rest at least at night.
But if we want to hunt as close to nature as possible, night hunting would be the most natural thing in the world from the point of view of the prey, because predators are also and often precisely then active. An undisturbed night's sleep is just as alien to the hunted as a fear-free or safe existence during the day.
As "eye animals", humans are dependent on their eyesight when hunting; at night they can only be successful under special conditions (snow, moon) and with additional aids (telescopic sight, artificial light). In contrast to the constantly increasing number and sophistication of other technical aids, the use of artificial light sources is not permitted in Germany because it is not suitable for pasture.

A distinction must be made as to whether the aim of night hunting is mere preying (fox), completing the shooting and reducing game populations (roe deer, red deer) or the expulsion effect (wild boar damage in agriculture) or whether several goals are to be pursued simultaneously for a game species.

For the average German hunter who hunts in his spare time and is still arrested on individual hunts, evening twilight is the preferred hunting time. This involves driving into the forest to the last rifle light, sitting, possibly also shooting, the game being looked after and transported away. By continually perfecting the optics, the usable phase of dwindling light can be expanded further and further. The game reacts to this by postponing activities into the night. It is not the hiker, farmer or jogger operating in broad daylight who is responsible, as is often prematurely claimed by the hunters.
Basically, it can be assumed that game that is hunted during the day shifts its visible activities to twilight and that twilight hunting causes night activity. In the past, some of the deer-friendly grazers took this into account by dismantling when the rifle light was still good so as not to disturb the game. On the other hand, the ringing of the fields or the driven hunt in the moonlight were quite common as efficient types of hunting.

Implications for practice
Even if wildlife and sociological findings are presented in a simplified manner in the following, the species-specific differences in hunting practice should be taken into account. For example, the disruptive effect for the more territorial and solitary roe deer is much less than for the red deer or wild boar, which is organized in larger and more solid social associations. If a piece is shot out of a pack or pack, the probability is higher that the rest will avoid the feeding place or the field. Their radius of action is much larger, especially the sows can "wander" far around. In contrast, in roe deer, the attachment to the place outweighs the attachment to its conspecifics, its radius of action is much smaller. In practice, especially in the more sensitive species, "steam is made" at night, whereas the often astonishingly insensitive deer is left unmolested and it is forbidden to kill it.

Roe deer: Especially in early winter weather conditions (frost, light blanket of snow), deer hunting is a very successful and, for the reasons mentioned above, low-disturbance type of hunting. Then several pieces can often be hunted in a raised hide in a short time, so that penalties may not be imposed if this hide extends into the night hours. It is relatively easy to distinguish between fawns and adult specimens; no other response characteristics are required in winter. The prerequisite for an effective hunt is - as with the movement hunt - the adjustment of the hunting time also of the roebuck, the accidental shooting may no longer be an administrative offense.

Red deer: Due to the higher sensitivity to disturbance, the hunting of red deer at the feeding station and at night is much more restrictive than with the roe deer. The necessary shooting is - provided that the hunting practitioner has the appropriate will - easier to achieve on driven hunts than with roe deer, the focus of red deer hunting is therefore increasingly shifting to this type of hunting.

Wild boar: In addition to the need to reduce the population or at least maintain the existing densities in almost all occurrence areas, the prevention of damage in agriculture is an indicator of sensible hunting strategies for wild boars. Feeding and individual shooting in the forest must be completely avoided until autumn, only in the field and grassland are targeted shooting with a displacement effect. You cannot do without night hunting. The use of artificial light sources should also be considered in order to prevent a stream being shot, which is extremely problematic at this time. Since sows avoid open areas in good moonlight, suboptimal visibility must be used and an "artificial moon" would also lead to an animal welfare reduction in the number of bad shots and an extremely high search rate.
The required number of shoots must be met primarily in late autumn and winter on consistently carried out driven hunts.

There is no universal, universally applicable patent recipe for a general recommendation to practice night hunting. Depending on the game species being hunted, the territory conditions, the flexibility of the hunters in terms of time, the pressure of game damage, etc., an appropriate, targeted hunting strategy must be selected. Concentrating on promising seasons of the year is also important with regard to night hunting; the focus of all hunting activities in autumn and early winter makes sense for both exercise and night hunting.

Elisabeth Emmert
ÖJV federal chairman
Alte Poststrasse 20th
57537 knowledge
Send mail to Ms. Emmert

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