Deer hunting licences
Deer are a protected species in Ireland under the terms of the Wildlife Act, 1976 (as amended) and it is a serious offence to hunt them without a licence. The wild deer population in Ireland, which consists of red, fallow, sika, muntjac and hybrid deer, is managed by conservation rangers employed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). The NPWS is part of the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.
Applications for deer hunting licences are processed by the NPWS. Licences are issued free of charge, subject to compliance with certain rules.
The number of wild deer hunting licences issued by the NPWS varies from year to year, depending on demand, and the management of the deer population. The open season in Ireland also varies from year to year depending on the location and species of deer. Outside of the open hunting season, landowners can apply for a Section 42 licence to control deer on their lands if damage is being caused.
The following is the open season for deer in Ireland:
|Type of deer||Hunting period||Where in the State|
|Male Fallow Deer||1 September to 31 December||All counties|
|Female and Antlerless Fallow Deer||1 November to 28 February||All counties|
|Male Sika Deer||1 September to 31 December||All counties|
|Female and Antlerless Sika Deer||1 November to 28 February||All counties|
|Male Red Deer||1 September to 31 December||All counties except Kerry|
|Female and Antlerless Red Deer||1 November to 28 February||All counties except Kerry|
|Muntjac Deer||1 September to 31 August||All counties|
You cannot hunt deer in Ireland without a licence and the penalties for hunting deer without a licence can include fines, imprisonment, or both. You can only hunt deer for the period stated on your licence.
You must be over 16 years of age to hold a licence.
You may be of any nationality.
You must produce your licence if requested by any authorised person (an authorised person is a Garda or a conservation officer who is employed by NPWS).
Tampering with or defacing a deer hunting licence is an offence and penalties can involve fines/imprisonment or both.
If you wish to hunt deer on another person's land, you must show evidence of permission from the landowner when you apply for your licence. The land must total a minimum of 100 acres (42 hectares).
You can apply for a licence during the open or closed season but you can only hunt deer when permitted.
You must supply your firearm (gun) details when applying for a licence. The legal minimum requirement for a firearm to hunt deer is at least .220/.250 calibre which uses bullets of no less than 60 grain weight. All firearms in Ireland are registered and licensed.
You must supply your date of birth.
Deer hunting licence
The deer hunting licence you are issued with contains the following information:
- Your name and address
- Licence number
- Information about the Wildlife Act 1976 (as amended)
- Signature of the authorised issuing officer
- Your signature.
In order to obtain a deer hunting licence, you must supply details of your firearm (gun) when you submit your application for a deer hunting licence. Firearms certificates for weapons to hunt deer are issued by the Garda Commissioner through your local Garda station. There are important restrictions on the use and discharge of these dangerous weapons.
Your local police may require you provide evidence of adequate security in your home, land folio numbers if this weapon is to be discharged on your land and a deer hunting licence before they issue you with a firearms certificate. If you are not a landholder, you may be required to provide written evidence of shooting permission from three landholders together with a deer hunting licence before you are issued with a firearms certificate.
You must meet the necessary requirements if you are visiting from another country and importing a firearm for sporting purposes.
There is no charge for deer hunting licences.
How to apply
You can apply for a deer hunting licence for the upcoming season from the end of April, however, the licence can not be issued until August.
To get your licence in time for the new season you must apply before the end of June and it is advisable to apply as soon as possible.
Complete the Application for a Licence to Hunt Deer form which is available from the National Parks and Wildlife Service. If you do not intend to shoot on your own land, you must also supply written evidence of permission from the landowner allowing you to hunt on his/ her lands that hold deer. You will also have to supply the folio number of the lands. Folio numbers can be obtained from the Land Registry Service of the Property Registration Authority.
Applications are only considered on receipt of a fully completed application form and, if granted, are valid for the hunting season in a particular year. The application form is issued to existing licence holders each April.
Your application will be examined by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, together with the landowner's permission. If you were issued with a deer hunting licence in the previous year, details of the deer you shot (bag returns) are sought on the application form for each applicant. Conservation rangers throughout the country employed by National Parks and Wildlife Service ensure that hunters have appropriate deer hunting licences. Rangers also examine new licence applications.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the appropriate deer hunting licence and a firearm of the appropriate calibre. You will be prosecuted for hunting deer with an inappropriate firearm or by any other means.
Where to apply
National Parks and Wildlife Service
Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs
7 Ely Place
Tel:(01) 888 3298