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. In Ireland, the wild deer population consists of red, fallow, sika, muntjac and hybrid deer. Conservation rangers employed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) manage the wild deer population in Ireland's national parks. The NPWS is part of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. Landowners are responsible for the control of wild deer on their private property.
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 for deer hunting in Ireland also varies from year to year depending on the location and species of deer. Landowners can apply for a Section 42 licence to control deer outside of open hunting season if the deer are causing damage.
The open season for deer hunting in Ireland is:
|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 need a licence to hunt deer in Ireland and can only hunt them for the period stated on your licence. The penalties for hunting deer without a licence include fines, imprisonment, or both.
To apply for a deer hunting licence you must:
- Be over 16 years old
- Provide evidence that landowner(s) have given you permission to hunt deer on their lands. The land must total a minimum area of 100 acres (42 hectares). This minimum requirement does not apply if you are getting a licence to hunt deer on your own land.
- Provide your firearm (gun) details. The legal minimum requirement for a firearm to hunt deer is .220 calibre, with a muzzle energy of more than 1,700 foot pounds, which uses bullets of no less than 55 grain weight.
You can apply for a licence during the open or closed season but you can only hunt deer when permitted. You can be of any nationality to apply for a deer hunting licence.
Mandatory certified deer hunting training
From the 2022-2023 hunting season onwards, first time applicants for deer hunting licences need to show evidence of attendance and completion of a certified deer hunting training course. You can find more on npws.ie.
Deer hunting licence
Your deer hunting licence 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
It is an offence to tamper with or deface a deer hunting licence and the penalties for doing this can be fines or imprisonment or both. You must produce your licence if a Garda or NPWS conservation officer requests it.
All firearms in Ireland must be registered and licensed. 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.
Before your local Gardaí will issue a firearms certificate, they may ask for:
- Evidence that there is adequate security in your home for a gun
- Your land folio numbers (if the weapon is to be discharged on your land)
- Your deer hunting licence
If you are not a landowner, you may have to provide your deer hunting licence and written evidence that three landholders have given you permission to hunt deer on their land before you can get 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 cannot 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.
You should complete the Application form for a Licence to Hunt Deer, which is available from the National Parks and Wildlife Service. See the guidance note for help. If you do not intend to shoot on your own land, you must also supply written evidence of permission from the landowners allowing you to hunt on their lands. You will also have to supply the folio number of the lands, which you can get 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) must be entered on the application form. Conservation rangers employed by National Parks and Wildlife Service ensure that hunters have appropriate deer hunting licences. Rangers also examine new licence applications.
Where to apply