Hunting when wild camping?

Q. Hi all, me and my friends are considering wild camping and hunting for our food.

Are there any animals we can hunt legally with air rifles?

We have been camping many times on sites and taken canned food, but this time we are looking for a more 'outdoorsman' trip.

We are all in our mid-20's and are sensible people, we don't plan on running around like nutters randomly shooting things.

Daniel Barnes, Coventry

A. Try your hand at some archery. Not illegal to carry it is however illegal to hunt with one. Would be kinda hard to prove that's what's it is being used for take a target with you.

Declan Ffud, Stockport

A. In relation to areas where wild-camping is permitted within parts of Dartmoor National Park, the permitted activity is perfectly adequate, reasonable, and easy to find definition of - a search for Dartmoor National Park Authority website will reveal all necessary. Here's a snippet; Dartmoor Commons Act, 1985. Byelaws made under Section 90 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 and Section 11 of the Dartmoor Commons Act 1985; 12) Protection of Wildlife. No person shall without lawful excuse or authority on the access land, kill, molest or intentionally disturb any animal or engage in hunting, shooting or fishing or the setting of traps or nets or the laying of snares. 13) Firearms and Projectiles. No person shall: (1) discharge on the access land without lawful authority any firearm, air weapon or crossbow These Byelaws apply in addition to other UK Law, such as the carrying of a weapon in a public place for example. I agree with the comment that a butcher could provide meat to be dressed in the field by anyone wishing to emulate a hunter. For the recreational pursuit of wild-camping as it's permitted on Dartmoor to be used as an excuse to try to knock off wildlife by air-gun or snares is a foolish and irresponsible stance only likely to see someone arrested, someone hurt, or wild-camping denied. In my view only the first outcome is acceptable. There are areas on Dartmoor and nearby where the harm caused by unpermitted "bushcraft" or "prepping" is already objectionable, and it will not benefit wild-camping or wild-campers to be equally associated with impropriety. The place for such activity if it must exist, is on private land, with permission. Oh, I know where meat comes from, just in case there's any question - I used to work in a slaughterhouse.

Rich B, Cornwall

A. Get a full power air rifle-legal UK limit is 12 flb Anything beyond that will require a licence. Seek permission from the land owner and off you go. Now the advice part. Practice practice and practice some more before you ever attempt shooting small game. Head shots are best as humane kill will be achieved 30 yards max if using air rifle. Practice practice practice then enjoy the hunt. Don't shoot anything you don't want to eat

Mark Dupont, London

A. You must get written permission. Then air rifles are a great tool to get food while doing pest control. (Rabbits, grey squirrel - taste like chicken, wood pigeon) one more thing.. You must get written permission.

Gareth Jones, Swansea

A. Wow, talk about getting flamed! You know i was talking about my experience. I guess the air rifles i used in the 80's were not as powerful as yours. No need to get crabby! ;-)

Torquil Harkness, London

A. I was just examining the laws regarding camping (wild camping as you say), and came upon your question on hunting. If I may put my two pence worth, consider this.

Save your pounds and take British Air to the United States, in the autumn for hunting season, and you can easily go camping and conduct some REAL hunting.

We can fix you up with a rifle that will crack the fillings in your teeth, and let you bag more venison than you could imagine.

Most of the states now have more deer killed on the highways than are dispatched with hunting. Frankly, I'd rather "thin the herd" in a humane manner than let the poor animals suffer being struck on the highways.

No doubt many deer, moose and other animals are killed by the vegans running out to get their soy burgers.

Chris Kratos, Burke, Virginia USA

A. Every real man will understand your urge to try this. The problem is in the UK the people are telling you the truth, an air rifle on land without permission is going to get you a prison sentence as it as classed as the same offence as a "real" rifle (though you're more likely to get 6 months than the years you'd get with a real rifle). Snares and dogs are more likely to get you a big fine and the dogs confiscated or at worst a month so use these instead. There will be humans who oppose you while vociferously defending the right of foxes and owls to rampage around killing things. They are entitled to their opinion and the law supports them. There are often times in history we look back on laws and think they are unjust. Laws are rules not morals; morals are just used as justification for the rules. It would be morally wrong if everyone did it, but they don't and there are far too many rabbits in the UK anyway. Make your own mind up but do be aware there are consequence if the authorities see you.

Sonny Jim, England

A. problem solved,just grow up or join the army.

Jim Rhodes, Hull

A. In reply to Mr Harkness statement that an air rifle will not cleanly kill anything worth eating..RUBBISH! Mr Harkness; Daniel; A rabbit (which makes excellent eating) can be cleanly and humanely killed with a UK legal limit (12ft/lbs) air can pigeon, squirrel and a host of other creatures. The main disadvantage of this to be considered is range from shooter to target, which is limited to 30 yards, extending to 45 yards if conditions are very favourable. Furthermore, this also must include a head shot. Although rabbits etc can be taken with shots to the fore-end of the body, the natural reactions of a shot coney is to sprint, thus usually causing a rabbit to die hidden and as can be imagined in a great deal of pain. Head shots avoid this. Being on ANY land with an air rifle, loaded or not, without express permission from the landowner or his/her representitive is an offence, and if caught are likely to receive a mandatory prison sentence. Basically, no permission, no shooting. Trapping/snaring is a good method of catching wild game. This also requires a degree of skill. Trapping/snaring can be very productive if carried out properly..making use of game trails, natural fibres, scent masking etc etc I do it regularly and enjoy it thourghly.

Name Withheld, Scotland

A. Don't like the sound of this.

Use the air rifles for target practice by all means but don't take them into the wild. Such psuedo-macho behaviour has its place on the target range and not in the countryside.

Believe it or not some of us prefer to be at one with nature and don't see the wildlife as a source of food (unless there is not alternative).

If the weight of food is an issue take dried packet food instead of tin cans.

Hugh Evans, Southport

In response to Hugh Evans - isn't part of being at 1 with nature the understanding of meat and where it comes from?

People like you don't think twice about eating a fresh steak in a packet from the supermarket, but cringe at the thought that others are ready to kill a beast, not for pleasure, but as a source of food - you don't deserve to eat meat, if you think killing an animal is bad.

Daniel. Get permission from the land owner 1st - usually impossible so try trapping and fishing.

Good luck

Adam Poulston, Manchester

As an ex-gamekeeping student I would strongly recommend not taking any kind of firearm (even a seemingly harmless air rifle) anywhere that you do not have written permission to use it. Not only can it draw unwanted attention to yourselves (fairly obvious when carrying a gunslip) but in the wrong place can be committing a criminal offence which could carry a 5 year prison sentence. I'm all for hunter-gathering but know very few people that have been able to legally combine their hunting and camping.

Chris Sheppard, North Yorks

Taking a fire-arm, including an air rifle, onto private land without permission could lead to you being charged with armed trespass. Don't do it!

Mark Jones, Wolverhampton

I would agree with both answers to be honest. You have to remember that an air rifle will usually not make a clean kill of anything worth eating. If you are looking for a more 'survival' weekend, by all means take fishing basics or snares, but also take rations. Make sure you remember to remove any snares that you lay when you leave, even if they are empty. Or you will be leaving the next animal to be caught in it, a brutal ending that should not be endured by any living thing. I spent many years in the military and do enjoy a good episode of Ray Mears, and we all know that in any survival situation, you are unlikely to have an air rifle in your possession, let alone a fishing hook! If you would like to learn, by all means take a whole rabbit from a butchers, head, fluff and all. Then prepare it on your weekend, it will be just as vivid as an experience as killing it before hand. Or take your tinned beans, cheese and a few hooks and line and see if you could really catch anything.

Torquil Harkness, London

A. Wild Camping and The Law in England, Scotland and Wales.

Tents cannot be pitched just anywhere because every piece of Britain is owned by some individual or some organisation and according to the strict letter of the law permission must be obtained prior to pitching tent and camping.

In practice however, this is often impractical and wild camping is usually tolerated in the more remote areas - typically, more than half a day's walk from an official campsite or other accommodation providing you:

In Scotland, the current access legislation (which came into effect in early 2005) is explicit about your right to wild camp on hill land. However, there are exceptions. Since March 2011 you are not permitted to wild camp between Dryman and Rowardennan on the shore of Loch Lomond. See Loch Lomond Wild Camping Ban for more information.

There appears to be an exception to this with respect to camping in Dartmoor National Park where the right to wild camping is actually enshrined in the National Parks & Access to the Countryside Act, 1949 amendment Dartmoor Commons Act, 1985 - see Wild Camping in the UK for more details.

For the definitive answer with respect to wild camping in Scotland see the answer supplied by the Scottish Natural Heritage

For a few (tongue in cheek) tips on wild camping see Some Wild Camping Tips.

NB. cannot offer any advice on suitable locations for wild camping - but click here for walks from exisiting campsites.

Hope this helps

Mike (Editor)

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