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Spotlighting or lamping (also jacklighting[1] and pit-lamping) is a method of hunting nocturnal animals using off-road vehicles and high-powered lights, spotlights, lamps or flashlights, that makes special use of the eyeshine revealed by many animal species. A further important aspect is that many animals (e.g. foxes and rabbits) often remain to continually stare at the light and do not appear to see the light as a threat as they normally would view a human. It is possible to carefully approach animals on foot to a short distance if the bright light is continuously maintained on the animal to greatly improve chances of successful killing. Spotlighting may also be used as a method of surveying nocturnal fauna. Repeated, frequent spotlighting may have a detrimental effect on animals and is discouraged.[citation needed]


The spotting and shooting often take place from the moving vehicle. Experienced drivers on familiar territory (such as farmers in their own paddocks) may turn off the vehicle headlights to minimize the distractions.

The most common vehicles used are light four-wheel drive trucks and utilities. A team may consist of three persons, the driver and the shooter and the spotter. The shooter and spotter stand side by side behind the cab, holding onto a bar at the front of the tray or on top of the cab, which allows them a good 360 degree view. The spotter sweeps the surrounding countryside with a powerful hand-held lamp with a tightly focused beam.

Spotlighting can be conducted by two persons where the driver operates the spotlight or alone where the driver spotlights using a remote mounted spotlight or automotive lighting and shoots from the driver's seat of the vehicle.



Various rules govern nocturnal hunting and hunting from motor vehicles, but typically the use of illumination devices is prohibited for deer hunting. Commercial hunters are normally exempt from such regulations where the emphasis is upon population control.[2]

New Zealand[edit]

Spotlighting on New Zealand Department of Conservation land is prohibited by law.[3]

On 2 February 2011 a New Zealand hunter was jailed for manslaughter after shooting dead a camper he mistook for a deer while spotlighting near Turangi.[4]

On 11 April 2015 a New Zealand hunter was shot in the back by a member of their hunting group after being mistaken for a deer near Whakatane.[5]

North America[edit]

Spotlighting is illegal in many U.S. states and Canadian provinces.[citation needed]

UK and Ireland: lamping[edit]

Lamping is a similar practice in the UK and Ireland of hunting at night using powerful lamps and either guns, birds of prey or dogs.[6] It does not always involve vehicles. Animals associated with this form of hunting include fox, rabbit, and hare.

In England, Scotland, and Wales, most forms of hunting with dogs have been made illegal by the Hunting Act 2004 but rabbits and rats were specifically included on a list of exemptions, therefore lamping these animals with dogs is still legal. Hunting fox, rabbit and hare with dogs is legal in Northern Ireland. In Britain lamping foxes with dogs has been rendered illegal, however lamping in order to shoot them remains legal.

Once an animal has been located in the beam of light, it is either shot or the dog(s) released. The dogs used are typically lurchers (cross between a sighthound and any other breed of dog, or longdogs, a cross between two sight hounds, typically a greyhound and a saluki), but may be a cross of many breeds and Teasles.

Although white light is often used for lamping, red or orange filters are preferred, as this has a lesser effect on the night vision of the hunter (human or dog).


  1. ^ Pennsylvania Game Commission - State Wildlife Management Agency: The Jacklighters[dead link]
  2. ^ "Hunting regulations". NSW Department of Primary Industries. Retrieved 18 September 2015. 
  3. ^ Van, Maike (2009-08-27). "Spotlight on illegal hunting". Retrieved 2012-11-21. 
  4. ^ "Hunter who shot teacher jailed - National - NZ Herald News". 2011-02-02. Retrieved 2012-11-21. 
  5. ^ "Hunter shot by mate - National - NZ Herald News". 2015-04-15. Retrieved 2015-04-15. 
  6. ^ Description of lamping with dogs from the Association of Lurcher Clubs

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