Is it possible to bring a companion to a hunting party?
With more than 800,000 hunters, Spain is one of the largest hunting paradises in Europe. Almost nine tenths of the national territory is catalogued as hunting grounds. In spite of this, the new generations of hunting enthusiasts today are faced with legislation that is more restrictive than the previous one, and there are many doubts that can assail them. For example, is it possible to bring a hunting companion, must this person meet certain requirements or have some kind of license?
First of all, the legislation of the different Autonomous Communities indicates that the companions of hunters -that is, those who practice hunting and have a valid hunting license- do not require any type of hunting permit.
According to Article 48.2 of Law 14/2010, of December 9, 2010, of Extremadura, “companions, scouts, scouts, beaters, secretaries, guides or any other person who in the act of hunting acts as an assistant, collaborator or auxiliary of the hunter, when the latter has all the requirements to hunt, are not considered hunters”.
On the other hand, article 7 of Law 13/2004, of December 27, 2004, of the Valencian Community states that “companions, scouts, scouts, beaters, secretaries, pilots and all those persons who in the act of hunting, and without carrying weapons, act as assistants, collaborators or auxiliaries of the hunter, do not have the status of hunter, and therefore are exempt from the possession of the previous documentation”.
It is clear, therefore, that the hunting license, gun permits and civil liability insurance are exclusive requirements of the hunter, not of his companions.
However, in article 2 of Order STE/35/2021, of June 17, on the celebration of hunting events, it is detailed that “the permits must be delivered, together with the list of people who are going to take part, distinguishing between hunters and scouts, before the beginning of the hunting action, to the guard in charge of controlling the hunting event so that he is aware of the people authorized to hunt”.
Furthermore, the aforementioned Law 14/2010, of December 9, 2010, specifies that hunting companions “may not hunt with any type of weapon”. Even if it is a truism, it should be remembered and kept in mind.
Hunting and minors: is it a compatible activity from a legal perspective?
“Can I take my child hunting, is it legal?”. This query, due to its frequency in forums, social networks and so on, demonstrates the confusion and lack of knowledge existing among those who take their first steps in hunting.
To answer plainly, minors have a perfect right to attend a hunt, as long as they are accompanied by an adult and have the express authorization of the person with parental authority. There is, therefore, no minimum age for accompanying a hunting companion.
Regarding active participation in hunting (not as mere observers or scouts, of course), the interested parties must abide by the legislation in force in the Autonomous Community in which the activity is carried out. In certain cases, minors over 14 years of age are allowed to hunt, provided that they use firearms of certain categories and that they have the authorization of their parents or legal guardians.
However, Decree 506/1971, which approves the Regulations for the execution of the Hunting Law, prohibits “hunting with firearms or weapons powered by air or other compressed gases for those who have not reached eighteen years of age and are not accompanied by another hunter of legal age”, as stated in its article 33:11 on limitations and prohibitions dictated for the benefit of hunting.
Article 3 also details that “for these purposes, a minor under 18 years of age is considered to be accompanied by another hunter of legal age when the latter is in possession of a class A or D hunting license and the distance separating them from the former allows him to effectively monitor their hunting activities. In no case shall this distance be greater than 120 meters”.
Thus, with due respect for the law, minors are free to participate as companions in hunts. This experience, educational and enriching as few others, allows them to recover contact with nature, necessary to prevent Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD), which is on the rise in our society.