Spotlighting is a form of entertainment that can be found anywhere in Australia where there are rabbits or other feral animals, kids or young adults, and paddock bombs. Once a very important income-earning activity for kids on farms spotlighting is a night time activity not for the faint hearted.

The principle of spotlighting is simple, you hook up a powerful handheld light on to the battery of the paddock bomb and armed with a gun and car load of mates head out after dark. In my father's time it was a .22 rifle but these days it is usually something high powered with a telescopic sight (I do not know enough about guns to say anything more on that). The powerful light has to be handheld when your are looking for rabbits, foxes and hares as they are too bloody quick and unpredictable to use a mounted one. It is more common to use mounted one for kangaroos. You head out into the paddocks, avoiding the livestock and trying find where the rabbits are feeding without freezing your backside off. Once you find a rabbit by the light reflecting from their eyes the idea is to attempt to kill it.

Just before you go ‘ what a cruel thing’ and ‘poor bunny rabbits’ here is some stuff you need to know about rabbits and Australia. About 210 years ago some idiot let their pet rabbits go and boy did they like Australia. They did what all rabbits have been doing since and breeding, well, like rabbits. They eat crops causing farmers hardship, dig warrens causing soil erosion issues, eat native vegetation which deprives the native fauna of feed etc etc. They are a pest and we have built fences to keep them out, trapped, hunted, poisoned and released viruses to kill them because they are such a problem. This is not really hunting, it is not about giving the animal a fair chance, it is pest control and a much needed activity. Any other circumstance the use of a spotlight would be considered not sporting and in some places illegal. I shall get off my high horse now.

Spotlighting requires skill in both driving and shooting, to be able to hit a rapidly moving target in a vehicle that usually lacks a suspension system and the terrain is paddocks scatted with rabbit barrows. My father's social group ‘Young Farmers’ used to make it a social occasion especially when the rabbit plagues were at their height. Another type of hunting is bunny bashing where the guns are left behind, you chase the rabbit on foot and hit them over the head. This is not quite as common as it is ruddy hard to catch a scampering rabbit.

I am unsure what the farm kids do with their caught rabbits now-a-days (because of the Calicivirus) but my father would skin them and sell the pelts and meat to the rabbit buyer. Some of the rabbits would end up in my Grandmother's cooking pot to give them a change in the mutton/lamb diet. The money my father earned from spotlighting was his pocket money as it was for all the children he grew up with in the western district of country Victoria in Australia.

On the whole spotlighting is a slightly macabre social pastime which has practical applications. My father still talks about it in glowing terms and the fun he had chasing rabbits in an old ute.


In the UK the term lamping is used for a similar activity.

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