As the days become shorter and morning and evenings cooler, hunters throughout New Zealand will be looking forward to the annual deer ‘roar’ or ‘rut’.

Date:  19 March 2014

As the days become shorter and morning and evenings cooler, hunters throughout New Zealand will be looking forward to the annual deer ‘roar’ or ‘rut’.

This is the busiest time of year for deer hunting and the Department of Conservation (DOC) is calling for all hunters to strictly adhere to the firearms safety code when hunting on conservation land this season.

A critical factor in several fatal incidents in recent years is hunters failing to properly identify their target.

There are some simple measures a hunter can take to ensure they are 100 % certain of their target says DOC National Hunting Advisor, Ian Cooksley.

  • Hunters should wear clothing coloured so as to contrast with the environment and the animals being hunted.
  • If in any doubt shift to get a better view or don’t shoot at all.
  • If hunting in a party don’t separate and continue to hunt in the same area. MSC recommends that once you lose sight of a person in your hunting party, you unload and do not reload or take any shots until you regain sight of your partner.
  • Ensure the complete animal is seen and don’t shoot on the basis of individual items such as colour or shape or sound.

Anybody intending to hunt on public conservation land must get a permit first and be familiar with local hunting safety restrictions. A permit can be obtained from the DOC website. 

Hunting permit holders are reminded to adhere to the permit conditions and refrain from hunting in the hours of darkness or ‘spotlighting’. This practice is not permitted on conservation land and this is clearly stated on all DOC hunting permits.

“Spotlighting on conservation land poses a serious risk to other people who are using these areas such as campers and walkers and this practice must stop,” says Mr Cooksley.

“While most hunters are responsible and follow the firearms safety code, firearms safety must be at the forefront of all hunters’ minds when in pursuit of that trophy or meat for the table.”

Mr Cooksley recommends that hunters who have had little, if any, formal hunter training attend the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association ‘Hunter National Training Scheme’ (HUNTS), which covers hunting safety as well as other practical outdoor skills.

Information on the firearms safety code can be found at the NZ Mountain Safety website.

Information on safe hunting practices around walks, huts and campgrounds is available on the DOC website. There is also a detailed list of special conditions for specific hunting areas across the country.

Anyone who sees hunting activity at night on conservation land should contact the NZ Police immediately or call the DOC hotline on 0800DOCHOT (0800 362 468).


Lizzy Sutcliffe/Fiona Oliphant
DOC Media Advisors
+64 3 371 3743 or +64 27 470 1378.

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