With the annual deer 'roar' or 'rut' approaching, the Department of Conservation is reminding hunters to put safety first at all times and think before they shoot.
Traditionally the 'roar' is the busiest time of year for deer hunting and this year it coincides with the Easter holiday period when many people are camping and tramping on conservation land.
“Hunters should be aware that other people can be anywhere at any time,” says DOC National Hunting Advisor, Ian Cooksley.
Anybody intending to hunt on public conservation land must gain a permit first and check whether there are any local hunting restrictions. A DOC permit can be obtained by visiting the DOC website.
Hunters must follow the firearms safety code when hunting on conservation land. Ian Cooksley says there are some simple measures hunters can take to reduce risks:
- Wear coloured or high visibility clothing that contrasts with the hunting environment and animals being hunted.
- Make sure they identify their target properly. Do not shoot at movement, colour, shape or sound alone.
- If hunting in a party and a party member is lost sight of, no shots should be fired until the party member has been sighted again.
“A critical factor in several fatal incidents in recent years is hunters failing to differentiate between a person and the intended animal being hunted,” he says.
It is illegal to hunt on conservation land after dark (1/2 hour after sunset and 1/2 hour before sunrise).
“Hunting at night using a spotlight, or other night vision equipment, poses a serious risk to other people who are using these areas. This practice must stop,” says Mr. Cooksley.
“Most hunters are responsible and follow the firearms safety code. But it’s important that firearms safety awareness is at the forefront of all hunters thinking when in pursuit of that trophy or meat for the table.”
Anyone who sees hunting activity at night on conservation land should contact the New Zealand Police immediately or call the DOC hotline on 0800 DOC HOT.
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.
New Zealand Deerstalkers Association runs a Hunter National Training Scheme, HUNTS, which covers hunting safety as well as other practical outdoor skills.