Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


Safety must be deer hunters' first consideration in the upcoming roar.

Date:  24 March 2017

The annual ‘roar’ is coming and the Department of Conservation is reminding all deer hunters that safety must be their first and foremost consideration.

Peter Devlin, a keen hunter and Technical Advisor for the Department of Conservation, says that when planning a hunting trip, safety must be front of mind. 

“There are several aspects to consider. Significant hazards for hunters include use of firearms, falls and river crossings.”

Hunters are responsible for their own safety and for ensuring their activity doesn’t adversely impact others.

Peter says, “Before your trip, make sure you have a current hunting permit if you are intending to hunt on public conservation land.

“Permits provide information about local hunting safety restrictions. They are free and can be obtained online from the DOC website or your local DOC office.”

Peter reminds hunters to adhere to the permit conditions and refrain from hunting in the hours of darkness or ‘spotlighting’ on conservation land.

“A good way to learn safe hunting practices and gain experience is to join a hunting club.”

The New Zealand Deerstalkers Association has local branches throughout New Zealand, and offers a hunter training programme. Find a New Zealand Deerstalkers Association branch near you

DOC recommends carrying two forms of communication in case of an emergency, and filling out an Outdoor Intentions Form to leave with a trusted contact.  

Some top tips for staying safe this season are:

  • Identify your target. Ensure the complete animal is seen; don’t shoot based on individual items such as colour, shape, sound or movement. If in any doubt, shift to get a better view or don’t shoot at all. Use binoculars to identify your target; the rifle scope should only be used to place the shot.
  • Know the area you are hunting and share your knowledge with the other members of your party. Before the hunt, have everyone agree on hunting areas with a clearly defined “no fire zone” between areas.
  • Don’t assume there is no one else in your vicinity.
  • If carrying a deer carcass or trophy head, cover it in some way so that it is clearly contrasted with the environment.
  • Be visible; wear clothing that contrasts with the environment and the animals being hunted, and have appropriate gear.
  • Be alert and prepared for changes in conditions. Monitor and assess the weather.
  • Be familiar and practised with the weapon you will be using.
  • Remember the hunt is not over till everyone is safely home.

41 people died hunting in New Zealand between 2007 and 2016. Those deaths involved firearms, falling incidents and river crossings. This comes from a report into hunter safety released by the Mountain Safety Council (A hunter’s tale: a deep dive into hunting incidents in New Zealand).

It found that, on average, 1030 people are injured in New Zealand each year while hunting.

The ‘roar’ or ‘rut’ is red deer breeding season, which starts late March and goes through April. During this time, male deer ‘roar’ to attract mates. 


Peter Devlin, Technical Advisor
Mobile: +64 27 542 7964

Jayne Ramage, Communications Advisor
Mobile: +64 27 547 9878

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