Stag in the Wairarapa
Image: DOC

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


The deer ‘roar’ is underway and DOC is urging thousands of hunters descending on public conservation land to keep safe.

Date:  05 April 2019

During the breeding season male deer ‘roar’ to warn off rival stags, attracting hunters taking advantage of a prime hunting opportunity.

DOC’s national key contact for recreational hunting, Mark Beardsley says all hunters need to put safety first.

“This is the busiest time of the year for hunting and we need to keep each other safe out there,” he says.

With a spike in hunter numbers out in the hills chasing a trophy stag and with multiple hazards including firearms, falls and river crossings, it’s not hard to see why a third of all search and rescues happen in April.

“Good pre-trip planning goes a long way to keep you and your hunting party safe.

“Please remember hunting in the dark or ‘spotlighting’ is a serious risk to others and is not permitted on public conservation land. It’s best to take the opportunity to rest after a hard day hunting,” says Mark.

The NZ Mountain Safety Council is also reminding hunters to keep safe this month as they roam the backcountry. 

“We know 88% of ‘big game’ hunting fatalities in the North Island involved a firearm and 80% of daytime misidentified shootings are members of the same party,” says Chief Executive, Mike Daisley.

“There’s a clear message to all ‘big game’ hunters that identifying your target is of the utmost importance because it’s quite possible it’s not a deer and might be one of your hunting party.”

DOC’s Mark Beardsley says its important hunters making the most of the ‘roar’ have a current hunting permit and comply with local hunting restrictions.

“Before going after that trophy, make sure you obtain a hunting permit from the DOC website. If you’re taking your dog hunting you’ll need a separate dog permit too.

Mark says the presence of deer is increasing nationally across public conservation land and hunters play an important role in helping to keep numbers down.

“While many hunters will be looking for a nice trophy animal, why not shoot a few extra and take some meat home for the family?”

The extra effort controlling deer this month contributes to reducing the impact the increasing deer population is having on vegetation.

“Our monitoring reports show deer negatively impact native vegetation and target favourite species, like broadleaf. This prevents regeneration and causes significant changes to the structure and composition of native ecosystems.”

Information on where to hunt on public conservation land, how to get a permit and safe hunting practice can be found on the DOC website.

Helpful links

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 nearby.
  • 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 firearm you will be using.
  • Remember the hunt is not over till everyone is safely home.


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