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New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association AGM

The New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association (NZDA) held its AGM Conference at Invercargill over the weekend of 11/13 July. The theme for the conference was “Hunting: A Learning Experience”, because hunting is just that. Every time a hunter goes out into the bush it is always a different experience and/or scenario.

Trevor Dyke, NZDA National President said that it was a privilege for conference to be the launch pad for a research document entitled, “To Hunt and Return” – developing safe hunting practices.

This paper researched by Inspector Joe Green Manager Firearms Licencing and Vetting for the NZ Police, assisted by John Greenwood, a NZ Mountain Safety Council instructor, regarding colours in the bush, provides an analysis of the deaths of 33 deer hunters, shot by other deer hunters while hunting in New Zealand bush. The shot is identified as the final event that is preceded by a number of contributing factors. These factors are outlined and a range of protective behaviours listed. These are specific to deer hunting and, taken together with the New Zealand Arms Code, provide suggestions for minimizing the occurrence of these tragic incidents.

Dyke went on to say that the NZDA HUNTS (Hunter National Training Scheme) courses assisted by New Zealand Mountain Safety Council instructors go along way in contributing to hunter safety. Participants of all ages and experience are taking part in these courses, which are hosted by several branches throughout the country. Feedback from the HUNTS courses has been very positive.

The NZDA considers hunter safety to be of paramount importance, Dyke continued to say, and hunters must be prepared to accept responsibility for their actions. They must positively identify their target beyond all doubt. Put another way, a deer is not a deer until the whole deer can be seen. He said that hunters must also accept ownership of the bullet once it has left their firearm.

Dyke concluded by commenting that it was interesting to read that none of the deaths researched had been members of a hunting organisation, which perhaps reflects a message in itself.

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