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Hunt safely and responsibly this summer

19 December 2019

Hunters making the most of the holidays by heading into the bush and mountain ranges are being reminded to keep safe by the Department of Conservation (DOC).
“Summer sees a lot of different people out and about on conservation land throughout the country, taking advantage of the holidays and long daylight hours,” says Mark Beardsley, DOC’s national key contact for recreational hunting.

“Be conscious of who else might be out there in the bush – whether it’s day walkers, people using huts on overnight tramps, or families enjoying a few nights camping. Even if you’ve booked a hunting block, don’t assume you’re the only person in the area.

“Whether you’re after deer, tahr or pigs, planning before you set off goes a long way to keeping you and your hunting party safe and making sure you get the most out of your trip,” he adds.

With the increasing affordability of hunting technology like thermal imaging, Mark also urges people to follow the rules and not hunt after dark. It poses a serious risk to others and is not permitted.

“New tech might be an exciting stocking filler, but all-night hunting and activities like spotlighting or the use of night vision equipment is strictly prohibited on public conservation land.

“After a long day out hunting, it’s better for you and your hunting party take the opportunity to rest and swap a few stories.”

The Mountain Safety Council is also reminding hunters taking advantage of the summer weather to keep safe this month as they roam the backcountry.
“Safety is the result of good planning and good decision making,” says Chief Executive, Mike Daisley. “As part of your planning, it’s a good time to freshen up your blaze so you can be seen, and other hunters can easily identify who you are.

“Most importantly, every hunter when identifying your target, ensure you have identified the age, sex and health of the animal before pulling the trigger. Know exactly what type of animal you are about to harvest.”

Mark Beardsley adds that while it’s important to keep safe, the summer holidays are a great hunting opportunity for South Island Himalayan tahr hunters.
DOC has mapped the locations of thousands of bull tahr recently observed on conservation land and hunters can use this information when planning their next hunt. A new smart phone app will also formally recognise their tahr hunting efforts.

“DOC is encouraging all tahr hunters to record their hunt using the new Tahr App. We will be able to use this information when planning future control operations to keep the wider tahr population under control.”

Mark says no matter the target, its important all hunters have a current hunting permit before they head out and comply with local hunting restrictions.
“Keep safe, know the rules and enjoy the summer.”

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.

Find out more information about how to download the new tahr app and maps of where tahr have been sighted:
Helpful links
Identify your target beyond all doubt video
MSC & Hunters Club NZ – Big Game Hunting video
MSC Outdoor Activity Guide - Hunting
A Hunter’s Tale – A deep dive into hunting incidents in New Zealand
• DOC recommends carrying two forms of communication in case of an emergency and filling out an Outdoor Intentions Form (external site) 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 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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