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Hunters Must Be Safe This Deer Hunting Season

Mountain Safety Council Warns Hunters to Be Safe This Deer Hunting Season

Many hunters are currently preparing to head into the bush ahead of the Red Deer mating season which generally starts in New Zealand in late March.

More commonly known as ‘The Roar’ it is a time of year that Mr Mike Spray, Firearms and Hunter Training Programme Manager for NZ Mountain Safety Council, urges extreme caution.

In the past ten years, there have been eight hunter deaths and three others seriously injured, usually when one hunter has shot a companion or other hunter whilst deer hunting.

“Failure to identify the target properly before shooting being a primary factor,” says Mr Spray.

‘Identifying your target beyond all doubt’ is one of the seven basic rules of safe firearms handling and should be second nature to all hunters. Hunters should sight the head, neck and shoulder of the animal all at the same time, or at least sufficient of the animal to confirm target identification.

“No shooter should ever fire at shape, colour, movement or sound,” said Mr Spray. “Beware – under certain circumstances the brain can trick the eyes. Assume any shape, colour, movement or sound is a human until you can prove otherwise,” added Mr Spray.

Wearing coloured clothing that contrasts with the environment, including deer, can help you be seen by other hunters. Ultimately, though the responsibility of target identification lies in the hands of the shooter.

In eight of the eleven aforementioned incidents causing death and injury, the shooter and the victim were in the same hunting party. They deliberately separated to pursue their quarry which led to a series of factors leading to tragedy.

“You and your hunting companions should stay together,” said Mr Spray. “If you do separate then stop hunting until you regain visual contact.”

Take special care during the roar; comply with all the seven basic rules of firearms safety, make sure you positively identify your target beyond all doubt and if you are hunting with a companion stay together.

The Firearms Safety Code: Seven Basic Rules of Firearms Safety:

1. TREAT EVERY FIREARM AS LOADED
-Check every firearm yourself.
-Pass or accept only an open or unloaded firearm.

2. ALWAYS POINT FIREARMS IN A SAFE DIRECTION
-Loaded or unloaded, always point the muzzle in a safe direction.

3. LOAD A FIREARM ONLY WHEN READY TO FIRE
-Load the magazine only after you reach your shooting area.
-Load the chamber only when ready to shoot.
-Completely unload before leaving the shooting area.

4. IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET BEYOND ALL DOUBT
-Movement, colour, sound and shape can all deceive you.
-Assume colour, shape, sound, and shape to be human until proven otherwise.

5. CHECK YOUR FIRING ZONE
-THINK! What may happen if you miss your target? What might you hit between you and the target or beyond?
-Do not fire if you know others are in your firing zone.

6. STORE FIREARMS AND AMMUNITION SAFELY
-When not in use, lock away the bolt, firearm and ammunition separately.
-Never leave firearms in a vehicle that is unattended.

7. AVOID ALCOHOL AND DRUGS WHEN HANDLING FIREARMS
-Good judgement is the key to safe use of firearms.

About The New Zealand Mountain Safety Council
The New Zealand Mountain Safety Council was formed in 1965 in response to the increasing number of mountain, bush and firearms fatalities. Today, NZMSC is a national organisation responsible for safety in land based outdoor activities. We facilitate the setting of standards, offer training, distribute resources, lead public awareness campaigns and foster positive support in the community so that more people can discover and enjoy New Zealand's outdoors safely.

MSC’s volunteer firearms instructors are approved by NZ Police to deliver firearm safety training and administer the Firearm Safety Test to new firearms licence applicants. MSC is also proactive in delivering key firearms safety messaging campaigns throughout New Zealand and produces publications including the ‘Going Hunting’ pamphlet.

www.mountainsafety.org.nz

ENDS

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