The New Zealand Mountain Safety Council is calling for greater awareness about hunting safety this season.
MSC said it was predicting that this year’s Roar, the biggest event in the deer hunting calendar, would be a big one with hunters itching to get out in the hills after covid-19 cancelled their chances to get out last year.
This year, MSC’s message was simple, “be the hunter your mates want to hunt with”.
MSC said there had been a death in Wairarapa in 2012 during the Roar season, where someone had been misidentified.
In 2012, 54-year-old Christopher Dummer had pleaded guilty in Wellington District Court to careless use of a firearm causing death.
The former Wellington Deerstalkers’ Association president had been charged after a 29-year-old Auckland builder Alexander Cameron McDonald, was shot dead in Aorangi Forest Park on April 7.
Dummer, who was in another hunting party, was only 16.3m away when he got McDonald in his scope and fired once, shooting him in the head.
During the Roar hunting season in 2019, there were about 400 injuries and 24 search and rescues across the country, MSC said.
In 2018, there had been another death due to a misidentification of target, about 320 injuries and 31 search and rescues.
MSC chief executive Mike Daisley said he wanted to shine the spotlight on all the elements of a safe and successful hunt, especially the positive behaviours that most hunters already display.
MSC said its recent hunting safety campaign and video focused on two hunters and their conflicting planning and preparation pre-trip, with the aim of encouraging solid preparation before heading out.
The new video, produced by Wellington-based Flying Saucer, features Kiwi actors Cohen Holloway and Stephen Tamarapa, as two hunters who head out into the bush but have very contrasting experiences.
“We hope that the hunters see themselves in one of the two guys from the video,” Daisley said.
He said you could either be “the hunter who is doing the right things and that’s validation for what they do in real life, or the hunter who goes out on more of a whim, doesn’t do the planning or preparation, and it is a reminder to them that they should sharpen up a little.”
MSC found that the causes of hunting related search and rescues varied greatly, with about 21 per cent of all hunting search and rescues caused by poor navigational skills.
Additionally, a combination of inadequate fitness, lack of warm and waterproof clothing, and not carrying a torch contributed to about 20 per cent of all hunting search and rescues, MSC said.
“So often, the conversation around hunting safety focuses on firearms, that’s a really important part of it, but there’s very clear insights that show the vast majority of safety incidents relate to other topics like inadequate fitness, navigation errors, insufficient planning and preparation, not carrying the right gear, and decision-making about whether to push on or turn around,” Daisley said.
He said in order to avoid becoming one of the statistics, hunters should ensure they carry basic items, a jacket, warm layers, and a head torch even on day hunts.
Hunters should also wear blaze and prepare for the unexpected by carrying an emergency shelter, a first aid kit, and a suitable communications device, he said.
Daisley hoped to see a reduction in Roar-related incidents this season after the campaign push.
“Good preparation will always lead to better outcomes, whether incidents arise or not. Get out there and enjoy the autumn backcountry,” he said.
The Roar is when stags are most vocal, calling to attract the attention of hinds and are less cautious than other times.
The Roar lasts about four weeks, with stags being the most vocal in the middle two weeks.
Red deer roar from late March through April.