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Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS -

firearm safety course. We have a firearm safety code but ba­sic prin­ci­ples are bro­ken, peo­ple get com­pla­cent.

‘‘Those stats are pretty good. Ide­ally you would have none but when you are work­ing with a firearm which is a tool used to kill – some­thing is go­ing to hap­pen but we are pleased with how low the stats are con­sid­er­ing how many users there are out there. But it could be bet­ter. ‘‘

New Zealand Deer­stalk­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Bill O’Leary says de­spite ‘‘ham­mer­ing the mes­sage’’ there were still in­ci­dents oc­cur­ring, par­tic­u­larly in ar­eas of thick bush and poor visibility.

‘‘It is a very com­plex is­sue . . . You have got sit­u­a­tions where a per­son is so keen to see a deer that when they see a move­ment they are determined it is a deer. When you go in, you should go in with the clear idea that you are go­ing to see a hu­man be­ing.’’

Com­pe­ti­tion be­tween hun­ters and pres­sure to ‘‘take an an­i­mal’’ is also an is­sue, he says.

‘‘If you haven’t taken an an­i­mal for a cou­ple of days and are feel­ing un­der pres­sure, get­ting tired, we would say don’t push it, go back to camp, have a cup of tea and think about go­ing back out to­mor­row.

‘‘A dan­ger time is when peo­ple have ac­tu­ally seen an an­i­mal. They might catch a glimpse, the adren­a­line goes up, it’s been spooked and moved off. It puts pres­sure on the per­son – there is the an­i­mal and to get the shot away. Again, we have had ex­am­ples of where that has hap­pened and as a re­sult some­one has been killed.’’

The ma­jor­ity of peo­ple who shoot oth­ers tend to be older and ex­pe­ri­enced, and 60 per cent are shot ‘‘by a mate’’, he says.

‘‘We sus­pect they were keen to get an an­i­mal to demon­strate to younger peo­ple they still had it. There is also the fact they are so familiar with the hunt­ing scene they work on the ba­sis – there is a move­ment, I have seen it 100 times be­fore and it has been a deer – and I guess their judge­ment is flawed by over fa­mil­iar­ity.

‘‘We have ev­i­dence of peo­ple who fired a shot have been more in­ter­ested in get­ting a kill than re­cov­er­ing meat.’’

There is at least one hunt­ing death a year in the South Is­land, he says. ‘‘As a hunter and a fam­ily An­drew Pater­son, of Matakanui Sta­tion, near Omakau, caught four il­le­gal hun­ters on his prop­erty last month dur­ing a kids’ hunt­ing com­pe­ti­tion. man you re­flect on that, and I never ever want to be in the po­si­tion where I take a shot and end up tak­ing some­one’s life – it is hard to think of any­thing much worse.’’

There are cer­tain ‘‘ba­sic rules’’ when hunt­ing, and an im­por­tant one is to con­trast with the en­vi­ron­ment.

‘‘The an­i­mals you are hunt­ing, deer, pigs, goats – are colour blind. At the end of the day you are stalk­ing. It is all about the stalk and be­ing seen – not what you are wear­ing. The an­i­mal is likely to smell you, hear you be­fore it sees you. A deer can hear a me­chan­i­cal watch tick­ing at 25 yards,’’ McKee says.

Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion na­tional hunt­ing ad­viser Ian Cook­sley says tra­di­tion­ally the ‘‘roar’’ was the busiest time of year and hun­ters should be aware other peo­ple ‘‘can be any­where at any time.’’

A crit­i­cal fac­tor in sev­eral fa­tal in­ci­dents in re­cent years is hun­ters fail­ing to dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween a per­son and the in­tended an­i­mal be­ing hunted, he says. It is il­le­gal to hunt on con­ser­va­tion land af­ter dark – half an hour af­ter sun­set and half an hour be­fore sun­rise.

‘‘Hunt­ing at night us­ing a spot­light, or other night vi­sion equip­ment, poses a se­ri­ous risk to other peo­ple who are us­ing th­ese ar­eas. This prac­tice must stop.

‘‘Most hun­ters are re­spon­si­ble and fol­low the firearms safety code. But it’s im­por­tant that firearms safety aware­ness is at the fore­front of all hun­ters’ think­ing when in pur­suit of that tro­phy or meat for the ta­ble.’’

The Moun­tain Safety Coun­cil ad­min­is­ters a firearms safety course on be­half of the New Zealand Po­lice, the New Zealand Deer­stalk­ers As­so­ci­a­tion runs a Hunter Na­tional Train­ing Scheme, and there is in­for­ma­tion on safe hunt­ing prac­tices around walks, huts and camp­grounds on the DOC web­site, he says.

McKee says the coun­cil puts 10,000 peo­ple an­nu­ally through its course, which was in­creas­ing. How­ever, a course can only teach so much.

‘‘We have a hunt­ing cul­ture in New Zealand and the abil­ity from one end of the coun­try to the other for peo­ple to hunt dif­fer­ent types of an­i­mals and eat it . . . but there is only so much you can teach in 21⁄ hours and then we en­cour­age them to join a club.’’

Il­le­gal hunt­ing adds an ad­di­tional dan­ger ‘‘x-fac­tor’’, and is be­com­ing a grow­ing con­cern for the hunt­ing fra­ter­nity, landown­ers, po­lice and in­dus­try watch­dogs.

In­ver­cargill

firearms

of­fi­cer Sergeant Lind­say Pea­cock says many hun­ters were opt­ing not to shoot dur­ing the roar now be­cause of added risk.

‘‘It’s just not worth the risk – there are too many hunt­ing in the area and there might be four or five groups you have no idea are there which cre­ates a prob­lem. If you are not legally there you are adding an x-fac­tor.’’ Peo­ple need to en­sure they have autho­ri­sa­tion to hunt on a prop­erty – ei­ther pri­vate or con­ser­va­tion land, he says.

The sea­son of the deer roar is here.

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