Bowhunters are those who choose to hunt any type of game with a bow. Although bows are not considered to be firearms, this does not mean they are not dangerous. Bows need to be treated with the same respect and diligence as any other piece of equipment designed to kill an animal.
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What are the risks?
A Hunter's Tale
Developed by the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council (MSC) 'A Hunter's Tale' represents the most comprehensive exploration of hunting participation and incidents in New Zealand. Building on the success of There and Back (2016) this publication represents the first in a series of comprehensive ‘deep dives’ and explores hunting and firearms safety through the presentation of key insights.
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Key risks and what to do:
- Identify your target. Go through the same steps as you would if you had a firearm.
- Be very careful when moving with nocked arrows, wait until you are in a suitable firing position. Do not clip release mechanism onto the bow-string until you are in your final position.
- Check your firing zone. Arrows have a high risk of ricochet.
- Broad-head arrows are very dangerous before and after the shot, when dressing animals use care to avoid injury.
- Check arrows for damage before reusing. Fibreglass arrows should not be used for hunting.
- Store bows and arrows safely away from any children that might see them as a toy.
- Carefully maintain your bow. Be sure to check the strings for fraying, and the limbs for stress fractures.
Identify your target, always assume it is a person.
Prepare for your hunt
New Zealand weather is very changeable. Even if you set out in the sunshine and there is no rain in the forecast it's not uncommon to have an isolated shower. Make sure you take rain protection and extra layers you can put on if it gets cold. Having the right supplies means that you're more likely to remain warm, comfortable and safe for the duration of your trip.
Wear the right fabrics. Clothing only retains what heat your body produces. Certain fabrics wick moisture away from the body and retain warmth. Avoid cotton clothing – when cotton gets wet it ceases to insulate you. Wet and cold clothing significantly contributes to hypothermia.
Questions to consider before you head out
There are a few safety essentials you should have with you (or tick off the list) when you're out hunting
- A comfortable pack - load your kill carefully on your shoulders and take your time. Consider this in your trip planning.
- A pack liner. This is one of the simplest yet most important pieces of equipment. It keeps everything in your pack dry. An elasticated, fabric pack cover over your pack may not keep your things dry in rain
- Clean and bright blaze gear - Wearing blaze is not an insurance policy, but contrasting with your environment is a good safety principle.
- Food and water - always prepare for a potential night out or an extra long day.
- A basic first aid kit with any personal medication you may need.
- A map of the area and a compass.
- A communication device. Mobile phones can have limited coverage in most outdoor locations. If you are going into a remote area consider hiring a personal locator beacon.
- A basic survival kit
- Torch/ headtorch - the chase can often lead to a walk back in the dark
- Permission to hunt on the land.
- Have you told anyone that you're heading out? Make sure you leave your intentions.
- Where are you planning to hunt? Do you have a map of your chosen area and does everyone understand where the boundaries are? This is particularly important in balloted blocks so you do not intrude on another person's hunting area. Take a map each.
- Are you hunting with anyone else? Do you have a plan for when an animal arrives? Choose the shooter and keep the shooter in front. Communicate often verbally or via radios to keep in touch with each other's movements. Don't seperate and don't hesitate to tell them when they are being unsafe
- What food will you need? Stay comfortable on your hunt and take regular break for water and food. This helps settle the nerves and listen out for any game that might be in the area.
Tell someone your plans before you go and take a communication device
Outdoor Safety Code
The first thing to remember is that every trip needs a plan. A few simples steps to take before you head out can make all the difference if something goes wrong.
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Department of Conservation Bow Hunting Permits
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