A large number of hunting fatalities have occurred in the dark. There has also been an increased number of ‘misidentification’ incidents occurring outside of daylight hours. The hunting environment at night and the increased risks that low visibility brings, are vastly different when compared to what hunters encounter during a hunt in daylight.
Special consideration and extra care should be taken when hunting at night. Misidentified target incidents occurring at night often involved the victim wearing a headlamp or carrying a torch, the glow of which is then mistaken for the glow of a deer’s eyes in the hunter’s spotlight beam.
Make a plan and stick to it
Choose a hunting trip that suits the skills and fitness of everyone in your group. A local hunt or backcountry adventure will all have their own risks. Carefully consider what to expect out there.
- Consider your ability, skills and fitness of everyone in your group
- How will you get there? Where will you stay?
- What will the weather be doing?
- How will help find you if something goes wrong? Will there be cellphone signal?
- How long will it take to get around the area with enough daylight?
- What is the terrain like? Will there be rivers/bluffs/steep ridgelines?
Start looking at maps and websites to gain insight into what your trip will include.
- Topomaps, DOC Hunting areas or talking to experienced hunters are just some examples of where you can begin to search for a suitable hunt near you.
Prepare for your hunt
The planning you do from home will make all the difference for when you are in the bush. If you are going solo, take items to help you contact help if something goes wrong. If you are going as a group, get everyone together and make sure you all agree on the plan.
Get yourself ready
Heading for a hunt into the New Zealand's bush takes skills, even if it is a short day hunt on a local property.
- Get your body ready - you will last longer in the bush and prevent common injuries such as back and ankles while carrying heavy gear/ game
- Understand the firearms rules - make sure you are licenced and understand the 7 Basic Firearms Safety Rules to keep you and your fellow hunters safe.
- Have the skills to stay safe - As you head off track, through variable terrain and encounter risks, basic navigation, river safety and basic first aid are essential skills to the average hunter. You can find all these topics here.
Take the basics to keep you comfortable and safe
What you take with you will make all the difference if something were to go wrong such as getting lost, delayed or injured.
Hunting trip Essentials:
- Cooker, Fuel, Utensils
- Toiletries and personal medication
- Sleeping Bag
- Lock for storing firearms safely
- Hut Booking
Basic Gear List for outdoors
pdf – 207 KB
or you can find more on our Supplies section.
On your hunt
Help yourself go further and make it home safe by staying alert in the bush.
- Put safety first - always point your firearm in a safe direction and take extra care when crossing difficult terrain. Always know the load state of your firearm.
- Be aware of the weather - you can learn how to do this on our weather page
- Take your time - enjoy your hunt, take regular breaks and conserve energy for the trip home and keep your mind sharp
- Stay alert - when will it get dark? Do you know where you are on your map? Where is everyone in your group?
- Choose your route carefully - before you go up or down a steep area, think how will you get back. Hunters are often 'bluffed out' or stuck from not considering this on the day.
- Avoid crossing rivers - if you are not experienced, choose a track that have bridges. If circumstances change, you can always turn back. Learn more about river safety here.
Stay sharp during the roar
80% of mis-identified target hunting incidents were from the same hunting party. By making a plan and smart decisions in the bush, you and your mates can help reduce the risk of an irreversible mistake.
- Plan together — make sure everyone understands what you are doing and where you are going for the hunt
- Communicate in your group— make sure everyone is on the same page
- Help others see you — wear blaze gear to help other hunters see you
- Choose one shooter in your group — reduce the risk of a misID
- Make time to recharge — regular breaks are essential to help you last
- You’re never alone — thousands of hunters and people are out there
- Identify your target beyond all doubt - watch here or read the graphic below.
What to do next
Continue your preparation with our online resources, there is still plenty to learn to ensure for a safe and enjoyable hunt.
Explore our resources
- Get the skills | in Navigation, River Safety and more essentials in our Skills Section
- Watch our Hunting Videos | Learn the 7 Basic Firearms Safety Rules and many more useful tips
- Read our manuals | Access the NZ Bushcraft Manual, NZ Firearm Handbook and other digitised resources here
- Hunting Activity Guide | Read our online guidebook to learn how to apply the 7 Basic Firearms Safety Rules. In English and Te Reo Māori
- Department of Conservation Website | Learn about where you can hunt and more about the species you are trying to target on their website
- NZ Police Website | Learn how to get your NZ Firearms Licence.
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