Small Game Hunting

Small game hunting has always been an accessible hunting type and is often where many hunters start to learn basic hunting skills. Because of its relative accessibility, this type of hunting tends to attract large numbers of hunters, particularity those starting out or those who are restricted by mobility or accessibility. Similar to game bird hunting we uncovered a surprisingly high number of firearms related injuries. The details of these incidents suggest very poor firearms safety practice.

Learn about the key risks to Small Game hunters in NZ

Choose Your Hunting Area

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?
  • 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 outdoors takes skills, even if it is a short day hunt in a local area.

  • 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:
  • Waterproof Jacket
  • Headtorch
  • Emergency Communications Device (Beacon)
  • Warm Clothing (Not Cotton)
  • Hat and Gloves
  • Sturdy Footwear
  • Water and Food
  • Emergency Shelter
  • First Aid Kit
  • Clean and bright blaze gear
  • Map and Compass or GPS
  • Packliner + Pack
  • Sun protection
  • Whistle
  • Permission or a DOC permit to hunt on the land as well as a current NZ firearms licence

pdfBasic Gear List for outdoorsPDF – 203 KB

or you can find more on our Supplies section.

On Your Hunt

Keep everyone safe by putting firearm safety first at all times.

Put Firearm Safety First

Almost all firearms related hunting incidents relate back to one of the 7 Basic Firearms Safety rules. This is especially important in Small Game hunting where you are 3.5x more likely to have a firearms handling injury than any other hunting type. Watch Treat very Firearm as Loaded below:

  • 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.

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