A man shot in the back twice by his neighbour after discovering cannabis plots on his property has slammed the two-and-a-half-year prison sentence handed down to the shooter as "a joke".

Northland beneficiary Graham Limbrick stumbled across two cannabis plots while laying possum traps at his Mangonui property. A track led him to a barn where he found drug cultivator Richard John Drake.

Mr Limbrick told Drake to remove his cannabis plants because neighbours were blaming Mr Limbrick for planting them but he was told by Drake it was none of his business. About a month later, on January 25, 2014, Drake acquired a 12-gauge shotgun and ammunition despite not having a firearms licence and fired one warning shot before shooting Mr Limbrick, 62, twice in the back and his neck and arms.

Drake, 23, pleaded guilty to charges of wounding with intent to injure, unlawful possession of a firearm and cultivating cannabis at the tail end of his week-long trial in the Kaikohe District Court late last year.

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He was sentenced to two-and-a-half years' jail on the wounding with intent to injure charge and given concurrent sentences of nine months' jail on the cultivating cannabis and unlawful firearm possession charges when he appeared for sentencing in the Whangarei District Court this week. Drake also has an earlier conviction for cultivating cannabis.

Mr Limbrick is fuming at the "short" prison term.

"No way. You can't go around shooting someone on the back with a 12-gauge shotgun and get that sentence. I reckon he should have been charged with attempted murder."

Officer-in-charge of the case Detective Sergeant Trevor Beatson said it was a serious incident and people who engaged in such activity as Drake could expect to go to jail.

He declined to comment on why a charge of attempted murder was not laid against Drake.

Each cannabis plot had 15 plants about 1m high and they were not on Mr Limbrick's land.

Judge John MacDonald, visiting the court from Auckland, said Drake fired 25 potentially lethal pellets which were still imbedded in Mr Limbrick's body. Fortunately none hit his vital organs.

He said Drake and an associate parked a vehicle on Mr Limbrick's Kohumaru Rd property before making their way to the cannabis plants.

Both found Mr Limbrick at a creek and Drake fired a warning shot and the beneficiary immediately retreated.

Judge MacDonald said Drake then followed his neighbour and fired two more shots which seriously injured him.

He rejected Drake's argument that he fired in self defence.

Crown prosecutor Richard Annandale said Drake was highly reckless and his actions were deliberate and premeditated.

Drake was convicted on a charge of cultivating cannabis in 2011, he said.

Defence lawyer Ken Bailey said his client had been on strict bail for about two years and submitted home detention was the most appropriate sentence.

Mr Limbrick said doctors have advised him the removal of the pellets was too dangerous as his wounds could be infected.

"Now the pellets are moving around my body and are starting to touch the nerves. They are causing aches."