High hunting firearm deaths come with a warning for hunters this season.

Nearly 90 per cent of hunting deaths in the North Island involved a firearms and hunters are being urged to take extra precaution.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) urged hunters heading to public conservation land to keep safe during the deer 'roar' season.

Stags roared during the breeding season to warn off rival stags, which attracted hunters.


The New Zealand Mountain Safety Council chief executive Mike Daisley said nearly 90 per cent of big game hunting fatalities last year in the North Island involved a firearm.

"There's a clear message to all big game hunters that identifying your target is of the utmost importance...it's quite possible it's not a deer and might be one of your hunting party."

DOC stated 80 per cent of daytime misidentified shootings were members of the same party.

DOC recreational hunting manager Mark Beardsley said this was the busiest time of year for hunters and safety needed to be put first.

Hazards for hunters included firearms, falls and river crossings.

"Good pre-trip planning goes a long way to keep you and your hunting party safe.

Spotlighting, or hunting in the dark, was not permitted on public conservation land as it was a risk to others.

Beardsley said it was hunters needed to have a current hunting permit and comply with local restrictions. Dogs would need a separate dog hunting permit too.


Beardsley said hunters played an important role in keeping down rising deer numbers.

"While many hunters will be looking for a nice trophy animal, why not shoot a few extra and take some meat home for the family," he said.

The extra effort to control deer this month helped reduce the impact deer had on vegetation, stated DOC and that it caused significant changes to the structure and composition of native ecosystems.

Top tips for staying safe this season are:
-Identify your target and ensure the complete animal is seen
-Know the area you are hunting and share your knowledge with the other members of your party. Before the hunt, have everyone agree on hunting areas with a clearly defined "no fire zone" between areas
-Don't assume there is no one else nearby
-Cover carcasses you carry to contrast the environment
-Wear visible clothing and appropriate gear
-Be alert and prepared for weather changes
- Know your firearm
-Remember the hunt is not over till everyone is safely home