A Hastings hunter has admitted fatally shooting a 23-year-old soldier in the Ruahine Ranges in March.

Gary Bruce McCurrach, 58, appeared before Judge Geoff Rea this morning at Hastings District Court where he pleaded guilty to carelessly using a .308 rifle causing the death of Danny Jordan, a soldier based at Linton Military Camp, on March 31.

The 58-year-old, supported by his family, also admitted careless use of a firearm causing injury, and unlawful hunting.

Police prosecutor Andy Horn told the court McCurrach had travelled to the Ruahine Range area when he went hunting without a licence during the roar.


He soon became aware that other people were hunting in the same area so climbed to the top of Sparrowhawk bivouac track to find cellphone coverage to tell his wife he was coming home.

During his ascent, two deer ran in front of him, and McCurrach heard several stags roaring.

Meanwhile the soldier had been resting with two friends on the Sparrowhawk bivouac track.

McCurrach saw movement and shot and killed Jordan instantly with a single shot to his neck from a distance of 42m.

Bullet fragments injured Jordan's friend, and these fragments remain in the man's leg as it would cause more damage to remove them.

A dog was also hit by fragments.

Jordan's hunting began yelling before activating an emergency locator beeper.

The defendant was said to initially be confused about what had happened.

He believed two animals had been before him when he fired.

He went with police to the station and had been fully co-operative since, prosecution said.

At an earlier court appearance, McCurrach's lawyer had sought a three-week remand so he could get a forensic optometrist report before his client entered his plea.

McCurrach faces a maximum three years' imprisonment or a fine of $4000.

Judge Rea ordered a probation report and remanded McCurrach on bail for sentencing in September.