Doc warns hunters: identify targets and follow code

The Department of Conservation (Doc) is calling on all hunters to strictly adhere to the firearms safety code when hunting on conservation land this season.

A critical factor in several fatal incidents in recent years has been hunters failing to properly identify their target.

There were some simple measures a hunter could take to ensure they were 100% certain of their target, Doc national hunting adviser Ian Cooksley said.

''Hunters should wear clothing coloured so as to contrast with the environment and the animals being hunted. If in any doubt, shift to get a better view or don't shoot at all,'' Mr Cooksley said.

''If hunting in a party, don't separate and continue to hunt in the same area.

''Ensure the complete animal is seen, and don't shoot on the basis of individual items such as colour or shape or sound.''

Mr Cooksley said anyone intending to hunt on public conservation land must obtain a permit first from Doc and be familiar with restrictions.

''Hunting permit holders are reminded to adhere to the permit conditions and refrain from hunting in the hours of darkness, or `spotlighting','' he said.

''This practice is not permitted on conservation land and this is clearly stated on all Doc hunting permits.

''Spotlighting on conservation land poses a serious risk to other people who are using these areas, such as campers and walkers, and this practice must stop,'' Mr Cooksley said.

While most hunters are responsible and follow the firearms safety code, firearms safety must be at the forefront of all hunters' minds when in pursuit of that trophy or meat for the table.

Mr Cooksley recommends hunters attend the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association ''Hunter National Training Scheme'', known as ''HUNTS''.

• More information can be found on the NZ Mountain Safety website and the Doc website.