Night hunters are those who pursue any game animal after dark and before dawn. They do so with the aid of moonlight, a spotlight, torch or any other piece of equipment that allows the hunter to see game in the dark. 

A large number of hunting fatalities have occurred in the dark. There has also been an increased number of ‘misidentification’ incidents occurring outside of daylight hours. The hunting environment at night and the increased risks that low visibility brings, are vastly different when compared to what hunters encounter during a hunt in daylight.  

Special consideration and extra care should be taken when hunting at night. Misidentified target incidents occurring at night often involved the victim wearing a headlamp or carrying a torch, the glow of which is then mistaken for the glow of a deer’s eyes in the hunter’s spotlight beam

Department of Conservation - Find out more about the species you are targeting, the permits you need and much more here.

NZ Police - Information on the Arms Code and licensing here.


Hunters at dusk - BGH

Did you know?

Night hunters are 4x more likely to be accidentally shot than any other type of hunting.
A Hunter's Tale, 2017

Did you know?

Night Hunters are 3x more likely to sustain vehicle-related injuries
A Hunter's Tale, 2017

Did you know?

It is illegal to hunt on public land at night.


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Outdoor Safety Code

The first thing to remember is that every trip needs a plan. It doesn't take much to turn a short walk into an 'unexpected night out' in the bush. If you've planned before you hit the track using the outdoor safety code as a guide, there's a good chance you'll be prepared to handle an unexpected turn of events. 

Safety is the outcome of good planning and good decision making
– Mike Daisley, MSC CEO
Find our more about the Outdoor Safety Code below. 


Firearm Safety Code

The vast majority of firearms related incidents can be traced back to one or many of the firearms safety code not being followed. Regardless of how experienced you are following the firearms safety code is essential to the safety of you and your fellow hunters. 

Helpful hint:

 Don't hesitate to call your mates out if they're not handling their firearm safely. Safety is everyone's responsibility. 

Explore the FSC


Key Insights


Developed by the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council (MSC) 'A Hunter's Tale' represents the most comprehensive exploration of hunting participation and incidents in New Zealand. Building on the success of There and Back (2016) this publication represents the first in a series of comprehensive ‘deep dives’ and explores hunting and firearms safety through the presentation of key insights. A Hunter's Tale focusses on trends in participation, hunting related injuries, search and rescues as well as fatalities. The data presented in this document provides a comprehensive evidence base that clearly identifies what is going wrong for hunters in the New Zealand outdoors.

Click the cover to read

A Hunters tale Cover Page


Insights - Small Game  

Case of serious small game injuries - 56% Accidentally shot self + 44% Accidentally shot by other
A Hunter's Tale, 2017



Small game shooters are 10.5x as likely to sustain a gunshot wound and are 5.5x as likely to sustain a vehicle related injury.
– A Hunter's Tale, 2017


Helpful hint:

Small caliber rifles should never be underestimated due to their risk of ricochet.

Key resources 

Activity Guides 

This guide has been developed to help you plan your trip. It's available to read and download for FREE. To read click on the image below.

Click the cover to read it online

Hunting English

We've also produced a Te Reo version below

Hunting Te Reo


You Tube

Hunting Playlist 01

Video one in a series of six videos conjointly developed with Big Game Hunting. Watch the full series here

Video #1: Treat Every Firearm As Loaded 

Video #2: Always Point Your Firearm In A Safe Direction

Video #3: ID Your Target

What should you take?  

New Zealand weather is very changeable. Even if you set out in the sunshine and there is no rain in the forecast it's not uncommon to have an isolated shower. Make sure you take rain protection and extra layers you can put on if it gets cold. Having the right supplies means that you're more likely to remain warm, comfortable and safe for the duration of your trip.  

Wear the right fabrics. Clothing only retains what heat your body produces. Certain fabrics wick moisture away from the body and retain warmth. Avoid cotton clothing – when cotton gets wet it ceases to insulate you. Wet and cold clothing significantly contributes to hypothermia.

Questions to consider before you head out 

There are a few safety essentials you should have with you (or tick off the list) when you're out hunting

  • A comfortable pack - load your kill carefully on your shoulders and take your time. Consider this in your trip planning.
  • pack liner. This is one of the simplest yet most important pieces of equipment. It keeps everything in your pack dry.  An elasticated, fabric pack cover over your pack may not keep your things dry in rain
  • Clean and bright blaze gear - Wearing blaze is not an insurance policy, but contrasting with your environment is a good safety principle. 
  • Food and water - always prepare for a potential night out or an extra long day.
  • A basic first aid kit with any personal medication you may need. 
  • A map of the area and a compass.
  • A communication deviceMobile phones can have limited coverage in most outdoor locations. If you are going into a remote area consider hiring a personal locator beacon. 
  • A basic survival kit 
  • Torch/ headtorch - be extra aware of your firing zone during spotlighting. Consider what is beyond the torch light. Identify your target carefully using binoculars. Never shoot at movement, sound, 'eyes' or shape.
  • Permission to hunt on the land as well as your firearms licence.
  • Clean and sighted in firearm - a small cloth in your pocket to clean your scope, and basic cleaning gear for you at the hut and a sighted-in firearm which you are familiar with.
  • Have you told anyone that you're heading out? Make sure you leave your intentions.
  • Where are you planning to hunt? Do you have a map of your chosen area and does everyone understand where the boundaries are? Do you have permission to be on the land? It is illegal to hunt during the hours of darkness on public land.
  • Are you hunting with anyone else? Do you have a plan for when an animal arrives? Choose the shooter and keep the shooter in front. Communicate often verbally or via radios to keep in touch with each other's movements. Don't seperate and don't hesitate to tell them when they are being unsafe 
  • What food will you need? Stay comfortable on your hunt and take regular break for water and food. This helps settle the nerves and listen out for any game that might be in the area. 
  • Pick the right hunting buddy - We encourage you to have a great time out there with your mates, but it is your right to feel safe with the people you are hunting with.
    • Make sure they are licensed or are directly supervised by a licensed shooter
    • They are medically and mentally up for the task - seeing, hearing, fitness etc.
    • They know how safely operate the firearm they are using
    • They practice safe shooting by always following the 7 Basic Firearms Rules
    • They are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol
    • They know what to do in an emergency situation
    • You all understand who is shooting and when. Divide responsibilities to minimise handling issues, one spotlight handler, one shooter, one driver.

Helpful hint 

Tell someone your plans before you go and take a communication device

Helpful Links

MSC Blog

Find out more

MSC Press Releases 

Find out more

Explore our insights

Find out more 

Read Outdoor Safety Code
 Find out more

Department of Conservation - You can find out more about the species you are targeting, the permits you need and much more here.

Find out more

NZ Police - Understand more about firearms safety, getting licensed and the rules here.

Find out more

Walking Access Permission - Learn about getting access to private land and the key things you need to do before you go here.

Find out more