Game Bird Hunting

Game bird hunting in New Zealand is a long-loved tradition for many hunters. It involves the pursuit of waterfowl and upload game birds during legal seasons of the year. One particular event is the Duck Hunting Season, in which hunters call in and shoot ducks from maimais. Firearms safety in this form of hunting is essential as many hunters in close proximity and rapid reactions to appearance of game.

For the 2020 Duck Hunting Season we developed a video to promote awareness of safe habits during this hunting season.


Watch the Extended Version

Did you know?

You are 8x more likely to sustain a firearms related injury while Game Bird hunting than any other hunting type.
A Hunter's Tale, 2017

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Prepare for your hunt 

Consider the consequences

Few other outdoor recreational activities in New Zealand have such a dramatic increase in participation as occurs during the opening morning of duck hunting season. This massive increase in participation unfortunately produces a corresponding increase in the rate of incidents. However, it’s the nature of many of these injuries that is of serious concern. It is quite clear that duck hunters sustain firearm related injuries when in close proximity to each other.  

Standing shoulder-to-shoulder in a maimai creates a situation where correct muzzle control and firing zone management are very important firearm safety fundamentals to maintain in what can be challenging conditions. The injuries that occur during duck hunting season indicate a large number of ‘close calls’ occur. It’s often luck that has prevented many of these incidents from becoming a fatality.

Play by the rules

Almost all firearms related hunting incidents relate back to one of the 7 Basic Firearms Safety rules. This is especially important in Game Bird Hunting where multiple shooters of various skill level are using shotguns at once. Also play by the rules by getting your season licence.

  • Don't lapse in concentration around firearms. Treat as loaded, check your safeties, point in a safe direction check that firing zone. And check again.
  • Store guns in racks and away from children throughout the day and at the end of the day.

Communicate with each other on the status of your firearm and help reduce the risk of an incident.

  • Prepare for the outdoors. With warm, comfortable and well fed hunters, you can stay alert and reduce the risk of making a fatal error. Bring plenty of supplies such as water, first aid, spare clothes and food to keep you and your mates comfortable and focussed.
  • Save those alcoholic drinks for after you and your mates have safely locked your firearms away. 

Learn the rules 

What are the risks?

A Hunter's Tale 

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. 

Read the story

170926.MSC.COM.Resources web hunterstale


41% of game bird hunting injuries occur on opening weekend.
– A Hunter's Tale, 2017


Helpful Resources 

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Helpful Links 

NZ Police - Understand more about firearms safety, getting licensed and the rules with their online learning tool

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Fish and Game NZ - Get your permit and regional information for Game Bird Hunting

Find out more

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