Small Game Hunting
Small game hunting has always been an accessible hunting type and is often where many hunters start to learn basic hunting skills. Because of its relative accessibility, this type of hunting tends to attract large numbers of hunters, particularity those starting out or those who are restricted by mobility or accessibility. Similar to game bird hunting we uncovered a surprisingly high number of firearms related injuries. The details of these incidents suggest very poor firearms safety practice.
Watch as we uncover key risks and ways to mitigate them with the Hunter's Club NZ:
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Did you know?
Rabbit hunters are 10.5x more likely to sustain a gunshot wound than any other type of hunter.
– A Hunter's Tale, 2017
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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
Prepare for your hunt
- A comfortable pack - load your kill carefully on your shoulders and take your time
- A pack liner for keeping your gear dry and use as an emergency shelter
- A map of the area and a compass, and know how to use them
- A communication device for the outdoors. Mobile phones can have limited coverage in most outdoor locations
- A basic survival kit
- A basic first aid kit with any personal medication you may need
- 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
- Torch/ headtorch - the chase can often lead to a walk back in the dark
- Permission or a small game DOC permit to hunt on the land
- A current NZ 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.
- A basic hunting gear list can be downloaded as part of our FREE online tool:
Begin Plan My Trip
- 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
- Play by the rules
- When supervising new hunters without firearms licences, you cannot operate a firearm yourself. One licence, one shooter.
- Slug guns, or air rifles, must be supervised by a licence holder or someone over 18 as well, one per shooter.
- 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. When supervising new hunters without firearms licences, you cannot operate a firearm yourself. One licence, one 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.
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 Small Game hunting where you are 3.5x more likely to have a firearms handling injury than any other hunting type.
NZ Police - Understand more about firearms safety, getting licensed and the rules here.
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