Fish & Game calls for ‘utmost ’care on eve of new duck hunting season
Fish & Game New Zealand is calling for the thousands of game bird hunters venturing out for the opening of the new hunting season on Saturday to exercise the highest gun safety standards.
The 2016 game bird hunting season opens nationwide on Saturday 7 May and Fish & Game Communications Manager Don Rood says that nothing less than “single-minded concentration” on safety is required from all hunters.
Serious duck hunting accidents are rare but last season a teenage boy was killed in the North Island. His death was the fourth duck hunting fatality since 1992.
“We urge hunters and those close to them to think carefully about handling firearms. No duck is worth ignoring the basic gun safety rules.
“When you are walking in to your hunting possie or climbing a fence, your shotgun should never be loaded. While getting over a fence, a hunter should place their gun on the ground first,” Mr Rood says.
There were also risks in the confined spaces of maimais.
“Being safe in the maimai means of course making sure your mates are well clear before firing, and checking your firing zone. Other steps include never leaving a loaded gun propped against a wall.
“Any loaded firearm can be knocked over by a dog or your mate and accidentally discharge.”
Don Rood also urged older hunters to properly supervise anyone without a firearms licence who they have taken hunting.
“Opening weekend is a great time to introduce novices to hunting, especially younger family members. However, if these new hunters don’t have firearm licences, then they must be properly supervised and that means the supervising hunter cannot be shooting at the same time.
“Instead, they must be within arms reach of the novice hunter at all times to prevent unsafe gun handling,” Mr Rood says.
“It is also a good idea to make sure they know the firearm safety rules”.
Safe responsible hunters also know that alcohol and duck hunting do not mix under any circumstances, Mr Rood adds.
“There is no hardship whatsoever in keeping the drinks aside for later once the game is cleaned and in the freezer and firearms are safety unloaded and locked away.
After a day’s hunting, double check your gun to make sure its unloaded before putting it away in a bag or case.”
Mr Rood says Fish & Game is also concerned about the country’s appalling drowning rate, and well aware of hunters now taking to the water using a variety of inflatable and other craft.
Any hunters using boats or other water craft need to be wearing life jackets and with camouflage versions available there is simply no excuse not to be wearing one, he says.
“We don’t want to be seen as trying to drum too many rules and regulations into people, but our fervent wish is that all hunters end up back safely with their families at the end of the day.”
Basic Rules for Safe Firearm Handling
1. Treat every firearm as loaded
Check every firearm yourself and only pass or accept an open or unloaded firearm.
2. Always point firearms in a safe direction
Loaded or unloaded, always point the muzzle in a safe direction.
3. Load a firearm only when ready to fire
Load the magazine only after you reach your shooting area. Load the chamber only when ready to shoot. Completely unload before leaving the shooting area.
4. Identify your target beyond all doubt
Movement, colour, sound and shape can all deceive you. Assume colour, shape, sound, and shape to be human until proven otherwise
5. Check your firing zone
Think! What may happen if you miss your target? What might you hit between you and the target or beyond? Do not fire when you know others are in your firing zone
6. Store firearms and ammunition safely
When not in use, lock away the bolt, firearm and ammunition separately. And never leave firearms in a vehicle that is unattended
7. Avoid alcohol and drugs when handling firearms
Good judgement is the key to safe use
For further information, visit: Mountain Safety Council website www.mountainsafety.org.nz and click on firearms.