Safety notes from the Mountain Safety Council
Opening weekend of the game bird season is about to get underway around the country. While there's a great deal of excitement and atmosphere building, safety should be front of mind, says Mike Daisley, CEO of the Mountain Safety Council (MSC)
"We know from our insights that 64% of all game bird hunting injuries occur in May and that the majority of these are preventable.
"In fact, 41% of the annual total of 'Game Bird' hunting injuries occur on opening weekend.
"We're keen to have a zero in the fatality, search and rescue and injury column this year. It's 100% achievable if hunters heed the firearms safety rules.
"A lot of families will be affected by incidents that are likely to occur over the weekend. The tragedy is that firearms-related incidents are entirely preventable,
"The vast majority of hunting incidents that involved a firearm can be traced to one or many of the firearms safety rules not being followed,” he concluded.
Anto Hall from the Red Stag Timber Hunters Club NZ who helped to develop a series of hunting specific safety videos with MSC is keen to make sure the last two years of low incident rates continue, especially given public attention and nervousness about firearms at the moment.
"Be mindful of where the firearm ends up. People stand them up in maimais all the time. But, if it's a loaded weapon that's a recipe for disaster. You've got dogs around, guys jumping up and moving around the maimai, so you've got to remember to keep the chamber empty if you're not shooting. Don't rely on safety catches, check and empty so you're always safe.
"A successful hunt is one where you're out with your mates and you all make it back home in one piece. If you happen to get a few birds that's great, but don't risk a serious injury or worse just because you're too lazy to follow the procedures.
"It all comes down to good communication. If you're not sure if your mate's shotgun is safe, then you have to ask him! He should do the same for you.
"Opening weekend is a very social occasion, but we've got to take a long hard look at ourselves with respect to alcohol and firearms. The best way to be safe is really to leave the alcohol until after the shoot. It's worse than drink driving in my opinion and should be seen and managed in the same way. Celebrate for sure, but don't ever do it while you're shooting.”
Daisley reiterated MSC key message to make it home in their hard-hitting Early Bird video that explores, from a first-person view, what a firearms incident while duck hunting might be like.
"The main video, as well as two shorter 30-sec versions, are very emotive and designed to get a conversation going within families. The video has been specifically produced to strike a chord with the friends and families of the hunters,” he said.