Falling a leading cause of hunting accidents - report

New research has revealed hunters falling to their deaths is one of the leading causes of hunting fatalities, alongside firearms incidents.

It's just one finding in a first-of-its-kind analysis of hunting data aimed at identifying problem-areas in the sector.

A Hunters Tale, A deep dive into hunting incidents in New Zealand  has been put together by the Mountain Safety Council, partnered with groups including the police, ACC, the Department of Conservation and Coronial Services.

Mountain safety Council CEO Mike Daisley says the data was previously held by a range of different agencies, and had never been properly analysed.

"Now we've got some real clarity around some red flags we'd like to be working with the sector to support through this season," says Mr Daisley.

The document breaks down in detail when, where and how hunters are being hurt and killed.

Key findings:

  • On average 1030 people every year are injured while hunting in New Zealand.
  • 41 people were killed hunting between 2007 and 2016.
  • Of those deaths, 22 involved firearms.
  • 11 hunters killed in falling incidents.
  • 195,000 people take part in hunting in New Zealand annually
  • The majority of injuries, deaths and search and rescue operations occur in the central North Island region.

During April when deerstalkers flock to the bush for "the roar", misidentifying targets is the biggest problem, with most incidents occurring in the central North Island.

But come May in duck shooting season, the focus changes.

"It's about how you're handling and using your firearm in a close proximity to others," says Mr Daisley. "So there are two very different things going on."

While firearms are a major problem, falling has also been identified as a leading individual cause of incidents, with 11 deaths.

Since 2004 ACC has paid out more than $20 million for hunting-related injury claims.

Falling injuries account for 53 per cent of the total ACC claim.

Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne, who's responsible for firearms, says the data shows hunting accidents can't just be blamed on rogue hunters irresponsibly using firearms.

"This will enable future policy direction to be based on the facts and the evidence  and not the prejudices (against hunters)" Dunne says.

Wellington deerstalker Blake Salmon says the work highlights problems known to many hunters, but not widely discussed.

"No deer is worth risking anyone's life for," Mr Salmon says.

"A lot of the mistakes are made when people think they're seeing an animal which turns out to be a hunter."

 "It's a bit of a trick the mind plays, but you really need to take your time and look."

Mr Salmon tends to avoid hunting during "the roar" because of the influx of people and the risk associated with having more hunters in dense bush.