New video targets ill-prepared hunters ahead of this year's roar

A new video is aiming to inspire hunters to "sharpen up" if they think it's ok to head out in the mountains on a whim this roar. 

The deer breeding season - known as the 'roar' or 'rut' - kicks off in late March and runs until April. The popular hunting period gets its name from the behaviour of male deer, which roar to warn off rival stags.

After last year's season was called off due to the COVID-19 lockdown, it's expected there will be a fair few hunters itching to hit the backcountry this year.

However, with more people out in the hills there is also more risk.

During the 2019 roar season there were around 400 injuries and 24 search and rescues involving hunters, according to the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council (MSC).

That compared to 320 injuries, 31 search and rescues and one fatality in 2018.

While hunters have been urged to put safety first and only shoot when 100 percent sure they have identified their target, they are also being encouraged to be well prepared for their time in the great outdoors.

"So often, the conversation around hunting safety focuses on firearms," says MSC chief executive Mike Daisley. 

"That's a really important part of it, but there's very clear insights that show the vast majority of safety incidents relate to other topics like inadequate fitness, navigation errors, insufficient planning and preparation, not carrying the right gear and decision making about whether to push on or turn around."

Daisley says of all hunting-related search and rescue operations, around 21 percent are caused by poor navigational skills, while a combination of inadequate fitness, lack of warm and waterproof clothing and not carrying a torch contributes to around 20 percent.

"To avoid becoming one of these statistics, hunters should ensure they carry basic items, a jacket, warm layers, and a head torch even on day hunts are essential, wear blaze and additionally preparing for the unexpected by carrying an emergency shelter, a first aid kit and a suitable communications device are all smart additions."

A new video released by MSC is now aiming to inspire hunters to be prepared this autumn.

The video, produced by Wellington-based Flying Saucer, features Kiwi actors Cohen Holloway and Stephen Tamarapa as two hunters who head out into the bush but have very contrasting experiences. 

One perspective shows the consequences of being prepared while the other reveals what it can be like for those who just wing it and hope for the best.

"We hope that the hunters see themselves in one of the two guys from the video," says Daisley. 

"Either the hunter who is doing the right things and that's validation for what they do in real life, or the hunter who goes out on more of a whim, doesn't do the planning or preparation, and it is a reminder to them that they should sharpen up a little."