Deer hunting season proving to be one of best

This year's deer shooting season is proving to be one of the best yet - a fortune welcomed by hunters after the level 4 lockdown cancelled 2020's.

It's only midway through the roar, the time when stags are at their most vocal and least cautious, and hills are only expected to get busier as the trans-Tasman bubble opens allowing Aussies to join in. 

Taxidermist Tyron Southward is already run off his feet.

"We've just got more people, more deer, more everything."

He's busy despite the lack of overseas tourists for which New Zealand is normally a hunting destination. Instead Kiwi hunters are aiming up.

"We kind of expect from locals, maybe a couple of heads a week. On a normal year we might see two to three a week," Southward says. "This week here we've had over 50."

And he only sees the top end of what's shot, those that are deemed trophy-worthy.

New Zealand Deerstalkers Association CEO Gwyn Thurlow says they've seen a "huge participation" during the roar this year.  

"Hunters have gone out in big numbers, it coincided with Easter and I was out myself, we saw lots of people in the hills, lots of tents and lots of success." 

Lockdown kept hunters at home last season and predictions this year's roar would be a bumper are proving correct. 

Stags are one year older and one year more mature, which means more trophies up for grabs. 

A safety video released prior to the roar by the NZ Mountain Safety Council is also so far a success, as more people in the hills hasn't meant more injuries. 

"There's been a lot of mutual respect in the hills," says Thurlow. "People behaved well, no major incidents, people heeded safety warnings." 

With the trans-Tasman bubble opening on Monday, Australian hunters are expected in their droves.

"We would encourage them to follow the same message that we gave New Zealanders, be safe, be prepared," says Thurlow.