Hunters stunned by fatal shooting

The Southland hunting community is in shock after the shooting death of a man who was hunting deer near Tuatapere, prompting reminders for extra vigilance during the roar.

Police said Adam David Hill, 25, a dairy farm worker of western Southland, was fatally shot in the chest by a member of a different hunting party while hunting in the Longwood Range on Sunday.

He is survived by his partner and two young children.

Tributes for the dead man have flowed on social media.

Tim Hill, who identified himself as Adam's brother, publicly posted on his Facebook page his thanks to everyone for their love and support.

"I don't have many words at the moment all I can say is Adam was the best man I knew and there are few I love the way I love him he was my little brother my best friend and he saw the best in me."

Katie Herrick, who is identified as a sister, publicly posted on her Facebook page she wished it were all "a big nightmare".

She was proud to call herself his sister and said he had so much ahead of him.

The death comes as a big blow for the hunting community, and follows the death of Mark Vanderley in 2012, who was shot and killed on a high country station in northern Southland.

Mountain Safety Council firearms and hunter safety programme manager Nicole McKee said 26 people had now been killed while hunting in New Zealand since 1992, more than one death a year on average.

This time of year was particularly risky for hunters as more people than usual were out in the bush for the roar, she said.

The roar is a month-long mating season for stags which roar to establish their territories.

Data from the Mountain Safety Council showed that if an accident was going to happen it was more likely during the roar or in the first weekend of May for the duck-hunting season, she said.

Hunters were also likely to be struck by a case of "buck fever" in which adrenaline brought on by the thrill of a potential stag causes lapses in judgment.

Buck fever was when the brain took over and told the eyes what it wanted to see, she said.

When that happened hunters needed to take a second or two to look away from their target and regain composure until they were absolutely certain they could identify their target, she said. There were no excuses for hunters not identifying their targets.

"It doesn't matter how much I say it, I will keep saying it. I think it all comes down to one sentence - no meat is better than no mate."

"I can't push that safety message enough.

Detective Sergeant Mark McCloy, of Invercargill, said Hill had been wearing high-visibility clothing at the time of the shooting.

He said hunters needed to be extra vigilant at this time of year because the bush was full of hunters out for the roar.

"It's a great sport and great fun, but people have just got to be really vigilant. Firearms are lethal weapons and need to be treated as such."

"If in doubt, don't fire."

Deerstalkers Association Southland branch president Nathan Dawson said the club's condolences went to the families involved.

He urged people to "be safe out there" when hunting.

"It's a real tragedy for him, the families, and the hunting community as well."

Invercargill police are investigating the incident and an autopsy was done yesterday.