Shooting victim 'such a treasure'
On Sunday morning, Adam Hill and his cousin left their bush camp on a high to stalk one more stag in the Longwood Forest before going home.
It was the last time Adam Hill's father saw him alive.
An emotional Dave Hill said he was out hunting with his son and several others at the family's bush camp last weekend when his son, who was also his best mate, was taken from him.
Adam Hill, 25, was fatally shot in the chest by a member of a different hunting party in the Longwood Range.
"We are all just stunned. It's still too hard to believe Ad is gone," Dave Hill said. "My boy was such an awesome, awesome guy who was such a treasure in so many people's hearts."
That included his two wee girls and his beautiful partner Christine, Hill said.
Adam and his dad were doing what they loved: spending time together in the bush at the camp that had been in the family for 33 years.
Nicknamed BC Forever, the camp was built by Dave Hill and his brother-in-law and they hoped one day to have boys who would love hunting and it take over.
Dave Hill said he had lived his dream and, despite the heartbreaking loss of his son, he would continue to hunt with his family.
"Adam would want us to continue and go back and enjoy doing what he loved. He looked at the camp as a special special place."
The day before Adam was killed, he was ecstatic after shooting two good stags, Hill said. "I told him how proud I was of him."
The devastating loss of one of his sons was a shock after safety played such a huge part in the family's passion for hunting.
"All my boys, including Adam, always wore fluorescent gear and were gun conscious. That's how they was raised," he said.
The family were shattered and mourning the loss of a son, brother, father and mate who had everything going for him, he said. "Big things were coming his way."
Hill said he had been in close contact with police but did not want to discuss the details of his son's death while an investigation was continuing.
But the grieving father did have a message for his son.
"BC Forever. I love you and will miss you so much Ad. Love dad."
Brightside Farms owner Chris Adams, who was Adam's boss, said Adam was first and foremost a family man.
"He would do anything for his two wee girls and his partner. They were extremely close."
Adam Hill also had a fantastic bond with his parents and his siblings, his boss said, and he never shirked hard work.
"Adam was a top farmer and a fantastic stockman. I had just promoted him to operations manager of our three dairy farms. That's how good he was."
Adam Hill would be hugely missed by his colleagues who were also his friends, Adams said.
He was the classic case of not judging a book by its cover.
"Adam wore a hoodie and loved his tattoos but, once you spoke to him, you realised what an absolute gentleman he was," he said.
Southland area commander Inspector Lane Todd said police would perform a thorough scene investigation and had been speaking with people who could help with inquiries.
It was too early to say whether charges would be laid, he said.
The Southland Times