New Zealand enjoys a rich culture of hunting game – pigs, deer, ourselves…
Even with all the publicity regarding firearm safety, each year, a number of hunters are still being shot by members of their own parties; then with every occurrence of the aforementioned mishap we hear pleas from bereaved family and friends about how easily avoidable such an incident would have been and how proper target identification is paramount in the sport of hunting or worse, how every hunter who enters the bush already knows this very fact.
…Whatever a hunter calls it – adrenalin rush, stag fever, itchy finger – realistically, it’s this overwhelming compulsion to discharge a weapon upon an apparent target that kills people.
As the patch of contrasting texture/colour/movement takes its place within the rifleman’s sights all other thoughts are expunged. The excitement of anticipation has caused the brain to become drunk on adrenalin, and as the trigger is squeezed myriad endorphins contribute to this ecstasy.
It’s here, now, that the trouble begins. The gunman can tell by the sound that the bullet has entered flesh. He knows his target has gone down but the one thing, now the adrenalin has subsided, he’s now querying – exactly what did he just shoot?
That’s the fact of it. No matter how much gun safety a hunter learns; no matter how sensible he usually is with a gun, when it comes to that briefest of moments, the heartbeat between life and death, any amount of training amounts to nothing.
Hunting is a dangerous sport. A group or, taking into account possible poachers or other trespassers, groups of excitable huntsmen stealthily making their way through largely unknown territory, often with nobody truly knowing how many people fill the surrounding area; sometimes not even knowing the location of your own party…
Hunting is a dangerous sport. Hunters are aware of this. When they embark on a hunt they do so knowing the risk. They do it anyway. They do it for the love of it; fair to say hunting is to sport what forestry is to employment.
Article by Tim Walker
Edited by Dee R Death
Photography by Manny Hunter