You must have a firearms licence to own a firearm in New Zealand so that’s the first port of call if you’re thinking about taking up hunting. The next thing is a trip to your local retailer for some experienced advice on what firearm and equipment will best suit your needs and budget.

For instance, bigger game like pigs, goats, and deer require different equipment from smaller pests like rabbits, possums, and wallabies – remember that a single firearm isn’t suitable for all purposes. It’s also a great opportunity to acquire the necessary gear – just like fishing rods and reels, you need the right tools for the job!

Rifles

Look for well-respected brands which are designed and manufactured for accuracy, reliability, and durability. Quality American brands such as Remington, Ruger, Browning, and Winchester, along with Sako and Tikka from Finland and the Japanese Howa rifles, cover the range of calibres required for our large game.

When it comes to choosing rifle calibre, there are a few things you should consider. If you’re hunting in dense forests or close quarters, you’re less likely to need a high-powered rifle with a long-range calibre. On the other hand, when hunting in open terrain, a calibre with greater range and accuracy is a better option.

Rifle weight is another thing to think about, especially for those longer trips or when the terrain is rugged and demanding.

Ammunition

Look for a calibre that delivers controlled expansion and deep penetration with maximum energy transfer to effectively take your target animal down with a well-placed shot. Soft-point (SP), bonded soft-point (SB), or hollow-point (HP) are engineered to maximise energy transfer. Consider factors such as bullet weight, velocity, and energy transfer. Heavier bullets typically offer deeper penetration and better performance at longer ranges, while lighter bullets may provide flatter trajectories and faster velocities for shorter-range shots.

Recoil can be another consideration if you’re sensitive to recoil or if you’re a novice shooter. Excessive recoil can affect accuracy and your confidence, and some calibres can be considerably more costly to shoot than others. Some popular calibres for our large game include .243 Winchester, .270 Winchester, .308 Winchester, 7mm-08 Remmington, .30-06 Springfield, and .300 Winchester Magnum.

Optics

Telescopic sights are fundamental, as are good binoculars or spotting scopes. For hunting deer and wild pigs in varying terrain, a variable magnification scope (e.g., 3-9x or 4-12x) offers versatility for close-range shots and mid-range shots in open areas. Modern scopes offer sealed optics, along with fog-proof, waterproof, and shockproof features. Hydrophobic lens coatings minimise glare, maximise light transmission, and provide sharp, clear images. A larger objective lens gathers more light, so is better during dawn, dusk, or in heavily wooded areas but will add weight and bulk to the rifle. Thermal scopes are a game-changer enabling the detection of animal heat signatures in low or no-light conditions. Experience and understanding of how the heat patterns are displayed as electronic images on the screen is essential and critical for clearly identifying the target before firing.

Accessories

The following are important accessories to consider when acquiring your hunting kit:

Rifle sling: Helps carry your rifle comfortably and securely while keeping your hands free. Look for a sling that’s adjustable, durable, and padded for added comfort during longer hunts and quick-detach swivels make it easy to attach and detach the sling as needed.

Bipod: A bipod provides a stable shooting platform for improved accuracy, especially when shooting from a prone position. Look for a lightweight and durable bipod with adjustable height and swivel capability to suit a variety of terrain and a range of shooting angles.

Binoculars: Binoculars are essential for spotting game at a distance, especially when they may have blended well into the surroundings, allowing you to spot deer and wild pigs before they detect you. Binoculars with high-quality optics, a wide field of view, and sufficient magnification and features like waterproofing, fog-proofing, and durability are all important.

Suppressors: Advantages of suppressors include reduced noise and recoil, which can help preserve your hearing and improve shot placement. Additionally, a suppressor can minimise disturbance to wildlife and reduce recoil-induced flinching, resulting in more accurate shots.

Rifle scope cover: Protects your rifle scope from scratches, dust, and moisture – look for features like flip-up lens caps and quick-release straps for easy access to your scope’s lenses and adjustments.

Rifle case: Lockable cases with padded interiors and durable construction will protect your rifle from damage in transit.

Cleaning kit: Get a cleaning kit designed for your specific firearm type and calibre. Regular cleaning and maintenance help to ensure reliability and accuracy while prolonging the lifespan of your rifle.

Clothing: Hunting clothing is a topic in its own right. Essentially you need to be kitted out appropriately so other hunters can see you and you’re attired appropriately for the conditions (including conditions you might not expect). Comfortable boots are essential.

Safety: Take a PLB for safety and a GPS is more than handy for navigation, especially in NZ’s rugged bush and mountain ranges and take a good knife for dressing the kill.

While your own research will help you hone in on your hunting preferences, don’t forget to tap into the experience and expertise of your local specialist hunting retailer. While you’re enjoying some succulent, premium, aged venison back-steaks, you’ll be glad you did!

Check out Reloaders Suppliers here.

 

THE SEVEN RULES OF FIREARM SAFETY:

1. Treat every firearm as loaded

2. Always point firearms in a safe direction

3. Chamber a cartridge only when ready to fire

4. Identify your target beyond all doubt

  • Never fire at sound, shape, colour or movement alone
  • If in any doubt, do not shoot!

5. Check your firing zone

  • If in any doubt, do not shoot!

6. Store firearms and ammunition safely

7. Avoid alcohol and drugs when handling firearms