Hunts Course Content
NZDA’s standard HUNTS syllabus covers the nine modules described in detail below.

1. Ethics, Ecology & Regulations

This module teaches the ethics and regulations that New Zealand hunters need to be aware of, including:

  • Responsibilities of hunters towards iwi, private landowners, Department of Conservation (DOC) and other outdoor users
  • NZDA’s hunting ethics
  • Care For Aotearoa and The Environmental Care Code
  • Wildlife conservation relating to hunting

2. Equipment & Food

This module teaches about the essential equipment and food required for safe hunting, providing useful tips and technical explanations. Topics covered are:

  • Basic gear and food required for hunting including pack, tent, boots, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, knife, binoculars, map, compass, torch, rifle, ammunition
  • Selection and care of equipment
  • Selection and care of clothing
  • The layering principle for clothing
  • Selection and storage of food
  • Cooking meals
  • Dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Communication devices
  • Survival kit

 Photo: Wellington & Porirua HUNTS Course 2021

3. Backcountry Travel

When hunting it is important to plan ahead, this module teaches the fundamentals of safe travel, including:

  • Planning a hunting trip
  • Obtaining and interpreting basic weather information
  • Selecting and setting up a campsite
  • Demonstrating basic understanding of river dynamics and hazards
  • Demonstrating competence in solo and group methods of river crossing (theory lesson prior to practical exercise)

4. Navigation

Hunting in the backcountry requires learning the skills for navigating using a map and compass or GPS. This module covers the fundamentals of backcountry navigation, including:

  • Reading maps and using a compass confidently
  • Selecting a route and determining the time required and distance travelled
  • Following a compass bearing and determining your location

5. Firearms Selection, Safety & Marksmanship

Hunting (other than bowhunting) requires an appropriate firearm, in this module trainees learn the essentials of firearm use in a hunting context, including:

  • The 7 basic rules of firearms safety
  • Transport and field safety
  • Target identification and safety clothing
  • Basic rifle ballistics
  • Selecting a suitable rifle and accessories
  • Telescopic sights
  • Popular calibres and their performance
  • Bullet selection and performance
  • Sighting in a rifle for hunting
  • The main factors affecting rifle accuracy
  • Shooting techniques
  • Field shooting
  • Rifle maintenance at home and in the field

6. Game Animal Species

There is a range of big game animal species available to hunt in New Zealand, this module describes these animals, including:

  • Learning about New Zealand’s big game animals and the regions they are found
  • Identifying the 7 deer species in New Zealand
  • Identifying footprints, droppings, and other sign
  • Learning seasonal behaviour of game animals in their region
  • Learning what constitutes a trophy

7. Hunting Techniques

This module provides information to help gain knowledge of hunting skills and locating game animals, including:

  • Explaining deer behaviour by season, time of day and weather conditions
  • Describing the favoured locations and feed of deer
  • Describing the main types of deer sign and what a hunter can learn from them
  • Describing a deer’s primary defences
  • Basic stalking techniques
  • Understanding the importance of wind and its likely direction
  • Explaining how to use movement, sound, and colour to your advantage
  • Describing the best areas for bullet placement and explain why
  • Preferred field shooting techniques
  • Demonstrating basic roaring technique
  • How to track wounded animals

8. Meat, Skins & Trophies

Learn what to do after you have shot a game animal, which depends on whether you want it for a trophy animal, taxidermy, or to make the best use of the meat and skin. This module includes:

  • Knife selection and sharpening
  • Gutting and skinning an animal in the field
  • Removing the cape and head of an animal
  • Head skinning
  • Skull preparation for mounting and competitions
  • Preserving skins and meat
  • Butchering an animal in the field to remove most of the edible meat
  • Carrying a deer carcass or hindquarters
  • Disposing of offal and waste
  • Removing the lower jaw for aging
  • Trophy photography
  • The Douglas Score measuring system

Photo: Upper Clutha HUNTS Course 2021

9. Outdoor Emergencies & Survival Techniques

Things may not go to plan when in the backcountry and New Zealand’s weather conditions can be harsh and changeable. This module helps trainees learn some of the dangers and how to cope, including:

  • Basic first aid
  • Dealing with a medical emergency
  • Hypothermia and dehydration
  • The contents of a first aid kit
  • The contents of a survival kit and its use
  • Lighting a fire in damp conditions and making an emergency shelter
  • Basic survival techniques
  • Search and rescue
  • What to do when lost or separated from the party
  • What to do for an ill or injured party member
  • What to do for an overdue member or party
  • What to do when there is a fatality
  • Preparing for a medical evacuation by foot
  • Preparing a helicopter landing zone for a casualty
  • Safety around helicopters


Use the Branch Finder to join NZDA and contact the nearest branch offering a HUNTS course.

For more information, contact National Office: