Some things can really make you angry. On Friday night I was bivvying out at a Department of Conservation road-side camp-site in the Kawekas, anticipating a great long weekend (which we had, more to come later). Having come up from Wellington we arrived a little before midnight, and were completely ignorant that this was happening just a short distance away  at a similar camp-site over the range in the Kaimanawas.
We eventually heard about the shooting via sketchy gossip on the mountain radio service on Sunday morning. Early reports suggested that a hunter had shot a woman cleaning her teeth at a river outside a hut. Later a rumour came through that not only had the shooter failed to identify what he was shooting at, the hut’s chimney was even visible from the position of the shooter, which should have made it obviously silly to be shooting near there at all. This translated into angry sarcastic chit-chat on the radio. By last night when I’d arrived home, more correct information had begun to emerge about just how reckless and stupid these guys were. Unfortunately they’re not alone, they just happened to be the ones to hurt someone.
Want a picture? Because this one from the Herald on Sunday (pdf) more or less sums it up . Eventually the courts will reveal the facts of the case and if there’s reason to do so I’ll take this back, but right now it seems that what happened here really is disgusting.
Over at Fish n’ Hunt, the forums have gone overboard with disgust  of the incident. Spotlighting is banned on all public conservation land, but these people drove just off the main road where they shone a torch into a frickin’ public campsite, well marked with a giant signpost, (Kaimanawa Road Campsite , alternatively on Google Maps ), spotted a pair of eyes between the trees, aimed a loaded lethal weapon, and pulled the trigger!
So far the popular press has referred to the shooter as a “hunter”, or sometimes a “deer hunter”. What a crock! I’ve met enough hunters in the hills to know about basic hunting codes and responsibilities that are meant to be lived by and respected. Firearm safety and identifying targets is at the top of that list, and even though people sometimes screw up, it’s a long way from what appears to have happened here. This incident is so far away from any sane kind of hunting that it’s an insult to the hunting community to refer to it as a hunting accident, or to refer to some stupid lazy wannabees with guns as hunters at all, let alone deer hunters. This was not it by any respectable standard of the word. It can be described as nothing more than irresponsible twits illegally shooting from a road into a public camp-site without knowing or caring about what they were shooting at. Plain and simple.
So what does it mean if you can’t even stay in a public camp-site without a car-load of jerks cruising past with torches and firing loaded weapons? It’s putting at risk everyone who’s out there to have fun. Hunters, trampers, family campers, tourists, and everyone who shares the facilities. I only hope the repercussions here fall where they should, and not onto people who act responsibly.
This is exactly why spotlighting is illegal anywhere on the public Department of Conservation estate .