(NZ) Orange clothes 'may cause hunter deaths'


April 24, 2003, 05:10 PM
The Press (Christchurch)

April 23, 2003, Wednesday


LENGTH: 320 words

HEADLINE: Orange clothes 'may cause hunter deaths'


Forcing hunters to wear bright orange clothing could cause more deaths than the move prevented, the Mountain Safety Council warns.

The New Zealand Deerstalkers' Association has called for hunters to wear blaze orange clothing to prevent more accidental deaths, after three North Island hunters were shot dead in the last three weeks.

But Mountain Safety Council firearm safety manager Bob Badland said blaze orange could, in fact, put hunters at more risk of being shot. "The last victim was wearing a blaze orange cap. That blows away the theory that wearing these colours might make you bulletproof," he said.

"In these last two (deaths), the bright colour may have been the cause."

Bright orange was the same colour as sikha, or red deer, in the bush, and should not be worn. A more suitable safety colour would be fluorescent blue, Mr Badland said.

On Sunday, Taupo man Mark Leathwick, 47, was accidentally shot dead by another hunter in the mountains in the central North Island. He had been wearing a blaze orange cap and vest, but the vest was covered by another garment.

Earlier in the month, Hamish Harland, 26, was killed in the Tongariro National Park. He had also been wearing orange clothing for safety, but had put a jumper on over the top, before he was shot by a fellow deer hunter.

Deerstalkers' Association president Trevor Dyke said the association would still push for more use of high- visibility clothing -- but "what we don't know is whether blaze orange is the suitable colour". Blaze orange safety gear was compulsory for hunters in the United States, but even there half of all hunters shot were wearing blaze orange, he said.

Mr Dyke warned hunters to take extra care to positively identify their target and not shoot at colour, sound, shape, or movement.

Mr Badland said prosecuting the hunters responsible for the latest deaths would help reinforce that message.

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April 24, 2003, 05:45 PM
Hasty generalization. One incident of stupidity does not determine a pattern of behavior. I'll take my chances with blaze orange in the woods.

April 24, 2003, 06:10 PM
"That blows away the theory that wearing these colours might make you bulletproof," he said."

I don't recall a highly visible color ever being said to make one "bulletproof". :rolleyes:

April 24, 2003, 06:51 PM
How about wearing one of those buttons with the blinking red lights on it?

If you get shot with that, the shooter should be put in prison, since he was going after Rudolph, and Santa's not cool with that.

April 24, 2003, 07:54 PM
I tend to agree with Guyon. However, where I used to turkey hunt in MO in the fall, I got into the habit of wearing bright colors other than blaze orange that time of year when walking from spot to spot. There are several varieties of trees whose leaves turn a very bright (blaze?) orange just in time for the fall turkey hunt. I took some flack from my hunting buddies for my flourescent colored suspenders, but they made me feel safe.

Art Eatman
April 24, 2003, 09:49 PM
I've noticed that in open country I can spot a guy in blue jeans almost as fast as one with blaze-orange. Next most visible when moving is any camo. Least visible when moving is darker khaki or light brown.

Just another reason for a scope, IMO, particularly in bad light.


April 24, 2003, 10:09 PM
Show me a fluorecent orange leaf, or deer. Go ahead, show me.:rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :barf: :barf: :barf:

April 25, 2003, 07:50 AM
Quote: "Just another reason for a scope, IMO, particularly in bad light."

Yep. Better still, binocs to begin with.

(The hunter ed. honcho at TP&W would not appreciate my not saying that. ;) )

Art Eatman
April 25, 2003, 09:00 AM
jmbg29, here's a scenario:

Mr. Blaze Orange is backed into a clump of brush. It's a cloudy afternoon, right at sundown or just after. The blaze orange doesn't blaze. All the hunter has is an iron-sighted rifle. He sees a splash of deer-color in some brush, about 100 yards away.

1. Mr. Rational passes the shot, not identifying more than just a bit of color.

2. Then there's Mr. Eager-shooter...

"We are gathered here to mourn..."


April 26, 2003, 02:11 PM
I have no idea what kind of seasons they have in NZ, but in my opinion the most significant contributing factor to both accidental shootings AND game law violations is the short seasons put in place in many areas.
If you force everyone to go into the woods at the same time with pressure of a short season you simply promote reckless behavior - the implication is that you MUST get your deer RIGHT NOW or you may not get another chance.

It makes no sense at all. Stretch the season out to four months or so with the same bag limits. Take the pressure off. Less people in the woods on a given day, less pressure to get your deer TODAY.

It would be an interesting study to measure accidental shootings in similar states with long vs short seasons. I think I'd be proven right.


April 26, 2003, 02:30 PM
Much of this IMO is down to ********* shooters! Guys who I see here at times ... pick up their rifle 2 days before season opens .. go to range and shoot off a few rounds to check sighting ..... and that's it!! Off they go to hunt their quarry and ..... they have little or no appreciation of ''normal'' shooting safety practices. They seem to assume, they are all alone for miles around.

It is of course possible to be totally focussed on that deer in the scope but .... hell ..... you have to see behind also and make up your mind over where the bullet can go ...... either thru a miss or over penetration.

Then we have the sights trained on a hunter with his orange on .... hell ..... how does a guy ''mistake'' a flash of orange for something other than a hunter? Sheesh. I can see these orange ''bits'' from any distance .... and my eyes are getting old.:rolleyes:

Now if the deer would wear orange (it'd help me!!!) .... we would have a problem!!

These incidents are similar in category to ''A/D's'' ..... neither are accidents .. they are NEGLIGENCE.!!

April 26, 2003, 11:25 PM
Drizzt, Thanks for posting this.

Keith, We don't have any Deer hunting seasons. The "roar" [on now] is considered the unofficial start of serioue hunting.

Firstly, NZ has a very low incidence of hunter fatalities and Blaze Orange is rarely worn by hunters here. The standard hunters uniform is a Green "Swanni" [heavy pullover bushshirt] and shorts. In fact my father is the only hunter I know who wears Blaze.

The recent hunting deaths seem to be a weird and saddening blip in an otherwise falling trend. One of the reasons there is resistance to wearing Blaze, is a belief that the responsibilty is upon the shooter's identification skills rather then on forcing others to buy and wear Blaze. I still think you can do both but understand the point of view.

Considering that two hunters were killed while wearing Blaze, I think its a possibility that the offenders took the attitude "hey look at the clown in the poncy orange jacket" and then intentionally drew a bead on them. That though would be murder.

Art Eatman's scenario though looks most likely.
Considering how thick the NZ forset is in places, it is possible to see vegetation movement caused by a hunter and not see the actual hunter, regardless of him wearing blaze or not. Shooting at movement though should be Manslaughter [Wanton Disregard/Careless Misuse] at least. So far two of the offenders have been charged as such.

I know hunting fatalities have fallen in the U.S. is this related to compulsory wearing of Blaze or are there other factors at play, e.g. the aging hunting population ?

April 27, 2003, 03:37 AM
Art, with all respect, I don't know what sort of clouds you have in Texas. Here in the Pacific Northwet - read that 250+ days a year overcast - "blaze orange" blazes. It is fluorescent in addition to being orange. It also blazes at sundown. It "blazes" in the depths of the temperate rainforests. What it doesn't do, is stop a negligent shooter. I'm also sure that most folks around this board understand that NOTHING can/will/does stop a negligent shooter.

Now that doesn't mean that the world isn't filled with morons that wear orange, and consider it "blaze" or "fluorescent"; when in reality it is simply orange, red, plaid, or whatever color they figure will match their shoes. Nor does it mean that those same morons don't have a symbyotic relationship with dimwits that shoot at "a splash of deer-color". As far as those folks go, I figure that they are part of God's infinitely beautiful plan to thin the herd.

There are plenty of arguments for wearing blaze orange, not least of which is that hunting in big-country can result in severe injury that renders one unable to communicate. It's a whole heap easier to spot an unmoving person in blaze no matter what their environment or light condition (with the exception of deep night where perhaps white might be a touch easier to spot).

The challenge remains. Show me a leaf or a deer that is fluorescent orange. Go ahead, show me.

Art Eatman
April 27, 2003, 09:14 AM
jmbg29, I dunno how some folks manage to do such stupid stuff. I'm having to guess at how somebody might not spot the color. My father was color blind, and he commented once that the vests didn't really stand out for him. (But he was incredibly good at spotting deer. Dangfino.) I know that some folks go hunting who really shouldn't be driving to their hunt, given their poor eyesight.

How does a guy shoot at each of two trail bikes, each ridden by a kid? It happened in Colorado or Montana, some years back. I read of a guy shot off a tree stand, mistaken for a bear.

I don't think it matters whether fluorescent orange is in nature or not. JoshM's comment about shooting at movement parallels the way a few idiots will shoot into a thicket where they hear a noise, to see what runs out. Some have been known to shoot the person who moved around in that thicket. "Sound shots", it's called. (Want elbow room? Tell the folks in camp you believe in the utility of sound shots. The next question will be, "Where you gonna hunt, tomorrow?" There will be ten guys on a 40-acre pea patch, and you'll have 9,960 acres to yourself. Then again, you might wake up tied to your bunk.)

JoshM, it is the belief of our Wildlife folks that you can see break-points, downward, for hunting accidents at the dates of requiring fluorescent orange and hunter education. Holds true for state after state. It's particularly true for those states where the majority of hunting is on public land.


April 29, 2003, 03:24 AM
I suspect that blaze orange helps those hunters who already are more carefull, but I really believe that hunter education requirements have done more for hunter safety than any other "one thing". We all are probably aware of a time in our past when our eyes/ears have played tricks on us, add in a little adrenalene and you have a recipe for diasaster. Reinforcment of the basics of safety, even for the most experianced (sp?) of us should always be in style

May 2, 2003, 12:28 PM
Show me a fluorecent orange leaf,
Actually, once blaze orange has been worn and washed for a few years, it sure starts looking like dull maple leaves in October/November.
I've had a hard time spotting my dad in the woods when he was wearing old orange.
New orange is a different prospect.
I find that bright blue sticks out the most to me, but that's not an option due to deer's vision.
I wear orange, but I'm of the opinion that it won't really do much to stop real idiots.

Art Eatman
May 2, 2003, 03:18 PM
Never wore a bright blue, Poodleshooter, but Levis don't seem to bother deer. I guess they're just another shade of gray. Same for Ol' Wiley.

Doves or turkey, it's surely another story. And I've read that doves specifically don't like blue...

:), Art

May 2, 2003, 06:48 PM
A fatal end to two separate bush expeditions has seen a judge warn of jail terms for two hunters.

The two men were charged over the fatal shooting of their hunting companions in separate incidents in the Central North Island last month. They each pleaded guilty on Friday to careless use of a firearm causing death.

David Alker, aged 46 from Owhango was charged over the death of 26 year old Hamish Harland in the Rotoaira Forest, near Turangi on April the 11th.

A Hamilton man, 24 year old man, Christopher Davies was charged over the death of Taupo man, Mark Leathwick nearly two weeks later.

The stern message was delivered in the Taupo District Court, just hours before guns are brought out across the country, for the start of the duck-shooting season.

More here

http://onenews.nzoom.com/onenews_detail/0,1227,187239-1-7,00.html [/URL]

May 2, 2003, 08:38 PM
Years back, I knew a fellow who was 6 foot 13 inches tall and skinny as a rail. He'd worked as a guide in Saskatchewan and told a hair-raising tale of being shot at by some punk fool of a hunter (PFH).

My friend had turned half around and waved at his client, who was behind him, and as he turned the bullet whizzed past him, punching a hole in the air between his arm & body where the left side of his chest had been a split second before. He dove into a nearby bush under a ledge and stayed there for about 15 minutes, when the PFH came panting up the ridge to see what he'd got. The PFH had a buddy with him, and was saying, "It was right around here somewhere, I know I got him ..."

My friend stood up in the bush and said, "You almost did, you stupid little fool. That was me you were shooting at." He added a few more choice words too.

Kid turned white as a ghost and stammered apologies. He and his buddy slunk away, while my 6 foot 13 inch tall friend glared after them.

Funniest part of the whole tale was that my tall friend was clad in blaze orange head to toe -- pants, shirt, vest, cap, the whole works. And he was standing on top of a ridge.

How in the world ....?


It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenius. -- Edsel Murphy

May 3, 2003, 09:36 AM
The challenge remains. Show me a leaf or a deer that is fluorescent orange. Go ahead, show me.

I will show you some spots in the Ozarks that have orange leaves at certain times of the year and challenge you to find me.

One of my favorite tricks is to sit against a small blaze orange bush when wearing cammoflage blaze . I have killed several deer this way and over the years have had several hunters walk within a feet of me without ever seeing me. When I speak out, they look like they have seen a ghost.

Altough I make no excuses for poor target ID skills, the flourescent Lime-Green color is another color that is approved for use here. While I know for a fact that the balze orange CAN belend in when conditions are right, the Lime Green will stand out rather nicley.

May 3, 2003, 11:08 PM
It all goes back to a simple rule. If you ain't 100% sure what it is you are shooting at then don't shoot. I always feel so safe when I see the bullet holes in the deer crossing signs though. :fire:

If you want to blast away at something go to a range. If you want to hunt then know your target and what is beyond. Negligence not accidents kill people in the field camo or no camo!

Sleeping Dog
May 6, 2003, 11:55 AM
The fellow who wore a blaze orange vest, but covered it with a coat, was not fully grasping the concept.

Suggesting a bright blue to replace orange won't work with deer. Their color perception works very well in the shorter wavelengths. They don't see red and orange very well, but they see blue, purple, and even ultraviolet (a color we don't see).

If you think you see a bush move, and you see a patch of something that may be a deer, this is something to study with binoculars, not just something to point at and pull the trigger. Fortunately, most hunters are safe, and hunters shooting other hunters is very rare.


May 20, 2003, 04:46 AM
David Alkers and Christopher Davies were both sentenced to 9 months imprisonment and fined [for reparations] for their convictions of "Careless Use of a Firearm Causing Death" [i.e. 2nd Degree Manslaughter].

IMHO both of these men are very lucky at receiving such light sentences. Davies though is appealing his sentence as too harsh.

An interview with the father of Hamish Harland, 26 [killed by his mate, David Alkers] reinforced a commonly held belief that the issue of Blaze clothing was not as important as hunters taking responsibility for their target identification.

David Alkers stated that he saw the eye of a nearby roaring Stag that both men had been stalking. He fired at the "eye" through thick scrub, striking Hamish Harland in the left temple with a .308, at a range of 25/30 yds. Hamish Harland was wearing a blaze orange shirt under a brown camoflage jacket which had blaze orange panels across the chest, shoulders, and back. David Alkers basically admitted he guessed the shape of the "Stag" and fired with tragic consquences.

The other incident is covered in the link and is even more reckless.

May 24, 2003, 07:37 PM

If you have to have the card to hunt then at least ONCE in their life they had to have enough of a clue to pass the test.

May 26, 2003, 01:53 PM
I remember very vividly a death we had during hunting season in vermont where the hunter was wearing the old stand by red plaid, and was shot in the late afternoon. Tests we did revealed had he been wearing blaze orange it in all probability would not have happened.
Also someone suggested blue. In vermont our turkeys have blue on them. I also feel you should be able to wear brown in the woods, but given human nature it would be really dumb, huh.

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