A hunter has been shot dead in Southland.
It happened when a group of six men were spotlighting for deer early this morning, on a station at Cattle Flat, just north of Lumsden.
One of the group was shot with a hunting rifle, while he was walking on a hillside trying to find a second deer.
The rifle was fired by another member of his group.
Emergency services arrived on the scene at 4am this morning but the man had already died.
Police say the members of the group are all friends and are traumatised by the shooting.
A Deerstalkers' Association spokesman was shocked to hear of the death, saying it's an absolute tragedy.
Deerstalkers' Association president Tim McCarthy says hunters need to think of every target as a human until they fully identify otherwise.
"Some people don't seem to be able to get the message. It's a privilege to have a firearms license and you should be following all the rules that go with it and whether you're in a group situation, I think that's probably a recipe for a problem to happen."
He says unfortunately it's simply too easy to go out hunting.
"Once you get a firearms license, you've been seen as a fit and proper person to be able to handle that firearm in the eyes of the police. The one thing that you need to make sure of is your firearms safety. In the heat of the moment people let themselves down."
It's the third hunting fatality in six months - Aucklander Cam McDonald was shot dead in South Wairarapa just four weeks ago.
Police are at the scene investigating and the man who fired the gun is assisting with enquiries.