Research & Development

Human error in hunting - "why do so many experienced hunters shoot their mates?"

ANSWER TO HUNTING AND WILDLIFE MAGAZINE ARTICLE: Looking for the answer to the Hunting and Wildlife Picture in my article – scroll towards the bottom of the page to find the answer.

The web address "" has deliberately forwarded you to this page which gives you an update on how the Hunter Safety research is going. address may be used for other purposes in the future so it is recommended you bookmark or favourite this page if you would like to have access to up to date information on hunter safety research.



hfex® produced a white paper titled "Mistaken-for-Game Hunting Accidents – A Human Factors Review" that is downloadable courtesy of our customer, Hunter Safety Lab. Due to the personal/widespread interest and significance for safety across all industries including hunting, our Managing Director personally committed to conducting a PhD in this area with the priority of making a difference above and beyond any additional academic qualifications obtained from this endeavour. We anticipate this commitment will take approximately 3 years to complete. The work will not affect the day to day delivery by hfex® of great human factors solutions across the world.

The research will focus on Failure-to-identify (FTI) incidents in deer hunting and will be an independent piece of work from the original report hfex® completed.

FTI incidents relate to Rule 4 of the 2013 Arms Code, which states that the hunter must positively identify their target beyond all doubt. In some cases, due to incorrectly identifying the target, this has led to fatal shootings of another human being. The aftermath is devastating for all involved - the families, protagonists and emergency services. The practical application of this research will lead to potential improvements to widespread hunter safety related activities, self-awareness, potential reduction in incident rates and a better understanding of why people behave the way they do in many industries other than hunting.

hfex® is also using this opportunity to increase their capability and gain field based experience associated with neuroergonomics. Neuroergonomics is the application of neuroscience to human factors and ergonomics (HFE) by addressing the biological substrates with an emphasis on the role of the human nervous system and its influence on cognition and behaviour. This methodlogy has proved its worth into fatigue risk management, UX design, decision making and many more aspects of work performance/safety.


The research is following the current high level timeline:



Some initial publicity about the research can be accessed below.

Josh James' YouTube announcement

3 News interview

Radio NZ National interview

NZ Herald article


Academic Supporters.

Name Organisation
Associate Professor Paul Corballis University of Auckland, PhD Supervisor
Associate Professor Tony Lambert University of Auckland, PhD Co-supervisor
Professor Erik Hollnagel Co-author and Subject Matter Expert
Dr. Kyle Wilson University of Huddersfield, Co-author on White Paper


The table below presents the current members of the working group of research supporters.

Name Organisation
Bill O'Leary New Zealand Deerstalkers, President
Nicole McKee Firearms Safety Specialists and COLFO
Joe Green Hunting Safety Research and Police (retired)
Roly Williams New Zealand Police
Adam Smith Mountain Safety Council
Brent Beaven Office of Hon Maggie Barry, Minister of Conservation
Hon Peter Dunne Associate Minister of Conservation
Carol Watson Game Animal Council
Geoff Kerr Game Animal Council
Mike Spray Makapua Station and Firearms Safety Specialists
Colin Baynes Makapua Station
Don Rood Fish and Game
Matthew Gibson Gibson Hunts
Michael Scott Hunter Safety Lab
Brad Johnson Hunter Safety Lab
Steve Collings Steve's Wholesale
Davey Hughes Swazi
Brent McConnell Stoney Creek
Trent Smith Hunting and Fishing
Josh James Kiwi Bushman
Alex Gale Safer Shooting
Harald Bettin Shooting Cinema
Kerry Adams The Bloke
Richard Ross Balnagown Hunting


The table below will present details of the research findings as they become publically available.

Date Initial findings
07 March, 2017 Plain english version of research #02 will appear here soon
05 February, 2017 Plain english version of research #01 will appear here soon
17 November, 2016 The confidential reporting is now closed and the data is being analysed. Many thanks to all those who submitted. Early indications suggest visual cues, expectations, sound and visibility difficulties are most prevalent in the reports. No surprise there! More exciting stuff to follow.

The table below will present progress of academic reporting.

Date Initial findings
Research #02 - Near miss reporting 31 May 2017 - Advised supervisor to not review, plan to combine with field and large trial academic reports
27 Mar 2017 - Submitted revised draft to supervisor
03 Mar 2017 - Submitted initial draft to working group for review
Research #01 - Baseline modelling

30 May 2017 - Resubmitted
04 Apr 2017 - Human Factors Journal - revise and resubmit
15 Feb 2017 - Submitted to Human Factors Journal
03 Jan 2017 - Submitted final draft to co-authors for review
06 Dec 2017 - Submitted initial draft to working group for review

The table below presents a journal of key dates and progress of the research.

Progress (including completed events)
30 September, 2017 Large scale trial - Sika Show
21 June, 2017 Working group meeting - planning workshop
03 June, 2017 Field trials (pt. 2)
01-04 May, 2017 Field trials (pt. 1)
17 March, 2017 Working group deadline for journal article review
03 March, 2017 Second journal article up for working group review
16 February, 2017 Submitted first journal article
05 February, 2017 Plain English version of first journal article sent out
06 November, 2016 Closing date for confidential survey extended - noon (NZ Time) 
17 October, 2016 Working group meeting to discuss initial findings and validate baseline
12 August, 2016 Second baselining workshop
09 August, 2016 Josh James announcing the confidential reporting 
16 July, 2016 NZDA AGM & First data gathering method planned launch
06 July, 2016 Baselining workshop 
10 June, 2016 Research protocol developed
28 April, 2016 Working group meeting - research methods
30 March, 2016 University ethics application submitted
16 March, 2016 Request to accessing police records
01 March, 2016 Official start date of PhD
27 January, 2016 Enrolement at University complete
05 February, 2016 Acceptance of application for PhD
28 January, 2016 Meet NZDS committee and licensing
16 December, 2015 Research kick off 
14 October, 2015 3 News interview
12 October, 2015 Radio NZ National interview
21 September, 2015 Delivery of final version of the white paper


There is no deer in the picture at all - did you expect to see one?. However go back to the photo now and look for the hunter, and well done if you spotted the hunter and no deer. 

Should you wish to discuss, comment or contribute to this page, or would like to be kept up to date on some of the other exciting pieces of work being conducted by hfex® please fill out and send details on our contact page.