This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Hunters and trappers trap or shoot animals for food, pelts (skins), fur, research, or to remove pests.
Pay for hunters and trappers largely depends on the type of work they are doing and how experienced they are.
Pay for hunters and trappers varies according to the type of work (the animal they hunt or trap), their experience and/or how successful their hunting/trapping is.
Hunters and trappers may be paid:
- an hourly rate
- per animal killed
- by the number of pelts or the amount of fur they sell
- by the number of traps laid.
Many hunters and trappers are self-employed and/or work on contract.
What you will do
Hunters and trappers may do some or all of the following:
- decide where to work, get the relevant approvals, and notify people in the area where traps and poison are set
- map and record their work
- track animals by checking the area for signs such as droppings or damage to vegetation
- mix bait, set traps, or lay poison
- inspect traps and bait stations and remove or dispose of animals
- shoot animals (sometimes at night, which is known as spotlighting)
- cut tracks for better access to traps and bait stations
- skin animals, and cut up carcasses.
Skills and knowledge
Depending on the animal they are hunting, the method they are using, and the reason for their hunting, hunters and trappers need to have:
- knowledge of different types of traps and poisons and skill in using them
- good animal-tracking skills to be able to recognise and follow signs that animals are in the area
- knowledge of animal behaviour and likely feeding places
- good shooting skills, and knowledge of firearm care, safety and laws
- animal-skinning skills
- knowledge of the outdoors, including bush and mountain environments
- awareness of environmental issues, ecology and safety rules.
Hunters and trappers:
- may work long and irregular hours, and may do some shooting at night
- work in all weather conditions in the country, in the bush, on hills, and on farms and reserves
- may have to travel by foot, car, motorbike or helicopter to get to rural or remote locations.
What's the job really like?
Dave Hunter - Hunter/Trapper
Helping to protect the environment
For Dave Hunter, reducing pest numbers to help protect the environment is an important part of his job as a hunter/trapper. "I am very much an environmentalist, and I go to great pains to make sure everything we do to control pests is done as best as it can be."
The nature of hunting and trapping has evolved, with more legislation governing pest control, and in Dave's senior role he is now required to do more paperwork. "It's a huge job. We need resource consents, permission from the medical officer of health and the Department of Conservation."
Getting out and about keeps the job interesting
Despite the paperwork, Dave enjoys the job and is never shut in the office for too long. "I enjoy night shooting and I still get out baiting and carry out rabbit control. The job is very satisfying, like when you cure a pest problem for a grape grower or orchard owner and go back there a few years later and can still see the results of your work."
There are no specific requirements to become a hunter and trapper, as most skills are learned on the job. However depending on what sort of hunting or trapping you are doing, you may need training in an aspect of the work.
If you are hunting with a rifle, you will need a firearms licence, and a hunting permit.
- Police website - information about firearms licensing
- Department of Conservation website - information about hunting licences and permits
Hunters and trappers intending to use poison to kill animals have to gain an Approved Handler Test Certificate and a Controlled Substance Licence.
- Environmental Protection Authority website - Controlled Substance Licence information
- Environmental Protection Authority website - information about becoming an approved handler
There are also courses available on pest control.
Hunters and trappers must be comfortable working outdoors and on their own, as they may spend long periods alone in the bush.
Useful experience for hunters and trappers includes:
- work in the bush
- any work involving livestock or farming
- servicing machinery
- tramping and recreational hunting experience.
Hunters and trappers need to have:
- a good level of fitness and stamina, because the job can involve long hours and a lot of walking over rough terrain
- good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses).
Find out more about training
- Primary ITO
- (04) 801 9616 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.primaryito.ac.nz/
What are the chances of getting a job?
According to Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment estimates, the number of hunters and trappers declined between 2010 and 2012.
While it is a relatively small occupation, vacancies arise because:
- there is a high retirement rate, with many hunters and trappers reaching an age where the work is too physically demanding
- too few people are entering the job
- organisations, such as the Department of Conservation and the Animal Health Board, are continuing with large-scale pest control programmes.
Many hunters and trappers run their own businesses
Most hunters and trappers are self-employed. They may contract out their services to organisations such as:
- government agencies including the Department of Conservation and the Animal Health Board
- local authorities such as regional councils
- private landowners such as forestry companies and farmers
- private pest control companies.
- Animal Health Board website, accessed November 2013, (www.tbfree.org.nz).
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupational Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2013.
- Waddell, B, managing director, Tasman Pest Control Limited, Careers New Zealand interview, November 2011.
Progression and specialisations
Hunters and trappers may progress to managerial or supervisory roles, or start their own businesses.
They may also move into other roles, such as biosecurity officer or pest controller.
Hunters and trappers may also specialise in work such as fur hunting, which involves trapping or killing animals for their fur to sell.
Last updated 15 February 2018