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Hunter's body returned to family

Published: 6:50AM Tuesday April 10, 2012 Source: ONE News/Fairfax

The body of a hunter killed in remote bush in South Wairarapa has been released to his family.

Wairarapa police said the post-mortem of Alexander Cameron McDonald was completed in Palmerston North yesterday.

Detective Senior Sergeant Sean Hansen says a full investigation will take some time to complete after which a legal opinion over potential charges will be sought.

Four Wellington hunters have been questioned by police about the death and one of the men is believed to have fired the lethal shot.

McDonald, 29, known as Cam, was shot on Saturday in an isolated area of Aorangi Forest Park, near Pirinoa.

McDonald was apparently killed instantly by a shot to the head.

He was not hunting with the group of four, which was understood to include the alleged shooter, a middle-aged Wellington man. The party of Wellington hunters were thought to be hunting in pairs.

A 59-year-old man from Greytown who was hunting with McDonald came across his body about 2pm.

Detective Senior Sergeant Sean Hansen, of Wairarapa CIB, said police had spoken with the men from the other hunting party who were in the area at the time McDonald was shot.

Though there was no cellphone reception in the Aorangi Forest Park, both McDonald's hunting partner and a member of the other hunting party had alerted them to the incident by phone, Hansen said.

Both parties were experienced hunters and had been "largely co-operative" with police thus far.

An autopsy was carried out in Palmerston North yesterday, and charges were likely within days, Hansen said.

McDonald's body was in an area with steep, rocky terrain, which meant it was "a really difficult task locating the deceased and then recovering the body; it took a lot of work", Hansen said.

Police are still hoping that hunters who were in Aorangi Forest Park at the weekend could provide insight into the shooting.

Though it was now some time since the incident was reported, many hunters would not have emerged from the bush until the end of the Easter break, Hansen said.

"There's a good chance there's some hunters who have been in [Aorangi Forest Park] over the long weekend, and may be coming out today [Monday] or [Tuesday].

"If anyone knows anything about [the incident], if they could come forward to police we would be happy to hear from them."

In the past decade, eight hunters have been shot dead.

Those include Dougal Fyfe, who was shot while deer hunting near Wanaka in December.

Reuben Burke, 24, pleaded guilty to careless use of a firearm causing death following the accident.

Fyfe was one of three hunters who saw a deer walking on a rural property in the Mangawera Valley. He was shot in the head while he and Burke chased the animal, police said. Burke will be sentenced in May.

In October 2010, Lower Hutt schoolteacher Rosemary Ives, 25, was shot while cleaning her teeth at a Conservation Department campground near Turangi.

Andrew Mears, 26, served 11 months' imprisonment for her manslaughter. He was illegally spotlighting at night with three friends and mistook Ms Ives' headlamp for the eyes of a deer.