A hunter says he is lucky to be alive after a friend mistook him for a deer and shot him in the back.
Max Verschuuren, 21, was hunting with friends in the Nukuhou area south of Whakatane on Saturday night when one of them mistook his headlamp for the eyes of a deer, and shot him.
The bullet ripped a 15cm wound into Mr Verschurren's upper back, which required 13 staple stitches.
"It was in the same split second that the firearm had shot I got hit, and felt this immense pain in my back," he said.
"I didn't believe it at first but I heard the gunshot and all I felt was this warm liquid running down my back which was all the blood.
"I just screamed out to them, I said: 'Stop stop, you've shot me, it's me up here, stop, don't shoot!' "
He believes there could have been a very different outcome if he he hadn't been been putting his boots back on after emptying them of stones when the bullet struck.
"Because i was bending over when I got shot it went on an angle over my head, down my shoulder blade and just tore it open. It's about 15cm long down my back and it was about 4 inches wide.
"If I was still standing up straight, it probably would have went straight up in my guts or in my chest.
"So I guess I'm not lucky to be shot but I'm lucky to be bending over."
Mr Verschuuren was taken to Whakatane Hospital for treatment and discharged this afternoon.
He posted a picture of the wound and urged hunters to first identify their target and always wear high visibility gear.
Mr Verschuuren said the incident wouldn't stop him from hunting with his friends in the future.
Police are investigating. They have also reminded hunters about the importance of identifying their target.