Great weather for ducks on opening weekend

A great weekend was had by all - even the ducks.

Ernie Bonney (73) has spent duck shooting opening weekend on Lake Tuakitoto, in South Otago, since 1967 and cannot remember a worse year for shooting ducks.

''Today was the least birds I've ever seen. When I first started, birds were everywhere,'' Mr Bonney, of Balclutha, said.

Similar sentiments were expressed throughout Otago as duck counts were down in many places.

Mr Bonney's son Paul (46), who had been shooting on the lake since he was about 15, put it down to the warm, calm weather.

''It's so weather-dependent. It was really quiet, no wind and sunny days.''

His daughter Gemma (16), who took up clay bird shooting to improve her skills for opening weekend, was also disappointed at how slow the shooting was, particularly yesterday.

''It wasn't as good as other years, but we did all right yesterday.''

Mr Bonney sen said it was great to see the younger ones coming out for the weekend.

Mr Bonney jun, of Allanton, said about 16 friends and family from as far afield as Christchurch and Auckland joined them at the lake.

''It's quite a big weekend for us.''

They bagged about 80 ducks, down from the 120-odd the group normally shot.

Southern District Command Centre Senior Sergeant Dave Scott said overall police were happy with behaviour after an operation targeting taverns popular with hunters.

Police were investigating one incident in which a 45-year-old man had minor buttock and lower leg injuries after allegedly being hit with shotgun pellets near Glenorchy on Saturday.

Fish and Game Otago operations manager Ian Hadland agreed conditions were perfect for anything but duck shooting on Saturday morning, with clear skies and no wind, nearly the opposite of what hunters required to take full advantage of one of the best waterfowl breeding seasons in years.

The conditions meant birds flew high and settled on unshot areas such as preserves or out at sea, he said.

''It was a bit of a shame really, as the hunters were full of expectation, and while a few well-prepared ponds did very well, there were others that would have benefitted by a few more birds pushed around by some rougher weather.''

However it was just the first two days of a three-month hunting season so there would be plenty of opportunities to harvest the surplus birds.

Fish and Game ranging teams contacted around 200 hunters over opening weekend and a ''blitz'' in the Tapanui and Waipahi areas found full compliance with licensing and bag limits.

It was a great start to the season in terms of compliance, he said.

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