About 40,000 hunters will be heading to huts, ponds and
rivers from tomorrow as duck shooting season begins.
The weather might not be ideal for them, but their prey
should benefit from fine, bright skies.
Duck shooters prefer overcast, windy and rainy weather to
keep ducks lower so they can respond to decoys within the 40m
MetService spokesman Daniel Corbett says it will be fine and
sunny in the North Island at the weekend, becoming wet and
windy from Monday.
However veteran hunter Murray Davies isn't worried about the
weather. "It won't make any difference to me. I'm one of
these people that is a duck hunter not a duck shooter and the
difference to me is some people go out and shoot ducks and I
will hunt them until I find where they are and they've got to
be somewhere. I do a fair bit of surveillance watching before
The season lasts from 4-8 weeks, depending on the region.
Senior Fish and Game officer Matthew McDougall is expecting a
tough season in Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty because
the number of mallards and grey ducks is lower after months
of dry conditions.
The bag limit has been lowered and the season length
shortened to just 4 weeks to try to protect stock in these
areas. Parts of the South Island have an abundance of birds
and fewer hunters, so can look forward to a longer season.
Popular hunting areas from north to south include Wairoa
Valley, Dargaville and lowland plains such as the Hauraki
Plains, Rangitikei Plains and Lake Wairarapa, according to
Fish and Game.
Safe executive director Hans Kriek says the anti-animal
cruelty organisation is strongly opposed to duck shooting not
just because of the large number of birds that are killed but
those that are left injured.
International research shows about 30 per cent of those shot
at are left crippled, he says.
Auckland Waikato Fish and Game gamebird manager David Klee
says rules in the Auckland/Waikato regions mean a plug has to
be put in magazines to limit the total number of shots a gun
can hold to three.
"We are trying to take some pressure off our mallard stock
and get hunters to be a bit more thoughtful about when they
pull the trigger."
Mr Klee says more ducks head to refuge sites, such as lakes
within city limits before duck shooting season, and Hamilton
Lake tended to have an extra couple of hundred ducks by the
start of May.
"Whether it's due to them knowing, having some kind of innate
knowledge of what is about to occur is questions. I think it
is more due to the fact there's more disturbance."
There are an estimated 500,000 mallard and grey ducks in the
- Nikki Preston of the New Zealand Herald