Southland conditions looking ideal for duck shooting

Southland looks like the place to avoid if you are a duck on Saturday morning.

The MetService forecast shows westerly winds and rain clearing during the start of the duck-shooting season in the region — the perfect type of weather for collecting one’s quota.

Unfortunately, Otago’s weather looks like it is going to be a quacker — dry, mostly sunny with light winds — making it ideal for socialising rather than shooting.

Otago Fish & Game officer Bruce Quirey said more than 5000 duck-shooters would be out and about across the region, hoping to catch their bag limits.

After a below-average harvest of mallard ducks last year, shooters were eager for a better season this year.

But bagging the limit was not as easy as it appeared, he said.

"Otago’s average game-bird hunter harvests fewer than 13 mallards during the whole three-month season — less than the legal daily bag limit of 25."

Long term, mallard numbers in Otago are stable, despite this year’s aerial trend count being below average.

The region had an average duck-breeding season, despite heavy flooding in Central Otago and Southern Lakes districts early last spring, Mr Quirey said.

Following a recent drought in the area, Central Otago was looking dry and some ponds were very low.

"But this will concentrate the ducks on bigger water bodies."

Surveys showed people spent less time in their mai mai than usual last year, but almost 64,500 game birds were harvested in the region, providing plenty of food for friends and whanau.

Mallard ducks constituted almost 70% of the harvest, and paradise shelducks comprised more than 25%.

Mr Quirey reminded shooters that teams of Fish & Game rangers would be patrolling throughout the region this weekend, conducting compliance checks on private and public land.