Riversdale woman enjoys 20th opening weekend

Holding some of the ducks shot on a northern Southland pond on opening weekend are (back from...
Holding some of the ducks shot on a northern Southland pond on opening weekend are (back from left) Meila Scully, 11, Geraldine (Granny) Coughlan, of Ireland, Michelle Power and Wendy Scully, (front from left) Charlotte Coughlan, 2, Jaelyn Scully, 9, and Edmund Coughlan, 6. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
A Riversdale woman has not missed an opening day since she started duck-shooting with her father about 20 years ago.

Throughout Southland hundreds of people converged on ponds for the duck-shooting opening day on Saturday.

Wendy Scully said she was about 13 years old when she took part in her first opening day shoot.

"I just went with my dad.

"Still go with dad, too."

Mrs Scully was the only one of her four sisters to go shooting with their father Brian Mahon.

She enjoyed "just getting out there doing it, having a go."

She had shared the use of her father’s shotgun for many years, but last year bought her own.

Her father’s gun was 30 years old and had a nasty kickback when fired.

"My new gun’s way better."

While she had eaten duck before she would not be eating any of the ones she had shot as she did not enjoy eating them.

"Normally we get them for a few other people."

There were not many ducks flying this year but the four shooters on the pond where she was, shot about 30 ducks.

Mrs Scully’s daughter Meila joined the shooters on opening morning this year.

On the Sunday other family members including Mrs Scully’s other daughter Jaelyn, 9, came to the pond.

"We go over on the Sunday to clean up, have a wee shoot of whatever ducks are around and give the kids a look."

This year Geraldine (Granny) Coughlan, from Ireland, was visiting her son Patrick and his partner Michelle Power, who are working on a farm near Riversdale.

It was the first time Mrs Coughlan had been duck-shooting.

"She loved it."

Southland Fish & Game field officer Ben Febery said Fish & Game staff and police visited about 50 ponds during the weekend.

"We spoke with 150 hunters, plus those socialising.

"We are pleased to report that compliance has been excellent, with only three offences detected during our checks."

Those were for hunting without a licence and for using lead shot.

Weather conditions were variable throughout the region.

"Hunters in inland Southland experienced calmer conditions, compared to those on the coast.

"Hunters that were resourceful, and utilised effective calling and decoy movement, achieved some commendable harvests," Mr Febery said.

The wet conditions leading up to the season had benefited the ducks.

"We gave the ducks we observed a high body condition score."

It was great to see family groups hunting together.

"Some mai mai have three generations enjoying the opening day festivities together."