Clutha’s 2022 waterfowl hunting season made a strong start last weekend with good harvests and responsible shooting.
Excitement was high the night before, as local hunters pitted their expertise against each other inat Kaitangata Crescent Bar & Grill’s Duck Calling competition.
Performance anxiety and playing for laughs got the better of some competitors in a specially made indoor blind, but judging was a sober business, and first prize went to Stuart Kelly.
‘‘There’s a lot of chatter and conversation depending on what the birds are doing and what they want to signal, if you pay attention and practise their calls, that’s how you get them where you want them,’’ he said after collecting his prizes.
The first shots punctuated early Saturday morning as hunters began to harvest wild game.
‘‘It’s more than shooting,’’ said Engineer Michael Bonney as he got back from his mai mai on Lake Tuakitoto on Sunday with birds to add to a communal bag.
‘‘You spend years understanding how the game behaves and if you don’t have a strategy you’ll be lucky to have any ducks to shoot at.’’
Mr Bonney’s said his family had been hunting on the lake for six generations, and pitched in together preparing the birds before dividing the meat among family, friends and neighbours.
‘‘Ideally there’d be a bit more wind, but we’ve done all right.
‘‘You work as a team —if you see aflight of ducks that are out ofrange for you, you might be able to call out and bring them in close to your neighbour’s mai mai,’’ Mr Bonney said.
The camouflage›wrapped hunters retiring from the lake about 11am were damp and dirty but cheerfully relaxed.
‘‘There’s people coming to visit from all over the place,’’ another hunter, Terry Wilson said.
‘‘It’s a good way for everyone to get together once a year that isn’t for a wedding or a funeral.
‘‘I like Peking duck but there’s no need for waste . . . cure it like bacon or salami, pate, pies, you can tie the feathers into trout flies . . .
‘‘With food prices the way they are it’s good to know older family and ones with kids have got something in the freezer,’’ Mr Wilson said.
Senior Sergeant Chris Wakelin, of Balclutha Police, said the district ‘‘did well over duck›shooting’’, and Otago Fish and Game (OFG) Communications Officer Bruce Quirey was pleased at ahigh level of hunting and safety compliance over opening weekend.
› It’s a good way for everyone to get›together once a year that isn’t for a wedding or a funeral. › Most waterfowl were introduced to New Zealand specifically for hunting purposes, and Otago Fish & Game data indicates numbers have been stable for the past eight years.
‘‘Trend counts for mallards and paradise shelducks hit record numbers this year . . .It shows the harvest is managed well and we certainly promote its purpose of providing fresh, lean, game›meat, so duck hunting is a long tradition as legitimate today as it was 100 years ago,’’ Mr Quirey said.