Lighter catches of ducks

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JACK.CONROY@nullcluthaleader.co.nz

Round one of the 2021 Otago gamebird shooting season goes to the ducks.

Conditions on Saturday, opening day, were not ideal for many duck-shooters trying to make the most of the harvest, Otago Fish & Game officer Bruce Quirey said.

“Most hunters got light bags in clear and calm weather.

“However, some hunters on the large rivers, lakes and ponds did very well.”

Paradise ducks were prevalent among many bags as the mallards were flying high.

By late morning few ducks were seen on the move in many areas.

Stafford Ferguson, of Milton, said it was a great day during his trip to Wyndham on Saturday. There he took part in shooting with his brother, friends and his son, who was visiting from Australia.

“He hadn’t been shooting with us for about six years, so it was cool.

‘‘In between shooting ducks you’re just having a yarn,’’ Mr Ferguson said.

‘‘My wife feeds us up pretty well, too — shooting ducks and eating food and having a yarn.

“This year the ducks still win but everyone enjoys shooting because it’s girls and guys out having a good time.

‘‘Relax and sit down and talk as much as anything. Make good memories.”

Forty-year veteran hunter Gary Cuthbert, of Gore, was shooting at a large pond near Clinton.

“It’s been pretty quiet, duck-wise,” Mr Cuthbert said.

Mr Cuthbert and two mates bagged about 15 ducks, mallards, paradise and a shoveller, before lunch.

Otago Fish & Game rangers checking game-bird licences, ammunition and bags found the vast majority of hunters were acting in compliance with duck-shooting regulations.

One duck-shooter was issued an infringement notice for possession of lead shot.

This is the first season lead shot has been banned entirely on or near water, except for .410 cartridges.

Mr Quirey said duck-shooters would have 10 weeks to harvest mallards throughout the 2021 gamebird season.

“A lot of duck hunters lock away their shotguns after opening weekend, never to be seen again until next year.

“Why not grab your mates, family members and dog, and get out there more?”