Shooters urged to plan, adapt

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Duck›shooting opens this Saturday and while Clutha’s prospects for the 2022 season look ‘‘highly promising’’, a media release from Otago Fish & Game (OFG) advises hunters to have a plan for low watercourse levels.

‘‘Trend counts for mallards and paradise shelducks hit record numbers this year. [Aerial surveying] counted more than 10,400 mallards at selected South Otago areas compared with 5600 last year.

‘‘However, the total number of ducks across the region will be much more,’’ OFG officer Bruce Quirey said.

Otago’s wet spring brought full ponds, flooded paddocks, and lots of seeds and bugs — excellent conditions for duckling survival — but since mid› summer many areas have had low rainfall and shooters were advised to ‘‘plan well and adapt to conditions’’.

‘‘Hunters whose ponds are affected will need a plan B. Good areas include rivers, lakes and large ponds, dams, creeks or anywhere there is water.

‘‘Ducks often loaf in paddocks during the day, especially near irrigation. Setting up in a paddock can involve blinds, or simply hide among nearby trees, scrub or rushes. Dig decoy keels into soil or make wire support stands. Riverbeds are often overlooked. Waterfowl use riverbeds for collecting grit as well as safe loafing areas,’’ Mr Quirey said.

Locating camps well before shooting was the key to success, according to the release.

OFG reminded shooters that teams of rangers will be fanning out across Otago this weekend with eyes out for safety and licensing compliance, and wished all shooters ‘‘a prosperous harvest and safe season’’.