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Open season . . . Hundreds of ducks take off from a field near Totara recently. PHOTO: BARRY WILSON

Opening day is nearly here.

Hunters are looking forward to the start of duck-shooting season this weekend, when they can show off their latest equipment, put out the decoys and crouch down in mai mais as they wait for their prey.

Brent Growcott is one of hundreds of shooters in the district excited about opening weekend.

Based on recent rainfall, he expected to see an increase in duck numbers, continuing a trend of recent years.

“There’s definitely more now than what there was 20 years ago,” Mr Growcott said.

“It is shaping up pretty good.”

He believed North Otago was a region that had “jewels in the crown” – lots of good shooting spots for keen hunters – and he planned to chase plenty of ducks with his shooting mates throughout the season.

Central South Island Fish and Game officer Rhys Adams was also optimistic for the season ahead.

“Opening weekend is the big event,” Mr Adams said.

“Regardless of how many birds are around, or how many get shot, it’s an event, so people love it for all sorts of reasons.”

Camaraderie, friendship and the love of shooting attracted many to the sport, he said.

It was expected half of the season’s duck harvest would be shot this weekend.

“Most guys are going to come home with some birds. It’s a great chance to get a bit of free-range game meat on the table for the family.”

Based on the breeding season, he was confident shooters would find plenty of targets.

“We had a great breeding season – ducklings everywhere.”

Wainono Lagoon was one of the spots popular with ducks this year, Mr Adams said.

“I’ve never seen so many ducks down in that wetland. It’s looking amazing down there – it’s just ducks galore.

“If you’re a keen hunter, you’re looking forward to a pretty good season ahead.”