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Patiently waiting . . . Brent Growcott and his dog, Jet, hunt ducks on the Waitaki River last season. PHOTO: RHYS ADAMS

A date as been confirmed for this year’s game bird hunting season, and duck numbers in the Central South Island are “looking good”, Fish & Game Central South Island field officer Rhys Adams says.

Traditionally the first Saturday in May is the opening of the annual game bird season, but Fish & Game New Zealand had supported the Government’s decision to delay the start of the season to the second Saturday following the introduction of Alert Level 2 – May 23.

It was good to get some certainty around the season length, Mr Adams said. In the Central South Island, the season would finish as normal, on the last Sunday in July.

“It means we’ve got a two-month season now, rather than three months.

“That’s still ample hunting – a lot of hunters actually only go out for opening weekend, maybe one or two other hunts, so there’s plenty of time in a two-month season to get out there and enjoy it.”

Level 2 allowed for an “almost” normal season, Mr Adams said. Most significantly, it opened up inter-regional travel and hunters could stay overnight at their hunting spots with friends and family, in groups of 10 or fewer.

“A lot of tradition of the game bird opening, especially, and throughout the season, is that reconnecting with your local spot.

“For a lot of us, under Level 3, that wasn’t local.

“So those people who live elsewhere can now return to the Oamaru area under the Level 2 restrictions and reconnect with their hunting crew and enjoy that.”

However, there were still restrictions that need to be adhered to for the safety of all involved, Mr Adams said.

“We encourage people to track and keep a record of who they do socialise with when they are hunting so that can be followed up on,” he said.

Fish & Game carried out pre-season monitoring in the Waitaki district and bird numbers were looking “really good”, he said.

mallard duck numbers are .. moderate.

“Moderate duck numbers in our region is actually quite encouraging.”

Paradise shelduck numbers were also “quite high”.

“We’re anticipating a really good opening,” he said.