Hunters report solid start to season

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May will be hard work _ it always is. Most ducks have gone out to sea, as they do. It’s usually June or July that are better months. That’s when you get the better hunting Brent GrowcottThe opening weekend of duck-shooting season was more fruitful for North Otago hunters than those in other areas around the country, according to Fish and Game New Zealand.
Hunters all over North Otago donned their camouflage gear and settled down in mai mais in anticipation of bagging plenty of birds, and while that may have been the case for many on Saturday, Sunday’s hunting wasn’t quite as good due to clearer skies.
Central South Island Fish and Game officer Rhys Adams said while he wasn’t on the ground in North Otago, he had heard from a colleague that the number of birds killed was reasonable.
“He hunted the farmland beside the Waitaki River, and on Saturday him and a friend shot 20 mallards each, which was pretty good. They also shot 13 parries (paradise ducks) between them, as well as nine geese.
“On the Sunday, he said the birds were flying pretty high and they only managed to get six mallards, three parries and three geese. The birds were a bit smarter after Saturday’s hunt.”Brent Growcott hunted on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, and said while it was tough going at times, he felt the opening few days of the season had gone well.
“Opening weekend was pretty clear and calm and the ducks were hard work. We did all right on the Waitaki River with just over 70 ducks on the day (Saturday) and a dozen geese.”Mr Growcott said Sunday’s hunting on the Waitaki plains was “exceptional”, while Monday also proved fruitful.
“The weather closed in, it blew in from the south . . . Monday was the pick of the days.”With opening weekend out of the way, Mr Growcott was confident of a decent season.
“May will be hard work _ it always is. Most ducks have gone out to sea, as they do. It’s usually June or July that are better months. That’s when you get the better hunting.”Mr Adams received reports that a lot of hunters in the North Otago area bagged between 20 and 25 mallards a day, whereas in previous years that number was between 30 and 40.
“It’s down on what they used to get, but in a national context, it’s the best hunting in the country pretty much. They get a pretty good deal in the Waitaki.”Fish and Game rangers did not range the North Otago area over the weekend. They instead focused on areas north of the Waitaki River such as Twizel, where Mr Adams said rangers had experienced issues of non-compliance with duck-shooting regulations in the past.
However, he believed North Otago hunters had been well-behaved in general.

DANIEL.BIRCHFIELD@oamarumail.co.nz

Small haul . . . Gem the Labrador-cross with some of the ducks she collected near the Waitaki River during the opening weekend of duck-shooting season.
Small haul . . . Gem the Labrador-cross with some of the ducks she collected near the Waitaki River during the opening weekend of duck-shooting season.