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Good catch . . . Graeme Hughes, of Kurow, brings in his haul of ducks from duck shooting opening weekend. PHOTO: SUPPLIED/DAVID DUNN

North Otago duck›shooters had a better opening weekend than those elsewhere in Otago — and the rest of the season is looking good, Fish & Game Central South Island field officer Rhys Adams says.

A survey revealed duck›shooters in North Otago on average harvested 14 birds for opening weekend, on May 7›8, while hunters in the rest of Otago averaged 12.

Mr Adams said North Otago’s average harvest was made up of 12 mallard ducks, and the rest were a mixture of paradise shelducks, shoveler ducks and black swans.

Anectodal feedback suggested opening weekend was ‘‘hit or miss’’ but the survey of 25 hunters throughout North Otago revealed it was a good opening weekend.

‘‘It just looks like a classic duck season. Nothing too special, but genuinely pretty good hunting,’’ Mr Adams said.

‘‘None of those 25 people went home empty›handed from the weekend — that’s one of our measures of success.’’

Mr Adams could only speculate why North Otago had a better season. Itcould come down to the area having a wetter spring, creating more surface water which created more bugs and worms for ducks to feed on, he said.

While there was only a ‘‘scattering’’ of duck›shooters out now, there was still a good range out there for those willing.

‘‘Later in the season, if you’re willing to do your homework, so to speak, take a pair of binoculars out, find the birds, you can actually have some really productive hunting through the season.’’

Most areas were unoccupied after opening weekend and Fish & Game administered wetlands that people could hunt if they got a permit, he said.

Fish & Game encouraged seasoned duck›shooters to take a friend out with them, or someone who used to be involved, to inspire more people to get involved. Day licences are available.

‘‘I love the sport, I get so much from it and so does my family,’’ Mr Adams said.

‘‘We’re encouraging people to share in the tradition, share in the free›range game meat you can get.’’

The main season ends on July 31, but people can still shoot upland birds, such as quail, until August 28. Paradise shelducks, inland of State Highway 1, can still be shot until September 25.

‘‘[The] world really is your oyster if you’re akeen duck hunter. There’s no shortage out there.’’