Shotguns, decoys and camouflage paint are being dusted off by local duck hunters in preparation for this weekend's launch of the annual duck hunting season.
While the drought has finally broken, water levels are still low, resulting in a shortened season for the Eastern Fish & Game region, which incorporates Bay of Plenty.
The duck season in Western Bay of Plenty runs from tomorrow to June 3, however pukeko, swan, quail and pheasant can be shot until late August.
Eastern Region senior Fish & Game officer Matthew McDougall said the main positive from the drought was ducks would be concentrated in larger bodies of water and hunters targeting those areas were likely to encounter larger bird populations.
It was unknown what condition the ducks would be in, with their food and habitat put under pressure during the drought.
Mr McDougall said around 3000 licences were usually sold in the wider Eastern Fish & Game region annually.
"The licence sales tend to be related to [the] economic climate - if things are hard, licence sales go down.
"I'm not sure whether that's people just stop buying a licence but continue to hunt, or whether they don't buy a licence and don't hunt."
Tauranga harbour was an under-utilised resource for Western Bay of Plenty game bird hunters, Mr McDougall said.
"There can be some quite good hunting in places. It's just so big that if it doesn't get enough hunters the birds don't get moved around.
"What we're trying to do is encourage hunting swan in Tauranga harbour."
The sea grass which the swan fed on was prime snapper-rearing habitat and with the current swan population standing at 4000 to 5000 birds, the sea grass was being over-grazed.
Firearm safety should be at the forefront of hunters' minds this season, he said.
"When someone is shot deer hunting, it's a case of they haven't identified their target properly.
"[Duck] hunters have no excuse for that, people don't fly around in the air."
The majority of duck hunting accidents were caused by hunters tripping with a loaded firearm, Mr McDougall said.
"We're encouraging hunters to make sure that their firearm is always pointed in a safe direction and that they're only loaded prior to being fired and to treat all firearms as loaded."
Rangers would be out across the country this weekend checking that hunters were carrying their licenses and complying with a ban on using lead shot shotgun ammunition over open water.
Hunters were also encouraged to report any banded birds they shot to help Fish & Game monitor birds and enable sustainable hunting in the future.
Species and daily quota for Western Bay of Plenty
Mallard ducks - 10
NZ shoveler duck - 2
Paradise shelduck - 6
Black swan - No limit
Pukeko - 10
Bobwhite (Virginian) quail - no limit
Brown quail - 5
California quail - no limit
Cock pheasant - 5
Pheasant - no limit