Duck shooting season kicks off at 6.15am tomorrow as Hawke's Bay hunters take advantage of the region's river catchments to hunt a variety of game birds.
Hawke's Bay Fish and Game officer Tom Winlove said the Mallard, Grey Duck and hybrids are the most popular game birds of the region.
"Both species respond well to calling and decoying and can be found on most of the region's rivers, streams, dams and lakes,." Mr Winlove said.
Paradise Shelduck are also widespread in the province and can be hunted successfully in most locations.
Hawke's Bay also hosts a good population of Ring Necked Pheasant and varying numbers of California Quail.
Mr Winlove said people should be most aware of safety and compliance when they head out this weekend.
"There will be increased efforts by rangers this opening weekend to get out and check that hunters have their licences and are following other rules such as the use of non-toxic shot."
"Rangers will also be getting out to the more secluded areas and will be joined by local police who will be checking firearms laws are being followed."
As has become tradition in recent duck seasons, a number of restaurants will take part in the Gamebird Food Festival, also beginning this Saturday.
Organiser Charlotte Bass said the festival, now in its eighth year, runs for nine weeks and promotes the value of game birds as a natural and desirable food. Originally a Fish & Game New Zealand initiative, the festival hires chefs to prepare the hunter's birds after they have come back from a hunt, letting them enjoy their own harvest.
"Hunters can simply book a table and drop their game birds into the chef at least 24 hours prior to dining at one of the restaurants," she said.
The Festival has expanded this year, also allowing participating restaurants to promote their own commercially-sourced game birds on their menu, so that everyone can enjoy them. The restaurants involved are Ten Twenty Four, Breckenridge Lodge and Vidal Restaurant.
Fish and Game encourages hunters to return band information to the Fish & Game office. The band number, location and date shot, along with hunter details, are all required and can be phoned into the office.
Due to some recent confusion regarding the length of the season, Hawke's Bay Fish & Game would like to clarify the region's season for mallard ducks runs until June 30 and that the cock pheasant limit is two per day.