Hundreds of Northlanders will be taking to their maimai today for the start of duck hunting season, and the ducks around Riponui will have to keep an eye out for the boys from the Towgood family if they want to survive the next few weeks.
Duck shooter David Towgood and sons Alex, Eric and Cole will be heading to a pond at Riponui for the opening day today, in a bit of father-son bonding that is now four generations old.
The New Zealand duck shooting season starts each year on the first Saturday in May, when the highest number of hunters take part and most birds are shot.
Mr Towgood said he and his elder boys Eric and Cole will be at the pond first thing carrying on a family tradition. Alex, who will do some duck calling, will come along around lunchtime with his mum.
Mr Towgood started duck shooting with his father Royce when he was just a lad after Royce had started with his own father in the area.
"This is at least the fourth generation [of Towgoods] shooting in the area. It's always a great father-son bonding session. I've been shooting here all my life - and I'm 47 now - just like my father did and his father before him," Mr Towgood said.
"[The older boys] have been shooting for a while, but Alex is just a bit too young for shooting yet, but he loves to come along too."
And he reckons they will have a fair bit of success today, with their shooting spot renowned as being "a great duck shooting possie".
Mr Towgood said the hunting was also a good time to remember Royce, who died a couple of years ago: "It's a good time to remember Dad. He's there with us in spirit ... or he might be one of those crafty ducks that manage to get away."
Northland police are urging hunters to remember to be safe and to look after their mates during duck hunting season.
Inspector Al Symonds said there are too many headlines of people being killed or maimed. "Police appreciate the social nature of duck hunting in particular. But if you want your mates to be with you next year then ease up on the drink," Mr Symonds said.