Three people were shot and a house sprayed with shotgun pellets on the opening day of duck-hunting season yesterday.

The incidents prompted an angry response from Firearms Safety Specialists NZ and a redoubling of safety messages from police and hunting groups.

Among those shot was a 10-year-old Taranaki boy, who caught a ricochet in his foot while hunting with relatives in Inglewood.

The boy was taken to Taranaki Base Hospital in a stable condition.

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In Akitio, in the Tararua District, a 55-year-old man was shot in the eye with a pellet while hunting shortly after 8am. He was taken to Palmerston North Hospital in a stable condition.

About 15 minutes earlier in Lismore, near Ashburton, a man in his 30s was shot in the wrist and flown by helicopter to Christchurch Hospital.

Police around the country also received numerous complaints about gunshots being heard close to people's properties.

In one incident, a house in Waipara, north of Christchurch, was hit on the roof and windows, Inspector Mike Coleman said.

Firearms Safety Specialists NZ spokeswoman Nicole McKee was "bitterly disappointed" that the season had kicked off with such serious incidents.

McKee urged hunters to be mindful of their legal responsibilities, including for unlicensed shooters to be supervised by a licence-holder.