Hunters are getting locked and loaded ahead of the opening weekend of duck-shooting season starting May 7.

More than 40,000 hunters take part in the season around the country.

Rivers to Ranges owner Jeremy Hanaray said sales had been "ticking over nicely".

He was expecting huge sale numbers in the final days leading up to the season start.


"The last nine days are always hectic because of typical Kiwis leaving things to the last minute," Mr Hanaray said.

Decoys, camo nets, ammunition, gun licences and electronic duck calls were all moving well for the hunting and fishing specialists.

Mr Hanaray wanted to stress the importance of safety to hunters before the season started.

"We have already had one tragedy during the the roar and we don't need any more."

Mr Hanaray said that hunters were becoming more aware of safety and attitudes were changing.

"A lot of guys now won't crack a beer until guns are away."

He said the message was starting to sink in.

"Hunters are realising they are dealing with live firearms and starting to abide by rules."

There were simple things hunters could do to avoid accidents.

"Always point your weapon in a safe direction in case of an accidental discharge," Mr Hanaray said.

Fish and Game regional manager Andy Garrick said regulations have been tightened in response to bird population trends.

In the Bay, the season has been reduced from eight weeks to six, May 7 to June 19, in a bid to control the declining mallard population.

"The dry season brought on by El Nino has meant duck production just hasn't prospered."

The mallard bag limit has been reduced to eight, but the limit for paradise shelduck remains at 10.

An error made during the regulation setting process saw no limit declared on number of black swans hunters can bag.

"We are appealing to hunters not to exercise this right, although the numbers are healthy, swans can take a long time to recover if exploited," Mr Garrick said.

He said hunters shouldn't forget the lowly pukeko can be "good eating".

"Like any bird, it's all about how it's prepared."

Mr Garrick said above all else he wanted shooters to enjoy a safe season.

"Hunters must remember the perennial rule, alcohol and guns don't mix," he said.