Hawke's Bay duck hunters had a quacker of a start to the season despite calm weather.

Hundreds of hunters from around the region, and out of town, were out in Hawke's Bay early Saturday morning for the start of the game bird shooting season which began at 6am.

Hawke's Bay Fish & Game senior fish and game officer Nathan Burkepile said the morning started well with hunters getting quite a lot of birds.

"Everyone seemed happy, most people had a fairly good shoot in the morning."


However, by the afternoon there weren't as many ducks around because of the calm weather and many people had gone home for a break until the evening, he said.

On calm days ducks would only be moving in the mornings and evenings.

"It's pretty typical for opening weekend.

"The season will start to pick up once we get those southerlies through."

Hunters had been well-behaved, licensed and following safety regulations with no compliance issues, so far, Burkepile said.

"It varies from year to year but it's not unusual to get one or two infringements.

"Usually most people are fairly good, they know the rules.

"Compliance is important so I'm happy that everybody has been playing by the rules."

Cameron Mitchell, of Tauranga, on the first day of duck shooting season at Pekapeka Regional Park. Photo/Duncan Brown
Cameron Mitchell, of Tauranga, on the first day of duck shooting season at Pekapeka Regional Park. Photo/Duncan Brown

Police had also been out enforcing hunting safety and the importance of not mixing alcohol with duck shooting.

"They haven't had any issues with alcohol either," Burkepile said.

Duck shooting runs in the family for James Paling, of Kawerau, who spent the weekend at Pekapeka Regional Park, near Hastings, with his uncle, cousin and other relatives.

He has been coming to the wetlands almost every weekend of each season for the last 10 years and first started duck shooting when he was eight.

Paling said he enjoyed all aspects of the sport from calling the ducks to shooting and eating them.

"It's good fun trying to call the ducks and things like that...a bit of excitement."

The group had a good morning on Saturday nabbing more than 20 ducks and 10 swans.

The ducks would be breasted or roasted and the swans would be mixed with mutton or lamb and turned into sausages.

It was nice to eat something he had shot himself because he knew where it came from and that it was fresh.

He plans to return to Pekapeka Regional Park with his family every weekend of this season.

Fish & Game communications manager Don Rood said it was encouraging that there were no early reports of any firearm-related or other incidents on Saturday.

"We can only hope this continues through the weekend and every last person with a shotgun takes complete and careful responsibility for their own and their mates' safety."

Fish & Game, Police, the Mountain Safety Council and Water Safety Council had joined forces in the run up to the start of the season urging hunters to make safety their number one priority.

All hunters must carry both a game bird hunting licence and a firearm licence.