Fish & Game rangers in Manawatū are gearing up for what they expect to be the busiest start to the duck hunting season for years this Saturday, after a two-week delay caused by the Covid-19 restrictions.

Wellington Fish & Game manager Phil Teal says it is likely there will be a big turnout of hunters across the Manawatū and Rangitikei regions.

"There was a lot of uncertainty around what form the open season would take this year and even whether we were actually going to get the go-ahead because of Covid restrictions," he says.

"Now we've been released from lockdown a lot of hunters are champing at the bit to get under way.

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"We've seen a huge amount of activity over the last few days with hunters prepping their maimais, and some retail stores are experiencing an unprecedented run on gear.

"One shop owner told us he was struggling to keep up with the demand for decoys and camo nets so that indicates we're likely to see a great turn out come Opening Day!"

With very good duck numbers this season in the Manawatū and Rangitikei, and what appears to be plenty of hunters heading out to lift the birds off ponds and keep them moving around, the start of the season is looking promising.

"Hunters have been really patient over the lockdown period, so it's great that they're likely to be rewarded with prospects of a really good Opening Weekend shoot," says Teal.

The duck hunting season has been extended to July 12 to account for the late start. Rangers will be active throughout, checking hunters have licences and are abiding by the rules and bag limits.

Hunters are being advised to get their gear early, and purchase their licences online (www.fishandgame.org.nz) to ease pressure at hunting store check-outs.

"We know a lot of hunters leave things to the last minute and this creates pressure on the stores. This year the bottle-necks could be compounded by limitations on the number of people allowed in the shop at any one time – we'd encourage hunters to get in early to avoid queues."

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Fish & Game is also directing hunters to read requirements for safe hunting under Covid-19 alert level 2. Information has been sent to all hunting stores in Manawatū and Rangitikei and is available on the organisation's website.

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-supplied by Fish and Game NZ