The duck shooting season has claimed its first hunting injury.

Police and ambulance were notified just before 11.30am of a 44-year-old man, hunting in an area north of Masterton, being hit by pellets from the gun of someone else in his hunting party.

A central police communications spokesman said the man had hurt his elbow in the incident. "It looks like one of the people in the group, the blast of a shotgun has connected with the side of his elbow."

The caller who alerted emergency services to the incident said it was an accident.


It was not clear how far away the two men were, "but if you take precautions you shouldn't accidentally shoot anyone", the spokesman said.

Wellington Free Ambulance spokesman Daniel Paul said the injury was "pretty serious."

The man was being flown to Wellington Regional Hospital by helicopter. He was hunting in Bideford, he said.

Nicole McKee, Firearms & Hunter safety programme manager at the Mountain Safety Council (MSC), said shooters had to be vigilant about safety precautions.

"Duck hunters need to ensure that their firing zone is always checked before they pull the trigger.

"They need to look at the area between them and their target, as well as beyond their target.''

Today is the first day of the duck shooting season, which lasts 4-8 weeks, depending on the region.

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In the lead up to the season, both police and the MSC stepped up publicity around safety shooting practises.