Keen game bird hunters will be putting the latest innovations to the test this weekend as duck shooting season begins.

Today is the first day of the season and there are a number of quirky tricks - including new products - that hunters will be using to give them an advantage.

Fish and Game New Zealand communications manager Don Rood outlined some of this season's top techniques for bagging ducks.

Rood said mobile decoys were growing in popularity due to their effectiveness.


"Now you've got some that not only flap their wings but shoot jets of water out so there's lots of activity... [they're] magnificent," he said.

"Their wings flap because birds are quite alert to that, a little bit of movement is always good. They are becoming more common."

Mobile decoys have remote controls on them to avoid them "flapping and carrying on" when no ducks are around, Rood said.

"You can turn them on when it looks like something is interested in your decoys."

Measures taken to outsmart particularly cunning game were also all the rage according to Rood.

"Another innovation brand new for this season is using ultraviolet paints on the decoys because that's how birds see, so it looks more realistic to have that UV reflection.

"The other one is flocking, which is putting a flock material on your decoy so it looks more natural, suede or something like that, so they don't reflect light like a plastic decoy would.

"Ducks are wild creatures and survival is uppermost in their minds, so you've got to try and think what is going to look natural to them rather than what looks natural to the human eye, so there are a lot of innovations on the decoy presentation front."


Having a decoy that moves is a serious advantage during a hunt.

"The big thing with hunters is what they call movement in the decoy, because ducks don't come there and sit rock solid like they're in ice, and that's what these motion decoys are all about," Rood said.

"They squirt water, do everything... even make you a cup of tea."

Duck Shooting season kicks off in New Zealand today. Photo / Warren Buckland
Duck Shooting season kicks off in New Zealand today. Photo / Warren Buckland

Top of the range duck decoys don't come cheap. Hunting and Fishing offers a "Flapping Splasher", billed as the "ultimate next-generation decoy" for $400. The decoy can be remote controlled from up to 50m away, and uses jets to splash water above its head and draw the attention of game.

"If people think they're going to get one ahead of their mates they're always ready to buy the latest and greatest equipment," Rood said.

A controversial move that has upset purists is the gaining prevelance of electronic calls using SD cards and USB ports.

"There's a real schism in that because people who are good callers with a normal duck call look with disdain on these, but at the same time for people who can't call or are just getting into duck hunting it's a good way of giving them an advantage."

An electronic game caller with two slots for SD cards will cost $189-$205.

A large amount of rain in Auckland and Waikato meant layout blinds were another effective technique gaining traction in the hunting community.

"Ducks aren't going to be confined to the pond or stream, there's so much water sloshing around that they could be anywhere," Rood said.

"They have these things called layout blinds, you lie down on them so they have a really low profile, you put a bit of camo around them, and some of the flasher ones their doors spring open and you go 'surprise'."