A Rotorua duck hunter says he'd like to see more young hunters introduced to the sport after the opening weekend of the duck shooting season.
Adam King said he and a friend spent two days on the weekend hunting in Mamaku and while they brought home about 18 birds, he felt duck numbers were down on previous seasons, along with the numbers of hunters.
Fish & Game communications manager Don Rood said thousands of hunters headed out on the weekend, praising them for a safe start to the new game bird hunting season.
He said there had been no reports so far of any serious, or even more minor incidents, "which is hugely encouraging and we hope that hunters can keep it up".
Mr Rood said with an estimated 40,000 licensed game bird hunters it was a relief to have everyone make it home safe and happy from opening day - regardless of how many birds they had managed to harvest.
The clear weather across most of New Zealand made the start of the season hard work in many areas - but this was balanced by an abundance of ducks in some parts of both islands, he said.
However, the best results were coming from the South Island.
In the North Island, field officers in the Waikato reported seeing thousands of ducks on opening morning, bearing out Fish & Game's monitoring which indicated excellent breeding conditions with the wet spring and summer.
Across in the Bay of Plenty, reports were still coming in from officers out in the field but the Kaituna reserve near Te Puke had shot "superbly well" with some hunters getting their limits by 9.30am.
However, Mr King said he felt bird numbers in Mamaku had dropped off in recent years, along with the numbers of hunters.
He also said he hoped more younger hunters would get into the sport.
"It's a lot of fun. We had a young fulla out with us training him up. He had a great few days out with his dad.
"But, there seemed to be less around this weekend, maybe due to the conditions with clear skies so the ducks didn't come down.
"There also seemed to be less shooters out as well, we didn't hear the normal shots being fired," he said.
Hunters are reminded to check the rules and regulations if they haven't already done so. A number of regions have now introduced restrictions on the number of cartridges a shotgun magazine can hold. All hunters should visit www.fishandgame.org.nz
The game bird hunting season closes on Sunday August 27.