This Saturday sees a belated start to the duck hunting season.

Normally the season opens on the first weekend of May, but has been delayed due to alert level restrictions.

Rangiuru hunter Lindsay Lyons, who has just stepped down as NZ Fish and Game Chairman, says there were times when he wondered if there would be any duck hunting in 2020.

''Considering the situation we are in, we are fortunate to have the season at all,'' he says.


''At [alert] level 3 we still weren't able to go to the wetlands or anything like that - and I hope people were being responsible - but now we are back in level 2 it gives the chance for those people who want to hunt some ducks to go out and into the maimais and do a bit of renovation and tidying up.''

Lindsay will be heading to the Kaituna wetlands.

He says the weather, rather than the delayed start to the season, is likely to have the biggest impact on bags.

''The fact that there is less water around at the moment means the ducks will be congregated into wetlands. I think that will mean we will have a better season.

''If it rains before [Saturday] then the ducks will disperse and sit in paddocks and that will mean it will be less of a hunt for most hunters.''

Lindsay has been hunting virtually his whole life, was NZ Fish and Game president for six years, a member of the national council for 12 and, for 20 years, has been and continues to be a member of the Eastern Region (Rotorua area) Fish and Game Council.

''It started off as a passion for hunting and fishing, fly fishing and trout, that evolved into wanting to be involved in giving something back into the resource that's provided me with so much enjoyment in life.

''For me and a lot of hunters it's not so much going out and shooting as many ducks as you can, that's really not the point of the exercise, it's just having enough for dinner,


''The enjoyment should be in getting out into the wetland, getting way, especially now after this Covid lockdown, sitting with your mates, as long as you are keeping the required distances, and being responsible - that for me is what it's all about.''

Lindsay says that while adhering to social distancing is a new requirement in 2020, safety while out hunting is and always has been, paramount.

''It's dark, it's first thing in the morning, everybody's excited, the dogs are excited, it's slippery, you've got mud - all those things are a recipe for disaster if you are not careful.''
He says there definitely should be no alcohol involved.

Hunters are able to travel, use their boats, and access public land under alert level 2 and this will mean communities that have relied on the game bird season for income and food supply will still have a season.