Aiden Skudder and his companions have been duckshooting for as long as they can remember, and are well prepared for the season's opening on Saturday.

Following tradition they will spend opening morning at Porangahau, but they are also looking forward to spending time in the coming weeks at a dam in Lawn Rd, where much effort has been expended to make it duck-friendly.

"It was a natural spring which we've got up to scratch with planting - Japanese millet, flax, manuka - it's brought the ducks on to it.

"We got the millet idea from the United States and the ducks love it, it's about four feet high and they pull it down to get the seeds out."


In fact, more time had been spent preparing the dam than shooting on it, he said, seemingly paying off with plenty of ducks making an appearance in recent weeks.

The new three-shot rule, requiring hunters to plug their shotgun magazines so that the gun holds no more than two shots in the magazine and one in the breech, was also no concern for these deadeye dicks.

"We were talking about that last year, it will be good for people who are good shooters who when six to 10 [ducks] come in can drop the whole lot," Mr Skudder said.

Not that it was all about killing - for Mr Skudder and friends it was about skill and the thrill of the chase.

"It's about calling - we don't use electronic callers, we are old fashioned and use duck callers."

They have also foregone the 12 gauge shotguns, opting instead for sub-gauge models that Mr Skudder described as a "taxidermist" gun.

"It's not smashing them with lots of pellets when they get so peppered you can't eat them."

Meanwhile, local Fish & Game officers urged hunters to swot up the "rules and regs", and get their licence as soon as possible before heading out on Saturday morning.


Hawke's Bay Fish & Game manager Mark Venman said rangers would be checking game bird hunters throughout the season.

"Hunters in the Hawke's Bay region are lucky to have a variety of species to harvest, including quail, pheasants, ducks, swans and the pukeko.

"Thanks goes again to our local preserves for their donation of over 150 cock pheasants that were released along our river corridors last spring," he said.

In addition, results from the annual mallard banding programme indicated that there'd been a good breeding season, Mr Venman said.

"Coupled with plenty of rain throughout April there are plenty of opportunities for hunters to harvest game birds."

Hunters were urged to report the details of any banded bird that they harvested to assist with sustainable waterfowl management.

They were also encouraged to buy their hunting licence now to avoid missing out on what was predicted to be one of the best seasons in years.

Be safe

Duck hunters are being urged to wear life jackets when hunting on waterways this game bird season, with water levels in some parts of the North Island still much higher than normal as a result of the recent storms which deluged the country.

The game bird hunting season opens this Saturday and the traditional event will see thousands of hunters venturing out on rivers, lakes, streams and into wetlands around the country.

In early April, Cyclone Debbie brought heavy rain and flooding to many regions and floodwaters still haven't completely subsided in some regions, such as Bay of Plenty and Waikato.