This morning, out in the New Zealand countryside, among the fields, hills, pastures and wetlands, dressed in camouflage gear and hidden in mai mai huts, stand the duck-shooters.

Today is the first day of the national season and two Central Otago men are eager to begin.

Pete Southee, of Galloway and Bill Johnsen, of Clyde are duck-shooting aficionados — they have been behind the barrel for about 40 years.

Today, they begin the shooting season near Becks and spent yesterday afternoon setting the pond up.

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"We set up the day before ... getting everything all ready so you're not carting stuff in the dark in the morning," Mr Southee said.

This morning, they left home at 5.15am and travelled to their shooting spot.

Shooting would begin at 6.45am and had to stop by 7pm.

In Central Otago they would mainly be shooting mallard but had a chance of paradise ducks, canadian geese, and shovelers.

After the duo had finished shooting ducks, their game season would continue.

Quail season would open on June 2 and finish in August, and they would also participate in pheasant shooting in Waimate.There was one key element to the whole season, Mr Southee said.

"You have to do it right. You scare ducks away if you don't."

Central Otago police urged duck-shooters to keep alcohol consumption to a minimum this weekend.

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Acting Central Otago sub-area supervisor Detective Sergeant Derek Shaw warned shooters not to drink alcohol if they were using firearms or driving.

"Duck-shooting is a long held tradition in the Central Otago area but often that comes with a combination of firearms, vehicles and sometimes alcohol, it's just about the responsible use of all three.

"If you're using firearms you can't use alcohol."

No extra police would be rostered on, but patrols would focus on rural areas near duck-shooting hotspots.

Cromwell Fish and Game officer Cliff Halford said it was important to respect the bag limits and also to have an "enjoyable weekend" and get home safely.

tom.kitchin@odt.co.nz