All ducks are in a row as this Duck Hunting season shapes up to be one of the best in years.
With a plentiful duck population and eased Covid-19 restrictions, the NZ Mountain Safety Council (MSC) and Fish & Game NZ are encouraging duck hunters to have a safe and successful season.
This Saturday, May 7, marks this season's duck shooting Opening Weekend, when majority of duck hunters take to the maimais.
Fish & Game NZ acting Chief Executive Brian Anderton said game bird hunters have much to be excited about this season.
"After the past summer conditions, this means there are plenty of ducks around, and with more relaxed Covid-19 restrictions, this season looks to be the best for years," he said.
"Along with MSC we want to see a successful and safe season for everyone and encourage hunters to get the best from this season, bringing wild food and themselves home safely.
"As always, hunters are reminded to follow the seven basic rules of firearms safety," Anderton said.
MSC Chief Executive Mike Daisley said Opening Weekend was one of the biggest events on the hunting calendar, and while the duck season spans many months, Opening Weekend always sees the highest rate of participation.
Over the last five years, MSC has run an annual safety campaign to encourage safe firearms use targeting Opening Weekend. After the release of an emotive safety video in May 2020 to combat a rising number of firearms incidents, and subsequent campaigns using further video content, the number of firearms incidents has dropped.
According to MSC insights, there has been an average of 0.7 firearms shooting incidents per year from 2017-2021 (5 year average), compared to an average of 2.1 firearms shooting incidents per year from 2012-2021 (10 year average).
Both MSC and Fish & Game hope the 2022 season continues to follow this positive trend.
"These figures are very encouraging because it shows duck hunters are thinking about their behaviour around firearms and recognising the impacts of not following the 7 basic firearms rules," Daisley said.
"We want hunters to really enjoy duck season, but we want them to do it safely."