Hunters set to make most of opening day
Marlborough duck hunters are on the move to secure prime spots for the opening of the 2014 game bird hunting season tomorrow.
Mack Pouwhare began driving south to a duck hunting spot near Oamaru yesterday.
His grandson Levi Pouwhare will spend the weekend duck shooting in Marlborough before the pair meet in Amberley on Sunday to continue their grandfather-grandson hunting tradition.
Mack Pouwhare has been shooting ducks for about 55 years, and began taking his 17-year-old grandson with him when he was three, which was "something special on its own", he said.
The thrill of the challenge and the camaraderie had kept the men dedicated to the sport.
"It's just a great sport . . . to me it's a challenge, it's a great challenge and it's a satisfying challenge when you get some ducks too," Mack Pouwhare said.
Making the trip south for the beginning of the season was all part of making the most of the season. "It only comes round once a year so we try and make the most of opening morning."
While hunters have been planning their first outings of the season, authorities have been reminding hunters to be aware of their surroundings and to stick to safe practices while hunting.
New Zealand Mountain Safety Council spokesperson Nicole McKee said the organisation was urging all duck hunters to check their firing zones, with more than 30,000 licences expected to be issued for the season.
"A lot of shooting activity is condensed into the opening weekend and the first two weeks of the season, this often results in a spate of non-intentional firearms incidents," she said.
Fish and Game New Zealand communications advisor Andrew Currie said they would be sending rangers to encourage hunters to brush up on regulations and make sure they have bought a licence.
Rangers would be making "friendly checks" on hunters, and many would be accompanied by police officers, he said.
Rangers would be checking hunting licences and compliance with regulations, while police officers would be checking firearms licences and general behaviour, including alcohol consumption, Currie said.
Rangers would be leaving notices of entry to private land when they had been onto property to check hunters.
Duck shooting season runs from tomorrow, May 3, until July 27 and shooting hours for Marlborough are between 6.30am and 6.30pm for May and June, and between 6.15am and 6.15pm for July.
There is a daily bag limit of 15 ducks for the region.
FIREARMS SAFETY CODE
Seven Basic Rules of Safe Firearms Handling.
1. Treat every firearm as loaded.
2. Always point firearms in a safe direction.
3. Load a firearm only when ready to fire.
4. Identify your target beyond all doubt.
5. Check your firing zone.
6. Store firearms and ammunition safely.
7. Avoid alcohol and drugs when handling firearms.