Duck hunters brave cold and rain

MICHELLE DUFF
Last updated 11:49 04/05/2013
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ROSS GIBLIN/Fairfax NZ

KITTED OUT: Andrew Sturt with duck hunting decoys and camouflage gear ready for the start of the duck hunting season today.

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It will be out of the concrete jungle and into muddy mai mai for townies rushing to join duck hunting's opening weekend.

More than 40,000 people nationwide have applied for licences this duck hunting season, which starts with a bang this morning.

"It's like grown-up Christmas you know, everyone gets really excited about it," said Wellingtonian Andrew Sturt, 25.

"You get to go out and build a little tree hut with your mates without being accused of being a kid.

"It's more about the experience and excitement than the actual duck shooting itself."

The Hamills sales manager lives in Petone, and will wake at 3.30am this morning to travel to Lake Wairarapa with his other "city mates".

"My old man's always been into hunting and fishing and stuff, he was always dragging me out," he said.

"It's partially about getting food, and it's partially about being out in nature."

Hutt Valley Hunting & Fishing manager Pete Fowler said the shop was heaving with customers, with electronic duck callers and camouflage face nets the most popular items.

Fish & Game say between 15 and 20 per cent of ducks are shot each year - about the proportion that would otherwise starve during the winter.

Wellington region Fish & Game manager Phil Teal said hunters would welcome the wet weekend, with clear skies a game bird hunter's nemesis.

Rangers would be out in force, checking rules were complied with.

Animal advocacy organisation SAFE is running a "real men don't shoot ducks," campaign, saying duck hunting is not a sport but a massacre.

"You don't need to hurt an animal to prove anything," SAFE supporter Nabeal Ford said. "Just the opposite, I reckon a sign of being a real man is looking out for those who are more vulnerable."

About 4000 to 4500 licences have been sold in the Wellington region.

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- The Dominion Post

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