Southlanders dominate in Central Otago's Great Easter Bunny Hunt
Shooters cleared Central Otago hills of more than 10,000 rabbits and hares in the Alexandra Lions Club's Great Easter Bunny Hunt at the weekend.
Event convenor Dave Ramsay said 324 shooters set off on Good Friday having been issued a block of land randomly selected through a ballot system. Teams shot through the night and returned to Alexandra by midday Saturday for counting.
"It was very successful. Some were a bit disappointed - 120 was the lowest score. The big thing of course was it was incident free. The total reduction of rabbits was 10,010 which is up from last year's 8700 and with slightly less shooters participating than in 2015."
Southerners dominated the top placings with team Down South winning the hunt shooting 889 rabbits and hares. Southland teams also placed second and third.
"It was the second year in succession Down South took out the top honours."
The event had been running for 25 years and the biggest haul in the hunt's history had been a kill of 23,400, he said.
Brett Middleton, of Winton, the captain of Down South, said it was the team's sixth year in the hunt, and they had been in the top five slots four times.
"It is a bit of luck with the block you get. We had the same block in the Ida Valley last year and there's a good number there."
Aidan Wilson, 35, of Wallacetown, who was the caption of team "Overkill" said he had entered the event about 12 times.
"I just love it - purely for the numbers. It's not just one shot here and there, there are a lot of targets and it is a lot of fun."
Properties were all different, with some having been shot a lot, he said.
"Some that haven't been shot up - the rabbits sit a bit more so you can use the rifles...I prefer the shotgun. I find it more challenging on moving targets than stationary. But then stationary targets are further away which is also bit more of a challenge and then you also have to walk further."
Ramsay said the event also attracted foreigners with four young men on holiday from Sweden participating in the hunt this year.
"It was quite foreign to them as they are used to much bigger game and the pursuit of the rabbit pest in Central Otago was a new experience for them."
Funds raised by the Lions Club would be donated to Dunstan Hospital at Clyde.