Shooters enjoy mixed bag

ESTHER ASHBY-COVENTRY
Last updated 11:31 05/05/2014

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The duck season kicked off on Saturday with a whimper as sunny skies in South Canterbury encouraged the birds to fly high and out of range.

Central South Island Fish & Game officer Mark Webb said misty skies yesterday helped hunters as the ducks stayed low, but he expected the season to be no better than average.

When the weather was warm and mild, the ducks would rise to more than 3000 metres and would not respond to hunters' calls. Strong winds and rain were often associated with low crowding of ducks and easier targets.

At Lake Opuha two hunters could get a bag of 30 over two days while along the Rangitata River that number would be considered poor.

Webb said the main Waitaki River area had not been particularly fruitful so far.

However, the Waitaki plains had been better. Some parts of Lake Opuha were bagging well while others were not so good, he said.

Ducks were not considered a pest but with an excess population they were harvestable.

"Most are eaten."

It is estimated that over the weekend 20,000 to 30,000 mallards would be shot. Of that, about 5 to 10 per cent would not have been killed instantly.

However, Webb said that was a low crippling rate.

Over the weekend there were seven hunting offences recorded between Ashburton and Rangitata, where Fish & Game teams were focused.

Most were hunters who did not have gun licences. A few were using lead shot which is illegal.

"It's a bit disappointing especially the use of lead shot as over the last few years there has been good compliance," Webb said.

Some Timaru restaurants welcome hunters bringing in their bounty and will cook it for them.

The season finishes at the end of July.

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- The Timaru Herald

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