Ducks no easy target

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Bagged... Holding up some of the ducks they shot during the opening morning of the duck shooting season are (from left) Josh Miller of Waikaka, Hamish Baird of Wendon and Paul Kowalewski of Waimahaka. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

Sitting ducks became high flyers in the sky over Wendon, limiting the options of shooters during opening weekend of the duck-shooting season.

Duck-shooters Hamish Baird and friends Josh Miller and Paul Kowalewski shot about 45 ducks on the Bairds’ Wendon farm.

Mr Baird said the clear weather kept the ducks flying high and out of reach.

“They don’t see so many ponds and they’re hard to call in,” he said.

“The ducks weren’t really playing ball.”

It was disappointing because in the days leading up to the weekend there were plenty of ducks about.

“The pond was looking real good with a couple of hundred ducks on it but then they disappeared.

He and his friends usually shot 60 ducks during the weekend.

“It would have been nice to get more.”

Friday’s rain also meant there were puddles in the paddocks which the ducks preferred to the waterways

“They land in the stubble where there’s [grain] to eat.”

The ducks were in good condition with no sign of lice.

“They must have had a good season, nice and healthy.”

His friends in Waikoikoi only shot three.

Half the ducks were breasted and half went in the freezer whole.

“Slow-cooked roast duck” was Mr Baird’s favourite way of eating the fowl.

His mother, Sharyl, wrapped the duck carcass in bacon before putting it in the oven.

The ducks may have won round one of the contest but “we’ll get them another day”.

Southland Fish & Game field officer Erin Garrick said about 10 rangers were out throughout the region checking mai mais and ponds.

“We only had a couple instances of lead shot[being used] or hunting without a licence so for the most part everyone was very well behaved, which was great to see,” Ms Garrick said.

Last month Ms Garrick predicted it would be a good season.

“Paradise shelduck and black swan counts are the highest … ever. This season’s mallard count is very similar to our last aerial count completed in 2019, which was the highest count we have ever had.”

Every year the organisation surveyed 120 shooters chosen randomly to find out the numbers of ducks shot, results of which would be known soon.

Bag limits were 20 mallard and grey ducks and 10 paradise shelduck for opening weekend.

The season in Southland finishes on July 11.