'Be sure when you pull that trigger': Safety message to duck shooters as season kicks off

With the duck season officially underway, hunters are being urged to follow firearms rules to avoid tragedies which have marred previous seasons.

Thousands of hunters are out across the country for the start of what's expected to be one of the best seasons in years.

Fish & Game communications advisor Richard Cosgrove told Magic Talk's Rural Exchange that safety is vital. 

"As a firearms user, you are eight times more likely to be injured today, than at any other time," he said.

He said hunters need to follow basic firearm rules.

"Clearly identify your target, check your firing zone, be sure when you pull that trigger," said Cosgrove.

"No bird is worth not coming back with your mates."

Meanwhile he said it's shaping up to be a great season.

"In the North Island, Wellington region staff are predicting one of the best seasons in years."

Further north in Taranaki, there are strong mallard populations and paradise shelduck numbers have rebounded.

In the Auckland/Waikato region, Fish & Game field staff are also reporting healthy duck numbers.

"All that rain that was cursed before Christmas meant a very prolonged breeding season for the ducks in Auckland/Waikato region."

In the central South Island, staff say the latest duck counts are the second highest recorded since annual surveys began in 2007.

In Southland duck numbers are booming, according to Fish & Game population counts.

"We also have positive reports of duck numbers from our Nelson/Marlborough, north Canterbury and Otago regions."

Cosgrove said that Fish & Game had made efforts to make every licence holder aware of how they are impacted by the new firearm laws.

"There will be no real change for the majority of game bird hunters as a case was successfully and sensibly made to retain semi-auto and pump shotguns for game bird hunting."

Game bird hunters can use these firearms so long as their internal magazines only hold five shots.

"We hope that by now every hunter is completely familiar with the new firearm laws - and what they need to do to comply."

Watch Richard Cosgrove's full interview with Rural Exchange.

Rural Exchange with Hamish McKay and Richard Loe, 6-8am Saturday and Sunday on Magic Talk.