Weather conditions favour ducks on first day of game bird season

Weather conditions were in favour of the ducks on Saturday for the start of the game bird season.

A quacker of a morning greeted hunters across the country, putting ducks out of reach for some, but families still made the most of their day together.

"The ducks have been a little bit tricky today. They've been flying high, passing over. The weather's pretty good, it's more in favour of the ducks than it is in favour of the hunters today," explains Richard Cosgrove from Fish & Game New Zealand. 

It was an early start for around 45,000 hunters gathered at mai-mais and private ponds across the country.

Nine-year-old Leighton Mehlhopt claimed a couple of ducks on the opening morning with his dad Jarrad who says the day was a success: "It's not about the numbers, it's about the quality. And spending time with my boy and teaching him how we do it."

Anticipation has been high with hunters stocking up on supplies and Fish & Game rangers out checking licenses, the large police backlog not having an obvious impact on numbers.

Hunters were also out defending their sport saying part of their license fees goes towards habitat protection.

"Without it, we don't have a sport," explains Jarrad. 

"You've got to look after the ducklings if you want ducks to shoot."

For the Grooms, it's a real family affair - young Cole, father Tim, and grandad Chris enjoying a weekend in the wild.

"We've been doing it like this for a long long time," says Chris.

"Great way to get him off the iPads and out into the wild."

With mallard numbers up this year, there'll be plenty to target over the next few months.