Duck-shooting still appeals 50 years on

    Duck-shooters (from left) Sam Stafford Bush, Jerome Pyper, Phil Peek, Owen Bennie (10), James Bennie and Alistair Kelly were geared up for the opening of duck-shooting season last Saturday. Photo: Supplied

    SOUTHLANDER Alistair Kelly has been duck-shooting for more than 50 years and continues to look forward to the season.

    “I enjoy it for the camaraderie and fun, and now teaching the younger ones.”

    He began in 1971 at the age of 15 and during the years a lot had changed including rules and regulations and gear used.

    “My first decoys were cut out of a sheet of cork and we only had guns that held two shots.

    “There was a limitation on decoys and duck-shooters were not allowed to put feed in the ponds, and lead shots were used instead of steel.”

    He had also noticed the change of behaviour in the ducks due to the animal feed used on dairy farms.

    “We used to never think of shooting on a paddock, unless it was a grain or a stubble, now with the dairy farmers feeding silage, they are out in the paddocks.”

    The species of ducks throughout the years also differed, he said.

    “You no longer see the grey duck and when I first started shooting in Waikaka, Canadian geese were unheard of, and yet down here they are everywhere.”

    To prepare for the duck-shooting season the hunters laid decoys on Friday afternoon and began the season early on Saturday.

    In the morning, the weather was “calm and clear” which was not a good day for duck-shooting, he said

    “There’s gotta be a middle ground of this morning’s weather and having enough wind to blow over the decoys in the pond and somewhere between that there’s a sweet spot.”

    They had been “surprised” with the amount of ducks flying around but were disappointed with the number of ducks which were close to the pond.

    The year’s season was hosted at a friend’s mai mai about 10km from his property, at Motu Rimu, near Invercargill.

    Among his group of family and friends who were out for the duck-shooting opening weekend was his 10-year-old nephew, Owen Bennie.

    “He’s got a pretty good eye, he can always spot the birds around,” Mr Kelly said.

    It was important to teach the younger generation about gun safety, he said.

    “A big thing for us is safety, especially with the young boys coming in, we need to set a good example with firearm safety and have respect for the animals.”

    Owen said he always enjoyed duck-shooting.

    “What I enjoy is one, having to see everyone and two, we usually leave on Friday, so one less day of school.”