Countdown on to the 2021 game bird season

Dave Green and Kendall Yearbury in Whitianga, getting ready for opening. Supplied photo.

Around 45,000 kiwis will be counting down the hours on Friday to the start of the 2021 duck hunting season on Saturday.

For well over 100 years kiwis have gathered on the first Saturday in May to take part in the annual celebration of our wonderful New Zealand game birds.

This tradition provides a chance for whanau and friends to get together and harvest delicious free-range birds for the plate.

Even the insidious Covid-19 virus could not beat this tradition in 2020, it only delayed it by three weeks!

"The ability for whanau and friends to come together each year and gather food for the table whilst reconnecting with each other is what it is all about," says Fish & Game New Zealand Chairman Ray Grubb.

"Unlike other forms of hunting, game bird hunting is done collectively as it is only for a few weeks a year and gives everyone the chance to spend time together.

"Duck hunting is also multi-generational, with all ages coming together for the weekend. It’s this ability to connect with each other, discuss the past and plan for the future while enjoying the great outdoors that makes Opening Weekend an ingrained part of New Zealand’s culture."

Opening weekend is so important in some parts of Aotearoa that the community changes gear to go hunting, Saturday sport isn’t played, and open homes aren’t booked by realtors this weekend.

Hunters may not be aware that their Game bird licence fee goes into supporting wetland habitat throughout New Zealand and achieving public access to wetlands and waterways for all recreation users.

"Ministerial reviews and reorganisations may come and go, but this weekend is all about people enjoying their sport and Fish & Game securing high quality access for hunters and anglers," says Grubb.

"Fish & Game wishes hunters the best for Opening Weekend, in some parts of the country the weather might favour the ducks on the day. The population trend counts from our regional staff indicate numbers are up so there should be plenty of opportunity for hunters."

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