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Hunters excited about duck season: “ We always eat what we hunt ”

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The annual game bird hunting season begins early tomorrow morning – however, a backlog of firearms license renewals threatens the season for some.

The season was delayed last year due to Covid-19 and fourth-generation Canterbury dairy farmer Phil Musson said while the short season was still enjoyable he was looking forward to a real open house.

“It’s the pleasure of being in the great outdoors. For us it’s family, the environment, and we always eat what we hunt too, so it’s a priority.”

He said the key to bagging many birds was the abundance of decoys and a good call. When it was time to put them on the dinner table, her recipe of choice was simple.

“Take the breasts off and pan-fry them. A little Tuscan seasoning is pretty good,” Musson said.

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Fish and Game spokesperson on the South Island, Richard Cosgrove, said duck shooting was a great way to fill the freezer and keep bird populations under control.

He had noticed a surge in enthusiasm – with people buying their organization-run game bird licenses earlier than usual.

“Hunters who kind of felt short of changes last year are probably looking forward to it and I would say that is reflected in the number of people buying licenses early on.

“They want to go out, they want to harvest ducks for the table, they want to have a good supply of kai for the months to come,” Cosgrove said.

Cosgrove wanted hunters taking advantage of the expected good conditions to be aware. He advised people to remember the Seven Gun Safety Rules and save the drinks for later.

“If you want a beer, go to the pub. Hunting is not for drinking.

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“No duck is worth coming home without your companions or your whānau,” Cosgrove said.

The backlog of firearms licenses is a barrier for some

Police figures showed that around 8,800 applications from gun owners were still being processed, the majority for first-time licenses.

Police recently attributed this to changes to the licensing system, Covid-19 delays and high demand, but acknowledged they had to do better.

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Deputy Police Commissioner Jevon McSkimming said Nine at noon police had made significant changes to the licensing system following the 2019 Christchurch terrorist attacks and staff were still adjusting.

“What we absolutely do is focus on renewals first and give these people every chance to stay in the know.

“We’ve kind of doubled our roster over the past 18 months to make sure that happens,” McSkimming said.

James Gray has been guiding hunting and fishing for over 20 years. He expected some people would miss the game bird’s opening weekend, if not the entire season.

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“I acted as a benchmark for a good guy and he’s going through huge delays.

“He has no history of problems at all … [he is] very loud and the delays are disastrous and it will probably last over a year at first glance. “

James Gray, Canterbury Hunting Guide.

James Gray, Canterbury Hunting Guide.
Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

Gray said people who had just returned from living abroad and had applied were likely to wait a long time yet.

Meanwhile, he said his guiding activity was “written off” this year. Almost all of his clients came from overseas, especially Australia for duck season, as most locals preferred a home hunting experience.

Despite the obstacles, he was happy to step off the handlebars for the season and enjoy some duck shooting for himself.

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