Duck hunters urged to be safe this season
As duck hunters prepare for the delayed opening of the game bird season, the Firearm Safety Council Aotearoa New Zealand is urging them to focus on safety while harvesting ducks for their family dinner table.
The duck hunting season will open three weeks late on May 23 now that New Zealand has moved down to alert level 2.
"Safety with shotguns should be a priority for all duck hunters this season" Firearm Safety Council spokesperson Bill O’Leary says.
"Unfortunately, each year there are incidents resulting in shotgun injuries, ranging from minor to serious and tragically, even death.
"This need not happen - this year we want a safe and incident-free game bird season," he says.
The Firearm Safety Council says to achieve a blemish-free hunting season, duck hunters should make sure they follow all seven rules of the Arms Code.
Bill advises them to focus on two in particular.
"The key rules are one and five - treat every firearm as loaded, and check your firing zone. Failure to do this are the two major causes of duck hunting incidents.
"Ensuring your firing zone is safe is vital to ensure no other person, property or domestic stock are at risk, but each year there are reports of shooters failing to this simple rule," he says.
"Because ducks fly quickly, the safe area can change just as rapidly as a hunter follows the speeding bird with their gun barrels."
The Firearm Safety Council recommends hunters prevent this happening by putting stakes in the ground on either side of them to block their guns from swinging onto a duck in an unsafe firing zone.
Hunters need to unload their shotguns when they are moving to a new shooting spot and always make sure the muzzle is pointing in a safe direction, Bill says.
"Before leaving your shooting area, check and double check your shotgun is completely unloaded including removing ammunition from the magazine.
"Be aware that ammunition can become jammed in tubular magazines so carefully check this isn’t happening. Do another check before cleaning or securing the gun in your safe at home - never let you safety standards slip. "
He also stresses that alcohol has no place in the hunting field.
"Of course it should go without saying that firearm safety rule seven must be observed - that means avoiding all alcohol and drugs when handling firearms.
"If you are going to drink this opening weekend, save it for afterwards, when the guns are safely secured, your gun dogs are fed and dry and the ducks are cleaned.”