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Duck Hunters Urged to Check Their Firing Zones

Duck Hunters Urged to Check Their Firing Zones

The Mountain Safety Council is urging all duck hunters to check their firing zones. With more than 30,000 licences expected to be issued, many are eagerly anticipating the opening day of the game bird season which starts on Saturday May 3.

Just like Christmas, opening day comes around at the same time every year allowing friends and whanau to get together and enjoy duck shooting traditions. But because a lot of shooting activity is condensed into the opening weekend and the first two weeks of the season, this often results in a spate of non-intentional firearms incidents.

Although there were no fatalities last year, it’s no reason to be complacent about safety this year says the Mountain Safety Council’s Firearms & Hunter Safety Programme Manager, Nicole McKee.

‘All incidents can be avoided if firearms users maintain responsible shooting behaviours. That means following the seven basic rules of the Firearms Safety Code and using common sense,’ said McKee.

The key reminder for duck hunters is to check your firing zone before you begin shooting for the day. Take note of where other maimais, boats, hunters, stock and dogs are located.

‘With moving targets such as game birds in flight, it is imperative that you’re aware of your field of fire as the pattern of shotgun pellets spreads as you move. Duck hunting parties need to set their firing zones and stick to their shooting boundaries to keep themselves and their mates safe,’ added McKee.

Duck hunters should also be prepared for objects (including people and pets) which could suddenly and unexpectedly enter your firing zone. Do not take the shot if there is any possibility that your pellets could endanger others. For those enthusiasts that ‘jump shoot’ in the vicinity of dams and ponds, ensure that your firing zone is clear before you take any shots.

Maimais and shooting stands also pose a significant risk as often they are well within shot range of each other. Having more than one hunter and several firearms in the same maimai can also pose a risk so make sure firearms are unloaded and made safe when not in use. Don’t overcrowd and keep shotguns out of the way so no one trips over them.

Lastly, the lead up to opening day sees an array of duck related events and promotions held across the country but it’s disappointing that some people get caught up with the social aspect of the sport and forget that alcohol and firearms do not mix – EVER.

Resist the urge to load up on alcohol the night before as an early morning hangover can not only affect your aim but also your judgement. Contrary to popular belief, that tot of brandy to warm you up on a frosty morning can actually increase your chances of hypothermia.

‘It’s no problem to celebrate your successes or reminisce about your misses with a couple of drinks once the guns are all safely stored away,’ said McKee. ‘But if your mate has been drinking and picks up a gun, be a legend and stop them. Save the alcohol for basting your game bird!’

For more information about firearms and outdoor safety, please visit the Mountain Safety Council website


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