Southern duck hunters descended on their maimais last weekend for the official start of duck shooting season.
The opening weekend of duck shooting started on Saturday, May 5 with Southlanders, both young and old, making their pilgrimage to various locations around the district to celebrate the start of the season.
Fish & Game Southland manager Zane Moss said the weekend went pretty well with the number of hunters on par with last year.
"It's as popular as ever, it's a great pastime and challenge for people and brings families and friends together.
"From a Fish & Game perspective for compliance it was quite pleasing. We only detected a dozen offences which is down on previous years."
Mr Moss said people were perhaps now realising the significance of sentencing.
Fish & Game staff never took part in opening weekend but went around visiting the different sites to chat with hunters, he said.
"Opening weekend is very much the focus for a lot of them; we saw a lot of people having fun and lots of laughs."
The sunny weather wasn't optimal hunting conditions for them but those who the Fish & Game staff visited were still enjoying themselves, he said.
"If the weather is good and fine and sunny it doesn't make good hunting."
Mr Moss said there was a lower number of ducks this year due to the dry summer, which "isn't great for duck breeding".
"People would've liked a few more ducks flying around."
This year, older and more intelligent ducks that were used to hunting tactics were around due to the lack of juveniles.
"The older birds have seen it all before and don't fall for the same tricks, but hunting's not supposed to be easy."
Mr Moss said Fish & Game Southland also worked with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) in the lead up to the season to develop appropriate protocols for cleaning gear, in the hopes of reducing the risk of spreading the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.
"Going around the properties we didn't drive around as much this year, we avoided that wherever possible... Farmers appreciated that."
The duck shooting season spans three months, and Mr Moss strongly encouraged Southlanders to get out and take on the changes during the season and other hunting opportunities.
"Make the most of the good hunting we have down here."