28 Apr 2018

Duck hunters warned to put safety first when on water

10:56 am on 28 April 2018

Water safety may not be the first thing that comes to mind as duck hunting season approaches, however Maritime New Zealand is reminding hunters to take extra care when shooting from boats.

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Photo: Fish and Game

"New Zealand lakes and rivers can be remote and treacherous, and duck hunters have lost their lives because they are not properly prepared," said Kenny Crawford, the General Manager of Maritime Compliance for Maritime NZ.

In 2015, a 60-year-old hunter drowned when his overloaded dinghy capsized on the Waikato river. The hunter wasn't wearing a lifejacket at the time of his death as he told friends it hampered his ability to steer.

As the skipper of the boat, he did however instruct his fellow hunters on-board to wear lifejackets and having done so, his friends survived.

One of the hunters on-board had taken a cellphone in a waterproof bag which was used to call for help, while they clung to swamp trees on an island in the middle of the river.

Life jackets, communication devices such as a rescue beacon, and warm clothes are essential items for duck-hunters, said Mr Crawford.

"Sometimes the boating activity can be seen as secondary and our message is that there are significant risks associated, and they need to follow the key safe boating messages such as wearing a life jacket and carrying appropriate means of communication," said Compliance officer Matt Wood.

He said there's good safety measures put in place when hunting on land, and that it's important for those safety measures to be extended to the water as well.

Ducking hunting season begins on 6 May and runs through to July.