By Scott Taylor.

Saturday May 5 heralds the start of the 2018 game bird season and thousands of hunters like myself will be raring to go.

I was out at our wetland recently preparing the pond by spraying weeds, planting shrubs and clearing weed while standing up to my armpits in luke-warm mud. I thought to myself, I couldn’t get paid enough to do this for a job, yet I relish it, especially when the dividends could be a bag limit of ducks on opening morning!

The same could be said about those stormy evenings with driving rain, with me wrapped in a raincoat and camo netting waiting for an evening flight of plump mallards to come in off the mud flats. For me, and I expect a lot of others, it’s a passion, and just like golf or tennis, it helps us relax and unwind after a stressful week at work.

Involve the family

For Scott, game bird hunting is a family affair.

I’m lucky enough to have a gorgeous wife and son who enjoy gamebird hunting, so it’s a family activity. That makes getting away for a weekend hunt a lot easier than it may be for some.

I recommend taking your wife, partner and/or kids out on brief hunt one mild morning or evening to get a feel for it. You never know, they may end up enjoying it as much as you do.

Make sure the first occasion is a brief one, though, as there’s no better way to put off a would-be hunter than taking them out on an all-day hunt where they get bored to tears!

I’m lucky enough to have a gorgeous wife and son that enjoy gamebird hunting so it’s a family occasion…

Gear up for success

For Scott, game bird hunting is a family affair.

I’ve have upgraded a lot of my game bird hunting gear in recent years, which has undoubtedly increased my harvest. Modern decoys such as Avian X have exceptional paint work with incredible detail. I make sure these deeks are in prominent places around my pond where incoming birds can see them clearly.

Motorised ‘deeks’ are a must! These have been a game changer and really help create movement within your decoy spread. I generally use two types, with a spinning wing down one end of the pond and a water disturber such as a paddle wing down at the other end.

A good duck call is another essential bit of kit, but using it to good effect requires some, if not a lot, of practice. I take mine out of storage in February and just leave it in my car. That way I can look and sound like a complete twat while stuck in traffic, banging out ducky tunes on the caller! But seriously, I practice a lot in my car, and if you decide to do the same, be prepared to wear ear plugs or muffs as it can be really loud.

Another tactic I’ve used in recent years is a combination of hand caller and electronic calling. This helps when the ducks are getting in close as you can turn on the electronic and get ready to shoot.

Camouflage should never be taken lightly, whether it is for yourself or for your maimai. Make sure you’re well concealed because ducks have exceptional eyesight and can detect movement extremely well. Your face is an important part to cover – conceal it either with a face net or camo paint.

Shoot it, eat it

Once you’ve been out hunting the fun starts with preparing your game and making sure you utilise the food you’ve harvested. I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a huge fan of roasted wild duck, but because I shoot it, I eat it.

Luckily there are a lot of other ways to cook duck. I’m a great fan of duck/pork sausages and duck salamis! They are superb. I fill the freezer during the season and send a parcel of duck meat to the butcher when I have a minimum of 10kg.