Fostering future hunters with fun experience

  • 30/05/2024
  • Maggie Tait

Fostering future hunters with fun experience

The third weekend of May sees scores of children flock to a central Hawke's Bay farm to try their hand at duck hunting.

For the past 25 years, farm manager Tony Jefferd has been instrumental in creating wetlands on the farm—a unique platform for the younger generation to have the opportunity  at a fun social event to experience duck shooting and learn about environmental stewardship.

"We host a children's duck hunt every year during the third week of the duck season," says Jefferd.

“It's a big family event, with around 100 kids and parents joining in. They gear up in camo and thoroughly enjoy the experience. It's not just about the location; it's the community that makes the day special."

Jefferd and his wife Biddy are passionate about hunting and fishing and want to inspire future generations to give it a go.

“Game bird hunting is a great way for children to develop skills and learn independence, says Jefferd who is passionate to give an experience

“It’s a fun thing to do with family and friends and is an opportunity to leave the cellphone alone for a while,” he says.

“It also instills an understanding of the environment and a sense of being part of nature and its cycle.”

Corina Jordan, Chief Executive of Fish & Game New Zealand, says how Jefferd contributes to hunting and the environment is a great example of how many hunters are conservationists.

“Tony has transformed unproductive areas of the farm into thriving wetlands and now has over  20 hectares of wetlands today. That’s taken a lot of time, effort, and resources, and grant support from the New Zealand Game Bird Habitat Trust.”

John Cheyne from the Game Bird Habitat trust says:  “When the ducks were coming in, it was great to see how the kids all instantly were concentrating on the hunting, and totally enjoying themselves.”

Each year, $5 from every game bird hunting licence goes to the Trust, which helps fund the development and enhancement of habitat for the benefit of game birds and other wildlife.

The farm’s wetlands feature a mix of native and exotic plants, providing an ideal environment for water fowl. The wetlands, naturally fed by underground springs and rainwater, have become a haven for various bird species.

Cheyne says: “Tony’s efforts show that Fish & Game, The Game Bird Habitat Trust and the landowner can combine to get a great result, not only for the wetlands and the wildlife but also for receational users.”

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