Don’t go quackers with the drink this weekend, lads

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A dedicated Queenstown shooter is getting primed for his 39th year of bagging fowl – and he has some sobering advice for fellow hunters.

Ken Cochrane, 51, has only missed three duck shooting opening weekends – that start on the first Saturday in May – since he was 12.

“Some people like to race jetboats, I like to hunt birds,” he says.

The trials captain for the Central Otago Gun Dog Club will have his trusty labrador, his 15-year-old son and a friend shooting alongside him in his Southland maimai – but it won’t be a boozy weekend for Cochrane.

Far from it – he won’t even be having a beer.

“I enjoy a drink, but I certainly won’t have a drink on opening weekend because it’s too special to me and it’s too much fun. It’s like if you were a passionate basketballer, you wouldn’t go out and drink half a dozen beers at halftime would you?”

He says half the punters going duck shooting are avid hunters, while the rest are “weekend warriors” who get “pissed up in the maimai” – something he doesn’t condone.

Cochrane hopes other hunters will bear in mind “that firearms and alcohol are a lethal mix”.

For Cochrane, it’s not just about opening day – which he says is the single biggest participating sporting event in the country – but more the fact it marks the start of the 90 days per year that licence holders are allowed to shoot ducks.