Getting started with duck hunting in South Australia

The 2017 Duck season has opened this week in South Australia (with Tasmania and Victoria opening later in the year). If you’re new to duck or quail hunting, where to start? Here are few of our top picks and tips to help you get started.

First off, you will need a hunting permit (which are issued by the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources in SA for Duck and Quail or see below for a list for other states)

Start simple.

Before you go buying up every cam patterned shooting vest and red dot sights, get some hands on time with your firearm to get your natural skill level up and figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. That will set you up with a great picture of what you need when you’re ready to purchase a new firearm or custom build one (without getting sidetracked on the things you don’t need to spend money on).

Stay comfortable so you can stay in the field longer

The number one accessory we advise for duck hunting is a recoil paid. There is a bit of pride in carrying a bruised shoulder during the week from heavy recoil.  Our head gunsmith Nik is carrying a nice one from shooting a 585 Nyati custom build rifle this week. So he will be the first to tell you, there’s only so much recoil-punch you want to take before it just gets annoying. We recommend and use Limbsaver brand recoil pads for many shotgun models. Many recoil pads can usually be installed at home and will make your hunting trip much more comfortable so you can stay in the field longer.

Which shotgun is best for duck hunting?

It doesn’t really matter what you shoot with, just try something and you’ll figure out what you like and what works best for you. We generally suggest starting with an entry-level shotgun which means trading in some features and quality for a lower price tag. But starting with an entry-level shotgun is a good way to experiment and determine what features work well for you (and what don’t!) before investing in a premium model.

Some of our top picks in the entry level are:

  • Beretta Silver Pigeon – a great quality brand, bare bones model to bring the price down
  • Akkar Churchill Double Barrel Shotgun -considerable quality double barrel for the price tag
  • Hatsan Escort – its quality isn’t the highest, but it has a full synthetic weather resistant finish making it ideal for all weather conditions
  • Adler A110 Shotgun – Good fun for the price tag with lots of aftermarket support including chokes, extensions, trigger/action upgrades etc.

Don’t forget to look after your shotguns firearms and prepare your firearm duck hunting season, to keep them in safe and top working condition.

What about ammo?

SA has some specific rules about ammunition for duck hunting . You must use steel shot (not lead shot) over waterways. Make sure your chokes are steel shot compatible. If not, you risk blowing up the end of your barrel.

Duck and quail hunters must only use a smooth bore firearm that has a bore not exceeding 1.9cm (12 gauge) with shot no larger than BB (4.1mm in diameter).

Get cosy and confident with your equipment

Practice with your duck call at home- yes it will probably drive the spouse/kids/neighbours/dog crazy but you want to know how to use it before you hit the reserve. The same goes for your shotgun. Practice on targets and clays regularly to build accuracy and confidence with moving targets.  Get familiar with the shot pattern  and spread of your shotgun so you’re more effective with your shots in the field.

Where can I shoot ducks and quail in SA?

There are several game reserves where you may shoot with a permit during duck season including Chowilla, Moorook, Loch Luna, Currency Creek, Lake Robe, Mud Islands, Poocher Swamp, Tolderol,  Bucks Lake and Bool Lagoon. Not all of them are open for the full season, be sure to check the individual reserve times.

There are some areas off the game reserves you can also shoot, once again following regulations set by the State Government.

Remember there are certain species of duck which are allowed, the rest are off limits.

Familiarise yourself with game hunting etiquette too (SSAA give some general guidelines here and some water foul specific tips here)

Go get hunting and share your photos this season with us on Facebook and Instagram!

To find out more about what our gunsmiths can do to get the most out of your shotgun this duck hunting season, email us at



South Australia – Duck and Quail Hunting Season & Permits (Department Environment, Water and Natural Resources).

Victoria – 2017 Duck Season details (Game Management Authority) 

Tasmania – Recreational Game Licences (Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment) 

New South Wales – Hunting native game birds in NSW  (Department of Primary Industries) 

Sports Shooters Association of Australia (SSAA) – State and Territory Hunting Reguations