The police say a family member fired the gun that killed a Napier man on a duck-shooting trip on the opening day of the season.
Michael Leslie Meehan, 47, was out with two relatives at Waiohiki, near Taradale, when a gun was mishandled and he was shot at about 10am on Saturday.
By the time the police were alerted, he had already died.
Detective Senior Sergeant Nick Reid says family members are assisting the police investigation but he cannot talk about what went wrong, as the matter is now with the coroner.
Fish and Game spokesperson Rick Cullinane says such tragedies are rare and he cannot recall another fatality among duck shooters. He says guns must always treated as if they are loaded.
A 22-year-old man who was on a duck-shooting trip in central Hawke's Bay was shot in the face on Saturday and has undergone surgery.
The man had been hunting at a private dam on a farm near Waipukurau with a group of friends.
He was taken to Wellington Hospital, where he underwent surgery on Saturday night. Police describe his condition as non life-threatening.
By late Saturday, Police Central Communications had received 15 phone calls advising of inconsiderate firearm use at the start of the duck-shooting season.
High rivers drive out ducks and shooters
Around the country, thousands of shooters turned out for the first day of the season, although some traditional South Island spots proved inaccessible because of rivers running high.
Water from hydro lakes in the Mackenzie basin is being spilled into rivers like the Waitaki as a result of heavy rain, sweeping away hunters' hides and habitat that would normally be crowded with birds.
Fish and Game says the Waitaki is flowing at four times its normal level and conditions may not improve until next weekend.
About 35,000 duck shooting licences are sold each year, says Fish & Game spokesperson Rick Cullinane, and most who hold licences turn out on opening weekend.