Both Barrels April 2021

Fingers and toes crossed that this year we have no Covid-19 delays, travel restrictions or other interruptions to our game bird season. 

But if we do, the official www.fishandgame.org.nz website is going to be your most reliable and up to date source of information. 

Rest assured, we will continue to do everything at our end to make sure hunters get the best possible deal in whatever circumstances present themselves. 

Last year we negotiated several significant concessions both nationally and locally, the latter with the help of Federated Farmers and the Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Assn, who for instance, wanted to see parries and pukeko controlled.

Above Right: Introducing the next generation-Young hunters out with Richard Philburn last season.

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Dave Malcolm calling in game birds.

Despite a very dry opening weekend last year, heavy late-season rains really helped persistent hunters to “whack ‘em and stack ‘em”, so be aware of this possibility this year. 

When strong northerly winds blow down the Firth of Thames, many of the rafts of ducks head inland to ponds that are starting to flood with all the duckweed and other goodies they contain. 

Keep your eye on the weather map, your drybox packed with ammo and your coat handy to go at short notice.

If you are mucking around in swamps and/or floodwaters, be sure to tell someone reliable where you are, when you’re due back and what to do if not.

One chap, not feeling very well, was in this very situation on markup day and we’re very glad he thought ahead and nearby help could be summoned.

This year onward, the exemption to use sub-gauge lead-shot on waterfowl within 200m of a waterway, (as defined in your regulation booklet), be it on public OR private land, is now prohibited

The sole exception is for .410” bore shotguns.  

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There are more than just mallards that you can hunt during the season!

Keep in mind that “waterfowl” includes not just mallards, grey and shoveler ducks but also black swan and pukeko. 

Click on the link here to check your regulations: https://fishandgame.org.nz/assets/Uploads/FG-GameBird-NI-2021.pdf

You can still use lead shot for upland game bird hunting, (pheasants, partridge and quail), but you must leave it behind, (in the truck perhaps), when you decide to then go for a night shoot by a pond. 

Just possessing lead shot while duck hunting is an offence. 

If you are shooting ducks in a maize field or similar, 200m+ away from a “waterbody”, you are still OK. 

But switching back and forth from lead to steel can confuse your subconscious calculations when working out how far to lead in front of a bird. 

If you have an older shotgun that probably isn’t suitable for steel, (a gunsmith can better advise if in doubt), the good news is that Gunworks in Christchurch are selling 1-kilo lots of bismuth #4 shot for reloading at $55/kilo + GST, https://www.gunworks.co.nz/shop/category/reloading-shotgun

Target Products NZ are also just months away from launching their own 34-Gram, 12-gauge, biodegradable fibre-wad loads of tin-plated bismuth for distribution to gun shops around NZ.  

So, unfortunately, not in time for this duck season. 

They are wholesalers but they anticipate it will retail for significantly less than duck-hunters in NZ normally expect to pay for bismuth.   

Paradise shelduck numbers are looking very good north of the Harbour Bridge with the bonus that, any mallards that come into the flappy in May are also in the season as well.

The limit on these in the 19-20 February 2022 Special Northern Paradise Shelduck Season is set to increase to 15 next year, from 10 this year. 

In the main May-June season now it’s 20 parries north of the Harbour Bridge.  

Be sure to order some extra freezer bags.  

Aerial counts of Canada goose numbers across the Waikato show no sign of this upward trend diminishing, so be prepared for these larger birds.    

Please be aware that in this Auckland/Waikato region, hunting hours now cease at 6 pm, not the usual 6:30 pm that many of us grew up with. 

This is to make sure we can better identify protected species, for instance, shags, grey teal and increasing numbers of NZ scaup, (our native diving duck). 

There are excellent online resources to help recognise these, such as this Australian website which has our protected grey teal, (a game bird there), as well as 2 of our game ducks; grey duck, (which Aussies call “black duck”), and Australasian shoveler: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MY5hCfYxpTA

We strongly suggest the next thing you do after reading this is to check your firearms licence expiry date.

Police are taking 4-6 months to renew a firearms licence and 8 months to process a new application.

They have a backlog of around 9,000 firearms licences of which about 3200 are renewals.

You are strongly advised to apply for a licence renewal at least 6 months ahead of time. 

If it expires while you wait, Police deem you are now in illegal possession of your own guns.

You must then immediately transfer your firearms to another licence holders safe, whose licence has yet to expire, while they play catch-up.

Fish & Game at a national level has taken this issue up with the Police Minister to get expired firearms licences extended, where an extension has been applied for.

Police have already done this for firearms dealers, for instance.

Remember, GO FOR GREEN, by selecting drakes-only whenever possible, you leave behind more hen-mallards to breed. 

A line up of drakes makes your photos look even more impressive.

The Staff and Council at Auckland Waikato Fish & Game wish you a very safe, enjoyable and productive game season.