Auckland Waikato Both Barrels July 2017
Where to find those pheasants
At time of writing the weather is rubbish but upland game birds such as pheasants are still out there, and can be chased to almost the end of August.
They’re often in novel places seeking shelter from the wind and rain, such as in the lee of trees or among broad-leaved shrubs that offer some protection.
Stay alert. When they’re wet they tend to fly a bit slower, so we might all have a chance. If there’s any privet about, that’s one good place to be looking now.
Even the old pips will feed a pheasant after the fruits have all fallen. Acorns are getting a bit thin on the ground but pheasants will still be scratching in the leaves looking for them anyway.
No oaks on my spot, you say. Easy fixed! Plant some. Fish & Game still distribute trees for planting for game including oak species. Just let the local F&G association know you’d like some.
There has also been a pleasing surge in quail numbers this year.
While this has happened naturally, you can certainly improve their changes of increasing their numbers if you are in a position to run a few traps.
Some of us have braved the weather to successfully chase parries which had a season finishing late June as did swan.
Changing shotgun rules
The decision has been made to nationally phase out the sub-gauge exemption for waterfowl near waterways over the next four years.
So sub-gauge owners will then be on the same terms as 12 and 10 gauge shooters when they’re within 200m of a waterway.
Next year, 2018 will be for “education” and to give dealers time to use up existing lead stocks and order non-toxic replacements.
In 2019, it will be sub-gauge non-toxic only on DOC and Fish & Game land only.
In 2020, the rule will be all land when 200m from a waterway.
If you own a modern 20 gauge then retailers will likely look after you with non-toxic options in the years to come.
But if you own an older and much less common 16 or 28 gauge, or an older 20 gauge that is not steel shot suitable, then options may be limited.
The small 410 bores are exempt so don’t be too quick to flog off junior’s gun.
Sub-gauges will remain legal for upland game just as 12 and 10 gauges are now.
Pellets fired from maimais tend to be clumped around those structures, often in shallow water where they’re available to ducks to eat. Whereas pellets fired at upland game are far fewer and also far more dispersed over a huge area.
Field sampling of ducks points to lead, cadmium and copper all being at levels that are concerning.
Recent research has found that lead pellets are still being eaten by ducks.
Getting to the exact origin of this lead is important, as it can be fatal to mallards or cause chronic conditions that make them much more at risk of predation or breeding failure.
send us those band details
Wet afternoon? Great, get into the shed and find those duck bands. We just need their numbers and the details of where, when and who.
Phone these in to 0800 BIRD BAND. It’s a free-call and you can simply leave the details if it’s out of hours.
If you don’t get a reply in a few weeks as occasionally happens, please chase it up.
We would love to hear from you. If you’re interested in helping band ducks, (every hunter should give it a go), just drop a line to the Hamilton F&G office with your details.
If you want to bring along kids, we have plenty of little jobs for them too – and certificates!
Now is a good time with the mallard season still fresh mind to make a list.
Does the maimai need repairs? Don’t be a muppet and leave it until a few days before opening and disturb the whole lake in the process. Do decoys need painting or cords replacing?
What about the shotgun? Was it behaving or could it benefit from a visit to a gunsmith? Even a good clean will pay dividends.
This is the time to plan ahead. There’s some great YouTube ideas for hunters, such as using spray cans of closed cell foam to fix decoys that have holes in them, (watch the ‘how to’ video first), or making jerk-string decoy rigs.
How did the dog go this year? Consider joining a gundog club.
They are filled with like-minded people and you’ll not only make good friends, so will your dog (and socialising is really important in their behaviour forming).
He or she will undoubtedly benefit from all that off-season practise. Gun dog clubs are always looking for dead game to practise on too.
If you don’t eat the ducks you harvest, consider donating them to one of the dog clubs for their training.
If you do breast out ducks and are wondering what to do with their frames, local eel fisherman will welcome you with open arms. Ducks frames make good eel baits as do breasted pukeko.
So if you are a last minute sort of person, break the habit of a lifetime and use this down-time to get your gear all sorted for next year!