Both Barrels May 2020

Covid-19 has not only taken the world by storm, but with it also the shooting community world-wide who have also been fully caught up in lockdowns just as we have. 

But now in Alert Level 2 you can hunt on public conservation land, stay overnight, use an outboard or 4WD and also travel regionally, none of which was possible on the traditional May 2 opening date this year. 

Opening day will now be May 23 nationally.

The revised Auckland Waikato Fish & Game Council regional season lengths and limits appear below:

AW regs2

1           Owing to the effects of COVID-19 Alert Levels on the ability of hunters to claim stands, a stand claim held by an individual from the 2019  Game season will carry over to the 2020 season if the individual obtains by 23 May 2020 a valid game bird  licence for 2020. This shall be deemed a claimed stand. The above mentioned applies only to an Adult Whole Season Licence Holder and does not apply to a Junior Licence Holder.

2          Otherwise, unclaimed and new stands can only be claimed any time after 10.00am on 23 May 2020 in all Fish and Game Regions.

You must have a 2020 game bird licence or your tag will not be valid.  Tell the Fish & Game Hamilton office any tag number and we’ll soon confirm its status. 

Sending out new tags is not an essential service so has been delayed.

The revised regulation booklets can be found online here:

North Island:  https://fishandgame.org.nz/assets/Uploads/Revised-2020-FG-Game-Bird-NI-2020-UPDATE.pdf

South Island: https://fishandgame.org.nz/assets/Uploads/Revised-2020-FG-GameBird-SI-UPDATE.pdf

For more updates of this sort, we strongly suggest you go to the NZ Fish & Game Council national website, which also has regional information.

Top right is a corona virus image, click on this for all relevant new updates. 

Fish & Game NZ national website: https://fishandgame.org.nz/

Fish & Game staff in this region are all now working from home. 

If you contact the Hamilton-based Fish & Game office your call/email will still be answered. 

However, we suggest you first check the regularly updated national website for any questions regarding the 2020 season. 

Up until the time of writing, we’re starting to get frequent showers and sometimes heavy rain. 

Fingers crossed this is the harbinger of more to follow.

Extraordinary numbers of ducks, that had been out at sea during the drought of 2019, arrived back in the swamps when the heavy rain arrived last year. 

Unfortunately, this was just after the 2019 duck season finished. 

However, many of those extra birds are likely to still be around this year. 

Farmers who observe such things have also confirmed there was a prolonged duckling production this spring/summer just past. 

Goose numbers too are impressive and paradise shelduck numbers well up. 

Will everything come together by opening 2020? 

If you know anyone who can do an Indian rain dance, we may just have a job for them. 

But keep watching that weather map, it might be a flood by the time opening arrives.

People who have been shooting in the Whangamarino for some years know these conditions only too well and have adapted by having a choice spot on the nearby main river which can be counted on to have water in it. 

Then, when heavier rains come and flood the swamp itself, they retreat back into the wetland to their main pond. 

With the rising water, the ripe willow weed seeds are flooded and ducks pour into this banquet. 

In the same way, many experienced hunters watch the weather map and if a strong northerly is blowing down the Firth of Thames, forcing rafts of ducks inland, then sorry boss, but Great Aunt Fanny isn’t well and I need a day off work. 

Her health is never good in May/June.

Be aware that this year there is a historic change in our region on the legal hours of shooting to assist hunters to identify any protected species that might be flying around.

By law you must now stop shooting by 6pm on any given day of the season, (it used to be 6:30pm).  

Be sure to tell your land-occupier friends this if they shoot on their own land without a game bird licence, and consequently may not have heard. 

Apart from so-called “Partially Protected” grey teal,  http://nzbirdsonline.org.nz/species/grey-teal, Fully Protected brown teal, http://www.nzbirdsonline.org.nz/species/brown-teal, and NZ scaup, http://nzbirdsonline.org.nz/species/new-zealand-scaup,  be aware that we now have a small flock of Australian plumed whistling duck in the Waikato. 

These are a Fully Protected Species with substantial fines if shot, so make a point of knowing how to recognize them.

Plumed whistling duck ID: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-r7SxbzH54w

If you shoot a sub-gauge, you also need to know that lead shot is no longer legal to use on waterfowl on any DoC or F&G land this year within 200m of a waterway.  

Note that, on the Waikato and other rivers and harbours, (i.e. “public land”), unless the island or reserve you are on is DoC or F&G land, you are OK to use sub-gauge lead for 2020. 

If, however, you are on private land then you can continue to use sub-gauge lead for waterfowl in 2020, but this is the final year.

The exception is 410” bore shotguns which can continue to use lead into the future regardless, primarily to assist with training juniors. 

None of these lead restrictions affect upland bird hunters after pheasants, partridge or quail.

That’s because their fewer fired shots are spread over the entire countryside, compared to duck hunting concentrating pellets around maimais.  

Non-toxic shot like steel or bismuth, (if you can find the latter, it is about), continues to be legal for all gauges, on all birds, anywhere.  

Ask a gunsmith before using steel shot in older guns, which might easily be seriously damaged if they are not steel-shot suitable.

Note also that our King Country special parry season is poised for a re-start in early 2021 if bird numbers there continue to rise. 

You will need a permit from Hamilton office for this. 

Check the Auckland/Waikato F&G website for detail updates then. 

We will also continue to have our annual Special Paradise Shelduck Season north of the Auckland Harbour Bridge in 2021. 

However, no permit will be required for this next Northern Special Parry Season, the dates of which are 20-21 Feb 2021.

This will now be shown in your Regulation Booklet, coinciding with the Northland special paradise shelduck season opening.

Stay safe - and don’t forget Swamp Comp 2020 is still on for ferret, stoat or weasel tails

(For details see page D55 of your H&F catalogue or H&F website).  Great prizes are there to be won, so don’t spare the cartridge.

https://www.huntingandfishing.co.nz/swamp-comp-info

Hot Barrels

John Dyer, Auckland Waikato Fish & Game