Both Barrels May 2022
How did Opening Weekend go?
It was another Opening Weekend of beautiful weather and pleasant conditions – apart from the fog that lingered on the coast on Saturday morning and the gales that kicked up in the high country on Sunday.
Despite a small number of hunters going home empty-handed, all-in-all it will go down as a successful opening with healthy bird numbers seen and harvested in the CSI Region.
By far the majority of hunters we have caught up with thoroughly enjoyed their opening experience and got enough birds for a fresh feed and some for the freezer.
Above Right: Three generations of duck hunters – From Left, George Wilson (7), Hamish Wilson, Harrison Wilson (13) and Peter Wilson photo Rhys Adams.
Thanks to those hunters that responded to our Opening Weekend game bird harvest phone survey – the survey will continue every fortnight through the season.
The Opening Weekend harvest figures reflect that it was a productive opening for many in the CSI Region – statistically speaking, the average hunter harvested about 19 game birds for the weekend, with about 15 of those being mallards.
The following is a rundown from rangers and hunters we caught up with for Opening Weekend reports.
We had a team of rangers visit the Ashburton area checking in on the hunters scattered throughout the network of irrigation ponds.
It was great to see the ‘family’ aspect of our Opening Weekend tradition alive and well with most ponds being hunted by family groups.
There were plenty of birds on the wing with a good turnout of hunters moving the birds about, by mid-morning most groups had accounted for 6-20 birds – mainly mallards, a few parries and the occasional shoveler. Some hunters achieved their limits of mallard and parries on Saturday.
Unfortunately, two hunters were found in possession of lead shot and an ongoing investigation has revealed that one hunter was unlicenced.
These offenders face a maximum penalty of Criminal conviction, $5,000 fine and forfeiture of items seized as evidence.
Reports from hunters throughout the coastal parts of South Canterbury are of a challenging foggy start on Saturday – the fog didn’t lift until 1:30 pm for many, spoiling the peak period of annual duck hunting.
Nevertheless, steady action was had for Saturday afternoon and by the end of the weekend tallies of birds were respectable, for example, many hunters north of Timaru and at Wainono Lagoon managed between 10 and 20 mallards on Saturday and 5-15 birds on Sunday.
One group of hunters in Morven said the fog helped them and they got about 40 mallards each on Saturday and no shortage of Canada geese.
It was a mixed bag for the Waitaki lakes and Mackenzie with many hunters achieving 5-15 birds for their weekend’s efforts.
Those in the hotspots with elaborate decoy spreads did well and shot healthy bags of mixed species, including mallards, parries, black swan and shoveler.
On Lake Waitaki, most hunters took 5-10 birds for the weekend while one pair of hunters took 63 birds for the weekend.
Outlook for June
A fair few hunters put away their shotgun after Opening Weekend, but the reality is that June can be a great month for game bird hunting.
With a bit of effort to locate birds before the hunt, it’s not unusual to find better hunting action than what you had on Opening Weekend.
Get your binoculars to work and do some rigorous scouting, your efforts should pay off.
There are two holiday weekends in June providing the perfect opportunity to connect with mates and plan out a hunt.
Queens Birthday weekend is Saturday 4th to Monday 6th, Matariki Holiday Weekend is Friday 24th to Sunday 26th.
Share our duck hunting tradition
We are encouraging you to take a newbie duck hunting out this season to show them why we love duck hunting and to share in the harvest of free-range game bird meat.
If this is a youngster you’re taking out, pick a good forecast with mild conditions as it can get uncomfortably cold through June and July – get them out in May if you can.
Game bird hunting Day licences are on sale from the second Monday of the season (16th May); $23 for an adult and $8 for a junior.
You can grab a game bird licence on our website here.
Looking for a place to hunt?
CSI Fish & Game administer hunting at four wetlands and in just a few easy steps, you can hunt these wetlands.
These wetlands are balloted for Opening Weekend but after Opening Weekend these wetlands can be hunted by all licence holders, provided you obtain a permit and if required, contact the landowner prior to hunting.
Click here to jump on our website and check out the wetland maps and info.
While there, save a permit application form, fill it in and email it to us, or alternatively get in direct contact with the office.
CSI Fish & Game contacts: email email@example.com or phone 03 6158400.
Check out this YouTube video of what is on offer at our Fish & Game Wainono Wetland Reserve.
Fish & Game Magazine
If your Fish & Game magazine didn’t make it to your letterbox you can read it now online – click here
Tried and tested roast duck method
Our YouTube channel has some great info to help you get the basics right with preparing and cooking game birds.
To start, check out our - how-to pluck a duck video here.
In April while clearing the freezer of last year’s ducks I tested the high and fast roast mallard method and can report that it was the best roast duck I ever had!
Basically, it's crackling skin and medium-rare breast and legs – perfect.
My only warning is though, to make sure you put the water tray in and be prepared clean a few oil splatters up in the oven as a result.
I tried a whole mallard and a butterflied side of mallard in an air fryer – both with outstanding results.
Check out our High and fast roast mallard method at this YouTube video.
Rhys Adams, Fish & Game Officer
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