Both Barrels April 2021

Speaking to quite a few duck hunters and pheasant hunters throughout the region over the past week or so, they all are eagerly awaiting opening weekend – and as most usually say – it's bigger than Christmas!!

Hopefully, and not like the past few years, we get some rough weather occurring over Opening Weekend to enhance the shooting opportunities.

Ideally, you all should have your location for the season all sorted, the maimai all scrubbed up and ready for a final touch-up before the decoys go out on Friday night before opening, the dog is fit and had some retrieving training and you’ve got your ‘eye-in’ by shooting a few clay birds. 

Undertaking water level monitoring over the past two weeks in the key wetlands in the Bay of Plenty and Reporoa areas, the ducks have certainly turned up in numbers, which bodes well for ballot holders in these reserves.

More generally though, dry conditions throughout the wider Eastern Region over past months have again been testing for duck populations.

Our monitoring indicates hunters should expect it to be challenging with the mallard population currently in a low ebb.

Upland game birds, pheasant and quail, on the other hand, have flourished in the dry conditions and hunters should focus their energy on the forests and farmland around the region later in the season.

Paradise shelduck populations remain stable, and we encourage hunters to target pukeko and black swans (where regulations allow) as numbers are good.

Just remember – game bird hunting doesn’t stop when the mallard season finishes – there is plenty of “other” birds to hunt!!

This season Eastern Fish & Game are offering a special opportunity for hunters to ‘take a mate hunting’ for a much-reduced licence cost of just $4 – with the hope that newbies will become dedicated hunters.

The new ‘mates’ licence will only be available to people who have never held a game bird licence before and will only be valid for the opening weekend – so get in touch quickly.

Interested hunters should contact Eastern Fish & Game for more information.     

As I’m sure you know, Fish & Game Rangers will be out and around the region throughout the season.

Remember your licences and to carry them while hunting and review the rules and bag limits for the particular area you hunt. 

Additionally, make sure you comply with the rules around the possession and use of lead shot within 200 metres of open water; lead shot is not permitted in any gauge except in .410 cartridges.

Hunters in the Eastern Region should also make sure all semi-automatic and pump-action guns have magazines restricted to hold no more than two shots in the magazine.   

Finally, opening weekend is more than just hunting – the joy should be in the doing, not the getting.

Be legal, enjoy and be safe.