Game bird hunters urged to take care as storm lashes country
Fish & Game is urging game bird hunters wanting to stake a claim on their favourite hunting spot to take care as Cyclone Debbie lashes much of the country.
The storm has brought heavy rain and flooding to many areas, including the rivers, wetlands and ponds favoured by game bird hunters.
This Sunday, hunters are allowed to claim any vacant hunting stand or maimai from 10am, but Fish & Game is asking its licence holders to be careful, especially if water levels are still high.
“We know people are keen to make sure they have a good spot for opening morning, but common sense must prevail,” says Fish & Game’s Communications Manager Don Rood.
“Our advice is to exercise caution and for hunters not to take any risks just to make sure they have the hunting spot they want.
“It is a far better idea to wait until floodwaters drop.”
The 2017 game bird hunting season begins in a month (Saturday, May 6) and traditionally, hunters are able to claim their hunting spot in early April to give them time to prepare their maimai, or hide.
The process of claiming a hunting stand goes under many names depending on region – marking up, pegging or tagging – but whatever it’s called, if a hunter wants to retain their favourite spot, they need to do it before 10am on Sunday April 9.
The rule applies to all 12 Fish & Game regions around the country.
“Tagging your favoured maimai allows you to set yourself up for the season ahead, ready to harvest birds over opening weekend – and then go on to use that spot for the rest of the season,” says Policy and Planning Manager Robert Sowman.
Hunters with an existing maimai who have already purchased a new 2017-18 game bird licence are able to stake their claim to the maimai any time before April 9.
Other hunters wanting to stake their claim over a maimai for the first time must wait until after 10am on that date.
Rules on who can use a hunting spot also apply once the game bird hunting season begins.
“The rules state that hunters need to be at the maimai within one hour of the opening hour of hunting.
"If they aren’t there within that time, the spot can be used by any other licensed hunter for the rest of the day,” Mr Sowman says.
To reclaim your spot for the upcoming season you first need to buy your 2017-18 Game Bird Licence, which contains your claim tag. The new season licences went on sale on March 16.
To buy a licence, got to the Fish & Game website’s licence page: http://hunting.fishandgame.org.nz/content/hunting-licence-info
Mr Sowman says it is crucial that hunters check the regional regulations for the areas they intend to hunt it – for any changes to season lengths, bag limits and any other rules before heading out on Opening Day.
He says for example, there are now six regions with restrictions on the number of shots a hunter can use in their repeating shotguns. In the Auckland Waikato, Eastern and Hawke’s Bay regions, hunters are only allowed to load three cartridges into their shotguns.
The West Coast Region is introducing a five shot rule this season, while the Wellington and Nelson-Marlborough Regions are banning magazine extensions for shotguns.
The shot restrictions have a conservation aim, and also encourage hunters not to shoot at birds moving out of range.
“It’s another tool to help sustainability – that will help limit the number of ducks being harvested,” Mr Sowman says.
Game Bird Hunters Tagging Your Hunting Spot Q&A:
Where can I find all the rules for tagging stands?
These are found in the First Schedule section of the Game Bird Hunting Guide supplied free with your licence. You can also finding information on tagging and other topics in the hunting pages of our website: www.fishandgame.org.nz
Do the tagging rules apply equally to private and public land?
Yes, BUT if you do not have landowner permission to hunt on any land (private or public) then the tagging rules are irrelevant – you shouldn’t be there.
On public land that I have a permit to hunt on, can I hunt from someone else’s maimai?
Yes, provided the maimai is not occupied before 7.30am. The hunter who has tagged the maimai only has the ’first rights’ privilege of occupying it until 7.30am then it is open to any other licensed hunter for the remainder of the day.
When am I allowed to tag a hunting spot?
If you claimed a spot in the previous gamebird season you can tag the same spot any day, from when the licences became available 16 March until before 10am, on tagging day, Sunday April 9. After 10am on tagging day, any licenceholder can tag any spot not already tagged.
I tagged a spot last year but hunted elsewhere at the last minute and someone else now wants to tag it. Can they?
No. You have the opportunity to re-tag the position before 10am on 9 April.
Can I tag a new maimai on the other side of the river from an existing tagged maimai but it is only 70m away?
No, not if your maimai position is within 90m of the existing maimai, then unless invited to be closer by the other party, you cannot tag it. Even if your maimai is more than 90m away but another person’s safety is at risk, you should shift. Hunting safely is paramount.