Both Barrels April 2023
It is time to start preparing for the up-and-coming duck season. I have been hunting on more than one occasion where a mate has forgotten his bolt to his rifle (including a tahr hunt where we had flown into the Southern Alps), make sure you don’t leave the opening weekend organisation to the last minute.
- Check regulations and licences
You are required by law to have both your firearms and game bird licence on you when you are hunting. Don’t let a ranger ruin your day. Regulations do change from year to year. Every year we pick up people that have no idea of the season length or bag limit. According to the hunter survey, something like 10% of the harvest occurs after the season has closed, particularly in the short seasons. The fact that hunters tell us they have hunted after the close of the season suggests they have not read their regulation guide.
- Check your hunting spot
Knowing how the ducks approach your hunting spot, given flight paths and the wind direction, will make a difference to the location of your shooting spot and how you set out your decoys. Make sure there is open water in front of your maimai/ shooting possie.
- Practice shooting
While ranging I have observed hunters miss their limit despite having everything else well set up. See if you can shoot some clays beforehand. Also, very importantly, put a marker e.g., a decoy, at the 40m mark so you don’t overestimate your capable shooting distance. This avoids wounding birds plus usually makes it easier to find them afterwards.
- Get in shape
Particularly for upland game hunters, pheasant hunting in the Eastern Region can be a real workout. Jump-shooting ducks can also cause a little perspiration. It is more enjoyable and more productive if you can sort of keep up with your dog.
- Prepare your gear
This includes your maimai. Most maimais will be dressed by now, but if not, get out there this weekend. Make sure the jerk string is all rigged up and that the decoy strings and weights are all good. Check batteries in flapping decoys, torches etc. Probably too early to be cooking that bacon and egg pie, but you could always take your chances to see if the cook is up for a dummy run.
- Practice your duck call.
I am not very good at doing this, but I am sure it makes a difference. Check out YouTube for videos and stop in at your local park and listen for the mallard calls e.g., note the cadence of the hail call. Know when to stop calling and when to lay it on.
- Make sure you know how to set your alarm clock. Sounds dumb, but it happens; hunters miss that first hour because they have forgotten to set the alarm or entered the wrong day on their watch.
- Make sure you have fun – we are running a “take a mate” licence again this year, so drag out your mates that haven’t done it before, or take out the kids – they will have a blast.
Matthew McDougall, Eastern Fish and Game