Both Barrels May 2022
Opening weekend wrap-up
Miracles do happen, for the first time in many years the opening weekend was not calm, sunny BBQ weather.
We got some overcast, windy and even some rainy weather that we all hope for but never expect.
As rangers caught up with hunters around the province, we chatted to many hunters that were having some great harvests.
Above Right: Jeff Andrews with a great opening day harvest from the Otapiri area.
As always, some hunters were doing better than others, particularly those who put some good effort into their decoy spreads, but all the hunters we spoke with would have some ducks to take home for dinner.
Compliance was great this year with only one hunter found hunting without a licence.
What was really nice to see was the number of family groups hunting together.
We even came across a maimai with three generations of hunters all hunting together.
This is what opening day is all about—spending quality time with friends and family in the great outdoors, relaxing and harvesting healthy free-range food for the table.
Our hunter harvest surveys have shown that on average, each hunter harvested 13mallards for the opening weekend.
The long term average opening weekend bag is about 12 mallards.
Tips for getting access to and across private land
There’s no doubt that it can be a bit nerve-wracking to approach a stranger and ask for hunting access.
The fact is that most people are friendly and there are private ponds that aren’t hunted after opening weekend and hundreds of kilometres of rivers, creeks and drains that go un-hunted all season.
Now that we are past opening weekend and many busy landowners have finished their hunting for the season, now is a good time to try a bit of door knocking.
With a bit of effort, you may be able to secure yourself a few hunting opportunities.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when asking for access to or across private land.
1.) Your initial approach is important. When you are approaching the farmhouse or the farmer out in the paddock moving a break, your body language will influence how you are perceived. Use open body language. A friendly wave from afar is a good idea. Remember, you are an unknown person coming onto their property, you need to convey that you are friendly.
2.) Your appearance is important and will affect how you are perceived. Don’t rock up to the farmhouse in your hunting gear ready to hunt – that’s too presumptive. Show up in your normal clothes and be mindful that you are looking to secure hunting access at some point, not necessarily then and there.
3.) Introduce yourself. This is where you need to use your interpersonal skills. Explain to the landowner that you are a keen and responsible game bird hunter.
4.) Be tactful with your access request. It is always easier to start by requesting access to cross private land to get to a river or to hunt some puddles before asking about access to ponds. If you can get access to the river first, you will be able to prove to the landowner that you are responsible. This will provide a good segue to be able to ask about hunting on an oxbow or pond on the property.
5.) Make sure your dog is wormed and be upfront with when they were wormed. If you can tell the landowner the date they were wormed this will help ease any concerns about sheep measles.
6.) If they say no to your access request, respect that. You could mention that you might pop in another time. It could be that they may have said no to your request because of farming operations, where stock are situated on the farm etc.
7.) Sometimes the farmer might have some access conditions. Commonly, they may ask you to text them when you are on and off the property. Make sure you stick to any of their access conditions.
8.) Maintain the relationship. Ask the landowner if they would like you to prepare some ducks for them. Maybe if you like to make salami from your ducks you could drop one or two off to show your appreciation.
Here is an example conversation of how you might like to request access to private property:
Hunter: G’day there, my name is Joe Bloggs, and I am a keen game bird hunter. I am just wondering if you own the property down near the Oreti River off XYZ road...
Farmer: Yes, that’s my property...
Hunter: Excellent, I am just wondering if at some point I might be able to get access across your laneway to the river to go for a morning duck hunt?
Farmer: That shouldn’t be a problem, I have stock in that paddock tomorrow, but they will be on the other side of the farm on Sunday morning.
Hunter: Okay, I would be interested in trying my luck Sunday morning if that works for you.
Farmer: That shouldn’t be a problem. I save seen a few dropping into the backwater down past the gum trees so that might be a good spot to try.
Hunter: That sounds good. I have some paper here with my name and phone number, you can give me a call if you need to get hold of me. Thanks for the opportunity.
Remember, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
The worst thing that can happen is that the farmer declines your access request.
Be bold and try these tips out this season.
Cohen Stewart, Southland Fish & Game