Both Barrels May 2023
Important new policy review affects you-Your chance to advocate for hunters
The Freshwater Policy Review will set the management priorities for our wetlands, lakes and rivers for a generation.
It is a chance for individual hunters to impress upon authorities just how severely polluted many of our waterways are and that something serious must be done to save them, not just lip service.
The Waikato Regional Council is having a number of public meetings in their region, and this is your big chance to advocate for the interests of your sport.
The world belongs to those who participate, so please get involved with these meetings and submissions.
Don’t sit back and let other lobby groups with other agendas decide your future.
We will, of course, be advocating on your behalf, but in these public processes, submissions by individuals can have considerable influence.
Details can be found here:https://www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/council/policy-and-plans/freshwater-policy-review/
Drift shooting ban
There is a new drift shooting prohibition in place on the Waikato River from Shakespeare Street Bridge, Cambridge, to Mangawara Stream confluence, Taupiri, due to new subdivisions and a cycle trail running in proximity to the river.
All hunters encountered by our rangers were complying with the new regulations, with everyone shooting from fixed stands or moored gunboats over decoys and all with safe firing zones.
There were 32 hunters, and seven anglers checked.
Three hunters were non-compliant, with unplugged gun offences.
Very little evidence of alcohol consumption, which was pleasing.
It was great to see lots of kids out with their grandparents and parents (junior licence sales are well up from previous years).
The rangers took some beanies and hats, which were provided to us heavily subsidised by Hunting and Fishing.
These were distributed to all junior and child licence holders, and this received a lot of positive feedback.
Another ranging team travelled up the Waihou River from Kopu to almost Paeroa, checking at least 50 hunters.
Bags mostly light, except a few that did very well. A case of 10% of the hunters getting 80% of the birds. But everyone seemed happy enough.
Only one problem with a junior that had an unpinned pump gun, but he said there were only three cartidges in it which proved to be the case.
His Dad has since remedied this.
Hunters were also checked by our ranging team on Lake Waikare.
In general, it appears to have been an excellent start to the season with full wetlands, rain and wind for the first time in around six years, leading to some good tallies.
Even the tide seemed to play ball. In previous years, we would usually receive five to15 complaints on the first day, mainly from residents alongside the Waikato River.
So pleasantly surprised by the lack of phone calls.
Not every hunter with a light bag could blame the ducks, “We missed a few” was an excuse heard a number of times.
One hunter with six birds and a borrowed gun said, “I called in 14 at once and missed the lot. I might have to go home in shame”.
Duck-hunter eye-opener clay-target shoots are a great way to get up to speed shortly before the season starts.
Team up with a dog
We’re currently doing game bird Hunter Harvest Phone Surveys.
Thank you to all those who participate, it’s quite noticeable that hunters with a dog, or teamed up with someone who does, nearly always retrieve all their birds unless the cover is really tight.
Two hunters blamed eels for losing ducks, one of our rangers previously had this happen and had to fight a large eel holding onto a wingtip to get his duck back.
It’s obviously a shock for some hunters to learn that this is the last year for the .410” bore shotgun using lead shot.
One young hunter got seven ducks this opening weekend with one.
He’s only eight, so boy has he got something to tell the others at school.
It’s the same gun his Dad got started with, and Dad said, “About 10 kids have used it over the years”.
Under pressure from a single determined lobbyist, the then Minister of Conservation asked F&G why there should continue to be an exception made for the .410” bore to use lead.
That seems to have been the death knell for this popular youth shotgun.
Sporting Industry representatives tell us that non-toxic .410” alternatives next year will retail for at least $70-$100 a box.
By comparison, lead .410” in one local shop is currently $21 to $30 a box.
However, these simple and usually break-barrel shotguns are less likely to cope with steel shot pressures.
Nearly all of them are fixed full choke to make their very light lead charges effective, and steel shot, in contrast, needs open chokes.
If you’re looking for an alternative for junior, a 20 gauge with light loads and an appropriate length stock has much to commend it.
Keep the cut off part of the wooden stock, as they can often be put back on as the youngster grows, and the original wood grain will match.
One young lady sported a .410” in a family hunting party, our ranger suggested, in a voice intended to be overheard, that she might find a surprise under the Christmas tree this year.
John Dyer, Auckland Waikato Fish and Game.