Game Bird Hunting Opening Weekend
More than 65,000 New Zealanders are believed to have turned out for the opening morning of the game bird season with low cloud, a bit of wind, and in some cases, rain, meaning excellent hunting conditions.
"Some of the wettest spring and summer seasons on record in many regions has meant that the waterfowl population is thriving," says Fish & Game NZ chief executive Corina Jordan, who joined hunters on Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere for opening morning.
"The weather has provided perfect conditions for brood rearing and recruitment, with plenty of wet and ponded areas providing ample food."
Above right: Fish & Game officer Emily Craig checks the game bird hunting licences of Gary Boyce, middle, and Roger Broomhall near the Waimakariri Gorge.
Jordan says feedback from hunters on the opening day has been positive.
"So much of opening weekend is about the tradition of coming together to spend time with loved ones and enjoying being in the outdoors.
"Often, our ranging teams encounter three generations hunting from the same maimai - a spot that may, in some cases, have been used by great-great-grandparents.
"For many people, it is a sort of pilgrimage as much about rekindling friendships and family bonds as it is about harvesting wild kai, for many people.
"It is also a great time for strengthening relationships between rural and urban communities, with hunters coming from all walks of life being welcomed into rural communities and onto rural properties.
"Importantly, the collective harvest of wild, free-range game birds provides safe, sustainable, and ethical food for families across the country."
Northland - Fish & Game Officer Graham Gallaghan
Everyone was well-behaved; there was lots of ponded water around, which meant hunters had to look around, but those that did were having success, and no issues were detected.
Auckland Waikato - Fish & Game Officer David Klee
Rangers were very pleased with a high level of compliance; there were good numbers of birds around for hunters to harvest.
Eastern - Fish & Game Officer Anthony van Dorp
Hunting is slow in most places, but some good bags taken early in the day in coastal areas. So far, all hunters are fully compliant and pleased to see Rangers. Wet weather ..very... in some areas with some roads closed due to weather conditions.
Wellington: Fish & Game Officer Hamish Carnachan
No Compliance issues, and good numbers of birds about with hunters doing well; the weather was overcast, so not perfect for hunters. But the hunters were enjoying the opportunity, and bag limits were achieved.
Nelson Marlborough: Fish & Game Officer Jacob Lucas
The best conditions for hunting for two decades greeted hunters in Marlborough. However, High river conditions and flooding has impacted some hunter's ability to get to their spots. Some excellent hunting in the Para wetland, as it flooded this morning. There were good bags with most hunters checked. In Tasman, Waimea plains was hunting well with strong northerly timing perfectly with a high tide. Many rivers flooded here, too, meaning Plan B was needed for some hunters. Nevertheless, there were good numbers of hunters out.
West Coast: Fish & Game Officer Baylee Kersten
Near-perfect conditions greeted hardy game bird hunters for the opening morning of the 2023 season. A wet week led to a morning with low cloud, which cleared for some great hunting opportunities.
Rangers report many hunters were visitors to the region with historical connections or completely new and utilising the superb hunting opportunities in the area. Generally, with flooded pastures and high-water levels, birds are more evenly dispersed amongst the region's hunters, and that was certainly the case this morning.
Rangers did not encounter hunters with full bags of birds but did see a diverse and good number of species spread amongst the hunters. That was to be expected with a dispersed population of birds and no large flocks. The latter is usually a product of hunting pressure and is mostly encountered later in the season. With the good numbers observed in flight this morning, hunters can only expect the hunting to improve throughout the season.
North Canterbury: Fish & Game Officer Richie Cosgrove
Conditions were harder for North Canterbury hunters, with high clouds and strong winds in some places. However, hunters were having success throughout the region with good numbers of ducks harvested, and large numbers of hunters were out for opening morning in the region.
Unfortunately, several firearms have been seized from hunters for offences such as hunting without licences and some using lead shot. This is disappointing considering the widespread promotion of the necessity for hunters to have a licence when hunting game birds. Offences were detected across the region from the Hurunui to the Selwyn and Hororata areas.
Central South Island: Fish & Game Officer Rhys Adams
Good day, nice weather for happy hunters having a good day out. Steady numbers of mallards for hunters to harvest, but hunters are looking forward to the rough weather forecast on Sunday. Rangers were active in the Waimate through to the Timaru area.
Otago: Fish & Game Officer David Priest
The day has been sunny. Bags are low, with hunters mostly bagging a hand full of ducks each. Nevertheless, hunters encountered have been happy to be out.
However, Compliance has been poor this morning; Lead continues to be a problem. We have confiscated five shotguns for the use/possession of lead.
Two shotguns were confiscated for no licence. In addition, three teal were seized from one maimai and three shoveler hens from another maimai.
Southland: Fish & Game Officer Cohen Stewart
In Southland, the warm and sunny weather conditions were ideal for barbecuing but made the hunting challenging. However, those hunters that got some movement on their ponds by using motorized decoys or jerk cords were getting some good harvests.