New game bird hunting season shaping as one of best in years
Thousands of game bird hunters have turned out for the start of a new hunting season that’s so far bearing out Fish & Game’s predictions of one of the best in years.
The miserable summer cursed by holidaymakers encouraged healthy duck breeding in both North and South Islands.
This morning, Fish & Game officers ranging in areas from Auckland and the Waikato to the central South Island reported seeing plenty of ducks.
The best hunting reported so far has been from the Ida Valley near Alexandra in central Otago where hunters had achieved “very good success,” with one group harvesting 40 mallard ducks in fine calm conditions.
Top right: Birds bagged...Trent Lassen from Selwyn.
Another group of five hunters had shot 40 paradise shelduck by 8.30am.
Lots of ducks and big flocks of Canada geese had been seen by Fish & Game officers who say the birds harvested had been “fat and healthy.”
Compliance with the rules had been excellent which was very pleasing.
In the central South Island, near Oamaru, Fish & Game officer Rhys Adams says they had spoken to four groups before about 10am and almost all were “pretty happy.”
Some hunters had bagged three or four birds each by 9am.
Some of the comments had been ‘better than last year’ and ‘missed a few but it was my own fault,’ he says.
He says that it was pleasing to see a hundred percent compliance with Fish & Game’s rules and regulations.
Going by the number of gunshots, easy to hear in the fine clear conditions, there was a spread of hunters and every indication of a “pretty good opening.”
Rhys Adams says the area is a “pond mecca” and bird numbers appeared to be strong – one hunter had spoken of a pond with two hundred birds on it, while he and a fellow officer had seen a gully creek containing a similar number of birds.
In the Marlborough region, the Para Wetland, a major restoration project now part completed, was described as a “standout” with hunters either achieving bag limits (8 mallards) or close to it.
Nelson / Marlborough manager Rhys Barrier says it is encouraging as “Fish & Game has put a lot of work into saving the area as a wetland.”
On the West Coast Fish & Game officers reported hunters getting mixed bags in mild cloudy conditions. One offence notice had been issued to a hunter with no game bird licence.
“There’s ducks flying and plenty of opportunity,” says Fish & Game officer Lee Cresswell.
In the North Island, fine clear conditions made life tough for hunters who thrive in wet cloudy and windy conditions when the ducks fly lower.
Officers in the Auckland / Waikato Fish & Game Region reported an “excellent start” to the new season with duck numbers well up on previous years, and hunters showing a high level of compliance with the regulations.
There had been fog early which cleared as the morning went on.
Hunters’ bags had varied around the region but “people seem to be happy,” says Auckland / Waikato Fish & Game manager Ben Wilson.
Hunters near Himitangi in coastal Manawatu told Fish & Game staff they were “getting birds but working hard for them.”
“The birds are around in good numbers but flying high – the ducks are up in the stratosphere,” one hunter joked.
Fish & Game Communications Manager Don Rood says that its “great news” that so far there have been no reports of any firearm or other incidents.
“It’s very pleasing and we are very hopeful of an incident free weekend – especially after a concerted safety push by not only Fish & Game but the Mountain Safety Council.”
Fish & Game carefully monitors duck populations before deciding how many can be harvested. This year, annual aerial surveys confirmed good duck populations in all South Island regions, and there are similar reports from the North Island.
Hunters are reminded to check the rules and regulations if they haven’t already done so. A number of regions have now introduced restrictions on the number of cartridges a shotgun magazine can hold.
The game bird hunting season runs from this Saturday 6 May through to the last weekend in August and closes on Sunday 27 August.