Wellington Game Bird Hunting Bulletin - 26th May 2022
Calm Weekend But Wild Weather On the Way
May 26, 2022
An hour into last week's southerly and seven mallards already in the bag (Photo: Hamish Carnachan)
The forecast rang true last weekend and offered up some excellent shooting conditions.
The southerly arrived early afternoon in the lower part of the region and really stirred the ducks up, keeping them on the move for the rest of the day.
What ensued was some sublime waterfowl hunting, with several shooters limiting out well before dark on and around Lake Wairarapa.
The southerly arrived later in Manawatu but with enough time for a great evening hunt for those who got out after work on Friday.
While not quite as busy, shifty winds provided good opportunities right throughout the weekend.
The news isn't so great for hunters this weekend unfortunately, with generally calm conditions across much of the lower North Island.
Quick-fire morning and evening hunts are likely to be more productive than sticking it out all day.
Watch closely though because a very large, deep low in the Tasman is tracking towards the upper South Island and it will send some fireworks our way early in the week.
If you haven't sorted your licence yet, now's a good time so you're set for the weather when it arrives.
Here's the outlook for the weekend...
The 'hotter' the colour, the stronger the wind (Credit: Windy.com)
Not a lot to get excited about on the Windy weather maps above with light winds and little rain forecast the next three days.
However, Monday is when things start to get exciting.
A big low draws a moist northerly airstream over the lower North Island bring strong winds and heavy rain from Monday afternoon.
This will be the first heavy rain we've had for a while, so watch for ducks to move into new feeding areas such as flooded pasture or farm ponds and backwaters that haven't had freshwater for a while.
The winds are forecast to swing back and forward from nor-east to nor-west over the next three days and consistently be up around that 8m/s mark, which makes it rough enough to push ducks off the big water.
So, it isn't the weekend we were after but there are going to be plenty of opportunities from early to mid-week for those who can get out before or after work.
Tips For Targeting Swan
Ash has her work cut out for her with a long retrieve on a big swan (Credit: Hamish Carnachan)
We've been encouraging hunters to target swan this season in a bid to help farmers by preventing nuisance build-up of the birds on pasture, particularly around Lake Wairarapa.
This prompted readers to request tips on how best to hunt these game birds. Following are some tips for targeting black swan taken from the late Brad Parkes in his excellent book 'Gamebird Hunting In NZ'.
Black swan tend to follow very fixed lines of flight. Hunting them, therefore, is a matter of placing yourself on observed flight lines and waiting for them to come overhead.
While sounding simple, the successful hunter must observes all the rules of camouflage and movement – keep still and stay well hidden as, like all game birds, swan have excellent eyesight.
Swan respond well to decoys, particularly if you can find somewhere to set them out on pasture where they have been grazing. Floating decoys amongst ducks decoys have the added advantage of making mallards confident enough to come into range.
While sawn may appear lumbering in flight, they actually reach speeds similar to ducks so take this into account with your lead on the bird. Also, because of their size, there is a tendency to target the mass of the bird rather than lead so the shot pattern covers the head and vulnerable neck.
Some hunters turn their noses up at swan meat but it makes a very welcome and tasty addition to sausages and salami when mixed with duck and venison.
Please Get Those Band Details To Us
Band information provides us with a wealth of information to help with the management of the mallard population (Credit: Phil Teal)
Wellington Fish & Game staff and volunteers invest a significant amount of time and resources in trapping ducks, identifying their age and sex, and attaching individually numbered bands to their leg before releasing them.
The aim is to get back information how far the birds disperse around the country (and sometimes beyond), and also survival rates to help guide our management of the mallard population.
The biggest issue that the banding programme faces is non-reporting of bands.
We don’t need the physical band, it is yours to keep - we just want the band number, an accurate location of where the band was recovered and the date the bird was harvested.
The easiest way to provide this information is call your local Fish & Game office (06-359-0409) or through the ‘Banding Together’ page on our website. The information you provide is vital for waterfowl hunting in New Zealand, and benefits every game bird hunter.
From the Team at Wellington Fish & Game, happy hunting and please stay safe this season.