Wellington Weekly Hunting Bulletin 8 Jun 2023
A quiet and drizzly Wairarapa afternoon... A pair of mallards eventually came in low, much to Ash's relief (Credit: Hamish Carnachan)
Time To Mix Up Your Hunting
Ducks are paired up and getting more wary as we move past the half-way point of the season.
Some hunters are having a tough time not only luring ducks into range, but actually finding them.
Settled conditions certainly haven't helped. Clearly it's time to mix up the hunting.
We've got some tips on late/mid-season decoy rigs below, but it's also time to consider shooting different locations.
Isolated backwaters, drainage ditches, willow cover along rivers - hunt out the spots where ducks are now seeking refuge.
And don't forget feeding areas too.
More rain is on the cards this weekend - not great for farmers already struggling with sodden pasture, however, the mallards are loving the conditions.
Staff working in the central high country recently observed plenty of birds still out on paddock puddles, gorging on worms that had come to the surface.
This provides great hunting opportunities if you've got a friendly farmer you can call on.
Alternatively, use the weekend to scout around for birds out on pasture and stubble paddocks, and do some good old fashioned door-knocking to ask for access.
Grab your licence and get out there!
Here's the outlook for this weekend...
Weekend Weather Outlook
The brighter the colour the stronger the wind (Credit: Windy.com)
A low pressure system sitting well off the East Cape of the North Island is dragging a moist easterly flow across the region.
The Windy screen shot above shows moderate east to south-east winds for most of the weekend.
This is supposed to go round to the south, and intensify, through Sunday, particularly around the southern Wairarapa region and south coast.
Expect showers on Saturday, turning to rain in the afternoon which then spreads north overnight.
Rain is forecast to ease Sunday morning with a return to showers and fine breaks.
Family Hunting Photo Comp
Keep those family hunting photos coming!
The best shot at the end of the season will win $200 worth of Hunting & Fishing NZ clothing, courtesy of Greg and the team at Wairarapa Hunting & Fishing in Masterton.
Photos can be of groups or individuals hunting, but the main criteria is that it is about families and family members, especially highlighting kids' love of the pursuit.
The Mitchell boys on Opening Morning in Wairarapa - Dad (Derek), Alex and Ollie.
Remember firearms safety when framing your pics - breaches cleared and actions open, kids closely supervised around guns.
Get snapping, and send get your entries in. Don't forget to let us know the details of who's in the picture, and where it was taken.
Condition of entry is that images can be used for publicity purposes.
Mid-Late Season Decoy Spreads
Late season requires a little more care and strategy in laying out decoy spreads (Credit: NZ Hunter)
As this great article from Ducks Unlimited points out, late-season ducks are pretty skittish.
By this time of year they've seen lots of decoys, heard plenty of calling, and experienced a great deal of gunfire.
Naturally, the birds have grown extra cautious about which enticements they respond to and where they land.
Hunters must adjust their tactics accordingly if they want to stay in the game because just tossing out a few weathered decoys in a haphazard pattern will not bring in the birds.
Building a realistic-looking spread and setting it in the right location can work wonders though.
Although focused on US waterfowl hunting species and scenarios, there is still plenty of cross-over to our conditions, especially as ducks start to wise up.
Tips For Targeting Wary Ducks
At this time of the season the large mobs of ducks have broken up (Credit: NZ Hunter).
As well as being more considered in setting your decoys, here are a few other tips to help you stay in the game as birds become more cautious as we head into the second half of the season.
- Calling: Less is more
Paired ducks are really interested in other birds at this time of year, and are not as vocal. Tone down you calling to chatter and lone hen calls.
- Dial up your camo
Concealment is more critical than ever. Ducks will be overly cautious of structures such as maimais. Natural cover such as rushes, flaxes and willows can work best... take a small saw to fashion a hide from natural vegetation.
- Get ahead of the storms
Ducks will be congregated on large open water areas for safety. Fronts will force them to seek shelter when the waves kick up. Get ahead of these fronts and you'll find plenty of birds moving.
Pitch In On Planting Day
Greater Wellington Regional Council is holding a planting day at Lake Domain - northern end of Lake Wairarapa - on this Saturday.
It would be great for hunters to show up and pitch in, even if it's just for half and hour or so.
Remember, it is a privilege to hunt on Wairarapa Moana, so it's important we can show we are responsible and respectful lake users.
If you are hunting nearby, please be courteous and respectful to those involved in the planting day.
Those wanting to help out should RSVP to the organisers.
Keep Those Band Details Coming - Win A $500 Voucher
Hunters are welcome to keep the bands from the birds they harvest - Fish & Game just needs info about where and when they were shot (Credit: Hamish Carnachan).
Send your band details in and you'll automatically go into the draw for one of two $500 Hunting & Fishing vouchers from Simon and the team at Manawatu Hunting & Fishing.
Got a band to be registered, ring the free phone number 0800 BIRD BAND (0800-247322).
Alternatively there's a ready-made form to fill out on the Fish & Game website here (Note: prizes may vary from what is advertised on the website).
Deepest sympathies and thoughts to the Atkinsons who parted ways with a great gun dog and cherished family member this week.
Rest in Peace Honey.
- Hamish (and Ash) Carnachan.
- A note to hunters using the JK Donald Block in Wairarapa: Access is restricted to quads/ATVs only. The track is currently too wet for 4WDs. Please do not park on Paula Gillett's property (without her express permission) or block access ways.
- Hunters wishing to access the JK Donald block are reminded they must have an access sticker, and follow the conditions of entry. Please ask for details through the Wellington Fish & Game office.
*This report was accurate at time of writing. For your safety, please ensure you check the latest weather information before you head out hunting.