Both Barrels April 2018
With only days to go before the 2018 game bird season begins, hunters are keenly awaiting Opening Day on May 5.
And by most accounts, the signs point to the season as one not to be missed.
Reports from most 12 Fish & Game regions indicate there are good duck numbers around.
In the Auckland/Waikato Region, the word is “lots of groups of ducks seem to be tucked up in many likely spots.”
In the Eastern region covering Taupo, Rotorua, Bay of Plenty through to Gisborne, staff banding birds over summer notched up record numbers in their traps.
Wellington officers are talking of an absolute cracker season with “significantly more mallards” right throughout the region.
In the South Island, the traditional duck hunting regions are holding good numbers after a great breeding season over the summer months.
If the award-winning Takitakitoa Wetland near Dunedin is anything to go by, then Otago is in for a fantastic season with scores of ducks seen lifting off during a recent visit.
Further north numbers appear to be stable, with bird counts indicating that populations are holding to the 12 year trend.
Of course, for some hunters, it’s upland game like pheasants and quail that they will be targeting on Opening Weekend.
The prime North Island pheasant regions will be targeted on opening, while in the South Island, hunters are already noting where the best coveys of quail are hiding.
If you haven't done your prep, get moving and sort your licence, decoys and pattern your shotgun.
If you haven't already purchased your game bird licence , just click on the image here, fill in a few easy fields and you’re all sorted from the comfort of home.
Fish & Game rangers will be mounting a large operation on Opening Weekend inspecting licences and catching law breakers. In many regions, they will be accompanied by police so don’t be one of the foolish few to be caught out with no hunting or firearm licence, drinking or otherwise breaking the rules.
On that note, we urge hunters to behave properly and ethically – don’t provide opportunities for animal rights groups. Here’s a few notes on how to handle the issue – please take the time to read it. Click here.
And before you head out, take on board a sobering fact: most accidents happen on Opening Weekend.
Think you’re up with the play safety-wise? Think again and be 100% sure you’re tuned up on the seven firearm safety rules and can look after your mates. click here.
Slip ups are unthinkable, as Mountain Safety Council reminds us here.
P.S. Thanks to Otago staff for their photo of this keen ‘mad hatter' hunter.
P.P.S - If you think you've got a hunting image worthy of featuring on our 'cover', email it to Richard Cosgrove for consideration.
Hunters urged to go ‘non toxic’
Fish & Game is taking further steps this season to phase out lead shot for waterfowl hunting. Hunters who use 10 or 12 gauge shotguns are already required to use non-toxic shot when hunting waterfowl within 200 metres of open water. This season owners of smaller shotguns such as the 20 gauge, are being encouraged to use up their stocks of lead ammunition, and begin using non-toxic shot. From 2021, non-toxic shot will be required for waterfowl hunting over open water in all shotguns except the .410. This applies to all public (including DOC) and private lands. Details here.
Check you know the new shotgun magazine rules, says Fish & Game
Game bird hunters are now restricted in the number of shots they can fire in six out of the twelve Fish & Game regions. The measure was introduced for sound conservation and ethical reasons. Regions which restrict the number of shots are Auckland/Waikato, Eastern, Hawke’s Bay and West Coast, while Wellington and Nelson/Marlborough have banned magazine extensions. For a guide on how to limit your magazine size, look here.
Send in duck band details to win hunting gear!
Duck hunters who return their duck band details on time can win a prize pack worth nearly $600 - a duck hunting jacket plus a six-pack of decoys. Hunting & Fishing has generously put up the prizes to help Fish & Game’s research. To get in the draw, hang on to your bands themselves but send in the details – number, and facts like where and when you shot the bird. Click here.
Go for green
This season, be selective about which birds you target. When hunting mallards, Fish & Game suggests you only shoot the drakes and leave the hens to provide the basis for the breeding season. Research shows hens suffer not only from predation while nesting, but also from hunters harvesting them during the game bird season. So, this year, selectively target those big green-headed mallard drakes and leave the hens alone.