Both Barrels Special Edition March 2018
Welcome to this special issue of Both Barrels
The new game bird hunting season is coming round fast – there’s now a little over five weeks til Opening Day, May 5.
Stake your claim
Before Opening Day, don't forget to stake a claim for your favourite hunting stand or maimai. Tagging day (or marking day) is also coming round quickly – it’s on Sunday, April 8 (click here for more info!).
Get a licence!
Have you bought your hunting licence? Licences went on sale online from March 15, click here to buy yours. The $94 for an adult licence (juniors $21.00) buys you nearly four months of hunting in most regions – that’s ducks and upland game birds.
Getting your licence early means you’ll have your sturdy plastic tag to mark up your maimai . Click here to buy yours.
And don’t forget when buying your licence to tick the box to be a voter in this year’s Fish & Game elections. The elections allow you to select your councillors to represent your interests for the next three years, so make sure you have your say. Visit our Election 2018 page here.
What are the rules?
Make sure you know the rules for hunting in your region.
To help your preparations, click on our What’s the Limit page for North and South Island summaries of seasons and bag limits.
To dig deeper into the rules & regs for other species, click here to see our Hunting Guides. You’ll find the North and South Island guides here on our regulations page.
There’s a lot to do over the next few weeks before the season to make sure you are as prepared as possible and ready to take the opportunities as they come.
Have a look at this page for advice on everything from maimais and decoys to calling and hunting tips. Click here to find out about the Game Bird Festival, including tasty recipes for cooking them.
Click here to see champion duck caller Hunter Morrow talk about his background and how he approaches competing in the world champs.
Let’s band together…
Hunters, if you return your duck band details and you could win a terrific “double prize” of a top quality duck hunting jacket plus a six-pack of state of the art decoys!
Each prize pack generously offered by Hunting & Fishing is worth nearly $600 in total – containing a Banded White River duck hunting jacket, plus a six-pack of the latest Avery GHG Fully Flocked Floating Mallard Decoys.
Each of the five winners will get a Banded White River hunting jacket (RRP $399.99) plus six Avery GHG 6-Pack of fully flocked Mallard floater FFD decoys (RRP $199.99). Hunters may send in multiple entries, but only one entry is permitted per duck band. For details, click here.
Non-Toxic shot rules for 2018
This season is the first of the four year transition to non-toxic shot being mandatory in all sub-gauge shotguns except .410s. For a refresher on the rules surrounding non-toxic shot, click here.
Just how good is the new season looking?
There is encouraging news from various parts of the country on bird numbers and prospects for opening.
In Auckland / Waikato Region, with its noted game bird hunting spots, population estimates have shown healthy increases, and there were good numbers of birds at banding sites.
Staff say there’s been two very good breeding seasons in a row.
The 2017 game bird season showed a significant increase in the number of ducks harvested per hour – at 0.8 ducks it was on a par with some of the highest figures rates ever. And 70 per cent of hunters surveyed agreed there was at least the same, if not more ducks around than the previous season.
Paradise shelduck and swan numbers have remained stable in most of the region, although staff have pointed to a noticeable decrease in swan on the Kaipara in recent years. It’s possible that these birds have shifted due to changes in the abundance of eel grass, a primary food source.
In Fish & Game’s Eastern Region, the prospects are also positive. Staff banding ducks at sites in the Bay of Plenty, along the East Coast and Reporoa near Taupo, caught more ducks than ever before. Nearly 2000 birds were trapped and banded.
Heading south, a wetter than normal summer meant a better than average breeding season for species including mallards. In North Canterbury, mallard and black swan numbers are up.
Staff say the rain filled up a lot of ponds and waterways that were abandoned in earlier drought conditions, so it will be well worth hunters checking out some of their “old haunts” this season.
In the Central South Island Region, healthy numbers of mallard ducks have been reported in wetland areas like the famed Wainono Lagoon near Waimate. An aggregate bag limit of 50 birds again signals just how good the hunting is in this region. Paradise shelduck numbers are on a par with other seasons.
Southland Fish & Game staff surveyed hunters after last season and found that most suggested a mallard bag limit equal to, or less than the current daily bag limit of 20 birds. Only 24 per cent of hunters expected to shoot the bag limit on Opening Weekend.
Extend your season!
If you haven’t tried it before, consider adding some upland game hunting to your season. Quail and pheasant are challenging quarry, so investigate opportunities in your region. Northland, Waikato, Wellington’s coastal forests and the East Coast all offer good pheasant hunting opportunities.
In the South Island, eastern regions from Marlborough to Otago have good California quail hunting.
Be safe – swot up on safe practices!
You’re responsible for you and your mate’s safety out hunting – one hunting accident is one too many - please review the key safety rules before you head out. It is not just firearm safety you need to focus on – for hunters using rowboats or kayaks, make sure you have lifejackets. We also have links to safety videos and more – click here.
Good luck with all your preparations and read on for more tips on maimais, and more. Remember to contact your nearest Fish & Game office for questions on non-toxic shot, hunting areas, or any other issues we can help you with!
Preparing your Maimai
With luck, many of you will have been out to your maimai or stand to check on water levels and do any fix up needed.
And for those new to game bird hunting, there’s advice available on how to build your maimai.
For our maimai ‘how to’ click here.
Are you shooting straight?
No matter how good your shotgun is, or isn't, for successful game bird hunting you need to make sure it's patterned properly.
Any shotgun, whether it's double barrelled or a magazine gun, can suffer from poor barrel alignment or incompatibility with the cartridges you are using.
Click here for our 'how to' video.
For general shooting and hunting tips, click here.
Don't get caught out - swot up on the Rules & Regulations
At the risk of repeating ourselves, study the rules and regulations before you head out this Opening Day, Saturday May 5. Six regions now have three shot or other restrictions. Click here for details.
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