Central South Island Both Barrels May 2016
Hunters enjoy a fine opening
Opening Weekend heralded fine and pleasant weather.
Although many hunters wanted wind and rain to stir up the ducks and create movement among the decoys, none of the hunters encountered by our team of rangers seemed too phased by the summery conditions.
Right: Plenty more of these to target in coming months.
The stoke of opening weekend was apparent among the hunters we chatted to, and rangers got the feeling that enjoyment of the Opening Weekend hunt had less to do with harvesting heaps, and more to do with spending time with mates, and getting to use all their hunting stuff.
Where the rangers went – what they found
Rangers targeted the Ashburton and Lake Opuha areas again this year on opening morning.
Then on Saturday evening and Sunday morning rangers visited ponds in the Temuka and Makikihi areas.
Above: Jeremy Agnew calling ducks on Sunday of Opening Weekend near Makikihi.
In total 51 ponds and Lake Opuha were visited by rangers over the weekend with a few of these found to be un-hunted.
In the Methven area especially, un-hunted irrigation ponds held large mobs of mallard and parries from 400 to over 1000 in number.
This shows there are plenty of ponds that could be hunted in the area next opening.
Hunters just need to be prepared to go door knocking for access permission.
Many irrigation ponds can be seen roadside but otherwise they can be located by using Google Earth or mapping programmes with aerial photos.
Unfortunately, four hunters were found in possession of lead shot within 200 metres of open water. The maximum penalty for this offence is a criminal conviction, $5,000 fine and forfeiture of any equipment seized by the ranger.
Overall the compliance rate had improved, especially in the Ashburton area, from past seasons.
How’d you go?
Thank you to all the hunters who received survey calls and provided us with Opening Weekend harvest information.
The numbers and comparisons are yet to be confirmed from all areas within the Central South Island. But at a glance, it appears most hunters harvested between five and 18 mallards and grey duck for the weekend, with around 75% of birds harvested on the Saturday. Only a handful of hunters exceeded 20 mallards per day.
Now that the big weekend is done and dusted it’s time to scout out game bird congregations. On opening weekend birds get moved around by widespread hunting pressure, but for the rest of the season this pressure is minimal, and you need to find out exactly where the birds are.
Driving around farmland looking for mobs loafing on irrigation ponds, or getting a free feed from areas of stock feed-out, is a good way to locate large numbers of birds. Take a pair of binoculars.
Traditionally about half of all hunting effort is put in on Opening Weekend. That leaves plenty of un-hunted public waters open to hunt for the rest of the season.
Places like larger river beds are an example. Just remember to look for tags when you scout out the area and respect a tag holders rights. When hunting on DOC-administered land permission should be gained.
The Geraldine Raukapuka Office administers a large chunk of DOC land within the region.