Where to Hunt Game Birds
Finding somewhere to hunt can be daunting, particularly for newcomers to the sport.
Game birds have an extensive range - they can be found on lakes, estuaries, rivers, steams, swamps ponds and drains. Increasingly, and as a result of more intensive farming practices, mallards and paradise shelduck can be found on pasture, crops and stubble paddocks.
First consider the hunting available in your area:
- Big water – lakes, harbours and estuaries
- Small water – farm ponds, natural dams, flooded areas
- Jump shooting – as the season progresses, wary ducks move from major waterfowl areas to take refuge in quieter places. Small rivers, streams ditches or drains frequently hold ducks at any time of the day. Stalking these waters provides exciting and productive sport
- Drift shooting – a quiet paddle or drift downstream in a canoe or row boat can be most productive
- Stubble paddocks – Duck love maize. When the maize is harvested, ducks can pour in to pick up what the harvester has missed (usually in the evening)
- Paddocks – improving pasture quality has seen more mallards join the traditional paddock birds such as paradise shelduck and Canada geese
- Existing maimais – remember that you can hunt from any empty maimai on public land after 7:30am. After the first week of the season, many good spots are vacant
Hunting on public conservation land
Throughout the country DOC manages wetland areas, some of which are seasonally available for game bird shooting. To access such areas on public conservation land, contact your nearest DOC office - staff can issue you with a game bird hunting permit. Your regional Fish & Game office has a range of maps and access brochures for hunting on public land, and many of these are also available online. Note that you still need a Fish & Game hunting licence and all the relevant licence conditions apply (species covered, bag limits, etc).
Getting access to private land for hunting
Canterbury hunter Paul Boyce offers some tips about how to get access to private farmland for hunting here.
Clubs & special seasons
Joining a club or hunting group will provide advice and an entry to good spots.
Some Fish & Game regions run organised hunts from time to time and these events can be excellent opportunities for novices to improve skills.
There are a number of ‘special seasons’ throughout the country. These are usually short periods outside the main season where hunters can target specific species (paradise shelduck, pukeko) as a means of controlling numbers.
Many farmers are happy to give permission to hunt on their land:
Do your homework to find likely areas and then ask local farmers.
Before driving up to the farm gate:
- Take time to consider the burden of trust that you are asking the farmer to shoulder
- Make contact early in the year and be prepared to come back several times to build trust
- First impression count (tidy dress and polite approach)
- Don’t ask for it all – often a request for a couple of evening hunts will be agreed to, but exclusive access every weekend will be denied
- Be clear and honest about your intentions, experience and who will be with you
- Stick strictly to any agreement and /or conditions
- Dogs must have appropriate vaccinations, including sheep measles
- Accept refusal with good grace
- Treat the farm as if your livelihood depended on it – the farmer does!
- Remember to say “thank you”