Both Barrels Special Edition March 2019
Welcome to the first edition of Both Barrels for the 2019 game bird hunting season.
And what a season it looks like being in many regions!
While many areas have suffered from a dry start to the year, a reasonably damp spring through much of the country provided ducks with good breeding opportunities.
That is translating into a population boost, particularly for the bird every Kiwi hunter likes to target, the mallard.
In the Auckland/Waikato region, Fish & Game field staff say there are good duck numbers.
The 2018 season was the best the region’s experienced in decades, and predictions are that another cracker is on the way for 2019.
Similar reports are coming in from the Wellington region, where the duck population is increasing. Good duck numbers have been recorded and 2019 is forecast to be one of the best in recent years.
Down on the South Island’s West Coast, ducks have had a good breeding season, prompting predictions of a great hunting season.
In fact, Fish & Game’s West Coast Regional Manager Dean Kelly says the only thing getting in the way of a truly memorable season is hunters’ willingness to brave the bad weather and try new techniques to suit the situation.
Southland is bouncing back from a poor hunting season last year with better breeding results this time around.
However, to put it in perspective, a bad season in Southland is a relative term as that region’s hunters are responsible for taking up to a quarter of New Zealand’s total mallard harvest.
But it isn’t all maimais and duck hunting.
Don’t forget upland game hunting.
Some regions have good numbers of pheasant and California quail, with the bonus that the season runs all the way from May to the end of August.
Northland is renowned for its pheasant hunting, while good quail numbers are being reported in Auckland/Waikato, Wellington and Otago regions.
And in Nelson/Marlborough, for the first time in years, chukar partridge are back on the licence, offering the dedicated upland hunter a rare opportunity.
Buy your licence
The chukar is the game bird of the year on this year’s habitat stamp.
This magnificent mountain partridge was introduced from Asia nearly a century ago and has become established in the eastern South Island through the alps from Nelson/Marlborough down to Otago.
Your habitat stamp is included with every game bird hunting licence, so to buy yours, click here
Before you go out, learn what the rules are for the area you are going to be hunting in. Don’t rely on your hazy recollection of last year’s limits as in many cases, they will have changed and limits on magazine capacity also exist in many areas. A regulation booklet comes with every licence or you can check here
Non toxic shot:
This season is the second in the four year transition to the mandatory use of non-toxic shot in sub-gauge shotguns. Lead can still be used in sub-gauges this year but next year, if you hunt on DoC or Fish and Game land, you will only be able to use non-toxic shot. The four year transition finishes in 2021 when owners of 16, 20 and 28 gauge shotguns will have to use non-toxic shot such as steel or bismuth. The only exemption is for .410 shotguns. For full details look here
Make your mark
Once you have bought your licence, you can get ready to claim your hunting spot for the coming season on Sunday, April 7. There are rules on what you can and can’t do, so make sure you get it right. Have a look at the advice here
Where to hunt game birds - go in a ballot
Various Fish & Game regions hold annual ballots for hunting sites that hunters can enter.
The ballots provide access to mamais or stands in wetlands that are managed by different regions. Hunters who were in last season's ballots are automatically sent an application form.
North Canterbury Fish & Game Region
Boggy Creek ballot closes March 26. Call the office on 0800-347 426 to register or email
Need a new maimai?
Once you have claimed your hunting spot, it might be time for some maimai renovation.
Take a good critical look at your present structure and make a list of what you need to do before the season opens on May 4. In fact, why not go the whole hog and build a new maimai? Look here for advice on building the perfect maimai.
There's nothing worse than letting your team down with your inability to use a duck caller.
Rather than sounding like a strangled ostrich, try these handy hints from several time winner of the national duck calling championships Hunter Morrow
Stay up to date!
The key to game bird hunting success is information. The special game bird hunting edition of Fish & Game magazine is sent free to every full season 2018 hunting licenceholder. It is packed with information from each region to help you enjoy your hunting.
Make sure you stay up to date with what’s happening through the season by subscribing to Fish & Game’s digital magazine Both Barrels which is emailed direct to you every month. You can become a subscriber here
Be in to win great hunting gear
Send in your duck band details by the deadline and you can win not only a top-quality duck hunting jacket, but a six-pack of decoys (shown left).
Each prize pack is worth nearly $570 in total – containing a Banded White River duck hunting jacket, plus a six-pack of the latest Avery GHG XD (Extra Detail) Floating Mallard Decoys.
Big thanks to Hunting & Fishing for sponsoring the prizes. Click here for details
Game Bird Food Festival
The Game Bird Food Festival is back again this year. This is a great opportunity for you to have your game birds prepared by a professional chef in a participating restaurant in your region.
Some Fish & Game regions like Nelson/Marlborough organise special game dinner evenings so you can experience new ways of preparing your game and realise that all game species taste good if you prepare them right. Stay tuned for further details and participating restaurants!