North Island Roundup - Both Barrels 2018
Season's flown by fast
The Northland game bird season has flown by with the last shots to be fired on August 26.th
We hoped you’ve managed to take home a few bags and share them with family and friends.
Harvest results & game returns
We’ve had good reports of healthy numbers of mallards being harvested this year, especially in the Kawakawa area. We’ve also seen good numbers of ducklings on the ground as well.
Let’s hope this bodes well for numbers for next season. Remember to complete a game return for all Northland Fish & Game-owned wetlands and forestry blocks and send it to the regional office.
Annual shoveler counts
The annual shoveler duck survey was recently carried out. Fish & Game has extra resources in the Far North, so if you know of any good spots for shoveler ducks please contact either John or Andrew at the regional office.
Make sure you save the date for the special paradise shelduck weekend to be held on February the 23rd and 24,th 2019.
This is a great pre-season opportunity to get your eye in before the main season kicks off.
The pukeko and black swan special week will be held from February the 23rd to March the 3rd , 2019.
If your shooting was not the greatest last season, why not join your local gun club to get some practice?
Plan your planting
It would be great to meet a few more of our licenceholders and help them develop some more great wildlife habitat.
Get your planning hat on for next year’s season.
Now is a good time to get plants like Carex Secta in the ground on your pond to help build some good habitat for ducks for the next season.
Please contact us at the regional office for further information.
Andrew Kirk, Field Officer
Bird numbers heading up
Clearly for many, 2018 will go down as the year the mallards bounced back in this region.
Quite a number of hunters we surveyed indicated they now understand the gains made from recent bans on feeding, multi-shot magazines and the shorter season length.
This didn’t stop the keen and persistent hunters from whacking and stacking them, especially when rough weather drove ducks inland to ponds and swamps.
However this meant that those early paired up mallards could then seek out territory and start breeding as soon as the season finished, instead of getting added to the pot and never allowed to breed.
Back in time...
In granddad’s day the duck season never went into June, typically being just a couple of weeks and three weekends long.
So lots of hunters were about and the birds well stirred up, meaning many more opportunities.
The extended seasons into June and even July were a necessary response to mallard numbers doubling in 10 years, back in the 1970’s and 80’s.
The longer seasons were actually designed to kill off as many pre-nesting hens as possible before mallards became such a pest that their game bird status was lost (like Canada geese).
In more recent times, a succession of droughts and floods in this region turned the tables and required some restraint to let breeding stocks re-establish.
Hunters in the 1970’s, with their Swandri’s, 2,3/4” maximum legal length shells, side by sides and cork decoys, struggled to cope with the more cunning mallards that were then getting established.
However now hunters have all the toys; splasher robo-ducks, electronic callers, 3,1/2” shells and so on.
The job of game managers is to balance all these changes and ensure we have healthy breeding stocks to produce many more happy seasons to come.
Don’t forget that this applies to mallards, greys and shoveler, but paradise shelduck, that not only have an extended season but a summer special season as well.
You can also shoot pukeko in this special season to help control this stealer of ducklings as well as many crops.
The special season is scheduled for February 23rd and 24th 2019, north of the Auckland Harbour Bridge, subject to trend counts.
Note that you will need a permit in this region from the Hamilton office.
We’re tripping over pheasants everywhere so hopefully you got out before the season closed (August 26 ).
One hunter tells us he got 30 in a month. They weren’t shot from his couch either! It has also been a record year for spoonies; two hunters boast they got 38 between them, another two got either 28 or 38, (their tallies differ!).
Nationally our annual Fish & Game survey shows us this species is quite stable.
By the way, if you fancy some clay target practice and rifle shooting, EPCM and NZDA have a combined shoot at Maddaford Rd, Ramarama, (south of Auckland), on 14 October, 2018. Contact Dave for details: 027 257 5781.
Opening Weekend this season was what we've come to expect, calm and sunny.
In fact if any non-hunters are reading this and are planning a wedding or similar celebration, book it in for the first weekend of May, it will likely be hot and sunny…
Just don’t expect your mates who hunt to be there!
After Opening Weekend the bad weather definitely turned up.
There were plenty of windy and wet days that pushed birds around and had them either seeking areas which were either sheltered or providing rich sources of food.
This was especially the case with the huge downpours the region experienced just before the season finished.
This meant that hunters who got out and searched for where the birds were now congregating did well, and were rewarded with nice fat birds.
There was some great rough weather hunting to be had as the season progressed.
With still plenty of water and feed around as we head towards spring, we hope birds will pile on the fat and go into the breeding season in top condition, giving the population every chance of heading into the next season with good numbers.
Don’t forget, winter is a great time for planting and summer is a great time to be doing earthworks to create or enhance wetlands.
If you need advice or assistance, get in touch with us at the Hawke's Bay office. 06 844 2460
Upland game bird season nearly over
Hunters – it’s your very last chance to target pheasants and other upland game birds with the close of the season only days away on Sunday, August 26.
Black swan can also be hunted up until this date but only in Areas A1 and A2 .
And looking towards summer, Eastern staff are holding a special black swan season on the weekend of 23rd and 24th of February in A1 only.
Pukeko can be hunted everywhere in the Eastern Region over this weekend (please check the boundaries in your Game Bird Hunting Guide 2018).
Our surveys have confirmed that 2018 was a great season, the best mallard and grey duck season for seven years. You might recall that we’ve been predicting an upturn in mallard populations and its pleasing that it appears to have finally happened.
If you’re one of those hunters who was successful this season, please remember to send your duck band details in for our ongoing research programme.
The deadline is approaching (August 31) for the Banding Together draw that will see five lucky hunters win the nice decoys and jackets package generously put up by Hunting & Fishing to aid our research. Don’t miss out – get those details in!
You can use an online form here
Duck season rated right on ‘average’
Hunter survey results indicate that the waterfowl hunting season in Taranaki has been bang on average – with those who chased ducks later in the season having some challenging evening shoots on areas of temporary shallow water.
Likewise, hunters reported seeing quite good numbers of pheasant, and permit holders who visited the Harakeke Forest and Nukumaru Recreation Reserve areas had plenty of birds to work their dogs on, even later in the season.
The ongoing wet conditions in the region mean there is currently a huge amount of shallow ephemeral water for newly hatched broods to feed in, which will lead to good survival and a healthy population of ducks for next season.
Up and coming hunting opportunities
While the Canada goose is no longer a game bird, many hunters continue to hunt them as if they are.
There are some great opportunities to hunt Canadas in Taranaki, particularly on the coastal ringplain and on the dune lakes between Hawera and Whanganui.
However, they are not called the world’s premier game bird for nothing, and it can take a bit of effort to work out where and when the birds are coming in to feed.
Subject to the results of the January 2019 moult counts, there will be a summer shoot for paradise shelduck in Taranaki’s Area C (Taranaki province including all of the Stratford district) in the first two weekends of March 2019.
Contact us in mid-February 2019 for details.
Reminder on duck band details
Please remember to send in all your duck band details.
If you've successfully harvested a duck with a band on its leg, we need your help.
This information is crucial to our research - so please provide as much detail as possible.
This is for our records only. You can fill out an on-line form here and submit it, or post your band details (not band) to: Fish & Game, Private Bag 3010, Rotorua 3046.
Or you can send the info to the National Banding Office, PO Box 108, Wellington 6140, or ring the free phone number 0800 BIRD BAND (0800-247322).
All band returns go into a draw for a top quality duck hunting jacket plus a six-pack of state of the art decoys generously donated by Hunting & Fishing in conjunction with the U.S. waterfowling company Banded Holdings Ltd.
More birds to hunt
Hunters in the lower North Island have had the best water fowling season in many years, suggesting the mallard population might well be trending back up.
There were noticeably more ducks around the Wellington Fish & Game region, and the weather was wet and wild enough to keep them moving too.
Admittedly the last couple of weeks were a little slow, with fewer flights of birds at dusk (probably because of the moon phase), but hunters have largely been happy about the shooting overall.
With so many ducks around, and a warm, wet winter offering great food supply and conditions for early broods, next season should be even better!
Catch you next May.