Otago Both Barrels July 2019
The last weekend for mallard/grey and NZ shoveler duck hunting is the 27/28th of July.
Depending on when you read this it may be all over for these species or you may be gearing up for closing weekend.
Above Right: A pair of mallards preparing to breed. The drake has a vibrant green head – “Go for Green”.
Closing weekend for the mallards doesn’t have all the hype and buildup of opening weekend, but it is a great time to have a final catchup with your “mai mai mates” before tidying, cleaning, and packing all the gear away for another season.
More hunters are becoming conscious that that mallards will be entering the breeding season soon and many will be pairing up.
Research from telemetry monitored ducks in Southland has shown that when you harvest birds from you local area late in the season - they may well be the birds that would have resided and breed in you area.
So with this in mind it makes sense for late season hunters to go for green-heads.
By actively selecting green heads (males) you will be less likely to impact on the breeding potential of you local population. Also there's something particularly satisfying about a handful of drakes..
Late season is also a great time to think about plans for improvement over the summer.
Access to your pond can be secured for the future.
Firstly if you are hunting on someone else’s land, make sure you thank them, supply a few ducks for the table and offer to help with clearing and removal of pest plants such as ragwort, blackberry and glyceria as this helps ensure that good plants can prosper and provide food for the ducks.
Sedges are a favourite food, so let these plants grow.
If you are on your own land, then have a think about some projects you might want to get done over the summer, leading into next season.
March is the best time to plan to do any maintenance on your pond or mai mai as it is outside the breeding and moulting times – keeps the ducks happy.
Fencing off the pond from stock is a good idea to prevent mai mai damage and leave the pond undisturbed; if the farmer is happy for you to do so.
Don’t forget that there is still waterfowl hunting to be had for paradise shelducks and black swan (excluding the Clutha catchment above the Clyde dam – area A).
Stalking a river bank or setting up a blind may prove more successful than a mai mai that has been hammered over the past few months.
Also, there is summer, junior only day on the 7th March 2020 for hunting parries, more than 200 metres from open water – check the guide book or website for regulations.
The season for paradise duck and swan in Otago continues until 25 August, and there's still plenty of great paradise duck paddock hunting opportunities around, Particularly where farmers have been feeding out whole-grain silage to stock.
Upland game bird hunting is still in full swing with quail, chukar and pheasant hunting open until the 25th August. Have a read of June’s issue of Both Barrels for some tips for hunting quail late in the season.
Get online too – there is a wealth of information for you to digest for either the end of this season or to whet your appetite for the next.
All the best for the remainder of the season.
Nigel Pacey, Otago Fish & Game Officer