Both Barrels May 2020
Yes, Opening Day is Finally Happening!
The first day of Alert Level 2 on Thursday May 14 allows hunters to get to hunting spots to prepare for the opening day on Saturday May 23.
It is incredibly pleasing that lock down level 2 permits regional travel, the use of boats, and overnight stays which will make the hunting adventure easier to plan, especially for those hunters that have a distance to travel.
Right: Hunting made enjoyable with family and friends.
If you choose not to travel far and wide consider the nearby river, estuary, or wet area that you have commonly driven past and wondered how it would hunt.
Now’s the time to find out!
Improvise. The level 2 announcement provides several days to prepare for the opening day so be inventive, energetic, and stay positive.
The walking access NZ mapping site found here provides access and land information if you are intending to, or have to, hunt somewhere new.
Do the initial walking on your keypad, the talking over the phone, then have a site inspection.
You could be surprised with your findings, many of you may have done this already.
Be creative with temporary hides and construct something sensible that blends in well with the surrounds and can be easily removed after hunting.
Remember local ducks can recognise change.
Use a mix of natural vegetation and camo covers to your best advantage.
Try not work into the evening when ducks return to feed as this could push them away from your area.
Unfortunately, Lockdown 4 during early April prevented annual aerial mallard counts but general reports from around the region suggest good duck numbers are present.
Southland is reporting high duck numbers, so for those hunting near the border it is looking very promising.
A bonus is birds have had an additional few weeks to fatten up!
Paradise shelduck numbers have been gradually increasing in recent years so if you can’t get to a pond or waterway for opening weekend consider a paddock hunt.
You will need to do some reconnaissance however to locate huntable mobs which often feed in the same area on consecutive days.
Sticking to the Rules
It is essential to the image and reputation of the sport that all hunters abide by the regulations and hunt safely.
Check you have in your possession legal ammunition, correctly identify bird species, respect daily bag limits and most importantly handle firearms responsibly.
Extra care and attention must be exercised around novice and junior hunters especially those handling a firearm under direct supervision.
The Arms Act can be accessed here.
Note relevant sections 20 to 22
Up to date information and Game Bird Hunting Licences can easily be accessed online through the website https://fishandgame.org.nz/game-bird-hunting-in-new-zealand/ or from your local sporting agent.
It will take several days to get your plastic card licence in the mail, and in some cases your plastic card licence may not arrive in time for the opening day.
In this situation ensure you carry the licence receipt (it is a good idea to download the receipt on your mobile phone) and take additional identification such as your firearms licence, which you must carry while in the possession of a firearm.
Rangers will be in the field interviewing hunters - particularly on the opening weekend.
Yes, it is a huge sigh of relief, the season is off to a start on Saturday May 23 and followed with the opening of the upland game hunting season in Otago on Queens Birthday weekend on May 30. A hunting double!
Grab a licence, catch up with your hunting mates again and enjoy what could be a very pleasant opening weekend.
From the Otago Fish and Game team wishing you an enjoyable and productive 2020 hunting season.