Taranaki Both Barrels May 2016
Hunters mostly happy with Opening Weekend
While the hunter phone survey results are yet to be analysed, initial indications are that hunters were happy with their opening weekend bags – in many areas more mallards were seen than last year.
In Whanganui, the harvest was dominated by paradise shelduck, particularly on the larger coastal dune lakes.
Top right: Mallards fly from a south Taranaki dairy farm oxidation pond on Opening Weekend.
Good numbers of mallards were observed but success on these probably wasn’t helped by the relatively calm clear weather.
In the Waimarino bags were dominated by mallards and greys and many hunters reported good bags of these. Parries by contrast were generally sparse, although good numbers had been seen around the district up to about a week before the season.
On the south Taranaki ringplain, the general view was that it was a better opening than last year and with more mallards.
Fish & Game rangers in the area saw some mobs of up to 100 mallards on some un-shot ponds. But the ducks were cagey and good calling skills were needed to bring them in.
In north Taranaki there was a good harvest of parries from the larger lakes and ponds, although the hunting was slow at Lake Ratapiko.
Hunters who walked the rivers and streams saw some excellent mobs of mallards and were well rewarded for their efforts.
Toeing the line
Most of the hunters checked by Fish & Game rangers were well behaved, licenced, using steel shot as required and sticking to bag limits.
However rangers seized eight shotguns from hunters in the Turakina area for a mixture of no licence and lead shot offences.
Overall, hunters are to be congratulated for their good behaviour on Opening Weekend.
Fish & Game Rangers visit a well-constructed maimai on opening day.
Prospects for remainder of season
The frequent westerly fronts now coming through will refill many of the stock water ponds which fell very low during autumn, as well as creating wet areas in the paddocks.
This will move the birds around and create some good opportunities for hunters prepared to target these feeding areas.
Dairy farm oxidation ponds that were not shot on Opening Weekend will be a good prospect for jump shooting or an early morning shoot as mallards return to roost.
The streams and rivers will continue to hold good numbers of mallards and jump shooting along them, or targeting mobs returning to resting areas will be worthwhile.
Parries are still congregating on some areas of new sown grass and they’ll be attracted to farms feeding maize silage.
Hunters do their bit for protected species
The benefits that native species get from the wetland habitat protection, creation and enhancement work carried out by hunters, often goes unrecognised.
In Taranaki, many wetland projects create areas of open water that are colonised by species such as the New Zealand dabchick.
The dabchick, or waiwea, is a threatened endemic bird found only in New Zealand's North Island. It has a total population of less than 2000 birds and as such, is rarer than the kiwi.
The photo to the right was taken on Opening Day, and shows a pair of dabchick on a formerly raupo-choked pond that was rehabilitated by a hunter with the help of a grant from the Gamebird Habitat Trust.