Both Barrels South Island Roundup
The waterfowl 2017 season has been and gone. We hope you managed to get out on a few hunting adventures this year and filled the freezer with enough duck to last you until next year.
Hunters reported great shooting during the last three weeks of the season, thanks to all the rain that provided new hunting grounds.
Fish & Game collects harvest information through phone surveys to estimate the numbers of game birds of different species bagged.
The data takes some time to collate, but is valuable to help assess population numbers, and trends developing over time.
Thanks to all of you who were randomly selected in the phone survey this year, for helping out.
If you have some keen junior hunters in the family, don’t forget the West Coast junior paradise shelduck and pukeko week that has been added into the regulations guide for March 2018.
This is a great opportunity to get them out before next May. It is set down for the week of March 3 to 11, 2018, with a daily bag limit of five parries and five pukeko.
join local gun clubs over summer
West Coast gun clubs will be running club activities over the summer months and provide an ideal opportunity to keep your eye in prior to next year’s game bird season.
Fish and Game West Coast also sponsors junior clay shooting evenings run by the Kokatahi and Grey gun clubs during late summer and autumn.
Also keep an eye out for the pre-duck season clay shoots run by Kokatahi and Grey gun clubs prior to the start of the new season.
We will advertise these on our Facebook page; they’re a great day out that duck hunters shouldn’t miss. It was excellent to see some visiting hunters who attended these field shoots last year.
New hunting wetland under development
Nelson-Marlborough Fish & Game staff are pleased to report that construction of our first potential Tasman ballot pond on Sumitomo Forestry land.
Right: Fish & Game have constructed a new wetland to be used for balloted hunting in the Moutere area.
Developed out of consultation with Fish & Game from the Overseas Investment Office as part of the recent sale process of Tasman Forestry lands, this initiative also has potential to deliver several more wetlands.
Once wetland development is completed, if reasonable waterfowl use then occurs, we hope to ultimately ballot these spots out to hunters, as a way of partially offsetting the ongoing loss of hunting access in Tasman, as a result of rural residential lifestyle developments.
The sites should also provide potential additional waterfowl breeding habitat.
From the forestry companies perspective, these sites also provide additional water sources for fire-fighting, and sediment retention areas following forest harvest.
The project is a win-win for both organisations, and Fish & Game really appreciates the willingness of Sumitomo to both set aside land for this type of use, and also fund any earthworks required.
Feral cat trapping sting update
Fish & Game, along with key volunteers Robert Dodunski and Chris Tonkin, have almost completed a month long feral cat trapping sting on Rabbit Island (Moturoa) – where two Fish & Game-organised pheasant hunts were held this season.
Left: Wild cats are prevalent on Rabbit Island.
Many hunters know what's been confirmed in the national mallard research – that cats are one of the key culprits in the predation cycle impacting on our game bird populations.
Cats can easily kill nesting mallard hens and ducklings, and are also known to impact heavily on upland game such as pheasants.
A volunteer trapping group was established on the eastern end of Rabbit Island in December, targeting smaller vermin such as rats and stoats, but cats have continued to roam the island.
At time of writing, 13 feral cats have been caught and dispatched using live capture traps checked daily, as well as a number of possums and even a ferret – with more expected to come.
Not only does this mean more pheasants next season, but the trapping benefits extend to the native wading birds that call this area home.
Wakapuaka pukeko hunt success
Around 50 hunters recently enjoyed a day of driven-style hunting at the annual pukeko hunt at Wakapuaka.
The hunt was initiated a number of years ago after landowner complaints about rising pukeko numbers, which were impacting on farm productivity.
Right: Reice Piggott, one of the 50 hunters who enjoyed a day of hunting at Wakapuaka.
This year the hunt was held after the close of the regular mallard season, partly to draw attention to the extended pukeko season available in Tasman/Golden Bay (eight months). Another aim was to leave late season weekends free for hunters to target mallards and parries, especially towards the end of the season when hunter effort traditionally surges.
It was very pleasing to see good numbers of young and new hunters, who were all well guided by their supervising parents and peers.
All hunters – young and old – appeared to enjoy the day and most managed at least a handful of birds to contribute to the salami currently curing.
The farmer too, will be pleased with around 200 less birds damaging pasture and crops.
The benefits of reduced predation on ducklings by territorial pukeko will hopefully be passed on to the local mallard population, birds which share the same pastures with pukeko during the breeding season.
Opportunities on offer
Although we are all looking forward to the next mallard season, which is now only about 34 weeks away, there are still game bird hunting opportunities out there.
Left: A retrievers dream maimai, closing weekend July 2017.
Game bird hunting opportunities:
- Paradise shelduck ( Area B only 6th May – 24th Sept )
- California quail ( 6th May – 20th August )
- Black swan ( Area A only 6th May – 30th July ) and ( 31st July – 24th September )
- Don’t forget the Great North Canterbury Black Swan Hunt is still on!
- Summer season, paradise shelduck. 13th Jan – 4th March. (consult regulations guide)
Another focus during the last week of the area A black swan season is 'weigh in week.'
This starts on Monday 18th September and runs until 5pm, Thursday 21st September.
There are three official weigh stations, and the prize giving will be held at Coes Ford 11am Sunday 24th Sept.
Competitors must be present in order to claim a prize, and you must have your current firearms licence with you.
Why? Because thanks to the generous support of our sponsors, we now have two camo semi-automatic Bennelli shot guns to give away!
There will also be lots of other great prizes on the day, so why not get out and have a go at a black Swan?
With great thanks to our sponsors, Hunting and Fishing Tower Junction, The Christchurch Airport Authority and the North Canterbury Fish and Game Council, the total prize pool is valued at over $7,500.
Central South Island
Central South Island has a special summer season for mallards, greys and parries in February, on the weekends of the 3rd and 4th and 10th and 11th in specified areas.
Shoveler counts completed
As part of the national NZ shoveler duck population survey CSI staff were out on the 7th & 8th of August surveying shoveler populations on 22 lowland wetlands from Kakanui in the south, to Orari in the north.
Right: A pair of shoveler duck at Otipua Wetland.
For 2017, on average 40 shoveler were counted per site which is above the long term average of 33.
Plan ahead for summer
Your 2017 game bird hunting licence is valid right up until the 2017-2018 summer hunting season.
On two weekends (3-4 & 10-11) in February 2018 there's an open summer season for mallard duck and parries in the Central South Island Fish & Game Region.
The open season doesn’t cover the whole region so please refer to your 2017 regulation guide to clarify where you can hunt, and bag limits. Click here to link to the online version of the regulation guide.
Brine your birds
Brining game bird meat is a way to lock in moisture and enhance the flavour.
It’s a pretty simple marinade style method that can be fancy with flavours or fuss free.
The recent rains have filled the Takitakitoa wetland to the brim, and with the surrounding Taeiri Plains still recovering from the flooding, there's plenty of habitat for the coming waterfowl breeding season.
All of which will bodes well for next years game bird season.
Don't forget the summer paradise duck season is open for junior hunters only for one day in Otago, on March 3, 2018.
As we near the end of August, mallards will be initiating nests and starting to incubate their eggs for the juveniles of next season!
The next few months are when adult females and ducklings are most vulnerable.
15-20% of our female mallards are killed whilst nesting by mustelids and feral cats.
As well as habitat creation and enhancement, we encourage and advocate for predator control.
This may mean setting some traps up in your backyard, or asking the landowner where you hunt if you can do your part.
Kill traps only have to be checked as often as time allows, being more limited by the effectiveness of your choice of bait and its longevity.
However, trapping is much more effective at a larger landscape scale – why not have a wee friendly competition with your neighbour, or set up a trap network everyone can take turns in checking?
Or, how many in your maimai? With a dozen hunters that equates to one check a year by everyone, if checked once a month!
Predator control is greatly beneficial to a myriad of native and introduced species – you may be surprised how many more birds you see in your backyard with less feral cats around!
Feel free to contact Southland Fish & Game if you need any advice on traps, baits, or landscape placement.
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