Wellington Both Barrels May 2016

Slow Opening but season gathers pace

The weather was largely to blame for what can only be described as a patchy Opening Weekend, with very calm conditions in the Wairarapa and resultingly few birds moving around.

HCarnachanCopyrightMay2016(Pictured right - A large mob of swans and mallards rafted up on a 'sheltered' piece of water (Photo Hamish Carnachan).

At least ducks were on the wing in Manawatu and further north, aided by some mid-level cloud, a bit of wind and drizzle.

At time of writing, however, the settled weather has well and truly be swept asidse with torrential rain and fierce winds lashing the entire Wellington Fish & Game region - this has certainly stirred the birds up, forcing many off the largely water bodies in search of sheltered areas and the rain providing feeding grounds in sodden paddocks.

CarnachanCopyrightMay2016Opening Weekend hunters found plenty of time for a brew between birds but that has since changed with the wild weather (Photo Hamish Carnachan).

Those who have had the opportunity to get out during the rough weather report excellent hunting and plenty of bag limits both sides of the Tararua Range!

Time to change your game

The key point to be made at this stage in the season is to change you game because the game has certainly changed.

Regularly returning to the pond or possie you shot on Opening might not be the best bet for good game bird action now.

CopyrightHCarnahanMay2016With the ducks very wary, they have been broken up into smaller groups and are far more cautious in their behaviour and approach to decoys.

Right: Some natural debris and a length of camo net is all you need for an effective makeshift maimai. Credit: Hamish Carnachan.

If time allows, get out and about in different conditions to recce where the birds are, what flight lines they're taken, and scout potential hunting locations accordingly.

All you need for an effective hide is a cheap length of camo net (available from army surplus or hunting stores) and debris and floatsam found on site.

If you can set up unnoticed in loafing areas where the birds obviously feel safe, you'll be in for some great hunting - possibly far more productive than continuing to shoot from your Opening Weekend maimai.

We've heard the odd grizzle from some, complaining about there being "no birds", but refusing to move beyond their familiar hunting confines. Well, the ducks are certainly there, so if you adapt your hunting to the changing conditions you can be guaranteed success.

It just means getting off your behind and thinking outside the square. Give it shot - new challenges provide great rewards.

Bags similar to last Opening

Despite some claims that season isn't as good as the last, our Opening Weekend Hunter Harvest Survey shows similar bag limits being taken as the 2015 season Opening.

As reported already, those who blanked were most likely undone by the calm weather because there are plenty of ducks about - we implore all hunters to make the most of the improved hunting conditions, get some real value out of you licecnce by shooting more than just Opening, and get out as oftenas you can.

Thanks to all those hunters who took part in the survey. It helps with the management of game birds in our region.

Weekly hunting reports

WR screen grabThis season Wellington Fish & Game will be concentrating its communications effort with hunters through our Weekly Hunting Reports.

These deliver important information, conditions, tips and weather to our hunters in a far more timely matter, arriving in your inbox every Thursday to give you the best shot at planning a great hunting weekend.

We've already got thousands of hunters signed up to receive our Weekly Reports, so if you'd like to be included email the Wellington Fish & Game office.

In the meantime - if you'd like to find out what's happening in the lower North Island game bird hunting scene, check out pre-season Weekly Hunting Report here.