West Coast Both Barrels July 2019

Unsettled weather providing good game bird hunting opportunities

Following a very settled start the season, with blue skies, frosty mornings and mirror lakes, the weather has really taken a turn for the worst, the birds have become very mobile and hunting has greatly improved.

With the storms rolling through, the birds are moving to take shelter followed by capitalising on flooded paddocks.

Areas that held high numbers birds one day, have been seen with none the next.

Above Right: A West Coast late season diversified bag. (Photo Baylee Kersten)

Therefore, it’s very important for hunters to be studying their local bird movements.

Looking at the long term weather forecast, it appears this unsettled weather is going to continue until the end of the season, ensure your closing weekend plans are flexible, as you want to be where the birds are going and not where they have been!

Good luck and stay safe everyone participating in a closing weekend hunt.

Organised hunts

West Coast Fish & Games second and third organised hunts have recently taken place.

The second being based in lower Grey Valley targeting pukekos, following a morning targeting ducks as hunters participated in the shortest weekend duck hunt.

WC2 Both Barrels July 2019

Great day targeting challenging birds. (Photo Baylee Kersten)

The weather was great for anyone not hunting and the birds flew high but still many fell with impressive shooting.

As for the third, it was a weekend based in Karamea targeting pukekos and paradise shelducks in response to farmer complaints, but hunters did get to try their luck on a few greylards also.

Hunter attendance was very strong for this event until the weather forecast came out with weather warnings.

That didn’t stop 12 coasters, with wet weather gear on we took on the storm.

Those who took advantage of the poor weather were reward, with bag limits of pukekos being common.

WC3 Both Barrels July 2019

Some of the hunters who braved the storm and their retrieved birds. (Photo Baylee Kersten)

To anyone wanting to participate in future events, send an email to bkersten@fishandgame.org.nz, there is plenty of birds to go round.

In summary, the organised hunt this year have gone great, with only three complaints rising; I’ve run out of ammo, I’ve reached my bag limit or carrying all these birds is getting heavy.

Next season, I hope to get a calendar out at the start of the season to ensure all hunter who want to attend have adequate time to twist their bosses’ arm.

Hopefully then we can get good numbers of hunter attending to help some West Coast farmers who have excessive game bird populations.

Opportunities beyond July

Don’t put your shotgun away just yet as there are still other game bird hunting options in nearby regions, with upland hunting for the likes of Californian Quail open until late August in some of the adjacent Fish and Game regions.

These fast birds are great eating and provide exciting hunting, along with a great work out for your hunting dog.

Local Clay Bird Target Clubs are always keen to have additional numbers at their events, so trying to go along to some in the off season.

WC4 Both Barrels July 2019

Baylee & Georgia Kersten targeting geese on a nice late spring day. (Photo Baylee Kersten)

The clubs are full of knowledge when it comes to shooting with shotguns and are more than happy to share it.

Come next season you’ll shoot much better as you’ll be able to keep your eye in during the off season and might have got rid of a bad habitat or two.

Lastly Canada geese, as much as they are no longer a game bird, they are great for filling in time between the seasons.

Localise population can cause serious nuisance to farmers and therefore the farmers are grateful for anyone willing to hunt them.

Helicopter culls are becoming increasingly common, but I have asked several farmers to get in touch with me before turning to helicopters as many game bird hunters would love a crack at them.

If you want to receive information of any populations we get informed of, email bkersten@fishandgame.org.nz to be added the updated keen hunters list.

Baylee Kersten, West Coast Fish & Game Officer.