West Coast Both Barrels June 2019
Organised game bird hunts
The first of three organised hunts for the 2019 Game bird season was held on the West Coast this month and I was lucky enough to be part of the action.
Organised hunting aims to increase participation of keen hunters by helping access to properties with a history of game bird predation.
Above Right: A keen team of game bird hunters with some of the days harvest. (Photo Baylee Kersten).
This gives hunters the chance to get together in a fun social setting and to do something positive for landowners at the same time.
On the West Coast paradise shelduck, black swan and pukeko can have a big impact on farm crops.
With Fish & Game staff undertaking the planning and logistics all that is needed is the support of local licenced Game bird hunters.
A briefing on the days plan and gun safety is undertaken along with experienced game bird hunters discussing their personal ‘tips and tricks’.
Those with hunting dogs are reminded of their roles and then the hunt begins.
The first location was reached and as planned the team moved into position and the first shots ring out.
I’m in the middle of a paddock with experienced hunters either side but still feel a little bit vulnerable, I haven’t hunted in a while and feel rusty.
We haven’t quite got enough hunters to block off all the escape routes - sure enough a couple of pukeko head my way, they’ve spotted the weak point!
Seeing me as they approach, they veer off flying low to my right.
Safety first, knowing another hunter is in that direction I wait until the birds are in a clear firing zone and swing though missing the first but connecting with the second, my first pukeko for the hunt.
I move forward keeping in line with my fellow hunters and soon approach a gorse choked drain - the ideal place for birds to hang out.
Shots ring out to my left and sure enough another bird bursts from the cover.
Up with the gun and I have my second pukeko.
We regroup back at the staging area and debrief on the hunt.
We got a few birds but most escaped through weak points in our lines - they certainly know how to spot a gap.
The second location is challenging, rugged West Coast beach out the front, scrub infested blocks to the right and left.
We stand watching numerous paradise duck, pukeko, and just to add to the challenge a large pond with numerous black swan in the middle.
Ok, let’s get the escape routes blocked off and then we’ll close in on the pond and see what happens.
Radios let everyone know they’re in position and to start closing in.
A few sneaky pukeko sit tight in the rushes and don’t flush until someone gets close enough and almost stands on them.
Why didn’t I bring my dog? She’d have sorted that.
Pukeko, greylards, paradise shelduck and scaup are going everywhere.
Identify your targets, game birds only, a couple of pukeko go down close to me, as does a black swan to a great shot.
I don’t get to fire a shot, most birds flying out of range.
At the next location I bag a brace of paradise shelduck before the hunt finishes.
It was great fun; shame we didn’t have more hunters.
I can’t wait to get out on the next hunt.
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