Duck shooting season starts May 1

A young hunter enjoying his success. Photo: John Meikle.

The annual game bird hunting season will get underway around New Zealand on Saturday, May 1 – a date eagerly anticipated by duck hunters and pheasant hunters throughout the country.

Last year’s hunting season was delayed by Covid-19 lockdowns, whereas this season appears to be all go - much to the delight of keen hunters.

Early preparation is the key to getting everything right on the big day, says Fish & Game.

Hunters should now have their location for the season all sorted, the maimai tidied up and ready for a final touch-up before the decoys go out on Friday night, the pooch is trained and the hunters have got their ‘eye-in’ by shooting a few clay birds.

The duck season is a popular tradition amongst kiwis, all enjoying the chance to get out with friends and family.

The harvest of wild-sourced, organic meat for the table is seen as bonus.

Eastern Fish & Game are offering a special opportunity for hunters to ‘take a mate hunting’ for a much-reduced licence cost of just $4 – with the hope that newbies will become dedicated hunters.

The new ‘mates’ licence will only be available to people who have never held a game bird licence before and will only be valid for the opening weekend.

Interested hunters should contact Eastern Fish & Game for more information.

Dry conditions throughout the Eastern Region have again been testing for duck populations.

Fish & Game’s monitoring indicates hunters should expect it to be challenging with the bird population currently in a low ebb.

Upland game birds, pheasant and quail, on the other hand have flourished in the dry conditions and many hunters focus their energy on the forests and farmland around the Bay of Plenty and east coast after the opening weekend.

The Eastern Fish & Game mallard and grey duck season runs until the end of May with a six bird daily limit whereas pheasant can be hunted up until the end of August with a five bird daily limit.

“Hopefully some rough weather occurs over the opening weekend to enhance the hunting and hunters have a safe and enjoyable time,” says Fish & Game officer John Meikle.

Fish & Game Rangers will be out and around the region throughout the season. Hunters are reminded to pick up their licences and to carry them while hunting and review the rules and bag limits for their particular area.

Additionally, hunters need to check their ammunition complies with new rules around the possession and use of lead shot within 200 metres of open water; lead shot is not permitted except in .410 cartridges.

Hunters should also make sure all semi-automatic and pump action guns have magazines restricted to hold no more than two shots in the magazine.

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