Tue, Apr 30, 2024 11:30 AM

Hunters gear up for game bird hunting season


Staff reporter

Hunters around the country have their fingers and toes crossed for some foul weather this weekend with the game bird season getting underway.

Fish & Game New Zealand CEO Corina Jordan says a good breeding season means Opening Weekend looks promising for hunters.

Corina will be joining scores of other hunters this season, gathering wild, free-range game birds during the long hunting season New Zealand has.

“New Zealand has plenty of options for game bird hunters, and it’s more than just Opening Weekend; Kiwi hunters can hunt game birds throughout the winter”, she said.

“The dry summer had game bird hunters worried, but a good rain would bring smiles to the faces of the approximately 60,000 people who get out in the wild on Opening Weekend.

“There are plenty of birds around throughout the country after several good breeding seasons, but they have been concentrated where there’s water over summer. With a bit more rain they will spread out to other wetlands and farm dams providing more hunting opportunities.

“We just need some really bad weather for Opening Weekend – that’s what makes for great hunting, and that’s what hunters throughout the country will be hoping for”.

In the Nelson/Marlborough Region specifically, Fish & Game Officer Jacob Lucas says the dry Spring/Summer period has benefited upland game bird populations but not so much mallard duck numbers.

“Recent mallard monitoring results show an overall decline in bird numbers which is more pronounced in eastern areas”, says Jacob.

“Paradise duck numbers are steady across the region, with an increase seen in Golden Bay, which also held steady mallard numbers.

“In our travels, staff have noticed decent numbers of mallards within river environments, and this is a good option for those looking for a last-minute hunting spot – especially if your pond has gone dry.

“Upland game hunters should have a good season, and we encourage hunters to make use of our facilitated upland game hunting options at Rabbit Island/Moturoa and within OneFortyOne (OFO) forests – hit up local staff for details”.

Corina says that each year’s Opening Weekend is an opportunity for hunters new and old to enjoy time in the great outdoors, provide for the family and learn lessons of self-reliance and conservation.

“Regardless of what conditions we get over Opening Weekend, we know hunters will have a good time – they love getting out with their dogs and spending time with friends and family. Hunting is also a great way to get kids off devices, out in fresh air and teach important skills, instill a desire to protect the environment and help them learn independence.

“Women are also increasingly getting out and having a go, and my experience is that it’s liberating. It’s time to share with your hunting buddies, but it also means you can bring back something delicious and healthy for dinner.

“It’s also a great time to celebrate the massive conservation effort put in by hunters – if it wasn’t for Fish & Game and hunters, there wouldn’t be a lot of these wetlands left. The work done to protect these threatened habitats benefits not just waterfowl that we hunt but provides refuge to native species too.”

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