Fri, May 10, 2024 5:00 AM

The magic of Opening Day




It’s hard to believe 12 months have passed since the last Opening Day of the game bird season.

Opening Day, which many game bird hunters describe as “Christmas for grown-ups” is here, and while many hunters look forward to the sound of whistling wings and the smell of freshly burned powder, Opening Day is about more than that.  It’s about connecting with family and friends, getting into the great outdoors, sharing a laugh and a meal, and generally forgetting about everyday life.

In the hectic pace of life in which most people live today, any pursuit or hobby which requires you to get totally in the moment and focus, even for a time, on nothing but the reason for being there, is great for the soul. That’s why we also encourage hunters to head out regularly during the season.  Even a short evening hunt after work to your nearest hunting locale is a chance to immerse yourself in nature and quickly push the reset button.  

There’s a high probability that there will be a handy spot close to where you live which doesn’t take a whole lot of time to get to. You can keep it simple too, a couple of decoys, your caller, and a few shells and you’re good to go.  To be hunting in the twilight of the day, in those magic minutes when nature seems to come to life, will always be worth the trip, no matter the number of ducks on the board.

While most of us are happy for a few hours fishing or hunting on our own, spending the occasion with a mate is even better.  At the very least you’ll have the chance to catch up and share a few laughs – this alone is a good tonic.  There is a saying that it takes a hunter to make a hunter, and for the parents among us, this is prime time to be with your kids, a chance to invest your knowledge and hunting ethos into your child.

As Fish & Game staff, we are all passionate bird hunters and would love to be hunting ourselves on Opening Day.  Instead, we will be out in the region undertaking compliance, which provides a great opportunity to meet with hunters and share a small part of the day with them. We are lucky to generally have great compliance in this area, and on Opening Day in Nelson Marlborough and the West Coast regions, we will be ranging with the NZ Police who will assist us in checking compliance with the Arms Act, making sure hunters are adhering to the new rules about transporting firearms, they are hunting safely and leaving the beers until the guns are locked away.

Opening Day is an iconic occasion in the Kiwi calendar. A day where tradition comes to the fore, a day that is etched in nostalgia as people connect, memories of old are re-lived, and new ones are made.  For all those heading out, we hope that your aim is true, and wish you good times with great friends.

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