Both Barrels April 2023

  • West Coast
  • 19/04/2023

Both Barrels April 2023

Not long now!

The long wait until opening morning is nearing an end as the first Saturday of May rolls round.

Game bird numbers are looking healthy after all trend counts indicating game bird numbers are above average.

Greylard counts are currently being finished, but the data suggests numbers are up on last year and above the long-term average.

It’s noted though, that the distribution of birds has not been consistent, with some areas holding few birds while others have been stacked! In other words, it's best you do some scouting and ensure you are at the latter come opening morning.

Paradise shelduck numbers have remained very, being up 1,000 birds on last year’s already very high count.

As always, there is plenty of pukeko about where there is wet farmland and swan numbers are strong in localised areas such as around Lake Brunner.

What is good to see is some rain and unsettled weather on the forecast, topping up the ponds and getting the birds moving.

Hopefully, the forecast is similar for opening weekend to improve hunting rather than the blues skies experienced in recent years.

Last year large numbers of birds were observed parked up on river camps, so if the rivers aren’t flowing high, it would be great to have some hunters moving them birds along.

Nonetheless, the opening isn’t far away, so sure to be using the next two weeks to get everything ready, including your licence!

Good preparation often increases success. Be organised!

Summary of last season

The average West Coast Region game bird licence holder harvested 20 game birds in the 2022 season, compared with 17 game birds during the 2021 season and 18 for the 2020 season (rounded to whole bird figures).

This equates to approximately; 9.7 Greylards, 5.6 Paradise Shelduck, 4.0 Pukeko and less than one bird each of Swan and Shoveler.

Opening weekend accounted for 41% of the season’s harvest by West Coast hunters.

The 2022 game bird season was a successful one for West Coast hunters despite having a tough opening.

Success was down over the opening weekend, but the odds turned for those that continued to hunt into the season.

This was reflected in the harvest of greylards, paradise shelduck, and pukeko, all being up on last season despite less effort spent.

Regulation changes for 2023/24

After consultation with West Coast licence holders during our three yearly regulations review the following regulation will now be implemented.

The standardisation of bag limits between winter and summer seasons. This results in the following:

  • Daily bag limit of pukeko increases from 10 to 20 during its summer season.
  • Daily bag limit of paradise shelduck increases from 10 to 15 during its summer season.
  • Daily bag limit of swans increases from 2 to 4 during the summer season.

The hunting hours during the summer season have been extended to maximise opportunities for licence holders. A change from 6:30 am - 8 pm to 5:00 am to 10:00 pm.

Dan Scoltock on a successful pukeko hunt. (Photo Baylee Kersten)

Organised hunts

Last year four successful organised hunts were held during the season.

West Coast licence holders will receive an email after opening day with an advent calendar and the opportunity to sign up to be further notified about events.

With the increasing popularity of the events means, some out region hunters hunter may be turned away, so ensure your licence is a West Coast one by nominating the West Coast if purchased online or buying it from a West Coast agent.

Any questions regarding organised hunts should be directed to .

We look forward to seeing you at the events! 

We hope you have a successful and safe opening weekend.

Hope to see you out there. 

Baylee Kersten, West Coast Fish & Game Officer

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