Both Barrels April 2024 - West Coast

  • West Coast
  • 22/04/2024

Both Barrels April 2024 - West Coast

Not long now!

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

Game bird numbers are looking healthy after all trend counts indicating that our game bird populations are in good shape.

Greylard counts are currently being finished but the data suggests numbers may be slightly down on last year.

Despite this many hunters are reporting very good numbers as they prepare their maimais.

It’s very likely recent unstable wet weather lowered the count as the birds made use of the feeding opportunities it presented and left our monitoring sites.

Many of the farm ponds held good numbers compared to the larger water bodies.

Also, there is a lot of late maize coming off, and that sure knows how to draw in both the parries and ducks.

If you are still yet to find a spot for opening, a bit of door-knocking where some maize has just been harvested is a great option or check out the riverbeds.

There currently may not be high numbers of ducks resident on the riverbeds, but coming opening weekend typically this is where they seek refuge – so be there ready with a shotgun in hand!

No shortage of game birds on the Coast you've just got to do some scouting and find them

The Paradise shelduck numbers have remained very high, being up 1,483 birds on last year’s already 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 and the Okarito lagoon.

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.

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

Summary of last season

The average West Coast Region game bird licence holder harvested 19 game birds in the 2023 season, compared with 20 game birds during the 2022 season and 17 for the 2021 season (rounded to whole bird figures).

This equates to approximately; 6.1 Greylards, 8.9 Paradise Shelduck, 3.1 Pukeko and less than one bird each of Swan and Shoveler.

Opening weekend accounted for 35% of the season’s harvest by West Coast hunters.

Hunter effort and harvest by local hunters decreased from the previous season.

The success of West Coast hunters over the 2023 hunting season was high, being the third highest success rate in the 32-year data set.

Regulation changes for 2024/25

There are no regulation changes for the 24/25 season.

Organised hunts

Last year three 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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