Both Barrels May 2020

  • North Canterbury
  • 20/04/2020

Both Barrels May 2020

North Canterbury game bird season looking exceptional

Hunters man your maimai’s, this is going to be a good one!

If there was ever a time to get your non-hunting mates into the sport of game bird hunting this is it.

There are birds galore, and we will be spoilt for opportunity.

Right: A chock full Canterbury pond.

Hunters checking their ponds are reporting huge numbers of birds, some are holding over 500 mallards.

Maybe the extra time we have waited for the green light has been favourable, or maybe there are simply a lot more birds around this season.

Whatever the case I personally agree that the lead up to this season is looking the best I have seen for years.

North Canterbury Fish and Game staff conducted their annual aerial paradise shelduck, and black swan trend counts in early February.

Paradise shelduck numbers were consistent with previous counts, however what is important to note is that the count area was significantly lessened this year.

Although the historically “ high count areas” were included, lesser ones were not 9,435 paradise shelduck were counted which is an upward trend compared to the 2019 count of 8,422, and a downward trend compared to the 2018 count when 10,769 birds were observed.

However the 2020 revised count of areas indicates that the overall count could be 17% higher than observed.

The total number of black swan observed was 9,674 this is a huge increase in population numbers compared to the previous year’s count in 2019 of 4539, and the 2018 count of 5,114.

The 2020 count is a record high since records began in 1997, mild winters will undoubtedly contribute to successful breeding seasons.

Mallard/Grey ducks are difficult to get reliable count data on, but what has been very evident over the last few months is that the population is high.

Hunters are reporting huge bird numbers on their ponds, riverbed anglers have also reported huge numbers of mallards camped up.

In summary since the last hunting season there have been great breeding conditions for all of the above species.

There are even late broods of mallards arriving, as many birds were observed paired up in late March/April.

This season has the potential to provide fantastic hunting opportunities for all on opening weekend and throughout.

The possibility of more extreme weather conditions early in the new delayed season may also be higher than usual.

A rough opening day certainly would be a novelty for a change, the chances are pretty high, that all of these ducks could just line up just perfectly.

So there is not going to be much time for many to prepare for the big day, and depending on your team makeup, there maybe some COVID related differences this season.

Let's go through what we need.

  • Game bird Licence, and remind your mates to get theirs.
  • Scrub up the maimai and create additional COVID safe distancing shooting positions for your team if required.
  • Get your Ammunition.
  • Check your gun, and clean.
  • Untangle that mess of decoy strings, and have them bagged and ready.
  • Work out a prior plan, and list of gear, so that everyone stays safe under COVID restrictions advice, include travel arrangements, PPE gear, and the division of birds at the end.
  • Be prepared to provide all of your own food/coffee requirements as COVID may restrict.
  • Callers, headlamp, waders, jackets, hats, gloves, face paint, camo nets, camera and pack.
  • Start prepping the faithful retriever (an extra weetbix for breaky would probably be appreciated) lead, biscuits, vest?
  • Note, that hunting starts 15 minutes earlier at 6.30am this season.

Food for Thought!

Picture 2

Birds lift off from another chocka North Canterbury pond.

As I prepare to roast my last duck from the 2019 season, I think about what a valuable food source game bird hunters have.

It is particularly evident at this point of time, when reality shows us just how vulnerable our reliance is regarding the conveyor belt of produce and imported brands at our supermarkets.

We are indeed privileged to be able to harvest our prized game birds as an exceptional wild food source, from natures supermarket.

We start with the anticipation of the hunt of which we were born to, and love, and then if successful there is the preparation for the table.

The stuffing, the gravy, the feast, it doesn’t get much better than this, sometimes salami, or duck nuggets maybe on the menu, Colonel who?

Something I have taken a tend to of late is duck vindaloo replacing the beef with duck legs and cubed breast meat, browned in the fry pan before going into the crock pot, with all the other makings is an exceptional winter dish.

Public land hunting info

During the lockdown we have added an info page to the Fish & Game North canterbury website on how to maximise your public land hunting opportunities in the region.

Click here to check it out!

Regulation changes to the North Canterbury game bird hunting season

The following changes to the 2020 standard game bird hunting season, have been endorsed by the North Canterbury Fish and Game Council.

  1. The 2020 game bird hunting season will be Saturday 23rd May until Sunday 26July.
  2. Shooting Hours: Start time has changed from 6.45am to 6.30am
  3. Pukeko Bag Limit and Season duration have changed to 5 birds and an extended season will run until 27 September
  4. California Quail season duration has been extended by one week until 30 August.

Important notice to pheasant hunters

Fish and Game Rangers will be asking pheasant hunters to assist with a pheasant population survey this season.

Sightings of hens and cocks by hunters over the 2 day season on 6-7 June will be collected to form an annual trend count of populations.

Rangers will require your phone numbers in order to call you back after the weekends hunting.

The ultimate objective will be the protection and enhancement if possible of this truly magnificent game bird.

Your assistance would be much appreciated.

Ducks for all hunters!

In some cases there are hunters whom are lucky enough to have great areas to hunt, that can provide more birds than they can utilise for their family.

Then there are hunters whom are not that lucky, and despite trying, may only get a couple of ducks for the season.

I believe that successful hunters can help these guys out.

We don’t want them thinking it’s too hard, or not productive enough to be worth the effort.

We need as many hunters participating in game bird hunting as possible.

We need them to be successful, and we need them to introduce their mates to the sport.

In the future, these new hunters and their kids, will become our voice when advocating for environmental qualities, and the game bird resource we love.

This food for thought could become food for others!

If we are having a good day, even though we are well within the limit bag regulations, perhaps we could choose not to take every shot opportunity that presents itself.

Your choice not to shoot, may provide someone else, maybe even a young hunter, with a duck they would desperately love to have.

Successful hunters know that having to process a lot of birds at once can be a daunting task.

Why not back off a bit if you have enough for the day, and harvest a few more another day.

Good luck to you all, straight barrels! and most of all be safe with your firearms out there!

Dirk Barr

North Canterbury Fish and Game

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