Both Barrels May 2024

  • 24/05/2024

Both Barrels May 2024

What a great opening month we’ve had!

Opening weekend might have been hard hunting, but even in the drought-affected parts of the country, hunters have been getting good results.

With the last week's rain, ponds are full, and birds are coming in, so why not plan a weekend of hunting?

Kings birthday weekend is just around the corner; it is a perfect opportunity to get the team back together again for a hunt.

Game bird hunting season is more than just opening weekend and mallards.

Your game bird hunting licence opens the door to plenty of hunting opportunities. Seven main bird species can be hunted throughout most of the country, and they all taste delicious – yes, even pukeko! (for those regions that have them on the list).

Don’t believe us about the pukeko – check out the recipes in the best game cookbook in the world for 2023 – the Fish & Game Cookbook!

Pictured above: Bella Murray (7), from Lawrence, duck hunting with her dad Paul Murray on opening day in South Otago. Photo: Jayde Couper, Otago Fish & Game


Hawkes Bay Junior Family hunt

James sends Aidan out to recover a duck as the sun sets on Saturday in the Hawkes Bay.

Our Hawkes Bay staff accompanied our Fish & Game NZ staff, CEO Corina Jordan and Richard Cosgrove to a Central Hawkes Bay Juniors hunt on the 18th of May, where approximately 80 parents, children and friends are invited to hunt the third weekend of the season.

Hosted by avid game bird hunter Tony Jefferd, this wonderful property shows how investing in duck habitat has helped both hunters and the environment.

They have set aside a weekend of the season just for their junior hunters and helpers to be mentored and hunt some of the beautiful wetlands the property holds.

Several of these wetlands have been created in collaboration with Fish and Game, The Game Bird Habitat Trust and the landowner.



Overall compliance was OK for the opening weekend. However, Fish & Game Rangers still see hunters not having a game bird hunting licence, and there are also several instances of hunters using lead.

This year, our ranging teams around the country had NZ Police staff and Firearms Safety Authority staff accompanying them.

One Police Officer even commented that it was a great two days in the field and so refreshing to be dealing with firearms users who were all legal and following the rules, as that isn’t the norm for them.


Ashley Dog Ban

Hunters around the country should keep an eye out for restrictions similar to those being proposed in North Canterbury.

The Waimakariri District Council is considering removing the exemption for game bird hunting dogs that applies to the Ashley/Rakahuri estuary during duck season.

Check out the North Canterbury regional link to have your say on this, but if you are from other regions, keep your ears and eyes peeled in case you spot similar proposed regulation changes that could impact your hunting ability and access.

If so, let your local Fish & Game Office know in case they haven’t been alerted.


Biosecurity risks

Game bird hunters are often reminded to follow the advice of Biosecurity NZ to Check, Clean and Dry when moving between waterways, but this year, we need you to keep an eye out for Bird Flu.

New Zealand has never had high pathogenicity avian influenza (HPAI), and the current risk of HPAI arriving in New Zealand is considered low.

Early detection is critical to preventing the spread if it does arrive, so we’re asking hunters to keep an eye out for signs of HPAI in wild birds and to take sensible precautions when handling wild game to protect yourselves from possible infection.  

HPAI is a contagious viral disease that affects domestic and wild birds. Overseas has infected many species of ducks, geese, swans, pheasants, shorebirds and gulls, and scavenging birds such as hawks. 

The most obvious sign of HPAI is several sick or dead birds. Sick birds may appear dopey, display lethargy/reluctance to move, have droopy heads, panting and nasal secretions, lack of coordination, blindness, and trembling. The symptoms are similar to botulism, a bacterial disease present in New Zealand. 

Call the Biosecurity New Zealand Exotic Pest and Disease hotline on 0800 80 99 66 if you see three or more sick or dead birds. Don’t touch or move any dead or dying wildlife or those in their vicinity that may appear healthy. Wait for Biosecurity New Zealand’s instructions before handling any sick or dead birds.  


How to protect yourself and prevent possible spread 

Although avian influenza viruses rarely infect people, you should still maintain good biosecurity and personal hygiene practices to prevent spread and protect yourself:  

  • Don’t harvest or handle wild birds that are obviously sick or found dead. 
  • Wear disposable gloves and wash your hands thoroughly after handling or dressing wild birds and/or poultry.  
  • Do not eat, drink or put anything in your mouth while handling or cleaning birds. 
  • Clean footwear and change clothes after contact with wild birds and/or poultry.  
  • Scrub and disinfect all boots and equipment between hunting sites. 
  • Have good pest management around poultry. 
  • Cook birds well. 


Hunter Harvest Survey

Sophie and her harvest from a late afternoon hunt.

Each year since 1993, Fish & Game has undertaken a National Hunter Harvest Survey, coordinated by Matthew McDougall in the eastern region; this gives Fish & Game staff and councils access to a fantastic data set when setting regulations, season length and other regulations.

Don’t be surprised if you are selected from the random sample and get a phone call.

Also, since it is truly a random sample and we survey throughout the season, you may get more than one call per season.


Warm Barrels

The Team at Fish & Game NZ

More Posts