Game bird hunters urged to take note of new rules for shotguns

  • 20/03/2017

Game bird hunters urged to take note of new rules for shotguns

Game bird hunters are now restricting the number of shots they use in game bird hunting in six of the 12 Fish & Game regions, a measure introduced for “sound” conservation and sporting reasons.   

The new game bird hunting season gets underway on Saturday, May 6, 2017.

The Auckland-Waikato Fish & Game Region was first to bring in the three shot rule which requires hunters to plug  their shotgun magazines  so that the gun holds no more than three shots  in total.

Other regions introducing restrictions on the number of shots are Eastern, Hawke’s Bay and
West Coast, while Wellington and Nelson Marlborough are banning magazine extensions.  

Fish & Game communications manager Don Rood says the three shot rule is simply another tool to help reduce pressure on game bird populations and provide more opportunity for other hunters.

We have to strike a balance between providing hunters enough ducks every season while conserving populations for following seasons. We strive to achieve this with appropriate bag limits and season lengths, he says. “The three shot rule is another tool to help sustainability – that will help limit the number of ducks being harvested.”

Mr Rood says that decades ago, when semi-automatics first came on the market, they were restricted to a two-shot capacity. 

“But these days, it’s possible to have shotguns with a capacity of eight-plus shots, so that six hunters on a pond could conceivably be firing up to 54 shots at a time.

The three-shot rule means hunters know their shots are limited – which we believe makes them think more carefully about shot placement.

The rule makes game bird hunting more sporting as it reduces any temptation to continue firing as game birds are moving out of range – which reduces the chances of wounding a bird, Mr Rood says.  

 “We have had positive feedback from hunters to say that ‘sky busting’ (taking too many shots at too long a range) is less prevalent.”

He adds that Fish & Game is pleased to see the three shot rule applied more widely “as we look to healthier game bird populations in regions such as Eastern, where the mallard population is on the way up.”  

Fish & Game rangers will take a firm line where the rule is concerned this season because compliance is “pretty easy and inexpensive to achieve.”

The three shot rule says that a shotgun magazine must not hold more than two rounds of any size, plus one more in the breech – three in all.  And the rule applies for all waterfowl including pukekos.

 Firearm safety rules should always be followed and a cartridge should not be put in the chamber until a shot is about to be taken.

Guns can be plugged with a removable plastic filler which doesn’t require a gunsmith to install semi-permanent pins and rivets.

“But if you don’t have the original filler-plug your shotgun came with, they’re easy enough to make using a piece of doweling. Discuss with your local hunting store or ask a gunsmith to do the job for you.”

We advise hunters to study the game bird regulations booklet (or go online – so they are very clear about whether the regulations apply in the regions they’ll be hunting in, Mr Rood says.


Auckland / Waikato – three shot rule

Eastern – three shot rule

Hawke’s Bay – three shot rule

Wellington – no magazine extensions permitted

Nelson-Marlborough – no magazine extensions permitted

West Coast – five shot rule (four in mag one in chamber)

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