Wellington/Taranaki - Weekly Hunting Bulletin 23 May 2024

  • Wellington Taranaki
  • 23/05/2024

Wellington/Taranaki - Weekly Hunting Bulletin 23 May 2024

Rain Changes the Game! 

Heavy rain this week for much of the lower North Island and Taranaki certainly got the ducks moving.

Although the wind that forecasters were predicting didn't come through, the heavy rainfall warning for Wairarapa was on the money.

Mallards could be seen on the move all day Tuesday and most of Wednesday as they sought out flooded pasture to feed on.

After very good hunting on Saturday, owing to a big nor-west blow on the lake, the season seems to finally be gathering momentum in the lower North Island.   

Pictured: A fat greenhead is the first bird in the bag for Hamish Carnachan on a very wet Wairarapa morning earlier this week.

Things are still a little slow in Manawatu, however, with the bad weather not really spilling into this part of the region means the dry conditions linger.

Strong westerly winds forecast for Sunday will hopefully change that!   

In Taranaki, most parts received a good amount of rain on Tuesday, enough to produce a minor fresh in the rivers and shallow puddles in paddocks.

Like Wairarapa, the rain and strong winds forced ducks off the bigger lakes and has made them seek shelter and food on paddocks with an abundance of worms and bugs in areas of casual sitting water.

With a forecast for showers and fresh westerlies, it’s looking like this weekend is a good time to get out for a hunt, particularly for those in Taranaki and Manawatu.

Here's the outlook for the weekend...


Weekend Weather Outlook 

The brighter the colour the stronger the wind (Credit: Windy.com)

The Windy.com images say it all - a big westerly is going to hit the region early on Sunday.

This, combined with patchy rain, should produce some really good hunting for those in Manawatu and Taranaki. 

A high parked over Tasmania and a very deep low to the south-east of the South Island continue to play tug-of-war, creating big wind shifts between the west and southerly quarters. 

At this stage the situation could see a strong southerly form across most of the country around this time next week. 

Keep a close eye on the weather because it might be the first real southerly blast we've had... and that means great duck hunting!   

Click here for the latest weather updates from Metservice, or visit the Windy website to track conditions coming our way.

Hunting & Fishing Photo Competition - Win $300 To Spend in Store

James McLean sent in this moody shot of a southerly front sweeping up Lake Wairarapa.

Send in your favourite photos from this game bird hunting season and you could be in to win a $300 voucher to spend in store at Wairarapa Hunting & Fishing.

We won't blow your secret spot, just include the name of the hunter(s), photographer's details, and general location in the Wellington-Taranaki Fish & Game region.

Click here to submit your entry.    

You can send us as many hunting photos as you like.

By submitting images to enter the competition you acknowledge that Wellington-Taranaki Fish & Game, and Wairarapa Hunting and Fishing, can publish and use the photos for publicity material.

Entries must be in by 8:30pm, August 25, 2024. The winner will be notified via email.


Decoy-Shy Ducks Put To The Test  

Decoys tucked under partial cover started to yield results after a slow start (Credit: Hamish Carnachan).  
Last week our tip covered advice from 10 expert North American waterfowlers on how they hunt decoy-shy and late-season ducks. This week I decided to put their theory to the test.
Following a 12-hour period of heavy rain and moderate winds, I selected for my hunt a reasonable sized wetland close to home that hadn't had water all season.
Arriving in the early morning darkness, fresh water covered most of the pond towards its margins and a light but steady rain continued to fall. 
I set up a decoy spread of 12 mixed position mallards - alert, feeding and preening - placed a wing spinner out wide of the shooting position, and set two swans as so-called 'confidence decoys'. 
The ducks were slow to move, but really started to fly in numbers around 0700 - half-an-hour after legal start time. The mallards were mainly in pairs but there were around a dozen flights of 10 or more birds, and plenty of singles. 
Despite the rain-clagged conditions and moderate breeze keeping the decoys moving, the ducks refused to commit. It looked like they wanted to come in, with pairs and singles circling just out of range three or four times before flying off. 
It's possible they were heading out to other feeding areas, but I could see ducks cupped up and descending into nearby wetlands. Regardless, I still wanted to test the 'less is more' decoy theory...
So, after an hour I totally changed the spread. I pulled in all the decoys leaving just a pair tight under a willow. The spinning wing decoy was positioned close but further back under the foliage so that circling ducks could just make out the flash of the wing. 
The difference was immediate - before I even got back to the hide a fat mallard drake committed straight in and was dropped only a couple of metres above touching down.
This continued for the next hour, at which time I called it quits with half a dozen ducks in the bag.
I suspect the birds would have kept coming, as I noticed mallards flying the whole way home and for most of the day, but I was happy with the outcome of this experiment.
As well as evidently being very wary of decoys, the ducks were barely making any noise - just single calls predominantly. Only a handful of far-off birds responded to 'hail' calls, the rest just kept moving off. 
So the pro-tips about setting decoys and calling less certainly paid off. You can read the whole article from Ducks Unlimited here.   
- By Hamish Carnachan     
Need Some Help With Your Duck Pond?

Looking to create a duck pond or improve your existing one? Wellington-Taranaki Fish & Game are happy to help with expert advice and may even be able to secure funding to assist with the project. 

Whether you want to hold ducks on your pond longer, or are aiming to create an entirely new wetland from that unproductive boggy paddock, we have the staff expertise and experience. 

Drop us an email and we'll call to discuss your plans and how we can help.   

Video of The Week - Praying for Rain 

When the hunting starts to slow, US professional duck hunting guides pray for rain and wind.

Click the screenshot above to watch some awesome waterfowl hunting action and see why bad weather makes a huge difference.     


Top Nosh - Ultimate Duck Pie

Here’s a simple recipe that will have the kids or even the most ardent roast duck hater clamouring for you to keep hunting: 
1. Place two mallard ducks in a deep-sided dish on a bed of celery, onion and carrot and roast at 200degC for 25-30 minutes or until cooked through.
2. Allow to cool; transfer liquid from roasting dish into a large saucepan. 
3. Strip all the meat from the ducks, place in saucepan with liquid from roasting.
4. Add beef stock, red wine and a tin of crushed tomatoes to cover well. Season well. 
5. Bring to the boil, then turn down to simmer; allow to reduce so liquid thickens into nice gravy.
6. Spray coat with oil a muffin tray or pie tins. 
7. Cut out flaky puff pastry (store-bought is perfect) to cover base and sides of tray/tin. 
8. Fill with duck pie filling.
9. Cover with pastry top; poke three or four holes in top to allow steam to escape. 
10. Beat an egg in a cup, add a dash of water then coat the top of the pies with this egg wash.
11. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes in oven as instructed on pastry directions. 
Serve with a garnish of coriander and your favourite fruit chutney. Enjoy!  
- Recipe by Hamish Carnachan    


Get those Band Details In

If you manage to harvest any ducks wearing 'precious metal' this season, please get the details back to us. 

Hunters are welcome to hold on to the band, we just want some basic information that goes with that precious metal - the banding programme is an important part of our mallard management.   

Band info can be registered by, ringing the free phone number 0800 BIRD BAND (0800-247322).

Alternatively there's a ready-made form to fill out on the Fish & Game website here.

Need To Know - Transporting Firearms

Safety First This Season!

The team at Wellington-Taranaki Fish & Game would like to remind hunters about the importance of firearms safety and encourage you and your hunting buddies to refresh yourself with the seven rules of firearms safety.    

1: Treat every firearm as loaded.
2: Always point firearms in a safe direction.
3: Chamber a cartridge only when ready to fire.
4: Identify your target beyond all doubt.
5: Check your firing zone.
6: Store and transport firearms and ammunition safely.
7: Avoid alcohol or drugs when handling firearms.

We hope you have a great season - please keep in touch and let us know how you're going. 


​*This report was accurate at time of writing. For your safety, please ensure you check the latest weather information before you head out hunting. And always be safe and responsible with firearms .  

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