After much anticipation, this year’s duck hunting season has begun. The season began Saturday, May 23 – nine days after the country moved into Covid-19 Alert Level 2.
“That was enough time to ready the dogs, the boat and the Maimai,” says Fish and Game NZ chief executive Martin Taylor.
“The Alert Level 2 conditions for game bird hunting are more practical for hunters compared to Level 3, which proves the benefit of waiting.”
The length of the season varies with every region. The Auckland and Waikato duck season has been extended to end on June 28, giving duck hunters an extra weekend.
At the time of print, an extension for the rest of the Eastern Region, which includes Rotorua, hadn’t been made public.
Alert Level 2 allows hunters to travel inter-regionally and stay overnight at their hunting spots.
Conditions include no personal gatherings above 10 people. “I’m confident duck hunters will abide by this,” says Martin. “Not many Maimais can hold 10 people, so I don’t see this being much of an issue.”
Fish and Game’s start date confirmation came just one hour after the Government’s Level 2 announcement on May 11.
Martin says F&G NZ ensured they were ready for any outcome by working with government during the lockdown period.
“We already had things in place to give the season the best possible chance of going ahead.
“To make up for mark-up (pegging) day, which was due to take place during the lockdown, we decided that last year’s claims will count for this year.
“We also indicated to hunters what the dates may look like in advance, so they already knew the season was likely to begin on the second Saturday after we move into Alert Level 2.”
Despite the season’s three-week delay, Martin says hunters were stoked with the announcement.
“Hunters were happy that they still had the chance to participate – especially since it could have been cancelled all together.”
It’s believed that the last time the longstanding NZ tradition was cancelled was during WWII, due to an ammunition shortage.
“That shows how dear this tradition is to Kiwis – it’s only hindered by wars and pandemics.”
Martin says hunters have remained patient, open-minded and optimistic throughout the lockdown.
“They understand the reasons the regulations were put in place, and continued to take the updates well.”
This attitude is shared by Arapuni duck hunter, Hardie Singh, who is now able to host his mates on his farm’s Maimai.
“When we heard the season was being pushed back we were a bit gutted, but with what we have been going through as a country, it really isn’t a big deal.
“I don’t think the delay will affect many people, we’re still keen to get out there.”
For duck hunting 2020 season updates, see: https://fishandgame.org.nz/