Fish & Game is reminding game bird hunters to get out and stake a claim this weekend for their favourite maimai, before the game bird season starts on Saturday, May 7.
'Pegging' or marking up a maimai or hunting stand is part of the long tradition of game bird hunting in New Zealand. It requires hunters with an existing maimai to stake their claim to it any time before 10am on Sunday April 10, 2016. This rule applies in all 12 Fish & Game regions around the country.
"Attaching your game bird licence tag to your favoured maimai puts you in the best position to harvest birds over opening weekend - and have the right to continue to be the first to use that spot for the rest of the season," says NZ Fish and Game Council's Policy and Planning Manager Robert Sowman.
"But remember the rule that applies once the hunting season begins - you need to be there within one hour after the opening hour of hunting, or the maimai is able to be used by any other licensed hunter for the rest of the day."
The rules for claiming a maimai cover hunters with an existing maimai and those wanting to claim a hunting spot for the first time.
To reclaim their normal spot for the upcoming season, a hunter must first buy their 2016/17 Game Bird Licence, which comes with a separate licence claim tag. They can then "mark up" their maimai at any time before April 10 (The new season licences went on sale on March 17, 2016).
Mr Sowman said some hunters who've bought their licences will already have pegged their usual maimai or stand as they're entitled to once they hold a current licence.
For other hunters wanting to claim an existing maimai for the first time, they must wait until 10am this Sunday. After that time any licenceholder can peg any spot not already marked up.
Mr Sowman said it is crucial hunters remember to check regional regulations for species, bag limits, season length and any other changes before heading out on Opening Day of the game bird season, Saturday May 7, 2016.
He says for example, a number of regions are now moving to introduce restrictions on how many shots that guns can hold. The three shot rule is in force for Auckland / Waikato, while Hawke's Bay and Eastern are asking for voluntary compliance this season before the measure becomes compulsory in 2017.
The rule has a conservation aim, encouraging hunters to choose their shots wisely and not shoot at ducks out of range and decrease the chance of not recovering birds.
A number of North Island regions have relaxed their regulations to reflect an improvement in their mallard populations. For example, Eastern Region's mallard season for 2016 runs for an extra two weeks from last year, from May 7 to 19 June, with a larger bag limit of eight birds. Wellington is also lengthening its season by two weeks and raising the bag limit to eight birds per hunter per day.
Wellington, Northland and Taranaki seasons run from 7 May to 3 July while Hawkes Bay goes to 19 June.
In the South Island, where mallard populations are larger than in the north, the season for mallards in all regions runs for nearly three months from May 7 to July 31, with bags ranging from 10 to 50.
"Clearly season length and bag limits for different species vary, so hunters must be aware of these regional differences and make themselves fully familiar with the rules and regulations that apply to the area they'll be hunting in," Mr Sowman said.
"Southland for example, offers a bigger bag limit for Opening Weekend than for the rest of the season."
And hunters in all regions are again urged to take advantage of the longer season for upland game birds, including pheasants and quail, which runs from May 7 to 28 August in many regions.