Fish & Game is reminding game bird hunters to get out and stake a claim for their favourite maimai this weekend before the game bird season starts on 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.
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," said 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.
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 June 19, 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.
Where can I find all the 'pegging' rules?
These are found in the First Schedule section of the Game Bird Hunting Guide supplied free with your licence. You can also find information on pegging and other topics in the hunting pages of Fish & Game's website: www.fishandgame.org.nz
Do the pegging rules apply equally to private and public land?
No, you need to claim your maimai on public land but not on private land (but you may still need a licence). If you do not have landowner permission to hunt on any land (private or public) then the pegging rules are irrelevant - you shouldn't be there.
On public land that I have a permit to hunt on, can I hunt from someone else's maimai?
Yes, any stand not occupied by the claimant within one hour after the opening hour of hunting (7.15am in a number of regions where hunting begins at 6.15am) .The hunter who has tagged or pegged the maimai only has the 'first rights' privilege of occupying it, then it is open to any other licensed hunter for the remainder of the day.
When am I allowed to "peg" a hunting spot?
If you 'pegged out' a spot in the previous gamebird season you can reclaim the same spot any day, from when the licences became available 17 March until before 10am, on pegging day, Sunday April 10. After 10am on pegging day, any licenceholder can peg any spot not already pegged.
I pegged a spot last year but hunted elsewhere at the last minute and someone else now wants to peg it. Can they?
No. You have the opportunity to re-peg the position before 10am on pegging day.
Can I peg up a new maimai on the other side of the river from an existing pegged maimai but it is only 70m away?
No, not if your maimai position is within 90m of the existing maimai, then unless invited to be closer by the other party, you cannot peg it up. Even if your maimai is more than 90m away but another person's safety is at risk, you should shift. Hunting safely is paramount.