Hunters harvest a valuable resource
GAMEBIRD hunting is a wonderful New Zealand tradition and an important part of our heritage.
For early New Zealanders, hunting was an essential way of putting food on the table. More recently, hunting has become a valued recreation, although providing fresh game meat on the menu is still important. Indeed, game meat and wild foods are becoming increasingly popular as more of us live in large towns and cities at some distance from a traditional natural food source.
Hunting encourages a variety of activities and the development of values that are important to New Zealanders. Hunters are responsible for the protection and development of wildlife habitats, they monitor and advocate for the environment and lead hunting, outdoor and safety programmes. Hunting also develops positive traits, such as responsibility, confidence, cooperation, discipline, patience and it builds community and family relationships.
All gamebird species are abundant and have a sufficiently high breeding rate to sustain hunting. Gamebirds produce more offspring each year than is needed to populate the species. This breeding strategy means (1) only a small proportion of all young birds usually survive the winter cold and competition for available habitat and food and (2) in the event of favourable weather and abundant habitat, the population will expand to fill the environment’s carrying capacity.
Hunters, therefore, form a small part of the annual cycle of natural mortality and, in doing so, harvest a valuable resource. Nevertheless, hunting bag limits and season lengths are strictly regulated to ensure gamebird populations are harvested within sustainable limits.
Good hunters pride themselves on ethical hunting and sportsmanship. Fish & Game’s recommended code of practice is that the ideal hunter is one who:
Carries a current gamebird hunting licence and complies with bag limits and other conditions.
Enquires about and obtains where required, permission to cross land and respects the wishes of the landholder regarding fences, gates, crops, stock and vehicles.
Becomes a competent shooter, aware of his/her limitations and kills game cleanly.
Is able to distinguish between those species that may be taken legally from protected species.
Uses appropriate shot size and chokes for the quarry being hunted.
Has immediate recourse to a trained gundog, or other means for the prompt retrieval of game.
Has and uses, the ability to promptly and humanely kill game.
Rigorously practises the principles of firearms safety.
Ensures all game shot is used. Does not litter. Encourages all hunting companions to comply with the code of practice.
Your hunting licence allows you to hunt a wide variety of gamebirds throughout New Zealand.
New Zealand has the cheapest gamebird licence in the world and cheaper still for younger hunters.
Your licence fee ensures the future of your sport.
All hunters must carry their gamebird licence.
Licences are available from late March from sporting and hunting shops, from regional Fish & Game offices, online at www.fishandgame.org.nz or telephone 0800 542 3623.
Hunters may only use shotguns for gamebird hunting. Rifles are not permitted.
A firearms licence is required to own and use a firearm in New Zealand. Contact the arms officer at your local police station, or visit www.police.govt.nz/ service/firearms/ for further information. People without a firearms licence may use a firearm (and hunt gamebirds) provided they have their own gamebird licence and are under the direct supervision of a mentor with a firearms licence.
Establish your firing zone, ensuring no people, property or buildings are within that zone.
Zones of fire can change as you move, your target moves, or other shooters move. If you move, tell others.
In thickly vegetated areas the entire firing zone may not be visible.
Most moderately priced shotguns will last a lifetime, if well looked after. The most common shotgun calibre is 12 gauge but other gauge guns have their adherents. Twelve gauge ammunition is less expensive than other gauge ammo, there is a wider range of 12 gauge guns available and concerns about recoil may be addressed with careful selection of the type of gun, its weight and the type of ammunition.