Best duck season in seven years

Duck shooters in the Eastern Fish and Game region are being promised the best shooting in seven years, based on current duck numbers.

Senior Fish and Game officer Matthew McDougall says trapping and population modelling tells them there are lots of ducks around in reasonable condition.

“We’re predicting that this opening could be one of the best in years.”

Fish and Game’s research, which included flyovers to estimate bird numbers, indicates a mallard population in the order of 350,000 to 450,000 birds. The region-wide estimate this year falls into the “intermediate” zone in which a six week season and daily bag limit of eight birds applies, says Matthew.

But anecdotal reports of duck numbers from hunters vary across parts of the region.

“Some hunters have reported good numbers of ducks within their district while others, such as those who hunt in the Galatea and Reporoa areas, believe fewer birds are present,’ says Matthew.

“Bay of Plenty numbers are looking pretty good, while in the Gisborne /Wairoa region we’ve caught more ducks during our banding operations there than we have for many years.”

But numbers within the Reporoa area are of some concern, and the Eastern Fish and Game Council has decided to impose more restrictive conditions there with a shorter season which runs from Opening Day on May 6 to June 5, with a daily bag limit of four mallards.

Matthew says other game bird species numbers, including black swan and paradise shelduck, appear to be on par with previous seasons.


Hunters need to note changes to regulations this season, which includes the ‘three shot rule’ meaning a gun holds no more than two shots in the magazine and one in the breech – three shots in total.

Hunters are also encouraged to report any banded birds they might harvest to Fish & Game along with their contact details, the band number, and location and date it was recovered. This will assist mallard research programmes, and sustainable management of the species.

Shooters are also reminded to check their Game Bird Hunting Guide booklets, or to do this online before getting out on Opening Day by visiting