Duck Hunting 2023

May 01, 2023

Duck Hunting 2023

Calling all duck hunters

Only a week to go before the sun rises on the 2023-24 Game Bird Season! Opening Weekend is on Saturday, May 6.


What you need to know

Excitement is building for Opening Weekend of the 2023-24 Game Bird Season in Otago.

  • We’re predicting a standard sort of duck harvest this season ─ good news given the summer drought.
  • Recent rainfall has improved many ponds which were drying out.
  • Mallards had a good main breeding season in spring before summer’s prolonged dry period.
  • Now we just need good hunting conditions for Opening Weekend – low cloud and wind.
  • Then it’s all up to you!

Annual mallard trend count

  • Almost 5,000 mallards were counted during our flight over selected Otago ponds, river reaches and overland sections in the annual trend count this month.
  • The trend count was lower than the 5,780 average of previous years.
  • Dry ponds and swollen rivers on the day we counted the ducks will likely have affected the count.

How trend counts work

  • Long-term data shows Otago’s mallard population is in good shape despite recent drought.
  • Fish & Game has been monitoring the mallard population trend since 2015.
  • Mallards are counted at selected locations, not the entire region.
  • Counts can be affected on the survey day by conditions such as water levels and weather.
  • That’s why we analyse long-term data.

Where to hunt

Left it to the last minute? Don’t just sit there…

  • Knock on some farmhouse doors this weekend.
  • Search Crown land next to rivers and lakes using the outdoor access map on the Herenga ā Nuku/Outdoor Access Commission website.
  • If hunting next to private land, be sure to notify the landowner beforehand.
  • Your spot must be no closer than 90 metres from another pegged maimai or stake.

Setting decoys

Otago Fish & Game produced a video last year on how to set decoys to help you harvest more birds.

  • Fish & Game rangers often see hunters making easily fixable mistakes with decoy spreads.
  • Want more birds for the table?
  • Then click here to watch the video on YouTube.

Follow the birds

  • If rivers are swollen, mallards often move to wet paddocks.
  • Consider hunting in flooded paddocks from a layout blind.
  • Use full body decoys or set floating decoys in the puddles.
  • Dig the decoy keels into the mud or use wire to stand them up.

Know your local regulations

Game bird regulations often change from year to year.

  • Check the 2023-24 regulations here.
  • Last year’s national shoveler trend count showed a decline of this taonga native species.
  • Otago Fish & Game Council has reduced the limit to one shoveler DRAKE per day.

Grab your licence the easy way

  • The fastest, easiest way to get your game bird hunting licence is to jump online.
  • All you need is your credit card and in just a few minutes you’ll be set to go.
  • No need to worry about your licence turning up in time for Opening Weekend ─ the receipt we email you will suffice until it turns up in your letterbox.
  • Head to and click the Licence tab at the top of the page.

Upland action

Central Otago is renowned for its quail hunting.

  • For many hunters, chasing upland game birds is the season highlight.
  • The Otago upland game bird season opens on 3 June.
  • Most upland hunting is on private land.
  • Public land opportunities are limited.
  • No easy way to say this: you need to put in the hard yards and introduce yourself in a friendly and respectful way to landowners.

Want more info? Follow us on Facebook or contact our helpful Otago team.


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Fishing Report

December 2022 Fishing Report
December 2022 Fishing Report

December 21, 2022

Continue Reading

November Fishing Report
November Fishing Report

December 01, 2022

Continue Reading

October Fishing Report
October Fishing Report

October 27, 2022

Continue Reading