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From the July 08 Bird Hunting Report

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Subscriber Robert D. Graves hunted from Feb. 19 to March 6, 2008, with James Gray.

Hunting from “build your own” blinds where the birds are, he sought paradise ducks, which he found to be “Abundant” and Canada geese, “Average.” He rated all aspects of his personal guide and owner/operator, with the exception of the dogs since none were used, as “Excellent.”

He’d recommend this trip for its “super country and good hunting,” and offers these additional comments:

“Based on an article filed by correspondent Greg Morton in the May 2007 BHR, I contacted James Gray regarding the special season hunting for paradise ducks and Canada geese. The special seasons during February and March are set to control both species, which are considered pests affecting cropland in New Zealand.

The region we hunted is North Canterbury located on the east coast of the South Island, north of Christchurch.

“There is no limit on the Canadas, but we concentrated on the paradise ducks where the limit is 20 per day. They are about the size of our brant and decoy well with lots of calling. Most shots were 20 to 30 yards.

“Ammo is expensive in New Zealand. We paid $380/case for 3-inch lead number 5’s that worked well. Steel is required if you are hunting over small farm ponds. If you are concerned about price, you can bring shells from the U.S., but be sure to follow airline regulations. I would suggest that you have James get your ammo before you arrive in Christchurch. Also have him get you a paradise duck call and take some lessons when you arrive. Calling is critical. Also bring a goose call, as we managed to bag a few Canadas each day.

“A hunting license is $75 NZD, and gun fee is only $25 NZD for two guns. Importation of firearms is no problem. James has a form on his website that you fax to the Auckland police about two weeks before you arrive. Semi-automatics are OK. Bring your current hunting license with you.

“‘California Pete Ciraulo’ and I, from the northeast coast of Maine, booked this trip with James to arrive in Christchurch and hunt for seven straight days. Our wives went with us and they had a great time. James had everything arranged for both the hunters and the girls. They followed us around and toured the country. We stayed on a couple farms and ate with our hosts who were great and a lot of fun to be with. New Zealand wines are great! One day, we had the limit by about 8:30 in the morning. We moved to a fishing village and went fishing for two hours. The captain gave us four crayfish (not as good as Maine lobsters) and we caught enough fish for two nights. The girls cooked two or three nights, and we ate with the farm families the rest of the time. It was great!

After the hunting, my wife and I toured New Zealand for eight nights. The country is spectacular. “James Gray is probably the best guide I have ever had, and I have hunted in several foreign countries. He will work from dawn to dusk to put you on the birds. He has hundreds of farm contacts, and we had no trouble getting permission when we spotted birds. Of the seven days, our low day was 26 paradise ducks. We limited out three of the seven days on the ducks and added five to seven Canadas for two-day totals of 46 and 47. James will furnish you with all kinds of references, and if you book with him, you won’t regret it. This is a trip of a lifetime!

“Cost is $450/day per hunter and includes food and lodging. Check with James on the cost of non-hunters. If they cook and help out a couple nights, he will give you a great discount just to have their company.”


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