It’s about re­spect

Field & Game Aus­tralia gen­eral man­ager David Mcnabb re­flects on the pos­i­tives and neg­a­tives for hunt­ing from the open­ing of the 2017 Duck Sea­sons.


“Think­ing about the fu­ture, there’s only one thing to think about, and that’s ‘re­spect’ … Re­spect for the an­i­mal, re­spect for ev­ery­one else … It re­ally is that sim­ple. Main­tain re­spect for the an­i­mal.”

Peter Burke, known to many as Burkey, made this state­ment on the Aus­tralian hunt­ing tele­vi­sion se­ries, Be­yond the Di­vide.

While Burkey’s quote is made in the con­text of sam­bar deer and pub­lic land ac­cess to our forests for hunt­ing, it ap­plies equally to duck hunt­ing on pub­lic wet­lands.

Re­spect, or more specif­i­cally, a lack of re­spect, is the sen­ti­ment echoed by con­cerned mem­bers fol­low­ing the open­ing week­end of the Vic­to­rian Duck Sea­son. The lack of re­spect demon­strated by the mi­nor­ity through ir­re­spon­si­ble, un­eth­i­cal, and in some cases, il­le­gal, ac­tions means the ma­jor­ity of hunters who demon­strated eth­i­cal, re­spon­si­ble be­hav­iours have been pe­nalised through the loss of ac­cess to pub­lic land for duck hunt­ing. Pub­lic land ac­cess is a unique priv­i­lege es­tab­lished over al­most 60 years. Those re­stric­tions have de­liv­ered suc­cess to those who are ac­tively op­posed to sus­tain­able, re­spon­si­ble duck hunt­ing.

Peo­ple take up mem­ber­ship of FGA for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons. What is com­mon is that mem­bers are am­bas­sadors for FGA’S lead­er­ship in wet­land con­ser­va­tion and hunt­ing and the in­cred­i­ble op­por­tu­ni­ties for recre­ational shooting at one of our 57 shooting grounds.

As mem­bers of FGA our ac­tions are guided by our long-es­tab­lished Code of Con­duct.

Ev­ery hunter demon­strat­ing re­spon­si­ble, eth­i­cal hunt­ing pro­vides pos­i­tive role mod­el­ling to new hunters and to the com­mu­nity. They are also great am­bas­sadors for hunt­ing; in the eyes of the com­mu­nity we are all am­bas­sadors for hunt­ing and recre­ational shooting. FGA sup­ports the RE­SPECT pro­gram. The re­sponse to ir­re­spon­si­ble, un­eth­i­cal and il­le­gal be­hav­iour is to abide by a com­mon frame­work that demon­strates to the com­mu­nity that we know what it takes to act eth­i­cally and re­spon­si­bly as hunters.

FGA mem­bers have the task of bring­ing RE­SPECT to life through their ac­tions in the field and we know that you do so. Un­for­tu­nately, when a few do the wrong thing, all hunters are tar­nished; the com­mu­nity makes no dis­tinc­tion be­tween good and bad hunters.

Within these frame­works, we’re ad­dress­ing the is­sues from the open­ing week­end and will con­tinue shar­ing up­dates at the ap­pro­pri­ate time. This work hap­pens face-to-face, it doesn’t hap­pen on­line or on so­cial me­dia. With­out apol­ogy we will con­tinue with our proven ap­proach that we don’t broad­cast our tac­tics, nor do we di­vulge the con­ver­sa­tions that must be main­tained in con­fi­dence.

That time and ef­fort must be in­vested in ad­dress­ing the is­sues for hunt­ing caused by the mi­nor­ity is an un­for­tu­nate re­al­ity. It also dis­tracts from the many pos­i­tive as­pects of the 2017 hunt­ing sea­sons now un­der­way through­out south-eastern Aus­tralia.

FGA’S con­tri­bu­tion to duck hunt­ing is year-round and not con­fined to the

Ev­ery hunter demon­strat­ing re­spon­si­ble, eth­i­cal hunt­ing pro­vides pos­i­tive role mod­el­ling to new hunters and to the com­mu­nity.

open­ing week­end. We were on the ground lead­ing up to and through­out the open­ing week­ends in both South Aus­tralia and Vic­to­ria. Thank you to all the hunters we met for your fan­tas­tic hos­pi­tal­ity — the tea and cof­fee were most wel­come.

Ru­ral busi­nesses and lo­cal gov­ern­ment recog­nise the eco­nomic con­tri­bu­tion by hunters buy­ing fuel and sup­plies. In 2013, a gov­ern­ment study in Vic­to­ria recog­nised a con­tri­bu­tion from all hunt­ing of $439 mil­lion.

In Vic­to­ria, Barry Howlett from the Aus­tralian Deer As­so­ci­a­tion (ADA), a keen hunter re­gard­less of the quarry, joined us for the open­ing week­end. Un­for­tu­nately, we didn’t get Barry any time in a duck hunt­ing hide over de­coys. he in­stead was shoul­der-to-shoul­der with us all week­end as is­sues un­folded.

Thanks Barry, for sac­ri­fic­ing your own open­ing week­end to sup­port hunt­ing. This con­tin­ues the close col­lab­o­ra­tion across our or­gan­i­sa­tions for the fu­ture of hunt­ing.

Hunters con­tinue con­tribut­ing to our long-run­ning duck re­search pro­gram with head and wing sam­ples. Our re­search part­ners from Univer­sity of New Eng­land again col­lected blood sam­ples, as­sist­ing re­search into in­fec­tious dis­eases. Hunters demon­strate in­cred­i­ble cu­rios­ity when wit­ness­ing this re­search; the de­sire to de­velop their knowl­edge highlights the re­spect that true hunters have for game.

Any grum­bles about the long, wet win­ter drag­ging through to a wet, mild spring has now been for­got­ten. We’re see­ing the eco­log­i­cal div­i­dend from healthy wet­lands and an in­cred­i­ble breed­ing event, not just game birds but all wa­ter­birds. It re­in­forces why FGA con­tin­ues to ad­vo­cate for habi­tat and wa­ter, these are the crit­i­cal re­quire­ments for healthy wa­ter­bird pop­u­la­tions.

Our ad­vo­cacy work ex­tends across mul­ti­ple is­sues. We have writ­ten be­fore about the work with our col­leagues at ADA that con­trib­uted to in­creased scru­tiny of RSPCA Vic­to­ria, which stepped back from ac­tivism af­ter an in­de­pen­dent re­view backed our con­cerns.

RSPCA’S on­go­ing chal­lenge will be avoid­ing a re­gres­sion back into an­i­mal rights ac­tivism. We have also made a joint sub­mis­sion to the Vic­to­rian par­lia­ment in­quiry into the RSPCA on our mem­bers’ be­half.

Not all is pos­i­tive. We con­tinue to work on firearms is­sues, most re­cently the Na­tional Firearms Agree­ment 2017, which still has sig­nif­i­cant is­sues.

We’re en­ter­ing the third year of coun­ter­ing the cam­paign for a new na­tional park across a large swathe of Vic­to­ria. It is start­ing to ap­pear likely there will be some form of new park, which is in­cred­i­bly dis­ap­point­ing. Nev­er­the­less, we’ll con­tinue our ef­forts on this is­sue to pre­serve ac­cess to pub­lic land for hunt­ing.

Again, with our col­leagues at ADA, we have con­tin­ued with our focus on the Vic­to­rian Gov­ern­ment’s Sus­tain­able Hunt­ing Ac­tion Plan (SHAP), iden­ti­fy­ing the key out­comes for the fu­ture of hunt­ing, and we’ve al­ready jumped into shap­ing up some parts of the de­sign work. While the SHAP has taken time to fi­nalise, we’re pleased the re­cent con­struc­tive dis­cus­sions be­tween Gov­ern­ment, FGA and ADA have con­trib­uted to the Gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to quar­terly up­dates on progress with the plan.

The great op­por­tu­ni­ties and growth in mem­ber­ship in South Aus­tralia con­tin­ues, thanks to the work by ded­i­cated, pas­sion­ate vol­un­teers. I’m de­lighted to wel­come an­other branch into the FGA com­mu­nity and my sin­cere thanks to the com­mit­tee and mem­bers of Ren­mark Berri for en­trust­ing FGA with the sup­port deemed essential for the fu­ture of your branch.

We con­tinue ad­vo­cat­ing on be­half of our mem­bers on is­sues spe­cific to SA, in­clud­ing those re­lated to duck hunt­ing and the draft Firearms Reg­u­la­tions.

Growth in mem­ber­ship al­lows de­liv­ery of more hunter ed­u­ca­tion, more hunt­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and more ac­cess to recre­ational shooting.

Make sure any­one you know who hunts and isn’t a mem­ber of a hunt­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion, un­der­stands that FGA mem­ber­ship is an in­vest­ment in the fu­ture of hunt­ing in Aus­tralia.

We’ve con­tin­ued our pub­lic sto­ry­telling, with TV com­mer­cials, on­line, through so­cial me­dia and ra­dio. The next phase of the cam­paign launches soon. In the mean­time, thanks to the part­ner­ship with Kub­ota, we have an in­cred­i­ble RTV to give away. Re­new now, or join up be­fore July 1 and be in with a chance to win this in­cred­i­ble ve­hi­cle.

Cel­e­brate this nat­u­ral bounty by mak­ing plans to spend as much time in the bush and hunt­ing as your cir­cum­stances al­low. With so much good habi­tat it’s a great year to in­tro­duce hunt­ing to some­one who’s keen but not sure how to go about it, shar­ing in­cred­i­ble wild food with peo­ple who might never hunt, or for men­tor­ing a new hunter to re­in­force the im­por­tance of re­spect.

En­joy time hunt­ing with a gun in hand and a good dog at your side.

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