Leading the way
Field & Game Australia started an annual politicians’ shoot 15 years ago and it has grown into a celebration of our culture and values.
The natural amphitheatre of FGA’S Willowmavin property near Kilmore is the perfect backdrop for a day of keen but friendly clay target competition, delicious wild food prepared by chef Riccardo Momesso and fine wine from Matt Fowles at Fowles Winery.
More than 100 politicians, advisers and guests are mingling. It could be awkward with members of most parties and a mixture of representatives from federal and state as well as FGA, the Australian Deer Association, industry figures and plenty of volunteers.
However, unlike question time, this is not a day for politics and point scoring.
The politicians and their advisers are here to experience the thrill of firing a shotgun and a small clay disc and, hopefully, the satisfaction of successfully smashing a target.
They also get to experience the safe nature of the sport (we’ve never had an incident on our shooting grounds) and to understand the professionalism and passion of our people.
“It is a great day that Field & Game Australia puts on for parliamentarians every year; we get outside and find out what sporting shooting is really about. It is great to see so many people here,” Victorian Liberal MLC Gordon Rich-phillips said.
Mr Rich-phillips captained the winning squad on the day, and bragging rights over coalition partners the Nationals who were again well drilled and represented at the shoot.
FGA provides Federal Labor MP Rob Mitchell with his once-a-year experience of clay target competition and this year he achieved a milestone, nailing his first targets thanks to the volunteer coaches.
“The great thing about today is bipartisan support that is there for hunters and sporting shooters, it shows the benefit of shooting and there are professional, experienced people here to show you how to go about it,” he said. “It is great fun, everybody has a ball.” Victorian Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party MLC Daniel Young is no stranger to firearms and shooting sports and he sees great value in being able provide practical experience through the annual clay target shoot.
“Exposure is absolutely invaluable in this game; there are so many people we deal with who have never done this or of even know someone who’s done it,” he said.
‘They talk about our issues in parliament but have no experience of what it is like, so here they get to see that we are real people, good people.”
At lunch, Riccardo Momesso’s goat casserole and camel burgers turned the conversation to sustainable use of wildlife. Both are introduced species and viewed as pests while others see value in harvesting from transient rangeland populations rather than shooting to waste simply to reduce numbers.
Goat is the most consumed meat product on earth and in Queensland and New South Wales has seen a shift in recent years from feral (opportunistic harvesting) to farmed, driven by strong demand and prices.
The Ngaanyatjarra Camel Company formed in 2012 as an alternative to a culling or ‘shoot to waste’ program.
The Ngaanyatjarra Council signed a joint venture with Central Livestock Management and took on the role of mustering feral camels.
Damage to infrastructure from thirsty camels was an ongoing problem in the region and mustering for sale made sense.
Aerial culling is costly and produces rotting carcasses in the desert but mustering and processing provides vital indigenous employment and the sale of camels for meat, milk, genetics or for racing covers wages and removal costs. Camel numbers are still reduced while delivering social and economic benefits.
Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes gets her eye in before competition Victorian Liberal Gordon Rich-phillips (left) captained the winning squad
Riccardo Momesso serves up wild food