It is February and another Duck Season is upon us, and from all reports it promises to reward those hunters who put in the effort.
Reward is an interesting notion. Is it the full bag of ducks? Is it pulling the trigger on a bird that has decoyed perfectly into your spread, or is that just a consequence of hunting.
Plenty of hunters tell me that for them, the heft of the strap on the walk out of the swamp is not how they judge a good hunt. Some of their most memorable experiences ended with one or two birds or no birds at all.
One of the misconceptions of hunters is that the killing is what counts; the reality is that it is a millisecond in a much longer timeline.
As you will read in this issue, most hunts are preceded by research, scouting, preparation and strategy. There is the travel, the camp set up, the food and the mateship.
Spending time in the natural environment, disconnecting from a highly connected world and marvelling at what you see around you is a reward in itself for most hunters.
In December, I saw that simple pleasure light up the face of my 13-year-old son Daniel.
As a four year old, he would constantly ask to go fishing, and fortunately the Goulburn River runs past a few blocks from home. Mum expected he’d get bored in less than an hour but most days we would spend a whole afternoon.
He would cast out and wind in until he got bored, then he would study ants or hunt for grubs. A lizard would keep him occupied for as long as he could track it through the leaf litter and bark.
So, back to December and the Field & Game Australia Christmas party at Willowmavin. Under the instruction of Glenn Falla (thanks Glenn), Daniel picked up a shotgun for the first time. Before lunch, he managed to hit a few lazy incomers but after lunch, he hit five straight crossers with some simple coaching.
He was beaming all the way home, and you can guess how the conversation went: “When can I get a junior permit?”
He was even disappointed the next day when he didn’t have a bruise to mark the occasion.
It just goes to show how easy it is to get kids engaged with a sport that is safe, fun, competitive (even against yourself) and challenging.
Finally, a note on the NT goose article from the November issue. The published photographs were attributed to NT Field &
Game; they should have been attributed to Feathers & Fur Magazine.