From the Editor
A few weeks into the 2018 Duck Season in Victoria, Field & Game Australia board member Peter Hawker called to remark on how quiet it was.
By quiet, he meant the lack of public, and especially, media commentary and debate on duck hunting. Hunters had enjoyed a different but uneventful opening and were continuing to enjoy their passion without the usual noise and anguish.
Peter is right, it has been quiet and with good reason. Hunters, through their actions, sucked the oxygen out of the duck hunting debate.
The critics were still there, the fraternity who oppose the very concept of taking a wild duck, no matter how efficiently and humanely it is done and how well the meat is utilised, but the fact is, most of the population don’t give it a second thought.
The media, where populism reigns supreme, turn quickly to issues they hope will interest their readers, viewers and listeners.
On opening weekend, the peak for so-called duck rescuers, it was amusing to watch them creeping along the shoreline in small flocks. Binoculars raised, whistles at the ready, flags on poles poised and the rescuing net every ready; there they stood, and stood and stood.
There was nothing to rescue, no opportunity to make a scene or gather up game birds for later display on the steps of Parliament.
There is a little irony in the fact that in order to have ducks to save, the rescuers need hunters to hunt, and that didn’t happen for many because enough protesters broke the rules and stood in front of decoy spreads warding off ducks with a whistle and a waving flag.
I spoke to one large group who knew they would not get a shot off on opening morning but were not at all fussed. They had gathered from parts far and wide, as they traditionally do, and were happy to enjoy the camping and company. They would get a hunt when the circus moved on.
This group, and every one of the many duck camps I visited, had the same determination to hunt if they could and provide no ammunition to the anti-hunting lobby.
They were perfect ambassadors for hunting, as were hunters across the state.
Greater enforcement was welcomed; education was two-way with hunters invited to provide feedback on the later start times and new retrieving regulation.
Hunters were under intense scrutiny, the response was clear and unequivocal, and the noise evaporated.