The next gen­er­a­tion

Duck hunt­ing is a tra­di­tion and for most hun­ters, the skills and ethics are passed down from one gen­er­a­tion to an­other. Trent Spencer writes about his first hunt with his son Fred, part of hunt­ing’s next gen­er­a­tion.

Field and Game - - THE NEXT GENERATION -

The time had come to take my old­est son Fred, 10, on his first duck open­ing. I was lucky enough to be given the chance to shoot at the Con­newarre Wet­lands Cen­tre, a man­aged wet­land, through Gee­long Field & Game.

My own duck and quail hunt­ing started at the age of nine in the Wim­mera. I was taken by my fa­ther dam and chan­nel hop­ping for ducks (me be­ing the re­triever in the ab­sence of an ac­tual dog), and was oc­ca­sion­ally given a shot with an old sin­gle-bar­rel shot­tie, which had a three­inch piece of foam as a re­coil pad.

I be­lieve this was only there to boost my con­fi­dence, as I am pos­i­tive it didn’t help with any re­coil. I ended up on my bum the first time I shot it!

Fred had at­tended a duck ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram run by the Gee­long Field & Game at the Con­newarre Wet­land Cen­tre, where he learnt about safety, equip­ment re­quired, de­coy spreads, eti­quette, re­spect and many other things that go with be­ing a re­spon­si­ble duck hunter.

He also at­tended a duck call­ing ses­sion with Blair Findlay from Toxic Calls, at the wet­land cen­tre ear­lier this year.

When I told Fred of the plans two days be­fore open­ing, his ex­cite­ment was ev­i­dent. Im­me­di­ately he got his cam­ou­flage gear and calls out, and even put his pil­low in his swag. On the eve of duck open­ing, I picked him up from school and he was ready to go! We had a night of camp­ing await­ing.

Once our swags were set up, we headed down to set up the hide. He made sure there were sticks, grass and camo net­ting for the hide, and wouldn’t leave un­til he was happy with the ar­range­ment.

Sit­ting around chat­ting on what to­mor­row could bring made his ex­cite­ment grow but he put him­self to bed early so to­mor­row would come quicker.

First light ap­peared above the bushes and his ex­cite­ment had grown to fever pitch. Fully dressed in camo gear, duck call­ers and binoc­u­lars around his neck, with his mate Frizzy the dog ready to go, the young bloke was keen to get amongst it.

Ar­riv­ing at the hide, the young bloke set up the de­coy pat­tern, which he had learnt on the ed­u­ca­tion days, and in a way he be­lieved would be good for the day. Jump­ing back in the hide it was time to wait un­til open­ing. Within min­utes birds started to land around us. Fred was even able to tell what type of ducks were com­ing in (very proud Dad mo­ment, he had done well). This also showed how well the man­aged fa­cil­ity was. The count­down be­gan, so we waited un­til 10 min­utes past nine to make sure. Within the next hour there were plenty of ducks to be had, and it didn’t take long to get a bag. The two re­triev­ers (young bloke and the dog) were be­gin­ning to get all tuck­ered out. It was time for home.

Fred packed up all the de­coys as the dog tried to rest/sleep in the shade. Walk­ing back pulling the punt full of all the gear, there was a guar­an­tee some­one would sleep tonight.

It was won­der­ful to hear the first words out of his mouth when get­ting out of the car: “Can we go again to­mor­row?”

That night duck schnitzels were on the menu and de­voured by the en­tire fam­ily, in­cluded our one year old. I am happy to know my young bloke is on his way to be­ing a re­spect­ful hunter, and will be part of the fu­ture of hunt­ing in Aus­tralia.

I’d like to thank Field & Game Aus­tralia for al­low­ing us this great ex­pe­ri­ence, filled with me­mories with my young bloke on his first open­ing, and hope we get to share many more to come.

Trent and Fred at the Con­newarre Wet­land Cen­tre

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