Embrace common interest
Peter Mckenzie, Bendigo, Vic
As someone who has experienced firsthand the “traditions in the Gippsland area” as written by John Byers from Sale branch in the first edition of the new magazine, I would suggest that Gippsland hunters need to be brought up to the twenty first century and realise that hunters are not what we used to be.
There is nothing wrong with building a hide with signing but if it is done after Boxing day or the New Year, how can anyone outside of the local get a chance to share the area? What has changed is the mobility of hunters and better communications and some hunters who do not reside within a couple of hundred kilometres of Gippsland want to share the resources and don't want to turn up at a public swamp to find signs monopolising spaces, it is not legal or moral to think that you “own” that piece of water. As for
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disputes, how can you discuss anything when the sign says “Jack, Bill or Tosser” and no one in authority can be found. Ring the police or GMA and they will tell you it is illegal and ignore the sign.
When I first hunted the Sale area over 20 years ago on Frawley's property, which is now the FGA Heart Morass, I remember remarking to the owner that I thought we had entered a cemetery for the number of crosses dotted all over the swamp which were marker pegs of previous positions and he agreed that as the owner of the swamp, no one had a right to “mark out an area” on his land, shouldn't the same apply today on the Heart as we members all have a share in it? Whilst you may think marking or signing is the done thing, in all my over 50 years hunting in Northern Victoria, it has not been practised or entrenched especially at public waters.
Now is the time for Gippsland hunters to realise they need to change their ways. All signs and hides should be erected within forty eight hours prior and removed the day after duck opening. All signs should have a contact detail and anyone not at that spot thirty minutes prior to the opening forfeits that area and any signs or hides left behind are null and void for anyone to use.
Duck hunting is a tradition and we still practise it, but back in the fifties you would use a side by side, lead shot, no waders and a cocker spaniel to retrieve. Times have changed and so we all should move on and embrace new standards as we have with our equipment and what Gippslanders could do is invite outsiders to their hides and spots and embrace each other as having a common interest in hunting.