Remembering Doug Rogers
Doug Rogers, who died just before Duck Opening was a conservationists, keen hunter and coach to young clay target shooters. He was a life member of Shepparton Field & Game and spent a lifetime gathering friends and stories for the campfire.
Doug was born on July 15, 1932, the first child of Lorna and David Rogers. He was followed a few years later by his brother David. The family lived in Ballarat, where his father was a banker with the State Savings Bank of Victoria and his mum was a homemaker and part-time opera singer. Doug went to school in Ballarat, and many of the friendships that began there continued throughout his lifetime. From an early age, fishing and hunting were a huge part of life. As a teenager he would head off on his bike after school or at the weekend with his father’s .22 slung over his shoulder, to meet with mates and go after a rabbit or perhaps a duck, which often helped supplement the dinnertime fare in the Rogers household. He said in those times, nobody would give the kid with a rifle a second glance, other than to perhaps enquire where he hoped to bag that day’s game. As a young man Doug moved the family to Horsham and worked for the Wimmera Mail Times in Natimuk as an apprentice printer. It was fitting, really, because the printed word was another big part of his life. He even had a bookshelf in his ensuite, which he aptly called ‘the library’ — he was never one to waste a moment. His favourite books were set in the high country or outback Australia, or sometimes Africa or some other exotic location, and would invariably involve hunting of some description. He also loved Australian bush poetry, particularly Banjo Paterson and CJ Dennis. It was while living in Horsham that he met Lael Rabl, who was a nurse at the Wimmera Base Hospital in Horsham; luckily, she didn’t mind the fishing, hunting and camping lifestyle and happily joined in on many a hunting trip. They married in 1956 and moved to Shepparton where Doug worked at the Shepparton News as a linotype operator. They travelled around Australia in 1965 in a Ford Falcon on mostly unmade roads to places where few would dare. Doug also had a particular love for the rugged Victorian High Country and spent many a time in pursuit of deer there (which he was still doing into his early 80s), or just enjoying the beauty of the mountains. He was an avid conservationist and wanted to see the High Country preserved for years to come. He deeply respected nature and felt at home there, and was never happier than sitting around a campfire in some quiet spot with a glass of red in hand. For Doug, the highlight of the year was Duck Opening, which was always meticulously planned and a family affair. Doug eventually moved into advertising, and wore, a suit — so when hunting, fishing and camping, his garb was about as far removed from that as could be. He was also likely to be unshaven and was never without a pocket knife or two and a battered hat.
Ross Mcpherson considered Doug a mentor and recalls receiving his first serious hunting knife with a note. “It said a chap needs a good gun and a good knife; and a good dog and a good wife,” he said. “Doug never liked to stray from the truth and was always bemused when blokes exaggerated the number of fish they caught, or the ducks they shot, or how many ducks per box of cartridges. He was your original ethical hunter, although he would never use the term: he hated seeing a deer carcass on the ground, its head taken by spotlighters, with the rest left to rot. He always ate what he shot, or caught; he never shot more than he ate, and he disapproved of those who did.”
Doug’s skill with shotgun and rifle in pursuit of game led eventually to the competitive shooting circuit, where he made many friends. It was a good way to keep his eye in for duck season, and he was a regular fixture at down-the-line events with his mate Alan Kriss.
Around1965 Doug offered to take a local champion down to Melbourne for the state shotgun titles; since he was there, he thought he might as well have a go too — he won.
Dad was an inaugural member of the Shepparton Field & Game and the Sporting Shooters’ branch.
He was actively involved in coaching young shooters through the school shoots, and was also a firearms licence instructor, recognised for his long service.