Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Living With The Enemy: Hunting

Tonight on Australia's SBS, we were very fortunate to see a wonderful episode of Living With The Enemy that focused on the polar opposites of the hunting world: Felicity Andersen, activist with Animal Liberation Victoria and Steve Lee, contract shooter living in central western New South Wales.

I had a feeling of what was to come, and I was far from disappointed. I found it hard not to find the program immensely entertaining! Steve Lee, country singer, contract shooter and licensed pyrotechnician remained good humoured, tolerant and even understanding of the activists viewpoint.  His position didn't change, but he gave them time to speak and he listened.

Felicity Anderson was excited and motivated for the first 30 minutes, and then we saw her mood turn to dread as they headed out of her comfort zone - entering properties illegally, stealing property, tending to diseased animals that might be better off euthanised and cuddling animals at rehabilitation centres - to a western NSW property where they planned to camp and spend a couple of days hunting.

It all got worse for Ms. Anderson when Steve was joined by The Honourable Robert Borsak,
Member of the Legislative Council for their hunt.
In one scene, the afternoon pig hunt (seriously, go straight to 37:18), the boys manage to deck a couple of pigs...

And Robert Borsak is calm, considered and direct -
"Sshh, sshh, sshh, pigs...  BOOM... yeah got him."

Ms. Anderson is clearly emotional as she slaps her forehead -
"Oh fuck!"

Steve Lee is excited -
"Did you get two in one shot? Get out of here..."

Ms. Anderson cant stop apologising to the pigs -
"Oh my God I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry... fucking hell you're animals..."

And back to Robert -
"Don't swear at me. Grow up. Turn away if you don't like it."

And again to Ms. Anderson -
"I should have stayed with that bastard... I should have stayed with him and because I didn't they're dead."

Clearly Ms. Anderson is responsible for the death of these pigs and the boys were free to head off, skipping through the paddocks without a care in the world; certainly not carrying any sort of burden as a result of their successful stalk.

Make some time fellow hunters, this is definitely worth watching. Some good points made by the hunters and some of the usual liberationists' rhetoric which in context, made for an enjoyable hour in front of the box. The program will be available to watch for the rest of October at the link below and you can purchase the episode through iTunes.

Looking forward to your feedback on this one!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Too busy not hunting

Has it really been three months?

Today I opened the safe for the first time in a long time.  I held my breath as the heavy door swung open, expecting to see a build-up of scaly red rust rather than the deep blue-black lustre that greeted me.  Thankfully the damp weather that’s hit Sydney this past six weeks has not brought the scourge of oxidation to my small collection of hunting rifles and shotguns.

Regrettably, I’ve been too busy not hunting.

Friday, 23 May 2014

A bad year in review

I feel like a broken record, scratched, repeating, I'm not in the greatest condition, worn out with a load of scuff marks. The last year or so has brought new meaning to the term "...a long day at the office..." and as someone who doesn't shy away from hard work or long hours, I’m buggered! 

I hate to sound morbid or sombre, it really isn't in my nature, but we've had a very average year and amongst many other things, my hunting has suffered. A week off hunting is hard to come by when juggling work, family and the ills and ailments that befall us every now and then. In 2013 I've hardly been able to put together a plan for a hunt, let alone get out there. Even my writing - and there's never been much of it - has all but stopped this year.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Time out hunting

We had a great hunt over the Easter long weekend. There were a few photos from our hunt that I really thought worth sharing. We hope you enjoy these...

This fox met his demise in thick scrub some time ago.  Poison? A bullet? A slow and lingering death? It doesn't matter so much now.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Time away & a mixed bag hunt

A bunch of public holidays have come together and with a couple of carefully planned annual leave days I find myself off for ten days - more than enough time to hunt, spend some time with my girls and get a few things done as well.

Now by writing this, there's a very important chapter I've conveniently skipped - ten days on the chital - however I will come back to that shortly, might as well get on with the new news for now. It's April here in the Great Southern Land. With April comes Autumn, a significant drop in temperatures and with that, the rut kicks off for our fallow and red deer herd. I haven't been out with my father for a couple of years so we made plans to head out to a mate's place - 10,000 acres of rugged mountains towering over the Liverpool Plains.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Getting back into it

My eyes are stinging as the salty sweat pours in. It’s hot. Really, really hot. 43°C kind-of-hot. My morning hunt started before first light peeped over the horizon and I had expected to be done well before lunch. The only relief from the intense heat is the cold shower in the shearer’s quarters; as I tap away I stand under the running shower every five minutes or so. It could be worse, but it could be a whole lot better.

Friday, 27 December 2013

You are all insane!

I love getting feedback about my blog and my hunting.  So when I get something special, I think it's important to share.  This comment popped up the other day to a post I published over a year ago following our 2012 safari. Hope they visit again soon!

"You are all insane. This creature poses no threat. You are. This creature is near extinction. 
To exterminate such beauty is obscene. You are guilty of such a travesty on life."

I thought a response was important...

Hello Anonymous - my name is Dan. So you're not fond of hunting right?  You are most welcome to visit but I thought I should point a couple of things out. You know this is a hunting blog? Mostly about hunting? And guns. Sometimes taxidermy.

Not to worry.

I admire your very passionate yet anonymous post, however I think you are lacking a few facts which would be worth providing you right here, right now.  For next time you visit. Here's the deal and I'll keep it really short.

Humans have built cities and roads and stadiums and borders and shops and schools and factories and telecommunications facilities and movie studios and wet and wild them parks and that has effected where wildlife can exist and to what extent said wildlife can roam its habitat.

As a result, some clever people have set aside large tracts of  privately owned land for wildlife.  They have taken away all domestic stock and internal fences, some have dropped their fences all together.  All for the wildlife. Most of these landowners are looking to make a dollar, even if the sole purpose the funds generated are for the maintenance and paying wages to staff to manage the

Unfortunately these parcels of land (which may be tens or even hundreds of thousands of acres) have a limited carrying capacity.  So the owners of the land and the government wildlife authorities review animal numbers and the condition of the habitat and make some decisions about how many of each species should be removed in order for that land to continue to provided good habitat for all species - a balance for the trees and the grass as well as the antelope and the predators. 


If Anonymous cares to read on, here's the rest of it...

Now we come to the part where those animals must actually be removed.  It cannot be indiscriminate - it must be a highly targeted strategy so as not to remove young or breeding individuals. Options available are:
  1. live capture for translocation;
  2. sport hunting; or
  3. aerial shooting.
Live capture is an industry in itself and where there is a demand for the excess animals, assuming the terrain allows it and that the entire exercise is economically viable, then this is an excellent option.

Sport hunting can generate a huge income and requires a fairly modest operation - a professional hunter, a couple of skinners and trackers, a cook, a vehicle and a simple camp.  It's fairly non-invasive and I expect you would have a very tough time knowing that a hunter had been in the area, even if they were successful. The meat, skin, horns and ivory is totally recovered and utilised. This provides protein for a reasonable price to locals (often at no cost to them) and creates employment opportunities in the many related industries.

Assuming that the quota of excess animals is not shot by hunters, these animals still have to be removed as part of the total management strategy. So in come the choppers. An aerial shooting operation is highly disruptive to the animals on the ground.  The game reserve must bear the cost for the chopper itself, the pilot, the shooter and a large team on the ground if the meat is to be recovered.

Now we come back to the old bull giraffe, as you put it - a species "nearly extinct" - a beautiful animal which I "exterminated" - mostly because I am "insane".

We were hunting a private game reserve that adjoins Kruger National Park. We were possibly the last hunters for the 2012 season and after out visit, whatever game wasn't harvested would be taken off by the choppers; a big cost, with no foreign hunter dollars coming in to offset the expense.

The Game Warden from the Reserve that was assigned to our hunting party was not a hunter himself and had not been hunting before, however he was enthusiastic about the fact that the reserve was earning good dollars in return for the removal of animals that had to go, regardless of how they went.  Our Warden was also impressed with how discriminating and thoughtful we were - I wasn't surprised at all.

Bearing in mind that we hunted the Southern Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis giraffa), it seems appropriate to provide a response to some of the very emotionally charged language in this comment:

"This creature is near extinction..."

According to The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and the data they have regarding the major threats on this species, I'll let them do the talking:

Major Threat: While southern populations are increasing in abundance, northern populations have been decreasing due to habitat degradation and poaching.

"To exterminate such beauty is obscene..."

Ultimately there's no tip-toeing around the fact that I killed this grand old animal - but totally destoyed?  I don't think so.  There are some positives to come out of our hunt.  We left behind a huge amount of meat for a population greatly lacking protein in their diet.  We left behind some waste and trimmings for the carnivores - both predators and scavengers in the reserve.  And we also left behind cash.  This particular Game Reserve was profitable for the first time in its 15 years of operation as this was the first year they approved the use of sport hunting to remove excess game. Photographic tourists just don't pay the bills. 

"You are all insane..."

Am I and other hunters in a state of mind which prevents normal perception, behaviour, or social interaction? Am I seriously mentally ill? My doctor doesn't think so, but if it's a matter of perception, I guess I'll leave that up to you to decide...