Monday, 1 October 2012

Hunters finding their identity

A while back we had the Kind of under construction post.  Ten months after it's inception, DaggaBoy Blog - hunting adventures of an ordinary bloke is still chugging along, and this old loco's small contribution to the fabric of sport hunting has come through a rather protracted process of establishing an identity. 

You may have noticed that we're back from our 2012 safari and there have been a few related posts. There's not much spare time at home these days, but in the wee hours of the morning, I'm often busy putting together the ramblings of a very ordinary bloke - hunting adventures and everything that goes with it - that I hope will inspire the next generation of hunters looking for direction and perhaps motivate those with a few notches in their belt to get out there and hunt. 

When I decided to start this, I thought surely there must be some responsibility on more experienced hunters to educate and guide the next generation of firearms enthusiasts? To nurture in them a respect for the game, a passion for hunting, an understanding of sustainable utilisation and an appreciation for the wonderful opportunities that ordinary blokes have to experience adventures that modern city life has taken away from us. Surely that's the point isn't it?

The problem with hunting in today's world is that it can be a tough call to justify to those who don't support the concept that people want to hunt as opposed to the days when people had to hunt. A lot of hunters I know do not support the idea of trophy hunting - where the purpose of the sport is to collect a representative or better set of horns, antlers, tusks or skull and where often there is a cost associated with harvesting the animal. 

Australian hunters certainly got the raw end of the deal. Evolution did not provide this great continent of ours with game carrying horn, antler or ivory. We got marsupials. The settlers brought with them there domestic animals and did a poor job fencing them in. Add to that the efforts of the various Royal Acclimatisation Societies who liberated many European species to make this new land "more like England" and here we are. A very young country with the worst record for extinction of its native species on the planet.

We have failed in comparison to Europe, the Americas and Africa where there is a rich heritage of hunting  endemic species, having long realised that big game is a renewable resource and that sustainable utilisation is conservation. For the modern Australian hunter, there is an abundance of feral and noxious pest species roaming this great southern land and these animals form the basis of our hunting sports.

There is a fair proportion of the hunting community that is dedicated to selective trophy hunting. This group forms the basis of a healthy and growing hunting industry that places tremendous value on horns, antlers and tusks. There is nothing random about a trophy hunters goals - the biggest, oldest or prettiest specimen is the end game of a day out stalking.


The second group are meat hunters. Not much explanation required here, to make a very general statement, these hunters are looking for a juvenile animal or sub adult female suitable for the table. And for those with the know how, most any game harvested can become a special meal.

A third group are in the business of "cleaning up". Our introduced vertebrate pests are targeted in volume and they are shot, trapped and poisoned in an effort to rid the countryside of their destructive impact. For some this activity has become a career, for others there is still an element of La Chasse to there work, however with no perceived "trophy value" for the hunted animal, this becomes a sport more concerned with tally shooting. 

Given the sheer number of vertebrate pests calling this wide brown land home, it has to be done. If a hunter can enjoy some fine sport in pursuit of feral and noxious pest species, then I think we have a wonderfully balanced result for the individual, the environment and the community at large. No doubt there are plenty of people out there who would deplore the very concept of "enjoying" what may amount to the slaughter of animals on a very large scale.

The final group of hunters in this sunburnt country is new to the sport, and perhaps a little bit confused.
This new generation of hunters may have a love of firearms spawned from Nintendo and Play Station rather than family hunting tradition. They are a product of the new age where we all need to "go green"; they subscribe to today's popular mainstream definitions of environmentalist and conservationist, definitions that have no correlation to the true meaning of these words.

They may have an atavistic desire to hunt, but modern culture has told them that this desire is not acceptable, regardless of how fundamental the instinct to hunt may be. So they mask it. They mask their desire to hunt with all of the prerequisite ethics and morals then they head out to shoot vertebrate pests, tally shooting every bit as much as those that cull with purpose. The standard rhetoric goes something like "...we don't enjoy it, we do it for the environment..." - but why do it if you don't enjoy it? Maybe they really are conservationists and I'm confused? Maybe...

Individuals may have
many reasons for hunting, I'd just rather that people were honest with themselves, the sport, their peers and their antagonists. With today's cultural war, when there are maniacs out there, sick groups and individuals who would stop hunting in support of their own narrow minded agenda, now is a good time to stand up and tell it like it is, for our sake and the sake of future generations of hunters.

I am a sport hunter. I am a trophy hunter. I hunt because of the many pleasures that come with my chosen sport. The quiet time, the thinking, the stealth, the long stalk and the long wait, the cramps and the biting ants; I hunt for all of these reasons. The stress and strain, sights and sounds and smells, the draining, burning heat and the bitter, numbing cold. The freedom and adventure and independence, the mate-ship, family time and solitude. I hunt for all of these reasons.

And then there's the game we hunt, all beautiful in their own way. Whether it be a bristly boar or a well-pointed stag, a tasty little rabbit or the elegant Roan Antelope, a feral goat or a majestic Punjabi Markhor. All can be truly challenging game to hunt and for that, they all have a space on my wall. 

So what's your motivation? What examples are you setting for today's young hunters? What legacy will you leave behind?  This ordinary bloke wants to take the opportunity to share the adventures that a great hunting tradition can bring to anyone who takes an interest. I'm always planning another adventure, there's so much out there for today's hunters to enjoy.

If you're enjoying this blog send a link to your friends and colleagues and let's do whatever we can to create a community. I'll see you on the other side. Dagga.

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