With the Easter long weekend just around the corner, there will be many hunters taking advantage of the extra time off to head out and bag a few birds for the table.
There’s been a bit of rain across the state, delivering a boost to water levels in several areas, but actually washing out some hunter campsites – particularly in Gippsland.
We’ve had reports of hunters getting the full 8 birds on opening day, but remind all our members that the bag limit for the remainder of the season is 4 birds per hunter per day. That’s still a great feed of wild-reared game for the table.
A lot of hunters are heading to permanent water storages, creeks and rivers, or are heading to hunt on private property. This is due to the lack of water for the wetland habitats in the State Game Reserve system, and other wetlands being in a drying phase for optimum wetland health.
Dowds Morass State Game Reserve, Lake Toolondo, Lake Nagambie, Lake Hume, and the Connewarre State Game Reserve all saw good numbers of hunters. Lake Burrumbeet, while the target for protester activity, is a mostly dry lake bed. We wonder if the protesters realise that the birds prefer their wetlands to have water? Field & Game Australia know full well the importance of wetland habitat for the health and prosperity of our waterbirds. It is frustrating to see our wetlands dry because we know how important these habitats are to our birds.
No hunters have been charged with hunting or taking protected or threatened species, although some protected species have been collected by authorities. On the whole, Field & Game Australia are pleased with hunter behaviour over opening weekend, especially the small group of hunters who acted as wonderful ambassadors for hunting at Lake Burrumbeet. After a morning of being harassed by protesters, this group still managed to get their bag, and then at the day’s end, helped shift a protester vehicle which had ended up bogged: a kind and respectful act. Well done and thankyou.
Field & Game Australia would like to reinforce the message of “not sure, don’t shoot”. With Waterfowl Identification Tests as a precondition for obtaining the appropriate licence for duck hunting, there should be no excuses for firing at a non-game species. The Blue-winged Shoveler is usually a game bird but has been taken off the game list for the 2016 season.
If you haven’t already, it’s a good time to revisit the brilliant DuckWISE education and training videos from the Game Management Authority.
Likewise, to help you hunt ethically and efficiently this Easter, you should be checking your choke and cartridge combinations to get the best results for quick, humane kills. If you’re not sure about what best suits your firearm and your skills as a hunter, you should get along to a Shotgunning Education Program workshop, as there’s loads of advice, training and testing done to help identify the best combination for you, and improve your hunting knowledge.
Another skill to brush up on is range estimation. You might want to measure and set out markers (try natural materials placed so they won’t move, or a static decoy) when you’re setting up your next hide so you can better judge a bird’s distance.
It’s a great time also to check over all your hunting and camping gear, perform any repairs, fill up fuel tanks, replace any worn parts, and give things a good clean. Don’t forget to take rubbish bags with you before you head out, and remember to clean up your campsite and the spot you were hunting before heading home.
While the closures are discouraging, we encourage you to still get out there and share your passion for wild game food, and show that sustainable, ethical hunting is here to stay.