An open letter emailed to Game Management Authority with the request for distribution to board members, Minister for Agriculture and Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Change.
A recommendation to the GMA for consideration in relation to the 2020 Victorian Duck Hunting Season from a mother of the next generation of hunters coming through.
As a mother of two children I have sat back and read all the recommendations submitted from the listed stakeholders. Whilst I think it is imperative to allow everyone to have their say and put forward their views, I do think the playing field is not a fair one when the numbers are definitely not evenly competitive when Animals Australia, Coalition Against Duck Hunting, RSPCA, BirdLife Australia and Regional Victorians Against Duck Shooting simply do not want a season, and are showing no willingness to compromise.
My children have held themselves extremely well when faced with the constant discrimination of our family’s way of life and I do truly commend them for it. It is never easy to handle being discriminated against constantly in person, over mainstream media and now social media as an adult, let alone a child. This confirms my views that we are raising resilient, respectful and well grounded children. My children are eager to learn off the land, their grandfather, father and a vast array of other hunters from all walks of life. They have the same passion for the land as we do and that land enables them to learn life skills that many have given up on and now no longer think are part of human existence.
As a mother and business owner where work needs to be completed during the night to early hours of the morning, I have witnessed young children walking the streets alone and in groups with no parent to guide them. Many of these children find themselves committing crimes and taking a path that leads to drugs and alcohol - it breaks my heart seeing this, but at the very same time also once again confirms my pride of our way of life and our decision to raise our children under our wings, teaching them all the attributes hunting offers. I can’t say my children will never do wrong but having a tradition like hunting and the anticipation of the coming season to enjoy gives them purpose - to be a duck hunter you must be dedicated, and dedication in society for youth is something we are lacking.
We teach them morals and integrity when faced with this constant discrimination by those not willing to understand that some people are still true to the land. As a family we all participate in the lead up to a Victorian duck hunting season - counting bird numbers, visiting wetlands, shopping for equipment and supplies, and discussing recipes that we will be able to prepare during the season using the game we have harvested.
As a wife it gives me comfort in seeing my husband communicate with his children, family, friends and other hunters in preparation for the upcoming season, allowing him to take his mind off the busy stressful life we all live nowadays. For some men it is imperative to maintain the hunt as they have done since human existence, once survival of life, now survival to maintain good mental health.
While some parts of Victoria are experiencing extremely dry times others are relishing in perfect conditions. We personally are living in an area that is experiencing dry times, yet we are pleasantly surprised with the healthy numbers of ducks along the mighty Murray River, creek systems and man-made waterways. We have faced for many past seasons the discrimination and loss of opportunity to hunt, as almost all areas once hunted by our family have now been closed to hunting and those areas now National Parks or flora and fauna reserves. We understand that there may have to be compromises for the season ahead from time to time, however all hunters should have the opportunity to hunt without discrimination in their area of the state they call home. The areas experiencing dry conditions may have bag limits apply, however the areas not affected by weather conditions should not be affected. We are fortunate in this day and age to have the resources to monitor the state enabling hunters their full length of a season.
As a mother I should feel comfortable knowing my husband and children can hunt without harassment on public wetlands open for hunting. We pay our licenses, we hunt ethically and at all time abide to the rules and regulations, yet we have no protection from animal activists and this is something we need to work on for the future.
Out of all the stakeholders hunters themselves are the ones that want to see healthy numbers of ducks for it’s our way of life that will be lost if they are not maintained in healthy numbers.
From this mother of little hunters, I want to thank each and every law abiding hunter for being true to your tradition even when the discrimination is relentless - it gives my children hope. 🙏
Contributed by Shanna Finis