At an informal gathering of well known deerhunters on August 18 1969 in Ringwood Victoria, a proposal by the Sporting Shooters Association to form a deer hunting as-sociation was discussed.
It was decided to organise a public meeting to see if this proposal had merit and subsequently it was held at the Elderly Citizens Hall in Camberwell. That it was so well attended indicated how timely the move was. There was lively discussion and an affirmative response but the proposal failed, primarily because membership of the SSAA was made a first requirement.
A further public meeting, also well attended, was held on September 5 1969 at the same venue and the Australian Deer Hunters Association came into being.
The first office bearers were: President, Kevin Kincade; Vice-President, Arthur Bentley; Secretary, Lance Abbey; Assistant Secretary, Neil Patrick; Treasurer, Bob Sheppard. Committee members: Dick Dixon, Bill Pepper, Allan Tough, Ron Marshall, Geoff Freeman, Pat Stratton, Ian Disney, Des Trott and Norm McLeod.
Some years later the name was changed to the Australian Deer Association. The change was not to avoid using the word ‘hunter’ as thought by some members. There were two reasons: it was to broaden the Association’s objectives so that anybody, hunter or not, with an interest in deer could join. At that same time, deer hunting was illegal in Queensland where enthusiastic supporters had established our third branch.
For over forty years the Australian Deer Association has been most fortunate in the outstanding ability of its leaders and the ‘stayers’ of its general membership who have supported them. This year we are an association with active branches in every State and Territory.
Despite current problems in the world of the deer, there are signs that indicate persistence, common sense and rational thought will prevail over irrational dogma.
In 1972 the deer scene in Australia was still relatively small but was expanding at a rapid rate. In that year Peter Stu- art took a nice fallow trophy and decided to have it scored under the Douglas Measuring System. There were only a few people measuring antlered trophies at the time and the two main scorers, and also keepers of any sort of records were Arthur Bentley in Victoria, and Gordon Alford in New South Wales. Both of these gentlemen measured Peter’s trophy and believed it to be the highest scoring fallow trophy by Douglas score taken in Australia at the time.
This same year the ADA was staging an Antlered Game Exhi- bition at the Melbourne Showgrounds where a vast number of trophies would be on display, and as such it would be a great opportunity to measure and record the Douglas score of the individual exhibits. This put the idea in Peter’s mind for the Association to establish a formal register so all deer- hunters wishing to have their trophies measured could do so and have the results recorded and published in a proposed Australian Antlered Trophy Register. Peter put the proposal to the Association’s National Executive and it was approved. The Executive appointed Peter as the Trophy Registrar and commissioned him to establish, develop and manage the Register on the Association’s behalf.
The objective of the Register was to record the antler growth achievement of a wild deer so the future trophy potential of our deer species could be gauged. To keep the eligibility for entry of a trophy into the Register simple and to try to achieve this objective the criteria for entry was set as: ‘Any trophy to be entered in the Register must have been free roaming and known to have grown its antlers in the wild when taken’.