People tend to get very stuck on certain details. They fixate on something and struggle to see the whole picture or the long game. And hunting is no exception. It makes headlines very quickly.
What fails to make headlines is the harvest, the game food, the reason for the hunt.
Game food is almost a secret society among hunters, a delicious secret hidden from those not in the know. It’s something that rarely gets mentioned because people get stuck on certain details — the hunt.
The question is, how do we change this fixation and open the public’s eyes to game food’s potential?
November 30 saw the ADA’s Melbourne branch congregate at the Austrian Club in Heidelberg for its annual game food dinner or, as president Gino Lendaro said, a practice run for its 50th anniversary celebrations next year.
“We want to promote game food,” he said.
“It’s all about utilising what you hunt.”
The Austrian Club is home base for the Melbourne branch, but this was the first time it had hosted its game night there.
“We always have our bi-monthly meetings here, every second Thursday of every second month,” Gino said.
“They’re very hospitable to us and hunter-friendly and it’s a magnificent venue.”
Previously, the branch has hosted its game night at The Royal Mail on Spencer St in North Melbourne.
“Last year Mike Hermans sold the pub and the night didn’t quite come up to what we wanted,” Gino said.
“So, we approached Fridz and Frieda Reiterer (the Austrian Club) and asked if they would be open to hosting our game night and they said ‘yes’.
“We have more control of it here, and we’ve supplied everything.
“A free-range dinner.”
Mike, who volunteered his services for the night, was joined in the kitchen by Merchant Osteria game chef Daniel Airo-Farulla.
“We poached Daniel and he was all for it,” Gino said.
“We can work with the chefs about what we want and how we want it.
“We also have several chefs in the branch who have helped out as well.
“Next year we are going to have our 50th celebration here. We’ll go through all of the history and invite everyone who is still around — presidents, vice-presidents, treasurers and secretaries.
“This is like a trial.”
Chefs Mike Hermans and Daniel Airo-Farulla.
Gino has been a member of the ADA for more than 30 years; his father was a hunter from Italy and, like most members, he grew up hunting.
Now based in Mount Beauty, he is surrounded by deer, trout, rabbits and more, with only a three-minute drive necessary to go hunting — not that he’ll be doing much of that with a broken foot.
“As kids we started with quails, hares, foxes and then moved to deer,” he said.
“Ten years ago, the hardest thing to get was a deer.
“Everyone kept deer information to themselves, a secret society.
“There just wasn’t the amount of deer there is now.”
Now, venison is the first thing on the menu, with rabbit and hare becoming much more difficult to find.
“All the venison here today is from Mount Beauty,” Gino said. “It’s all sambar where we are.”
Arguably, this amazing access is a reflection on the ADA’s efforts and the work it has done in the past 50 years, and not just the rate at which deer reproduce.
Melbourne branch president Gino Lendaro welcoming people.
“As soon as my kids were born, I signed them up to the ADA and Field & Game Australia because I believe if you hunt the animal you should support the organisations helping you do so,” Gino said.
“We eat what we hunt. It isn’t about killing an animal and leaving it in the bush, we take everything.
“When my boys and I go hunting, when we shoot a deer, there isn’t much left for the dog to eat. We take everything.”
Those are the details that are often missed out on, not spoken of.
There is no other way to swing it, hunters hunt with a purpose — for food.
This is the bigger picture. There is no deception, no lies, ethical hunters don’t laugh in the field after shooting their game — that is the stuff of cartoons, made up and over-exaggerated.
As ADA’s executive officer Barry Howlett says — hunting is not about that fraction of second when the trigger is pulled, it’s about everything else — the bigger picture.