We have some fantastic people in the hunting scene. Absolutely first-class individuals who have contributed greatly and selflessly to wildlife conservation, game management and to their communities more broadly.
Invariably when I speak with one of our volunteers I find that they are active elsewhere in their communities — working with their local volunteer fire services, or school committees, or local sporting clubs etc.
The Australian Deer Association is a relatively small organisation; we have limited resources and we rely more heavily than most on our committed volunteers — we couldn’t do what we do without them and it’s unlikely that we could get the same quality and passion of work if we were to have staff handle it — our people really are a cut above.
One of those extraordinary people in the hunting scene is Max Downes. In early March, Col Brumley and I spent a morning with Max going over material for the Australian National Hunting Archive. In a wide-ranging discussion, we covered everything from Max’s tales of survival on Heard Island in the Sub-Antarctic as a twenty-three-year-old through to his views on the state of Game Management in Australia today.
Max was Superintendent of Game Management in Victoria in the 50’s and 60’s where he oversaw the introduction of game licencing, the creation of the State Game Reserve system and the conservation of native waterfowl. He then went off to Papua New Guinea working on rusa deer and crocodiles before returning in the 70’s and 80’s where he worked as a consultant for the ADA amongst other things.
Max’s major gripe with the current state of ‘Game Management’ is that the community are excluded from it and it is driven almost entirely by academics and bureaucrats. By community he means the community at large as well as hunters. He is supportive of the work of the academics, but sees it as a tool, not as the be-all and end-all.