February 7 through to 9 saw the Northern and Yorke branch of the Australian Deer Association produce an education and training weekend held in Wallaroo, South Australia.
With 42 attendees, branch President Shane Kelly was delighted with the outcome. The Northern and Yorke Peninsula branch was established 12 months ago, and currently holds 65 members.
ADA life member Bob Gough flew in from Albury to present some well-considered skills-based programming that was well received by both old hands and newcomers to the sport. His presentation style enabled all to take much from his presentations, a skill no doubt developed as an ADF officer. Bob also provided NSW R-licence education and testing for attendees, and while this took longer than anticipated, all comers were passed and provided with the necessary documentation to secure permits. This drew Friday evenings presentations to a close and ‘fellowship’ commenced. It goes without saying that this was held in very high regard, with some members pursuing ‘fellows’ well into the early hours.
Saturday morning saw some bleary eyes, but a taxidermy demonstration by Tim Blackwell drew blokes from their swags faster than an inside tip at the Spring Carnival. Tim took us through the caping process, including splitting lips and ears while demonstrating the best way to care for a cape to make the most of it for your taxidermist. He was so thorough he provided a velvet stag for the occasion. Again, a sterling presentation with many attendees being seriously impressed with the carriage of the information and its accessibility.
Richard Feathersonhaugh provided a doe for our butchers. Having this carcass on-hand enabled the next presenters with a valuable prop to demonstrate their art. Local butcher Des Walters and national training manager (butchery) Trevor Eden, (as a sidenote Trevor has been selected at international levels to provide judging for competition), provided a step-by-step guide to finding and preserving the best cuts from your next harvest, enlisting help from some brave souls in attendance. Once they had worked their way through the primal cuts that most hunters would be familiar with, local legend Des gave away some trade secrets in the form of venison hamburgers worth selling a body part for.
The beauty of having quite a small shooting and hunting community in South Australia was demonstrated in the next presentation: Sam ‘Rusty’ Russell, Australian PRS match director and SA firearms industry renaissance man, made himself available to us as a personal favour to break down some issues and answer questions around taking long range shots ethically. The underlying message of Rustys’ presentation was to discourage the uninitiated from taking the classic ‘pot-shot’ and to elaborate on what is actually required to be successful and ethical at this in real time. Feedback after Rustys’ presentation clearly demonstrated that members understood long-range needs a large amount of both practice and preparation.
After a quick break Bob Gough returned and gave the room the benefit of his decades in the bush focusing on those members keen on ‘heading east’ to pursue the species beginning with an ‘S’! While we have an abundance of fallow here in SA, the only thing our hunting generally has in common with our Victorian cousins is that venison is the end result. Bob provided valuable, useful and transferable knowledge to members of all skill levels who are keen on sambar. Thanks Bob!
To the relief of many members, the Wallaroo Cricket club was just a stone’s throw away for a quick cleanser on the way to the foreshore for a bino’s comparison hosted by Mr Russell once again. This was heaps of fun with a lot of members really getting into the spirit of things.
Next stop: The Weroona Hotel and more ‘fellowship’. Again, there was an impressive amount of fellowship, with new friendships being forged over bottles of rum well into the wee hours.
Sunday morning saw a field walk led by SA ADA stalwart Paul Castle, with the aim of educating members new to fallow hunting on the rutting behaviours of fallow bucks; identifying scrapes, rubs and tracks. Ashley Redden followed with field positional shooting and marksmanship, providing members with alternatives and extra tools from the traditional ideas surrounding field shooting and hunting.
Yours truly and Nathan ‘Rossi’ Ross rounded out the program with a presentation covering modern bowhunting equipment and an introduction to bowhunting as a discipline. This presentation was well-received and those on hand were impressed by the power of a modern compound bow during the demonstration phase at the culmination of presentation. A Sunday lunch of slow-cooked venison rounded out proceedings along with a thank you from afore mentioned president and local celebrity Shane Kelly.
Catering was provided by Meredith Munro and Jan Horrigan, and in the proud tradition of Australian country folk, the breakfasts, lunches and dinners were superb. Thank you Meredith and Jan!