If you’ve read any of my work over the last ten years while I’ve been an editor of a hunting magazine, you’ll know that I’m very positive and appreciative of the direction of our hunting and shooting groups who’ve had to mobilise and professionalise against excessive regulation and threats to our valued game animals. Overall, the direction has been immensely positive.
Occasionally though, there may be unforeseen consequences of our actions towards our goals, and I’d like to use this opportunity to bring one up for discussion – our growing focus on herd management. Some of you may be wondering where I’m going with this. What I’d like to suggest is that we use caution with how we treat the backbone of our hunting community, and that’s the meat hunter – the hunter who takes pride in providing their whanau with quality, lean and healthy game meat and uses that as their main motivation to hunt. My fear is that if we put too much emphasis on what hunters should and should not harvest, we may start to lose touch with the bulk of the hunting community. I’d warrant those hunters who hunt to put food on the table make up the largest part of the hunting tally over the year; is it right to start making them second-guess whether they should shoot an animal?
I’m not advocating no managing or selective animal targeting in certain circumstances. In the case of managed culling, then obviously it’s the ideal time to be selective to get the best outcomes balancing ecology versus game animal quality. But should we really put those expectations on meat hunters? I dread the day when Kiwi hunters live in fear because they may have shot something someone else thinks is unsuitable or should be protected. I see it as a potentially unforeseen negative result of placing any sort of harsh rules on animal selection. It’s something I’d like to explore as we work to improve the cooperation and mutually beneficial relationship between the Department of Conservation and hunting organisations.
One of the most beautiful things about Kiwi hunting is our ability to use our own judgement when on the hill, and I believe this is something worth valuing and protecting.