Duck hunters in the region have been given the green light to begin shooting, but will only have a shortened three-week period in which to do so.
Stemming from Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ announcement last Monday that the public would be allowed to continue with recreational activities, the duck hunting season began on Wednesday last week and remains open until its closure on Monday, June 8.
However, instead of the traditional window of 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset, start times were delayed to 8 am until May 17, after which hunting times reverted to the standard period.
Additionally, the daily bag limit has been lowered to three per person, while hunting of the blue-winged shoveler is prohibited for the entire season.
While the reduced window may have soured some enthusiasts’ outlook, Field and Game Australia chief executive Dean O’Hara encouraged hunters to make the most of the opportunity.
“There is a lot of hunting in the Goulburn Valley, and though there are only three weeks of hunting our message is to get out there and enjoy yourselves while making sure you comply with the regulations,” he said.
“A lot of hunting is in the social aspect such as having campfires and a few beers, but you can’t do that at the moment, so now it is all about respecting the bush and putting food on the table.”
The Victorian Government’s decision to place a temporary ban on the sale of firearms and ammunition for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic caused outrage within the hunting community earlier in April, but it was announced on Tuesday last week that the moratorium would no longer remain.
“I thought the embargo on ammunition and firearms sales was completely out of order,” O’Hara said.
“It was important for that to be overturned so places like Trelly’s can sell; all local businesses rely on income and we need to be conscious about supporting them during these times.”
Trelly’s Outdoor owner Steve Threlfall was crushed at the announcement he would no longer be able to sell to patrons, and was further aggravated by the handling of the situation by government officials.
“It was a kick in the guts — it basically untied two thirds of my business in relation to firearms and ammunition sale,” he said.
“Upon hearing the news, initially I thought ‘okay, we are at this point’, but when I looked into the government’s wording I was disgusted.
“It basically said all holders of firearms licences are automatically categorised as being highly potential domestic violence candidates, and it has since been proven they acted illegally.”
Threlfall said the state of affairs had “put everything back into perspective”, with 17 of his staff currently working on the JobKeeper payment.