2013 Year of the Hunter

In 2013, the Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia is celebrating the hard work our hunters do behind the scenes by telling their story through the SSAA’s 2013 Year of the Hunter.

Hunters are the people who manage wildlife on their own properties, volunteer their time and resources to help other people, participate in government-run wildlife management programs and recognise hunting as their occupation. Without the hard work of hunters, our vegetation would be more depleted and our landscape would be more eroded than it already is. Our nation’s farmers would struggle to produce crops and stock for food supplies, and our biodiversity would further suffer. It is these benefits, and the many more that active hunters give to our society, that the SSAA will be promoting.

Throughout 2013, SSAA National will be releasing a series of ‘Hunter by Choice’ posters, as well promotional items such as caps, pens and UV-treated bumper stickers for our members.

To promote this campaign to the wider non-shooting and -hunting public, SSAA National has erected five ‘Hunter by Choice’ billboards in Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia and Tasmania.

The billboards have created strong reactions and discussions over the legitimacy and role of hunting in Australia. The placement of the billboard in South Fremantle, WA, in particular has resulted in scepticism from non-hunting city-dwellers. Earlier complaints about the billboards were dismissed by the Australian Advertising Standards Bureau.

  • Why SSAA National declared 2013 the Year of the Hunter

    SSAA National President Bob Green said that with more than 80 per cent of SSAA members being hunters, the Year of the Hunter is a celebration that would raise awareness within the general public of the work our Association and our members do for our country. “The Association will be using the recent University of Queensland Australian Hunter Survey to highlight the environmental, social and economic benefits of hunting and hunters in Australia,” Bob said, “Independent resources such as this will add credibility to our message and bring the facts to the fore.”

    SSAA National’s Tim Bannister said the 2013 Year of the Hunter was the culmination of many years of initiatives, including the Be Part of the Solution campaign, SSAA’s Cooks Companion cookbook and the recent award-winning Field to Fork - The Australian Game Cookbook, as well as other upcoming initiatives.

    “Initiatives aimed at both our membership and the public will include a series of hunting posters, competitions and press statements engaging the media in the benefits of hunting for the health of our land and as a legitimate recreational activity,” Tim said. “Of course, we will be using the Australian Shooter and Australian Hunter magazines, as well as our various other publications to promote hunting in all its forms.”

    SSAA Special Project Officer in Hunting Matthew Godson said the 2013 Year of the Hunter promotion would help to change the perceptions of hunters in the wider society. “We’re aiming to educate the general public that hunters serve a very real purpose and play a very important role in wildlife management and protecting the environment,” he said.

    Matthew said the 2013 Year of the Hunter would also help to champion SSAA National’s new program, the SSAA’s Farmer Assist, which is currently in its pilot stages in Queensland. “SSAA’s Farmer Assist will help us answer the age-old question that many of our members ask us: Where can we hunt?” he said. “This project will link our members with landowners who need assistance with wildlife management on their properties.”

    The expansion of SSAA National’s Quail Research Project will also be highlighted throughout 2013. Matthew said the work the SSAA is doing to provide a scientific basis to hunting, hunting seasons and wildlife research was a valuable step forward.

  • Strong reactions to billboards

    Greens land hunters

    Originally published in the Fremantle Herald on October 18, 2013

    “I almost died when I saw it,” was Rod Murray’s reaction to a giant billboard promoting hunting, which has gone up in South Fremantle.
    The billboard at the corner of South Terrace and Little Lefroy Lane, “electrician by day, hunter by choice” features a young man, “John”, brandishing a high-powered rifle, with an insert portraying him in his day job as an electrician.
    The Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia makes no apologies for erecting the advertisement - the only one in WA - in the heart of hippy-green South Freo.
    The SSAA is locked in a battle with the Greens, which wants semi-automatic handguns banned. SSAA publicist Rachael Andrews says the location was recommended by WA chapter president Ron Bryant, who works on the Fremantle docks. Mr Bryant did not return calls before deadline.
    Ms Andrews says the poster aims to show that hunters are people we come across every day, in all walks of life.
    “To show that it is not a fringe part of Australian life, but it’s everywhere.”
    She acknowledges some will be upset, particularly parents, but notes movie posters depicting gun-toting heroes are more dangerous - and a concern to the association. To make the point, she notes the most recent James Bond poster showed the 007 character taking aim at an unseen adversary.
    “We are talking about firearms in a safe environment, a supervised environment - that is not the same as the glorifying of firearms in movies where it’s being aimed at people.”
    Mr Murray, a former South Fremantle precinct convenor, believes the billboard contravenes advertising standards and wants it taken down.
    “Are they trying to be like the NRA in America? That’s all we need - the Republican lunatic mob moving in.”
    He is passionately opposed to guns, his aunt having been murdered in Broome by his uncle using a hunting rifle. Mr Murray says the murder tore the family apart.
    Ms Andrews says city people require education about hunting and its importance to country folk. She recently attended a Red Card for Red Fox hunt in Wandering in the wheatbelt, where farmers open up their properties to hunters seeking foxes and cats, and says she’s “never been anywhere where there’s been so many hunters in one spot”.
    She dismisses the Greens’ concerns about semi-automatic handguns, saying they are rigidly controlled and it can take up to two years to get a licence. Magazines are restricted to holding 10 bullets.
    But local Greens MP Lynn MacLaren isn’t convinced. While she hadn’t seen the billboard and didn’t want to tread on the association’s right to free speech, she says people expressing concern is a healthy reaction.
    “With the billboards it would be a concern if they were to promote a gun culture,” she says. “In terms of hunting in the wetlands, I think the wetlands are under pressure and I’d be looking at ways to protect them and create more rather than killing what’s there,” she told the Herald.

    Gun Shy

    Originally published in the West Australian on October 21, 2013

    When considering an advertising campaign in Fremantle, you really have to think about the target market.
    For example, if you were flogging hemp clothing, Dockers membership or an album by some folk band, you would on to a good thing.
    You might not be so successful trying to promote the shooting of fluffy bunnies.
    So it’s really no surprise the dreadlocked and barefoot masses in Fremantle were taken aback after a pro-hunting billboard went up on South Terrace last week.
    But though the greenie heartland might not seem like the ideal location for the Sports Shooters Association of Australia’s latest ad campaign, the group told Inside Cover its intention was to “shock”.
    The image on the billboard features an inset of a 26-year-old electrician in high-vis on top of a photo of the same bloke in his hunting clobber, carrying a rifle.
    “Electrician by day - hunter by choice,” the slogan reads.
    A spokeswoman for the association said the point of the campaign was to challenge stereotypes and portray hunters as regular people with regular jobs.
    But she conceded billboards with people carrying guns were themselves a target in our moderate society and said a similar sign in St Kilda was vandalised.
    Fluffy bunny imagery aside, SSAA members, of which there are some 150,000 nationally, play a role in eradicating introduced species such as rabbits and foxes.
    The group says these invasive animals cost the country millions of dollars a year in industry effects and control efforts.
    However, it remains to be seen if such reasoning will count for much in the postcode that spawned famed muso and environmentalist John Butler.

  • SSAA farewells 2013 Year of the Hunter and welcomes Always the Hunter

    As 2013 draws to a close, the SSAA is pleased to say that our Year of the Hunter message will live on within the Association and our efforts to promote hunting in Australia through the new slogan ‘Always the Hunter’ will continue. In the past 12 months, we have brought the role hunters play in Australia to the forefront of thinking for SSAA members and the community. Our billboards have created controversy, hunters have been awarded ‘Hunter of the Year’, and the public has been challenged in their perception of who hunters are.

    SSAA Chief Executive Officer Tim Bannister said the motivation behind our 2013 Year of the Hunter campaign was to publicise what the SSAA has always known - that hunters perform vital roles within society, but that these roles have largely gone unnoticed.

    “Hunters are the people who manage wildlife on their own properties, volunteer their own time and resources to help other people, participate in government-run wildlife management programs, and recognise hunting as their occupation,” Tim said.

    “Without the hard work of hunters, our vegetation would be more depleted and our landscape would be more eroded than it already is. Our nation’s farmers would struggle to produce crops and stock for food supplies, and our biodiversity would further suffer.

    “We will continue to remind the media, our government and the community generally of why hunters are environmental crusaders who are constantly working behind the scenes.”

    In addition to discussing pest animal control, we have stressed other valid reasons why people may choose to engage with the environment through hunting: It is a healthy outdoor recreation, and a way of gathering food and for trophies. The ‘hunting for food’ aspect comes to the fore through our award-winning Field to Fork - The Australian Game Cookbook, which is available not only to our members, but also through bookstores and our Field to Fork Cooking website.

    We began the year with our ‘Hunter by Choice’ campaign, which included posters in our magazines and on billboards in various locations around the country. The billboards in particular got people thinking about hunting and created avenues for discussion and controversy. Indeed, one advertisement in St Kilda, Victoria, was the target of vandalism, labelling a SSAA hunter as a ‘coward’. As we prepared to respond to the vandalism, we received notification from the Advertising Standards Bureau that the campaign was also the subject of complaints citing depiction of weapons and violence. These strong responses showed that the SSAA was on the right track and education was needed about the important roles hunters play in our society.

    In a press release to the media, SSAA National Media Officer Rachael Andrews said there was a disconnection between Australia’s city dwellers and the realities of rural Australia.

    “The purpose of this advertisement is to draw the public to the connection that Australia’s hunters come from all walks of life and form part of the community,” said Rachael. “Hunting is a legitimate, beneficial pastime, and we are using an image that in no way sensationalises violence or weapons to spread our message.”

    Thankfully, commonsense prevailed in the Advertising Standards Bureau and the complaints were dismissed, allowing the ‘Hunter by Choice’ public campaign to continue, with billboards subsequently featuring in Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia and Tasmania. The Western Australian billboard, the most recent to appear, generated much press and controversy for the SSAA and hunting, but unfortunately, it was subjected to vandalism. In a move to test the waters, the SSAA opted to replace the image with another of a female hunter, with the poster running out its course without further graffiti.

    In an effort to further promote the good work of hunters around the country, SSAA National provided $16,000 in prizes for each SSAA state and territory branch to award to an adult and junior ‘Hunter of the Year’. The branches are in various stages of awarding these prizes, and the awards have been celebrated at a local level with much fanfare.

    Promoting a message of legitimacy is not new for the SSAA, but rather, forms part of an ongoing campaign to assist our members in dealing with the negative aspects they quite often have to confront about their chosen pastime. As we have said before, SSAA National is but one voice, but when 80 per cent of our 150,000-strong membership are hunters and able to share the same message with the broader community, we can start to make our presence felt. To this end, we are working to include all members’ email addresses on our database, so we can quickly alert you to action. SSAA National President Dean Mighell is passionate about ensuring all members are kept up to date about firearms legislation and target shooting- and hunting-related topics.

    As our efforts continue into 2014 and beyond, SSAA National Special Project Officer in Hunting Matthew Godson is preparing to take the Queensland SSAA Farmer Assist pilot program to the next stage, to the farmers. A partnership has been struck with AgForce Queensland, and through a number of promotions set to begin shortly, farmers will be informed and encouraged to list their hunting jobs for SSAA Queensland members to fulfil.

    “SSAA’s Farmer Assist is building to become a tool that will change the ways in which farmers care for their land,” said Matthew. “We are providing an organised service that farmers can use, knowing they will have responsible hunters performing a valuable service, which will ensure the viability of their farming operation and the local environment.”

    Matthew is also furthering the support hunting and conservation efforts can receive through the creation of a Conservation and Wildlife Research Trust. This SSAA project is set to allow donations towards conservation projects to be tax deductible and therefore viable for members and the wider community to support.

    Our presence within the academic community has been bolstered and will continue to do so, following the release of Associate Professor Dr Graham Hall’s book Ecology and Management of Quail in Australia. This is the biggest step forward in the area of quail research in this country for the past 30 years and adds to the Association’s credibility within the academic sphere. The SSAA continues to work in this area and receives feedback from interested academics through the Expert Advisory Group.

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