Everyone I talk to in the hunting fraternity is getting restless.
Why? Because hunting epitomises social distancing. Yet we cannot hunt. The rules around what is in or out when it comes to COVID 19 restrictions has never really made sense to people that love the great outdoors.
Many hunters have approached me and asked the very pertinent question; how being out in the bush, by yourself or with a family member, amongst fresh air and trees, poses more of a risk of infection than visiting a non-relative enclosed in their home.
Many fishos have asked me the same thing in regard to their activity. And well, to be frank, both the hunters and the fishos have a solid point.
The government justified the reasons for closing state forests by saying it would limit travel into regions. It was seen by many as a blunt instrument as those who live within reasonable driving distance to a state forest that allowed hunting through the R licence accreditation system could no longer access them.
Confusion now reigns with the ruling that you can visit someone, with no restrictions on how far you travel, as long as you remain in their house. However, practising the ultimate in social distancing by being in a state forest or on privately owned property is not ok.
It defies logic, and common sense and the SFF has made several representations to the Minister for Agriculture to no avail.
While we are waiting for the minister to come to his senses, we might as well utilise the time to prepare ourselves for when the green light is given.
We should be checking, cleaning and refining our gear. We should be reloading. And, if we haven’t already, getting or renewing our R Licence.
Some of us may have put it off. Situations have changed for many of us. Some have been too busy with work to get to a club meeting to complete the test. However, due to the proactive nature of the NSW Game Licensing Unit, online testing via the approved hunting organisations is now available. It takes about an hour to complete. A list of AHO’s is provided below.
I would like to add that the NSW Game Licensing Unit within the NSW DPI would have to be the most functional government department. I have dealt with a lot of them in my time, and I consider myself a harsh taskmaster. It’s not a hat tip to the leadership of their respective minister because they have certainly had some ordinary ones; it is a hat tip to the staff.
I have often said the NSW Firearms Registry could learn a few things about customer service from the Game Licencing Unit; they are prompt and generally, you get your licence posted to you within a few days.
On the phone the staff go way beyond anything the registry would ever do to help, even going through the backend of the system to email you a written permission if there is a technical hiccup with the booking system.
While some hunters may be rightfully frustrated at the closure of state forests, that frustration needs to be directed at the minister. The Game Licencing Unit want nothing more than us to be out there hunting.
So, after you have refined your hunting gear down to a fine art, and while SFF continues to pressure and push the minister to reopen hunting across NSW. Consider having access to over 2 million hectares of public land with the R licence system.
The more R licences held, the stronger we are as hunters.