“Know your business”, Dunne tells deerstalkersConservation
This year’s Conference theme is “Growing the Business”, with a focus on how the Deerstalkers Association can grow and therefore have more influence on decisions affecting the wider hunting community.
Mr Dunne told delegates he welcomed and encouraged this focus.
”Deerstalkers are a significant part of the hunting community, and therefore should play a major part in issues like hunter safety and education, and firearms licensing and control.
“The ‘Hunter’s Tale’ research compiled recently by the Mountain Safety Council estimated there are more than 166,000 active hunters in New Zealand, mainly males aged between 35 and 64.
“That is around 10% of the male population, and around 70% of them go hunting at least one or two days a month.
“When you add in the 30,000 hunters who come to New Zealand each year from overseas, it comes as no surprise that there are more than 5.6 million individual hunting days each year.
“Hunting is big business – and most of that would be deerstalkers,” Mr Dunne said.
Mr Dunne said that although the establishment of the Game Animal Council in 2013, as part of UnitedFuture’s confidence and supply agreement with National, gave recreational hunting generally a clear voice for the first time, there was still an important role for the Deerstalkers Association as the advocate for and representative of the deerstalkers heading out into the bush every few weekends to hunt.
“Their concerns must be your concerns, to be brought to the Game Animal Council’s table, and through that to the Government.
Mr Dunne welcomed the improving links between the Deerstalkers Association, the Department of Conservation, the Fish and Game Council, Federated Mountain Clubs, the Council of Licensed Firearm Owners, the Mountain Safety Council, and the Game Animal Council.
“Old suspicions are being replaced by new levels of trust and co-operation, which I welcome,” he said.
The Game Animal Council has a full current agenda, including the designation of Herds of Special Interest; the future of Wild Animal Recovery Operations, and illegal hunting.
“So it will be vital that the Deerstalkers Association is able to continue to be a strong advocate for its sector in these discussions Mr Dunne said.
Mr Dunne paid special tribute to Deerstalkers Association president Bill O’Leary for his outstanding contribution, both to the Association, but also a founding member of the Game Animal Council.