In search of the true hunter

Two South African hunting organisations react to an article (Farmer’s Weekly, 8 December 2006) which pleaded for a comprehensive rule book aimed at reining in the ‘Rambos’ who upset farmers and other hunters. Roelof Bezuidenhout provides their viewpoints.
Issue Date: 9 March 2007

Two South African hunting organisations react to an article (Farmer’s Weekly, 8 December 2006) which pleaded for a comprehensive rule book aimed at reining in the ’Rambos’ who upset farmers and other hunters. Roelof Bezuidenhout provides their viewpoints.

Confederation of Hunters’ Associations of SA

The future of hunting lies in responsible and ethical choices, according to Prof André Duvenhage, director of communication for the Confederation of Hunters’ Associations of SA (Chasa). This is his perspective: “Hunting today involves the regulated shooting of individual animals in a manner that conserves, protects and perpetuates the hunted species. Very few of us hunt to survive. Instead, as modern hunters, our role is to ensure the survival of wildlife. Besides being guided by the country’s laws and regulations, the local ordinances and proclamations, and the landowner’s requests, the ethical hunter is guided by a set of ethics related to hunting. An ethical hunter behaves at all times as if there were an audience of people waiting for an opportunity to point fingers.
 
Hunters behaving irresponsibly pose a greater threat to the future of hunting than the anti-hunting lobbyists. ”While hunting laws preserve wildlife, it is hunting ethics that preserve the hunter’s freedom to hunt. Ethics are generally aimed at controlling public opinion of hunters, and thereby ensure that hunters are welcome, and that hunting areas remain open and accessible. Hunting ethics may be defined as the moral principles that differentiate between right and wrong; they are unwritten rules that society expects to be followed. Hunting ethics are, furthermore, primarily a personal and unspoken contract between the hunter and quarry, with an extended responsibility towards the environment, fellow hunters and the general public. ”Fair chase is the pursuit of a free-ranging animal or enclosed-ranging animal possessed of the natural and behavioural inclination to escape from the hunter and be fully free to do so.

A recreationally hunted animal should exist as a naturally interacting individual of a wild sustainable population, located in an area that meets both the territory and home range and food, breeding and basic needs of the population of which that individual is a member. The concept of a fair chase does not only apply to big game, but is something which every hunter should employ, no matter what is being hunted – small game, birds, medium and large game. ”is a very personal experience and is filled with personal choices. There is also a contrast between what is legal and what is ethical. No illegal act can be considered ethical, but many legal acts could be considered unethical. ethical hunter would do something illegal, be it against the national laws, the local laws and ordinances, or against the rules and regulations of his or her hunting association.

Ethical hunting can be summarised as hunting conduct that obeys legislation, complies with the principles of fair chase, causes minimal suffering for the hunted animal, and conforms to broadly accepted norms of respect for nature and fellow man. ”Chasa has a set of guidelines to hunters. This includes displaying high ethical standards and respect for:

A) The natural resources by: E x ercising a personal conduct code that upholds the image of an ethical hunter and reflects well on your abilities as a hunter. Attaining and maintaining skills that allow for certain and quick one-shot kills. N ever shooting beyond your • • • capabilities or capacity. Behaving in a way that will bring only credit to the hunter, the hunted, other animals, the environment, and other users of the wildlife area. L eaving the land better than it was found. Adhering to fair chase rules and principles. n suring that meat and usable parts are not wasted. R eporting wildlife violations.

B) Other hunters by: F o llowing safe firearm handling principles and insisting that hunting companions do the same. ot interfering with another hunt. ot using alcohol during a hunt. S h aring your experience and skills with others.

C) Landowners by: e specting and obeying all requests, instructions and legal demands made by the landowner. Treating livestock and crops as if they belong to you. Ascertaining all financial obligations and honouring them. e ver entering land without obtaining permission for that particular hunt. e alising that paying day fees does not buy you the right to disturb other users/occupants of the property. ot shooting too close to domestic stock. e porting animals that have been wounded.
 
D) Non-hunters by: Keeping firearms out of sight. Maintaining a presentable appearance in public. U s ing sensitivity and discretion when posing with shot animals. Transporting dead animals discreetly and not openly displaying them.” Contact Chasa on (041) 922 5600 or e-mail [email protected].

Amatola Hunters’ and Conservation Association

‘The last thing any ethical hunter wants to do is bump into a Rambo on a hunt.’
Hunting is the main catalyst for sustaining conservation practices and the economic viability of game farming. Members of accredited hunting associations are under more pressure than ever before to maintain a credible standard of hunting and behaviour, according to Glyn Fiebiger, PRO of the Amatola Hunters’ and Conservation Association in East London. “But the issue of wayward hunters – who are the exception rather than the rule – is a collective responsibility involving all role-players in the industry. It will continue to bug us until everyone, both the hunter and the landowner, get their houses in order,” she says. “We need to focus our energies towards the encouragement of a new generation of South African hunter to ensure the future viability of the industry but, at the same time, eradicate the behaviour of the few hunters and landowners who operate as if they live on an island.
 
The challenge is not to re-invent the wheel as the ‘rule book’ has long been written. real challenge is for everyone in the industry to collectively clamp down on the Rambos of this world,” she suggests. A ccording to Fiebiger, there are two distinct categories of Rambo – those who belong to hunting associations, but do not subscribe to ethical hunting, and those who do not belong and do not subscribe to any form of acceptable hunting behaviour. In the first instance, the hunting associations are obliged to take disciplinary action against its members for transgressions of its code of good practice. “However, in the second instance, there is no control of non-members or, for that matter, unscrupulous landowners, other than to have a moral obligation to report such incidents to the authorities or to anyone who will listen,” she notes. S he also laments that the law does not force any hunter to become a member of an accredited hunting association. “So, all the Rambo needs is a rifle or a bow, a hunting licence, land on which to hunt and he can call himself a hunter.

The only exception to this rule (and where accredited hunting associations can bare their teeth) is where the hunter voluntarily joins an association or owns, or wishes to own, more than the limited number of firearms in terms of the Firearms Control Act (FCA). Then, he or she has to complete the accredited dedicated hunters’ course (DH) and to do this, must join an association,” says Fiebiger. But, according to her, hunting associations are obliged to supply annual activity reports on each of their DHs to the Central Firearms Register. Where it is proven that a DH has been in breach of the FCA or in serious breach of the association’s constitution or its disciplinary code, such member could lose his or her DH status, and their firearms which are hinged to this status.
 
Accredited hunters’ associations that do not subscribe to the prescriptions of the will lose their accreditation and with it members will lose their DH status. F iebiger says the last thing any ethical hunter wants to do is bump into a Rambo on a hunt. She believes landowners can help by never allowing hunters on to their property before checking their credentials or letting them hunt without proper supervision. Further, landowners should not be afraid of applying the basic rules, which include: Welcoming only hunters who belong to a credible hunting association or have been referred by a trusted person. Communicating the terms, conditions and limitations of the hunt before the first round is fired. This would help to avoid any arguments at a later stage.

Don’t forget the legal paperwork as prescribed in the hunting proclamation. E n suring all hunters sight their rifles before the hunt. I n the case of bad behaviour, reporting the hunter to the hunting association of which he or she is a member or, in the case of a non-member, simply never allowing him or her to hunt on your farm again. Tell your neighbours and ostracise him or her from the hunting community and report any breaches of the to the police. For more information contact the Amatola Hunters’ and Conservation Association on (043) 736 1429, 0829083891 or e-mail [email protected]. |fw