Before reading this let me make one thing perfectly clear. I do not shoot for sport. I shoot for food. If you don't agree with this then I figure your on the wrong blog. I live in the country, I cook real NATURAL food, thus I require to hunt. Please respect that. I woke around 4:30 am pre-empting the two alarms I had set for 5. It was a mild morning, but that was in the middle of town, out on the water would be a different story. I had everything packed the night before to make the most of getting up at such a ridiculous devilish hour!
There was a pretty strong motive for such an early start on a Saturday morning, when most people my age would no doubt be sleeping in, nursing a hangover, spending time with their kids and morning cartoons, waking slowly for a nice cafe breakfast reading over the weekend broadsheet newspapers while sipping their lattes or just getting home from Friday night hi-jinx. For me and about ten other dedicated blokes, it was time for a traditional Australian duck hunting party. We headed for the private property, a farm consisting of three large flooded paddocks west of Ballarat. The sun hadn't even considered getting up (smart move) when we arrived. We were a bunch of grown men and a few kids with headlamps upon our heads and camo'd to the hilt. A brief of the area, followed by a safety/ethics/legal talk and tactics and then we hiked across the paddocks to the three swamps just before morning started. Which may I add was one of the most most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen, the lights delicately feathering the water in a mesmerising fashion.
I must admit I felt a little out of place with just my Horne Waders, and German ex-army jacket and a green truckers cap up top, but it didn't seem to bother the birds. As soon as the sun even hinted (at legal shooting hour) shots fired over the water. I was last to start, wanting to make my shot's count, and within range, my patience paid off, eventually got in a few good shots. By 9am we had a decent haul, and I managed to get 10 birds for the plate, with most of the boys happy to share with me. I came home exhausted but quite relieved that I now had plenty of wild birds for my 'recipe book'.
Wild meat provided as nature intended, and treated with the utmost respect in the kitchen, much more than intensively farmed chicken that often gets zero respect and horrid living conditions. These birds at least lived a natural life, far from excess chemicals and over feeding. I don't want to be too preachy but the reality is that this is how your fancy wild duck dish you pay $50 for at a restaurant is collected, dedicated professionals getting out at devilish hours in less than comfortable conditions. I learnt a great deal in just a few hours. These guys really knew what they where doing. I felt honoured to be invited.