Nearly 9,500 miles away from the US, the heated battle between Australian duck hunters and anti-hunters has hit a fevered pitch. Sustainable duck hunting for future generations seems dire. Providing an update from the front lines, my long-time Australian duck hunting associates, Glenn Falla and Trent Leen, describe what’s going on, why the ongoing season is a critical juncture, and how antis have forsaken science-based waterfowl conservation practices and funding to serve an emotionally fueled agenda. Is this finally the end of Australia duck hunting? And why should US hunters care? Safari Club International’s Ben Cassidy and Delta Waterfowl’s Joel Brice weigh in, offering an all-for-one and one-for-all perspective.

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Ramsey Russell: Mr. Ben Cassidy from Safari Club International, like the Calvary coming in to the rescue. Ben, how are you today?

Ben Cassidy: Ramsey, I am doing fantastic. How are you doing today? Thanks so much for giving me a call.

Ramsey Russell: I’m good. Oh, look, I appreciate you pulling away from a busy schedule. I know that you’re on the front lines fighting the fight in America, in Australia, worldwide. I’ve got a few questions for you I’d like to get, but first please, introduce yourself to anybody listening who you are and what you do with Safari Club International.

Ben Cassidy: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks so much again for having me on, for everything that you do for hunters, regardless of where they hunt, what they hunt. I’m Ben Cassidy, work at Safari Club International, I’m our executive vice president for international government and public affairs. So I work in Washington, D.C. really close to the capital, where my team and I all focus on all the advocacy work that we do at SCI. As you know, SCI first for hunters, no matter what you hunt, where you hunt or how you hunt, we’re going to be in that fight, like you said, in the trenches on the front lines. No place we’d rather be because somebody’s got to do the dirty work to make sure that our heritage, our tradition of hunting, is protected and preserved for the future.

Ramsey Russell: I know from a group email between SCI, myself, members of Field & Game Australia, that there’s an ongoing discussion between SCI and Field & Game Australia. Could you elaborate on discussions and kind of let us know what’s going on in Australia? From an outsider’s point, looking in. what’s going on in Australia?

Ben Cassidy: I mean, I think that this would really take a lot of American hunters aback. They would be shocked by it. Unfortunately, from what we’re doing at SCI, we see this sort of thing a lot. Not necessarily with ducks. A lot of people think that there’s a right to hunt ducks and it’s never going to be threatened. Well, just look at what’s happening in Australia Game and Field pointed out to us. I mean you got the state of Victoria at the state level where they’ve shrunk the duck season. It starts late, ends early. They’ve also created this special council of folks loaded with people that don’t like hunting to decide whether or not hunting should continue going into the future.

Ramsey Russell: Go ahead. I’m sorry I jumped in.

Ben Cassidy: It’s not just the threat of it being shut down or access being lessened. It’s happening in real time and no actual motivations for it or trying to do it behind closed doors or sneaky. It’s all out front and just very clear. It’s all done through this – Is it socially acceptable? We don’t have this hunting culture coming from urban areas, so why don’t we just shut it all down. Regardless of what the science is, regardless of what the benefits are to the habitat, to the wildlife, we just want to shut it down. And by any means necessary that’s what they’re trying to do. But naturally gaming field is freaked out about it and needs to address it. So feel really fortunate that they reached out to us to find ways forward where we can try to fight this and make sure that it doesn’t happen. Because as you know and then we’ll talk about it more. It’s a slippery slope –

Ramsey Russell: It’s a very slippery slope.

Ben Cassidy: That’s a very isolated incident. Not an isolated incident happens in one place. People see these bad ideas, they try to replicate them in other places, talk about it all the time. Bad ideas travel around the world twice as fast as a good idea.

Advocating for Hunting, & Worldwide Regulated Hunting

So a lot of it’s being able to raise the awareness around the issue and make sure that folks know it, so that politicians that have an agenda with animal rights groups aren’t able to just push legislation unchecked. 

Ramsey Russell: You bring up a good point because, There’s a lot of active greenies, They’re vicious, they’re atrocious, they’re in the land. I bet nobody sitting here listening to this podcast right now has ever dealt toe to toe with somebody blowing whistles, waving flags that has a legal right to be disturbing your environment. With up to 30 meters of you waving flags, blowing whistles, trying to scare the ducks away and then has the right to go and catch your crippled ducks if you wing one down, can beat you to it to rehabilitate that bird. I don’t think anybody’s dealt with that here in the United States. But when I read that council’s key points, what the topics they were talking about, it sounded very noble. It sounded like something I would have suggested, talking about the cultural value, talking about the ecological value, talking about the sustainability of the resource. That sounds all very noble, but it’s coming from anti-hunting or parliament members or people that are opposed to duck hunting. And it’s crazy for me for them to be talking about the sustainability of a resource when they don’t have any true scientific measures in place to quantify either the wetlands, the population or the harvest. It’s just one person, probably blue dice, going out and coming up with a wild ass guess of what’s out there on the resource. So it sounds pretty audacious, Ben, what can be done? What can be done from the outside, from the perspective of Safari Club International that specializes in advocating hunting, regulated hunting worldwide, what can be done and what is being done?

Ben Cassidy: Yeah, I think that a big piece of it is just the education side, making folks aware that it’s actually taking place, bringing the facts, pointing out pieces like you said where these decisions aren’t being based on any science. In fact, they are a threat to future health of wildlife and habitat. And maybe there needs to be a pause on any sort of rash decision making and it should be looked at beyond just an emotional driver. So just putting those facts out there, you see a general public that’s regularly very able to absorb that and then start questioning it and slow the process down. We do polling regularly here at SCI. We see it in the United States, we’ll see it in Europe, we’ll see it abroad. Talk to – first the gaming field, it’s the same stuff. You get 20% of the people out there, they love hunting no matter what. 20% of the people out there hate it no matter what. Then you have this middle group that’s all persuadable. If you explain these issues to them, they get it and they come to our side, to pro hunting, to pro conservation. They see the necessity and the tool that it is. So a lot of it’s being able to raise the awareness around the issue and make sure that folks know it, so that politicians that have an agenda with animal rights groups aren’t able to just push legislation unchecked. I think that’s your first sort of lever that just has to get pulled. And a lot of that can be done, too, with talking with the rest of the community, with the scientists, with locals that are on the ground, make them aware, have them talk to their media and explain it from that local viewpoint and just put that thing down, cool it down so that you’re able to actually have some sort of rational discussion. Because the thing is and you know it, at the end of the day, we have the facts on our side, we have the science on our side. So it’s a matter of really slowing down the discussion, the dialogue and inserting the facts into it. Just cooler heads prevail.

Ramsey Russell: So how is SCI doing that right now?

Ben Cassidy: You saw right off the bat, we had really great talks with the folks at Game and Field, and we just started to show it on social media at first, it’s the quickest way to communicate anything. Just the reaction is enormous, just tremendous. And it’s not just from Australians, just from our general members seeing what’s going on, wanting to know what folks can do about it, not being aware of it, not trying to break the news first. But we hear something, we’re going to say something, we’ve just got a really strong engaged membership that understands how interconnected these problems are and realize that someone else’s backyard could soon become their own backyard.

Ramsey Russell: Right now I’m in Mississippi. I’ve got listeners from California to Maryland to Florida to Minnesota to Utah and all points in between. So what? Ben, so what? Who cares what’s happening 10,000 miles from here to a bunch of duck hunters that share my culture and my passion for waterfowl hunting, with a Crocodile Dundee accent, nonetheless. But so, what? How does this affect me, man? How can this possibly affect me? What do I care? I’m not going to Australia some people are saying, I don’t care about shooting those birds some people are saying, who cares what’s happening around the world? Why does SCI care?

Ben Cassidy: I mean, okay, so I’m from D.C. I didn’t care one bit when the Cleveland Indians changed their name to the Cleveland Guardians. But you better believe that I cared when they changed the Washington Redskins to the Washington Commanders. That wasn’t an isolated incident, it unjust. And I’ll tell you this, somebody right now, Maryland, that’s where I hunt all the time. That’s where I live. You may not care about Australia, you may not have a plan to go to Australia, but I’ll tell you what, these anti-hunting groups, they’re interconnected and they don’t have that same feeling that they’re over in Australia. They’re not saying, well, I’m never going to go to Maryland and try this way over to Maryland. They’ll migrate over. They’re going to start with the lowest hanging fruit is they’re going to start where the Washington Redskins exist or the Cleveland Indians and then they’re going to come over and find that next target. Because they don’t just call it quits once they shut a season down somewhere, say, what’s the next species? What’s the next location? They’re not ever going to just close their office, lock the door and say, well, I might retire now. It’s always lowest hanging fruit then move on to your next opportunity, move on to your next surprising opportunity.

Ramsey Russell: It’s spread like a cancer and I know from conversations with Field & Game Australia and a lot of its members on site in Australia, I know that a lot of the funding that is driving the anti-hunting legislation that is financing a lot of the greeny activities down in Australia is coming from, of all places, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Netherlands. And drum roll, please, the United States. And they’re starting right now, Victoria, because the capitals in Melbourne is the flashpoint. It’s where you got a lot of liberal city folks. If they can make it in there, it tumbles like dominoes throughout the country. Australia has fallen. Now, let’s focus our time and our money into other places. I’m going to bring this home just a little bit.

Ben Cassidy: Yeah.

Anti-Hunting Initiatives in the United States

Ramsey Russell: What is going on here in the United States? We are not that I’m aware of. I have never had personal conflict out in the duck cold or at the boat ramp with anti-hunters, never seen – I see it on the Internet, people with PETA. And, oh, when I come to you all’s convention, I see 3 crazy hippies out front waving a no hunting billboard or something out by the front entrance. But I’ve never had it out in the field. But I know that there are major anti-hunting initiatives right here in the United States. Can you describe some of those?

Ben Cassidy: Yeah, I mean, it’s obviously evolved over time where it doesn’t just jump out as being, this is like anti-hunters, but it’s actions that go against what hunters stand for. I ask our membership regulars ask them, what do you stand for? Because when I go to Congress or the state senate.

Ramsey Russell: You’re breaking up there, Ben.

Ben Cassidy: What do you stand for? I say, what do you stand for. You have folks come back and say, I don’t want to lose access. So take America, right now you have a board of bureaucrats in Alaska, the Federal Subsistence Board, that’s closing down millions of acres of public land at a time to hunting opportunities. That’s happening in real time. We’re not just like an acre or 2, but 4 million acres at a time being closed down to opportunities. We talk about access, talk about being physical. Can I step foot there? There’s also access, say, with economics. So another angle that antis go at is banning traditional ammunition, banning lead. I know it doesn’t matter as much to waterfowlers that are already using steel, but everyone else that’s out there using lead, having that shut down, it’s already banned to shoot it over wetlands, but banning all purpose use of lead or lead tackle, that’s happening systematically across refuges right now.

Ramsey Russell: It increases the participation cost to a lot of people, a lot of Americans, they now have to pay more money.

Ben Cassidy: It’s an access issue, it’s economic access. Another one that’s just really just watching it again like that, spread like a cancer is you’re seeing politics at play, where wildlife commissions and states are starting to get packed with anti-hunters, folks with backgrounds where they don’t hunt. These are commissions that make decisions about wildlife management, make decisions on all that wildlife management. Regardless of having any sort of experience or knowledge or having a bias against what hunting brings to conservation. You’re seeing it play out in Washington, Oregon. But again, a bad idea travels very fast, faster than a good idea. So it’s something that we’re on a high alert on for just moving into other states, Colorado. That’s something to keep your eyes on. But again, it’s like personnel’s policy, some people that are on these different commissions, traditional ammunition, just general traditional access, like in Alaska, all these things are on the table right now and being fought over, and in some way, they’re also being replicated and fought in other countries. That’s why we have the mandate that we have for wherever you hunt, however you hunt, wherever you hunt in place, because you can’t just fight the one fire if there’s fires growing around you everywhere else.

Ramsey Russell: Right.

Ben Cassidy: And we’re just seeing these attacks happen that just get mimicked and just jump around. It’s the same playbook, just a different location. So again, we’re not surprising, we saw it’s terrible, but we see coming out of Australia, but not surprising. And it’s a fight that we’re up to. And I know Game and Field is on it, but we’re there to be as helpful as we can to shut it down and just put another flag in the ground saying, this is enough for grabs. We cherish wildlife and habitat more than any other group. We put more back into it. So maybe it’s time you listen to us and respect what we do and not mess with a great thing.

Ramsey Russell: Ben, thank you very much for your time and thank you very much for what SCI does.

Ben Cassidy: Hey, thank you, as always. It was great seeing you at convention. I know we didn’t get to talk. I tried to see you at your seminar, but it was the busiest room other than the floor. But next year, we’ll carve the time out, make it happen.

Ramsey Russell: Joel Brice, Delta Waterfowl. Man, how are you today?

Advocates for Australia Waterfowl Hunting

It’s as much like American duck hunting, except for the fact they all talk like Crocodile Dundee. 

Joel Brice: Hey, I’m doing great, Ramsey. Appreciate any opportunity to chat with you.

Ramsey Russell: My understanding you’ve had some conversations yourself with Glenn Falla and the boys down at Field & Game Australia. What were those conversations like and what did you all talk about, Joel?

Joel Brice: Well, we’ve had an interesting, I’d call it friendship with those folks at Field & Game Australia, but basically, Glenn reached out and said, hey, we are seriously under the gun here, about to lose our waterfowl hunting season. And he said, any information that you could help us to defend and protect our future of waterfowl hunting. We’d love Delta Waterfowl to lend a hand. And so spent some time with Glenn and others there, just kind of sharing some information, hoping that we could put some arrows in their quiver to protect their duck season. And I guess we’ll figure out. We’ll find out over the coming months and probably within the next year, Ramsey, whether or not that’s working out or not.

Ramsey Russell: Had it ever crossed your mind? I mean, had you ever seriously considered. Because I struggle, even though I’m a huge advocate of hunting, I feel like I’ve got a lot of friendships down in Australia. I want to be, as an outsider, looking in, fight to fight with them shoulder to shoulder, my brothers in Australia. But at the same time, I have a hard time getting my mind wrapped around my being in a duck blind opening day this year and it being one of the last, possibly the last 5 or 10 times I ever duck hunt in America. So it’s kind of hard for me to relate. How does a conversation like that make you feel? Are you able to kind of put yourself into their boots and really think about that?

Joel Brice: Yeah, definitely. Although, like, you’re saying it is hard. It’s a hard concept to wrap your mind around is that one of the things here at Delta, we’re always talking about the future of hunting, whether it’s hunting advocacy, defense, hunter recruitment, whatever it maybe, in the back of my mind, it always feels, Ramsey, like we’re talking about my grandkids. Perhaps it’s something that I don’t know that I truly think that it’s going away in our lifetimes, although it could. But to think that in Australia, the other side of the world they’re literally, like you just said, they’re sitting in their duck blinds in their hunting season right now, if I understand it right. Contemplating are these the last moments? And it very well may be from everything that I’ve learned from talking to those guys.

Ramsey Russell: And having been to Australia a few times and hunted with these boys, hunting all over the world, all the different cultures and colors and religions of people that duck hunt, Australia is a lot like us, Joel. I mean, they’ve got the same passion, they’ve got the same equipment, they’ve got the same approach. It’s as much like American duck hunting, except for the fact they all talk like Crocodile Dundee. But other than that, it’s kind of like being at home and hunting with them. How would you, from the outside looking, in contrast, your understanding of what’s happening in Australia with the North American model of waterfowl conservation? We all know, you know, why it’s important to recruit and retain and have hunting involved with the process. But how would you contrast Australia versus.

Joel Brice: Well, I’ll be honest with you, Ramsey. I have more questions than I have answers. And since Glenn reached out, I did a little bit of googling to figure out what’s the situation that they have there. And I just have a skeletal understanding. But what I tell people here, my friends and delta supporters and members and just people on the street, I said, need we need a robust hunting population here in North America to maintain our political relevancy, to maintain our voice. And so I tell you what, obviously in Australia, hunters have dwindled to the point where they don’t have the ability or they appear to have lost their ability to fight the fight and win. And so, I look at that and so obviously we’ve seen declines in hunter numbers in the United States and Canada over the past couple decades. We should all be concerned. I think we should look at what’s going on in Australia, what happens, frankly, at times in Canada. Canada’s experienced a much more stark decline in waterfowl hunter numbers than in the United States. And I do think it should all give us cause for concern here in the United States we self tax, we buy licenses. Those dollars go into conservation budgets, to basically support that whole notion of hunting is conservation. And so from what I’ve learned, it’s a much more loose or vague connection between hunting and conservation and hunting and the protection of the resource. So, yeah, I think that we should really double down and hold near and dear the North American model of wildlife conservation, where it’s a public trust resource. We all have that obligation to take care of them and give back.

Using the North American Model Of Wildlife Conservation

But it’s all being underpinned by we American hunters, our South American hunters, putting our time and our money to fund this research. 

Ramsey Russell: And you said specifically political relevance to me, political relevance is money. And to me, money that commodity value, I call it in waterfowl resources is what drives it, it’s what gives us political relevance. It represents the conservation value that hunters bring to the table. Time and money for habitat and conservation. And I’m saying this is what would America. Here in America’s North American model, we’ve got federal government agencies, plural, we’ve got state agencies, plural. We’ve got universities doing research and then we’ve got NGOs like Delta Waterfowl. But it’s all being underpinned by we American hunters, our South American hunters, putting our time and our money to fund this research. And there in Australia, they buy hunting licenses, but not a penny of those hunting license sales is earmarked for surveying, harvest estimates, habitat, nothing. It all goes into a general fund for government bureaucrats to blow. That’s not conservation. And so I asked this question, Joel, I asked this question, okay, you haven’t done any science. You’ve done no true scientific appraisal of this natural resource treasure while there’s hunting going on. So when the big bad hunters go put up the shotguns and hang up the waiters and go start playing golf or something, what’s going to happen now. Now all of a sudden are you going to start counting ducks? Because my heartfelt belief, Joel, is that with 8 and a half billion people on Earth, the world changing drastically in a lot of different ways, I don’t think we can put nature on a shelf and just hope that it continues to perpetuate itself. And that’s what concerns me a lot. When you were talking to Field & Game Australia and those boys, did it dawn on you the interconnectivity, how a hunter in Australia and hunter in America and hunter in Netherlands and hunters around the world are kind of sort of in the same lifeboat? And here’s why I asked this question, Joel. That’s a long way from Mississippi and North Dakota. Australia is a long – you don’t believe me? Go climb on a flight and get there. You’re flying way into the future and it’s a long, long – So for most people listening that are never going to go hunt Australia, who cares? Who cares? Why should they care? Why do you think we, me and you, Delta Waterfowl, SCI, the hunter, any average hunters, why should we care about what’s going on? If the anti-hunters succeed in Australia, why should we care?

Joel Brice: Well, if you’d asked me these 5 years ago, I might have been more inclined to say maybe we shouldn’t care. It’s somewhere else. It’s so far away, just like you said there. But I tell what, we can text with people in Australia, we can share information through the Internet with Australia. And basically, a loss of hunting in Australia, which is awful in and of itself, because like you said, there are people who believe in hunting, believe in conservation, believe in that life cycle maintenance and they might be losing their hunting. But I tell you what, selfishly, for people here in North America, it’s a small world. And establishing the global precedents for the loss of waterfowl hunting, if they lose their waterfowl hunting, it’s not out of concern for the waterfowl population. It’s not because of a dwindling resource. Matter of fact, I understand that this is what is called a bumper crop of ducks for this hunting season. It has nothing to do with that. And so if you step back and you compare Australia to the privately owned wildlife in Europe and parts of Asia, you flip over into Canada and you see a pretty dramatic loss, like I said before, of hunter numbers. You see gun registry of the past, you see outlawing of handguns and you think, wow, it is a global issue. And I think that we should be looking at all other countries and all other situations and I think we should say, we could be next, why not us? And so I guess the time to fight that fight without coming up with a better phrase is now. So if we have a scarcity of information, let’s go get it now. If we’re losing hunter numbers, let’s bolster our hunter numbers, because the future is right around the corner.

Getting Ahead of A Shrinking Landscape

And so that’s honestly, it makes me so proud to work for a science based waterfowl conservation organization, is we’re always looking out. We’re ahead of the curve in that regard. 

Ramsey Russell: I think that this topic, the reason it means something to me so personally is I just see it as speaking as a human, humanity’s past meteorically colliding with today and the future. We’ve got a lot more people, a shrinking landscape, a lot more demands on natural resources in terms of habitat. And we’re starting to see it emerge even here in North America. I mean, some of the trends that’s creating on the other side of the equation. Look at what’s going on in Manitoba, for example, I don’t want to chase that down a rabbit hole right now, but I think you’re right. I think you hit the nail on the head. I think it’s something we should all be concerned about.

Joel Brice: Yeah, I think so. And the other part, Ramsey, and you’ve had these conversations when Glenn reached out to me, they were being attacked on. They are being attacked on fronts that they weren’t really prepared to defend with science. And so that’s honestly, it makes me so proud to work for a science based waterfowl conservation organization, is we’re always looking out. We’re ahead of the curve in that regard. But they basically were asking us for information and we’re glad to help, but it surprised me that they were in such a tough situation.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah. Thank you very much, Joel. I appreciate your time. I know you’re very busy man up in Bismarck and I always appreciate your time coming on and sharing your views.

Joel Brice: Hey, thank you, anytime.

Parallels Between Australian and American Duck Hunters

I tell everybody in the world, Australian duck hunters remind me more of any other place on Earth of American duck hunters. You all are my American brothers. You all hunt like we do, hunt very similarly, share the same culture value.

Ramsey Russell: Welcome back to Duck Season Somewhere where today I am talking to my longtime buddies, Trent Leen, Glenn Falla, Field & Game Australia. Consider if you can, if we American listeners can even get our mind wrapped around the fact that the upcoming duck season might be the last ever that we participate in. How the heck is that even possible? It’s happening, it’s unfolded before I down in Australia. Listen up. Just listen up to what’s happening down there and just imagine if it happened here and ask yourselves, so what? They’re 10,000 miles from Mississippi. Who cares? Glenn, Trent, thank you all for joining me all the way from Australia today. What the heck is going on? I went down to visit you all. I think it was 5 or 6 years ago I first came to Australia. I’ve since been back. We had a great time. I tell everybody in the world, Australian duck hunters remind me more of any other place on Earth of American duck hunters. You all are my American brothers. You all hunt like we do, hunt very similarly, share the same culture value. You got a funny accent. But besides that, you all are the most American, like duck hunters. Just the way you hunt and the way you appreciate it and the way you all do things as anybody I’ve ever met. And a lot of our conversation the very first time I met you involved anti-hunters. How long has an anti-duck hunting movement existed in Australia? And what are you all having to deal with on the ground over there?

Trent Leen: Yeah, Ramsey it’s Trent. Yeah we’ve been fighting this fight for a long time, since the late 70s, early 80s, pretty much you’ve been to my house. It started wagering the fight was probably about 15, 20 minutes away from there at a wetland where we first saw our first activists on the scene. So that’s a long time we’ve been fighting it now. And, yeah, it’s been a bit surreal of late. I mean, we’ve got some incredible conditions in Victoria at the moment and we were all getting prepared for some of the best conditions in the last 10, 15 years and we got completely blindsided by this. And, yeah, we’re still trying to work out how it’s all come about.

Ramsey Russell: What is it like being in Australia? How do the anti-hunters in Australia conflict with you all? Tell me how they are working to disturb duck hunting and how they are working to make duck hunting illegal?

Trent Leen: There’s a few groups on the scene now. Some are more vocal and active than others. There’s been damage to vehicles, there’s been slashing of tires. Most of the time they’re just hanging around the access points to the state government reserves, making sort of hunters feel uncomfortable. There’s a small percentage of them have gone out and got their firearms licenses and their authority to hunt, so they could actually be on the wetland and they will paddle around the back of people’s decoys and generally just make them feel uncomfortable. And obviously, somebody paddle around your decoys in a bright Kayak with where hype is your hunt is not really going to go too well. So they go out there and deliberately try and hinder hunters hunts and basically make them feel uncomfortable. So they don’t go to those areas. They pick a lot of big open lakes where they can, maximum impact, walk around the edges. They carry big poles with flags on them, so just generally make nuisance to themselves and make hunters feel uncomfortable. We’ve had cases when hunters have been out there with kids and stuff like that, they get in their faces and stuff. It’s just a bit unsavory. They don’t play by the rules and we have to. We don’t have the right to bear arms like you guys do over there. So we have to be very careful in everything we do and say, and they just go out and blatantly break the law. So it’s a difficult situation for us.

Ramsey Russell: I remember hearing one time that if – because it happens, we don’t always make clean kills when we pull the trigger. We dispatch them humanely very quickly once we get them into our possession. But if you wing break a bird and he hits the water, the antis in Australia have the right to get that bird before you. Is that true?

Glenn Falla: Yeah, that is absolutely true. Ramsey. It’s Glenn. Yeah, absolutely, under the guise of rescuing birds and spent a lot of debate over the years around this subject. And there’s been a lot of debate in recent weeks since the South Australian state opened their season. I happened to be on one of their open lakes over there with Paul Sharp, who you know well, hunting on opening morning and there was something like 9 to 12 cameras around the wetland with people from RSPCA behind them that was organized as a combination of South Australia and Victorian states got together and they got as much footage as they could of every little activity that took place over the weekend and they stitched that video footage together and try and paint everybody in a bad light. The big subject over there is exactly that disposal or humane dispatch of birds and retrieving plans that they don’t see as going to plan. If a bird’s got even a twitch of nerves and a wing that’s moving whilst they’re being carried back to the hide, they’re portraying that as being cruel and that the bird is still alive. And that’s very much not the case. We’ve seen a lot of footage and we’ve reviewed a lot of footage and they haven’t got a lot to answer to, really. There wasn’t a whole lot done wrong. But even between the states, there’s differences in the methods that are accepted as humane dispatch. So we’ve recently been in South Australia, talking with the department over there and advocating for the states to get together and come up with one or two methods that are consistent across the states, because it’s quite confusing when you have interstate hunters or in your case, in the past, you’ve hunted at Lake George international hunters.

Why Is There Opposition to Duck Hunting?

But they’re a small minority, but they’re a very loud minority and they don’t want to listen to anything we’ve got to say. They get fed a lot of mistruth.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah, mercifully, in the times I’ve been over to hunt with you all, we’ve not encountered anti-hunters. Have you ever talked to those people? Why do they oppose so viscerally oppose you going and hunting like your dad did, like your granddad did, like your great great grand did, like cavemen did. Why do they oppose hunting? And why specifically do they oppose duck hunting? Is there any reasonable reason at all?

Trent Leen: I think that it’s ideology based in their eyes. Then there should be no unhuman animals. They believe that we shouldn’t have pet ownership. They believe that animals should walk freely. There shouldn’t be pet ownership. They should just walk freely beside us. Somehow we would exist and coexist. So they don’t like engaging in meaningful conversations. Every time you do try and engage with them and speak on a respectful level, they’re not interested in that. They’re there for push their agenda. They’re there to gather information and provoke to the paint hunters in a bad light so they’re not there to converse with us. And at the end of the day, I do what I do because I love what I do. I was brought up with all forms of hunting. I was lucky. And there’s a new generation that don’t believe in hunting. But they’re a small minority, but they’re a very loud minority and they don’t want to listen to anything we’ve got to say. They get fed a lot of mistruth. They do big campaigns in a lot of universities and they tell stories of these fluffy ducks that are just slaughtered. So they don’t really understand what goes on. And you do have a large percentage of them might turn up on opening weekend. And actually, after they’ve seen it really wasn’t what I was, the picture that I was painted and you never see it again. And then you’re back to that small core of hardcore activists that will be around the wetlands during most of the weekends of this evening. So they’re very well organized. You got to give them some credit. But they’re not interested in having meaningful conversations with us.

Ramsey Russell: Glenn, recently. I know last year was very contentious. They cut your limits. They cut your season drastically since I’ve been there. And I knew it was coming this year from our conversations. But in late February, I received 2 text messages from you and consecutive nights at about 02:00 a.m. which I’m going to say was 4 or 5 or 06:00 p.m. your time tomorrow. But it was very disturbing. The text messages I received were discouraging. I mean, it’s like it had hit this fevered pitch and the battle was toe to toe. I felt like I was talking to the last man standing at the Alamo with your message. Why now? What has happened this year that has made this year such a dire situation? Why did it hit that favorite pitch? What is going on politically? Are you all at the end of probably or likely or at the end of a duck season? Is this it? Is this the final year of battle? If something doesn’t change, what’s happened?

Glenn Falla: Well, it probably is, to be quite frank. It probably is, but we’re not going down without a fight. So, let’s just back up a little bit there. Of course, our season links were severely impacted through the COVID pandemic. But actually, last year we had a full season link with a restriction to 4 birds. Now, that’s part of the interim Harvest Management that we’re putting in place here in Australia, working towards an adaptive harvest model. So, yes, we were a little shocked at the number of 4, but the conditions last year weren’t anything like what they are this year. We certainly were expecting an increase in the number this year. And the whole subject of interim harvest and adaptive harvest through that whole process and that’s been around for a very long time, started back in 2003 to be honest. We’ve gotten to the point where we had agreed as stakeholders and government departments that if a trigger was to be pulled, pardon the pun, it would be on bag limit, not on season length. So we were absolutely shocked when we heard this year that the season had been shortened to get a game to 5 weeks. That’s a decision that came from the minister, not from the GMA or the Game Management Authority here in Victoria. So we were absolutely shocked. When it comes to your question as to why now? Why did you receive those emails from me so distressed in the middle of the night? It’s purely political. Unfortunately, we’re at the end of a political cycle where there’s been a change of government in South Australia late last year and a return of the same government here in Victoria. And there were some promises that were made in order to gather preferences. We have a very different voting system here in Australia to what you do all in America. So when we go and vote, unless you vote below the line and actually tick in order of preference, every single individual representative, you don’t know where your preferences are going. And that’s the crux of the matter, is that there were preference deals made back in October last year and some of those preference deals were given on the proviso that there would be a review into game bird hunting in both South Australia as a state and Victoria. So we’ve currently got a review happening in 2 different states, so Field & Game Australia, being a national organization, have their hands full. And last week, the CEO, Lucas Cooke and myself spent the week in South Australia talking to panel members over there. But concurrently, we’ve got the same thing happening here in Victoria. So we’ve got our hands full between now and the end of August this year.

Ramsey Russell: Did the politicians or did – Let me ask you this way, did the anti-hunters conspire with the politicians? Did they somehow get a leg up or leverage COVID against hunting?

Glenn Falla: Absolutely, 100%.

Ramsey Russell: How did they do that?

Glenn Falla: Well, they have the year of the Animal Justice Party and the Greens here in Australia. And as Trent mentioned earlier, they’re very well organized, they’re very well-funded, they have plenty of dollars to spend in media and they’re very good at converting people or persuading people, influencing people and in fact have been at it – We talked about the fact that this issue has been around since the late 70s, early 80s. They’ve done a very good job of recruiting people through universities. There is a number of ways that they’ve gotten at people and persuaded a percentage of our community that it’s no longer an acceptable behavior. We often talk here in Australia about the 10% that are dead against hunting, the 10% of us that are engaged hunters and the 80% of the community that don’t really give a damn one way or the other because it doesn’t impact them whatsoever.

Impact of Environmental Conditions on Duck Populations

Still we’re slowly but surely losing monumental chunks of habitat death by 1000 cuts. And it just occurred to me that we minority can’t foot the bill for it all.

Ramsey Russell: See, I’ve got strong feelings about that because I’m just kind of mixed feelings. And I would always said 10% anti 10% pro 80% don’t give a damn. And here in America I feel like we duck hunters and I think there’s about a million duck stamps sold annually. 330,000,000 people in America, 1 million duck hunters, let’s say. And we’re the only ones yelling and complaining about wetlands. We’re the only ones pushing and advocating spending our time and money for conservation. And still we’re losing the battle on wetlands law. Still we’re slowly but surely losing monumental chunks of habitat death by 1000 cuts. And it just occurred to me that we minority can’t foot the bill for it all. But at a glance, I the duck hunter and they the anti-hunter, we both want a common thing. 20% of the population wants the same things, we want ducks. We just have a different mindset on how that’s achieved. That’s always been perplexing to me. Australia is the driest continent on earth. The times I’ve been there, water conditions were good. There’s vast tracks of dryness. But the resource, the wetlands, the rivers, the swamps, the flooded timber, the red gum swamps, the marshes, the agriculture are astounding. I mean it is breathtaking. It is one of the most spectacular things I’ve ever seen with a great abundance of ducks. And relative to the United States, very low hunting pressure. And so when you tell me that last year was dry, it was a dry cycle and probably duck numbers were low because waterfowl need water to make good numbers. And this year it’s very wet, wetter than you can remember which means there should be a lot of ducks and yet the bag limits and the seasons are the same. I now got the question of who is doing what in terms of scientific surveys estimates of populations, estimates of wetlands and estimates of bag harvest so that you can manage your money in the bank and spend it wisely. Who state, federal, provincial, private. Who in Australia is doing what scientifically to examine that resource? And let’s talk past, present and future on how these waterfowl. Who and how these waterfowl are being managed for maximum, optimal, vibrant populations in Australia?

Glenn Falla: Yes, directly. So let’s go back to the beginnings, I guess, of Field & Game. Field & Game Australia has been around since 1958. Back then, they were called the Victorian Field and Game association, but formed out of concerns of loss of habitat. Back in 1958, half a dozen avid hunters down in the area of sale sat around the pub table one night and suggested that they were seeing lower numbers than ever of pacific black duck and talked about what the cause might be. You know, there were wetlands being drained, there was agricultural changes taking place, monocultures being created and they said, well, enough is enough. So they actually went to government back then and we taxed ourselves as hunters. We ended up with a duck stamp not dissimilar to what you have over in America. Wouldn’t surprise you that we copied what you guys were doing. That worked very successfully from the early 60s through to the 80s, when there was a change of government. At that point in time, all our fees and a duck stamp on top of our permit were going into. Directly back into habitat replenishment or regeneration. Unfortunately, in the mid 80s, change of government, change of approach. And since then, our permit dollars have been going into general revenue or as we would refer to the Christmas lush fund. So –

What is the Australian Government Doing for Duck Populations?

I could sum that up in 2 words. Not enough.

Ramsey Russell: Wait a minute. The American duck stamp has generated about a billion dollars that is specifically earmarked for waterfowl habitat conservation, period. And then we have hunting license sales, which go into state DNR budgets. And then we have a 7% excise tax on sporting goods that generates billions that can be used by universities, state and federal agencies towards habitat conservation. What I’m asking about Australia, you all do have a hunting license, but what is your federal government doing to count ducks? To estimate populations, to estimate wetlands, to estimate harvest? What are the provincial governments doing to estimate populations, to estimate wetlands, and to estimate harvest? What are those entities that are responsible for migratory birds in Australia? What specifically are they doing to ensure sustainable populations of waterfowl?

Glenn Falla: I could sum that up in 2 words. Not enough.

Ramsey Russell: Okay, anything.

Glenn Falla: Yeah, if you look at it federally, there’s very little money spent specifically into the science and the research side of things. Certainly, there’s a little bit of money going into environmental water and the benefits of that. But not aimed specifically at game birds, of course, more likely to be aimed at rare and endangered native fish, water birds in general, those types of things. But each state is doing their own thing and I’ve got to be fair here. Victoria has done more in recent years than what they’ve ever done. So under Game Management Authority, there is more scientific research being done now than there ever has been before and that’s been done in consultation with the hunting groups as well as groups like the RSPCA and animal welfare groups. So we work together and that is growing. For the first time this year, Ramsey, we’re actually doing some banding and some GPS tracking of birds and we’re doing some studies on the blue wing shovel, which, as you know, old boot lip, you’re pretty fond of the old blue winged shoveler. We’re doing what we can to try and learn what’s actually happening with the population of those here in Australia, because as you’re aware, they’ve been taken off the list to hunt in recent years. So to be fair, some of the states are pushing their own barrel. They’re doing their own thing. But as far as having an actual accurate count of game birds across the whole of Australia, we really have no idea. We’re working towards a better idea than what we’ve had in the past. We’ve introduced things in recent years, such as helicopter counts to bolster the ground counts that are done each year. There’s been similar things done in New South Wales under the game management program that runs in New South Wales. They don’t have recreational hunting up there. However, they can hunt game birds 10 months of the year up there legally over the rice, which I’m sure you can remember. Look, there’s a little bit being done at state level, but who’s paying for it? Well, we all are. It’s taxpayer’s money, it’s not just hunters. It doesn’t come from our recreational licenses. But who are the stakeholders that are most engaged in doing the most? Who are the people that are getting their hands dirty and actually doing things like putting out hen houses and traditional wooden boxes for nesting? It’s the groups like Field & Game Australia and other hunting organizations to a smaller extent, there is becoming more and more interest from general conservation groups around wetlands. We haven’t seen much work done in wetlands in the past. But there seems to be a renewed interest in wetlands. People have understood in recent years how important wetlands are and how quickly we’re losing them. So there’s more interest than ever. But it’s not specific around game birds.

Ramsey Russell: Well, let me ask you this question. Australian shovelers were a prize to Australian duck hunters and hard headed ducks. Hardheads were also a prized duck to Australian hunters. And both of those have been removed from. They’ve been taken off the table. You no longer can shoot Australian shelducks or hardheads. In the absence of rigorous surveys. Do you feel like those 2 species were taken off the table to discourage hunters from participating? Or was there another reason?

Glenn Falla: No, you’re absolutely right. And look, I’ve heard it directly face to face in meetings over video conference. The people that are working against us have openly said it would seem to them that the only way they can convince the government to protect these native birds is to have them added to the non huntable list one at a time. And so you’re correct, both the blue winged shoveler and the hardhead cannot be hunted in Victoria or South Australia currently. And we know that they have plans to add at least one bird per year. If indeed we get the chance to continue to hunt into the future, they will just continue to add them onto the threatened species list and we will have to then advocate to have them removed with scientific evidence that it was done unjustly. We’re working through that process here in Victoria with hardhead at the moment, but we’re well aware that that could be a 2 to 3 year process.

Ramsey Russell: Now back to hunting licenses. When I come to Australia, I’ve got to have a hunting license in Victoria. I’ve got to take a test, which is, again, a deterrent from hunters. It’s like, let’s make it as difficult as we can, but if you’re a duck hunter, you can take that test. I did it. How many duck licenses are sold in Australia? How many duck hunting licenses are sold in Australia?

Trent Leen: So we’ve got around 26,000 in Victoria. All those indoors with duck have to sit there watercolor identification test, which I believe you’re familiar with. The promising news was we had 700 new hunters in the last 12 months. So for those that like to advocate that honey is delaying Victoria, we’re actually growing at a much better rate than we had in the past. So that’s actually promising. And I think a lot of that has to do with when you look at participation seasonally, because it was such a good outlook for the season this year. I think that’s when we had our big recruitment years. I don’t doubt that this is a very well orchestrated attack on us, given that it was a very good season this year and our participation levels would have been up and our new hunters would have been up, that it’s a very planned attack on us this year.

Glenn Falla: And look, Victoria’s leading the way there as far as permits held, Lucas and I were in South Australia only last week with the department and asked a specific question. There’s 1200 permits been sold in South Australia this year. Lucas has just joined us, our CEO. So welcome, Lucas. I’m not sure that Lucas has got a national figure on this, but certainly we know infinitely what Tasmania, South Australia and Victoria hold in the way of permits.

What Happens to the Proceeds of Waterfowl Hunting Licenses in Australia?

They’re not kept aside and spent just for hunting like was originally the case and like we would like to see a return to that model.

Ramsey Russell: And what happens to the proceeds? You’ve already said it, but I’m going to ask you again. What happens to the proceeds of all those duck hunting license. I know what happens here in America, what happens in Australia to the hunters, the proceeds from hunting license sales. What does your government do with?

Trent Leen: So that varies. Thanks for having me. Sorry for stepping in a little bit late. But where the proceeds of hunting goes varies state to state, but across the board. Now, unfortunately, the separation of those funds and the return of those directly back into land and duck hunting has mostly ceased, that the funds go back into general revenue now and they have to be a portion back out of the government’s general funds. They’re not kept aside and spent just for hunting like was originally the case and like we would like to see a return to that model.

Ramsey Russell: Do you think that the anti-hunting type government, let’s just say, is putting light hunting license sales into a general fund to be squandered on anything but wildlife habitat? Is that a way of marginalizing the benefits of hunting? Is it a political statement? Is that why they’re doing it? Cutting their nose off despite their face? Is that why they would do something that ludicrous?

Trent Leen: Yes, it certainly benefits the argument against hunting as far as diluting the direct economical impact. It’s harder to prove a direct impact of hunting if the money is divvied off in other ways.

Ramsey Russell: Because right now, while we Americans suffer under the delusion that duck hunting is a birth right and can never be taken away from us. Our anti-hunting organizations are operating beneath the scenes very quietly, as quietly as carbon monoxide. And that’s exactly what they’re trying to do. They are trying to separate sporting firearms, ammo, sporting gear. They’re trying to remove the association of hunters from state DNR budgets. And that’s exactly why they’re doing it. That’s why I asked that question. That’s what I suspect. That’s what I believe is going on in Australia. Glenn, I’m in a group email with you and some other NGO organizations here in the United States, from the outside looking in, we’re trying to weigh in and offer some solutions and come in and offer some education and do some things. And recently you sent an email, somebody in Australia has appointed a council, and when I read down a lot of the bullet points, the topics of what this council is going to examine, the sustainability, which we’ve just talked about it seems farcical at best in terms of scientific management. It seemed like the government could step up and do one hell of a lot better in managing their natural resources. They talked about cultural value, they talked about traditional value, they talked about the Native American value, they talked about aboriginal, you all call them. They talked about a lot of different topics, which to me sounded on point. What’s wrong with that list? What’s wrong with that discussion? What’s wrong with that council? What worries you about that?

Glenn Falla: Well, there’s a few things that worry us about that, but just to put things into perspective, both South Australia and Victoria have very similar dot points that they’re going to address during this review of game bird hunting into the future. The concerns that we have, we talk about the concerns first and then perhaps the positives that we’ve pulled out of it so far. The concerns are in Victoria. The panel consists of nine people from various parts of politics, and that includes a representative from the Animal Justice Party and the Greens, of course. And I guess what’s most concerning about the Victorian one is even the opening speech introducing the fact that there was going to be a review, was terribly biased and one sided. And the member of parliament that was responsible for that was more than happy to share her view that right out of the gates that she thought that duck hunting needed to be banned and no longer had a place in our community. When you cross the border to South Australia, as Lucas and I have done recently, a little bit more pleasing over there to see a panel of seven that appears to be, on the surface, a little bit more balanced. And in fact, we’ve been fortunate enough to have discussions with a number of those panel members and they’ve reiterated to us that they’re not quite sure why we’re even having a review, because there’s more important things to worry about that are going on in our community at the moment. So that’s a little bit heartening. But the concern is if the panel is stacked and depending on what evidence is provided from each side, which side of the divide are people going to fall? We know that those that work against us will be very well organized. They’ll certainly be very well funded. And so, yes, we have been in contact with numerous hunting organizations and scientists and biologists, etcetera, overseas. We won’t give too much away about what we’re doing with those people, but we’re reaching out, obviously, to anybody that we think can help us. And people in America should be concerned about what’s going on in Australia because that right out can blow up.

An Ideological Attack on Hunting

And to anybody sitting in America thinking that anything that happens in Australia is not going to make its way back to your neck of the woods, you only have to consider that. 

Ramsey Russell: That’s a great point. Now, let me ask you this question, Glenn. I’m about 10,000 miles from you been down there, love to hunt, but to the average guy from Maryland and California and Minnesota, Louisiana, Utah, Texas, so what? Who cares? I care, Glenn. But come on, man. Why should I be concerned that my brothers down in Australia are losing it? Don’t affect me. Or does it?

Glenn Falla: Well, you’ve just touched on it yourself. You’ve talked about people your side of the world, sitting back quietly and watching what’s going on around the world. You can rest assured that if we fall in Victoria or South Australia, for that matter, it’s going to be a game of dominoes. It’s going to be a flow on effect. And I’m pretty sure that not only will it flow into other countries, other regions, it’ll also flow onto other outdoor activities. And we’re already seeing that here in Victoria. That’s one of our other concerns. This is not just an attack on game bird hunting. Game bird hunting might be the first thing that they’re reviewing, but we know there are a number of bills that are sitting in the background that are attached to other outdoor recreational activities. So, it might be game bird hunting that they’re picking on this week or this month, but once they’re done with that, who knows what’s going to be next? Is it going to be four wheels driving in the bush? Is it going to be motorcycling? Is it going to be fishing, any of these outdoor recreational activities? It would appear that what we’re doing is trying to, I guess, direct everybody into a race and make sure that the outdoor activities are controlled by our government departments and that, indeed, anything you do out in the bush, you have to pay a fee for.

Ramsey Russell: Amen. Glenn, Trent. Glenn, one of the first times I came and visited, I was shocked. We were having cocktails. We were visiting. We had been hunting, and we got to talking about the anti-hunting movement and you all shocked me when you all told me where a lot of the funding was coming from. Now, to be as well organized, to be as political relevance being money, to be as politically relevant, to be as well organized, requires funding. And it’s not just funding from Australia. These anti-hunters are getting funding from anti-hunters elsewhere. Am I right?

Trent Leen: It’s 100% right, Ramsey. It’s an ideological attack. And to anybody sitting in America thinking that anything that happens in Australia is not going to make its way back to your neck of the woods, you only have to consider that. Do you have groups in America that are quietly trying to cancel anything that they ideologically oppose? It’s the same groups that are active in Australia. It’s not even necessarily organizations directly opposed to hunting. They see they can get duck hunting canceled, and then that will lead to more resources being added to point at them canceling whatever they don’t like.

Ramsey Russell: I remember being told or explained to that a lot of funding that are funding this ideological war you’re talking about was coming from places like Netherlands, the UK, South Africa, the United States. I mean, they’re organized beyond Australia. They’re organized worldwide. And what I see is Glenn explaining, when Victoria Falls, that’s the first domino in Australia. The dominoes start tumbling among the country. Tumble, tumble, tumble, tumble, now Australia is off the board. The first major domino has fallen, emboldened by having parked and having made a major win down in Australia. I feel like a lot of these global interests, these organized global interest are going to, Where will they go next? Will it be here? Will it be Canada? Will it be Argentina? Because what they’re going to do is they’re going to direct those resources and play the same game elsewhere. I’m looking at the countries globally as the big dominoes. And that’s what concerns me. That’s why I’m so passionately concerned about what’s happening in Australia halfway across the world. The more I’ve traveled and the more I’ve seen, the more I’ve been to the countries. That’s just what I see happening worldwide from flying up and looking down on the world. That’s what I see happening. And it’s very disheartening, what can be done?

Glenn Falla: Ramsey, nobody would have a better idea of the country that might be impacted next than you. I would think you travel the world more than anyone we know hunting. The other thing that jumps out at me and concerns me is you might be driving home from work in the evening. With the radio on and you hear a brand new song that comes on the radio and you think, oh, gee, that’s pretty catchy tune. Got to be careful about who it is that you listen to and who you pay to listen to their music. Or indeed, if you’re sitting down with a family watching a film, there’s a lot of famous singers, a lot of famous actors that are pouring millions and millions of dollars into these types of activities. So sometimes you don’t even know who your enemy is. There’s some famous names out there that have poured millions of dollars into this approach to get things shut down. So that’s really concerning as well. Sometimes you just don’t know who your enemy is.

How Do We Fight for Hunter’s Rights?

We need to bring all groups together, all groups that believe in the liberty to pursue whatever outdoor activities you choose to pursue. We should have freedom to pursue any recreational activities. That’s a well regulated, responsible, safe activity.

Ramsey Russell: Glenn, Trent, what can be done and what is being done by Field & Game Australia, by Australian hunters, by anybody on the sidelines like myself. What can be done and what is be done? How are you all fighting the fight?

Trent Leen: One of the big things we obviously have to do, Ramsey, is attack the isolation of the individual hunting groups, because call it a fault, call it what you will. Obviously, the hunting community can be quite secular, and this divide and conquer approach from the other side has worked in the past. So one of the big things that we’re working heavily on is exactly what we’re doing now making the point to everybody that, look, this won’t stop at dark hunting. We need to bring all groups together, all groups that believe in the liberty to pursue whatever outdoor activities you choose to pursue. We should have freedom to pursue any recreational activities. That’s a well regulated, responsible, safe activity. We need to bring all people that are pursuing all different sorts of these together and actually create a unified group against this push to cancel anything that certain groups are ideologically opposed to. So we’re working hard to get as many groups together as possible that share the same values, same core beliefs and make sure we present a united front to protect these outdoor activities.

Ramsey Russell: Break. I got one more question for you. You all are duck hunting now. Your season is open now for about 35 or 40 days, 4 ducks a day. It’s going to be a personal question. You all both been duck hunting for a long time. I’ve met each of your fathers. They grew up duck hunters. They duck hunt. They brought you into this hand me down tradition to duck hunting. As you go to the field and you climb into a blind with your dad, with your friends, with your children, with your dogs, has it dawned on you that if the antis win the war, has it dawned on you that each hunt you go on this season may be the last that to the average Australian duck hunter that duck hunts 10 or 15 times a year going into this hunting season, he’s got 10 or 15 hunts left in him before it’s over. Is that something that you think about when you go duck hunting in the morning?

Trent Leen: I’ve just got back from the south Australian duck hunting and I was over there with a lot of other members of Dylan Field & Game and including my father and a lot of close friends. And I’m not going to lie, I did have a quiet moment as the opening time approached and did just had a little bit of reflection that this could be the last time that we do actually do this. South Australia’s got the same reviewers as us at the moment, and they generally will follow what Victoria will do. So I did have a bit of a quiet moment and reflect, and then I actually made a point. I don’t often hunt directly with my father in the same boat. We normally both go in different directions in the same area. But the third day we did go out and hunt together, and that thought definitely did cross my mind. But I guess I’ve been focusing on, I’m the half last full type person. So I look at this review as the massive threat and if we don’t get it right, it could be our last duck season. But also part of me, I’m focusing my energy on the positives that we could get if we do survive this, what could duck hunting look like in 5 years time? So, I’m driving and it’s focused on actually what we can do to maintain duck hunting. Sure, I’ll sit down and reflect if it could be the last, but I’m keep focused on anything that we can do to actually ensure that it isn’t the last, because if we do survive this, it is a very good positive for not only hunting in Victoria, but hunting worldwide. So it really is a massive fight that we’ve got ahead of us. And yeah, I just, to a certain extent, I really haven’t allowed myself to get too much involved in the what ifs because it’ll begin to eat you up. I don’t want to go there, but I have to.

Ramsey Russell: What say you, Glenn? I mean, you have fought the fault. As a member of Field & Game Australia, you and Trent have fought the fault diligently. You and your brothers have fought the fault. How does it feel to somebody on the front lines in the trenches, doing everything humanly possible, who grew up hunting with his dad? How does it feel when you’re hunting with your daughter this season, does it change the way that you approach duck hunting? Does it change the way you feel about duck hunting? Does it make the duck even more special, the time even more special? Has it sunk into you that, like sand in an hourglass, that this could be the end? How does it make you feel, Glenn?

Glenn Falla: Yeah, absolutely Ramsey. And to be quite frank, I don’t think I’ve had a complete night of sleep since I first sent those texts through to you back in February. So absolutely, it’s front of mind. It’s what I live and breathe every waking moment of every day. It is my job, but it’s also my passion. And if you return to where our conversation started, you talked about the average hunter in the US hunting in their backyard. I don’t really refer to either Trent or myself as the average hunter in Australia. As you know, we’ve traveled to the states and hunted with you guys. We intend to continue to do that. We intend to visit other countries with you in the future. We hunt in New Zealand. We hunt every state and territory that legally will allow us to hunt here in Australia. So for me, hunting won’t stop. Hunting will continue whether it’s still in Victoria, still in South Australia, whether those other states follow. We’ve still got hunting. Recreational hunting takes place in Tasmania as well. As you know, Ramsey, we hunt the Northern Territory every year as well on geese and duck. And you’re coming over to join us later in the year. We go down to Tasmania and the Cape Barren geese in January next year. We’ll continue to do what we can where we can. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it’s eating me alive. My father’s 84 and we’re making plans at home at the moment. Victoria actually hasn’t opened yet. It opens on Wednesday the 26th. I went to the South Australian opening and hunted with Paul and others, but my daughter and my father will be with me on that Wednesday the 26th. And yes, very much, it might be the last time that it ever happens legally here in Victoria. I don’t think that the New South Wales game bird management system is likely to disappear anytime soon over the rice farms of New South Wales. But that’s not the same. It’s absolutely not the same. We’re governed, we’re devastated. But as Trent said, we’re not focusing our energies on the negatives. We’re focusing on the positives of what we can do, the impacts that we can have, the science that can defend what we’re doing, the sustainability of hunting into the future. We think that question has already been answered, really. It’s about the wounding rate, reducing wounding rates, hunter behavior, hunter education, education over regulation. There are a number of things that we can do that could see us not only win this battle, but survive for the next 10 to 15 years. Set us up better than what we are currently. So we’re focused on the positives. We’re very hope is not a strategy. So I wouldn’t want to say that we’re hopeful, but we’re throwing everything we possibly can at it. So we haven’t given up. We’re not laying down and taking it, that’s for sure. But there is some hope in the fact that if things do go belly up, there are other parts of the world that we’ll visit. And not every Australian hunter has the passion to do that. But certainly, you’ve seen with Trent and I that we have done it in the past and we’ll continue to do it in the future, but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

Ramsey Russell: Thank you all very much for coming to us from the front lines down in Australia. To both of you all, I do look forward to seeing you this year, I am coming down there to join you all in the Northwest Territories and hopefully coming back to join you all in Tasmania. I’ve been putting it off for 5 or 6 years, but I’ve realized that opportunity is not going to exist, possibly not exist forever. And I miss seeing you all anyway. And I know you all miss seeing me, but I am coming down there. I greatly appreciate you all coming on board and sharing your story and talking about this topic with me. Folks, give it some thought. Ask yourself, could it happen here in America? The answer is yes, it could happen. That’s why we should care. That’s why we should be very cognizant. These anti-hunting organizations are organized global entities that for some reason do not value what you do from the conservation level. They do not like what you do from the personal level. They despise you passing it on to your children. Once the dominoes start to fall, it’s coming to our backyard, too. Thank you all for listening to this episode of Duck Season Somewhere, we’ll see you next time.



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It really is Duck Season Somewhere for 365 days. Ramsey Russell’s Duck Season Somewhere podcast is available anywhere you listen to podcasts. Please subscribe, rate and review Duck Season Somewhere podcast. Share your favorite episodes with friends. Business inquiries or comments contact Ramsey Russell at And be sure to check out our new GetDucks Shop.  Connect with Ramsey Russell as he chases waterfowl hunting experiences worldwide year-round: Insta @ramseyrussellgetducks, YouTube @DuckSeasonSomewherePodcast,  Facebook @GetDucks