Deer Stalkers Club SSAA(Vic)
Discussions about forming a Deerstalkers Club within the SSAA(Vic) had been going on since the mid 1960s and by 1968 it was ready to go with draft Constitution and Code of Ethics already prepared and approved by the SSAA Executive.
At a late stage the formation group was joined by Kevin Kincaid who convinced us that the Code of Ethics should initially be left wide enough to include all deer hunters – both hound hunters and spotlighters. Spotlighting, while almost universally practiced at the time, was considered by many here and all overseas organisations to be an unethical practice for deer. While hound hunting was not really a problem we were persuaded, with serious reservations, to temporarily change the Code of Ethicsto allow spotlighting of deer on foot and using a hand light only – ie. no spotlighting from a vehicle.
During 1969 a number of deer hunter meetings were called to form the DeerhuntersClub and these were held at the Camberwell Elderly Citizens Hall next to the RSL.The last of these meetings was held to go through and accept the Code of Ethics and this was where difficulties were encountered. A noisy group insisted on having no restrictions on spotlighting and had the meeting accept this point of view. The following meeting of the SSAA(Vic) Executive decided not to accept their decision if the Club was to be part of SSAA. They were so advised and SSAA immediately went ahead with the original Deerstalkers Club proposal on the basis of the earlier Constitution and Code of Ethics. The other deer hunters then went and formed another organisation.
Early meetings of the Deerstalkers Club were held in the theatre at ICI house in the City but after the Springvale Range Headquarters became available in 1973 meetings have since been held there.
The first office bearers of the Deerstalkers Club were: President – Frank Moore, Vice President – Bill Woolmore, Secretary – Doug Mummery, and Treasurer – Malcolm Fraser.
The Club was active in conservation work and also began organising hunting parties for members. After a successful hunt in the Aberfeldy area in about 1970, one group retired to the Woods Point Hotel for a cooked meal and a beer. The publican, Don Wood, informed them that houses in the town were going very cheaply at that time and suggested that the Club should buy one as a Deerstalker’s Lodge. He showed them the house which is today the Deerstalkers Lodge and after they returned to Melbourne a group of 25 members put up the money and purchased the house. This group then gave the Club the right to manage it as a Lodge for the Deerstalkers Clubon a permanent basis.
The Club has always been active in making submissions on any matter which affected deer stalking and this was particularly so while the Victorian Land Conservation Council was investigating land use in Victoria. The most important issue in theseventies was the future of the Alpine area. There was a strong push to have the area made a National Park which the Deerstalkers Club and the Sporting Shooters Association strongly opposed because it would exclude deer hunting from an important and traditional deer stalking areas. We were later approached by the National Parks Association to discuss our objections. A Deerstalkers Club officialaddressed one of the VNPA general meetings and explained our position. The result was an agreement that the DSC and SSAA would withdraw objections to the National Park proposal provided that deer stalking was permitted in the park. A conditionwhich had to be accepted was that stalkers would not be permitted to take a dog into the area when and if it became a National Park. The VNPA agreed to support deer stalking as a legitimate use of the Park and the result is what we have today.
The DSC got a range of activities going:- Hunter Training courses, Venison bar-b-qs, picnics, improvements to the Lodge at Woods Point, involvement with Friends of Wonnagatta-Moroka National Park, trophy list, annual dinner dances etc as well as a wide range of entertainment and educational features at monthly general meetings. The Deerstalkers Club was also responsible for the main thrust of conservation work in the SSAA(Vic).