Balloted Hog deer hunting in East Gippsland goes from strength to strength with yet more great hunting results in 2014.
The 26th hog deer ballot started this year on February 17, and successfully concluded on April 11, with 32 hunters harvesting 17 hog deer.
At Boole Poole Peninsula there were four hunters for each of three 7-day hunting periods, which provided the opportunity for 12 hunters who harvested 2 deer (a stag with 22 cm antlers and a hind).
At Blond Bay Reserve there were four hunters for each of the five 7-day hunting periods, providing the opportunity for 20 hunters who between them harvested 15 deer (nine stags and six hinds, with the best antlers measuring 40 cm).
Deer were harvested in every period except the fourth period. There were many reported sightings of stags and hinds during legal hunting hours at Blond Bay but a limited number at Boole Poole. All deer were generally in very good condition. Hunters are once again to be commended for taking hinds this year following encouragement from the Blond Bay Hog Deer Advisory Group as part of the reserve’s ‘good neighbour’ policy and Hog Deer Management Programme.
The 12 balloted hunters who harvested hog deer at Blond Bay during 2014 were:
B Brown (stag and hind), P Frost (stag and hind), D Dunn (stag), T Ebert (hind), H Cecchin (hind), C Brownlie (stag), D Smith (stag and hind), T Dennis (stag), D Olsen (stag), G Semmens (hind), K Goss (stag), M Gibson (stag).
The 2 balloted hunters who harvested hog deer at Boole Poole during 2014 were:
M Preston (hind) and E Jones (stag).
1. All hunters were satisfied and thought the Monday morning briefing by DEPI met their expectations.
2. Most of the hunters stated that they were satisfied with their overall experience in the balloted hunt and that it met all their expectations.
3. Those hunters that attended the ADA East Gippsland Branch hunter education weekend believe that it contributed significantly to their success in the balloted hunting.
4. There was great support for the opportunity to hunt hog deer in the ballot and have access to the excellent hog deer habitat in East Gippsland.
History of the Blond Bay Hog Deer Ballot
The Blond Bay success story began in 1984 when the East Gippsland Branch of the Australian Deer Association initiated a project for the rehabilitation of hog deer in the Blond Bay State Game Reserve. This reserve covers approximately 2,000 hectares and is located 20 kilometres south west of Bairnsdale on the edge of Lake Victoria. Blond Bay was already a popular duck hunting area.
A number of hog deer were made available for release from the then Fisheries and Wildlife Research Station at Serendip near Geelong. In addition hog deer were supplied from Sunday Island and additional releases were made in 1985, 86 and 87 after an acclimatisation period in a fenced enclosure in the reserve which formed the initial population in Blond Bay. This herd bred very successfully and the population has continued to increase every year.
The Blond Bay Hog Deer Advisory Group was formed in 1987 to advise the then Department of Conservation, Forests and Lands on the best way to manage the Blond Bay Reserve to provide regulated hunting of wild, free ranging hog deer on public land managed by and for hunters.
Ballotted hunting commenced successfully at the Blond Bay State Game Reserve in 1989 and since that time the Blond Bay Hog Deer Advisory Group (BBHDAG) has provided funds to improve facilities at the reserve. These improvements include the provision of a notice board at the entry to the reserve which details the hunting and other activities carried out in the reserve and new track signs throughout Blond Bay.
In 1992 an additional balloted hunting area was opened up on Boole Poole Peninsula part of the Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park. This hunting area is also approximately 2,000 hectares and is located across Lake King from Metung and is only accessible by boat. Over the years the BBHDAG has funded a storage container for Parks Victoria to house equipment for use at Boole Poole and the provision of boundary markers to clearly identify the boundary of the hunting area for hunters.
The BBHDAG was incorporated in December 2011 and is made up of representatives from Game Victoria, the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI), Parks Victoria, Australian Deer Association, Gippsland Deer Stalkers Association, East Gippsland Branch of Field and Game Australia with a Secretary/Treasurer who is unaffiliated. The Group recommends to Game Victoria the number of hunters, hunting periods, dates and hunter harvest. Most of the above is ascertained from surveys conducted over the hunted areas by several interested groups before the ballot draw.
Since the ballot commenced in 1989 it has been the practice that every second draw is held at the ADA East Gippsland Branch Christmas meeting. In alternative years. the ballot is drawn at other hunting club venues subject to requests from these clubs to host the draw. This year the draw will be held at the SSAA Deerstalkers Club in Melbourne on December 17, 2014. So far as I know the ballot has only been drawn in Victoria to date but the BBHDAG would look closely at requests from other States to host the ballot draw in the future.
As well as receiving advice from the BBHDAG, hunters drawn in the ballot are offered an opportunity to attend an information weekend organised by the East Gippsland Branch of the Australian Deer Association. This information weekend consists of a number of speakers providing expert hog deer hunting information. These talks are followed by a guided tour of the balloted areas to assist the hunters in making the hunt more enjoyable and successful. This weekend is highly recommended by the BBHDAG and is extremely popular with experienced as well as new hunters, and has resulted in higher success rates as hunters arrive at their hunting area knowing the layout, location of the campsite and where and how they will hunt during their five day hunting period at either Blond Bay or Boole Poole.
The continued success of the Blond Bay project demonstrates that hunters can in conjunction with Government run balloted hunting in National Parks and State Game Reserves and should open the doors to additional projects in future including areas like Snake Island.