Ahead of one of the busiest hunting weekends of the year, an Illawarra shooter has warned people against assuming all hunters are ‘‘rednecks’’.
Sporting Shooters Association of Australia Illawarra branch president Mark Banasiak said hunters, like most people, enjoyed getting away during the long weekend.
But he said that didn’t mean shooters would be running rampant across state forests recently reopened to hunting.
‘‘We get painted as these crazy rednecks that go out and shoot up forests and that’s so not what we are,’’ he said.
‘‘Some of us teachers, some are doctors, we’ve got people in our club that work at the university.
‘‘We come from a broad section of the community – we’re not just rednecks as we sometimes get painted.’’
Mr Banasiak said SSAA Illawarra boasted more than 1500 members.
There are no state forests open to shooting in the Illawarra, and Mr Banasiak said he travels to a location near Oberon when he goes hunting.
In January, the NSW government announced about 200 state forests would be reopened to amateur hunters following a period of suspension when the government received a damning report on the management of its regulator, the Game Council of NSW.
The agency was abolished and its functions taken over by the Department of Primary Industries.
DPI Game Licensing Unit manager of regulatory services Troy Hogarth said officers would be out in force this weekend to ensure hunters complied with the law.
‘‘Hunting compliance officers, with the support of NSW Police, will be conducting surveillance patrols in a number of state forests over the long weekend,” he said. ‘‘With the reopening of state forests for hunting, there is certainly a focus on safety and education and as part of the weekend’s operations we will be checking that licensed hunters comply with all the new regulations.
“This includes holding a licence and current permit, as well as carrying a working GPS device with detailed mapping data installed.’’