I Have been helping a couple of cattle stations over the last decade keeping the feral donkey (Equus asinus) population in check. Feral donkeys were first brought to Australia in the 19th century as pack animals to replace horses, being more tolerant to some of the toxic native plants. In Western Australia in 1949, there were enough donkeys for them to officially be declared a pest. Now an estimate numbering 5 million plus feral donkeys are in Australia.
I love getting away into the more remote Cattle Station country so a call from one of these Stations was all it took to get packed up and on the road. We were asked to try and cull as many of the unwanted donkey’s as we could on 2 adjoining properties, a total of 1.5 million acres. The terrain as can be seen in the accompanying pictures is semi-arid and very rugged. A lot of our time is taken traversing rough terrain, as in most animals, they don’t tend to accumulate in easy to get to spots. We were daily doing 100+ kilometres on our quad bikes. These bikes are amazing and make going off road more practical and achievable.
There was definitely no shortage of animals, and it always amazes me how well these animals survive but flourish in these conditions. If it wasn’t for the manmade watering points, I don’t think they would though, but then again, we wouldn’t have a cattle industry either.
Some of the younger animals we take a few of the better cuts for a few curries or jerky etc. Taste similar to beef. Though we do have limited refrigeration. The Apex 46 Hunter knife is bloody brilliant, and I carry one with me on all these trips, not just for taking a few back straps but for all camping and situation you need a sturdy, strong and sharp knife. They are a great size so easy to carry but still large enough to do all chores.
Donkeys are also trapped. This is using a watering trough inside a set of stock yards so any animal entering for a drink can’t walk back out. Ingenious.
We had a great 8 days on the Station, weather was perfect being 30 to 35 degrees Celsius with no strong winds. Flies were friendly but you get that in Aussie land. Had some great meals from our bush kitchen and few cold refreshments in the evenings. Can’t wait to go again.
I haven’t got the most
glamorous job to do though it is essential.
I would love to be one
of those hunters you see pictures of with a big stag with huge sets of antlers.
But no, my job in the community is much less exciting and somewhat mundane. I
am a Profession Roo Shooter.
Kangaroo (Roo) numbers
in my part of Western Australia have boomed since European settlement. This is
because we clear the bush, improved the pasture and put in watering points for
our stock. The roos loved these improvement to a point where they become so
numerous that they eat all the feed for the stock and become inbred. Don’t
believe what you read about roos becoming endangered, this is far from the
Generally my culling is
done at night under spotlight as roos become more nocturnal with culling
pressure. An evening out culling starts at night fall, then we spend a few
hours culling an area. Taking anywhere from a dozen to 35 in an evening. They
are all tidied up for presentation to a chiller. They are processed for either
human consumption, pet food or canine baits. None are wasted.
An accurate rifle is essential as under the national code of Humane Shooting of Kangaroos all animals must be head shot. As you can see by the numbers of animals taken in an evening, barrels require cleaning regularly. Steve from Napier’s of London put me on the right track in this regard when he visited once and he has a great video on his web page. I use Ultra Clean for patches, these have a rough side and a fluffy side. They are great. Generally I just use Napier Gun Cleaner down the bore but every now and again when giving a good doing over use bore solvent. Just follow Steve’s video and you can’t go wrong. Napier products are top quality. That VP90 stuff is excellent.
Kangaroos are culled
under strict Government controlled guide lines and permits. All animals taken
are recorded for weight, sex and location. These figures are used to monitor
numbers taken and allocate future cull numbers as required.
As I started, not
glamorous but essential to keep numbers under control for the benefit of the
community and the agricultural sector. One day I might get to hunt a big stag.
The Western Rock Lobster off our Western
Australian coast can grow up to 5 kilograms though most harvested would usually
only average 750 grams. They are a member of the spiny lobster family and taste
fantastic. Though the large portion of the
available catch is taken commercially, us amateur fishers have ample
opportunity to catch our own. For $50 you can add the rock lobster catch permit
to your annual fishing license. Amateurs catch them by either using lobster
pots or diving. Divers can only use a snare or catch by hand.
As a young fella I
chased these on a regular basis. We would go down the beach and swim out to the
inshore reefs only few hundred meters from the shore and free dive to catch our
quarry. Using, in them day a simple gidgee to prise the young lobsters from
under the reefy ledges. During late spring and again later summer the younger
lobster come into these onshore reefs to moult their shells and we would take
great advantage of this. This was the christening for me on an annual pursuit
of these much sort after delicacies. In these early days my mother, though
cautious of me diving, loved me even more with every mouthful.
Lobsters are a real delicacy. They are exported worldwide to supply the
restaurants from China, USA and Europe. It is Western Australia’s biggest
export fishery. Western Australia’s Western Rock Lobster Fishery has received
international acknowledgement as one of the best managed and most sustainable
in the world.
As time has gone
by we have improved our method of catching and invested in diving gear. This
has increased our chances of catching our share. On a couple of occasions this
year, when the weather gods shine we have had the opportunity to chase a few.
These day a lot of our diving is done in the 20 to 35 meters range to increase
our chances and sizes of our target.
I hope you enjoyed this article as much as we enjoyed our feeds.
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