The perils of duck hunting are great - especially for the duck. -Walter Cronkite
2017 PRESIDENT’S REPORT
By Bruce Ambrose
All of us want to be a member of a happy Hunting Association. After all, we are members of this Association because we share a lot in common and we all have a deep love for hunting and the outdoors. We all want to enjoy our hunting. We all want to have good memories of our hunts. We all want to have friends and family with whom we can remember those special moments. We all want to be members of a useful and functional Association. Our members live for those good hunting experiences which may also be different for each member. One person may define his hunting in one way and another may describe it another way. For instance, one person may regard a good hunt to be just stalking a few Impala for biltong whereas for another it may be to display a large set of horns on a wall in his/her house.
There are also different levels and meanings as to what a good Association really is. However you choose to define it, there is perhaps one thing that we may have in common with most other members. I would venture to say that it is that we are all wanting our Association to be stress-free and enjoyable. We would probably also like to have this without having to push the envelope or struggle very much for it. That is a normal human expectation. Nobody likes to struggle or work too hard.
It has often been said that “life is difficult”. It is equally true that having an easygoing and stress-free Association is also difficult. Just as in life, an Association of members also needs to be worked at, nurtured, challenged, changed and endured.
During the last few years, we have had accounting challenges, ongoing drought and unwanted expenses. We have had unplanned events, setbacks and a reduced income. We have also had our share of difficult members. We could also go on about the crime in South Africa, the Firearms Control Act, firearm licensing challenges, higher hunting prices and many other complications. None of these are contributing positively to a stress-free and easygoing Association.
It is very rare to get anything worthwhile without some level of effort. It is often the case that the greater the effort, the greater the reward. You see, there are two sides to our story just as there are two sides to a coin. On the one side of the coin is where you have the words “life is hard”, but if you turn that coin over you will find the words “you can change it”. We know that “running our Association is hard”. The other side of our coin also says that “we can improve it”. In my opinion, if we want to endure as a viable Association, we don’t have very much choice. We know that that running the Association is hard. In spite of this, we also acknowledge that with the correct efforts, we can improve it. However, there are a few silos to this: firstly, we need to rid ourselves of the peripheral chatter. We have had a lot of range chatter and uninformed Waterhole/campfire discussions about how the Association is not performing or meeting the needs of members. We have had much resistance when sanctions have been placed on prominent members due to unacceptable behaviour whilst hunting. We have had people resign from our Association in support of genuinely disruptive and unacceptable behaviour of some other members.
All of this has not contributed to a content Association. I encourage you to engage with the Association in every constructive way possible. Many of our members do, and they are making a positive difference. What is not needed is the ongoing negative chatter that doesn’t help make any progress towards improving the Association.
Internally, we have restructured the Association to focus more on specific activities like hunting, shooting and wildlife management. These are supported by a revised administrative and office function. Members should be able to make use of those facilities that they have an interest in and a keenness to support. Please support your branch activities as best you can.
We know that we cannot be everything to everybody, but we can be most things to most members, most of the time – who are, after all, members of our Association because they want to shoot, hunt and own firearms.
We need members to assist and carry the load of all these different activities. We need members to positively support the efforts of the various committees – so we can make this a better Association. We know that our members know more than anyone else what it is that they want and need, and in what way they are able to contribute. There is a huge abundance of skills and abilities amongst our members that can really make this Association stand out as a beacon in South Africa’s hunting community.
In a strange way, accepting that running our Association is hard, perhaps comes with an acceptance that we all have the responsibility to make it better. Not only do we have the
responsibility to make it better, we all have the ability and the power to make it better. Each of us can help to improve it by becoming a more contributing member and someone who doesn’t undermine the efforts of others. So, the message is clear: please get involved in some way, even if it is just participating in events. It doesn’t have to be on a committee – although that would be great.
We have turned the corner as far as the financials are concerned. The audits are up to date and the damage done in previous years is – in the main – behind us. We are not out of the woods yet, but we are confident about the future. We have had a great response from members regarding subscriptions. Thank you to everyone concerned. We have tightened budgets and reviewed controls and processes.
Of huge importance, we have not lost what makes our Association great. We will continue to source quality hunting opportunities, we will provide for those trying to improve their shooting skills and we will support the land owners who provide hunting for us.
Our relationships with other wildlife interest groups in KwaZulu-Natal have improved enormously. This is thanks to our active members. We are benefiting from good progress being made in many national fields, thanks to CHASA.
In 2019, the KwaZulu-Natal Hunting Shooting and Conservation Association will be 60 years old – a grand old lady in the wildlife industry. We are very well respected – far and wide. Our Association was founded on the good efforts of those who came before us and those who will follow us are relying on us to hand them a sound organisation.
There is going to be a lot of attention and celebration on our 60th anniversary. Isn’t it also a time to renew our efforts to set our Association onto a course to become a better Association? The answer is yes – because we have worked hard together for it to be that way – for all our benefit – and all our enjoyment.
Our future is sound, and our offering will continue to improve. All of this cannot be achieved unless we continue to have members who are happy to serve and improve
As always, many thanks to our office staff, who continue do a sterling job. Thanks also go to all the Branch Committee members – you are on the front line for our members and you hold the place together. Last but certainly not least, a big thank you to all Portfolio holders on EXCO, without whom my responsibilities as President would be impossible to fulfil.
Long may we enjoy the right and the freedom to hunt.