Getting to know CHASA’s Chairman, Tony Sharley

Monday, Mar 11, 2019

This edition we get to know Tony and find out when his love for hunting began and he shares his favourite hunting memory.

How long have you been the Chairman of CHASA?

9 years.

How long have you been part of CHASA?

Since 2010 but I have always been aware of the CHASA beginnings when in 1994 a group of dedicated hunters from SA Field and Game Association, Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia and Australian Deer Association formed the Combined Hunters and Shooters of South Australia (CHASSA) to combat moves to ban duck hunting by animal rights activists. A united front proved tactically successful.

After a period of inactivity, the millennium drought resulted in a ‘no duck season’ in 2002 and two more consecutive ‘no duck seasons’ in 2007 and 2008 and the risk of hunters losing interest.  CHASSA returned to work with the state government to develop a new approach to setting seasons whereby a much smaller bag limit could be set in dry years when there was less duck breeding and thereby reduce the likelihood of a non-hunting season. Once again this proved successful and the renewed interest in CHASSA resulted in the succession to the Conservation and Hunting Alliance of SA (CHASA) which was incorporated in 2010. I have been Chairman since then.

How long have you been hunting for?

I started hunting as a boy in 1969 with my dad, hunting rabbits along the Murray River. I loved stalking them amongst the saltbush with my mum’s Harrington and Richardson single barrel .410. I had my first duck hunt in 1976 and was hooked from the moment I started watching the way large flocks of Grey Teal would wheel around the lignums and fly low over decoys. Mum was an excellent cook of wild duck having grown up and hunted on Hindmarsh Island and I was soon loving regular wild duck roasts.

Why did you start hunting?

My dad introduced me to it and then friends invited me duck hunting but an introduction is only an introduction. I started and have never stopped because of the beautiful places that you venture into such as our wetlands, rivers, lakes, forests and woodlands – the wild food that you bring home and the people you meet with common interests who have become great friends. I also recognised early that hunters make a significant contribution to conservation and I have enjoyed being part of many wetland restoration projects as a hunter and in my career.

What is your best hunting memory?

Spending a rainy morning near Tolderol Game Reserve in 2002 with Teal coming over my decoys in groups of 6 to 10 every 15 minutes. I had never hunted on the lakes. Several downed birds landed in the reeds and my mate’s black Labrador retrieved them all. I was so impressed that I decided to get my own Lab and learn to train him – hence my best hunting memory is the satisfaction of having my own lab (Swan) retrieve his first duck. I’m on my third Labrador (Redgum) in 16 years.

What is your best hunting/cooking memory?

There are many best hunting cooking memories: camp oven cook-ups with wild duck; fried fresh deer heart in butter is superb; slow roasted duck and quail dinners; fresh cooked yabby tails in fresh bread with salt and pepper and vinegar; and I make a very mean rabbit pie. But I would also say that taking bush cooking to a new level with the CHASA Wine and Wild Food Dinners created by chef Andrew Fielke has created fantastic memories of people celebrating wild food in an ultra-modern fusion style to a standard where you could serve those meals in the best restaurants in the world, and that’s the way it should be – superb meals to celebrate wild food and hunting.

What do you do when you’re not hunting?

I run a tourism business, Murray River Walk, guiding small groups on a 4-day, 3-night hike along the Murray River above Renmark. Its busy and our walking season overlaps with duck season so its hard to get out hunting as much as I’d like.

The CHASA workload can be demanding at times too with recent projects to produce the Guide to Modern Hunting in South Australia, planning for the annual CHASA Wine and Wild Food Dinners which will be celebrating its 10th consecutive year in 2019, and the current process to develop an MOU between CHASA and the state government.