Feathers and Fur
Feathers & Fur Magazine was launched in February 1995 and is the complete quarterly magazine for Australia’s field shotgunners. It is the official journal of Field & Game Australia.
Feathers & Fur Magazine is aimed at the die-hard and novice waterfowl, gamebird and feral animal hunter who goes into the field with a shotgun. With exceptional tips and pointers, Feathers & Fur Magazine is a much needed resource for experts and beginners alike.
Simulated Field clay target shooting, conservation and political issues and of course, much loved gundogs, are the other items covered by the magazine and its staff.
Published in February, May, August and November, Feathers & Fur Magazine delivers four action-packed issues that include all the how-to, where-to and best-gear stories.
Feathers & Fur Magazine is written, photographed and illustrated by dedicated hunters whose love and knowledge of the sport are unsurpassed. Feathers & Fur Magazine provides action and information for dedicated, active hunters and shooters who enjoy the feel and balance of a shotgun in their hands!
The Final Issue
Yes, you read the front cover correctly. This is the last issue of Feathers & Fur magazine that Field & Game Australia (FGA) members will receive as part of their membership.
After 21 years of being delivered to members, the new management of FGA decided that there should be a change and Feathers & Fur magazine was not to be part of it.
Feathers & Fur Magazine was contracted to FGA on a three year basis. The first two years of the magazine’s life was one year at a time and then it was put out to tender for a three year contract. Each three years after that the magazine would be tendered out for another three years.
Since the first issue in 1995 we have endeavoured to deliver entertainment, education and information to our readership that had such diverse hunting activities.
Shotgunners that love to hunt duck may do so exclusively just like the fox hunters that don’t go chasing feathers and gundog owners have always been represented.
Back in 1995 the idea of a shotgun magazine seemed crazy; shotguns make up the smallest percentage of long arms in Australia. Shotguns are big in Victoria because of that state’s great State Game Reserve system offering the average hunter easy access to somewhere to hunt. But as a commercial exercise for a hunting magazine the shotgun market is very small.
In the early 90’s the Victorian Field & Game Association (VFGA) was looking for a new way of attracting members. Expanding on the in-house magazine/newsletter that was sent to members at that time was thought to be a possibility. I was tasked to source information from printers and members with printing industry knowledge and put together a draft magazine.
That group planned the magazine through late 1993 and all of 1994 with a launch for February 1995.
We worked out what the content and format should be but we could not get a commercial publishing company to take it on as the circulation was too small to be commercially viable at the time. There was only just over 4,000 VFGA adult members.
With all the associated start up costs, required staff and workload, the magazine could not go ahead as an in-house VFGA funded project. Personal computers, scanners and printing techniques back then were very expensive and not what they are today. The digital camera was not even being used for professional photography back then.
I had confidence in the project so my wife Julie and I decided to take it on as a private stand alone project to see if we could get it to work. We borrowed money and set up the whole operation in a bedroom of our house. Every night after putting the girls to bed we would work on the magazine into the small hours of the morning.
Just after the first issue went to the printers the duck seasons in Victoria, SA and NSW were cancelled due to dry conditions; the great 16 year drought had started. The perfect year to launch a duck hunting magazine, eh?
The magazine was greatly received on the newsstands and FGA’s membership skyrocketed. The VFGA President, Rick Foster, wrote in his 1995 May report: “The magazine has been warmly received with many calls and letters of congratulations; clearly many members have recognised the need to put our association into the public arena. Without doubt it will help to reverse the horrendous membership dropout rate that the association suffers from as well as recruit new members.”
At the end of 1995 membership broke the 6,000 mark. VFGA decided that the idea of a shotgun magazine on the newsstands was a winner and decided to have it produced commercially by a media company. At that stage I was happily employed as a meat inspector and Julie was in middle management with Australia Post; we were happy to stay there and assisted VFGA with the search for a commercial publisher.
We got the same response as the year before; “circulation was too small to be commercially viable”.
Julie and I agreed to continue producing the magazine for another year and then disaster struck for all firearms owners; the Port Arthur tragedy in April 1996. Membership had continued to increase due to the magazine but now accelerated as hunters finally decided to get behind a representative organisation.
At the end of 1996 the magazine was again put out for tender. After producing it for two years, Julie and I decided to form a company and put in a tender. We called the company Black Duck Enterprises Pty Ltd. This time there was commercial interest and other publishing companies tendered. We won the job on our merits and pricing and have won it every time it has gone to tender since.
So, what has changed? FGA now has 15,000 members. When the current contract was due to finish the magazine was going out to tender again, but this time the new management and FGA board had decided to put out a tender for the whole communications package. This included website, social media, development of the holistic communications strategy incorporating digitisation and a whole range of administrative rules, changes and new conditions.
Black Duck Enterprises Pty Ltd was given the opportunity to tender for the ‘FGA Communications’. After careful examination of the technical aspects and the new administrative requirements of the ‘Request for Tenders’ (RFT) we decided that Black Duck Enterprises Pty Ltd would not be submitting a tender for this project.
FGA have now sourced a company that will hopefully deliver the required communications package. As such, this will be the last issue of Feathers & Fur magazine that will be delivered to FGA members. Beginning next year, members will receive the new FGA publication.
So, there you have it. After 21 years of doing Feathers & Fur it is time to sit back and smell the roses, go hunting and train the dog. We might even be able to fit in a bit of fishing somewhere. All the best to FGA and its members on their continued conservation and wetlands work; that has always been the core function and the reason for the organisation.
As the new communications package and the coming years roll along, remember the words of the King. But for now, Graham & Julie Eames have left the building.
Goodbye and Farewell!