That sick feeling in your stomach. It's begun.
We all know it.
People who live around the waterways know it all too well.
That sick feeling of toxic stress that forms like a cancerous lump in the pit of ones stomach and stays there for weeks, months, sometimes far longer.
As otherwise peaceful rural homes are abused with the rude intrusion of gunshot blasts nearby upsetting children, stock and pets, often before daylight, the stress can turn to dread.
With every gut wrenching blast we can only imagine our feathered friend families being shattered in the cruelest of ways and the carnage we will find littering our foreshores as a result of Victoria's recreational bird shooting season.
For some it turns to anger.
Don't the rates we pay mean anything? Most rural residents love our waterways and waterbirds, care for them year round and are entitled to peaceful enjoyment of our properties by legal right.
Why do we matter less than the minority group allowed to carry our their destructive unpopular choice of recreation on public land and waterways mostly owned by taxpayers opposed to it?
But are things changing?
Since the season started on public land on Wednesday, some shots have been heard, not many. Areas are eerily unusually quiet.
Are shooters respecting rural families? Or is it just there are no birds? Or no camping?
In other areas where shooters believe authorities won't go, some shooters have been sighted. But in the absence of authorities, we are watching. Our birdlife and rural communities' health are too important.
Anyone who witnesses non compliance to the social distancing rules (eg no camping) should report it immediately to the 24 hour police line 131444. Offenders can be fined up to $11,000.
It's quiet now. But the toxic lump is firmly fixed.
What will it be like tomorrow? And the next and the next? The end can't come soon enough and it's only just started.
To everyone in the firing zones, be safe. We hope it stays as quiet as possible for you.
And to our unassuming feathered families, a perhaps futile wish, be safe little ones.