A five-time winning auctioneer on The Block has responded to his critics after he killed a deer and posted a celebratory photo of the hunt on Instagram on Tuesday.
Damien Cooley told Daily Mail Australia on Thursday that anti-hunting activists are entitled to their opinion, but he is nevertheless ‘genuinely proud’ of his kill.
Animal rights advocates were disgusted by the image of Mr Cooley crouching next to the dead animal and revealing he’d ‘ticked off a very big life goal this week’.
Mr Cooley, who is a farmer in addition to being an auctioneer, said: ‘Deer are classed as a feral animal in New South Wales and are culled regularly. I hunt for the table and my family enjoy eating venison and many other animals like rabbits, pigs and more.’
However, he said he ‘appreciates social [media] may not have been the best platform to show this’.
‘I was genuinely proud. Some see that as egotistical but I see it differently. They are entitled to their opinion as am I, and I respect theirs.’
Mr Cooley added that his Instagram account is mostly for personal posts, and that his close friends know how much respect he has for all animals.
Mr Cooley sparked backlash on Tuesday when he posted the confronting photo of his hunt on Instagram and captioned it: ‘Ticked off a very big life goal this week.
‘I understand some may not like it but this is me.
‘I hunt for the table and have so much respect for these animals. I’m with my best mates and this was a special moment we shared. This fallow stag will be respected for the rest of my time.’
The criticism came in thick and fast, with one person commenting: ‘Magnificent animal – better off alive. Gross. Get better “life goals”.’
‘The world needs less death and trauma at the moment. See ya,’ another wrote.
‘Sorry, not a fan of this. How this could be an achievement, I don’t know,’ a third critic wrote, while another said they’d ‘lost all respect’ for Mr Cooley.
‘So much tragedy, trauma, killing in the world and you smile and proudly contribute to it by killing a beautiful animal. Disgusting!’ one person commented.
Feminist firebrand Clementine Ford also weighed in to say the photo was ‘absolutely grotesque’.
Daily Mail Australia contacted Channel Nine for comment at the time.
Mr Cooley has overseen the winning auction on The Block five times, and started his company, Cooley Auctions, in 2003.
He has starred on other reality shows, including The Renovators, Under the Hammer, Hot Auctions and Selling Houses Australia.
This article by Kristy Johnson was first published by The Daily Mail on 7 April 2022. Lead Image: Five-time winning auctioneer on The Block Damien Cooley has responded to his critics after he celebrated killing a deer and posted this photo on Instagram on Tuesday.
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