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Field to Table with Hunters Care

Hunting to Help Underprivileged Areas in Africa

The African safari. Everyone has an idea of what a hunt like that entails. For some, it means the challenge of stalking foreign game on its own turf. For anti-hunters, it’s animal cruelty highlighted by infamous trophy photos widely shared on social media. For us, the African safari meant delivering management-hunt, plains game to underprivileged South African school children who’d otherwise not have meat in their diets. Cue the awkward silence and moral handwringing from the anti-hunting crowd.

Working with Russ Field Safaris, a premier professional hunting and guiding service, we participated in the Hunter’s Care program created by the Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa. This African Safari wasn’t just about the animals harvested, but tracking the field-to-table story of how a sustainable food source is maintained, processed, and consumed by the global community.

The Plan

The hunt followed a simple plan — pursue overpopulated animals on game lands, harvest them, deliver them to the local skinners, and then store them until they’re processed into smaller, bone-in pieces of meat. At the end of the week, we planned to visit the school sponsored by Russ Field Safaris and stuff the freezer with enough meat for 120 kids for more than a week. It’s part of an established program, and we planned to document the entire process. A safari is a journey, and along the way, we planned to experience Africa in a unique way and do a good deed in the process.

The Gear

Most plains game are about the size of a large deer or small caribou. Professional outfitters suggest using .30-caliber rifles chambered for cartridges such as .308, .30-06, and 300 Win Mag. They want hunters to drop the animals quickly and do so with the smallest caliber that’ll do the job. In Africa, meat preservation is key, and smaller calibers do less damage if a shot isn’t right in the vitals. An improperly placed shot could mean destroying a good portion of meat; accuracy matters beyond caliber choice. Bush meat is highly valued, and we weren’t going to waste any of it.
Under the guidance of a professional hunting guide, hunters should be able to get in within a couple hundred yards of most animals. Rifle optics with lower magnification ranges are desirable in the bush because the wider field of view helps with picking up game quickly. The ubiquitous 3-9x power scope is ample.

As for personal gear, focus on clothing and lightweight essentials. Walking through thick African brush is no place for shorts and T-shirts. Our guide carried a Benchmade in his right front pocket, a folding ammunition wallet containing an extra 10 rounds of 240 Weatherby Magnum ammunition, and his binoculars. To say we didn’t have to carry much is an understatement. Stalks are relatively short, under an hour or so, and gear is stored back at the safari truck. A good set of binoculars is a nice-to-have, as it’s helpful to have another set of eyes during glassing sessions.

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