While satellites orbit overhead there are places in the world where a hunter-gatherer society is the norm and thousands of orphans suffer from starvation. A plane ride is all it takes to go from the Flathead to the Xhosa tribal area of South Africa, and for Bigfork’s Peter Drowne a hunting opportunity turned into much more last month.
There are millions of orphans in Africa because of the AIDS epidemic, many of which are starving or suffering from malnutrition. Drowne’s trip was through Hunt SA, an associated ministry with Youth With A Mission and Mission Builders International, and all the harvested meat was given to the orphanages.
In addition to protein deficiency, access to clean water and medical care is a constant struggle in that area.
During his trip Drowne hunted 14 different animals which added up to hundreds of pounds of meat for the orphans. However, refrigeration isn’t available so the meat was made into biltong, which is similar to jerky.
“We hunted a lot of trophy animals, but the real trophy is the memory,” Drowne said. “Seeing the spectrum of man and how joyous they are, they have values way ahead of us because their values are on the surface.”
This was Drowne’s fourth trip to Africa. He hunted in the north Transvaal in 1982, Zimbabwe in 1984, and near the Limpopo River in 1989. At the age of 72 he decided to go one more time because he said Africa is the type of place where “if you come once, you will always come again.”
Thanks to Rufus Luttig, owner of Hunt SA, Drowne’s hunt was more than just harvesting warthogs, kudus, and mountain reedbuck’s. It was also a cultural experience because Luttig speaks the native languages and was able to translate the language and the region’s mannerisms and humor.
Foriegners hunting in Africa don’t need to worry about personal safety with the help of locals such at Luttig. Brad Rauch, spokesman for Hunt SA and Kalispell resident, estimates Montana has had between 20 and 30 hunters go on similar trips in the last five years, though some opted for the photo hunting approach.
“That’s where the real joy is,” Rauch said. “The hunting is fun, but the significance is the outreach.”
Drowne said one of his favorite parts of the trip was being with the game scouts and seeing what they see. He also said it was impressive how they could spot the leg of an antelope under a brush from a quarter mile away.
The area they hunted in was 55,000 acres with 50-60 miles of visibility in all directions.
Drowne compared it to hunting in eastern Montana. Drowne compared the cost of the trip to hunting moose in Canada. He said for the cost of hunting one moose in Canada it was possible to go to Africa and hunt for a week, but this offers an opportunity to expand your horizons.
He also pointed out the economic connection Montana shares with South Africa through hunting. He said the Hunt SA program was a good example of how hunting boosts local economy by bringing in hunters who will spend money at stores and help regulate the wildlife gene pool. According to Drowne, hunting programs such as Hunt SA also help create jobs and hinder poaching.
“When you go, it’s apparent that America needs Africa just as much,” Rauch said. “We need to get out of our perspective and see how it works in other cultures. It stirs you.”