Bringing Back Meat

Discussion in 'Before & After the Hunt' started by Tomsbass, Apr 9, 2010.

  1. Tomsbass

    Tomsbass New Member

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    One of the biggest caveats about hunting in Africa, for me, is the fact that as a U.S. citizen, my government prohibits me from bringing the meat I harvest back home with me. The justification for this strict prohibition - fear of disease from meat of questionable origin - is a valid concern. But it seems to me that an exception could surely be made for hunters who bring the meat that they harvested, that perhaps they even helped dress and butcher(so they know it was not tainted in the process), and that only they will eat. Provided, of course, that it is properly vacuum packed and that the hunter has the proper paperwork to verify that the meat is his. I know that shipping costs could be prohibitive for a large amount of meat, but even 40 or 50 pounds of meat would add a LOT of value to an expensive hunt for someone like me, who has always been more of a meat hunter than a trophy hunter.
    But, alas, in order for that to ever happen, someone, some lobby group representing millions of people, would have to pressure the U.S. government to change the law. It seems to me the obvious group would be Safari Club International. To my knowledge, SCI is not involved in any such lobbying effort. I don't know whether that is because they believe that such an effort would be doomed to failure, or if it is because they just don't care.
    Whatever the reason, it seems to me that until the law is eased to allow at least a modest amount of hunted meat into the U.S., trips to Africa will be a rarity for old-fashioned hunters like me who want to enjoy the animals we harvest at the dinner table as well as in the trophy room, and who can only afford so many journeys to the dark continent anyway. Does anyone share this view? Or am I a lone voice in a sea of trophy hunters who could care less? If any of you agree with me, do you have any ideas about how to convince SCI, or any similar organization, to take up the fight?
  2. Red Leg

    Red Leg GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    From my limited experience, trying to get game from even the more "civilized" hunting areas would be pretty tricky even it were legal. Even the ranches are pretty much generator, solar, and storage battery operations where large freezing efforts to prepare meat and ice/dry ice for shipment would be problematic at best. It would be virtually impossible from camps in even slightly remoter areas.

    What isn't employed as bait, is largely used fresh or dried. In many tribal areas it is a much needed product of the safari industry. The ranches also put it to good use for themselves, their workers and families - and for you while you are their guest. They also are very expert at processing an animal, and your "assistance" would be just the opposite. Finallly, with international luggage limitations, that transport would be a fairly significant investment. I think I would be content with letting African game dishes be a key memory of the African experience.
  3. jaustin

    jaustin AH Veteran

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    I too love the meat of animals I have hunted and it does add value to the hunt for me. That being said it is much more important to the average African to have the protein from the animals than for me to bring back a few pounds of meat. Roll an elephant over in a remote area and people begin appearing out of nowhere. Within a matter of hours nothing but the largest bones remain.

    When I arrive in camp I let my PH know that I would like to eat game as much as possible, save the beef and pork for the next guy. African game is some of the best venison I have ever eaten, but I sure would not let that stop me from hunting Africa.
  4. Tomsbass

    Tomsbass New Member

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    You guys raise some good points. I'm not holding my breath that the law will be changed in my lifetime. And it sounds like it would not be practical to bring back much meat anyway. But still, it would sure be nice to just bring a roast or two back for the family!
  5. Tomsbass

    Tomsbass New Member

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    I don't think I will let the issue stop me from going to Africa at least once. But if I could bring some meat back, I might go a little more often...
  6. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    It's impractical to bring meat back from Africa. SCI has a lot of other "hot" issues to worry about. Having run a fundraiser for SCI....I would not support the issue. With the price in transportation going through the roof...it's just not smart. I think the U.S. is correct in their procedures....and I'm not a big government person. We tend to import plenty of other hitchhikers in wood and other products from other countries.

    The other thing that people mentioned.....is how do you guarentee the meat was properly cared for ?, where are you going to get it sharp froze?, Africa needs all the protein they can get...It wastes a ton of energy to get a roast to your plate in America.

    If we did open the "meat market", there would be more checks and stops...it would definitely stimulate the economy, getting more people at airports to work luggage bags over....but I hate all the checks and stops as it is...I'm sure I'm not alone on this.

    My suggestion is this...schedule more time in Africa...and specify that you would like to eat your animals while you are there....schedule 3 weeks or more. And don't be suprised that you get the picky client label...I don't want to go there...but it does anger outfitters!
  7. browningbbr

    browningbbr AH Enthusiast

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    I've managed USDA-inspected meat processing and packing plants for over 25 years. From first-hand experience, I've learned that the import and export of fully inspected meat products already has many "hurdles" involved. I could not even imagine what would (potentially) be required to bring back uncooked, uninspected venison from a continent like Africa.

    Like enysse, I would not support having SCI pursue this. First, (as enysse stated), SCI has many more important things to do. Second, the USDA is right, there are way too many economically devastating animal diseases that CAN be brought back with unprocessed meat.

    If this was pursued, not only would SCI have a battle on their hands with USDA and USF&W, every livestock producer and meat processing trade organization would oppose this. Both groups are well-organized and well-funded with many lobbyists based in D.C. The American Meat Institute, the National Farm Organization and a host of other trade groups would squash this effort in a New York minute.

    Despite the fact that I am a hunter and really hate "big government", I'd oppose it too. It's not worth the work it would take and it would put a major segment of our economy at risk.

    - browningbbr
  8. Tomsbass

    Tomsbass New Member

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    Enysse, I'm interested in your comment about angering the outfitters by requesting to eat your own game. The idea of spending more time to be able to eat more of my meat had indeed occurred to me. Do the outfitters really take offense to this? As long as you are a paying customer, and you are not making all kinds of other ridiculous requests, I don't see why they would mind. But you make it sound as if it has happened to you more than once. Can you expand on this at all?
  9. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    Hi Tomsbass, sometimes you will be hunting at a certain ranch....and lets say you shoot a eland...like I did....one of the best tasting animals in all of Africa....we asked to eat a part of it...guess what we got ham and cheese potatoes...while I don't mind ham and potatoes...it isn't eland!!!! I also wanted to eat zebra...they wouldn't cook it....got the stare, like you are crazy. I think steaks off the eland or zebra would have been fine. You have to remember in Africa. The only thing you own when you shoot a animal is the hide and the horns. The meat is not yours. And some outfitters will not give you the best meat...aka...the eland. Frankly I'm not a picky eater and will eat anything....but considering your in Africa....it would be nice to eat your animals. I'm not trying to create problems on here....but ask most people on here what is served...warthog, springbok, gemsbok.....maybe eland....the rest I never see served.
  10. Skyline

    Skyline AH Fanatic

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    That is really poor conduct on the part of your hosts enysse as my experience has been totally the opposite. Everywhere I have hunted they were very accommodating in my request to eat game exclusively if possible and even whipped up specialties like elephant from another clients bull so we could all taste it. On buffalo hunts we even made a fire and cooked fresh back strap right on the coals and another time did the same with fresh impala liver.

    In Namibia and RSA we had biltong, kudu, gemsbuck, zebra, steinbok, springbuck.........you name it. The operators also served us other local dishes like 'puff adder' made by turning the large intestine inside out and stuffing with chunks of kidney, heart, etc.

    I am sorry you had this sort of thing happen to you. I know I would have been very perturbed.
  11. Hank2211

    Hank2211 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Veteran

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    I agree with Kelly. I have never had a problem eating game I (or others) have shot in various camps in Zimbabwe - up to and including buffalo tail stew and a giraffe tongue! The cooks have always been extremely accommodating, as have the PH's, and I have never gotten the impression that anyone was in the least put out by serving game I had shot. I can't believe that your experience was based on financial considerations - I know that outfitters can make money from the meat (something they take into account when bidding on concessions), but unless you have superhuman appetites, my guess is that you couldn't eat enough to make a difference one way or the other. Maybe you ran into a cook with a meal plan who didn't feel like changing it depending on what was shot on a particular day?
  12. Shallom

    Shallom AH Enthusiast

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    enysse,
    what you experienced is really sad! The people who deprived you of tasting your animals need to be kicked hard in parts that hurt! To me that is just not acceptable and you had the right to bring the roof down! Firstly you have a right to the meat on an animal you shot, secondly it is not like you will be eating more than a back-strap even if you have eland every meal for five days! Real sorry that you had such an experience. It makes it even worse that it was an eland - that is probably the best game meat in the world!
  13. owenowen

    owenowen AH Veteran

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    Hi,

    Yes African game is prob the best venison in the world. Many operators normally take own of the carcass once the animal has been shot , however even if a hunter wanted to have it exported it will probably cost him more- time, money and documents than anything else...Also to do this the outfitter or the hunter would have to know this side of logistics and law because its kind of serious to export large amount of meats. I doubt that USA imports any game from SA and even if they do its probably done by some Gov, health and safety company ( not for the man on the street ).

    I know SA exports lots of game to Europe but again this is done through a special firm that knows the business and laws. I personally wouldn't want to get hooked up in this side of the business that im not into and would suggest if you want to eat game ask your outfitter to feed you as much game as possible while you stay in SA :)
  14. Tomsbass

    Tomsbass New Member

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    Very interesting discussion folks. Thanks for all the comments. When I finally get to Africa, I'll be sure to bring my appetite!
  15. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    I guess the important thing I learned about hunting somewhere else where is to discuss with the outfitter what kind of hunting experience you are looking for on you trip. The above comments are from some pretty solid hunters. I maybe didn't make the right choice in outfitters...they told me what I wanted to hear. When I asked about eating zebra....they told me nobody eats zebra...eland I guess draws top price at the market, heck I wanted to eat waterbuck and tsessebe. Just make sure you are clear with the outfitter, your expectations. I may never eat the animals I mentioned but I got see and hunt Africa. I'm having problems getting my hunt permits to get my animals "out of Africa", so again, I didn't make the best decisions.
  16. Merry B

    Merry B AH Member

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    Hi!
    What about Biltong, if it was vacuum sealed? I know that's not the same as fresh, but if it was allowed, you'd be able to get some home that way.
  17. Skyline

    Skyline AH Fanatic

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    I think you can find out from the USDA and USFWS on this one Tomsbass. I suspect it would have to be inspected and come with a vet certificate or something when coming from overseas. Even game meat coming state side from Canada is subject to a USDA form for import and must meet a bunch of other criteria.
  18. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    They'll have dogs at the gate checking everything. No fruits, vegetables or meat allowed. The last time I was in Africa, they started a new procedure of opening every suitcase and bag for inspection, just before the door to the plane, so you can't turn and walk away and empty illegal stuff out of the carry on....another unwelcome day checking in. Browningbbr, brought up a lot of good points. The USDA, Beef Producers of US, and etc. will not allow anything...and rightfully so...one mistake could easily cost a billion dollars in damage.
  19. browningbbr

    browningbbr AH Enthusiast

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    The earlier discussion was about fresh / frozen, unprocessed meat.

    There is one exception for bringing back meat that is allowed (or at least winked at) by the USDA and USF&W: if the meat is CANNED. The canning process involves steam pressures greater than 15 PSI and temperatures greater that 240F. This renders the meat "commercially sterile" (even the temperature resistant spores are killed). Canned product does not present a risk to the meat industry.

    I brought back several small tins of venison (wildebeest, eland, etc.) from the RSA last year and declared it on my customs form. Of course I was questioned about it, but had no problem making the case that there was zero risk.

    - browningbbr
  20. Erik

    Erik New Member

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    Skyline, do you know the regulations on bringing meat back into Canada? I looked at Canada Border Services, but their website was not very helpful and directed me to the actual laws, and I became frustrated reading through hundreds of pages of babble before I got to the actual regulation.

    To those of you who live Stateside, what are your laws on fish? Is fish regarded differenetly than wild game? I used to work salmon guiding and there was never any problem for our American guests to take home their fish. Similarily, I went fishing in Alaska and our border agency barely batted an eye when I told them that I had a box of fish.

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