Global hunting industry reflects economy

Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:29pm EST
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By Ed Stoddard

DALLAS (Reuters Life!) - If you can spare the $40,000 or more needed to go to Africa to shoot an elephant, then chances are you are in a recession-proof income bracket.

If you enjoy you hunting and fishing but have a tighter budget, or have not been immune to the tough economic times, then you may be scaling back on some of your regular trips.

That is the picture that emerged from the annual convention of the Dallas Safari Club during the weekend, which featured more than 1,000 exhibitors from around the world.

It is not your run-of-the-mill convention, with big guns on display as well as a menagerie of stuffed animal trophies including massive brown bears, rhinos and elephant heads. Some of the exhibitors were clad in camouflage or bright hunter's orange.

"The Big 5 stuff is selling," said Darren Baker of Coenraad Vermaak Safaris, referring to the fabled "Big 5" game mammals of Africa: elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard.

"But the cheaper hunts for plains game antelope are not doing as well," said Baker, whose South African-based operation takes clients on hunting safaris to places like Botswana, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

He said the average price for an elephant hunt was about $40,000 but they can cost much more.

Joe Klutsch, whose Katmai Guide Service offers hunting and angling excursions to Alaska, noted a similar trend.   Continued...

<p>A vendor flips through a brochure as he waits for customers at the annual Dallas Safari Club Convention in Dallas, Texas in this January 10, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi/Files</p>