A week ago, while driving along I-5 south of Sacramento, I spotted a pair of coyotes and several wild turkeys in the Stone Lake/Beach Lake wildlife preserve. By combining government owned lands with private lands using either conservation easements or leases, the combined area of the preserve totals over 17,000 acres.
There is a host of public and private entities working together to do the job. On a 4 by 8 plywood sign, there were logos of several of the agencies that helped bring about a successful wildlife restoration project. At freeway speeds it is difficult to recognize the individual logos all of the various outfits. One logo that stood out to my old eyes was that of Safari Club International.
When I hear or read about an outfit called Safari Club International I think of Teddy Roosevelt on safari in darkest Africa. I thought, “What the heck is some African safari bunch doing involved I a wildlife project in California”? I decided to check it out a little more. Boy was I surprised! Safari Club is active in conservation all over the globe. Yes, they help to save rhino populations in Africa from poachers, but they also have all kinds of programs aimed at solving problems right here in the good old USA. SCI has a program called Sportsmen Against Hunger that donates over 230 million meals a year to hungry families all across the U.S.
SCI has teamed with blind advocacy groups to create Sensory Safari programs for sight impaired people using hundreds of donated animal mounts, skins, horns and antlers. SCI volunteers escort children and adults through specially designed touch displays describing the various animals size, sounds and habitats. They also provide hunting trips to disabled people with severe physical limitations. Several years ago I was saddened to learn that the Make –a-Wish group had decided to deny the wishes of terminally ill children whose dying wish to go on a big game hunt. Apparently they only value the wishes of kids with politically acceptable dreams. The good news is that Safari Club International stepped up and offered their Safari Wish program to children with life threatening illnesses. Way to go SCI! Every child is valuable.
A while back, I heard a presentation by a local Emergency Food Bank. They work with other agencies all over the area to get feed the hungry. That same year, my son and I were both fortunate enough to harvest a large bear during hunting season. A large bear properly processed, can equate to a whole lot of fresh meat in the form of steaks, roasts, chops and sausage which is neatly wrapped and ready for the freezer. The problem is my freezer won’t hold that much meat. I checked around and was able to donate over 100 pounds of packaged meat to the Rescue Mission and help feed hungry people. The folks at the rescue mission were delighted and it gave me a warm feeling to be able to help.
SCI (or your local rescue mission) might represent a great opportunity for numerous hunters to do the same. I enjoy the entire hunting experience, from pre-season scouting trips, to the smells of coffee and campfire smoke. I even enjoy a venison stew and sausage from the wild boar I shot. Maybe by working jointly with food banks and the hunter organizations like Safari Club we can get more fresh, natural protein, with no hormones or additives onto the plates of those in need. If we put our minds to it, we can participate in a tradition that dates back thousands of years. We can donate the meat that might make the diet of the truly needy a little better.
Hunger in this economy is a real problem At a Rotary meeting in Calaveras County I found out that all the Rotary clubs in the county were participating in a community garden that will allow people in need to grow their own fresh vegetables. This recession has hit almost all of us and we must band together to help each other. Perhaps the next time you go fishing & catch some huge striped bass, you might want to call your local food bank. We hunters and anglers can enjoy our favorite sports and at the same time, help feed our fellow man. With the help of groups like Safari Club International, we can make our world a little better. Thanks SCI!
Until Next Week,