Hunters’ delight: Host-nation clubs offer Americans a sporting chance
IWAKUNI MARINE CORPS AIR STATION, Japan — With the promise of sport, potential income and a hearty wild boar soup to boot, hunters and sportsmen from Japan’s Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station can join a hunting club that pursues boar, deer, fowl and even monkeys and crows.
All over the world, U.S. personnel can fire recreational weapons, with certain rules and restrictions. Hunting clubs and Rod and Gun clubs, on base and off, offer hunting as well as fishing, hiking and even barbecuing with pals.
Many host nation clubs allow U.S. personnel all that and the chance to meet host-nation outdoor enthusiasts.
“There’s a lot to do here if you get with the right people to do it,” said Bruce Riley, president of the Zama Sportsmen’s Club at the Camp Zama Army Post near Tokyo.
At Iwakuni, Americans participate in a local Japanese club. They hunt Russian boar, Shika deer, pheasant, ducks, partridges and other wild game.
“There’s never a dull moment,” said Iwakuni resident Mike Gingles, the American liaison to the club. “We go out and have a good time.”
For boar hunts, Japanese members bring their hunting dogs for the chase, up and down hills and mountains in the region.
Besides the thrill of the hunt, participants can earn extra money from the meat they collect. The hunters share their catch after each hunt so everyone gets a portion of the kill.
“If you don’t want to eat your meat or take it home, you can sell it,” Gingles said.
Wild boar sells for 5,000 yen (about $45) a kilogram, he said. Nuisance animals, such as crows and monkeys, carry a bounty. Crows’ feet are worth about 500 yen (about $4.50) and a monkey tail about 15,000 yen (about $137).
Most members aren’t in it for the income.
Many of the 30 or so Japanese members are well-off retirees, politicians and businessmen. There currently are three Americans including Gingles.
But Americans certainly are welcome. Iwakuni’s police department brings in a translator for Americans so they can take the courses necessary for a license.
“We’ve got such a great relationship with them,” Gingles said.
Hunters take classes on gun regulations, safety and animal identification, then perform a skills test. Anyone who falls under the status of forces agreement can sign up.
The license cost is about 85,000 yen (about $775) and is good for three years. It’s one of the only places non-Japanese-speaking Americans can get a license, and servicemembers have traveled from as far as Okinawa to join and get their license, Gingles said.
He can help those interested in buying a gun, which is easy to get with a license.
“You can buy them here and ship them to the States. They’re cheap here,” he said.
Hunters must be 21 to shoot in Japan. There’s no experience necessary and women are welcome. Kids can join the club and go along to watch but the hunting usually involves climbing up and down steep hills.
The club offers participants some fun, and a chance to taste new game meat and enjoy the outdoors while meeting new people.
“You can get out and see the countryside [and] meet the Japanese people who share an interest in the outdoors.
You get to meet a lot of interesting people,” he said. “It’s fun. Everyone shares. Plus we barbecue some when we’re cleaning [the meat] up.”
To learn more about the club, contact Gingles at DSN 253-5999, or 253-2112 after hours.
In Tokyo, where there aren’t many chances to hunt, servicemembers can join the Zama Sportsmen’s Club. The group runs the skeet range on post and hosts weekly shoots on Sundays. They also organize fishing trips, barbecues and camping.
The group has about 35 members and has been around for 30 years. It’s mostly Americans, from bases around the Kanto Plain, and includes women and men, Riley said.
People don’t have to be members to shoot skeet, but the club operates the skeet range on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. near the driving range (which is closed at the time). The clubhouse is in building 1030 near Gate 7. Those interested should call ahead during the week to make sure the range will be staffed, Riley said.
The club has 12 shotguns. They provide a safety lecture for first-time visitors. The cost is $10 for a round of skeet plus a $1 cleanup fee.
Club leaders also hold turkey shoots several times a year where the “game” is a paper target.
“We give away turkeys and hams for prizes,” Riley said. They hold the shoot as part of an open house to introduce the community to the club and as a social function for members.
The club also organizes hiking and camping events and many fishing trips.
“I think the most popular thing is our fishing trips,” Riley said.
Club leaders also are planning a hunting and fishing day for children this fall sponsored by the Outdoor Recreation Department.
Club members have different interests — some just fish, other like shooting skeet. But the group has open houses and social gatherings to bring everyone together for fun.
The cost is $20 a year for a single membership. To learn about the club, contact Riley at 263-8851 or visit the Web site: www.kumakato.com/sportsmens club.
In Germany, servicemembers can hunt, fish and own firearms with the right permission and certification.
The U.S. European Command Rod and Gun Club on Panzer Casern in Stuttgart, Germany, is one of many clubs at bases throughout Europe. It offers hunting, fishing and firearms classes required for some sports licenses. Check with local rod and gun clubs for costs.
The EUCOM club has a hunting and fishing store, an outdoor rifle and pistol range open Saturdays and an indoor pistol range open Sundays.
Servicemembers in Germany can own their own firearms, but since 1999 they must be registered with German officials.
U.S. personnel can use firearms for hunting and sport shooting with a special registration permit called a Waffenbesitzkart. However, personnel must complete a hunting course to be eligible.
Fishing also requires a license and is only allowed in places where fishing permits are issued.
Rod and Gun clubs on bases can direct people to the right locations and answer questions.
The EUCOM Rod and Gun Club is in Building 2949 below the Red Cross.
Call DSN 431-2774 or 07031-15774 for information. Other clubs are found on most bases.
Dana Lujan, chief conservation officer at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, says the base offers shotgun and bow hunting to the military and public in designated areas.
Philippine deer and wild pigs are cleared for hunting.
Andersen follows Guam’s regulations, seasons and bag limits, he said, adding that hunters must attend a safety briefing covering firearm rules and safety.
Lujan said hunters are required to have an orange vest and hat, a timepiece, whistle, flashlight and a compass when hunting on base.
There is a skeet range on base, as well as a Rod and Gun Club.
For more information on the club, e-mail Abraham Amison at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Three hunting clubs in South Korea accept military members. None require memberships; anyone can pay the daily fee for use of the club’s facilities.
Daeyoo Hunting Club in Sogwipo City, Cheju Island, is open all year.
It features a 72-acre hunting ground; game includes wild boar, elk, rabbit, cock-pheasant, turtledove, duck and snipe.
Hunting equipment, rifles and dogs can be rented from the club, which has trap shooting, clay shooting and pistol practice.
Visitors who bring their own rifles should contact the club one month prior to their visit to receive assistance in processing clearances for guns and ammunition.
Fee, 110,000 won ($94.46) per person, per day (includes guide, rifle and dog).
Contact 064-738-0500 or http://chejutour.co.kr/daeyoo.html (Web site not in English) for information.
The Kojung Hunting Club, also on Cheju Island, is open from November to February. It features various hunting grounds around the island. Game includes pigeons, pheasants, ducks and other birds.
Seasonal passes are available. Visitors can choose between hunting rifles and air rifles.
The fee is from 30,000 to 600,000 won ($25.76 to $515.26), depending on membership length and rifle choice. Call 064-740-1428 for information.
The Kangwon Province Hunting Grounds in Chunchon City, Kangwon Province, is open from November to February. It features hunting and camping grounds, log cabins and clubhouses. The game includes, elk, boars, rabbits and pheasants.
Fee: 30,000 - 500,000 won ($25.76 - $429.41) depending on the type of game hunted. Call 033-251-3314 for information.
—Staff writers Sid Acker and Jennifer Kleckner contributed to this report.