22 November 2010

Hunting in Japan: SOFA Status

Here is a little bit more info for folks in Japan with SOFA Status that desire to hunt:

Request: If you have more accurate info, or additional info, please share so we all can be better informed!

In the Camp Zama area, the Camp Zama Sportsman's Club is a great resource! I met many of the members a few years back but since they are about 2 hours from my area, I am no longer a member. They do a lot of fishing, and a few members have also cracked the code on firearms ownership in the past. They also operate the base skeet range. Their website is: http://enjoyingjapan.com/sportsmensclub/index.html

In the MCAS Iwakuni Area, there are two guys to talk to, Dale Crawford and Mike Gingles. Here is a link that tells more about their situation. www.iwakuni.usmc.mil/newwebsite/Press%20Room/Archives/NewsArchives/070627-hunt.html. Dale previously was the Zama Sportsman's Club President, ran the range at Zama, and has had a Japanese firearms license for many years. As for Ed, I have heard he is a great guy to deal with but I have not met him in person yet.

If you are headed up north, there is a great BLOG out there by an avid fisherman/hunter/all round outdoors man that I recommend reading through. Here is a link: http://shumihanto.blogspot.com/

If you are in the Mount Fuji area, we recently started a FaceBook Group for the Camp Fuji Sportsman's Club at http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=143363619033702 stop by and join!

One more area peculiar to foreigners hunting in Japan is the use of HAM radios. US version CB radios are of no use (wrong frequency band, actually illegal). Japanese law controls the frequency band that can be used by hunters so you will need radios built in/for Japan. Most importantly is the recent change in the anti-terror laws that now makes the sight of a HAM radio (antenna, mic, actual radio, or the suspicion of using one) probable cause for the police to stop you, or pull you over. It is very important that your paperwork is right. The first step is to get a Japanese licence, or a reciprocal license if you have a US HAM license. Here is the link to the Japan Amateur Radio League: http://www.jarl.or.jp/English/3_Application/A-3.htm They helped me out a few years back, taking my US HAM license in English in Nagoya. Their site also contains all the info you need to know about frequency bands, power output limits and more. Another important step is to ensure your radios (in the truck and your hand-held) have the current Japanese tax/approval stamp. Your hunting association Bunkai-Cho or local HAM shop owner can help you with this.

I hope this info is helpful , and maybe all the SOFA hunters can plan a group hunt next season!!! Count me in, no matter what prefecture.

See you in the Yama!

Hunting In Japan: More info

I have had a lot of requests for more info on the possibility/process of hunting in Japan so here goes:
Disclaimer: This is as accurate as I can be, but there me be very slight variations in other regions of Japan, but since these are nationally and prefecturally managed, the variations are probably personality based, not significant variations. If anyone has additional info, please share!
What can be hunted? Here is a basic list, off the top of my head. Big game including; Original Japanese Sika Deer (Ma-Jika), Modern Japanese Sika Deer or "Cervus Nippon-Nippon" (Nihon-Jika), Hokkaido Sika Deer (Ezo-Jika), Hokkaido Brown Bear (Ezo-Guma), Asiatic Crested Black Bear (Tsuki-no-Waguma), and Asian Wild Boar (Inoshishi). Small Game: Common Fox (Kitsune), Hare (Usagi), Japanese Raccoon-Dog (Tanuki), Marten, Mink, Upland Birds: Green Pheasant (Kiji), Copper Pheasant (Yama-Dori), Mourning Dove (Kiji-Bato), Dove (Hato), Sparrow (Suzume), and three species of large Japanese Crows (Karasu). Waterfowl: A very wide variety of ducks and geese (Sorry, I am not well versed in this area).
Foreigners Hunting in Japan: As far as I know there are currently 3 foreigners (with permanent residency status) that have both the National Firearms License (and a firearm), and a National Hunting License (me, plus a guy in Misawa, a guy in Yamaguchi). Last week another foreigner passed the hunting test in Yamaguchi and is waiting on his firearms license.
Requirements:Hunting License: 1 day process with a tricky written test, hands on evaluation, and practical application. Test is 2 times per year. Pass rate for each level hovers around 30%. Levels include: 1-Snares/Traps, 2-Hunting Air Rifles, 3- Shotguns, 4-Rifles. I possess a level 4 license up to Rifle Hunting. Most people take the test 2 or 3 times to pass, since it is designed to make people fail and ultimately deter people from hunting. Fees to get license about $350. for the initial license 3 year then an additional annual safety brief, renewal every three years, and then the actual annual hunting permit. Sadly there is no training or testing on many vital skills such as hunter safety clothing, land navigation, emergency procedures, shot placement, field dressing, game processing...
Requirements: Firearms License: Also a 1 day process with written test, hands on evaluation, and practical application. Test is also only 2 times per year. Pass rate for this test hovers around 20%. Most people take the test 2 or 3 times to pass. Again, it is designed to discourage gun ownership. Fees to get license about $300. Annual Expenses (after getting your hunting and firearms license):$320 for mandatory membership fees in the village, city, county, prefecture (state) and all-Japan hunting associations, and for Mandatory Hunter Insurance. I also belong to the All-Japan Big Game Association ("52 Club") and membership is an additional $300 per year.
Firearms Purchasing: Very restrictive, controlled (hindered) at every level. Request may legally sit in police station for up to one year. Requires extensive background check, neighbor and family check, police interview, and house/locker inspection. Also need approval from landlord, neighborhood chief, and your employer. Additional recommendations from hunting association leaders is helpful. Fees for guns are typically double or triple US prices. Application fees are charged for every step of the way (typical Japanese government process where you pay for every document being processed).
A key difference between the US and Japan is the fact that you only can have one gun for each purpose. If you want another gun for deer hunting, you must give your old one to a gun shop or the police station for disposal before you can accept receipt of your new one. I own a 20 gauge for bird hunting, and a 12 gauge for big game. If you want a rifle....the minimum requirement is that you own a shotgun for 10 years without incident, then you can apply for a rifle. Approval rate for rifles is very low, and may take several more years.
Harvest Limits:We are in heaven! Right now (15 Nov 10 to 15 Feb 11) the limits are:
Deer: Male 1 per day per person, Female 1 per person per day
Bear: either sex, 1 per species per person per day
Boar: either sex, 1 per day per day
Green Pheasant and Copper Pheasant: 1 per person per day
Please take a look through this blog for some photos, there are some monsters here! Well, I hope this is enough to give you a slightly clearer picture of hunting in Japan. I have lots more info and will be glad to assist in any area you might need some help. I am slow on returning email since I have a very demanding full-time job, a busy family life, tend our garden, belong to the Japanese Volunteer Fire Department & Disaster Response Team, and HUNT!!!
See you in the Yama!

21 November 2010

Nihon-Jika Totta!

Hunting Log 21 Nov 2010:
Today was the first group hunt by the Tamaho Bunkai (our neighborhood hunting association). We had 17 hunters show up so we were able to hunt the largest tract of land we have access to. This is a steep hillside about 4km long on the downhill side and from the bottom to the top of the treeline is about 3km. Since I am the youngest member of our group (excluding 1 new member) I was assigned to the most remote position at the top of the highest point of the treeline. After about 1 hours 15 minutes, I made it to my spot and signaled for the hunt to begin. About 2 hours into the hunt, one of our elderly hunters radioed the group that he saw 6 does enter the hunting area. Since these were about 4km from me, I did not pay much attention. About 50 minutes later I spotted a big doe sneaking above my position. It turns out there were 6 does in all. They were moving pretty quickly until one of them spotted me and let out a "danger" snort/whistle/bark. They bolted through the bushes and I was unable to take a clear shot. Just as I was about to settle back leaning against my tree, I heard movement on the same trail the does had come from. I adjusted my position just as a very nice Nihon-Jika came around the bend. He paused for a second and instantly spotted me in my full safety orange clothes. He began to run, following after the does, but my reaction time was much quicker, and I squeezed off one round. I was sure the shot was good but he bounded away and was out of sight in 15 meters. I radioed the hunt leader and began to slowly walk to the last spot I saw this deer. I had a lot of trouble locating his tracks in the deep, dry leaves, and I could not find any blood trail. I identified 6 or 7 possible trails but none of them felt right. I returned to my spot twice to check my bearings. I then did a 20meter circular search crossing the tracks I found, searching for the real trail, to no avail. I decided to conduct a grid-type search 50meters by 50meters. On my second pass, I found him in a depression next to the majority of the trails. Turns out he had bounded just 1 or 2 times after I lost sight of him and had quickly expired.
After radioing our leader, I field dressed the deer. My bullet had been true, entering his left side just behind his shoulder, and exiting his right side mid-torso. By the size of the wound channel, it was clear that he had passed in a matter if seconds.
Next came the really hard part...I needed to haul this deer down to the bottom border road, about 3 km!!! One of our newest members, a guy 13 years older than me, was assigned to come help me. I let the boss know that this deer would take more horsepower to get down but all of the hunters are much older and no one wanted to hike all the way up to this position. We grabbed the antlers and started dragging! The dragging changed to a preventing the deer from tumbling down the mountain! This area is so steep we struggled to keep from slipping ourselves and the deer knocked us down more than a few times! Actually, the steepness of the slope, and the dry leaf bed made it not too bad. About an hour and a half later we made it to the nearest road and the hunt was done!
I was the only hunter lucky enough to take a deer today. This is the second deer this season, and third trophy in as many days! I am absolutely grateful for my incredible good luck this season!
Sorry for the poor photos, all I had handy was my cell phone.
See you in the yama!