Firearms are still the biggest attractions at the expo, while hi-tech equipment and accessories trigger the curiosity among casual visitors. Attending HuntEx every year resembles a family reunion. Visitors catch up with regular exhibitors and meet new-comers in the industry. After browsing through the exhibition halls, visitors meet up with friends in the various restaurants to rests their legs and exchange views over a meal of a drink. The Boma, which offered meals and the only restaurant to offer beer or a glass of wine, was well-attended.
First-time foreign exhibitors were impressed with the size of the expo and enthusiasm from the South African public. Curt Hann, an American hunter and outfitter that produces rifle accessories, exhibited at HuntEx for the first time. He said he was pleasantly surprised with South African hunters’ attitude to hunting. “They take hunting much more seriously than the people in the States. I will be back at HuntEx next year,” Hann said.
A young couple from Wellington that sells handmade leather products was overwhelmed by the interest and ran out of stock of popular items. They will be back next year, they said.
Hunting and wildlife associations such as SA Hunters, National Hunting and Shooting Association, Wingshooters, Professional Hunters Association of SA, and Wildlife Ranching SA were all satisfied with this year’s expo. Tharia Unwin of PHASA, said HuntEx brings them closer to the public and gives them the opportunity to interact with visitors about the contribution of hunting to conservation and the economy. “Signing up new members at HuntEx is a bonus, but it is certainly not the sole purpose of exhibiting. Adri Kitshoff-Botha of Wildlife Ranching agreed. “Visibility at HuntEx is essential. We cannot afford not to be here.”
HuntEx2017 paid special attention to attract women hunters and shooters. Marelize Kuhn, an experienced hunter, spoke to prospective women hunters and gunowners at Mia Caccia, an exhibition area specifically for women visitors that wanted to find out more about hunting. “There is a lot that the industry and retailers can do to encourage more women to hunt. It will require a new mindset from the retail sector to become more woman-friendly. Dealers will have to up their game to capture the female market,” Marelize said.
The HuntEx Cape Game Fair, a smaller version of this popular show will be held at Mentor’s Estate near Jeffreys Bay from 26 – 28 May.