Our second South African hunting safari...one week away!
In one week from today, we will be boarding a plane from Phoenix, Arizona to embark on our second hunting safari to South Africa. I wanted to post a pre-hunt because this trip has been intensely anticipated for many important reasons.
Our first trip was June of 2011. I'd never really been a hunter, maybe tagged along on a few dove hunts around the desert. Loved being outdoors and exploring, so when the opportunity arose to come to SA and explore the brush, hunt exotic game, eat the freshest meat in the world... it was a no-brainer. My Dad is a lifelong hunter, but with recent success in business was able to become more of an exotic and seasoned hunter. Lucky for my brother and I, his business partners and new favorite hunting buddies, he wanted us involved with his adventures abroad. Dad was energized, had his heart set on some big trophies. As expected, my brother and I were simply thrilled just to be along for the ride, but after seeing some gorgeous trophies oh our outfitters site, we quickly became infected with Kudu-Flu.:daydreaming:
Our first trip was truly once in a lifetime. The hunting party comprised of myself, my Dad, my brother, our Grandfather (3 generations of Hall boys) and my Dad's brother in law. We had planned the trip so far in advance that we became entangled in the pages of AH.com for months and months trying to get a feel for the African hunting spirit. When we finally set foot on African soil, we were hooked. Every day was a unique adventure and we walked away with an impressive collection of trophies. We KNEW we had to come back.
Fast forward a few months after our return. Dad had been getting ill fairly frequently. Pancreas and liver problems took a toll, but you'd never really know the extent if you asked him. By the new year 2012, he was hospitalized for over a month. Things went from bad to worse, and he was even in hospice for a short while. It was abrupt, Dad's young and he's a fighter. My brother and I visited him in the hospital daily, talking about our trip to Africa and how he needs to get the heck out of here so we can go back. It's all we ever talked about, and it clearly lifted his spirits. We showed him hunting videos at his bedside, the photobook from our first trip, talked about hunting boar from helicopters, you name it. As fate would have it, he recovered from what doctors predicted was a 2 and a half week life expectancy in March of 2012, and slowly improved month after month. Today, not only is he active healthy and stronger, he's ecstatic for Africa. He spends every day in his woodworking shop, ten paces from his trohpy room. The doors always open, so walking from one machine to the other you get a glimpse of the Cape Buffalo, or the sable, or the wildebeest.... We planned this second trip to celebrate life and to harbor more lifelong memories with Dad.
Now on to the details. We experienced, as I imagine most first timers experience, that we totally over packed the first time. Took way too many sets of clothing, to be exact. This trip we're really slimming down. Taking our rifles again, my brother's taking his bow. Between the group of four we're checking maybe 2 bags (with rifles) and carrying everything else on. The one thing we are bulking up on (you'll be happy to know) is camera power. We're taking more / better cameras, camcorders, a GoPro, tripod, you name it. We're dead set on making this a true media heavy trip. We want to capture EVERYTHING. When a gemsbok makes his final decent in to the dirt, we will be taking photos before the beast is ever touched. Really get in there, show the horns, the hide, how his body lie, the brush he flattened on his decent, take it all in... you get it.
Our first trip was a 10 day hunt in Limpopo, which only really afforded us 7 hunting days. We hunted Kudu, Gemsbok, Warthog, Blue Wildebeest, Impala... but Dad also got a great Cape Buff, a zebra, a sable, a Red Hartebeest... you see where I'm going with this. When Dad sees a great trophy, he 'seizes the opportunity'. This time, we're extending our stay to 12 days. Day one, we leave the guest house in Pretoria about an hour south to take Cape Buff number two. Dad's got a brand new .500 Smith and Wesson to take the shot. Let's call it the 'first shot', as this rogue bull has quite a nasty reputation for being a brute. We intend to back Dad up (with our PH's, naturally) on the ground with backup .375 firepower. I'm hoping to be on the ground with my camcorder to film the action behind the infantry. After the buffalo thrill, we will make our way south to the Free State for a nearly week long stay. Plains game on the menu of course. I spent 3 frustrating days hunting Gemsbok in 2011 to no avail, so the Gemsbok is my no. 1 priority. Also on the list, Black Wildebeest, springbok, blesbok.. and anything else that hops. We've also got a couple Red Duiker on the list (I need a new paperweight). My brother is taking the bow, and we have received confirmation of a great blind that the Eland seem to gather around. I'll be in the blind with camera and raised neckhairs to watch the great beast meet his maker. Our next stop is KZN. Nyala, bushpig, bushbuck, kudu... whatever. We have built a rapport with our PH Zirk, and he agreed to cater this hunt to the availability of the game rather than a package list. He also agreed to help those who wish to attempt the McNabb challenge. He's bringing shotguns and fishing poles and we'll pick a day that seems ideal. The last day and a half in KZN we'll be heading to Jozini dam for some beers, suntans, and tigerfishing. What an excellent end to an adventure. We'll have the GoPro handy and try to get some of those great underwater - at the boat - videos. Who knows! :fishing::alligator:
And that's how the plan was set. We were ready, rifles true and ready, shooting the bow daily for weeks and weeks. Studying shot placement again and again. Imagining trophies on the wall, and then moving them over here.. and maybe over there. Would a skull mount look better? Maybe a wall pedestal?.... Then, we schedule a Skype chat with our PH Zirk to finalize the details. Well, I can't quite explain the progression of events, but by the end of the 20 minute chat, Dad had tacked on an extra week to his hunt.... as well as a massive lion, lioness, and hippo. Kudos for Zirk the salesman, but dad likes to buy with his eyes. And man, the mane on this lion is incredible. Good god, where the hell is he going to put all these monsters?!?! Unfortunately, Jason and I have families with young children.. and while we'd love to stay an extra week and film it all, a three week trip away from home isn't really worth the cost of divorce. Enter the GoPro with headstrap. We hope Dad remembers to turn it on when he's sifting through the sands looking for the mighty cats. At least when we board the plane back to the States, we'll know that there's still some part of the hunt that will be fresh and new to us when Dad finally gets back.
We are also going to be in the able hands of Zirk's two PH friends who we hunted with in 2011, Pieter and Frans. We are very excited to be hunting with the same 3 gentlemen as we did two years ago. We simply can't wait, and will come back completely loaded with hunt photos, stories, videos, you name it. I've stopped counting days and started counting hours.
Here's to Africa!!! :beer: