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What do you want from a safari?

This is a discussion on What do you want from a safari? within the Hunting Africa forums, part of the HUNT AFRICA category; Reading the "Problem Clients" threat gave me this idea, and rather than hijacking Michael's thread, I thought I'd start a ...

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    timbear is online now AH Enthusiast
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    Default What do you want from a safari?

    Reading the "Problem Clients" threat gave me this idea, and rather than hijacking Michael's thread, I thought I'd start a new one:
    A lot of you have mentioned which clients get the most out of hunts, and the question is: what is it that each of us wants to get from a hunt in Africa? This is about personal opinion and perception, without "right" or "wrong".
    Me, I'm probably the oddball. I have never hunted for a trophy in my life, and I have passed big stags for spikers (nicer meat, and easier to carry out). I just love to be out there, pitting my skills and wits against an animal with far superior senses in it's own environment. Sometimes I can even just watch, without needing to shoot. A friend of mine once came across a big, sleeping red stag on the open tops of Central Otago. He spent an hour stalking closer and closer, until he was only 25 meters away. He watched the stag for a while - and then he turned around and crept away silently, never disturbing the animal.
    Don't get me wrong, I'm no bunny-hugger. I go out there to hunt. I love venison, and the kick of my rifle butt against my shoulder. But, as a wise man said: "We don't hunt to kill. We kill to know we have hunted".
    So, when I finally make it to Africa, SCI or R&W scores are not going to mean squat to me. What I want is the whole experience: the sounds, the smells, tracking animals on foot, finding the tough, old, elusive one, and (hopefully) a clean kill. My absolute dream is hunting an old buff, a real, ornery dagga-boy, the old-fashioned way: on foot, in thick country, with open sights, if possible. The joy of victory mingled with the sadness of a life ended, and sharing both without words with the ones I hunt with. Yep, I'm a hopeless romantic, but isn't a safari about chasing the dream?
    Overkill is underestimated!

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    Could not have said it better myself timber, and it's so much more important for your first safari, as you only ever have one of those. The memories from my first trip will be with me for the rest of my life. I believe a safari should be much more then just about hunting.

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    I think their are lots of threads on the subject. My idea of hunting is seeing a lot of wildlife, whether it's birds, small game or big game. Nobody can control the weather on the hunt so everyone has to deal with that one. I like good food and clean bed. I want to feel relaxed on the hunt, forget about the home and work and just relax. I generally like to hunt with "hunting fools" guys and gals that spend every cent they make on hunting and their family. They love hunting! When it gets to the job of picking animals out...I like to look my options over. Not shooting the first animal I see....enjoying the moment. I generally like shooting mature animals...not the highest scoring animal...but old. And I like hunting properties that aren't over hunted! I like hunting properties that are well managed for the wildlife....not cattle or crops. There can be a mixture of the two....but it has to be well managed. Some of my best hunts have been solo adventures! Collecting great pictures, relaxing and seeing new things is what I like about hunting the most.

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    Good idea.


    Quote Originally Posted by timbear View Post
    ....I just love to be out there, pitting my skills and wits against an animal with far superior senses in it's own environment.
    That is where I think I came into conflict with a guided hunt before I left home.
    I would not be doing the hunting, I would feel like I was just shooting.
    I spent 10 days in PH school to figure out how to hunt in South Africa. I wanted to be able to participate ("pit my skills"), not just follow along.
    I went to Africa expecting to go hunting in a variety of new settings with new people for animals I had never layed eyes on.
    I am so happy I spent the time on the ground to learn about tracks, trophy judging, ID, etc. It made the whole experience better for me. I got to participate and it did not have to be my tenth safari in Africa to have that happen.


    Quote Originally Posted by timbear View Post
    A friend of mine once came across a big, sleeping red stag on the open tops of Central Otago. He spent an hour stalking closer and closer, until he was only 25 meters away. He watched the stag for a while - and then he turned around and crept away silently, never disturbing the animal.
    This is always the challenge in my family; How close did you get?
    My little brother holds the record to this day. As a kid he sat still enough against a tree, in an open season, to have the Elk stand three inches from his foot and chew the end of his barrel and walk off. I still thrill to recall that story and can appreciate your friends experience too.
    Just watching wildlife is part of every day. I could not agree more! I brought the camera to Africa and thereby I got to hunt wild Leopards! Lots of shots, No trophy fee and a load of memories.


    Quote Originally Posted by timbear View Post
    What I want is the whole experience: the sounds, the smells, tracking animals on foot, finding the tough, old, elusive one, and (hopefully) a clean kill.
    Every true hunters dream.
    In Africa I hunted with a rifle and camera and also recorded the sounds at a water hole while I sat and watched all the creatures. I replay that little clip and I am taken right back to that seat each time.

    Quote Originally Posted by timbear View Post
    So, when I finally make it to Africa, SCI or R&W scores are not going to mean squat to me.
    As I think about the trophy idea, I certainly showed up to obtain trophies. Implied within that concept though, are the facts that older, larger animals have escaped with their skins for a long time and will be much tougher to obtain, thus, providing that elusive quarry that will lead you on a merry chase and provide an immense challenge.
    I have many record book animals now (luckily), from Africa and North America. They will never be entered in a book, not the point for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by timbear View Post
    My absolute dream is hunting an old buff, a real, ornery dagga-boy, the old-fashioned way: on foot, in thick country, with open sights, if possible. The joy of victory mingled with the sadness of a life ended, and sharing both without words with the ones I hunt with.
    If you want to make yourself breath even faster pick up a bow and chase that Buffalo!

    I sincerely hope you get to experience that mix of melancholy and joy from your African hunt with your friends.
    Good luck.

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    Timbear, Thanks for that post; it helped to validate my hunting ethos...I'm a true meat hunter at heart, my wife & I have about a dozen elk/moose between us, almost all cows, and many, many local whitetail does. I love to be on the ground & see new country--inches of bone don't matter (although I did kill a monster mule deer with a buck- only tag). It was a tough decision, initially, for me to hunt Africa (Namibia) b/c I'd never killed a critter other than crows or groundhogs where I didn't eat/savor all the flesh. My wife & I shot a zebra, oryx, wildebeest, & hartebeest then called the shooting part quits on day 3. We spent the rest of the week looking for small predators, wounded/sick animals, etc. We had great fun and are headed back, to Zim., for hyena & warthog. I was disappointed to learn that MANY game ranches sell the best cuts to meat markets & restaurants--Thats where our animals went, we ate the tenderloins & the skinners, etc. get the intestines & "shot-up" meat...but, hey, those game ranchers are there to make a living and I respect them for it. They don't volunteer for UNICEF. Once I personally worked through the meat issue I was pretty much OK...I can still bring home any steak from any animal I shoot in N. America...We don't own 2 full size freezers for nothin!

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    Good thread Tim bear.

    I've never been, but this is what I would expect.

    Trophies- I would expect a reasonable oppurtunity to harvest most of the animals on a list that is realistic with days spent hunting. An animal with it's vitals obscured by trees at 600 yds is not a reasonable oppurtunity. Also I used the word most, because it is called hunting, not shopping. I would go with a few target species, and then hunt other animals, as they are seen.

    Food- I have never been a fussy eater, but no beef, or chicken. I have eaten that for 30 years, and can eat it anytime. Wild meat, please. That and a decent cup of coffee to start the morning, and a decent glass of wine in the evening to collect my thoughts. Good enough.

    Lodging- I have seen some very posh accomadation, and while it is inviting, i would feel a little guilty staying in the lap of luxury on a hunt. Certainly I would enjoy it, but perhaps would not show pictures of the room to everyone. If it happens that my chosen outfitter, and hunt dictates that I stay in the 5 star lodge, so be it. But if its a tent with clean sheets, so be it.

    PH- A PH with a bit of spirit! Enjoys a good story, and has a few. One who gets excited about the hunt. Easy going, personable, and knowledgeable.

    Myself- I expect myself to do my due diligence to ensure that as many of my expectations as possible are realized, and realistic. To become familiar with my rifle, so that when oppurtunity presents itself, I am ready, and capable. And to not get so caught up in trying to fill my list that I miss my trip.

    This and some things I have missed, are what I look forward to. Someday.

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    This is a touchy subject with me! The first 'safari' I got to go on was a fishing trip to Mauritius for marlin! I diligently chose - from brochures - in those days, what appeared to be the best 'hotel' that offered fishing and set about booking! It offered the most gorgeous sea view rooms, glass bottomed boats to laze in the lagoon over the coral reef, trestle tables laden with sea food, great looking boats with ''experienced'' captains etc etc....just the thing! On arrival in the dead of night, we were met by a night watchman and put int a room close to the hotels cold rooms. The compressor was running all night! The following day after complaining - and a bit of a fight - that we were after a sea view room, we got moved to one. The glass bottomed boat had had a hole in the glass for over a year, the fishing boat was at best a scow, the tackle all rusted, the leader lines frayed ( I didn't know enough on that first trip to check that sort of thing) which cost me the first ( and biggest fish ! ) . Just in all a bad experience. Bottom line is the ''expectations'' offered and perceived were not met and so the whole thing was bad!
    So DO talk to your proposed outfitter A LOT and make your expectations clear to him and see what he has to offer for real. Try and sift through the sales talk by talking to his former clients so that you can maximise your adventure! With the ''Net'' you can make a very informed choice!

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    I do agree that the hunt is so much more than just sitting in a hide waiting for some thing to come in.
    With a walk and stalk hunt you can experience sooo much more and if your PH is good and the area suitable you can get real close to the animals. We do walk and stalk bow and rifle hunting. Especially walk and stalk bow hunting you have to get 40m or closer to the animals. We have seen Ardvark feeding, Porcupine cleaning his hide away, a very young Oryx that has 1 inch horn where its mother hid it, a sleeping Aardwolf, 2 m close to a feeding group of Warthog and so the list goes on. Once my son took a client out on a walk and stalk hunt for Eland. They landed in the middle of a feeding group of Eland bulls. Now which one do you take when 10 are around you! The bush is so full of experience!
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    This is a great thread idea.

    What I want from a safari is a good experience period. That experience includes everything from the sights, sounds and smells of the African bush, veiwing birds and animals I have no intention of hunting, eating that fantastic wild game (I had both wild and domestic on my safari and both were delicious but the wild game experience is part of the adventure of a safari). As far as game goes I expect good numbers and excellent chance at top trophy quality animals of my primary target species as well as encounters with many other species that may or may not have trophy animals present in the area. I expect a hard working PH who digs deep and goes that extra mile when the chips are down. I expect to make the most of every moment in the African bush.
    The journey is the reward.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BRICKBURN View Post
    I spent 10 days in PH school to figure out how to hunt in South Africa. I wanted to be able to participate ("pit my skills"), not just follow along.
    I went to Africa expecting to go hunting in a variety of new settings with new people for animals I had never layed eyes on.
    I am so happy I spent the time on the ground to learn about tracks, trophy judging, ID, etc. It made the whole experience better for me. I got to participate and it did not have to be my tenth safari in Africa to have that happen.
    Tell me more! This was one reply I've read 2-3 times before this particular message sank in (don't you love Alzheimer's?). You went to PH school?!? Where, how, please elaborate!
    As for bow hunting, while I quite admire the people who do, I am just a total rifle man. Can't help it, it just feels right. I need the bang and the kick in the shoulder. Wouldn't mind hunting black powder someday, but not in Africa, probably. A lot of guys in Western Action shoot black, and I have seen too many misfires even with percussion firearms. Not what you want if the ol' buff decides he's had enough of you, and is coming in to squash you like a bug...
    Overkill is underestimated!

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    Tim I am glad the medication took effect this morning.

    So here is the scoop.

    I wanted to have half a clue when I started hunting in Africa. (Although I did go hunting for a week before the school in Namibia)
    Since I had never hunted in SA before I wanted to learn and the best way I could find was to go to school.

    I contacted every school on the PHASA list and got all their information. Including references.
    I got the reading lists and ordered every book. Of course none of them are available here in North America. Only tourist junk here. I ordered them all and started reading.

    I registered for the course with David Sutherland at Sutherland.
    Here is the link:
    Sutherland Hunting Academy

    The Course took place at his new school near Vaalwater, north of Joburg.

    I spent 10 days in an English language classroom.
    Since most of the people interested in PH courses are young Afrikaans males these English language courses are a little more rare. It was a pleasure to hear Afrikaans and try to learn some of the language too. My tutors were all great.

    My classmates (now friends) included someone from Germany and England and nine other like minded people from across South Africa. Ranging in ages from 16 on up. If you can imagine the youngest student barely spoke english and attended this course and passed. He was a dedicated young man and gained a great deal of respect.

    The accommodation was basic dormitory style. I had a roomie just like back in the old school days.

    I took the course in July. If you go at that time of year, bring your wool socks, long underwear and a toque to wear to bed at night. No central heating.


    We were up and AT breakfast at 0700 in class at 0730 and on into the dark each night.
    Most days that I was studying/ in class / reading from 07:30 to 23:00 throughout the week. Somedays we were up at 05:30 reading.
    Although I was doing this for "fun" (haha), I was intent on passing the course.
    David was very supportive and encouraging. He is also a task master and runs a tight ship.
    When he does not have to worry about any more construction concerns on the site the course will improve with his full attention.

    All meals included and laundry.
    The meals were South African, not North American. Rusks, Pap, Braai's, boerwors, etc.
    It was great exposure to what the culture really is.

    The layout of the course over ten days:

    Nature Conservation (Limpopo for mine)
    SCI Rowland Ward measuring
    Trophy Handling
    Spoor ID
    Trophy Judging, Trophy Judging Practical
    Hunting Methods
    Trophy Photos
    Trophy skinning
    Admin Marketing etc
    Tree ID Spoor ID
    Bird and Mammal ID Pictures
    Bow Hunting Blinds etc.
    CITES
    Caping a trophy
    Shot Placement
    Trophy Judging Practical Exam
    Hunting Tracking Practical Exam
    General Exam
    Laws Exam


    David, said that he felt sorry for my PH and he would not want to be mine.


    Imagine this nightmare as a PH:
    ME: "I am not hunting anything else but Kudu unless it is a world record." As a guideline for my desires and focus.
    PH: Just looks at me and starts the still hunt along the edge of a small valley that should be holding Kudu.
    ME: Walks along in silence, scanning and listening for 400 yards.
    PH: "Wayne, look Impala." Excited whisper.
    ME: The look -I do not want to shoot anything else while we are after Kudu!- Grudgingly looking at the Impala Ram.
    ME: After first look at Impala. - Unimpressed look on my face.
    PH: "That's a good trophy!" Imploring expression.
    ME: "It's ok." With accompanying doubtful glance.
    PH: "No, really. That's a good trophy"
    ME: Another slow glance through the binoculars.
    ME: Another look -I do not want to shoot anything else while we are after Kudu!-
    PH: "NO, REALLY, this is a GOOD TROPHY. Trust me! Trust me on this." "You will not get a better one in Natal."
    ME: "Ok." Get sights onto the Impala ram that is staring at us now and take him with one shot.

    Perhaps David was right!

    The Impala Ram is Rowland Ward and a beautiful old trophy and I am very thankful my PH was insistent.
    My true reluctance was not about the size it was about wanting not to scare Kudu away.
    The Kudu were not in this valley after these goings on as I anticipated. We still had lots of days left.

    My PH was excellent and proved his ability to read people and read the non verbal messages. From this point until the Kudu was in the salt we concentrated on Kudu for three more days.

    After this I got tested on trophy size at each opportunity and we had a great time doing so.

    We ended up disagreeing on only two trophy judgements.
    Another Impala (I under estimated and still hold my humble view )
    and the first sighting of my Nyala Bull (at 310 yards).
    I admitted my gross error when we encountered him at very close range with a reply.
    ME: "HOLY CRAP!!!!!!

    I turned out not to be that bad a client in the end. That first trophy might have had him wondering though.

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    Ole Bally is offline AH Enthusiast
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    Out of interest Brickburn, how many folk were on the course and what was the all in cost?

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    There were 11 or 12 people, if I recall correctly.
    The cost was about 10,000 for tuition, transport (joburg), accommodation on the way etc.

    Well worth it for me.

    (This is low because of all the generous help I received from classmates though.)

    Ole Bally, you heading down for a course?

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    Ole Bally is offline AH Enthusiast
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    Thanks Brickburn! Was that US$ or Rand? Just asking as I always wanted to do the school thing here in Zimbabwe!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ole Bally View Post
    Thanks Brickburn! Was that US$ or Rand? Just asking as I always wanted to do the school thing here in Zimbabwe!
    all in R otherwise it would have been self study.

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    Thanks Buddy!

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    You should read "How to become a Professional Hunter in Africa" by Steve Robinson.

    This book is a quick read and full of information on operating a Safari business from start to finish.

    You will have to search for Steve's Book and it list all the required reading (very extensive) for the course. Almost all the books are not found in the USA.

    There are classes in some of the countries and you can apply to see if you are accepted.

    I do believe that, The shooting section & live trophy estimating appear to be quite demanding. If you do not make these,lessons you do not make a passing grade.
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