"Grand Slams" and other Safari themes for first-timers

Discussion in 'Hunting Africa' started by seattlesetters, Mar 27, 2011.

  1. seattlesetters

    seattlesetters AH Senior Member

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    I know there are lots of threads about which animals a first timer should consider and the requisite advice that goes along with those recommendations. When I heed the advice given by those with experience, I've always felt the most important nugget I've gleaned is that you need to pick an animal or two and then go to an area that provides good examples of those animals, then be prepared to take what the country gives you. Sound advice, IMHO.....

    This thread is about something a little different.

    What I'm looking for is advice from those with Africa experience on what some of the more challenging goals might be for a first safari. This could be anything from trying for a certain "Grand Slam" to perhaps even going for a rarer or more expensive animal than one would normally associate with a first safari.

    For example, I feel going to an area that could provide a "Spiral-Horned Grand Slam" consisting of kudu, nyala, eland and bushbuck is very appealing and would perhaps add a bit of excitement and challenge to my hunt.

    The same thing goes for perhaps going to an area for a few of the "normal" species sought on a first safari but adding in one of the more expensive, exclusive-type trophies that are more often pursued by those with more experience. For me, that would probably mean red or black lechwe, but for others it could also mean tssessebe, oribi, sitatunga, Chobe bushbuck, sable, roan, puku or waterbuck.

    I'm hoping those with African experience can give some thoughts and suggestions on a "different" first safari that may take in some things not normally associated with the beginner. Perhaps you've been to Africa a few times and found you really like hunting a particular animal and you really wish you would've started out hunting that species. Or, maybe you've become enamored with a "tiny 10" or collecting several different subspecies or color phases of a certain animal, and think it might be a good way for a rookie to start out. Maybe there are some "Grand Slams" that you've considered trying for one a single hunt that came to mind as you hunted on a previous trip.

    Let us know some different scenarios and/or "themes," if you will, that may be of interest to the novice. I think these suggestions could be put to good use for those of us planning or first (and subsequent!) safaris. Thanks!
  2. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Seattlesetters, not to hijack your thread. From all the things I have read thus far you are speaking about a North American invention.
    A twist on our Boone and Crockett Sheep chasing. All four sheep you get a "Grand Slam".

    Most PH's that have written anything about the type of hunter they want would not likely warm to this concept and you may not get to much response. (Just my guess)
    After looking at some recent posts, it looks hard enough to just encounter a Bush Pig ....

    Here is just one sample of a PH's view. ( I have copied this link without asking permission, it is on the public website though)

    Ideal Client - HartzView Hunting Safaris - South Africa Hunting Safaris


    Ideal Client
    by Hartzview Hunting Safaris

    Without making it into a formal planning step, I believe that the potential client for Hartzview Hunting Safaris should know what type of client this article was really written for.

    This article is written to help and assist dedicated hunters who want to hunt in Africa. We hope to convince some people that is intrested in planning a hunt with Hartzview Hunting Saris to start planning the trip of a lifetime. But, without trying to be pompous, I don’t want just any old client. I want to select my clients to suit my ideal client profile as far as possible.

    I don’t want to sell you accommodation and dead animals!
    I want to present to you an affordable yet unforgettable African safari adventure!



    When I say that my services are reserved for a certain category of client only, this must not be construed as arrogance or lack of awareness of the principles of customer service excellence. On the contrary, within the specialized niche of tailoring a safari itinerary to specific client needs, it makes sense to define the profile of my “ideal client”, in pursuit of better service levels - thus a better chance on satisfying the client.

    The alternative would be to take on any type of client on any type of hunt to kill any type of animal in any way he likes, as long as the client pays. This strategy runs the risk of , no more than that, is almost guaranteed to, failing to meet expectations. The result would be a loose-loose situation and two unhappy parties.

    For many years I was in the fortunate position to be guiding hunters all over Africa. I have found that choosing the right clients resulted in enjoyable experiences with people who doubled also as fellow hunters and companions.

    So here is the profile of my “ideal hunting client”:

    • My ideal client loves the great outdoors. He/she [and for simplicity I will for the rest refer to ‘he’ only - female huntresses are just as welcome as clients of AMS as their male counterparts - is both hunter and conservationist - a “prefect of the veldt”. He is however a realist too, not hypocritically obsessed with the highly debatable ethics issues of hunting. He understands that for all of these noble intentions there has to be a balance and a compromise.

    • My ideal client is direct, open and honest in the up-front negotiations phase. He asks frank questions and expects frank answers. It is always better for any supplier of services to exceed expectation, than to raise hopes which can easily be perceived as promises, ending up in disappointment. If, during the safari, some issues are not fully meeting the client’s expectations, he will inform me immediately so that we can make right.

    • My ideal client has probably never been to Africa before. Alternatively he might have hunted here once or twice, but has unlikely taken the “big five” or other elitist game. His has a limited budget, and is therefore quite prepared to jointly plan with me in detail how we can pursue optimal overall value for money. He is keen to explore the vast variety of African game. He wants to experience an eventful African safari and take back memories of a life time.

    • My ideal client’s name probably does not frequently appear in the Top Ten SCI and other record books of the world. He does prefer a nice trophy over a mediocre specimen, but he does not consider himself a “trophy collector” that chases half-inches at all cost. In stead, he is content with a variety of affordable species of plains game, of “ really good” trophy sizes that can be described as “mature animals, good representative specimens of the species”.

    • My ideal client is not madly obsessed with instant results. If we spent the whole day going after that kudu bull and return empty handed, he will look forward to finding it tomorrow. He understands that elusive animals cannot be guaranteed (unless canned). Having said that, he still expects fair results too. He is prepared to hunt hard and risk failure on certain species, but would be duly disappointed if the accumulative trophy results of the entire safari are below his expectations. Having traveled all the way to Africa, he expects to achieve most of his wish list.

    • My ideal client might probably also enjoy going out some nights to call small predators. At little or no extra cost or loss of hunting time, he would appreciate taking some of the smaller African animals such as jackal, caracal, squirrel, rock hyrax, rabbit, monkey, baboon and game birds - even fishing. Time and cost permitting, he might consider visiting some game parks and popular tourist attractions.

    I realize that the above is somewhat utopian, but the closes my prospective client meets these wishes, the better for both parties.
  3. TOM

    TOM AH Elite

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    Africa...are there other continents to hunt?
    My advice would be pretty simple. I would hunt the "normal" candidates for your first trip. Save the springbok slam, tiny ten, big five and spiral horn tribe when you have been over to the great continent of africa at least once. Then you will have a better idea of what you like and what you want to focus on. Plus, if you start out driving a Ferrari you won't truly appreciate the corvette.
  4. Thunder head

    Thunder head AH Enthusiast

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    I dont think thers anything wrong with picking a special animal for your first safari as long as you dont hinge the success or faliure on that one animal.
    A mature Kudu can be hard enough much less an old Bushbuck.

    I would think most PHs would have no prblem with i want a bushbuck or whatever. You can always spend the first couple of days concentrating on that species. There will still be plenty of time to take the more common game as they come along.
  5. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    My advice is this: There is no perfect first safari. No wrong way or correct way for that matter. As long as the PH and outfitter are registered for that country you are fine. I say the last part for good reason!

    An old timer told me this and I wish I'd gotten this piece of advice before ever sitting foot in Africa. He told me if you had any interest in hunting the BIG 5 you should do it right from the start, as long as you are a good hunter and ready for the challenge. The reason for this is two fold. Your daily rates will go towards the BIG 5, while you are chasing cape buffalo or leopard you are bound to run into a lot of the plains game species. Therefore, you can hunt plains game and large game at the same time. Mr. Leopard might not cooperate, but at least you can get some plains game for your daily fees. Then he said after you got your cape buffalo...etc. then you can specialize on the other plains game if you want too.

    I didn't follow that path. I hunted the plains game in any order I could, as long as it was mature I hunted it. But I checked prices a lot too and didn't over pay for animals I could get elsewhere more cheaper. Now, I'm almost afraid to do a leopard hunt because....all I really want is a leopard...and the plains game doesn't mean as much...and I can't afford to do multiple leopard hunts and come home empty handed. My wife would kill me...for many reasons. Now I'm thinking I have to do a combination hunt of the BIG 5 to make up for my plains game hunting career and that costs a lot of money...which means saving a lot.

    But getting back to the first question? There is no reason, other than costs, to not do cape buffalo/plains game hunt right from the get go! Or a spiral horn safari or springbok grand slam...Just go hunting!
  6. seattlesetters

    seattlesetters AH Senior Member

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    Forgive me, I do not know my African hunting history perhaps as well as I should. I did not know that things such as "Big 5" and "Springbok Slam" and "Spiral-Horned Grand Slam" (there is actually a PH offering one of these by name on another thread on this site) and "Tiny Ten" are American inventions. I had seen such things mentioned on more than a few African safari websites and apparently (wrongfully) assumed these were African hunting terms and traditions. Perhaps these websites are American marketing sites....

    However, just because this particular PH/outfitter wouldn't want me as a client doesn't mean another wouldn't. If I choose to hunt a few specific animals and the PH/outfitter has those animals on his concessions, I don't see why he wouldn't think it OK to take me in pursuit of those species. I know full well that this is hunting and I may not be able to get everything on my wish list, but I find it difficult to grasp that this is somehow gauche and uniquely American for me to want to hunt kudu, nyala, bushbuck and eland on the same hunt. Perhaps calling it a "Spiral-Horned Grand Slam" is, but I can't see my wishes as being somehow wrong as opposed to the guy who wants gemsbok, springbok, blesbok and wart hog but doesn't have a catchy name for that combination.

    I would actually be willing (and I've discussed this with a few PHs) to limit my species to four and extend the safari for ten days in order to hunt hard for what I want. And although I am not obsessed with instant results, I would certainly be disappointed if I didn't get all on my wish list. Would it ruin the trip for me? Heck no! I'd even be fine with the opportunity to take something I hadn't considered if it's what the country offered. And, of course, there is always the option of going back to Africa if there is something I've felt I've left there.....
  7. seattlesetters

    seattlesetters AH Senior Member

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    enysse - This is close to what I'm after, but perhaps I didn't make myself clear in the original post. I was hoping a few hunters with African experience would be able to say something to the effect of, "I went to Africa with kudu, impala, zebra and wart hog on my wish list but during and especially after the trip I really wish I would have taken the money and spent the time tracking eland (or hunting bushbuck, or hunting waterbuck or chasing nyala or, like you, hunting buffalo) because I fell in love with them whilst in the bush,"....or something to that effect.

    I was also hoping PHs may have encountered other clients who had done the same thing and could pass along those stories so we might have a database of what a good first safari might look like when planned through the eyes of a first timer and what a good first safari might look like if it were planned by someone who has already hunted Africa a time or two or three or seven. Your buff analogy is spot on....I'm hoping to get more responses similar to it.

    Perhaps I should not have included the catchy names, though. For that, I apologize.
  8. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    For the most part those species are found in Zambia.
  9. TOM

    TOM AH Elite

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    Africa...are there other continents to hunt?
    I'm just saying that once you do a dangerous game safari the plains game will be much more uneventful. I would take that into consideration and therefore hunt plains game first for the experience of it all. Do it in South Africa or Namibia at a nice lodge and high trophy quality area. Then do a dangerous game hunt....i think you will be glad you did it that way.

    Of course you can always do the buff and plains game first. But most places that have good dangerous game don't have much quality plains game...and vice versa. For instance, a big impala in a great buffalo area might be 18-20 inches. The quality of an impala on a South Africa ranch might be 26-27 inches at the top end. It all depends on what you want i suppose.
  10. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    That's true Tom, but you could also be hunting leopard, and have to shoot 20 impala for bait. A taxidermy friend of mine shot a 27" impala and didn't even have it mounted.

    I kinda knew what I wanted when I went to Africa. Number one was a very nice kudu. I shot a medicore nyala on the last trip, and will look to replace it with a nice old one. I have seen giant warthogs but have not shot one yet. So that will be a focus on another trip. Some of this, is how competitive you are as a person. You want good memories of the hunt for sure. But some in the end I really want good memories and mature animals.
  11. seattlesetters

    seattlesetters AH Senior Member

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    Thanks, Tom. I'm not one to do DG on my first trip, but I'm sure others would welcome the opportunity.

    I'm just hoping to get suggestions from you and others with African experience on how to make a first safari perhaps a bit different than a "normal" first safari (whatever that means!) by trying something usually thought of as "more experienced" to go along with or in lieu of the usual plains game packages.
  12. davidb

    davidb AH Member

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    Why put off until tomorrow what you can do today(if you have the cash). My africa dream was to hunt cape buffalo and leopard so I had a specific goal for my first safari and that was buffalo, leopard and plainsgame. I had plenty of people tell me I would enjoy it much more if I did the plainsgame first followed by a buff on the next trip and then a leopard. Well I saved for 10 years to do one trip and I wasn't sure there would be a next so I did it my way (almost). I did let public opinion keep me from adding the leopard (bad decision). I made it very clear to the booking agent I was after buffalo, kudu, eland, bushbuck and waterbuck. After reviewing my options with him I settled on a 10 day hunt at the chete concession in the zambezi valley. I was very fortunate to take all but the eland. The buff was 41 inches and the kudu was 61. Now comes the kick in the butt moment. On about day 8 we were hunting the shore of lake kariba looking for waterbuck and a beautiful male leopard walked down to the lake for a drink right in the middle of the afternoon. I bet he wasn't 50 yards from us and all I could do was watch and become sick to my stomach. My PH tried to ease the pain by saying "well at least you got to see a leopard, you never see them during the day like this" however it wasn't very comforting as I watched part of my lifetime dream disappear into the bush. So seattlesetters that was my first safari when I went for one thing and had regret that I didn't do it differently. It isn't often the stars align that perfectly but you never know. I guess thats why they call it hunting...you just never know. There is one thing for sure...it won't happen if you aren't prepared. So what's the moral of the story? Know exactly what animals you want to hunt, do your research to determine if it is a realistic combination to achieve on one hunt, save your money, find the right booking agent and go after it. Life's short...you may not get a second chance.
  13. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    David, thanks for posting your thoughtful comment. That was kinda what I was trying to post.
  14. sestoppelman

    sestoppelman SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    For my second safari, in Botswana, I had as main focus lion and sitatunga. Did good with the swampalope but the lion thing fell apart due to lack of attention and focus on my part, an embarrassing flub that I may relate someday, but not today. At todays lion prices it may never happen again but at least I got to do it once and in a fantastic place too, no regrets.
  15. sestoppelman

    sestoppelman SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    My own first safari was a package deal with a price too good to turn down, and included fees for buff and 6 others, mostly common to the area plains game. It was Tanzania. Its not a bad way to start hunting Africa. Most outfitters offer some type of package hunt, sometimes several with different animals on each. Ive made 5 trips and I am not sure I would change the order of the trips if I could. Its fun to work on slams and stuff as you go. In the case of the spiral horns, my personal favorite, in order to get a true slam one would have to visit several countries to get them all. But I do remember the day I got my Limpopo bushbuck in RSA, my PH said "Well now you have completed your southern Africa spiral horn slam" by taking kudu, nyala, bushbuck and sitatunga. I had not up until then even thought of it that way.

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