Hunting "Deals" in Africa

Discussion in 'Hunting Africa' started by Mike70560, Jul 12, 2009.

  1. Mike70560

    Mike70560 AH Fanatic

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    Recently I have seen enough "once in a lifetime" offers for hunts to make me believe I am a cat with nine lives.

    There are some great deals on hunts. On another site there was a full bag 21 day Masailand hunt with one of the best outfits that was filled in about 2 hours.

    My 2010 hunt was pushed back from March until October. Africa was calling and I could not wait that long to go back. I tried booking a 2009 tuskless hunt with Ray on here. After about two days of the normal questions it was sold out. I was dissapointed.

    Ultimately I booked a discounted tuskless elephant and buf hunt in Zim with a very reputable outfit for about 25% less than the cost was last year. I found that hunt posted on another site. I have been fighting foot problems for about 5 months and they are just about better. Now I have three months to get my fat butt in shape.

    Who else has been able to take advantage of the lower prices?
     
  2. TOM

    TOM AH Elite

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    I think some of the offers are truly fantastic while others are merely promotion and trying to book hunts in a slow market and not much real savings.

    I did book a buff hunt with Ray through one of his deals. I believe it really is a great buy. I am very excited.

    If a guy had a stash of cash ready, i think he could take advantage of a lot of these offers. Especially some of the DG hunts.
     
  3. TOM

    TOM AH Elite

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    Still looking for a discount leopard or cow elephant hunt....
     
  4. Shallom

    Shallom AH Enthusiast

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    TOM,
    do these dates work for you... Sept. 18th – 29th? These are 12 full hunting days on a package deal. If they do, please send me an email and will give you the details. Cheers,
     
  5. Skyline

    Skyline AH Fanatic

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    It is definitely a buyers market out there. It is impossible to keep up with the 'bargains' that are cropping up daily. Sadly, in an effort to stay afloat some operators are offering prices that in the end do little to help them personally and do a disservice to their friends and competitors.

    I will not be taking advantage of the 'deals' out there because everything I am involved with personally, as a guide/outfitter, hunting consultant, rancher is lying on the ground and getting kicked with both boots................so my bottom line at present just won't allow me to take advantage of the current situation.

    Some of what I am seeing out there is once again showing me the true nature of the beast. I can't blame anyone for getting a good deal when it is offered but I am seeing highly questionable ethics on the part of some. I recently spoke with a fairly wealthy SCI member when guiding in northern Canada. He had a buffalo hunt booked in Mozambique for himself and several friends for this summer, but found some of the new last minute deals were priced so low he could walk away from his deposit on the original hunt he had booked and still save money booking one of the 'specials'.

    That is exactly what he did, and left the operator hanging with four openings at the last minute. He didn't even give the operator the chance to sharpen his pencil............ And this is not the first incident of this type that I have seen in the last few months. Yes, people at their finest.

    I will wait until things improve...............although it will never be as it was..........and book my next trip when my annual disposable income is back up to the point where I can afford to do something. Prices will climb once again as the global economy improves, but operators have shown their target market that they can do things for less than they have been charging.

    The client 'pie' however will never be as large as it was.............and it was a shrinking client base to begin with as the baby boomers age and attrition occurs due to reduced retirement income, illness, infirmity and death. The client base is declining and has been for some time. I have seen it coming for several decades and the global economic crisis has simply sped some of this process up.

    Hunter recruitment is low and this is especially true if you focus on young hunters that have been raised with international hunting or that have the desire and the financial wherewithal to do it. The reality is that international hunters have always been just a fraction of the overall hunter numbers and correspondingly the number of young hunters born with a silver spoon in their mouth, ie..............Daddy or Grandpa can afford to take them to Africa hunting.........is a fraction of one percent. Sorry boys and girls, but the numbers just are not there.................and recruitment is far below the attrition rate.

    The future holds less globe trotting hunters and less operators. Unless some sort of miracle occurs, the outfitting industry has about 20 years left at best. Beyond that it will still exist, but it will be an industry that is significantly smaller than it is currently. A lack of hunter recruitment and pressure from other significant issues such as increased population and land use conflicts, water, public views and perceptions will assure it.
     
  6. Shallom

    Shallom AH Enthusiast

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    I agree with you Skyline and remember that we had discussed this just before these 'deals' started flooding the market. There are consenquences to this trend of selling at a loss... The cost behind the low cost deals is far greater than premium costs before the economy took a hit. In places where there are no fences and no control over the habitat, such as Tanzania, failure to show benefits to the thousands of people who somewhat rely on natural resources to support their daily lives, will inevitably force them to ignore sustainability (remember, these are majority uneducated people living in very poor conditions, under governments that cannot run their conservation programs).

    The reason i sell a buffalo hunt for $12,000 is so i can be sustainable, give outstanding service and quality to the client and produce successful hunts. To achieve this, there is an elaborate community & conservation development program to finance. The funds for this are derived from company turnover. Ask me to reduce my package price and you are asking me to compromise something. Unfortunately, that 'something' cannot come in the form of staff salaries, operational costs and supplies. The 'something' will be of a nature not detected by the client. Things that will not be seen or felt in the present, but will be in the long run! Food, vehicles, staff will all be in place, but that crucial anti-poaching team & vehicle, that important classroom project and clinic supply will be sacrificed! At what cost? These are the things that slowly open the doors to more intense poaching and tilt the balance of stakeholder cooperation to manipulation and exploitation. In one way or another - we as hunters are betraying our game and being catalysts to the 'end of the game'! Think about that special deal my friends...

    You must understand that the reality of outfitting, is that you incur expenses waaay before the start of a season. Fixed costs are unforgiving - so if you think people are STUPID to sell at a loss - think again. Whats better? Big loss or small loss? To some, it is a loss nevertheless and these people would rather take two full paying clients, than 10 under-paying clients. No matter how many under-paying clients to take - the fixed costs associated to hunting ensure that one thing suffers most - the wildlife!
     
  7. BangFlop

    BangFlop AH Senior Member

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    I still believe in the old saying "you get what you pay for".... quality is never cheep. Total cost to you may fluctuate slightly depending on the current market, but for quality items (scopes, rifles, trips, hunts, etc.) that fluctuation will be minimul. Just my opinion ....
     
  8. Mike70560

    Mike70560 AH Fanatic

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    We are seeing extreme pricing pressure in our business, people sell below cost just to maintain some cash flow and keep key employees busy. It cannot continue long term.

    My concern on discounted hunts is lack of service. Will you have a PH that is upset because he is hunting for even less than what they normally make (which is not much). Are you going to receive your trophies, etc, etc.?

    The PH on my 2009 tuskless hunt is the owner of the outfit, is very reputable, and is hunting his own concession. I guess he feels something is better than nothing but I know he has to reduce his cost in other areas. That is OK, I am not demanding when it comes to accommodations, I just want to hunt hard.

    There will be people that will say I overspent for my 2010 safari. I got the PH I wanted, the cameraman I wanted who is also a very good PH, I am hunting with the outfit I want, in good areas. They also gave me some breaks on plainsgame and tuskless. I would rather spend a little more as this is a once in a lifetime hunt and get exactly what I want, than save X number of dollars for something less.
     
  9. browningbbr

    browningbbr AH Enthusiast

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    Ryan / Skyline - thanks for "putting something into words" that I have been sensing for the last few months:
    1. The future of some outfitters is at risk because of the current economic conditions.
    2. "Bargain" hunts are being offered out of need to maintain cash flow and keep employees.
    3. "Discounts" will often require some curtailment of services.
    4. Outfitters are not really blaming clients for taking the "deals".
    5. There is a small handful of people taking advantage of the situation and cancelling hunts to take even cheaper ones.

    As I see it, the risk to "average Joe Hunter" is that only the biggest, best funded andmost expensive outfitters will survive - then future hunting in Africa will only be available to the "wealthy elite". (Nothing against the rich folks, I just want to hunt too.)

    What is your advice to those of us that want to see outfitters survive and the opportunity for the average guy to hunt in Africa maintained?

    - browningbbr

    PS: "just send cash" may not go over too well...
     
  10. Spiral Horn Safaris

    Spiral Horn Safaris SPONSOR AH Fanatic

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    Good point guys !!!!!

    Hi everyone I was just looking around and then came across this very good topic. Must say most of the guys hit the nail right on the head. I have hunted in Zambia for the last year and it was a great experience most probably one of the best I will ever have.

    Then because of the fact that we have our own game farm and a lot of hunting land in South Africa I decided to start my own company. Must say this business is totally different from just being a PH for an Hunting outfit not because of lack of experience but due to the fact that the industry is so competitive is there still a place for a young hunting company these days?
    Times are trying and the economy is not good at all so to get started I decided to put out some specials on Hunts. But keeping in mind that I still have a lot of costs to cover so you can’t sell something for a loss or quality and client service goes out the window I couldn’t go lower! I find it very interesting that you guys mention that the Hunting industry will die out in the end must say I agree at the rate things are going it most probably will happen.

    I will go out on a limb here and say that it is the very fact that everyone is looking for the best deal instead of the best experience that is killing the industry?

    After all is hunting not more about the quality of the hunt then just shooting something for the best price?
     
  11. TOM

    TOM AH Elite

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    Wow. Lots of interesting and informative points of view. I, for one, do not see the doom and gloom ahead that many are speaking of.

    Hunting in Africa is more affordable now than it has ever been (even before "deals" of this downturn). More people are going on safaris to Namibia and South Africa than ever would have been able to 15-40 years ago. Granted, they might not all be 21 day safaris of old, but lots and lots of Americans are going on hunts in SA and Namibia that might never have considered it before. Yes, they are largely ranch style hunts that are more affordable but people are still going. And Africa (being the wonderful drug that it is) will call these first timers back and back again.

    More and more young hunters (25-40 yrs old) are bowhunting in Africa. These young hunters are the future of hunting in Africa. They book their first hunt for a few animals and next thing they know they are planning and saving for that first cape buffalo........and then a leopard.....and then.....

    My point is simple, yes this economic downturn has hurt international hunting. Will it kill the industry? Absolutely not.

    Some of the higher priced countries (like TZ and Botswana) might take a small hit. But then again, some of them were getting out of hand with trophy fees and taxes (Tanzania). The ultra wealthy will be able to hunt these countries regardless of price, but for the semi-budget conscious hunter they have been out of range for a while now.

    We have more animals to hunt in Southern Africa than there has been for a very, very, very long time. While the industry might take a market correction, i don't think we are at deaths door.
     
  12. Spiral Horn Safaris

    Spiral Horn Safaris SPONSOR AH Fanatic

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    Sounds good.

    Sounds very positive hope that your version happens instead of the other ultimatums we have. But we will only know with time.

    So if I may ask do some of the older men have answers to may questions any opinions would be welcome?
     
  13. TOM

    TOM AH Elite

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    Africa...are there other continents to hunt?
    To paraphrase from another source "This is the greatest hunting time in the world. There are more game animals in North America and Southern Africa than their has been in 200 years. 50% of Asia is open to hunting, including things like Golden Takin and White Lipped deer that were not even dreamable in the 1960s. Even Burt Klineberger said it the greatest hunting era is now."

    For those that don't know, Burt Klineberger has been one of the most influential hunters in recent times. He has books written about the golden age of hunting (baby boomers) but it appears he might agree that the time is now.

    As Craig Boddington has written numerous times, saying that the end is near for safari has been popular for a long time. When in reality, the world of hunting opportunity is larger than ever.
     
  14. Spiral Horn Safaris

    Spiral Horn Safaris SPONSOR AH Fanatic

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    Like the positive feedback Tom keep it coming.
     
  15. Shallom

    Shallom AH Enthusiast

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    TOM,
    I for one, fully appreciate the leaps and bounds hunting in Africa has taken over the years. It has been truly progressive. You are correct in your optimism and view of the big picture and most of us acknowledge that things are better now, then they were many years back. What should be noted, as you specified, is the hunting context. Namibia & South Africa are a different kind of game when it comes to ranching and game farms. The factors in such operations are worlds apart from naturally wild habitats.

    In general, MOST natural hunting concessions have seen a decline in the wildlife and habitat quality over recent years. Even the BIG Outfitters who thrived in the 70's to the present are now deeply concerned about their well-kept areas. The pressure on wildlife is increasing ladies and gentlemen. Populations in Africa are growing at alarming speed (even though less per household than previous years - but no matter how much lower it becomes, the numbers are still overwhelming). Population densities are highest closer to natural resource hot-spots (water, soil, wildlife, timber).

    Gone are the days when huge tracts of land could be controlled by an Outfitter (more scrutinized are foreign Outfitters). Today, there are more people, who want more from what 'investors' are doing in their traditional lands. Prime areas in Tanzania are almost entirely occupied by foreign outfitters. A select few of these are the reason prices are so high for Tanzania. But not their fault, they were hunting celebrities and royalty from the very begining. It's just that people jumped on the bandwagon and started selling in association with the possibilities and some of the market responded by wanting what was only reserved for the 'upper' class! People forgot about 'value for money'.

    Yes, there are outfitters out there who need to stay real to the game. Outfitters who exploited a thriving industry by over-charging for hunts. Even now, they still do. They may even continue -to me it suggests that they have a secure segment of the market and are operating in some kind of an economic vacuum. Which does in one way or another, suggest that only a certain market will manage to hunt the costly countries.

    Hunting is not doomed. My concerns are simply the gloom of hunting the way I know it! Just as the loss of tiger hunting, I hope hunting of DG in the wilds of Africa has a longer and brighter future. The signs suggest otherwise, but i am still in it because i am optimistic and fighting for the cause. The truth needs to come out for reality to be addressed. Unless a problem is highlighted, there is a risk it will not be rectified. The earlier we can deal with some of the emerging problems in African Hunting, the easier it will be. Leave it pending and it will be incurable.

    People must understand Africa better. Even in a globalized world, Africa is still unique in its problems and solutions. In the present crisis, we are getting the brunt of it. In the tourism aspect, we are ENTIRELY dependant on foreign input. The reality of today is that 10% of concessions have already been surrenderred to the government and 80% of the outfitters are operating this season at a loss. Bookings are down 30 - 60%. As for next year, not many are even thinking of putting down a deposit. Deposits are what keep us running for the 6 months of off season! The off season is when we meet the communities and initiate development projects and visit government offices to fine tune cooperative efforts. Off season is also the time when anti-poaching activities need to be at highest alert and fully functioning in the field.

    Anyway, whatever the scenarios around the world, we need to get together as hunters to enjoy the positives and deal with the negatives. In that aspect, the future will be bright because i truly believe that the African Hunting Fever caused by the bug, will allow more people to contribute rather than exploit. Cheers Bwana,
     
  16. Skyline

    Skyline AH Fanatic

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    Ryan................very well put. It seems that very few hunters out there these days actually realize the difference between managed private hunting properties and operating in concessions on government owned land with free ranging wildlife.

    I touched on this in previous posts about how things have changed a great deal in hunters attitudes and mindsets. Many simply have never hunted in remote places and with Africa as a specific focus, in 'Wild Africa'. Even with those who have, few understand the big picture and all of the issues that come into play.

    I am assuming that my initial post must have sounded like "doom and gloom", but that was not my intent. As an individual I tend to look at things the way they are and I do not perpetually look through rose colored glasses. There are just some simple truths and even if we do not like what we are seeing, we need to be looking at things and seeing them for what they are in order to try and address them. If we as hunters and operators want to see a thriving global hunting industry in 25 years, the simple truth is that some huge changes need to take place.

    I am not predicting the end of hunting in Africa or elsewhere, but I am predicting a greatly downsized industry. Sure we can all point to small victories here and there, even the occasional bright spot where some increase in hunter numbers has been seen...............but overall the picture is one of decreased hunter numbers, increased demand and pressures on the land base, its uses and resources required to manage it, a global population that is increasingly urbanized with minimal interest in wild places beyond cable TV, and increased pressure on firearms owners and everything associated with their ownership and use.

    Ryan has eloquently pointed out the unique problems faced in Africa and workable solutions need to be found for all involved, particularly the people who live there, if hunting in truly wild places is to continue for years to come. Sadly there are far too many hunters now that seem content to hunt behind high fence.........and no I am not bashing it, just pointing out that it breeds complacency because too many seem to be safe and secure in their belief that it will always be there.

    This is not just an African problem however. Most Americans know how crowded things can be on some BLM land during hunting seasons. Putting into draws for a duck blind or access to state lands during hunting season is something that leaves me shaking my head, but is becoming common in many areas of the US.

    In Canada we are seeing increasing land use conflicts and demands by First Nations people in remote areas of the southern provinces and the north has a significant impact on operators and hunting as a whole. Ryan mentioned the surrender of concessions and the reduction in bookings.....big numbers are they not? Well it is happening here in North America as well. Industry wide bookings are also down 30-60% and remote lodge owners, people with many hundreds of thousands of dollars invested are closing their doors, tossing the keys to the bank and walking away. Outfitters have chopped their prices to bargain rates and are operating at a loss just to keep things open and avoid having governments take back big game allocations because of non-use.

    But the situation is nothing new, it has simply been accelerated and slapped everyone in the face with the current global economic problems. It has become increasingly difficult over the last decade for most operators to fully book their seasons. Marketing has become extremely difficult and in many cases is just a big black hole to throw money into.

    The average age of hunters in camps I have been in is probably the early 60's, with many in their mid 50's and some into their early 70's. There is always a few younger hunters but they are noticeably a distinct minority. This is nothing new...........those that have been paying attention have seen it coming for a couple of decades.

    There will always be a small percentage of the population for which money is not a big problem, but the vast numbers of the so called 'middle income' types have seen their disposable income steadily decrease over the last couple of decades. I have watched middle income hunters go from an annual hunt in the 80's to only being able to afford it every other year, to not being able to afford a low priced outfitted hunt at all.

    In the last decade their has been several crashes in the stock market and these have had lasting repercussions for the masses forced to try and budget their retirement around playing the market. Many have become very cautious with the savings they have left and the current situation will have a big and lasting affect for many on their spending habits in the future.......especially for those about to enter the 'Golden Years'.

    I know many hunters in the baby boomer age bracket who planned to retire and have now been forced to delay retirement for another 5 years, others who have lost jobs after working for a company for 20-25 years and many more who have simply found that the cost of things these days has left them with a much tighter retirement budget than they had planned on.

    Regardless of wage brackets, economic problems and everything else..........globe trotting hunters have always been a very small precentage of the total number of hunters out there. That is, has always been and will always be the case. When one tends to hang around with like minded individuals at the local SCI chapter meetings it is easy to lose track of that fact. In the real world the number of hunters who travel to Africa or even go on a bear hunt in Canada is very small in comparison to the number of people that hunt.

    I do not look at little bright spots here and there and use those as a reason to get that warm fuzzy feeling. I look at the big picture and all of the issues that are ganging up on outfitting and the hunting industry as a whole. There is no doubt in my mind that hunting will continue, but I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that 20 years from now............ when most baby boomers are at the end of their hunting careers................the global hunting industry will be a significantly smaller industry with a much smaller number of players.
     
  17. TOM

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    This is what i enjoy about this forum. Thoughtful debate, not emotion. One sword sharpens the other.

    Yes, the truly wild areas of Africa are in trouble as populations continue to explode. That is a bit out of anyone's hands.

    What i meant by the SA and Namibia hunts was that they are getting people interested in Africa, lots of people. I truly believe these hunters will yearn to hunt the truly wild places as the "next step". We need to have the wild places the world over, but hunting them needs to be somewhat available to people, not so expensive that the marketed is so limited. In my opinion, that is why Zim continues to hunt and manage it's wildlife (somewhat) while the rest of the country is in shambles.

    I think the economy will slowly turn back to the good. I sincerely hope that hunting operators the world over can weather the storm. If they don't, it won't be the hunters that are out of luck, it will be the wildlife.
     
  18. enysse

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    I think there are a number of problems out there. Hunting costs have spiraled out of control in some instances and the prices for everything might have to be lowered. Just like the stock market...there probably has to be some adjustment.

    There are fewer hunters coming in the market. Money and a change in attitude have a lot to do with it. Hunting is not cheap. Hunting is frowned upon by large part of the population. Meaning if they could end it and it wouldn't hurt their pocket book...hunting would be over in a heart beat.

    The anti's have really gotten smart. They are using less terrorist activities and are using well paid lawyers and advertising to win there battles. We as hunters fight over which gun to use and what season a bow hunter should get...when anti's just wanted hunting over period.

    The regulations to go over seas are getting worse everyday. It is a hastle! That being said I think there will always be a part of the population that will want to seek adventure wherever the game is being played. And Africa is a great hunting destination! Yes, the population of people is growing there but there are a lot of great game ranches. There will be less and less hunting in Botswana, Ethiopia, and Tanzania because the daily fees and trophy fees have gotten out of control. I know a lot of people that when Tanzania sky-rocketed there prices said there where no longer interested in hunting there. If they went back to the old system the door would explode open with people wanting to go.

    And Skyline is right with the "new economy" and the stock market going up and down with out any reason. People are going to be tight with there money. They would rather be able to retire than be stuck with a job as they get older. I definitely feel that way...I want to get out of the "prison" I call my job and lay back and enjoy my old age...not going to the "prison" everyday.
     
  19. G-MAN

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    All of these posts really interest me. I will be heading to RSA in 2 weeks for a 10 day buffalo and plains game hunt. I hope and pray that it will not be my last. For the price of my hunt in RSA, I could not have anywhere near the same experience in the US. Living in New Mexico I could easily spend $4000+ for a desert mule deer hunt. Many of the top quality elk hunts run $9000+. The Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation sell ellk hunts for $14,500 and up in northern New Mexico some of the mulies go for as much as $15,000. They even raffle off a mule deer hunt with a minimun starting bid of $30,000. Thats for one DEER. I lived in South Texas for ten years and the price of a deer hunt increased every year. Everywhere you looked in the brush country was a high fence. Trophy whitetail hunts averaged $3500 to $6000. Some of the ranches offered 180 to 200 B&C deer for upwards of $20,000. I could do alot of damage in Africa or Australia for that kind of money. It seems like a lot of folks I talk to think Africa is out of their budget, but they have never really looked into it. Some have that fear of going to another country as well. They assume they will land in the middle of nowhere and be attacked by savages. Then there are those that have the time and money, but find it easier to go to Texas on a 500 acre high fenced ranch and pay $5000 to shoot a wildebeest eating corn or pay $15,000 to kill a kudu. I am not wealthy by any means, but I save what I can and plan ahead. I for one will plan on making the trip again to Africa. I have not even left for my first trip and I already know what I want to hunt the next time I go.
     
  20. Spiral Horn Safaris

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    Member of:
    SCI and PHASA
    Hunted:
    South Africa and Zambia
    Good on you there is nothing wrong with the way you are reasoning I think you will find it as money well spent. Good luck on the hunt hope you get everything that you are after.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2009

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