SOUTH AFRICA: Donated Hunts...

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports' started by FairChase, Aug 11, 2014.

  1. FairChase

    FairChase New Member

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    I just completed my first African safari.
    Note I stated "first". The bug bit me bad...

    As with many of you, I have always dreamed of going on an African safari and when an opportunity presented itself, I took it. My wife and I attended a charity event where a safari was a live auction item. With my wife's encouragement, I agreed to bid on it and we eventually got the safari. I was thrilled!

    As far as how the hunt went, it certainly was an experience of a lifetime, but didn't always meet our expectations. Again, it was our first safari and we depended on the PH to set the agenda/pace of the trip. I won't burden you with too many details, but will list my pros and cons.


    What we would like to learn from this are the following:
    Have any of you had similar experiences or were our experiences isolated/rare?
    Was the fact that it was a donated hunt have any bearing on what we received or should it not matter?


    Pros:
    • The lodge was quite nice though we never got to use it other than our rooms and the dining area.
    • Most of the hunting areas met or exceeded our expectations and we had good, hard hunts. We did a few hard stalks where climbing rough terrain and long hikes were necessary. These were some of the more memorable times. Only one area we hunted resulted in no/little opportunities, but that's hunting. No harm, no foul...
    • The quality of the food served was excellent. Plenty of fresh game and other dishes served at a buffet-style supper. They were generous with the SA wine as well. :)
    • The staff were generally enthusiastic and pleasant.
    • The trophies I got were all acceptable and one even exceeded my expectation.
    Cons:
    • I typically eat breakfast, especially if I intend to have a physically exerting day. Since the PH does not eat breakfast, it was not an option; coffee and toast with some fresh fruit to take along was it. Though fresh fruit was offered throughout the day.
    • Though the food at lunchtime was very good, we were expected to stand at the tailgate of the truck or sit on the ground. When we suggested bringing some folding chairs (lawn chairs), we were told we wouldn't be there long enough. He was right. Instead of taking a relaxing lunch break at midday, after we ate, we drove around looking for more prey; always unsuccessful. We did tell him prior to the hunt we were serious hunters and wanted to spend our time focused on hunting, not side trips, etc.
    • The truck we initially took to the field was in need of servicing and got to the point where we needed to use another truck. When the first truck was again being used, they did not put the spare tire back under the truck and we had to stand on it along with the cooler and tool kit that slid around as we negotiated uneven terrain. My ankles/shins took a beating. Plus, the tire hanger bracket banged around as we drove. Suggestions to secure/move these items was met with "its not a problem"...
    • We wanted to have a "traditional" safari as close to what could realistically be expected; the illusion of a Hemingway safari. We did not expect the PH and staff to be on their mobile phones/texting when in the field or be expected to shoot from the truck when a stalk could have happened.
    • We also discussed with the PH that we adhere to Boone & Crockett's Fair Chase tenets and that we wanted true trophies. Nevertheless, we felt the pressure to shoot even when the animal was not on our list, when we felt is was not the best we could expect and when we were not comfortable with the shot. Stacking up a body count was not an expectation nor was having to listen to snide comments about not shooting and how expensive it is to run a safari operation. If we even suggested leaving the field early (we were gone from before sunrise until it was dark every day), it created an uncomfortable situation.
    • One particularly annoying point was that, though the trackers/skinners were good at spotting game from distances I never could, they seemed to be less interested in the fundamentals of hunting as I have come to expect on other experiences; antelope, elk and deer hunting. They wore bright colored clothes and even some had bright white hats. Trying to blend into the surroundings or keep quite did not seem to be of interest to them or at times, the PH. They walked around behind/next to us as if they were on a nature hike.
    • The concessions where we hunted required driving anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half each way. The next days hunt location was not always confirmed until the day/evening before. Sometimes we learned of the location that morning as we left. It changed what we were going to hunt that day. The PH seemed to be unprepared, but maybe that's the way it is in Africa.
    • I always felt rushed and the need to follow a schedule. Yes, we told him we were serious hunters, but when my partner wanted to head back early (5 pm; he had a couple of long, hard stalks and it was rather warm that day), he was told no. On the day we left, it was all business and we felt were being pushed out the door. It was apparent the staff was preparing for the next hunt and were not available, but we felt they could have waited until we were gone. We left at 10:30 am.
    • The last point was the expectation to tip everyone at the lodge including non-essential/routine workers such as grounds keepers. The suggested tips were printed out and given to us when we were settling up on the last day. It felt awkward.
    If most of these details are just part of hunting in Africa, I can adjust my expectations and deal with it. But, I will address these details in order to better adjust my expectations and have a more fulfilling experience.

    All said and done... I got a very nice Kudu and look forward to my next safari.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2014
  2. Jaco Strauss

    Jaco Strauss AH Elite

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    i would say that this should not be regarded as the norm.
    The cons exceed pro's.... not the norm.
    interestingly enough 80% of all complaints received by PHASA are donation related.....
    my best always
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2014
  3. Royal27

    Royal27 BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    Glad you enjoyed most of the safari...

    I'd say that most of your cons shouldn't have occurred. You are "in charge" of the safari. You shouldn't be pressured to hunt, shoot, or eat on the ground. Any of the "having to shoot" comments from the PH would have sent me through t the roof....

    And in my opinion, a hunt it a hunt. It shouldn't matter if it was donated, or not.
     
  4. Nyati

    Nyati AH Legend

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    What you experienced is certainly not the norm.

    It would be interesting to know who was the outfitter.
     
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  5. FairChase

    FairChase New Member

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    I decided to refrain from listing the PH/Outfitter as I am/was not sure if this is the norm or not. So far, the few comments have pointed towards it being an uncommon experience. What I will add is that the donated hunt did not save me any money as compared to their standard charges. They make up for it in other ways. An example; only donated hunts pay a $450/person airport pick up/drop off fee .
     
  6. spike.t

    spike.t GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    welcome to the site. i am glad the bad parts of your hunt havent put you off coming back to hunt again. as jaco said a lot more cons than pro points you brought up. if the ph/outfitter was bitching about running costs then he shouldnt give away donation hunts and expect the client to shoot extra animals to get cash out of him for himself. i would say most clients if they are having a good time will most often take extra animals out of their own choice, but it is their choice and not the phs trying to force/make them feel uncomfortable in this matter. the whole idea is to make your experience the best that is possible, and send you home happy regardless if its your 1st time or 10th time. there are plenty of good people on here that can look after you and make your next hunt memorable in all the best ways. :)
     
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  7. CAustin

    CAustin AH Fanatic

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    I would say that what you experienced was for the most part wrong and just bad service. Wasn't the way my two hunts went. Royal127 said it best "you are in charge" except where safety is concerned.
    If something was moving around in the truck they should have moved it out if the way. If you wanted a chair at lunch they should have brought them. If you wanted breakfast they should have provided it. $450 pick up and drop off was a rip off.....my outfitter included it in the hunt. If you wanted to stalk an animal that should have been the method you used. There is a very long thread on this site about tipping......but I would say tipping the grounds keeper and getting a list of who to tip and what to tip is in short BS. You got bad service and one should not tip for that.
    I think as you search this site you will find most people are happy with there hunts and the service they get......but I always tell people to ask a lot of questions before you go and talk to someone who has used the outfitter and PH. Even in your case with the hunt being purchased at an auction....checking these things out is a must.
    I would say that cell phone use seems to be common and often relates to where you will hunt in the afternoon or the next day, this can have a lot to do with what you are hunting and the availability of the trophy you seek.
    At the end of the day I hope what you experienced will not dampen your spirit to hunt again. There are great outfitters on this site and many if us can recommend others as well.
    The outfitter and PH you had simply performed poorly and do not reflect the norm.
     
  8. bluey

    bluey GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    welcome to AH fairchase
    \sorry your African adventure wasn't ideal ,and glad you enjoyed it still and had fun .
    the mobile phone thing seems the ordinary to me as everywhere we went in Africa ,EVERYONE had one stuck to their head .
    ha ha ha even when we were checking into africasn sky there was a muffled ringing and the receptionist at the desk excused herself and pulled one out of her bra and answered it .quickly said something and hungup .quite comical really .
    but being pressure into taking a shot your not confident in is not on .and usually ends up in a long follow up , and a sick feeling .
    there does seem to be a bit anomsity ,relating to auctioned/donated hunts .
    seems like something to steer clear of ..............
     
  9. FairChase

    FairChase New Member

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    To now understand that the mobile phone thing is a common occurrence satisfies my angst. But for the next safari, it will be something I request be done away from the stalk. Too distracting...

    I did read the article on tipping and found it to be exactly what I should have read prior to leaving. Thanks AfricaHunting.com! Now I have a trusted resource here that will provide me with answers to my questions and concerns.
     
  10. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    A trackers phone went off during one stalk. The look he got from the PH nearly took his skin off.
    I did not have to say a word.
    Using technology to coordinate hunts or recoveries does not bother me.
    Not while I am stalking an animal.

    Checking the Outfitter out BEFORE the auction can avoid some of the issues.
    That way you know what all the conditions are. Transfer costs, laundry, outings, etc.
    Nothing is actually free.


    Being direct with the PH and creating a new meeting of the minds was clearly required. If not, the Outfitter should become involved.

    You will find some good resources here. Good luck planning your next hunt.
     
  11. Wheels

    Wheels GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Welcome to AH.

    You have a great attitude even though things didn't go as smoothly as you may have wanted.

    Spend sometime on this website and ask questions like this thread and your next hunt will be a lot better than your first.

    All the best.
     
  12. FairChase

    FairChase New Member

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    First off, no more donated hunts for me...
    Secondly, thanks you for all the words of encouragement. They are graciously accepted and much appreciated as they will guide me as I plan my next safari.
    Also, Jerome P. contacted me personally and offered his assistance and assured me that my mishap was a complete anomaly. He is a class act, to say the least.
    So... what next? Namibia? Zambia? So many destinations and interesting fellows to meet. Where does one start? Perhaps Mozambique?
     
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  13. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    The bug has bitten… You are doomed.
     
  14. FairChase

    FairChase New Member

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  15. spike.t

    spike.t GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    i like your willingness to sacrifice yourself to this cause :D
     
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  16. Jaco Strauss

    Jaco Strauss AH Elite

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    A truly selfless act of sacrifice.... :)
     
  17. Royal27

    Royal27 BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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  18. KMG Hunting Safaris

    KMG Hunting Safaris SPONSOR AH Elite

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  19. FairChase

    FairChase New Member

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    Had I only known of this site! Nevertheless, I am glad my hunting partner told me about it even if was after the hunt.
     
  20. CAustin

    CAustin AH Fanatic

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    You not only have the bug like some of the rest of us but you are in stage TWO, thinking about the second hunt, plan carefully.
     

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