Africa Hunts and Relationship with Your Professional Hunter

Discussion in 'Hunting Africa' started by Fastrig, Jun 28, 2020.

  1. Fastrig

    Fastrig AH Fanatic

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    Looking to rebook my first Africa hunt that was supposed to be this past February for next summer, eight day PG hunt. Have read a number of threads about establishing the relationship with your PH, i.e. people’s opinions of do’s and do not’s, both client and PH view points. Many of the client horror stories relayed frankly shocked me a bit but was pleased that the lion’s share of the PH stories were generally positive.

    Last thing I want, or would ever do, is be a pain in the ass client. Having said that, the approach I’m taking with my PH is that he is “in charge”. I’m there to enjoy a hunt, Yes, but more importantly I am there to learn and experience Africa. I know two point squat about the terrain, the animals’ true routines, etc. and I’m paying him more as a teacher than anything else. You can’t get that education from a book, posts, or videos, you get that from a local who lives and breaths his backyard every day, IMO.

    Numerous posts have said to talk to your PH about your expectations, boundaries, etc. Now I may be way off base on this, or misunderstanding some of it, but it seems to me to be a bit presumptuous to set these when I have no point of reference and the professional hunter I’m hiring does, outside of common sense hunting practices of course. Now I’m no shrinking violet by any stretch of the imagination but have always found that you learn a lot more by keeping your mouth shut and listening when in new territory. My question here is am I being to too back seat with this approach or is this a good approach for my first trip to Africa, and probably ones to follow?
     

  2. dobber

    dobber AH Enthusiast

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    I was asked by my PH how i do with hills and of course the answer was i do great, no problems at all walking down them. I let him know i was also color blind so i have a tough time picking out animals so need some better references when pointing them out, it was either that or he just would think I'm blind as a bat
     

  3. BeeMaa

    BeeMaa AH Legend

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    Clients have expectations and limitations when hunting.
    They don't want to walk to far from the truck or are willing to walk all day...physical expectations.
    They are hunting with a single shot, double rifle, open sights, etc...limitations of the firearm.

    You are the client and get to have the hunt YOU want.
    The PH will do his best tailor the hunt to you.
    Be honest with him about your physical fitness and shooting capabilities...everything else will fall into place.
    Open lines of communication between the two of you is the best course of action.

    I will say that you need to allow yourself to be flexible as plans may very well change.
    One minute you are on the hunt for Zebra, but holy crap that's a great looking Impala and you should take it.
    You just never know, it's Africa and you should take what it gives you.

    Having a positive mental attitude will go a long way with anyone, including the PH.
    No one wants to be stuck in any hunting camp with a downer, especially not in Africa.
    There is always a bright side, find it and move on.
    Allow yourself to really enjoy your hunt.

    I guarantee that you are overthinking this and it will be easy.
    I'd bet that in the truck from the airport to the first stop you have several things hammered out.
    Sit back, relax and enjoy the hunt...don't let this be a point of stress.
    This is a VACATION...treat it like one.

    I wish you all the best on your upcoming safari.
     

  4. Fastrig

    Fastrig AH Fanatic

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    Is that what you all meant? Geesh! Kind of sounded like the client was supposed to lay down the rules of what/how they wanted everything to go, structured if you will. Okay, I’m definitely over thinking this apparently. I’m about as laid back and easy going on a hunt as you could probably get and all I want really is to learn best stalking practices, game characteristics, etc. in Africa, without getting myself or the group in any trouble. Things changing on the fly doesn’t bother me a bit, kind of expected in my book. Guess my only real “rules” would be that I’m not a tag filler and if an animal isn’t true trophy grade I‘m not interested in it, even if that means me coming home empty handed, and if a shot isn’t one I know I can make I’ll let the PH know, hope he’ll appreciate the honesty, and help me get to a place to reset for a shot I know I can make. Really don’t want to spend the limited time we have chasing down an animal because I tried a shot beyond my ability. Personally don’t think those two things are unreasonable and to me are just common hunting practices.

    Thanks BeeMaa! This was kind of bouncing around in the back of my head, bugging me, and figured I had to be missing something in the equation.
     
    Bob Nelson 35Whelen and BeeMaa like this.

  5. meigsbucks

    meigsbucks AH Fanatic

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    BeeMaa hit the nail on the head. Be honest with your PH about your expectations. Also, during the hunt, LISTEN AND DO what your PH says, your success and possibility your life could depend on it.
    One other tip: in the evening, after dinner and you get a feel for things, give your PH some time to himself. He’ll appreciate the time to answer emails, and have some time to himself. Grab a beer, listen to the sounds Of Africa and watch the fire.
     

  6. Fastrig

    Fastrig AH Fanatic

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    LISTEN AND DO what your PH says, your success and possibility your life could depend on it.

    Kind of what I meant by “he’s in charge”....just hope he doesn’t mind a lot of questions because I’m always curious and like to learn.

    Your other advice makes a lot of sense, I don’t need to be babysat and would enjoy sometime to myself doing exactly what you described.
     

  7. YancyW

    YancyW GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    You are dropping serious money on your hunt, it is perfectly fine to tell them what your vision of an enjoyable/successful hunt is. It is their job to keep you safe and get you as close as possible to your vision of the hunt. Don't be shy, tell them what you want, it makes their life easier.
     

  8. Philip Glass

    Philip Glass AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    I think you have a great attitude going into this next safari. However you should relay your basic wishes with your PH ahead of time. I am thinking of things like which animals are your priority for you first of all. Then just asking some questions and maybe visiting their website to get yourself a picture of what it will be like there. I hope you have a great safari and don’t over think it all.
    Philip
     

  9. 375Fox

    375Fox AH Veteran

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    You may want to consider reading Ask the Namibian Guides. The book is applicable for any African hunting, but it will really show you the differences in PHs and why setting expectations are important. I purchased the book after my 6th hunt and I was really surprised what I learned from it. For your first hunt if you go there with a good attitude and willingness to be flexible, you will have a great hunt. After you’ve gone on several you will know more what you really want and choose based on your expectations.
     

  10. Cam Moon

    Cam Moon AH Enthusiast

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    I really get the feeling while reading your post that you are not going to have any issues whatsoever! You seem very self aware, you have general hunting experience, you're not full of yourself, and you have very reasonable expectations. I think you're going to have a great time! I wanted to jump in to see what I could do to offer to help, but after reading the response that @BeeMaa wrote, there isn't much more to say!
    "Having a positive mental attitude will go a long way with anyone, including the PH.
    No one wants to be stuck in any hunting camp with a downer, especially not in Africa.
    There is always a bright side, find it and move on.
    Allow yourself to really enjoy your hunt."
    That is really sound advice! The best thing about that is that I think you're already there!
    All that said, hopefully you'll have a great PH, but I guess there are no guarantees, and if your hunting style differs significantly from his, there is a potential for some issues to arrive. An example may be that if you are in excellent physical health and you like to do all your hunting on foot, but you have a PH that has less stamina or is even lazy, you may find you're driving more than you like and only making short stalks. If you're not finding this enjoyable, please remember that you DO have the right to say something. This is your trip, your dream, your vacation, your hard earned money. If you can make it better by communicating your wishes, wants, desires, and expectations, then you owe it to yourself to do so. (On that note, most PH's and their assistants will surprise you with how physically capable they are!!) If a hunter has never taken a shot past 100 yards, they really should let their PH know. It's not a matter of the hunter calling the shots or running the show, it's a matter of the hunter giving the PH as much information as they can, as to enable the PH to do his job both easier and better. That makes it a win/win for all. So if you have any limitations (physical, mental, moral, trophy quality, etc) it's best to let them be known. Some hunters want to hunt hard all day until dark, and don't care about much more. Other people want to relax every bit as much as hunt, or even more, because they need that for themselves to enjoy their vacation. Most are in between.... But let your PH know. I'm excited for you for your first trip! Where are you going? What species are you after? Who are you going with? Do you know who your PH is going to be? Where and what have you already hunted?
     

  11. Red Leg

    Red Leg AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    This is your first trip to Africa. Regardless the number of articles you have read, people with whom you have spoken or videos you have seen, you have very little idea what to tell your PH with respect to your expectations. He, on the other hand, is an expert at both his trade and most especially, his particular hunting environment. He also likely has a masters equivalent in the study of human nature. Let him guide you (yes, I intended that (y)). Commit yourself to being part of the team.

    One of the areas where some dialogue is helpful is, as others have suggested, your physical conditioning. It will take him about 34 seconds to determine your capability with a rifle and woodcraft. Rather than worry about him, concentrate on the practice necessary to make that 34 second evaluation a positive one. If you have confidence in yourself to quickly and accurately get off a shot from the sticks, he will have confidence in you and the game opportunities will follow.

    Have a grand experience.
     

  12. Nyati

    Nyati AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    @Fastrig , you say you want your animals to be "trophy grade". In this case, I would recommend that you communicate beforehand what your expectations really are, as , in the area you are hunting, there may not be that trophy quality in some specific species.
     

  13. BeeMaa

    BeeMaa AH Legend

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    Your PH will teach you the subtle nuances to determining trophy quality.
    I don't think we were on the hunting grounds 20 minutes when I saw a Sable.
    For sure I thought it was worthy of being taken...reality, it was about 35" and not even close.
    After seeing Sable for a few days, I started to realize what he was seeing and able to see it for myself.

    Personally I am happier with a specimen that is past it's prime, over one that will score high.
    I continue to discuss this very thing with my PH for my upcoming Buffalo hunt.
    Old solitary/bachelor herd bull, horns worn down smooth, loosing his hair and battle scared hide.
    Ideally it would be a "scrum cap" bull...that's my idea of a trophy Cape Buffalo.
    Not what everyone wants to hang on the wall, but it's not their wall.

    Everyone has a different vision of their trophy.
    Communicate with your PH to make sure you are on the same page.
     

  14. meigsbucks

    meigsbucks AH Fanatic

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    Trust me they love to answer your questions. What I meant by doing what your PH says is, if he says always stay right behind him... do. If he says stop... stop. There are some people who “think” they know more or better than their PH. Nope.
    Take in the sights, sounds, smells... everything that is Africa. Take plenty of pictures, and not just of your trophies. Take pictures of birds, trees, staff, camp, sunsets, sunrises, animal tracks in the sand... You get the picture (pun intended).
    Also talk to the staff. Leave candy for the people who tend your room. One of my Best non hunting memories from my first safari was our waiter “Shorty”. His native name translated to Knife but went by Shorty due to his stature. Just a great and fun guy.
     

  15. Tanks

    Tanks AH Fanatic

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    I think most of the expectations are in regards to type of shots and shootable animals. For my buffalo and elephant hunt I wish to use a double rifle. This means up close and personal, not trying to snipe at buffalo from 100+ yards out (elephant is a given as most are shot under 50 yards). I asked if they could get me close enough to a good bull and under 50 yards, and I was answered in the affirmative.
     
    CBH Australia likes this.

  16. Fastrig

    Fastrig AH Fanatic

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    Thanks everyone for your input, advice, etc. Feeling better now as I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to hunting in Africa so laying down rules/expectations wasn’t resonating with me. I will let the PH know my experience, my shot capabilities (prefer inside 300 yards), that stalking is one of my favorite ways to hunt, am and will be in good physical condition for the hunt. I have been and will continue to practice off sticks, making an ass of myself shooting isn’t something I’m keen on. Past that, I’ll put the hunt in his more than capable hands, listen to every instruction and glean everything I can from him, enjoy the evening camp fire and dinner, and stand and soak in the African night, sounds, and atmosphere with a beer in my hand :). Being laid back, joking/laughing, and going with the flow are pretty much me in a nutshell, no camp downer here ;).

    Answers to some of the queries: Nick Bowker is the PH I’ll be heading out with in South Africa, working on getting that booked now. We’ll be hunting in the Bedford area of the Eastern Cape. Animals I’m keen on for this first eight day PG hunt are a Kudu, Gemsbok, Blesbok, Springbok, Impala, Nyala, and Waterbuck. The last two I threw in as possibles if opportunity/time allows. Guessing it will take all eight days for the first five and the last two might have to wait till the next trip. As to definition of a trophy, I know there are certain horn lengths and sizes that class as a trophy animal but for the Kudu, in particular, I’m after an animal bordering on spectacular or as close as I can get. My wife isn’t keen on mounted trophies in our house but there is one place in our den that she’s acquiesced to let me put one and that’s where the Kudu will go (very tall ceiling with the perfect wall space). If it took all eight days to track down and get that one animal, I’d bet perfectly content with that as the Kudu is my favorite of the African PG. Anything else I get and have mounted will go in my office. A good friend of mine might be joining us on the hunt, which would really make the trip a blast.

    Thanks again to everyone. You all are the reason this site is so much fun to follow and participate in.
     

  17. Art Lambart II

    Art Lambart II AH Fanatic

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    @Fastrig you have received lots of great advice so far and all of it is good but you should understand the difference between your PH and your Outfitter. Your Outfitter is the guy with the website and email address and computer, he is the guy you book the hunt with, the guy who takes care of your lodging, meals, laundry, assigns hunting areas, and makes sure all of your non-hunting activities run smoothly. Your PH generally works for your outfitter and is the guy that takes you hunting and deals with will all the things that happen in the bush. As a general rule, you will have lots of interaction with your outfitter prior to your hunt and very little or any with your actual PH (He is in the bush guiding and caring of other clients). On my two safaris with two different outfitters, the PH's didn't know who they were guiding until our arrival at camp. This makes that evening before your first hunt very important for you and your PH, be very clear and specific with your goals and expectations for your safari then let him tell you what needs to happen to meet those goals and expectations. On my first safari, I had a 10-day hunt for six PG and was assigned a PH in his early 20's who only had a few years of experience. On our first evening, we talked about what hunting method I preferred, how for I was comfortable shooting, what animals I planned to hunt, shot placement and what other animals I may be interested in hunting but we never discussed trophy quality or size. I had booked a 10 Trophy hunt I assumed all my animals would be trophies and they were but they all didn't make the record book. During the afternoon on my first day hunting my young PH and I encountered adult male Kudu, my PH set-up the sticks and told me to take the shot, he looked huge to me so it was an easy decision. Over the next several days we saw several more Kudu and the all looked larger than one I had taken, as it turned out my Kudu was an older worn down male who had done his job and was past his prime, a true trophy but he only measured 50". So be very clear and specific with your PH so he can do his best to make your goals and expectations a reality.
     

  18. Fastrig

    Fastrig AH Fanatic

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    Thank you very much. My outfitter and PH are the same individual, he’s been doing so for twenty five years, so sounds like I have made a good choice on that front. A Kudu is my top prize for this hunt and will definitely be explaining what I want in that arena. Believe the largest measured were 72” and the current record is just over 68”. Not expecting either of those, but would like an animal in the upper 50’s, lower 60’s would be incredible. As I posted above, for the Kudu I’m looking for an animal bordering on spectacular, or as close to it as possible.
     
    Bob Nelson 35Whelen likes this.

  19. 375Fox

    375Fox AH Veteran

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    Definitely need to have a discussion about what you expect in a kudu, there is a major difference between a southern greater kudu and an eastern cape kudu. Eastern cape kudu are a smaller subspecies.
     

  20. Fastrig

    Fastrig AH Fanatic

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    Gotcha...didn’t know that so thanks for that education, thought they were all the same in South Africa.

    Edit: just checked and the record for the Eastern Cape Kudu is 58” taken not too far from where we’ll be hunting, so guessing low to mid 50’s would be a nice prize....
     
    Bob Nelson 35Whelen likes this.

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