Are we still true trophy hunters?


AH fanatic
Jul 6, 2009
Reaction score
South Africa
Deals & offers
Hunting reports
Member of
South Africa and Zambia
Good day Ladies and Gentleman.

With times changing and new trends catching on I would like to know what do you look for in a trophy?

For me this is quite simple I would like to work for my animal be selective but I want to take the best possible trophy.

I think every client would point out that it is not in the size of the trophy but in the manner in which the animal is hunted, I totally agree but let’s face it size does matter, I have yet to meet a hunter who will be unhappy with a 60” kudu.;)

In my opinion it takes time to get the best possible trophy, especially if these hunts are conducted on foot and in a fair chase manner so you can hunt 10 day’s for 3-5 trophies or spend 10 days and shoot 6- 8 trophies?:p

I would like to hear what our clients think about this?

Best Regards
Louis van Bergen
Without a doubt, the things in life we work hardest for mean the most to us.

That definitely applies to hunting. I look back on some of my most memorable hunts and those seem to be my favorite "trophy animals", regardless of the measurements. I've shot big deer with my rifle but it doesn't mean as much to me as my first bowkill.

My cape buffalo was a tough hunt, and i busted my butt to only get him on the second to last day....that was great. If would have been a totally different experience had he presented himself on day one.

Good topic.
A trophy is in the eye of the beholder (lol).

I hunt for mature animals....if it's a gets a pass until it's 2.5 years old...I'd prefer 3.5 yrs old...but that is asking the sun, moon and stars. I never shoot fawns. Does age 1.5 years and older are fair game.

In Africa....since there are so many animals, I'm looking for something old and mature. A 52 in kudu is a monster...a 55" a giant! Anything a 28 inch waterbuck is a giant to me...king of the forest and I'm very happy. Heck, I'm happy with a 12 inch springbok...if it's old.

Like most hunters I measure how much effort went into the hunt! My bushbuck in Africa is probably my hardest earned animal. And the 140 in whitetail that I killed when I was 29...will be the biggest I ever see.

To me no one animal has defined a was the people, weather and scenery....I don't need to shoot the biggest animal of any one species. I would rather have a good hunt experience...can't wait to hunt with my kids.
No doubt for me either, the hardest I work for a trophy, the more safisfaction I get.

But yes, I work harder for a good trophy !
My best trophies aren't horns I have hanging on the wal but actally the memories I have of things I have seen and experienced while hunting or just being out in nature

To me watching a warthog sow rooting with her piglets from 20m is a bigger trophy than a 12” warthog boar hanging on the wall

Just my 2c
You do have a point there F.L.A.S.H. , I remenber walking along the M Kuzi river, looking for buffalo, when a warthog was coming to us, we stopped and he kept coming, to not more than 6 or 7 meters, until he decided to swim across the river.

This is one experience I will never forget, along with the elephant who decided to take a close look at our car.



  • Imagen083.jpeg
    149.9 KB · Views: 263
Last edited by a moderator:
Thanks for the comments so far Gentlemen!

Enysee it is clear that you have experience hunting PG in Africa since the numbers you mentioned is pretty much as good as any client can realistically expect.

I can’t find fault with regards to any of the opinions but I would like to focus on two direct points here:

1 Is time spent getting a great trophy time well spent (of course you will see/experience a lot, you will also pass up a lot of the same species to get to the right one and even then things can go wrong)?

2 Is it worth paying a bit more to hunt the best possible trophy (please keep in mind this will require you to hunt each animal in its native habitat)?

Simple example a kudu in Limpopo will price higher than in the Cape this does not mean kudu in the Cape are not worthy of hunting but paying a bit more might give you a realistic chance of getting a bigger bull just because of habitat, genes…….

Best Regards
Louis van Bergen

A friend of mine shot a 52" kudu the first time he hunted on my farm. A year later we were stalking a kudu for over a hour and eventually he asked me what size it was . I told him 50" and told him not to shoot it. He said that it was a good hunt and wanted the trophy.

Now the problem is :he still feels he has to shoot a big kudu of like 56".

I understand what you are saying with regard to rather hunting 10 days and getting the great trophies.

You do need time to get the big ones After you have the big trophy , maybe settle for less, I also agree that the hunt in itself is very important.
My first Kudu, Eastern cape, three days an a half after it up and down, 47 inches. I hope to hunt a bigger one but I am sure I am not going to forget this one.
Yes Louis, I'm a plains game nut...guilty as charged! (lol)

Trophy hunting takes a lot of skill....and I'm not kidding there. You have to put your time in, you have to have good binoculars and be able to judge animals and their habits pretty quick! Skill in making the shot under pressure counts a lot. I like hunting hard...sun up to sun down and looking over a lot of country and as we say in Wisconsin "kick a lot of tires"....meaning I'm just looking for the right animal and I don't have to kill something just to feel I accomplished something during the day hunting. I have been called a "watcher"....which is fine with me...patience kills more than most would ever consider. And I think at the end of the day....if you are satisfied with the way you hunt and conduct yourself in the field....who cares is you are labeled a trophy hunter. I'm proud of it! And it doesn't matter to me is I get my animal in the first 5 minutes or the last hour of the the last long as I feel the hunt was conducted right. Having friends and family on a hunt, really enrichs the whole experience.

And I can tell anyone it's far better to have good memories of a hunt...rather having someone else tell you how you should feel about a hunt. My biggest elk is a 275 inch elk from New's a 6x6....the area is know for 350 inch elk, but I'm very, very happy about the elk and the hunt. My wife brags to everyone how much she likes his rack. And that makes me very happy at the end of the day.

And I think Louis you are can't compare hunting cape kudu and the southern greater kudu...the habit is different, the cape kudu has smaller horns....both are excellent hunts...having done both....I highly recommend it to anyone. And I think I would love to hunt nyala in their native habitat of the Kwazulu-natal. I recommend, if anyone has the time and money to hunt Africa's great animals in their native habitat.

And the 140 inch whitetail...I got with my bow...still darn proud of that even 8 pointer!
"Essentially, hunting is a spiritual experience precisely because it submerges us in nature, and that experience teaches us that we are participants in something far greater than ourselves. Ortega y Gasset, the Spanish philosopher, described the hunter as the alert man. He could not have said it better. When we hunt we experience extreme alertness to the point of an altered state of consciousness. For the hunter everything is alive, and he is one with the animal and its environment."
Dr. Randall Eaton

That beeing said I belive that anything that we can touch that conect us back to the spiritual experience is worth preserving, and ofcourse the experience is better if it was far from easy. imo.
Well what is a trophy?

I think it depends on where you're at in your hunting career. I started hunting in 1986 with nothing more than a shotgun for eastern (eastern U.S. that is) gray squirrels. I quickly moved on to deer hunting in Virginia while I was in college. I spent many days on the tree stand and never got a whitetail. I did collect many memories such as the morning a fox squirrel ran down the tree I was in then onto my shoulder and down my chest and the upper part of my leg and then back onto the tree. I graduated from college and moved to Texas. In 1991 I was given the chance to hunt some private ground near Waco, TX. With my first deer rifle bought a few months before, I sat in my stand. Out came a very small 2x2 whitetail. I steadied my rifle well enough to make a perfect broadside shot and squeezed the trigger of my Remington 7400 Semi-automatic .270 rifle. And nothing happened......

The deer kept going in the direction it was going and out of sight. I figured out somehow that with that semi-auto that you can't just ease the bolt closed that you need to let it "slam" shut when loading the round. So dejected I stayed on stand with my now truly loaded gun. About a half hour later another small "basket' rack buck came out of the brush walking directly at me in my stand. The deer somewhere about half way to me decided something was wrong and immediately swapped it's front end with its rear end. After walking a little ways it turned broadside and I made my shot. The buck made it into the brush but only a little ways. It was a quick retrieval and after 5 years of hunting I finally had my first deer.

Now after a little more than 7 months after my first African safari with numerous hunts for other American species, you could say I've come a little ways since my first squirrel some 24 years or so ago. Is my definition of a trophy different now than it was then? Of course it is, but I'm no more proud of my African animals now than I was of my little basket rack deer in 1991. enysse is right in my opinion, the trophy is in the eye of the beholder, but the eye changes over time and experience.

That said Louis, I would say that you and I probably see eye to eye on what we view as a trophy. 20 years ago, perhaps not.
Our law describes a trophy any part of an animal that a person would like to take home with him a rememberance.

I shot this old wildebeest last year and yes its a trophy for me as I know the chances of me shooting another one just like that is very slimm to none.

Size does count but it should happen and not forced in others words not a quaraanteed trophy that was dropped off a couple of days ago or kept in a small area. Yes you do get clients sometimes that only care about the book and unfotunately you cannot show clients away at this day and age not that I'm saying we support put and take as we don't but have to work extra hard to find the correct animal mostly by driving around and then it being shot from the vehicle.

Luckily these hunters are very few and far in between and rather go to the put and take outfitters for their quaraanteed trophy.
Gentleman thanks to all once again for the great feedback it is appreciated!

Fredelik I simply just think put and take operations are a disgrace it usually happens when someone has a small piece of land(400 Ha) and pushes a lot of clients trough on a yearly basis but that would be a different topic.

I can certainly understand your point with regards to the wildebeest you shot, it would be a specific animal making the hunt tough and rewarding at the same time there is a lot of merit in your example but I would expect that this particular animal will either be a cull animal or given to you free by the land owner, just to be fair.

Culling is a good thing and any land owner will have to do it at a stage so there is a hunting experience that is fairly affordable and it can be extremely rewarding in the sense that just because it is a female or broken horn animal it does not mean they are stupid.

Well it is simple for some it is about quality for others it is about feet and turnover I believe each client would get a good level of service from both operations but the trophy quality might not be the same on average?

Anyone who has been on my web site and saw my price list will clearly see that we don’t charge according to inch but in saying that I would be a fool to say that I would be happy with giving my client a lower than average quality trophy.

It’s simple should you shoot a 52” kudu you pay the trophy fee should you shoot a 60” kudu it is the same trophy fee but the bottom line is quality trophy animals are a must.

Being selective is what makes for good hunting, it would be up to you to identify the best location for the species that you are after and yes costs are involved so I can understand the other side as well, because if you are hunting in TZ and spending $18 000 on a buffalo hunt and you get a 34” bull with soft bosses, well quite frankly you will be upset wont you?

So are we staring to move in to a situation where shooting 8 animals in 10 day’s (turnover) is becoming more important than spending time out in the bush looking for that elusive trophy and experiencing nature?

We can most probably shoot a 50” kudu bull on the first day however should you take your time and your PH is bothered about quality and prides himself on getting the best out there I am sure you will experience a whole different hunt!

A lot of people have thankfully already confirmed that there is true value in this type of hunt and it also provides for great memories.

Don’t fall in to the trap gentleman in my opinion less is sometimes more, spend time out there enjoy it and look forward to the challenge of hunting a true trophy.

Best Regards
Louis van Bergen
Spiral Horn Safaris;22411Fredelik said:
I simply just think put and take operations are a disgrace it usually happens when someone has a small piece of land(400 Ha) and pushes a lot of clients trough on a yearly basis

Hi Louis,
I would like to follow up on this a bit if you don't mind. How many Ha do you do your hunting on. I am specifically talking about property that you personally own, not other ranches that You may use.

Do you bow hunt and gun hunt on the same property? If not how long has your bow property been bow hunting only. How many Ha is specifically for bow hunting and how many for Gun hunting. Are there any cross fences or is it all one parcel.

Are all the animals that are on your farm raised and born there, or do you supplement with stocking.

Thank you for your honest answers in advance,

. . . Being selective is what makes for good hunting . . . are we staring to move in to a situation where shooting 8 animals in 10 day’s (turnover) is becoming more important than spending time out in the bush looking for that elusive trophy and experiencing nature? . . . Don’t fall in to the trap gentleman, in my opinion less is sometimes more, spend time out there enjoy it and look forward to the challenge of hunting a true trophy.

Louis . . . I am in wholehearted agreement with your above statements. I too believe ‘hunting’ is about the time spent afield in search of that elusive ‘trophy’ rather than the ‘shooting’ of multiple animals in a given time frame. Just my opinion.
Hi Marc

My own private game farm is 5 000acres, it has no internal fences and is bush veld habitat so the bush can be dense in some places and then open in other spots.

Here is a photo that illustrates the kind of vegetation.

First and foremost there is one rule on my place as well as neighbouring concessions that can’t be bent or broken no shooting a animal within 500meters of water with rifle.

The be perfectly honest here I do gun hunt Giraffe, impala zebra and blue wildebeest on my own land I need to take off the numbers and it is more profitable to hunt these species on my own land.
As the bow hunting bookings pick up (and they have) so I will make more changes?

All the species that I hunt on my property has grown up there with the exception of gemsbuck and eland I introduced them 4 years ago.

As for the rest of the species they are hunted with bow only all the kudu I took last year was on neighbouring concessions.

The last kudu bull that was taken on my property itself was with our fellow member Tom Adlleman he took a 56” bull, I have been managing my bulls very selectively.

My bow hunters this year will get the opportunity to hunt 4 kudu bulls on my own land this year not one of them will be under 54” but then in saying that I hunt extremely selectively when it comes to my kudu.

As for introducing new species and genes yes I bought in some eland and gemsbuck both are new species to the property and I want them to breed and not be shot, all the gemsbuck we took last year was on my neighbours property to which I have the sole concession rights too.

I only hunt trophy hunters on my property there is no South African biltong hunters that shoot on my place at all this has been closed for the last 3 years. Last year was particularly tough after choosing to lose my income from local hunters as well but I believe it is an investment I am making in the future of trophy hunting on my land.

Last year I conducted 7 hunts in total so the game is not pressured at all?

Marc to be perfectly honest with you I advertise a smaller hunting area than most but this is because I am actually basing my statement on facts and not just thinking up a number you actually need a paper stating a transfer of hunting rights to the concession owner.

South Africa must be growing as a land mass by the sound of some people out there but any way LOL.

Very importantly I only book one group at a time you get to hunt with me the owner of the land I would think that this is a very important little fact?

I hope this helps it is the honest truth!;)

Best Regards
Louis van Bergen
Phoenix Phil is correct....everyone's evaluation of what is a trophy changes or time. Each experience changes our perception or view. It's called growing and maturing.

I remember when I was 15 and shot my first "basket buck", a 6 pointer and everyone was shocked, I did it so quickly. And with a gun that frankly was in terrible shaped....I don't even own it anymore. The memories are strong and it was a trophy whitetail deer.

As I get closer to age 40....I have meat in the freezer and very little space in the trophy and memories and sharing hunting stories are becoming more important. I'd rather hunt for that "one" animal...than "wack and stack'em".

And I'd rather have a younger hunter get a deer than me, I can afford to go home empty handed and take it in stride. I don't need to kill to know I hunted!
Well, the trophy is in the eye of the beholder. I have taken a few excellent whitetail deer( in the mid-150 and low 160's)/ But my best trophy was my first-- at 9 years old-- a plain ol fork horn. The excitement/ hunting by myself. I even combod a turkey that day.



To me the trophy is the experence. The way the hunt "happens". I will not lie to you I'd love to wack a 60in Kudu, or a 33 in Waterbuck, or a 48 in Buffalo--but if its a wonderful stalk, shared with good folks, its hard for it not to be considered a trophy!

I hunted with Louis last year! I'll give him some Kudos--I have done alot of hunting-- he has some great places to hunt. He is a young and eager hunter--and will make your safari experence fun! I had a geat time and I think my best trophy was my Zebra. It was the last day--last few min of the whole 8 day Safari. We mad a long stalk on this big stallion and had to shoot him 4 times to put him down--even though the first shot was though the boiler room. It was an awesome experience--which in turn made it an awesome trophy!


It even upstaged my impala which is my best on the books trophy!


Experience is what makes the trophy for me!!!!!!!!!!!!!



  • deerhunterh.jpeg
    5.5 KB · Views: 108
  • szebra.jpeg
    60.3 KB · Views: 110
  • edandjuanimpala.jpeg
    46.6 KB · Views: 98
  • imgiha.jpeg
    92.2 KB · Views: 87
Very well put, I personally have quite a few trophy whitetail on the wall, but, the greatest trophy up there is my son's first deer, a gross score of 98 inches and eight pointer. He hunted 3 yrs before gretting a shot at a deer, but, things worked out for him on the hottest day of the season none the less. When he grabbed that rack, and to see his face was better than anything I have done in my hunting career thus far. So I agree 100% that the term "Trophy" covers a broad spectrum and is ultimatly in the eye of the beholder. Scott.

Forum statistics

Latest member



Latest posts

Latest profile posts

Badjer wrote on Dunderhead's profile.
Hello, I'm in Pewaukee. By the 5 O'Clock club, if you know where that is.
big Eland spotted on the plains this morning!

Daggaboy spotted this morning at the mud-hole!