Bowhunting in Africa! A first-timer's guide from Limcroma Safaris

Limcroma Safaris

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Jul 9, 2014
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South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana.
At Limcroma Safaris, we have been hosting bowhunters for nearly 3 decades and specializing in accommodating guests in pursuit of everything from the tiniest antelope to the largest of dangerous game with a bow & arrow. We are all avid bowhunters ourselves and we believe that passion translates to the success of our bowhunting guests.

Over these many years of hosting bowhunters from around the globe, we have received just about every question you can imagine in regard to bowhunting in Africa. It’s no surprise that a great many of these questions come from bowhunters who will be making their first trip to Africa. Because of this, we felt it might be helpful to address some of the most frequently asked questions that will hopefully help all hunters to feel more prepared and confident when they come to Africa with their bows regardless of who they are hunting with.

FAQ #1: Do I need to go out and buy a new bow and arrows for my African safari?

Answer #1:
As a general rule, probably not. Most African game animals, with the exception of the largest dangerous game, can be ethically and effectively hunted with the same set-up that you would use to hunt most North American game animals. That being said, there are some equipment and set-up recommendations that we like to make which will help to maximize your success in Africa.

Things to consider with your bow set-up:

With today's advancements in archery technology along with a much better understanding of the physics behind the flight of the arrow, many of the most popular plainsgame animals can be successfully hunted with bows that have draw weights as low as 45lbs. However, with those lighter draw weights it is imperative that the arrow build is configured in a way that will generate enough momentum for good penetration.

Without getting over-technical, for any bow with a draw weight of 60lbs. or less, we recommend an arrow build with an overall higher total arrow weight in combination with increased front of center weight topped off with a compact, heavy-duty, fixed-blade broadhead. This can usually be achieved by simply adding a heavier insert/outsert and/or a heavier broadhead to your existing arrow with some minor tuning adjustments.

For those bowhunters shooting bows with 60lbs. of draw weight or more, the arrow you are currently shooting for deer or elk will likely be fine as long as your arrows are tuned and flying true from your current set-up. A well-placed arrow shot from a well-tuned bow with a bow & arrow combination capable of creating enough momentum for effective penetration is by far, the more important than arrow speed alone.

Heavier draw weights will compensate for some momentum lost with lighter arrows, but we still recommend shooting a heavier arrow with a strong, fixed-blade broadhead regardless of the draw weight. Our feeling is that you can never have too much penetration. Our hunters are welcome to hunt with expandable broadheads and many successfully do. However, in our experience of guiding bowhunters to hundreds upon hundreds of animals over the years with archery equipment has shown that time and again, fixed-blade broadheads are more reliable and outperform expandables in every critical aspect.

Here are just a few examples of many different 2-blade, fixed broadhead styles that have proven to work very well for our African bowhunters.

Below are a few examples of 3-blade designs also work extremely well. You can see how they all share the same compact, heavy-duty characteristics.

For hunters who opt to use expandable broadheads, we strongly recommend a style that is similar to the one shown at the bottom. Make sure it is constructed from 100% stainless steel in both blades & ferrule with blades of at least .035 thickness. It is also vitally important to select a rear-deploying expandable rather than an over-the top deploying design.

FAQ #2: Do I need to be an experienced bowhunter to hunt in Africa?

Answer #2:
No. Many of the bowhunters who we host each season take their very first big game animals with us in Africa for the first time. In fact, we believe Africa is the best place to gain that experience because it is one of the very few hunting destinations on Earth where you will encounter so many different species of game in such quantity.

We often hear it said by our guests that they encountered more game animals within bow range during their 7-day safari in Africa than they otherwise would have in a lifetime of hunting at home.

All we require of new or inexperienced bowhunters is to bring the proper equipment capable of doing the job, and being proficient enough with that equipment to shoot sub-4” groups out to 30 yards. Africa will provide the rest!

Two young hunters proudly posing with their first ever African trophy taken with a crossbow!

FAQ #3: Where and how will we hunt?

Answer #3:
We utilize a wide array of different hunting set-ups, strategies, and tactics to maximize opportunities for our hunters. We have thousands of acres of land strictly designated for bowhunting only. On these exclusive properties, we have scores of permanent hides that can include dug-out hides, elevated hides, latch-on tree stands, pop-up ground blinds, and brush blinds all placed in precise locations with the wind, sun, and normal travel corridors in mind. And, when conditions dictate success, we also love to spot & stalk.

Most first-time African hunters come to Africa with a "wish list" of species in mind and a finite amount of time to hunt. It is for this reason alone that for those hunters, we recommend spending the majority of their time hunting from the hides which will exponentially offer the most shot opportunities at more different species.

It is not uncommon for a hunter to see a dozen different species and up to 50 or more animals during a 4-hour session in a hide. When the conditions are right, animals of all kinds will take their respective turns visiting the water holes and mineral licks. It can be an adrenalin filled experience as well as an exhausting exercise in patience waiting for the right animals to come in and present a broadside shot. Those hunters who think hunting from hides is easy have never spent much time in a hide in Africa!

FAQ #4: Can we spot and stalk exclusively?

Answer #4:
As mentioned above, we love to spot & stalk and we are always happy to accommodate those requests. However, it is important for the hunter to understand and acknowledge the added challenges and commitment in time necessary to create shot opportunities when stalking. Success stalking in Africa, like anywhere else, is dependent on many factors including the wind, weather, time of year, and the skill and experience of the hunters themselves. Provided that the hunter is up to the challenge and committed to putting in the time, our PHs will go above and beyond to get you in position for successful stalks.

FAQ #5: How far will my shots be?

Answer #5:
When setting up our hides, we take great care in placing the hides in locations that will facilitate an ethical, high percentage shot opportunity. In most instances, that shot will be 25 yards or less. We also recommend that our hunters practice hunting from inside a blind if they have never done so before coming to Africa. Shooting through a narrow (4-6") shooting window from a dark hide can be challenging to a hunter who is not used to those conditions. We encourage practicing inside the blind from both standing and sitting positions.

When spot & stalking, the PH will make every effort to get you as close as possible for a shot. However, the ultimate determining factor in shot distance when spot & stalking is the comfort level and confidence of the hunter taking the shot. Opportunities can be anywhere from inside 20 yards to out to 50 yards and beyond, and spot & stalk hunters should be proficient shooting out to those distances.

This is a prime example of one of our dugout hides that is commonly used throughout our bowhunting properties. The "termite mound" style not only provides natural stealth, but it allows the hunter to be at or below eye level with the game which is advantageous for shot placement. These type of hides also create the best advantage in concealing scent and noise. They are dark inside and very quiet.
hide pic 2.jpg

FAQ #6: What can I expect on a typical hunting day?

Answer #6:
Under most circumstances, we hunt all day with the day divided into a morning and afternoon session. During the dry season months when hunting from the hides is most productive, many African plainsgame animals actually prefer to move later in the mornings and throughout the warmer parts of the day in search of food and water.

You can expect to make your way to your hides just after sunrise. You will hunt until noon unless an animal is taken. Then after a midday break, it's back to the bush for the afternoon session usually from 2pm until dark.

As mentioned earlier, it is common to see several different species and scores of animals during a typical half day session. It is also common to have more than one shot opportunity in a day depending on what is on the hunter’s wish list. When the shot is taken, your PH will most often be able to judge your shot through the binos or capture it on video. Assuming the shot placement and penetration looks good, the PH will likely begin to track the animal shortly after a brief time allowed for the animal to expire. The PHs want to ensure the animal is recovered in plenty of time for great photos and then a quick trip back to the skinning shed to get the animals in the salt as soon as possible to facilitate excellent trophy care.

If an animal is hit marginally, your PH will likely call in the trackers for assistance. Africa boasts some of the most highly skilled trackers in the world and Limcroma is lucky to have some of the very best. If your animal is dead, they will find it. If it is not, every effort will be made to put you in position for a follow-up shot. The decision of when and how long to track should be trusted to the experience of your PH and the trackers.

Here are a few photos taken from inside the hides that provide a good reference for the hunter of the view they will have from the inside. You can get a good idea of the darkness as well as the shooting window.
cape buff hide pic 3.JPG

waterbuck hide pic.JPG

cape buff hide pic.JPG

eland hide pic.JPG


FAQ #7: Do I need a spare bow and what other gear should I pack for my bowhunt?

Answer #7:
Some hunters opt to bring a back-up bow although in most cases, bringing a portable bow press and a spare bow string & cable is the most practical preparation. We also recommend bringing a small variety of spare parts including a spare rest launcher, peep sight, and a small array of spare screws & bolts that might be needed to replace any lost from your bow or accessories.

In general, most hunters bring 12-18 arrows along with spare broadheads, replacement blades, field points, and a couple of judo/small game heads in case they opt to shoot a couple of guineas or a varmint or two.

Considerations for your clothing:

Camo clothing is fine but, the darker the clothing the better when hunting from the hides. Clothing made from stiff and noisy fabric is not a good idea. Fleece material is the best choice for bowhunters. It's also a good idea to put a piece of felt on your arrow rest launcher. You need to be able to draw your bow as quietly as possible. "Biscuit style" rests are not the best choice as they sound like a violin bow being pulled across the string when drawing your bow.

Other recommended equipment for your day pack should include:

Range finder with angle compensation capability

Spare release

Quality binos with body harness (if stalking)

Camo or dark colored face cover and gloves

Multi-tool, Allen wrenches, and a folding pocket knife

Head lamp or compact flashlight

Hand wipes, hand sanitizer, and some spare TP or personal wipes

Tactical/military style knee pads (for spot & stalk)

FAQ #8: Do I need to be in good shape to bowhunt in Africa?

Answer #8:
We are well accustomed to accommodating hunters with any level of physical fitness or those with physical limitations. Hunting from the hides requires minimal physical ability. More often than not, the truck will be able to pull right up to the hide for pick up and drop off. We can even accommodate guests in wheelchairs in many of our hides.

Conversely, spot & stalking requires the hunter to be in reasonably good physical condition. Stalking may require the ability to hike several miles a day through thick bush in often warm, dry conditions toting both a backpack and a bow. The hunter should also expect the necessity to crawl short distances in many circumstances.

FAQ #9: When is the best time to plan my African bowhunt?

Answer #9:
We encourage our bowhunters to try and plan their safaris during the dry season months from mid-May to mid-October with the peak of the dry season occurring from June to August. We also recommend planning to hunt around the dates of the dark moon if possible. Hunting a big moon is certainly not a deal-breaker for success, but the darker moon phase is always advantageous for better daytime animal movement.

With that said, there is good bowhunting to be had throughout the season. In fact, for the best chances of spot & stalk success, we recommend the early season from March to mid-May when the grasses are still high and the bush is still thick and green providing the best stalking cover. Don't hesitate to get in touch with us to help in selecting the best time for you to plan your bowhunt with regard to your personal safari goals and desires.

FAQ #10: Is it difficult to travel to Africa with a bow?

Answer #10:
Traveling to Africa with a bow is relatively an easy process and no more difficult than traveling with any other common sports equipment such as a snowboard or a golf bag. A bow is not considered a weapon but rather sports equipment by most airlines. The only special consideration is to pack your bow in a sturdy travel case with locking capability that will stand up to the abuse that the baggage handlers will surely dish out.

Upon arrival in Africa, your bow will likely come out at the special/oversized baggage office in the airport and can be picked up like any other bag. There are no permits or inspections necessary to bring your bow into South Africa. Upon arrival back into the U.S.A. it is likely your bow case will go to the U.S. Customs office at the first port of entry for inspection and decontamination. This is a fairly painless process that usually only requires a short wait in line depending on how many other hunter's with cases are on your flight.

SKB, Flambeau, Plano and Pelican are some of the recommended manufacturers who make the strongest bow cases for travel.

Although it is not a frequently asked question, we also believe it is essential to cover the importance of studying shot placement on African game. Most African plainsgame animals are different from North American game in that their vital organs are usually located much farther forward in the rib cage compared to North American game. As an example of this, a mid-body shot perfectly placed on a whitetail deer resulting in a lung shot would likely miss the vital organs altogether on an African plainsgame animal. Shot placement on African game is often directly above the front leg, mid-body, which is at or in front of the shoulder crease which will appear much more forward than most American hunters are accustomed to aiming.

Studying the anatomy of these African animals and practicing these shot placements will allow you to be much more efficient and confident when taking the shot. It will also be the key difference maker between short, quick recoveries versus long tracking jobs. As well all know as bowhunters, there is no worse feeling than taking the shot at the animal of your dreams only to make a less than perfect shot resulting in a long recovery at best, or lost animal at worst. There are some good shot placement guides available on the internet with the ones offered on being one of the best.

Obviously, we cannot cover every question and concern in one post, but we believe the information provided addresses the most commonly asked about and most important considerations of bowhunters coming to Africa. Please feel free to contact any one of our Limcroma team members anytime with more questions or concerns. Even if your first or next African bowhunt is with another African outfitter, we are always more than happy to answer your questions and help you prepare. Our ultimate goal is always to promote African bowhunting and increase your chances of success no matter where you hunt in Africa!

We wish everyone tight groups, lots of pass-thru's, and short blood trails!

The Limcroma Safaris Team


AH senior member
Aug 2, 2011
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South Africa, Botswana
Excellent info @Limcroma Safaris!

I think we asked all of those questions and dozens more when we were in the planning stages of our safari with you. ;)

All of our concerns were addressed, and we felt extremely well prepared for our hunt. We were very impressed with the small details that make a difference for bowhunters. We were pleasantly surprised to find a 3-D style practice range with broadhead targets, the hides equipped with bow hangers, adjustable shooting windows, and comfortable, silent chairs. The PH buring dung was another cool scent trick we learned when the wind was swirling. Worked like a charm!

I also never imagined I would be hunting from a latch-on tree stand in Africa, but I loved it! Taking my monster warthog from that stand down by the river was the highlight of my hunt! Awesome experience all around!
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BSO Dave

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Nov 29, 2015
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Great article and excellent advice @Limcroma Safaris !

This is not only great information for African hunters, but for any traveling bow hunters.

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