NAMIBIA: Martin Pieters Safaris - A Troubling Experience

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by chrisd, Jan 16, 2017.

  1. chrisd

    chrisd AH Member

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    I will post the details of our Caprivi trip in the Hunting Report forum later this week. But given it's 'booking time', it may be helpful for those looking to arrange a hunt with Martin to get some information on my brother and my experience BEFORE you send deposits.

    'Surreal' doesn't fully explain the magnitude of the mis-management of this hunt.

    Minimally, I may be able to provide some process tips that may be helpful and mitigate any downside risks (from one who made mistakes I will NOT make again).

    Please PM me if you'd like direct and honest feedback.

    Best,

    Chris
     

  2. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    I would like some direct honest feedback right here that supports that thread title.
    Thanks!
     

  3. AfricaHunting.com

    AfricaHunting.com AH ENABLER FOUNDER AH Ambassador

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    Hi Chris, As @BRICKBURN asked please do post the details of your experience right here in this thread. Thanks.
     
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  4. chrisd

    chrisd AH Member

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    I have more detail for those who are contemplating a hunt. At some point, things like this must be shared.

    Summary:
    • We paid for a 2 (Client) x 2 (PH), 14 day trophy bull elephant hunt in Mayuni and Kwando Conservancies in the Caprivi.
    • We received a 2 x 1, 14 day trophy bull elephant hunt in Bumunu Conservancy in the Caprivi.
    • We were unaware of the change until we were in Johannesburg the night before we left for the Caprivi!
    • The conservancy changes were not communicated to us even though they were known months before the hunt. . . event after I had asked.
    • Martin and his team did not apply for the proper Namibia work visa’s, so they were denied entry into Namibia. So, they did not participate in the hunt as was intended to and we no longer had 2 PHs for the hunt. A difficult situation for a 14 day trophy elephant hunt.
    • Martin had no direct experience with the conservancy, camp, trophy expectations, or professional hunters and refused to refund our fees after the hunt began to fall apart.
    • We were introduced to our "booking agent" when we arrived in Katima. We had never met this man nor did we know we had a booking agent.
    Contact if you would like the detail.

    Best,

    Chris
     
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  5. Therack

    Therack AH Enthusiast

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    Did you harvest elephants? If so, what size?
     

  6. chrisd

    chrisd AH Member

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    I did not. My brother took a bull in the mid to upper 40's during the 8th day. There was practically no chance to take 2 bulls from this conservancy in 14 days due to the drought and limited are in which we able to hunt (again due to the weather). Hence, the difficulty with a 2x2 14 day hunt in one conservancy.

    The Bumunu team offered - on their dime - to extend the hunt another week for me, but alas, I need to be back home for family and business.
     
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  7. Wheels

    Wheels AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    I am not disputing your facts, but you would gain a more sympathetic ear if you posted everything all at once and let the reader decide or ask questions. Publishing things piecemeal makes it look like you have an axe to grind.

    A suggestion, now that you have opened up this can, get all the details out as soon as possible. Even details that might make you look bad.

    When did this hunt take place?
     
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  8. Mekaniks

    Mekaniks GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    You have posted what you feel is some of the negative issues. Is that all or is there more? What was good about your trip? Accomadations? Food? PH skills in the bush? Did you hunt any other animals?
     

  9. chrisd

    chrisd AH Member

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    I cannot get all of the text in one post, buts here's the fist part.

    Part I - Background and the Booking

    In February 2016, my brother and I met with Martin Pieters at the SCI conference in Las Vegas to discuss plans for the year. My brother had not taken a bull elephant and was interested in an exportable trophy and thus, we were assessing options from various outfitters in Namibia. Given the amount of hunting we had done with Martin and what we considered to be a ‘trusted’ relationship, we agreed to pursue a hunt with him.

    Martin said he had quota for 2 elephants in “areas with big bulls and an average in the low 60-pound range” and “a real chance at a much bigger bull”. I asked about which areas we would be hunting and he said the Kwando and Mayuni conservancies along the Linyati. We knew we were paying a bit of a premium, but the plan was to hunt with Mike’s Zimbabwe PH (Dalton Tink) with whom he had established a good rapport and Martin was to accompany me as I had not hunted with him directly. This would probably be my last exportable elephant hunt and a special one to share with my brother.

    The booked hunt was a 2 x 2, 14 day Trophy bull elephant hunt in Mayuni and Kwando Conservancies in the Caprivi. Martin and Dalton would PH for each of us. The Cost: The very high end of the trophy elephant rate in the Caprivi.

    Deposits were made.

    Some research indicated that Jamy Traut (Jamy Traut Safaris) operated these conservancies so I assumed (wrongly) that Martin had been in contact with Mr. Traut and all was in line. Given what we now understand, Martin had collaborated with his colleagues Wayne Grant (a PH in Zimbabwe, South Africa) and John Harris (Outfitter in Mozambique and South Africa) and arranged the quota with them, and not Jamy Traut directly.

    In March or April, the quota apparently became unavailable and in the background, Wayne Grant, John Harris, and presumably Martin, were searching for quota elsewhere in the Caprivi. We had no communication on this whatsoever. In April or May, John Harris contacted PH Vaughn Fulton with Camelthorn Safaris in the Bumunu Conservancy and negotiated for two exportable trophy bull quota.

    Again. we were unaware of this change. Moreover, I sent Martin an email confirming the conservancies and he responded via email on July 13th that we were still hunting the Kwandu and Mayuni conservancies. I asked Martin several times for pictures of the Kwandu and Mayuni camps and recent trophies but received only pictures of elephant from his areas in Zimbabwe. Given what we know now, that’s not entirely surprising. Flights were booked, final deposits made, and we began arranging firearm permits and invitation letters.

    At this point, I received an invitation letter from Felix M with Camelthorn Safaris for the Bumunu conservancy and, being a bit perplexed, I questioned Martin via WhatsApp as follows:

    9/22/16, 8:48:05 AM: Chris Drazan: So, the invitation letter says Bumunu conservancy not Mayuni or Kwandu? Is that a change or just for the paperwork?

    9/22/16, 8:49:10 AM: Martin Pieters: Just paperwork

    9/22/16, 9:00:20 AM: Martin Pieters: They have given me an option as it is extremely dry right now and there is more movement Bumunu side.​

    As we found out later, he had NO access to Mayuni and Kwandu and he was (or should have been) completely aware of this. This change had nothing to do with water as both the Chobe and Linyante were dry. Again, these changes in the background were never communicated to us.
     
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  10. chrisd

    chrisd AH Member

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    Part 2 - The Hunt

    On October 19, we began the long journey to the Caprivi. Upon landing in Johannesburg, I received a text message from Martin saying he, the other PH, and photographers had been detained at the Namibia border and would not be permitted entry on the “suspicion that they were conducting hunts in Namibia”. He was claiming to be accompanying a hunt, far different than operating or conducting a hunt which is what we had paid Martin to do. Martin had not applied for the appropriate visa’s nor arranged with Camelthorn to be on site and providing PH services.

    We were now at the Afton Guest House in Johannesburg, and had no idea on how this expensive Caprivi elephant hunt would take place.

    I eventually connected with Martin that evening and he explained to me that he had arranged a PH (Vaughn Fulton), to assist us on our hunt. We had never met or spoken to Vaughn before this point but we were expecting -- and had paid for -- a 2 x 2 hunt on two conservancies and not a 2 x 1 hunt on one conservancy!

    I called Vaughn to understand from him what was being said. He informed me that the hunting is going to be “tough” given the drought situation and that “trophy expectations should be in the 40-pound range”. Vaughn had no information with respect to the other conservancies. Martin had never met Vaughn nor Felix Marnewecke (Bumunu) conservancy operator), had never been to the conservancy or camp, and had no understanding of the camp capacity (there would have been no room for an additional 5 people accompanying Martin). During the first evening at camp, we were told that Martin had been informed in August that the hunting could be less than productive and in fact, they had told one of their elephant hunting clients to postpone their hunt until next year given the drought conditions, and that Martin should have let us know. Felix could have adjusted the plan accordingly. Martin never informed us of this.

    Given this new information, I then sent Martin a text requesting that we cancel the hunt and that he repay our deposits. His response was “Moneys have been paid to Camelthorn safaris, Chris”. No refunds.

    Obviously, I wasn’t getting the entire story from Martin, so I then pressed the issue on where we were to hunt since at this point, we only have one PH and no additional logistical support to the multiple conservancies.

    Text Messages - Wednesday, October 19th 10:07 CST

    Chris Drazan: So, do we have access to the other concessions (around Bwabwata) or not? That is what we bought, and I'd like that option if need be. You mentioned "we had access to all three".

    Martin Pieters: I am talking to Vaughn now

    Chris Drazan: Do I have quota in Mayuni and Kwando or not?

    Martin Pieters: Right now no, as far as I am aware.

    To say we were shocked and upset, would be an understatement.
     
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  11. chrisd

    chrisd AH Member

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    Part 3 - The Conclusion

    The next morning, we traveled to the Caprivi and meet Vaughn at the Katima airport. He introduced us to John Harris, who was already there. We assumed John was an additional PH hired to support the hunt and provided by Camelthorn and until this point, we had never heard of him.

    After getting to camp, I asked Vaughn if he and John had hunted together and how they knew each other. Vaughn, clearly confused at this point, says, “Chris, we didn't hire him, he’s your agent. Didn't someone tell you this?”

    Our “agent”?! I didn't know we had an “agent” other than Martin. All monies had been paid to Martin. At the time, we had no idea that it was John Harris and Wayne Grant who had booked the hunt, and not Martin. We asked John to leave camp and return to South Africa as he had no practical role in the hunt nor did we have room in the Land Cruiser.

    Our hunting began, and as Vaughn had indicted, it was tough going. Elephant, at this point, were moving in only one section of the conservancy around the Chobe and the Botswana border. On the 8th day, Mike took a bull in the upper 40-pound range. To this point, this was the only ‘shootable’ bull we had seen and would prove to be the last mature bull we saw, and therefore I was unable to connect. This is, after all, hunting and there are no guarantees. Except, of course, that your outfitter should provide the hunt that you paid for.

    While the overall issues with the booking weighed on the hunt, Vaughn, Felix, and the Bumunu team did a fantastic job. I would recommend a hunt with them if buffalo is the objective (we saw some fantastic bulls). The upside (if there is such a thing) of the drought was the atypical movement of game: we saw incredible numbers of zebra, buffalo, hyena, and several lions.
     
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  12. billc

    billc AH ENABLER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Well sad to say you have been taking for a ride and worse it was with someone trusted. So many things seem so wrong and misleading that I don't even no what to say. You are for sure owed a refund on some fees if everything you said is true and your 1x1 hunt went to a 2 x1 hunt and for that same very reason you trophy fee on the second elephant should be refunded also.

    Hope we will get some facts from the other side but not sure how anyone can make it this is anything on the hunter.
     

  13. 1tohuntafrica

    1tohuntafrica New Member

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    As Chris' brother and partner on this hunt, I would add that Martin clearly had done no due diligence after he off loaded responsibility for this hunt. He was more than willing to collect all the money while not telling us he had outsourced the hunt.

    In addition, he had negotiated with Camelthorn to reduce their daily fees to him, and charged us over twice what he was paying Camelthorn. I would have accepted this in the normal course of business had he followed through on the hunt arrangements and participated as agreed. He did neither. Not only did he not show up because he tried to skirt Namibia law, but he did not pay Camelthorn the trophy fee on my Elephant even though he has received over twice the required amount from both my brother and I.

    I like my brother have hunted with Martins organization a few times before, all in Zimbabwe and before the economic meltdown in Zim. I guess a persons true character comes out in trying times...

    On a positive note, Felix at Camelthorn, knowing he was being cheated and dealing with two very upset hunters managed the situation with class and offered to extend my brothers time at no cost. Vaughn Fulton, who PH'd for us also managed the hunt well in very tough conditions. In the end I got a good elephant for that area, just not meeting expectations set and paid for.
     
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  14. Wheels

    Wheels AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    There are two sides to every story. The perceived truth generally falls somewhere in between.

    Having said that, if you have documentation that you were supposed to hunt in JT's areas and your hunt was rebooked without your knowledge, then I feel bad for you and I appreciate your giving the rest of us a heads up.

    It will be interesting to hear from MP.

    Trial by internet never seems good for the participants. However, it sure beats reality TV for the rest of us.
     

  15. Charles Rosamilia

    Charles Rosamilia AH Member

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    Martin Pieters, as a sponsor of this site, has an obligation to respond, in my humble opinion.
     
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  16. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    I'm sure he will when he's able.
     
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  17. Martin Pieters Safaris

    Martin Pieters Safaris SPONSOR Since 2015 AH Veteran

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    Folks,
    Many of you know me and some don't, there are bound to be some gripes along the line, some of which I know about, others not, unfortunately despite giving my best efforts as an operator, sometimes bad reports arise, some justifiable, others not.

    A lot of what Chris has said is true and we tried to resolve it immediately prior to, during and after the hunt.
    There are a lot of missing pieces in Chris's accusation of which I have documentation to prove.
    A couple of small facts.
    1. I was never going to PH then hunt, I was going to accompany the hunt, that I got denied entry into Namibia based on the immigration officials presumption that I was going to work was a nightmare, same occurred to Dalton and the 2 cameramen on the way into Namibia.
    2. After the hunt, Chris and I discussed some reimbursing, of which we agreed on a figure, but prior to me sending it, he decided a personal attack against me would be better.
    3. His brother Mike shot his elephant, and then refused to pay the trophy fee quoted, so I put him straight onto the outfitter to make payment to import his tusks ( my fee was higher perhaps that is one reason ).


    I would like to go into more detail, however the documents were handed over to my attorney after Chris decided to attack me publicly and at my booth without knowing ALL the details.
    I apologise to him as I did many times and had hoped we could have worked it out.
    Cheers
     

  18. 1tohuntafrica

    1tohuntafrica New Member

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    Its nice that Martin Pieters responded. It's more than he has communicated to me since the hunt.

    I find it interesting that he states he "put me straight onto the outfitter to make payment" when he had the agreement with Camelthorn ("the outfitter"), I paid Martin, and he has never communicated that to me.

    It is also a direct lie, that he was not going to PH the hunt. I have emails from he and Dalton making that very clear.

    Although he claims to have turned over all his docs to his lawyer, and is using that to avoid "going into more detail", he conveniently has chosen to share "small facts" which imply he tried to settle things amicably. He did not even have the courtesy to address any of my concerns. In fact, he has just taken the money and walked away stiffing me and Camelthorn.

    These are more than "gripes", and I'd have been happy to have an outfitter that gave his "best efforts", Martin chose not too.
     

  19. CAustin

    CAustin AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

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    A lot here troubles me not the least of which is the response offered here by the accused outfitter. It's not convincing at this point. MP says he turned over all documents to his lawyers......really? Is he being sued or is he bringing some action against the hunters? I should think much of what could exonerate MP is in electronic form and could be offered here.

    How could two hunters travel half way around the world thinking that their PH would be an individual and that person say it was never the case?
    At the very least that is very very poor communication of the facts to the customer.

    Was the hunt area agreed upon in advance? Yes or no? Was the hunt area moved and the customer given ample notice of that fact? Yes or no?

    Did the hunter/customer get what he paid for? Yes or no?

    If MP agreed to refund some monies previous to a show altercation did such altercation change the underlying reason for a refund in the first place! Yes or no!?

    So far what I hear is two customers bought two BMW x5 s. One got a 3series sedan and the other got to ride along!!
     
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  20. CAustin

    CAustin AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

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    I hunted an elephant in 2015 which is well documented here on AH. I was told in advance the location of the hunt and who would be first and second PH.
    I was furnished pictures of the camp and given a map marking the area where the hunt would take place.

    Three months before the hunt my outfitter needed to move the hunt for very good reasons. He called me and asked if this was acceptable to me. It was and the show went on. Without being asked my outfitter informed me of a change also in the second PH to which I was ok. Without being asked he informed me with pictures of the new camp and info on the new second PH.
    When I arrived in Africa there were no surprises or changes to the conditions of the hunt......in location.......professional services or accommodations. The hunt took place and I got more than what I paid for.

    What I am attempting to do here is illustrate how these things should be done. Communicate all the facts in a timely fashion.
    Plan for and execute the agreed upon hunt and deliver what has been clearly communicated.

    You don't wait until hunters have traveled half way around the world to tell them that things have changed to the degree that this hunt was changed!!!
    Poor communication always creates ill will and as another member noted invites a trial by internet.
    I do hope that all parties can resolve the issues at hand quickly and reasonably. We have had a couple of these situations over the last year come up and the parties were in fact able to come to terms. Dialogue is how that is done and if lawyers can be kept out of it the better for both parties.
     

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