Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by BRICKBURN, Aug 23, 2011.
Just flat out cool. Love the write up and photos.
Glad you are enjoying it.
So, do you know what a "Geiser" is?
Anyone from North America can understand my confusion when I hear " The Geezer is not working!"
: a queer, odd, or eccentric person —used especially of elderly men
Were the students abusing the new Instructor already? As most were students taking this class as part of their University training. So they were of an age where you could expect that. At least at home that would be the case.
Apparently I had run into my first language/cultural difference.
I learned very quickly what a non functional Geiser was when I jumped into the shower.
The hot water was provided by On-demand or Tankless water heaters.
So imagine a large group of people (14) attempting to draw on well water all at the same time. (I will not go into all the technical reasons for Geiser failure here.)
This is the result.
An ALS ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE.
There is NO HEAT in the rooms. By they way, did you know it is winter in South Africa!
Central heating, what the hell is that?
I have plenty of cold weather gear and I am about to use it. I thought it would be for the mountains where I expect it to be cold.
Long Fleece uppers and lowers and wool socks and a toque are on every night.
Think camping inside a concrete tent without
Do you want to know why every person in a small South African town is out on the front porch in the sun in the morning. They are trying to get warm. Learn from the animals.
You have no desire to "lay in" as my Swazi buddy says. When it is time to get up you want to get up and get moving.
Since I am a shower in the morning kind of guy, I risk the Geiser surprise.
A minute of hotter water and then boom. You learn quickly to have short quick showers.
You get up and true to South African culture, there is no breakfast. It is Rusks and Coffee and then into the Classroom right off the bat.
I chose my plain wooden chair right under the Leopard
This is the location I sat in one place in Africa for more hours than I can count, absorbing all sorts of new information.
I hope that does not sound like whinging. It is really just the experience I had and I would not trade it for anything.
You have to know that this particular course was to be presented in English not Afrikaans. All of my classmates, save one, were fluent in English. The young man who was not proficient in speaking the English language must have been able to comprehend, otherwise he would have been done for at the outset.
This language/cultural issue was going to be important throughout this course. As your instructor is quadrilingual and slips in and out of the languages at will.
David would slide into Afrikaans when some did not understand the concept in English. It was interesting to be able to grasp the occasional word and get the gist of what was being said. (even some of the jokes/humour)
A perfect demonstration of slipping in and out of the language with the animals names during the tracking session. Afrikaans: Rooikat, Vlakvark, Ratel, Volustrus, etc etc etc. Never mind pronunciation.
My fellow students got many good laughs at my attempts at speaking Afrikaans. Literally, they almost fell on the ground laughing. Apparently there are a few curse words that are very close to "good morning" in Afrikaans. Oops.
Onward and upward. This is a portion of the synopsis of the course:
"Duration - The course is ten days long.
Format of course - As far as possible the mornings are used for theory and the afternoons for practical training. Day ten is reserved for writing the theory exams and Practical assessments.
Preparation - Special attention should be paid to the Safari Club International (SCI) and Rowland Ward (RW) minimum trophy sizes, The Limpopo Environmental Act (Summary of appropriate sections) will also be forwarded to you for study prior to the course."
I did not get any materials prior to my arrival. Which it turned out was going to make this very interesting for me.
SCI makes life fun by creating THREE scores for each animal you can hunt; Gold, Silver & Bronze. If I would have been thinking I would have determined the percentages for each level and just done the math from one set of scores. Hind sight is always 20/20. I had obviously studied the minimums for the species on my list and had those memorized at this point. Those numbers however, were just mystical notions without having the ability to judge the trophies properly.
Rowland Ward, thankfully just has one score for each animal, but you still have to memorize the entire list. After learning that a Rowland Ward record book animal was always going to make SCI Gold, it made it much easier to converse with Outfitters/PH's about my expectations. "I am looking for Rowland trophies."
I have never entered an animal in a record book, but I use the knowledge base inherent in these minimums to tell me how to be selective in my Conservation Hunting.
However, I did manage to obtain some books on the relevant subject matter prior to my arrival and did some light reading.
Field Guide to Mammals of Southern Africa - Chris and Tilde Stuart.
A photographic guide to Tracks and Tracking in S.Africa - Liebenberg
Newman's Birds of South Africa - Sappi
Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa (Maclean)
Insectlopedia - Holm
How to identify trees in SA - van Wyk
ROWLAND WARD’S SPORTMANS HANDBOOK .Rowland Ward
THE BEHAVIOR GUIDE TO AFRICAN MAMMALS by Richard Estes.
Hunting Africa a Practical Guide by Swan, Botes & Smit
Mammals of South Africa (Burger CilIiers).
Roberts Birds of Southern Africa (Maclean).
Field Guide to Snakes and other Reptiles (Bill Branch).
A Field Guide to the Trees of Southern Africa. (P van Wyk)
A Field Guide to the Animal Tracks of South Africa (L Liebenberg).
The Ultimate Field Guide for Survival in the African Bushveld by-- By Mitch Mitchell
Don't Die in the Bundu -- by D.H. Grainger
Behaviour Guide Series attached as a pdf should give you some idea of just how much you could make your head hurt if your were into studying. It is a 47 page Bibliography for some other courses I found. An excellent resource.
These Universities have various scholarly offerings on wildlife and the research thereof.
University of CapeTown
The first day started with my shower and then reading at 06:00 until Rusks and Coffee were taken in the dining area and then into the classroom at 07:30
Nature Conservation law relevant to hunting is first up.
In writing this I have now realized why the instructor was a little perturbed with the class when were a little slow at grasping the law. We were supposed to have studied this stuff before arrival.
I am having to translate cultural differences at the same time as trying to comprehend the law. It was frustrating and rewarding at the same time.
Practical scenarios were presented to us for us to determine if what was going on was actually legal. The obvious "tricks" in the scenarios so you were not actually just learning to regurgitate law by memory. You had to apply knowledge to situations. When David got bored he made each student create two scenarios and present them to the class with answers. A great way to learn.
Lunch/Brunch then into trophy judging theory.
This is not home. I can assess the trophies in Canada with little effort and a cursory glance.
There are so many more animals here and plenty of the females have horns that can be as large as males. No antlers here.
How do you distinguish between a Male and female Oryx at 400 yards? How's about Blesbok? etc etc etc.
From 100 yards with Binoculars and you have 30 seconds, including the side view and the front. The goal is to be +/- 1 inch. No body, no ears, no face and with bush in the back ground.
You were provided one reference: Davids shoulder point to shoulder point is 20 inches.
More laws and more reading, more memorizing scores.
Dinner as a group and socializing after dinner and then more reading, more memorization until 22:00.
It was a FULL day.
Wake up to rumours about gasoline shortages and a truck drivers strike that will cripple the Universe and ensure that we have to stay in Vaalwater until our untimely end. Ok, that's an exaggeration.
There was some anxiety about getting home without fuel.
This changed the days events and was my first introduction into the famous "we must make a plan" style of rolling with the punches that is required here in Africa.
After the mornings introduction of knowledge it would be time for a trip in Vaalwater to the petrol station to get everyone filled up.
Typical of every kid of this age that encounters me; A staring contest.
I paid for his Chocolate bar and headed on my way.
Not to waste fuel it would also be time to head to @Bulls Eye Taxidermy
(Who now just happens to be a Sponsor of AH)
The trip to the shop
Giraffes and Power poles.
Has to ask what the disks were about on the fence. How to stop critters from hitting a high fence.
The storage shed for the salted hides
The rotting vats. My name, not Craigs.
Horns and skulls drying
Keeping the horns with the skulls.
Stretching the hides to dry them
Amazing clip system.
The salt shed.
A few of the finished items that caught my attention for some reason. You just know big stuff when you see it.
18 inch Bushbuck
31 inch Nyala
53 inch Sable
I used several of the mount ideas from Bulls Eye to determine my own mounts. If I were hunting in Limpopo I would not hesitate to use Bulls Eye to do the work.
I have been to plenty of taxidermists shops over the years. For some of my classmates this was a first.
It was still a learning experience to see how things were done in Africa. What a operation.
We headed back to campus and did another round of Trophy Estimating.
Then more reading, studying, memorizing, Dinner, more reading, studying, memorizing. 22:00 to sleep.
Here is your first Trophy Estimating Test. You get 30 seconds on each trophy. 1 inch +/-.
The only clue we got for comparison was the width of the models Shoulder points was 20 inches.
Don't worry, the hunter that is relying on you only came half way around the world and is spending chump change on his once in a lifetime hunting trip. (Why would you want to be a PH again?)
You'll have to look up your own material to properly estimate these trophies.
Ok, I'll help a little.
PM ME YOUR ESTIMATES and I'll let you know your results.
#1 - 66.5 inches. Gnu - Meets Rowland
#2 14.5 inches Rooibok - Not Rowland
I'll make it easy and we will just do ROWLAND WARD: Picture Set 6
I've heard the trophy judging part is brutal. I must admit it would be hard to get down to .1 inch in 30 seconds. I'm better at saying shoot or pass!
Really enjoying this, Wayne !
For shits and giggles I will give it a go. PM sent
"Bang" or "No" is tough if you have never studied too.
But + or - an inch was my goal.
Funny, at the end of all the practice sessions and you really concentrate you do get pretty good at it.
Marius asked me to guess how big the Kudu trophy was that hangs in Mpunzi Lodge.
As I recall I was within an inch. It is a dandy EC Kudu.
Good to know.
Thanks for playing. It is just for fun.
You were over generous on the majority.
PM sent. You can see just how tough it is.
Incredible, Thank You
Glad you are enjoying the tale.
I am a fisherman.
You'll fit right in. When they take the trophy pictures make sure you are back at least three feet.
Trophy measuring was on the list for the next tasks to learn.
After the Theory we were set up in pairs to measure various plains game and dangerous game trophies.
As the final portion of this learning exercise each individual was tasked with doing some instruction in the form of a presentation to the class on which ever trophy was handed to you. Public speaking and knowledge testing at the same time.
Both SCI and Rowland were required.
The portion of the afternoon was the actual measuring test. Various new trophies placed around the Campus class room and Boma for you to measure in teams. Each team member switching from recording to measuring as you progressed.
As an official measurer at home this was not a difficult task for me to incorporate the new information on species and procedures.
I also realized that most of the classmates would have been raised using the metric system. So what the hell is an inch anyway?
Being old enough to have been educated in both systems was an apparent advantage for me.
More trophy judging practice this afternoon as well. As a class and as we desired on our own time.
Onward to tracking critters. These critters were all brand new to me.
Shapes, sizes, variety. geography here is zero help on ranches. Anything can live there, unlike at home where you know there are no Antelope or Sage Grouse in the mountains and with two deer to choose from you have a pretty good idea what is going on.
The other thing here is the tracks are in dirt of mud. There is no snow. It is just different enough to make this a challenge.
Pictures on a board in a classroom do not do justice to what is actually going on.
I got to hear about Kudu tracks "registering". What the heel is registering.
This means that the Kudu steps in its own tracks. Thus, you get a double. I'll wait to see this in the field.
As everyone who has ever hit the ground behind a skilled tracker in Africa you know that your skills are typically a faded shadow in comparison to the demonstration that is occurring before you.
This process is really about spoor ID. The rest is a slowly acquired skill developed through ongoing and repeated practice in the field.
In order to have the ability to take trophy pictures you needed a trophy.
This turned into a field trip to a nearby farm to collect a trophy.
Off roaming around in two Bakkies.
We were in search of the illusive Impala of Blesbok. The first herd of Blesbok managed to get spooked by some guy jumping out of the truck and taking pictures. I don't know the guy, but he almost got deported.
The rocky terrain was a new one for learning about rolling your ankle if you were not careful.
We saw plenty of game through the bush.
At one point we went down by the river and I got a lesson in how deeply you can be stuck in the sand. Extraction is about the same process as done at home.
The shooter was designated by the instructor and finally a shot was taken. At first it appeared to be a simple recovery and most of us waited at the Bakkie. Not the case.
Finding a dead animal was not the issue, as we had all seen it drop. You will note the problem with this trophy.
We started fanning out attempting to find a blood trail of the Ram that was the intended target.
Nothing else was found by anyone. Great tracking test for everyone.
A look back at the shooting position from where the Impala fell and you can guess what happened. Another clue was the size of the entrance wound on the Ewe.
Loaded up and back to Campus.
"Making another plan" The elusive Steenpala.
I was not allowed to use my own camera . (Technical issues about transferring files) Using the instructors camera was a bust for me. No diopter adjustment, etc etc etc.
My images turned out to be the stuff of legend. "NEVER DO THIS". I got to laugh a lot through the critique process of my trophy shots.
Everyone had to so there own trophy set up and could not reuse a photo sight of another students. It was great fun to watch and learn.
I "Photoshopped" the horns on for some of my classmates.
Laws, repeatedly. Trophy Judging repeatedly. Memorizing, etc etc.
Next day(s) Trees and green stuff. My fellow students were experts as many were taking this course as part of their degrees. They were constantly generous with their time in my tutoring. They took me on walks on their own time and instructed me about the little tricks and other tips to be able to ID green stuff.
Fruit, leaves, stems, bark, roots, etc.
It was a huge help and a lot of fun for them to be the instructor.
I got to do some payback on the next section. Trophy preparation.
Separate names with a comma.