SOUTH AFRICA: Huntershill 2019 From Bad To Worse!!!

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by Dcarr, May 25, 2019.

  1. Dcarr

    Dcarr AH Senior Member

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    (READ THE WHOLE THREAD BEFORE YOU REACH ANY CONCLUSIONS. AfricaHunting.com Moderator @AfricaHunting.com)

    I have been reluctant to write this report altho ask to by several. I made a post on a Facebook Africa hunting site when setting at the airport when I left Huntershill on April 27th. I mentioned no names but after several on the thread requested that I really needed to, I did so. A lot of people thanked me, some messaged me and told me privately that they experienced the same thing but as I am here, reluctant to air it because of the criticism I recieved. Some commented on the thread and said they had hunted there and was very happy with their safari. I can understand this and was happy that everyone didn't have the same experience as I did. Then there was the ones that questioned my credibility and honesty and just basically called me a liar. Later it was brought out that most of these were reps and brokers for Huntershill or friends of theirs. The big difference was they didnt want this exposed and tried to discredit me because they were afraid of it hurting their sales. My only reason for posting it was to warn people so that other people didn't waste their hard earned money like I did and leave there very disappointed. So before anyone sees fit to reply to this and tell me what a great time they had, I understand that others have also and I'm very happy for the ones that have.

    I guess the easiest way to explain it is you ever eat at a place and have a really good meal and then talk to somebody that eat at the same place and it was a catastrophe. I think it would be similar to this except the people that told me they had a good hunt there, I didn't question there credibility or make assumptions or excuses for the main reason being, I wasn't there when they were or even understood the deal they had made, so how could I even begin to understand. But anyway here it goes.

    In October of 2018 I was in contact with the owner of Huntershill, Greg Harvey. I told him I was looking for specific animals and would like a quote on the price of the animals along with the day rates for myself and my wife as an observer. He sent me the quote which was basically about 20% off the pricelist and a $260 a day for daily rate fee. After a few emails back and forth he told me that they were going to be at the Dallas Safari Club convention in January. We had a booth rented for our hunting ranch so I told him I'd see them there which I did go by and talk to them. To be honest, I didn't get a good feeling meeting them there at the DSC so I didn't book with them there that weekend. I wish now I'd have listened to my gut feelings. I did however book with another place in the Eastern Cape and by chance had the opportunity to hunt at Huntershill also.

    Forward on to April 23rd, the day we arrived.
    We arrived at Huntershill a little after noon. We were taken to the office and was assigned a room. The dining room and bar is in the same building so my PH ordered us lunch and told us he would take our bags on to our chalet which he did. After lunch he took us up and showed us to the door of our chalet where we found our luggage right inside the door. We started to unpack some of our bags and was getting my hunting gear out for we was going looking around as soon as we became ready. But when walking towards our bed I noticed a cold of mud by the dresser the size of the palm of my hand on the floor. Found another by the bathroom door area. This was very strange to me because the other 2 outfitters we had used in Africa, the accommodations were spotless. I was in a hurry and didnt think much about it. I hurried and changed clothes. When I walked from the bed to the couch to put my shoes back on, I stepped on a black sticker or thorn. Sharp little devil and the first of many I would encounter in that room the next few days. They were everywhere in that chalet. We couldn't even get out of the shower or tub in the bathroom without stepping on them and we never wore our shoes in the bathroom that I was ever aware of. But anyway we hurried and walked back to the office for a tour of the place.

    We got into the PHs truck and off we went. Not getting far from the front gate my PH ask me if I was still interested in the animals I had inquired about and if so we would shoot my rifle and start hunting the next morning. He also informed me that if I was still interested in a bushbuck that about the only thing they could arrange was a hunt for a big breeder in a 30 acre pen. Should have been my first red flag but I dont know if I was in shock or just insulted but I knew I had traveled 9,000 grueling miles to shoot a pen animal. So I declined and told him I'd look at their pricelist and find an animal of same value to stay with the quote I had recieved from the owner. I also ask if I could change from a nyala to something else because I had taken a big trophy one from the place we had just come from. He said no problem. So we shot my rifle and went looking at animals. He showed us the lions, tigers, hyenas, etc, etc in their pens above the chalets. We also seen several other species of animals while we were out. Before dark we headed back in to freshen up before supper. When we came through the main entry gate we seen 3 white rhino grazing in a small open area a few hundred yards from the office. I was amazed and really amazed how calm and uncaring they were about our presence especially since one of the 3 was a calf. I had wanted to see a rhino from the time we made our first trip to Africa the year before. He told us it wasn't uncommon to see them around the office area and chalets. Little did I know these gentle giants were for hunting even though I knew they offered them on their pricesheet.

    We ate and turned in around 9 to get a good nights sleep anticipating the next mornings hunt. At 3 my wife and myself were awakened by the roaring of the lions that scared my wife. It kinda tickled me but after it going on and on and both of us getting up to use the bathroom and stepping on those sharp stickers it became kinda irritating. I finally realized it wasn't going to subside and got up and took a shower. My realization was confirmed when we finally walked down for breakfast around 7 when they finally quit. This evidently was a everyday ritual for the lions kinda like a rooster crowing at day break only they started every morning around 3 AM. So much for rest and relaxation. While being criticized on the other forum I mentioned earlier some people that arrived right after we left said that anyone should be elated and blessed to hear lions roar while staying in the middle of the bush, HAHA....even though they were in their zoo cages. I laugh everytime I think about this and what they said.

    After a quick breakfast we loaded in the PHs truck and drove about an hour and a half to a place to hunt barbary sheep or aoudad to us Americans. When we got to the mans place I thought it was odd that he met us at the gate of this nice high fenced ranch. Now I don't have a problem with hunting in a high fence because we own one ourselves, but I want the animals to be wild and at least have a place to escape and evade. But after a short meet and great with the owner we proceeded up the mountain. Not far from the top we stopped and walked out on a little open area where we could see about everything. The PHs decided they would send the trackers on up and around the top and let them come down a ways and try to possibly jump one up which they did. As we waited for the trackers to walk around the top before starting to make their drive back to us, I was informed that if we had no luck on the mountain the plan was to go down and shoot a big breeder ram out of the owners breeding pens behind his house and that we could see from where we were standing. I almost went in panic mode. I had told them the day before I wasn't interested in shooting a half tame animal out of a small pen. My wife walked over to me and asked if I was going to do that, which she already knew I wouldn't. But the thoughts came flooding into my mind trying to figure out where this was coming from. I had read reviews on here and other places that boasted of the big low fence hunting areas. The brochure from Huntershill boasted of ethical hunting, not pen shooting. No where had I ever seen that this was typical hunting there. I was told later in response to my other post that this was common practice there. Luckily they jumped a ram although quite a bit smaller than we talked about at the DSC and I had told them I was interested in. But hey it was outside that small breeding pen and it wasnt worth the risk of not taking it and throwing a fit about not wanting to hunt in a breeder pen so I took it.

    When we got back in we ate lunch where we were served spaghetti....in Africa. Good grief, I couldn't catch a break. What happened to the African cuisine we were promised and expected. I was served lasagna the year before when the outfitter I used had just had a place reopened to them for hunting after 4 years of nobody being permitted to hunt in there. They rented us these beautiful A-frames on the lake and contracted a lady to cook our supper and that's what she fixed. It was fine. I understood having to improvise but all the other meals we had there were authentic African food. Besides Huntershill had a chef on duty when this took place. Oh well.
    After lunch we went across the road looking for a bontebok that I had exchanged out for the bushbuck and a red lechwe in exchange for the nyala. They were all the same prices so I figured my original quote could still be honored from Huntershill and myself. I also had my PH contact the owner and inquire the cost of a roan and a golden wildebeest over the original animals I inquired about. But not long after we entered another high fence area we came across a bontebok and I took him. I didnt think much about it when I seen the eartag. It was my understanding that all bontes taken had to be DNA tested and I just figured it was a part of the identification that was required for the DNA. We have laws here that if we release any deer into the preserve from the breeder pens their ID eartag has to be left in. So with that I thought it was just a law or rule they had to go by.

    We hunted till almost dark and got after it again the next morning. I'd talk about more meals but wasn't anything that stood out and was mediocre at best. But we were making progress on my list of animals....until, we came across a Roan feeding along the edge of some sparce thorn trees. The PH said he was a sure enough trophy. The Roan wondered off day in the thorn trees and out of site. The PH told me we could put a spot and stalk on him. I was excited. That was the 1st roan I had ever seen. The size surprised me and he was a magnificent animal. We drove around and started our approach into the thorn trees. Wasn't but a minute and we seen him grazing along in front of us. We used the cover to our advantage to get close to him and at the right moment stepped out into a open shooting area. The Roan kinda blew and turned to trot about 50 yards further where he spun back around to look at us. Already having gotten on the sticks the PH told me to take him and I did. I think we all or most of us has had that feeling of great excitement and anticipation walking towards our downed quarry. To feel the horns and its pelt and to thank the animal for a great memory and supper at most outfitters. That excitement soon left and a sick feeling replaced it in the pit of my stomach when the PH cut a eartag from his ear. The other ear was ripped where that eartag had been pulled from it. In that instance it all came to me and I understood this was nothing short of a canned hunt. The animals I had shot weren't wild to the sense of really being scared when they seen us. Oh sure if we got too close they would move but not run for heavy cover because it had just dawned on me that there really wasn't that much in the 2 enclosures they had hunted me in. It was later verified by one of their reps on the other forum that they were hunting me in the breeding enclosures. I did not and still don't why they were. I never ask for it nor would I have agreed to it. Like I said, I dont mind hunting high fence but it has to be ethical.

    Luckily it was about lunch time so we went back to the lodge area. After a meal of whatever I told the PH I'd like to take the helicopter ride we had discussed. They were out taking other hunters trying to shoot a baboon out of it. We waited and sure enough they came back with one. My PH had told me if we paid and did the helicopter that there was a chance I might get to take a baboon. So they loaded a shotgun and put beside me in the seat. I was ready. After a short flight across the road and over the hippo pond we headed to the top of the mountain behind the lodge area. We made a pass around the top where we seen one baboon on the way up and then back down where we seen several baboons on the side of a mountain in a big opening. The pilot made no effort to try and pursue one of them for a shot. We got back down and after a quick fly over of the lion pens we sat back down. When we got out my wife ask me if that was an hour as we requested. I told her it couldn't have been 20 minutes at the most. . By this time it was getting late afternoon and I told my PH I'd had enough for that day.

    I didn't sleep well that night not being able to figure out how they had presented the animals I had taken and not figuring it out faster. About the time I got tired enough to sleep the lions started roaring so the thought of sleep left.

    That morning after breakfast I ask my PH where we were hunting today. He told me where we had been the past 2 days. I told him in that case I was only interested in hunting the mtn reedbuck and warthogs that we had seen were very wild or skiddish and would be a challenge to take either one. We hunted all morning until lunch without any luck, but as we all know, that's just hunting. After lunch we drove up on the mountain behind the lodge. He took us to see the bushman paintings on a bluff that was pretty cool. Actually and probably the highlight of the stay there. We returned back down where I told them to figure up my bill and I'd settle up with them before we left the next morning. We went into the bar to have a much needed drink. We sat there just a little bit before we witnessed another dog fight in the bar area. Seems that a big deal there for everyone to have a dog of some sort. Of a evening when everyone was coming in along with their dogs and we would see dogfights in the bar area nightly. Of course the dogs fighting was one thing but the screaming and hollering of the PHs trying to break them up was another. And being the office, dining area, and bar was all together all the dogs would congregate under the tables for all the meals. You'd be eating and feel a nudge or a soft growl at your feet only to glance down to see 1, 2, or maybe 6 dogs at your feet. I got where I hoped nobody dropped a morsel of food which would trigger another dog fight and could only pray our legs wouldn't be in the middle of it. We are dog lovers but not at the dining room table.
    After supper I went in to settle up on our bill. The 1st thing I saw was the charge for $260 for day fees...for me and another $150 a day for my wife. I didnt see where my deposit had been deducted, and 4 out of the 7 animals I took were at full price, not the 20% discount on all the animals I was quoted. I brought the charge for my wife up first and then the deposit. I was told that she had made a mistake and the owner said only charge $80 a day for my wife. So she knocked $280 off the $600 charge for my wife. She also said that she hadn't seen anything about a deposit which was $1000. After not getting anywhere with that I figured there was no use to mention not getting all the discounts on the other 4 animals. After my other post and 8 days later they emailed me and said they owed me $1320 back for my wife and my deposit.

    The next morning we had planned on leaving at 7. Just minutes before us leaving someone figured out they hadn't charged me for the chopper ride. Again I was charged for a half hour which we knew it wasn't and at a higher rate than the staff had quoted and another guy we knew that had been there right before us. Wasn't much but all these little things just kept piling up along with all the big stuff that was bad, like the 2 days of hunting and the animals I wanted to take along with the memories of taking them that immediately left me and was replaced with shame and embarrassment.

    I paid for the chopper ride and we were finally out of Huntershill. I slept about the entire ride to the airport. When we pulled up out front the driver threw our bags on a cart, walked us to the door, and pointed to the back of the airport where he said we could check in. He turned and made a hasty escape to the truck and was gone. Didn't even stay to make sure we got everything checked in and was alright
    Never seen that before in either of the first 2 places we've been at. What if we would have forgot or lost something. Oh well, we hadn't and it was alright.
    All this stuff was bad enough along with other things I haven't mentioned but when I posted some of this stuff on the other site and my credibility put in question along with a few even calling me names, nobody from Huntershill intervened even after most of this stuff had been verified and proven. They had been monitoring the post and thread and even the manager had made comments on it. One of which he commented that he had contacted me and was addressing my grievances which as of this moment he never has.
    Now these are the people we trust our safety to while there and they wouldn't even hold up for me to their reps and brokers when they knew I was telling the truth.

    In summary, I of course would never return to Huntershill but for anyone going or planning on it I would for sure make sure which hunt I was receiving and what I was wanting and expecting. People ask on the other post why I didn't say anything. I think mainly because I wasn't raised to be rude or maybe being 9000 miles from home in a place I dont speak the language or where there are taxis or Uber's everywhere, who wants to make these people mad that you are depending on.

    I'm going to attach a few pics of bull buffalo that we drove within yards of and as you can see in the pics aren't worried or concerned but they hunt these old bulls, well actually just shoot them. They shot 2 rhino one day while we were there. The 2nd one was shot right after lunch and within 30 minutes of the PHs and hunters walking out the door.

    On that third day when I didn't shoot anything, I looked and paid attention to all the animals we glassed. It amazed me how many of them was eartagged. The PH's told me that most of them were bought from breeding farms and put in the breeding enclosures to be hunted. Couldn't tell you how many 40 plus sable we seen and they would just let you ride up to them.
    When we was there those 4 short days there were probably 20 or 25 hunters there I seen. The people that arrived the day after we left said they met around 40 hunters there in 10 days. You do the numbers. 60 to 70 hunters every 10 to 14 days. How many animals does a hunter take on average times the number of hunters times by the number of weeks in their hunting season. Just in a couple weeks around the time we were there they'd have had to shot close to 500 animals. That's something to be able to have that many huge trophies on the place, wouldn't you think???
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 28, 2019

  2. Dcarr

    Dcarr AH Senior Member

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  3. dory

    dory AH Fanatic

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    Cheers Buddy !! Hunt from hell id say . We must have similar hunting et as i would have refused to hun tthe way you did .
    Knowing me i would have told them to put it where the sun dont shine and walked out, but thats just me.
    Thanks for the report , i have looked a t these guys before but never again .
    Cheers Dory .
     
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  4. BenKK

    BenKK AH Elite

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    Good on you for sharing your experience. You were polite and matter-of-fact. I’m uncomfortable about any property anywhere in the world that is stocked with exotics and non-indigenous animals. An African property with sambar and water buffalo, well... not for me.
     

  5. JPbowhunter

    JPbowhunter AH Fanatic

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    Different people want different things. I know a guy whose purely a collector and has shot many animals in paddocks less than 1 acre. On that note, on my last visit to nz we went to a working deer farm and photographed a 500" stag in a small paddock that had been sold to a prominent outfitter who was picking it up that day to release for an american client arriving a couple days time in one of those high fence "fair chase" places. For the type of people happy with these hunts you're bound to get positive reviews which if that's your thing I guess fair enough.

    For me I would have refused to pull the trigger in that type of situation. But i fully understand your point of view I also was brought up to be respectful and polite so it would have been a very unpleasant situation. My wife and I were essentially almost blackmailed in a small thai village once and I did not care for it!

    Thank you for the honest report. I had them in the list of outfitters to check with up until now.
     

  6. RBurg44

    RBurg44 AH Veteran

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    Good for you on letting people know. I would have been pretty upset with a pen hunt for sure! Im sure there will be people to defend them on here as well . Im pretty sure i saw ur post on the fb group. But thank you for saying YOUR experience and thats what this was. With all those hunters comin into camp yea ear tags yea they def just bringing in game for people to hunt nothing is self sustaining which was a huge part of me lookin for my first safari. And my next for that matters. Hope this didnt turn u off completely there are plenty of great outfitters over there.
     
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  7. Bushpig4Ever

    Bushpig4Ever AH Enthusiast

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    People shooting exotics and non-indigenous animals are a pain for any real and decent hunter. Shooters of canned animals are the same idiots. What they do has nothing to do with hunting, they should concentrate on target shooting. Shooters with a tape in the pocket make me vomit.
     
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  8. BnC 04

    BnC 04 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    Appreciate the writeup, sure sounds like an unsettling experience at best.
     
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  9. Ridgewalker

    Ridgewalker AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    Sorry your trip turned out so far from the promises and your expectations. Very disappointing for sure!
     
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  10. CEO

    CEO AH Veteran

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    I have hunted a few high fence places in my home state for whitetail and exotics. On half of those I refused to loose an arrow at anything once I realized how small the ranch was, or how tame the animals were. This is something that worries me about booking my first safari. I would hate to travel that far and get that same feeling.
     
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  11. Witold Krzyżanowski

    Witold Krzyżanowski AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    +1
     

  12. Royal27

    Royal27 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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  13. Dcarr

    Dcarr AH Senior Member

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    There are plenty of good reputable outfitters in Africa. I have hunted with 2 other that were outstanding and I left reports on here about them. The first one I hunted with in 2018 was mostly high fenced area. They were several thousand acres with heavy cover for the most part and the main thing was the animals were wild. I had a great hunt with them and rebookedto return in 2020 before we ever left.
    The place I left and went to Huntershill was fantastic. It was low fence open range for the most part. Had the best time there. My wife cried for 45 minutes when we left because it was just that great of a experience. The hunting was great but these folks paid attention to every little thing and was just a awesome family.
    Do your homework and ask a ton of questions and just dont believe every report or reference. A lot of these reports are from reps and brokers or there buddy that they got a deal for them.
    Go and hopefully have a great safari. Eat the wonderful food, learn about the culture, see the beautiful country, and take some trophies. WARNING, it is addictive if you get off on the right foot. Good luck and good hunting!!!
     

  14. Bailey Vinac

    Bailey Vinac AH Member

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    Seems like a very unpleasant hunt, and definitely not something I would like to be on. I had only heard good things about them before but I would definitely look elsewhere now. I am sure they have had many happy customers, but with so many excellent outfitters, why risk it?
    I remember some unscrupulous behavior from one of their booking agents earlier this year, and the fact that this person to my knowledge, still books hunts for them. Although this person's actions were separate to those of Huntershill, the fact they still use them shows a bit about their character.
     

  15. BWH

    BWH AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Thank you for your report!
     
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  16. Bullthrower338

    Bullthrower338 AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    I could really care less about how one person chooses to skin a cat. But don’t try to piss on my head and say it’s raining. I would be furious if someone tried to get me to shoot an animal in a pen that I had traveled across the world to hunt. I have shot animals behind a high fence, I’ve also hunted and taken game behind one. There is certainly a difference. About the same degree of separation as meeting a nice girl, courting her for a while or walking into a Nevada Cathouse and calling yourself irresistible to women.
    Some folks are out there to put a punch mark next to a species and I don’t really care, I also don’t want to hear about the big bad bush adventure that was had while shooting everything from the bakkie. As long as you know what you are getting into and it is acceptable by your compass, carry on.
    Very unscrupulous to try to sell something that is obviously not what a guy is looking for though. Sorry your hunt sucked! I know several guys that have hunted there and really enjoyed it. I haven’t hunted there so I can’t say either way. Best luck on your next adventure.
     
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  17. Dcarr

    Dcarr AH Senior Member

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    Yes, I for one would welcome a reply or even an explanation. It's been a month and still haven't been contacted by them. The reps and brokers said maybe this or maybe that which basically boiled down to excuses. The biggest response on my other post on FB was over a buffalo bull named Brutus. I posted that more than one PH told us they had a client coming in to kill him in May. The old breeder stayed on the hill above the shooting range and we seen him quite often. The 3rd day while trying to run some Mtn reedbuck out of a small holler he stood and watched us while grazing. We were within 75 yards of him and the trackers got within 30 to 40. The PH even threw some rocks in the thorn trees the trackers were in and radioed them and told them Brutus was after them. The trackers just laughed which we could hear. But when I posted this and simply stated how would you like to be unaware that this bull was pretty tame as were the other 2 I posted pictures of and expected a African experience of a wild buffalo hunt. If these people are aware of this that's fine, but I knew I wasnt until I figured it out. But the only reply was that Brutus was the owners kinda pet and nobody would ever get to shoot him. Again my credibility was questioned on the thread by a rep for HH. As I told him, how would I have even known about this bull named Brutus that was turned out because he stopped loving the ladies. It absolutely still makes no difference to me one way or another. I was just repeating what I was told. What did alarm me however was the discrepancies on not only this matter but several others.
    Again, we travel thousands of miles to trust our safety to people that in my opinion really need to be very trustworthy. But I sincerely hope HH replies to this from someone that would actually know what happened there with my stay and why!!!
     
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  18. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    @Dcarr Thanks for taking the time to post your hunt report. I know many people are reluctant to post negative reports for fear of backlash. You state everything from niggles to big issues.
    As you note, some folks have had a good time, others not so much.
    You just shared yours and that will help inform other hunters going anywhere to hunt what to look out for.

    I hope to read your next hunt reports where you are able to share incredible experiences.

    What questions would you ask an Outfitter to try and avoid this type of encounter?
    Any suggestions?
     

  19. Royal27

    Royal27 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

    Joined:
    May 27, 2012
    Messages:
    8,805
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    83
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    10,791
    Member of:
    DSC, NRA, SCI
    Hunted:
    USA - TX, CO, GA, ID. Africa - Zimbabwe and South Africa (Limpopo and EC)
    Interesting as there has been a situation here too where a Rep for @HUNTERSHILL safaris didn't say who he was as he tried to discredit another outfitter with what turned out to be unfounded BS.

    I know that HH is aware of the other issue but as far as I know they still let @Michaelh book for them . HH never did address the issue here directly either, although @oneday did make some comments before be became a rep.


    https://www.africahunting.com/threads/south-africa-leopard-valley-safaris-aka-dave-davenport.48161/
     

  20. Hogpatrol

    Hogpatrol AH ENABLER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Location:
    Delaware, USA
    Member of:
    Atglen Sportsmen's Club, NRA ,SCCFSA
    Hunted:
    RSA, DE, NJ, PA, KS, TX
    Put and take, it works for some, not for others. Best to inquire ahead of time, i.e. due diligence.
     
    flatwater bill, Dcarr and BnC 04 like this.

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