SOUTH AFRICA: Hunting Review LJ Hunting Safaris

LJ SAFARIS

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Just one of our Non Africa Hunting Forum client's review and we just wanted to share it...

Every Decade or So you find a Gem……. LJ Hunting Safaris.


Hunting in Africa is a dream for many hunters. Whether it is a once in a life time adventure or a passion you return to again and again. No matter what you have done in life you have had the experience of finding a gem. Be it a favourite eatery or quiet vacation spot off the beaten path. Finding a gem of an experience is always a secret pleasure like finding a favourite fishing hole. And there is a significant part of you that wants to catch the experience in that moment and you hope it never changes. And with that in my heart I write this review. I hope the hunting experience never changes with LJ Hunting Safaris, that it always stays fresh and new, and full of wonder. LJ Hunting Safaris’ is a new Professional Hunter service, started by Lauren Purdon and Juan Stander. They are a young couple with a passion for hunting and conservation that shines through everything they do, and is infectious. Both are qualified professional hunters, Lauren has a diploma in Wildlife Management, and Juan has the best credentials of all, that of being an old world farm boy that grew up with a natural talent for hunting. Both have worked for years as PH’s and game guides.

My cousin and I booked an 8 day hunt with them. My cousin has mobility issues, and I had a relatively ambitious list. We hunted both their Karoo Concession and their Costal Concession. The Karoo Concession is a vision of Africa from every child’s dreams. Rocky thirsty earth, spread over large savannah plains tucked between beautiful mountains. With over 60,000 acres on one property alone teaming with wildlife and dozens of different microclimates it is an ecologist paradise. Accommodation on the concession was private, comfortable and well above the usual hunting camp. Meals were served in a hunting lodge which was a unique blend of great room, family room, bar and dining room. Meals were enjoyed with the family that run the farm, and added a great deal to the rich atmosphere. Meals had offered a variety of flavours and tastes of both wild game and traditional South African cuisine. The accommodation, met every expectation, and the food, and the opportunity to dine and visit both with our PH’s but also the family that ran the farm in this warm atmosphere exceeded every expectation.

Hunting the Karoo. The hunting was extraordinary. Lauren and Juan have seasoned eyes that pick up animals at incredible distances and with a casual ease. Juan’s near obsession for glassing at every opportunity keeps him well informed of opportunities. Lauren and Juan are excellent at identifying trophy animals. I frequently struggled to see what they were seeing, though I am a seasoned North American hunter. In 8 days I saw something before them only once. All hunters know the winning formula: 1) Its time in the field 2) If your first plan doesn’t work, try something else. We would spot game, passing over any herds or individuals that didn’t meet my PH’s strict criteria. When a desired animal was spotted the stalking would start. The stalks were by far my favourite part of the experience. While some were shorter 10-15 minutes most were longer 45 minutes to 2 hours. The experience of these stalks will be burned into my memory forever. Sneaking down dry stream beds, slipping between acacia trees, crawling down ravines and having animals walk by within 20 yards and never knowing we were there, the absolute best of memories. For my cousin with his mobility issues plans needed to be respectful of his maximum stalk distance of 100 yards. While this certainly presented challenges and made for some more limited selection, it was achieved by clever planning and a never give up attitude. PHs and hunting guides that have the courage and discipline to accept clients with physical disabilities, to me are in another class. It is challenging enough to get the able bodied hunter and the game together getting the disabled hunter and the game requires a master class guide/PH.

Hunting the Coastal Concession. Accommodation at the coastal concession, exceeded every expectation. We stayed in a beautiful old world villa. We each had our own wings for lack of a better word and shared living spaces were grand and beautiful. At this concession Lauren did much of the catering with the help of resident staff. The food was again a wonderful mixture of wild game and South African cuisine. One night we had Eland tender loin. This meal will go down as not only the best of the trip but one of the top 5 meals I have ever eaten. The coastal concession has a different charm and flavour, much less dry though not exactly lush. It has many hills and valleys teaming with life and game. The hunting near the coast was similar to the Karoo only on smaller properties. The stalks here were every bit as intense as the ones in the Karoo, it is in fact during one of these stalks while hunting other species, 3 Blesbok walked between us and several other herds at less than 20 yards.

Results:

In the end what really matter are the results. How you measure them depends a lot on who you are. For me the experience is everything. To hunt in a sustainable ethical manner, to be able to enjoy the stalk, and thrill of the hunt. In this regard my expectations were exceeded on every level, to me this is the great finale. But I realize others reading this may have other measures. I sent them a list of 8 species, not only did we successfully hunt all 8, but I added an additional 2 species as we went along. We hunted hard, but that is also what I wanted from the experience. I never felt that we were rushed or pushed. And while I am still waiting for the official scoring of the trophies, of the 10 species, I am expecting at least 6-7 of the 9 scorable species to make Rowland Ward or SCI trophy Class with a number scoring minimally into the silver category. An incredible feat, and all credit to my PH’s.

Summary: It is my full intention for this review to be as strong as possible. My experience was truly incredible. What started out as a once in a life time event has now been changed to must go back and duplicate the experience. My wife and I are already making plans to go back. I want to hunt exactly the same two concessions in the same order, so that she might experience all the wonders of this great adventure. I can think of no higher praise than to want to do it over again with the most important person in my life. With this being the case, I can give LJ Hunting Safaris the strongest possible recommendation, with no reservation. If you are looking for a gem of an experience, this is one I can share with you. Good Luck and happy hunting.

Sincerely,

Adrian

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Congrats to both of you. Sounds like LJ Safaris has a great future!
 
Congrats and great report. The Karoo is truely a special place.
 
Great report, beautiful trophy's. Forrest
 
Thanks for sharing the report and pictures!
 
Sounds like a good time was had
 
I am the crippled cousin, and I was there.

Adrian is spot on with his review.

I still dream of that Eland steak dinner Adrian spoke about. One of my top 10 and I turned 60 this year.

Apart from endorsing them as enthusiastically as Adrian has, I have to say the Mitsubishi Triton bakkie is a hidden gem. After Adrian took an Eland on one of the walls of a valley we had driven into, they proceeded to load the Eland and six people aboard and get us out on roads that, to me, felt like 60 deg gradient - they weren't, of course.

While we were crawling out of that valley, Juan managed to spot really nice Kudu for Adrian, which we came back for.

PS - I am not Juan or Lauren's dad (although if I were, I would be proud to be) - I paid to be there, and when I get the money, I will pay to go again.

Richard - not a shill - I promise. :)
 

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