SOUTH AFRICA: NB Safaris In SA - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly (Hunt Report)

Neil Barnard

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Interesting thread. Let me say that I was one of the ones who thought that Gater's taxidermy wasn't well done, and that the outfitters response wasn't what it should have been (see other thread).

Having said that, there are a few things about this particular thread which I find interesting.

First, Gater is, of course, more than welcome to post his hunt report, and to present his perspective, and I am happy to see it. And, also of course, the outfitter is equally more than welcome to post his perspective on the issue . . . or is he? It seems that Mr. Bernard has been pretty much slagged from the get-go. Given that, I commend him for having the patience to engage with just about everyone who has asked questions of him (often somewhat aggressively I'd say, but I'm a marshmallow). More on this below.

Breaking down the issues, it seems there are two. The first is the taxidermy. Mr. Bernard must be aware that his pictures - soft focus and taken from a distance - can easily misrepresent what the taxidermy actually looks like on closer examination. I put much more weight on Gater's close-up pictures than on Mr. Bernard's. Mr. Bernard has proposed a solution, which is to have a third party make a finding, which he agrees to accept. That third party - he suggests PHASA - apparently doesn't get involved in this way between members and clients (PHASA is impractical in any event since it would clearly be best if the arbitrator could see the mounts in person). I still believe this is a reasonable proposal, and so long as the parties can come to an agreement on who that should be, that should be the end of the matter for now. I acknowledge that the fact that the parties are continents apart is a problem, but since it appears that Mr. Bernard is in North America at least for DSC or SCI, this shouldn't be insurmountable, though his presence isn't entirely necessary.

The second matter is the other issues which occurred at camp, of which the gemsbok seems to be the main one. I believe that Mr. Bernard has given an explanation of what happened here, and speaking personally, it strikes me as reasonable. Part of the problem no doubt - and I say this without casting blame - is that there was an agent between Mr. Bernard and Gater, or so it appears. Communication can easily go awry, and that may have been what's happened here. It may also be that Mr. Bernard was intentionally vague in order to get a hunt, a tactic which would not be new, novel or unheard of. I'm not sure we have any real way of determining which is the right answer. Having said that, I personally find it a bit surprising that people would expect to hunt gemsbok in the Limpopo, but I guess that's what game ranching has done to us. But that's another thread, so since this line has no bearing on this particular case, I will pursue it no further.

Now one interesting matter (at least to me) which occurs to me is the fact that so many are (1) jumping on the outfitter for getting some of his other clients to join AH for the purpose of posting positive reviews and (2) jumping on those same clients for posting those positive reviews.

Now, there are thousands of people who hunt Africa every year, and only a very small percentage of those who have been to Africa are members here (giving full recognition to Jerome for the 6,000+ members he does have here!). It's hardly surprising then that an outfitter - any outfitter - would have a lot of clients who are not members here. And is it surprising - or wrong - for an outfitter who is being attacked for his business practices to point to the fact that he has plenty of satisfied clients, and then to ask those clients to step up and say so? I see no malicious intent in the Facebook or WhatsApp pages which were posted as if they were evidence of malfeasance. This is simply how the outfitter communicates with a group of clients who seem to have had such a good time that they want to remain connected to him and to Africa. I get that. If these are indeed real people, then they are entitled to have their say, even if it's only once to support an outfitter who has been attacked. An outfitter is entitled to defend himself, and if he can do that by having people vouch for his practices, then good for him.

I do think it's much different when someone joins up for the sole purpose of posting something negative. These positive comments were presented as evidence that Mr. Bernard has happy clients. And, as I say, he is entitled to post evidence that his business practices are not as alleged. Real clients are unlikely to lie by posting positive comments if they don't mean them. And again, no one has alleged these are not real, happy, clients. The situation would be much different if they were not, of course. We can give these comments whatever weight we choose, while acknowledging that he does have happy clients. This is not the same with a negative post which can be done for a number of reasons, not all of which are valid or honourable (note I am not suggesting that that is the case here - to the contrary).

I think that overall, it's good for AH to have new people join, even if initially only for a single purpose. Some may stick - who knows - and we will be the better for more members.

In summary, and this is just my view, I think we have an unhappy client and I believe he is justified in being unhappy with respect to his taxidermy. I think the outfitter has proposed a reasonable solution, but I think he has to appoint someone in the US to look at the taxidermy, rather than someone in South Africa.

I cannot form any reliable opinion about the gemsbok, though I tend towards a view that there was a miscommunication, while acknowledging that I could well be wrong here.

Lastly, I think that people who are accused of poor business practices should be encouraged to get real people to join AH, and we should encourage (as some have done) those real people to post more than one or two lines. I believe that having satisfied clients is at least some evidence that the outfitter might not engage in poor business practices. I hope some of those people find this site so interesting that they stay as long term members and contributors.
Good morning Hank, well said. And I am more then willing to work with someone that can assist. The client is in the LA area and I think the arbitrator needs to finically be able to see his mounts. Do we have a SCI rep in that area willing to assist?
 

Neil Barnard

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I am willing to offer my services either as an arbitrator or mediator. I have many years of experience setting disputes. If all parties will be at DSC, I could do it there.
Good morning Wesheltonj, as the trophies are in LA area I am not sure this is going to work for the client. I really appreciate you offering and if the client is willing I will meet there with pleasure. What ever it takes.
 

Neil Barnard

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Good morning Hank, well said. And I am more then willing to work with someone that can assist. The client is in the LA area and I think the arbitrator needs to finically be able to see his mounts. Do we have a SCI rep in that area willing to assist?
Physically see the mounts.
 
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Neil Barnard

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If needs be friends, I will gladly make a flight over just for this. As soon as we have found a suitable arbitrator in the LA area. I would like to set a date ASAP that works for both Jeff and I and I will gladly be there. What is right is right.
 

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If needs be friends, I will gladly make a flight over just for this. As soon as we have found a suitable arbitrator in the LA area. I would like to set a date ASAP that works for both Jeff and I and I will gladly be there. What is right is right.
Will the flight, accommodations, taxi and all the rest that goes with a flight to USA not cost more than the $750 that is being asked for?
 

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At the end of the day, is a third party needed?

It's plain to see the capes are missing hair and this is not the fault of the hunter.

There was obviously poor management of the capes between the shot being taken and the mounting of them.
Care of the capes and treatment process is the responsibility of the outfitter and his staff.

As far as I am aware, the hunter was not told of the bald patches and hair slippage and nor was it made obvious in the photos provided to him.

As soon as the slippage became apparent, the taxidermist should've communicated to the outfitter, the outfitter should've communicated that to the hunter and sought advice on how to proceed.
The outfitter and taxidermist are affiliated apparently so communication should not be an issue.

For whatever reason, it was not made apparent to the hunter and the taxidermy work was carried out resulting in mounts of sub standard quality.

The taxidermy was paid for in good faith and delivered to the hunter who discovered issues that he should've been made aware of before this point.

The hunter has a level of expectation for the money spent and I don't think there is a person here who would be happy with what was provided to him.

The taxidermist should've reported the capes were in poor condition and asked for advice on how to proceed.

The outfitter may have been oblivious to the faults and not been aware until after mounts were delivered to the hunter and the complaint raised.

Whatever the finer details, the fact remains that there is an unhappy customer who has paid for something that is not of the quality expected.

This fault lies in Africa and those involved.

If anyone pays for goods or services and they are not right, they can return them or seek a refund. That's normal.

The outfitter and taxidermist should be seeking a resolution with their customer who is unhappy, in this case a refund for the mounts that have suffered hair slippage and were mounted anyway is not unreasonable or a quote obtained by the customer for cost of repair that should be met by the outfitter and taxidermist.

Come on guys, work it out and get it sorted!
 

PeteG

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Way more Pete, it’s not the money. Let’s get this settled
For what its worth, my opinion would be to agree on an amount to refund, apologize for the quality of the taxidermy work and ask for an opportunity to show the client a better result on another trip with the Gemsbok as primary target.
It sucks as a supplier of a service, but it is sometimes the best way forward unfortunately.

Do what you can to keep the client as happy as can be (it may be too late for that already) and hopefully he gives you a chance to redeem yourself. Whether or not the taxidermy is your fault, whether or not there was miscommunication between you, the agent and the client. Regardless of the circumstances, simply arguing about the taxidermy is not worth the trouble, negative remarks, reputation damage and the negativity that comes along with threads like this.
For example, if you had simply bit the bullet and compensated him, he would most likely be recommending you and your outfit for doing right by him on his hunt.
That kind of recommendation on this site will compensate YOU more than enough to cover the losses incurred on this one hunt.

You are willing to travel all the way to USA to look at the mounts in person. Why?
What happens if you spend all the money to go there and you feel the mounts are good enough, regardless of his feelings? Will you ask he reimburse you for the flights and costs? Is that the direction this is going to go?
What happens if you spend all the money to go there and find the mounts truly are in the state as described? Will you compensate him the $750 his is asking as well as being out the travel costs?

He is the customer, a dissatisfied one at that.
Regardless of your thoughts on the mounts, he is not happy. You supplied a product that has not met expectation. As a customer, try please him as much as possible. You can argue your point as far as you want, if he is not happy, then he will remain unhappy. Whether you "prove" by physically seeing the mounts yourself or not, he will remain dissatisfied with the result.

If you truly want a third party to be involved, which PHASA isn't, then why don't you choose a Taxidermist in USA to inspect the mounts and report back? That is a truly third party opinion.
Will you refund him if a third party reaffirms the mounts are substandard and have been damaged?

These are just some thoughts that have come from reading through this thread.
Note that I am not accusing you of anything, or taking sides, i am trying to point out the observations of myself and many others on here as to the most suitable "way out" of this unfortunate predicament.
 

Gater

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If you truly want a third party to be involved, which PHASA isn't, then why don't you choose a Taxidermist in USA to inspect the mounts and report back? That is a truly third party opinion.

This is the most reasonable and logical solution at this point IMO. I’d gladly allow a 3rd party taxidermist come to my house and inspect the trophies. I’m not interested in having Neil inspect them as A) that opportunity has already been presented through high quality photos. B) is far from impartial.

Point to note - I live north of Dallas TX, not in the LA area.

If anyone would like to help arrange a qualified taxidermist who Neil 100% agrees to, again, I’d be happy to have them inspect the mounts.

Also, I tried to be as reasonable as possible with my request as to not sound greedy and just after a pile of money. That ship has already sailed as we’ve all seen unfold.

Neil, since you say its not about the money, would agree to refund the amount that the 3rd party taxidermist quotes to fully repair the mounts?

That would show an incredible leap of faith that you truly care about client satisfaction.
 

Gater

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And while we’re at it, can we arrange a taxidermist to inspect my Dad’s kudu as well? I’ve posted pics of it in my other thread too and it’s horrendous.

He lives about 2 hours south of Denver Co.
 

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This is the most reasonable and logical solution at this point IMO. I’d gladly allow a 3rd party taxidermist come to my house and inspect the trophies. I’m not interested in having Neil inspect them as A) that opportunity has already been presented through high quality photos. B) is far from impartial.

Point to note - I live north of Dallas TX, not in the LA area.

If anyone would like to help arrange a qualified taxidermist who Neil 100% agrees to, again, I’d be happy to have them inspect the mounts.

Also, I tried to be as reasonable as possible with my request as to not sound greedy and just after a pile of money. That ship has already sailed as we’ve all seen unfold.

Neil, since you say its not about the money, would agree to refund the amount that the 3rd party taxidermist quotes to fully repair the mounts?

That would show an incredible leap of faith that you truly care about client satisfaction.

You have @gizmo somewhat near you, but would still be a little bit of a haul.
 

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One point - Neil - it was clear in your communications with me that you deny any preventable hair slip on the mounts. I’ve sent you and posted high quality pictures of the mounts. Dozens of people on here agree that it’s hair slip - caused by poor field prep.

Yet you still insist on inspecting the mounts. What is your contention at this point?

Do you not agree there is hair missing?
Do you not agree that the missing hair is hair slip?
Do you not agree that it’s possible improper field prep caused the hair slip?
Do you not agree someone should have contacted me about that before mounting the hides?

Please, explain for everyone here to understand why after all the pictures you’ve seen and opinions you’ve read, you’re still wanting to see the mounts yourself and/or allow a 3rd party to make a decision which binds you to an outcome?

Help us understand your logic.
 

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A lot of outfits get in trouble over African Taxidermy is seems. I realize clients need dip/pack services, where the trouble always seems to appear is in the finished Taxidermy product. It’s a recurring thread here. Man just send them home to be done, spend a little more money and avoid this kind of fiasco!
 

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A lot of outfits get in trouble over African Taxidermy is seems. I realize clients need dip/pack services, where the trouble always seems to appear is in the finished Taxidermy product. It’s a recurring thread here. Man just send them home to be done, spend a little more money and avoid this kind of fiasco!

I quasi agree with you. The issue is there are some bad taxidermist in the US as well. The issue seems to come up more using the outfitters "guy", seems to me that is where the problem starts.
 

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At the end of the day, is a third party needed?

It's plain to see the capes are missing hair and this is not the fault of the hunter.

There was obviously poor management of the capes between the shot being taken and the mounting of them.
Care of the capes and treatment process is the responsibility of the outfitter and his staff.

100% agree. This is what I can’t wrap my head around. I’ve already agreed at this point to have a US taxidermist inspect the mounts - but why should it have even come to this?!

I’ll commend Neil for sticking with this thread and responding to comments. It’s not easy to go up against a large group of people who clearly disagree with the way you’ve handled a situation. But to still, at this point, not even admit he sees an issue with the mounts and wants to see them in person before agreeing to a resolution is mind boggling.

As I stated, I was a parts and service rep for a auto manufacturer - I would authorize full vehicle repainting, which is $10-15k, based off pictures alone if they clearly showed the defects in question.
 

Neil Barnard

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And while we’re at it, can we arrange a taxidermist to inspect my Dad’s kudu as well? I’ve posted pics of it in my other thread too and it’s horrendous.

He lives about 2 hours south of Denver Co.
Hi jeff,
Yes please. I would like to be present if possible. Many thanks. I look forward to resolving this.
I have no problem. I have also just had a meeting with George the Professional Hunter that guided you and he will gladly share his views on the Gemsbok issue.
As I said, let’s get a 3rd party to inspect. This was my suggestion from the beginning.
 

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after all the dust up, how does he still think by trying to save a few hundred dollars he will come out ahead? if he loses 4-5 hunts-hunters he just cut off his nose to spite his face. he just should have written a check and side stepped this whole mess. does this mean I would not hunt with him, no but I would have to realy think about it.

RSCN8705 (2).JPG
 
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Neil Barnard

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I
100% agree. This is what I can’t wrap my head around. I’ve already agreed at this point to have a US taxidermist inspect the mounts - but why should it have even come to this?!

I’ll commend Neil for sticking with this thread and responding to comments. It’s not easy to go up against a large group of people who clearly disagree with the way you’ve handled a situation. But to still, at this point, not even admit he sees an issue with the mounts and wants to see them in person before agreeing to a resolution is mind boggling.

As I stated, I was a parts and service rep for a auto manufacturer - I would authorize full vehicle repainting, which is $10-15k, based off pictures alone if they clearly showed the defects in question.
see an issue... it is the way I was approached that got me going. I would also like to state that it was a very hot dry September... Kudu loos their hair fast and easy when it’s hot and they are in not the fattest time of the year. This differs from animal to animal. I have never turned my head. I would like to look the client in the eye and talk to him regarding. Lots of other BS was flung and I just want it all cleared out.
 

Neil Barnard

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after all the dust up, how does he still think by trying to save a few hundred dollars he will come out ahead? if he loses 4-5 hunts-hunters he just cut off his nose to spite his face. he just should have written a check and side stepped this whole mess. does this mean I would not hunt with him, no but I would have to realy think about it.
I was going to be bad mouthed regardless.
 

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