Starting from scratch

I’ve hunted a couple of buffalo along with a few other DG animals. I’ve hunted free range in Zim and Namibia as well as fenced areas of RSA. My first buffalo in RSA was actually the hardest and required the most walking.

I’d suggest first deciding on a budget and then narrowing down where you want to hunt. If you’ve got a huge budget then Tanzania would be my 1st choice. Smallest budget will likely put you in RSA. Free Range in RSA somewhere outside Kruger or with someone like Crusader Safaris will increase your cost a bit and likely put you right there cost with a buffalo hunt in Zim or Mozambique.

Personally, my next Buffalo will likely be another in Zim, or one in Mozambique along the Zambezi Delta while finishing my Tiny’s.

PH wise just need to talk to them. Shows are a great way to get to know PH’s if they attend. Always speak to some references as well. I’ve found if I click with references, I’ll likely also click with the PH.
 
Good day Sir.

My name is Divan from Namibia. We operate both namibia and Botswana
Please have a look at my website www.divansafaris.com
We do most of our Buffalo hunts in Namibia’s famous Caprivi.

Looking forward hearing from you

Yours truly.
 
Our Lodge owners are the ones attending the shows, with a few of our PH's. I would state the same by saying if you do your research and found a reputable outfitter, they will always make sure you have the best PH.
 
Good Day Edward

I would like to invite you to have a look at Tsala Hunting Safaris.

We have our own free range area’s in Moz and a concession area in Zim.Both these areas border National Parks with no fences between us.

I would love to give you more info on both the areas.

The PH’s will either be myself or my son Brandon.

We will be at SCI again in 2025.

Regards

Rouan
 
My plan to hunt buffalo is coming to fruition . I want to ask the hunters here, who have made multiple safaris . My first question is my search for a PH. I want to find a PH that I can trust, and who I can hunt future game on my wish list.
Would it be best to attend the SCI, Dallas convention , and just cruise PHs with the hopes of finding the right chemistry?
Or, should I spend time getting references from other members on what they know?
Word of mouth is valuable, but so is chemistry. Maybe someone here can give firsthand advice how they found the right guy?
I still contemplating if I want traditional tracking hunt, or swamp buffalo, etc. So, location to me is second to PH in my opinion.
@Edward Wright - I have only done one African Safari (Tanzania 10 Day Buff & PG). I used the same “vetting” system to select my Safari PH as I do any Big Game Hunt: I ask a series of consistent and specific questions AND always check references (from at least 4-6 hunters that have hunted with that PH past 2 years including those Hunters that were “successful and UNsuccessful”. I write my questions down, also write down answers. At some point I will describe my expectations, how I hunt, what type of physical shape I’m in (I like to hunt hard and don’t mind walking a lot - will Not shoot from a vehicle etc..), how well I can shoot (only average rifle skills). Lastly I ask “how do You hunt? What numbers of Game should I “reasonably” expect to see each day/week, trophy quality, my specific animals on my priority trophy list etc.. It is during this part of the conversation that I can “get a feel” for the PH and if we will get along. Unless you personally know the PH there is always a bit of a gamble but this has worked well for me over 15-18 guided Hunts & one Safari, probebly had 2-3 Hunts that failed to meet my expectations but that was earlier in my hunting trips and I’ve done a better job “vetting” since then. Good luck - take your time and do research…you can’t ask too many questions or check too many references.
Lastly, some negative references do Not keep me from booking a hunt with an Outfitter - probing questions from negative references have revealed an UNreasonable expectation and I’ve heard: “I had to walk miles a day”, ”we never had a good trophy under 150 yards”, “it rained”, “it was Hot/Cold” etc… ANd my favorite “The food wasn’t that good !!”. I never care about the food - ever, I’m not there to EAT, as long as I don’t starve I’m fine.
 
Trust has many facets, to me in a PH they would include:
1. His/her bush competence, so you get to find what you are after.
2. His/her field craft to be able to read situations to keep you out of potential trouble.
3. His/her leadership qualities to not only make sure you have a great social experience, but also receive precise and correct instruction when needed.
4. His/her rifle, particularly it's reliability as well as ability to shoot it properly.

I would say for me No4 is the most important. It is hard, maybe even unfair to generalise, but to me a young PH who couldn't afford a decent rifle out or training and hasn't used his/her business skills to grade up will end up with a mess sooner or later. An old PH who still hasn't got their act together in later career is also a yellow flag at least. I know of one who went for a ride on a buffoloe's horns because of old ammo because he couldn't afford decent stuff. I once said on AH and got a bit of a pummeling for it that I think PH'S should all carry good (as in totally reliable) double rifles. It is more the tool they need to complement the skills they hopefully have.
I guess you would not have hunted with Harry Selby then. For forty years he guided celebrity clients, including Robert Ruark, with a standard action military surplus Mauser converted to 416 Rigby. If anything, I might be inclined to have less faith in a PH who arms himself with a double rifle.

So you ask for a demonstration of your PH's range skill before heading out after buffalo? Presumably if he has passed the qualifications exam, he's already demonstrated sufficient skill to someone more capable of judging than you or me.
 
@Edward Wright - I have only done one African Safari (Tanzania 10 Day Buff & PG). I used the same “vetting” system to select my Safari PH as I do any Big Game Hunt: I ask a series of consistent and specific questions AND always check references (from at least 4-6 hunters that have hunted with that PH past 2 years including those Hunters that were “successful and UNsuccessful”. I write my questions down, also write down answers. At some point I will describe my expectations, how I hunt, what type of physical shape I’m in (I like to hunt hard and don’t mind walking a lot - will Not shoot from a vehicle etc..), how well I can shoot (only average rifle skills). Lastly I ask “how do You hunt? What numbers of Game should I “reasonably” expect to see each day/week, trophy quality, my specific animals on my priority trophy list etc.. It is during this part of the conversation that I can “get a feel” for the PH and if we will get along. Unless you personally know the PH there is always a bit of a gamble but this has worked well for me over 15-18 guided Hunts & one Safari, probebly had 2-3 Hunts that failed to meet my expectations but that was earlier in my hunting trips and I’ve done a better job “vetting” since then. Good luck - take your time and do research…you can’t ask too many questions or check too many references.
Lastly, some negative references do Not keep me from booking a hunt with an Outfitter - probing questions from negative references have revealed an UNreasonable expectation and I’ve heard: “I had to walk miles a day”, ”we never had a good trophy under 150 yards”, “it rained”, “it was Hot/Cold” etc… ANd my favorite “The food wasn’t that good !!”. I never care about the food - ever, I’m not there to EAT, as long as I don’t starve I’m fine.
I'm with you on the food aspect. Ham and cheese sandwiches are fine for lunch and I may not even eat half of one. But I do have a soft spot for South African candy. I expect to see plenty of that in the cooler. :D Cold cereal and juice is fine for breakfast. Greasy bacon and eggs not necessary. Eating never was a passion of mine (clearly evident in photos I've posted). I travel to Africa to hunt. That's my passion. I could care less about the grub.
 
My Advise would be to research a few PH's, pick a handful that you think you may like, then go meet them in person at the various shows, if they are there, which they should.
If you gonna try pick one solely by walking the floor, at a big convention, you're gonna be very confused. LOL
Cheers Ernest
 
The lodge owner.......??? Eish you never cease to amaze.....
Best IvW
From a fellow South African I would have expected a little bit more friendly and helpful attitude towards Ontario Hunter.
I am sure what Ontario Hunter meant by "Lodge owner" is what we here in South Africa call the Outfitter.
The outfitter is usually the guy who owns the lodge and game ranch and vehicles and facilities and who attend the international marketing shows and organises the PH's and where to hunt what, etc.
So Ontario Hunter used maybe the wrong word but good common sense only need half a word to understand what somebody wants to convey.

Sincerely
Hans de Klerk
 
Best IvW
From a fellow South African I would have expected a little bit more friendly and helpful attitude towards Ontario Hunter.
I am sure what Ontario Hunter meant by "Lodge owner" is what we here in South Africa call the Outfitter.
The outfitter is usually the guy who owns the lodge and game ranch and vehicles and facilities and who attend the international marketing shows and organises the PH's and where to hunt what, etc.
So Ontario Hunter used maybe the wrong word but good common sense only need half a word to understand what somebody wants to convey.

Sincerely
Hans de Klerk
Lodge owner, outfitter, dude ranch operator, etc. A variety of terms are used here in North America to describe the same individual. I'm sure IvW knew what I was talking about. The guy is a prolific pimple picker. Obviously, he's got some mental issues. Sad. But I don't think being on this forum is very therapeutic.
 
Start with what type of hunt you would like and go from there. Do you want a true free range wilderness hunt, or a ranch style hunt. Both will be of similar costs if hunting a good quality ranch in SA. If money is tight, or a major deciding factor, SA will have a more options. Going to DSC or SCI will be the best way to speak with different outfits and find the one you gel with the best.
 
Best IvW
From a fellow South African I would have expected a little bit more friendly and helpful attitude towards Ontario Hunter.
I am sure what Ontario Hunter meant by "Lodge owner" is what we here in South Africa call the Outfitter.
The outfitter is usually the guy who owns the lodge and game ranch and vehicles and facilities and who attend the international marketing shows and organises the PH's and where to hunt what, etc.
So Ontario Hunter used maybe the wrong word but good common sense only need half a word to understand what somebody wants to convey.

Sincerely
Hans de Klerk
The Outfitter attends the shows, sometimes accumpanied by some of his PH's. All outfitters are not lodge owners. Many Lodge/ranch/ concession owners are not outfitters, they sell the hunting rights to one or more outfitters.
Unfortuanately some folks here know a a little about everything and not a lot about anything......
 
I’ve killed quite a few buffalo and respect every PH I have hunted with. However, if I’m going back after buffalo I will be hunting with Len Taylor in Zim. Happy to provide contact info if you have interest.
Len is brilliant. Great hunter and great friend of mine. Currently hunting a lot for Charlton Mcullum safaris. I would also recommend Thierry Labat for a great safari and the Duckworths, Gary and Neil at Mokore Safaris. Some of the best PHs around. You are welcome to pm me for contact info.
 
I might have a different take on this than some people. If you vet your safari or hunt operator, and use a good one, you're going to have a good PH that is most probably a pretty good guy/gal. I've been to Africa with 3 different operators and I'd go with them anytime. They booked me with good PHs each time (maybe I've been lucky).

Frankly I think the hunter's attitude goes a LONG way with getting along with a PH. I've heard some horror stories about jerk PHs or guides, but then I always wonder how they were treated by the client as well. . . .

I try to be the best client I can be. Undemanding. Willing to help. Ready to walk or climb. I'll get up when they tell me. I'll be ready when they say. I try hard not to complain. I don't drink, so they dont' have to deal with me being hungover or crabby. I'm honest with them. If I don't feel good, having GI upset, or something is affecting me, I'll tell them.

I don't know how they perceive me when the hunt is over, but I want it to be positive. I feel that if I am a good client and easy to get along with, then we'll get along just fine. And I've had great experiences.
 
A giant thank you to all you gentlemen, for your gracious advice , and opinions. I truly am gratified by your willingness to help. My heart is looking for a traditional free range buffalo hunt. My quandary is simply if want to track across the open tangles, or chase swamp herds in open areas, with 100 or larger herds.
I say this because my adrenaline is with the magnificence of the bull in his setting, at his advantage. This is the dream I have had for decades. My thoughts are to head to the next DSC convention, with a notebook in hand full of everyone of your wisdoms shed upon me.
Finding the right PH to me is about 60% of the hunt. His wisdom is part of the hunt, as much as the buffalo. Maybe I put too much in this, but I have had a couple negative hunts here in USA and Canada . The guide was let’s say , indecisive; in calling to the situation . I do not want my first African hunt to have the same sour feeling I hold for those hunts. Let me add I’m a good, prepared client. So I expect the same in return. To add a little gun talk. I have a scoped 375 H&H, for long shots. And a red dot sighted 458 Lott for the thick stuff. I think I’m ready, and yes I can shoot both well , as I pat my sore shoulder.
 
I might have a different take on this than some people. If you vet your safari or hunt operator, and use a good one, you're going to have a good PH that is most probably a pretty good guy/gal. I've been to Africa with 3 different operators and I'd go with them anytime. They booked me with good PHs each time (maybe I've been lucky).

Frankly I think the hunter's attitude goes a LONG way with getting along with a PH. I've heard some horror stories about jerk PHs or guides, but then I always wonder how they were treated by the client as well. . . .

I try to be the best client I can be. Undemanding. Willing to help. Ready to walk or climb. I'll get up when they tell me. I'll be ready when they say. I try hard not to complain. I don't drink, so they dont' have to deal with me being hungover or crabby. I'm honest with them. If I don't feel good, having GI upset, or something is affecting me, I'll tell them.

I don't know how they perceive me when the hunt is over, but I want it to be positive. I feel that if I am a good client and easy to get along with, then we'll get along just fine. And I've had great experiences.
+1! The Golden Rule can go a long ways towards making the experience enjoyable. I try to put myself in the PH's shoes. He's going into the bush with some guy he doesn't know and who is obviously over the hill. What is this client like? Can he shoot? Can he walk? Will he stab me in the back at the lodge or on Africa Hunting forum if everything doesn't go just right? It's a helluva guessing game and his livelihood depends on it. Maybe his LIFE depends on it. A lot of unknowns. I try to make things less complicated.
 
A giant thank you to all you gentlemen, for your gracious advice , and opinions. I truly am gratified by your willingness to help. My heart is looking for a traditional free range buffalo hunt. My quandary is simply if want to track across the open tangles, or chase swamp herds in open areas, with 100 or larger herds.
I say this because my adrenaline is with the magnificence of the bull in his setting, at his advantage. This is the dream I have had for decades. My thoughts are to head to the next DSC convention, with a notebook in hand full of everyone of your wisdoms shed upon me.
Finding the right PH to me is about 60% of the hunt. His wisdom is part of the hunt, as much as the buffalo. Maybe I put too much in this, but I have had a couple negative hunts here in USA and Canada . The guide was let’s say , indecisive; in calling to the situation . I do not want my first African hunt to have the same sour feeling I hold for those hunts. Let me add I’m a good, prepared client. So I expect the same in return. To add a little gun talk. I have a scoped 375 H&H, for long shots. And a red dot sighted 458 Lott for the thick stuff. I think I’m ready, and yes I can shoot both well , as I pat my sore shoulder.
The 375 will do just fine. Unless you're on one of those tall grass Delta hunts, you should not be getting any long shots at buffalo. PHs generally won't let it happen. I shot my first one at 110 meters and that was a stretch. Very surprised the sticks went up. "We knew you can shoot." I shot both mine with 375 rental wearing 3-9x Leopold. The second one I shot on the run at 65 yards. That scope worked fine. Both times it was turned down to 3x and both animals mortaly hit. Your 375 will also be good for plains game if something special turns up.

Shitty outfitters/guides abound on this side of the pond. You can almost expect it these days. Especially for big game in the lower 48. However, the business is generally very regulated over there. Relatively speaking, shitty safari operators seem to be the exception.

Be careful you don't overthink this. I would advise against forming a concrete mold in your mind about what to expect for your hunt. Go with the flow. Know that stuff may happen. That's what makes it an adventure. :)
 
Len is brilliant. Great hunter and great friend of mine. Currently hunting a lot for Charlton Mcullum safaris. I would also recommend Thierry Labat for a great safari and the Duckworths, Gary and Neil at Mokore Safaris. Some of the best PHs around. You are welcome to pm me for contact info.
Another vote for Len……absolute professional in every way.

Beyond satisfied booking with Charlton McCallum.
 
The Outfitter attends the shows, sometimes accumpanied by some of his PH's. All outfitters are not lodge owners. Many Lodge/ranch/ concession owners are not outfitters, they sell the hunting rights to one or more outfitters.
Unfortuanately some folks here know a a little about everything and not a lot about anything......
Spot on.
 
The Outfitter attends the shows, sometimes accumpanied by some of his PH's. All outfitters are not lodge owners. Many Lodge/ranch/ concession owners are not outfitters, they sell the hunting rights to one or more outfitters.
Unfortuanately some folks here know a a little about everything and not a lot about anything......
And then there's the guy on here who pretends to know everything ... because he's a pretend PH. :ROFLMAO:
 

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