The Difference Between An Agreeable & A Difficult Client From A Professional Hunter Perspective...

Discussion in 'Articles' started by IvW, Sep 1, 2019.

  1. IvW

    IvW AH Elite

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    I am sitting around a fire on a windless evening looking at the bush TV and have decided to type some thoughts and an experience I had many years ago regarding this issue.

    I have hunted with many clients over the years, most of whom are most enjoyable and understanding, some however have been know it all and very unpleasant folks to be associated with...luckily by far the minority.

    I was asked to assist as a freelance PH on a DG hunt in Matetsi. Being my first hunt with this outfit I was assigned the client who had booked the least number of animals for this safari. I was ok with that as I cherished hunting DG game and the main animal for my assigned client was a Cape buffalo.

    I drove up a few days before the hunt commenced as although I was familiar with the Matetsi blocks, having hunted there before, I wanted to scout the area before the hunt in order to familiarize myself with the general movement and proximity of the game beforehand.

    I had insisted with the outfitter that I would take my own tracker and skinner as we were a team and I did not hunt DG with a tracker I did not know..

    Scouting proved that not much had changed from my previous hunt in the area, except that single or small groups of dagga boys are nonexistent, only large herds of buffalo were seen.

    Day one I am assigned my client out of a group of seven hunters, the leader of which seems to be a mister knows all who gives unasked for instructions and is generally making himself the point of attention in camp. He was also making videos for publication in his country of origin.

    Now don’t get me wrong I understand some folks come for a once in a lifetime hunt and wish to have this filmed. No problem. I just don’t like “hunting for the camera” especially when it is for the sake of money and broadcasting, and not for cherished memories, as invariably the ethics start going out the door, many times.

    I was also assigned a local camera man. I was not to happy about this arrangement and had a discussion with him. I explained to him that I do not hunt for the camera and that I hope he had his sh.. together because if he screwed up the hunt there would be hell to play. If he did not agree to this he could report to the outfitter and ask to be assigned to another PH. My client agreed and did not like the idea of a cameraman on tow as he was not interested in the footage, as this was for Mr X, the leader of the group…

    I finally get some private time with my assigned client and as always I discuss with my client what he is expecting on his safari and what his expectations are. His reply makes me smile and relax and ignore the BS the ring leader has been get rid of. I silently smile and instantly know that as the “newbie” freelance PH for this outfitter I have drawn the trump card on this hunt.

    His simple reply was Cape buffalo was his primary animal and he had no expectations or wishes regarding spread or inches, he wanted the oldest, meanest looking and scarred up buffalo I could find….simple as that….

    The normal discussion regarding caliber and bullets ensued and I informed him that although I had arrived a few days early to scout I had not found any single dagga boys or bachelor groups of dagga boys I was confident we would find what he wanted.

    He was using Trophy bonded bear claw bullets and when asked if he needed to load up with softs or solids or soft and solid backed I by solids I replied that from what I had seen he was best off just loading the softs as solids in a herd situation could be a problem if the bullet exited and hit another buffalo. He was more than cool with that and we had an early night in anticipation of out hunt the next day…

    So we started hunting…quite a few days’s passed and although we saw many herds of buffalo and made many stalks we did not find a beat old dagga boy my client had in his mind to hunt. We collected PG as opportunities arose. Passing the first half of his hunt we had had an very enjoyable time together and never did he become negative or despondent even though we had passed up big decent trophy buffalo during the first half of his hunt, I am talking 40-42 inch spread hard boss bulls here, it was not what he was after…..

    We went out again as per usual, being up well before sunrise and leaving camp before sunrise…

    At about 9h30 we were on a section we had not been on before which was a track running parallel to the a joining block. We came over a rise and way up ahead next to a stream I spotted a lone buffalo bull. A short rap on the Cruiser roof had my tracker stop and my bino’s went up. I was looking at a beat up ancient buffalo bull grazing on the spars green grass next to the stream….

    We kept glassing to see if we could see any other buffalo, we could not we only saw this ancient warrior.

    Being a long way off we decided to have a closer look. Neither the Zim PH, game scout or tracker showed any interest to go after this buffalo. He was on the opposite side of the stream and the only approach we had was from our side, taking the wind into consideration. The problem was that our approach would be through long thick elephant grass that would bring us out very close to the buffalo, we would not be able to see him until we came out about 30 yards from him. We had no idea if he had a companion or two and if he may have moved position until we came out of the elephant grass…

    I discussed this with my client and he said let’s go I like that buff…my tracker, myself and client left the rest of the crew and started our approach.

    As we entered the elephant grass I explained the situation again to the camera man, making sure he understood that this was going to be difficult and that we had to be absolutely quite, no funny stuff on camera or not as we were hunting for the client not the footage…

    A painstaking stalk ensued without us knowing if there were any other buffalo, no forward vision so to speak through the elephant grass and it was noisy as everything was bone dry…. After what seemed like an eternity we saw the elephant grass thin, Alec my tracker leading, me close behind with client on my heels and camera man behind him…

    As we started emerging the elephant grass with no words spoken, Alec slowly set up the shooting sticks, a clear sign that our plan so far had worked and our quarry was in his sight, I moved in next to the shooting sticks and gestured my client into position. He silently and purposefully got his rifle on the sticks, the plan was coming together….or so we thought….

    We had actually come out closer to the buffalo than expected and where only just 20 yards away, which was not a problem as this ancient buffalo, probably in is 14th or 15th year had not heard our approach, until the camera man decided he needed to move to the side to get the footage and in doing so and not having anybody’s footstep to follow in made a noise that instantly changed the whole dynamics of the painstaking stalk….

    The client was not quite ready for the shot the ancient buffalo instantly spun around from broadside with a snort, head up facing the noise, trying to figure iout if this was the lion that had left the clearly visible scar on his rump or that had chomped his tail off a few years back!!

    He swung around, ran up the other bank of the stream that was only about 10 yards further and stopped next to the only bush on that side of the stream with his nostrils flaring and staring down his nose at us only separated by a stream of water that was insignificant in the context of the dilemma we were faced with….

    I knew and could feel that the charge to come was imminent and would come at any time, I silently urged my client, Shoot, he is going to charge, Shoot!!!...with that and a snort the ancient buffalo bull gave a snort, lowered his head lifted it and started his charge with raised head and flaring nostrils pointed at the disturbance of his final hr…

    To be continued....

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 1, 2019

  2. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    :D Pop Popcorn:
     

  3. mark-hunter

    mark-hunter AH Fanatic

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    Please, continue as soon as possible! Great story so far!
     
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  4. IvW

    IvW AH Elite

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    This had happened in seconds and although from the initial reaction from the buffalo I knew a charge was imminent, I held my fire. We had discussed shot placement and I was confident my client would take the shot as explained around the campfire, forget about the brain, place the shot below the raised nose in the neck aiming center mass to destroy the neck vertebrae as this gives a lot of room for error up and down but very little left and right but was the best option to stop the buff…

    I had had my 500 Jeff off safety and in my shoulder from the time we came out so close to him…when he started his charge which was slightly uphill from our location, I had mentally drawn a line at the start of the stream on his side, which was less than 15 feet from us…if he reached that without my client shooting I would have no option but to shoot and end it.

    As he reached that imaginary line I started squeezing the trigger at which point my clients shot rang out, which hit the buffalo exactly where I had explained causing his head to drop and my shot hit the buff in the neck also shattering the vertebrae between the boss and shoulder. The clients shot instantly killed the buffalo but the pressure on the trigger of my rifle was beyond the point of no return.

    The momentum caused the buffalo to crash down in the stream almost at our feet. What a hunt and what an experience!!!! My client was over joyed and what an ancient buffalo this was. Not much spread left to talk about, boss and horns long ago worn down, with a gap in between, old and more fresh lion attack scars on his body, almost no hair on his face and much of it gone from his body….the last remaining survivor off his Dagga boy brotherhood…my client was truly grateful and in ecstasy not only with this old warrior but with the whole experience….a great hunt overall and a great client.
     

  5. Hogpatrol

    Hogpatrol AH ENABLER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    I'm hanging by my fingernails! What happened?
     

  6. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    He has to quench his thirst.:D Beer Bottle:
    It's dusty around the fire..
     
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  7. mark-hunter

    mark-hunter AH Fanatic

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    I am guessing, a BS - storm coming from ring leader mr X of the clients group in the camp, due to second shot from PH... and possible poor footage taken in the heat of the moment by camera man, but I coud be wrong.... lets see what happens next!
     
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  8. TTundra

    TTundra AH Enthusiast

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    Sounds like the hunt I am dreaming off...minus the cameraman and his doings!
     

  9. IvW

    IvW AH Elite

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    Nope........
     
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  10. Wyatt Smith

    Wyatt Smith AH Veteran

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    IvW I love to hear your stories
     
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  11. IvW

    IvW AH Elite

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    Now having seven clients in camp is not easy and up’s and downs are ever present and the day’s events discussed over some colds ones are always interesting. The floor was my clients that night and we were most content. We had achieved his goal and being the type of client he was, the hunting gods had looked after him.

    There are always group discussions in these situations and after clients have retired or when PH’s who normally sleep one side, there are separate discussions regarding how things are going and how each client was and what was happening in general.

    So it transpired that Mr X, the “leader” of the group, was a difficult customer and client. His appointed PH was having trouble getting him to pull the trigger on anything as the way Mr.X had been describing himself to everybody since he arrived was that this was not his first rodeo and that he knew this and he knew that and he could judge trophy’s just as good as or better than any PH. He had been given ample opportunities on not only great buffalo but also kudu but not being his first “Rodeo” as he described it always seemed to have a difference of opinion regarding the actual size of the animals with the result that they had nothing in the salt…..This caused some discomfort at times around the campfire but such is life and the safari went on.

    After my client’s success on his dream buffalo, he had decided to lie in a bit as he we had completed his wish list and had day’s to spare.

    We got up a bit later the next morning and we are surprised to find Mr. X and his PH in camp when we went for breakfast. So after breakfast we are invited to tag along with them for the morning, I have my doubts after the discussions with his PH over the last couple of day’s but with my client agreeing I reluctantly tag along, after all we have time to burn…..

    Now Matetsi is not only a great place to hunt Elephant and Buffalo and Lion but also has some very impressive Sable and Kudu….Kudu being high on MR.X’s menu and not being his first “Rodeo” nothing under a 56” inch kudu was going to do it for him….

    Now as most of you will know 56” kudu are not kicked out behind every second bush but there are more than a few 54” inch plus kudu in Matetsi…

    So as we crest a rise and start moving parallel to a higher ridge to our right we spot 4 kudu bulls making their way down the high ridge in our direction. They are a long way off and have not seen us. Same old story rap on the Cruiser roof brings it to a halt and binoculars go up….some soft whistling is heard as we observe that two of the bulls are exceptional….one of which will easily make the magic 56” mark…the last bull of the 4…nr 3 seems to be about 54” and both have the deep curls typical of high scoring bulls. The assessment is conveyed to Mr X who proceeds to disagree and recons kudu nr 1 in line is the one….

    Now experienced kudu PH who hunt a lot of Kudu will tell you that the inches are carried in the depth of the curls, the thickness of the bases and horns and not only in the shape. Bull nr 1 in line had turns but very tight depth of curl, yes a trophy bull for first time hunter for sure but not a record book bull, quite simple. I intervened(which I probably should not have) and informed Mr X that bull 1 I would judge at 50” at best 51” and that bull Nr 4 was indeed a monster and is the one he should take.

    Now these 4 Kudu bulls are oblivious to us coming down this high ground, they are much closer now and we confirm our observations to Mr X, presumably to the stream that is way off to our left….

    I eventually say to Mr X, look sir you obviously know a hell of a lot more than we do about judging trophy kudu, so what are you waiting for? Get off the truck and kill kudu nr 1 and slap the tape on let’s see!!

    Well now he is on the spot as he recon’s that Nr 1 is much bigger than Nr 4, His PH(we know each other for a long time looks at me with a puzzled look) I nod and off they go, I tell the tracker in his own language to let the client shoot his own kudu, just get him close enough, the PH understands the language and follows suite, having had a week of this crap so far….

    We stay in the truck, three shots ring out, after a while Mr X, PH and tracker arrive back at the truck; Mr X is jubilant the PH and tracker seem somber. We arrive at the kudu and I silently smile, he indeed elected to shoot kudu Nr 1…..the longest horn stretches the tape to 51 inches….fu…I hate tape measures but this was the single time I enjoyed it being taken out even before we took any pictures…….

    The PH and tracker seem more cheered up the Mr X seems somber; our beer tastes very good on the way back to camp…..

    I was starting to enjoy this part of the safari for the wrong reasons....

    This is just the beginning…. The story ends with buffalo, two buffalo to be exact….so hang in there….
     

  12. IvW

    IvW AH Elite

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    So this night in camp things are a bit different, 7 clients, seven PH’s and seven day’s have past and things are what they are. I purposefully distance myself from Mr X as I find his company not to my liking and the events of the day had not exactly been one for further discussion among the group as yes sometimes what happens in the bush should stay in the bush but I was sure the point had finally sunk in to Mr X….so it seemed anyway.

    Couple of drinks later Mr X ( nothing of what had happened was mentioned in camp, the point had been made,, all the PH’s and my client and the trackers, knew, but nobody had said a word), came over to me and started a conversation, as usual very load and so that everybody could hear what he was saying.

    He asked me what my opinion was regarding solids or softs for backup shots on buffalo. I replied well seeing as he was using a 375 H&H and apart from the single old dagga boy my client had shot, myself and all the other hunters had only encountered big herds of buffalo during the week I would suggest only soft nosed bullets, especially as he was using the excellent Trophy bonded Bear claws, he would be better off using them for follow up shots. He then proceeded to explain to me, again so loud as to ensure everybody could hear him, that this was not his first “Rodeo” and that he had it on good authority from a gun dealer in the country of where he is from that only solids were to be used for back up shots on buffalo and what experience do I have and how many buffalo have I hunted? And continued in this fashion for quite a while…the result was that everybody became very quiet as he was at this stage having a heated conversation with himself and not offering me an opportunity to explain myself further, although I was looking at him the whole time taking the occasional sip from my glass. When he eventually finished and said so why should I not use solids for back-up?

    I calmly replied,Sir you asked me for my opinion, which I gave to you, this is not my first Buffalo hunting “Rodeo”, you seem to have everything under control, you are welcome to use whatever you like, but remember that you pay for all buffalo killed or wounded, good night, see you in the morning. I put my glass on the counter and left. Not a word was spoken until I reached the PH bungalow…..
     

  13. Jeffrey

    Jeffrey AH Veteran

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    :D Pop Popcorn::A Camping::D Pop Popcorn:
     
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  14. IvW

    IvW AH Elite

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    Mr X’s PH shortly joined me in the bungalow. He had also left as he felt Mr X would be better off spending some time with his group. He begged me to go with him the following day. I declined, as my client had apologized to me following the day’s events(of which I replied that he had nothing to apologize for) and said he would not want to go out with Mr X again, but agreed to let him know if we spotted any buffalo worth following up if we spotted any.

    Next morning we had a late (after sunrise) start and everybody had left camp, after a hearty breakfast decided to just go out on a game drive.

    Not too long after leaving we spotted a large herd of buffalo between 250 and 300 strong. They were in some shrub Mopani peacefully grazing towards a stream of water. This meant they would probably water there and then rest up as the day got hot until late afternoon, perfect set up for a stalk. We called the r X party on the radio and waited watching the herd.

    Mr X duly arrived and I pointed out the herd of buffalo and got ready to depart in the other direction when Mr X ph again asked me to please accompany them….I declined. Mr X insisted and my client said ok cool. The end result was a party way too big for the task at hand. Mr X, black Zim PH, two trackers (mine staid at my truck), game scout, camera man, Mr. X’s PH and myself.

    We doglegged way ahead of the herd and to the one side, it had not yet heated up too much and the wind was good and constant. It would begin swirling around much more as it became hotter.

    We stalked into a good position, although all of us where hidden behind a single Mopani tree between the scrub Mopani and the stream. Mr X his PH and myself were standing behind the tree the rest of the ante rage had taking a lower profile. We were perfectly positioned with the front part of the herd starting to emerge from the shrub Mopani and they would cross from our right to left completely in the open of the short grass next to the stream. All we had to do was be patient and select a good hard bossed bull.

    This happened and an excellent bull with hard bosses, good spread, drop and curl came out of the shrub Mopani on our side of the herd. This bull was pointed out and Mr X started following him through the scope distance about 55 yards, the bull then turned, still grazing, directly towards us, Mr X took his gun off safe and got ready to take the shot(he was planning on taking the high risk shot through the top of the neck between the bosses and the shoulder with the buffalo grazing straight towards us), I intervened again and said no wait he will turn broadside, he did at about 35 yards. Mr X let fly with his first shot (which hit in line nut a bit high-both lungs but high above the hart) and proceeded to jump out behind the Mopani tree running towards the herd…

    I shouted NO wait!, which was ignored as Mr X banged off his second shot which hit the bull too far back exited and hit a cow behind the bull in the hip, she spun around and re-entered the shrub Mopani….

    Now for you who have not experienced this type of scenario with a herd of 250+buffalo in the dry season it is pandemonium when the shot goes off as the herd thunders off it is a dust cloud of note…now do not get me wrong there is nothing wrong with running after a buffalo you have shot at takes off provided you can see the buffalo you shot at, you do not shoot if you are not sure you are going to hit the same buffalo, you do not have 250+ other buffalo in the mix and the terrain allows for that if not it is a bad idea…..

    Mr X proceeds running after the herd banging away…his PH takes off after him, concerned for his safety, I shout forget the bull watch out for the cow!!! So now we have Mr X running banging away, his PH (my friend) reluctantly following trying to keep tabs on Mr X and myself following more cautiously, the rest all wisely opt to stay put at the Mopani tree. Keeping my eyes on the shrub Mopani on the right where the wounded cow went back into…Mr X soon passes this point still banging away…his PH passes the same point and the cow comes crashing in full charge straight at him right in front of me, he has no time to turn to his right and shoot as she is too close……
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2019

  15. One Day...

    One Day... GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    I can see where this is going Ivor :E Rofl: you made it easy with your previous post saying "the story ends with buffalo, two buffalo to be exact…."
    Looks like that solid .375 may have gone onto finding a second home after cruising through the first buff :E Excited:
    I bet in the end it will be your fault anyway, Mr X obviously knows better :V Spank:
     

  16. IvW

    IvW AH Elite

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    Luckily I had been prepared and anticipated that a charge from the cow was imminent, I just had enough time to aim lead and fire, the 570 gr bullet hitting the cow at the junction of the neck and the shoulder, instantly folding her. She dropped at seven yards.

    By this time the herd has left in a giant dust cloud and I look ahead and spot the bull down close to the stream with Mr X shouting bring bullets! bring bullets! With his PH having taken evasive action to the left I arrive on scene just before him, real pissed off at this point. The bull is down but not dead, I lift my rifle and kill him.

    What does Mr X have to say?? Who was shooting behind me??

    I proceed to ask him to please follow me, as we retrace our steps I point out where his footprints are, I further point out that he kept running despite us shouting at him to stop, I then mention that he used solids for back up didn’t you? Yes and what is the problem? He again asked who was shooting behind me. By this time we had reached the downed cow. He abruptly stopped and started changing color.

    I then said Sir here is your Buffalo cow that nearly killed your PH after you shot it in the arse, how would you like to have it skinned? A full mount or just a shoulder mount?

    He had no words at this point and I turned around gave my mate a hug, got my client and left….

    Needless to say the dynamics in camp were not the same after that.

    This individual has gone on from there to become a well-known TV hunt host and self-proclaimed buffalo expert, gladly our paths have never crossed and I am thankful for that. That he is uninjured after watching some of his further exploits amazes me.

    Not often you get an agreeable and most pleasant client and the total opposite on the same safari….

    Which are you…..
     

  17. One Day...

    One Day... GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    We must have clicked "post reply" on #14 and #15 at about the same time :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2019
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  18. WAB

    WAB AH Elite

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    So IvW, I must know, are the breaks in your story the points at which your glass of whiskey needs to be refilled?

    Please continue, we are all anxiously awaiting the conclusion!
     
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  19. IvW

    IvW AH Elite

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    Actually some Brandy tonight..:D
     

  20. One Day...

    One Day... GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    PHASA
    Hunted:
    Europe (North, South, West), USA (East, West), Canada (British Columbia, Quebec, Newfoundland), Africa (Eastern Cape, Limpopo)
    A few questions Ivor:

    What do you shoot in the .500 Jeff? A stopping shot like you took on the cow, does it go through with the Jeff?

    When did all this happen? More to the point, how did it / does it work for a SA PH to hunt in Zim? I notice you mentioned "black Zim PH ... Mr. X’s PH and myself." Is the PH "in charge" technically the Zim PH? Are you legally considered as just coming along? Etc. etc.

    Reason I ask is I am considering a tuskless cow elephant in Zim...
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2019

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