The Secret Seven

fourfive8

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The Secret Seven ... hmmm... Kind of an odd category but interesting! I think the jackal is the right "size" and can be nocturnal for sure but not in the same category as most of the others- especially the cats. I have no preference for listing or grouping and would agree with most any rationale for including any of them.

For certain the civet fits as does the honey badger ...although, while honey badgers tend to be nocturnal, they seem a little hard headed and not exactly sneaky- more like clever in an odd way. They remind me of NA badgers and wolverines. The Africa wildcat seems plenty sneaky and inconspicuous for sure- I would be too if I were small and near the bottom of the cat pyramid. They certainly do look and act like regular ole domestic tabbies gone feral. The most striking and handsome of the smaller cat group, to me, is the caracal. However, the most impressive, stealthy cat I ever saw in Africa was a serval in Mozambique. Saw it in twilight just before dark. I was standing motionless in fairly open, thin timber on a hillside. After watching some roan meander over a ridge, a little grysbok walked right up and gave my leg a sniff. Simultaneous to the grysbok visit, a serval shot down the slope at an angle, just below me, seemingly floating over small shrubs and downfall logs tip out of sight. "Floating like a flying carpet" would be as close as I can describe the movement. To this day can't fully explain how that cat moved that way. That serval would be number one on my list of a Secret Seven or however many list :)
 

Doug Hamilton

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I was recently re-reading Peter Flack’s “Hunting Icons of Africa.” For those who aren’t aware, in that book Peter, who is based in South Africa, and is likely one of the most accomplished hunters of the modern era, chooses 25 trophies which he believes are true icons of African hunting.

One of his icons is the caracal. In reading the relevant section, Peter mentions something I hadn’t come across before: the “Secret Seven.” These are smaller predators which are secret by virtue of the fact that they’re generally nocturnal. His list consists of the following animals: African wildcat; African black-footed cat; Caracal; Serval; Civet; Large spotted genet; and small spotted genet.

Peter’s list made me think that it might be interesting to start a thread dedicated to hunting these interesting creatures. So this is that thread!

But first things first. We have to agree on the list. I would generally defer to Peter, given his status as an authority, but I think he misses the mark a bit here . . . if I can say that without being presumptuous. First, I’m not sure it’s necessary to include two of the very small cats, especially when one of them isn’t available for hunting (the black-footed cat). So I would propose to delete the black-footed cat.

My second issue is with the genets. There are apparently 14-17 subspecies of genets, so I’m not sure why these two – even if they are the most commonly hunted – make the cut. There’s another reason for my reluctance to accept this though. I’ve shot two genets, and in both cases, there was an argument among apparently knowledgeable people as to whether I had shot a small spotted genet which was quite large, or a large spotted genet which was a bit small (in other words, a large small spotted genet or a small large spotted genet!). Apparently, people base their identification on the region in which the genet is shot, on the assumption that the ranges of the two don’t overlap. I think they do, but rather than get into that discussion, I would just include the one species of genet, and any of the sub-species would do.

I did a bit of research (emphasis on bit) and found one other reference to the secret seven, in a video called something like “Natural Killers.” This video had a much different list – it consisted of the African wildcat; pangolin; civet; porcupine; serval; civet; and aardvark. I won’t spend too much time on this list – it’s frankly absurd. First, you can’t hunt pangolins, so they would be out even if they were carnivores (eating insects doesn’t make you a carnivore in my book, or the robin outside my window would count); second, porcupines aren’t carnivores; and third, aardvarks aren’t carnivores either (ants are insects in my view) and in any case, I wouldn’t want to encourage anyone to shoot these inoffensive creatures!

My criteria for inclusion in the list would be firstly, that the animal is a carnivore; secondly, that it be nocturnal or otherwise secretive; thirdly, that it not be “big,” (whatever that means); fourthly, that it not be essentially the same species as another animal on the list; and lastly, that it be both huntable and reasonably available.

So that leaves me with five animals that both Flack and I agree should be included: the genet; civet; serval; caracal and African wildcat. We need two more to get to seven, since “secret five” lacks the alliterative allure of “secret seven.” I hope we could all agree that the honey badger should be included in this list. It’s huntable in many places and is generally nocturnal, it’s not big and it’s a carnivore. Plus it’s a fun animal to hunt.

That leaves me with one to go, and here we have options. We could go for hyena, but the spotted is really too big to be thought of as ‘secret’, as are likely the stripped and the brown, and only the brown is reliably nocturnal (the others are, but are also relatively often found during the day). The aardwolf, though, is an option, but I suggest it fails because it’s mostly insectivorous. The various foxes could be included, but they are rarely available under license, so I think that knocks them out. There are animals like mongooses, but I don’t think I’ve ever come across one while hunting, and the various African rats, which are carnivorous given the opportunity, but aren’t really hunted. That doesn’t leave too many more options . . . except the various jackals. I’ve shot some during daylight, but more often at night. They are undoubtedly carnivores and they are generally very shy and secretive, especially when under pressure (which is usually everywhere). And they aren't too big.

So unless there are objections, can we agree that the "secret seven" should consist of:
  • Genet
  • Civet
  • Serval
  • African wildcat
  • Caracal
  • Honey Badger
  • Jackal
Feel free to argue; once we agree we might then move on to a discussion of hunting these various creatures.
I like this list and can't think of anything that I would change, including the jackal. The only one I've killed was right at last light and was certainly not wanting to be seen. We did see several in the headlights at night though so they weren't rare in the area. They definitely meet the criteria.
Doug
 

Doug Hamilton

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The Secret Seven ... hmmm... Kind of an odd category but interesting! I think the jackal is the right "size" and can be nocturnal for sure but not in the same category as most of the others- especially the cats. I have no preference for listing or grouping and would agree with most any rationale for including any of them.

For certain the civet fits as does the honey badger ...although, while honey badgers tend to be nocturnal, they seem a little hard headed and not exactly sneaky- more like clever in an odd way. They remind me of NA badgers and wolverines. The Africa wildcat seems plenty sneaky and inconspicuous for sure- I would be too if I were small and near the bottom of the cat pyramid. They certainly do look and act like regular ole domestic tabbies gone feral. The most striking and handsome of the smaller cat group, to me, is the caracal. However, the most impressive, stealthy cat I ever saw in Africa was a serval in Mozambique. Saw it in twilight just before dark. I was standing motionless in fairly open, thin timber on a hillside. After watching some roan meander over a ridge, a little grysbok walked right up and gave my leg a sniff. Simultaneous to the grysbok visit, a serval shot down the slope at an angle, just below me, seemingly floating over small shrubs and downfall logs tip out of sight. "Floating like a flying carpet" would be as close as I can describe the movement. To this day can't fully explain how that cat moved that way. That serval would be number one on my list of a Secret Seven or however many list :)
Mine too!
 

Hank2211

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I had to call the list locked down because of the grief I was getting about the jackal. And now it seems there are lots of jackal supporters.

I'm going to go unilateral again. From now on, you qualify if you have the mongoose or a jackal. Just like your favourite restaurant, no other substitutions allowed!

Now I've posted a picture of a serval I shot. Both dead and "alive" (by which I mean, mounted!).

Can we perhaps see a few more. I will add my honey badger to set us back to the animals.
 

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2016, Limpopo, RSA. I was sitting on a bait, waiting (hoping, more like it) for a brown hyena. This fellow showed up fairly early. We heard the bone crunching from about 80 yards. One shot, he rnade about 5 yards, and down. Same pungent smell as a skunk. I've only seen them in daylight once.


P1000092.jpeg
 

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79c0a97f-4dd7-49d2-b7dc-6646e25c8fde.jpg

My genet taken in 2019 in SA. The first of my nite critters that qualify for the Sneaky Secret Seven.
 

Hank2211

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Looks like a man sized genet - I've taken two - neither that big!
 

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jeff

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I've taken a few night critters with bow, ardwolfe, serval and porcupine and hope to add more this April going to bait for civet, badger, genet and hope to try some calling for jackal. Some might not be of the secret 7 but they are all cool.
 

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Am I the only one that needs a substitute for the african wildcat? Some of the others need some rationalizing to my brain but look "wild" enough...our house cats are family just like our dogs, I think the african wildcat may be one of the only huntable species in the world I couldnt pull the trigger on lol

I am however, extremely excited about chasing caracal with @KMG Hunting Safaris and am going to try and get it done with a bow!
 

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I came very close to booking caracal bowhunt with Marius. He is place to go for hound hunt caracal!!!!
 

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I came very close to booking caracal bowhunt with Marius. He is place to go for hound hunt caracal!!!!
I love watching dogs work whether its bear, birds, wounded deer, or cats they're after. Big into truly well trained waterfowl dogs but it's been a while since I've watched one tree something and cant wait! Add a buffalo and nyala for me, a giraffe and bushpig for the wife, and who knows what else and it's going to be truly spectacular. Had lunch with Marius when he was here in 2019 and I have no doubt we are going to have an awesome time
 

Hank2211

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Am I the only one that needs a substitute for the african wildcat? Some of the others need some rationalizing to my brain but look "wild" enough...our house cats are family just like our dogs, I think the african wildcat may be one of the only huntable species in the world I couldnt pull the trigger on lol

I am however, extremely excited about chasing caracal with @KMG Hunting Safaris and am going to try and get it done with a bow!
I believe you are the only one!
 

Hank2211

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Lol well if I get the other 6 one day I'll just make up the 7th ;)

The Zorilla should get, at minimum, and honorable mention! Aardwolf is a no-brainer
There were no votes for pole cats in addition to the other cats. And unlike another election, this one was entirely transparent (especially since I got outvoted).

If people can present a note signed by their doctor (a real one, not the kind we’re seeing these days) attesting to a disability which limits their ability to shoot, for example, cats which look like house pets, the I assume under the ADA we will have to accommodate that. Otherwise, the categories are closed!
 

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