What makes a good safari client?

Therack

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The clients like to scrutinize every last painstaking detail of a safari camp, trophy quality, fence height, meals, property size, animal quality and PH. I wold like to hear from the operators. What are the qualities of a good client?
 

One Day...

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SPEAK. SPEAK. SPEAK.

Tell us what you like. Tell us what you dislike. Tell us before hunting. Tell us during hunting. Tell you PH. Tell the lodge staff. Tell the outfitter.

COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, BEFORE AND DURING.

See, Africa has a different culture, different expectations, a different rhythm and your safari crew literally lives to please, but you need to help them by telling them what pleases you:
- tell your PH how you like to hunt (hard? more relaxed? on foot? on truck? stalking? sitting?);
- tell you PH what is most important to you (the hunt? any representative trophy" a SCI Gold Medal?);
- tell the Lodge staff what food you do not like, what food you prefer;
- etc.

Please refrain from incompatible asks and impossible tasks:
- want a wilderness Vaal Rhebok hunt but not in physical condition to climb the mountain!?!?
- want a fair chase hunt but a guaranteed shot at a breeder quality trophy!?!?
- want an African bush experience but do not tolerate heat, dust, bugs!?!?
- etc.

Please say what you really want, as long as it is legal, your outfitter and PH will strive to deliver.

Do not say what you think your PH or outfitter want to hear, or what you think will make you look good in their eyes. They respect honesty and it really simplifies their life.

Do not assume that your PH or outfitter has a degree in applied psychology and will read you mind, just say what is on your mind.

If anything is not what you want it to be, SAY IT ON THE SPOT. Your PH and the staff can adapt and will correct instantly. Do not waste days or your entire safari brooding over something you do not like. Just say it.

We will adapt to your physical condition, your shooting, and your likes and dislikes ... as long as we know them.

90% of a successful safari is you telling us what you want. This is YOUR time, this is YOUR money, this is YOUR safari. We are only here to help :)
 
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CAustin

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Well that was a fast and definitive answer.
 

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spike.t

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SPEAK. SPEAK. SPEAK.

Tell us what you like. Tell us what you dislike. Tell us before hunting. Tell us during hunting. Tell you PH. Tell the lodge staff. Tell the outfitter.

COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, BEFORE AND DURING.

See, Africa has a different culture, different expectations, a different rhythm and your safari crew literally lives to please, but you need to help them by telling them what pleases you:
- tell your PH how you like to hunt (hard? more relaxed? on foot? on truck? stalking? sitting?);
- tell you PH what is most important to you (the hunt? any representative trophy" a SCI Gold Medal?);
- tell the Lodge staff what food you do not like, what food you prefer;
- etc.

Please refrain from incompatible asks and impossible tasks:
- want a wilderness Vaal Rhebok hunt but not in physical condition to climb the mountain!?!?
- want a fair chase hunt but a guaranteed shot at a breeder quality trophy!?!?
- want an African bush experience but do not tolerate heat, dust, bugs!?!?
- etc.

Please say what you really want, as long as it is legal, your outfitter and PH will strive to deliver.

Do not say what you think your PH or outfitter want to hear, or what you think will make you look good in their eyes. They respect honesty and it really simplifies their life.

Do not assume that your PH or outfitter has a degree in applied psychology and will read you mind, just say what is on your mind.

If anything is not what you want it to be, SAY IT ON THE SPOT. Your PH and the staff can adapt and will correct instantly. Do not waste days or your entire safari brooding over something you do not like. Just say it.

We will adapt to your physical condition, your shooting, and your likes and dislikes ... as long as we know them.

90% of a successful safari is you telling us what you want. This is YOUR time, this is YOUR money, this is YOUR safari. We are only here to help :)
Not sure what this has to do with original question as to what operators think makes a good client......you have just rehashed what went on in those other two threads.....you are saying what the client should be saying in certain situations.... Not what the other side thinks of what's nice in a client.....
 

One Day...

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Not sure what this has to do with original question as to what operators think makes a good client......you have just rehashed what went on in those other two threads.....you are saying what the client should be saying in certain situations.... Not what the other side thinks of what's nice in a client.....
I assure you that the first thing a PH/outfitter wishes for, is a client who communicates. I would think it is the same in Zambia as it is in South Africa.
I understood the question to mean what operators wish in a client? If you understand it differently I may have misinterpreted and I am curious to read how you interpreted it?
The client needs to talk in ALL situations, precisely so they do go bad, that seems to be a constant comment on both client and operator sides, it seems to me.
 
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buck wild

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I'm a guide for WT in Texas, not Africa but I suspect things are similar as far as a client/guide relationship.
I want:
- a person to arrive that has "prepared"- basically meaning they have tried to educate themselves about the hunt/quarry as much as possible,
-they need in good enough physical shape to hunt (yes there are limitations but it shouldn't because he laid on the couch all summer)
-a person knowledgeable with their weapon AND has become proficient in its use
- a good attitude that we will at some point in the hunt hit a bump and we can still get past it

Of all these, a great attitude will usually overcome the other issues !
 

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What are the qualities of a good client?
Be a good shot, also without sticks. Some hunters don‘t hit an eland from a 50 meters distance. It happened...

Be familiar with your telescope. Be able to adjust the telescope in the field.

Don‘t brag constantly.

Treat the entire staff with courtesy.

Don‘t sit on your quarry.

Don‘t believe the bigger the tip the more you are respected.

That‘s what I expect, every PH/Outfitter has his own opinion of course.
 

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I assure you that the first thing a PH/outfitter wishes for, is a client who communicates. I would think it is the same in Zambia as it is in South Africa.
I understood the question to mean what operators wish in a client? If you understand it differently I may have misinterpreted and I am curious to read how you interpreted it?
The client needs to talk in ALL situations, precisely so they do go bad, that seems to be a constant comment on both client and operator sides, it seems to me.
Fine yes communication is totally needed...but yet again I will say your post wasn't what was originally asked. The replies from Bushpig and buckwild are to me what was asked.....
 

One Day...

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Fine yes communication is totally needed...but yet again I will say your post wasn't what was originally asked. The replies from Bushpig and buckwild are to me what was asked.....
This is completely OK I fully expect that different folks on the operating side will emphasize different aspects. Some will be more technical some will be less technical, just as we started to see already. ALL characteristics are 100% valid to the people who value them.

I tend to value more the human side. I am with @buck wild. #1 for me is being on the same team. You can fix about anything with good will.

Full disclosure: my feedback is more based on alpinism (I was - still am technically but too old ;-) a registered instructor from the Chamonix France national ski & alpinism school) but I believe that the client/guide relation is the same: some technical skills needed, the more the better, and a willingness to resolve anything and make things work (communication, candor, honesty, good attitude, etc etc).

Not objecting to your view, just explaining that mine is different and that it is genuine
 

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My PH/outfitter told me Attitude!! The outfitter cannot control the weather so do not complain it rains or too hot or whatever. Anything mechanical can and will break down. So if you have a problem with the transportation(belt, hose, tire and such) do not bitch as long as the outfitter has equipment that is not worn out junk to start with. I did not like the cold shower after 2 min but it was a factory defect in a brand new unit. The outfitter did everything to fix it but it took calls to the factory and over night type of parts to do so. Again ATTITUDE. So what we were in Africa, having a great time......….even got some free animals which was because of our attitude!!

My outfitter/PH told me there are 2 types of hunters. Born hunters that make anything a pleasant, fun, rewarding hunt client. Then there are money made hunters who think they are better than others, demand special treatment, often think you are trying to cheat them, have a fancy rifle/scope that they probably cannot shoot well, complain about hunting conditions, weather, food, bed, lack of attention since the whole world revolves around them and such
Bottom line---ATTITUDE----
 

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Can you accept these processes?

"We must make a plan"

"Today we are going to battle"

You will likely turn out to be a decent client.
 

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payment is on time and the check clears the bank....
 

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I'm not a PH or guide but I was in residential remodeling business for nearly 50 years. My main concern when dealing with clients was for them to TALK. I had to know what they wanted in order to do the job and there is no one harder to deal with than homeowners who don't know what they want and keep changing their minds. If something wasn't right, tell me and we could find a solution before the job progressed too far and required a major rework. As in any business there are good and not so good clients. Some roll with the flow and make the best of a situation and some snivel and whine about every little thing.

Now that I am on the other side as a client I try to roll with the flow and let it happen. Surprisingly, it all works out and it is better for all concerned. Complaining just exacerbates the problem and does no one any good. A constant complainer is cutting his own throat and hurting his chance of returning to that camp. Problems have to be addressed, but promptly and in a civilized manner before they escalate into something no one wants.

The key is communication--from all concerned.

Good will and abiding by the terms of the contract, which includes prompt and full payment, go far in assuring a pleasant experience.
 
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steve ahrenberg

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Try going with this mentality. I wrote this a few years ago. It appeared in "The African Hunter" and drew many comments from both sides of the transaction.

Actually, I remember I wrote in in 2006 & 07 after the Botswana Elephant hunt.



The Client

I may be young, I may be old. Perhaps I am athletic and in shape or maybe a bit long in tooth and round in profile. I may come for lion and leopard or I simply come for an impala or a kudu.

Who I am is the international hunting client and what I am about should have been written long ago. It may be uncomfortable and frankly unpopular; nonetheless the topic needs to be broached.

We, the international hunting clients of the world fuel this industry, make no mistake. Without us the professional hunters of the world, whether good or bad, wouldn't be able to live the lives of their dreams. Only due to the client's collectively pursued passions are they able to walk daily amongst the magnificent antelopes and grim beasts of Mother Africa. I am sure the professionals of which I speak will have some disagreement with this. I understand, and only bring these things to bear for stimulating thought......on both ends.

Somewhere along the way things, in my opinion, have gone horribly askew. On my last few trips overseas, I have begun to take notice of certain repeated behavior patterns displayed by some very well known professional hunters. Some were in destinations I was only able to dream about in my younger years. Places of danger, places of intrigue. Fantastic places were hunted and some extraordinary creatures were pursued, successful pursuits in most cases.

I have come to the conclusion that "they" (some PHs) now somehow think it (international sport hunting) is all about them. We the sport hunting community are guilty, guilty of creating some of these ego driven, self-promoting personalities. Some of us are willing to even pay a premium to go afield with the "stars" of the industry. Why?

After you are safely aboard the charter on your way out of camp, you are the brunt of stories, jokes and anecdotal fowl ups for the next wave of "stumbling halfwits." We willingly plop down a year’s salary or more for the hunts of our lifetimes. It matters zero to them if you show up prepared physically and mentally, if you’re able to shoot, and you can see the animals. You will be treated the same as a first timer that stumbles around homesick for 21 days with your muzzle pointed at the back of their head and complains, of blisters, the heat or no ice for their cocktails.

I have formed these opinions from my own and unique position of experience. Having 33 Safaris in 21 separate trips overseas I’ve hunted nearly all sub-Saharan African countries.

And, I have collected the majority of her bounty. I am comfortable in my own skin and make no apologies. I claim no special hunting skills, only an ability to read people with an acute aptitude of situational awareness.

I write this in Heathrow, on a layover coming back from a Botswana elephant hunt. I sat one day on this last safari, at lunch listening to a PH of record and another PH that was between safaris. They openly made sport of guys, guys just like me. Guys with business', guys with jobs or perhaps retired. We return home to our families. The professionals return to the bush and make sport of me and others to the next "client". Funny thing, in all the stories, the fools they speak of don't have names, just "client". We never take a moment to think that they feel the same about us. I maintain it's time to quit the game when the names and the faces all become one long blur of pictures, hunting stories and blown shots. These safaris mean far more to us than it does them. This may be the one and only chance many of us get to experience these places and pursue these beasts.

I have even discussed these thoughts with one of the PHs one evening around the fire. His take was this: we finish with the hunt, get on a charter and go back to our safe lives and leave them to clean up the messes we create with our poor shooting. There is probably a lot of truth to his statement.

The romance and traditions of Africa are a powerful aphrodisiac. It draws us back time after time. I know it has me. Personally, I take my responsibility as a sport hunter extremely serious. I show up fit, both physically and mentally. A 21-day safari is a long one, at times you must focus to take things one day at a time and keep your head in the game. I also bring only rifles I can shoot and take shots I am virtually certain I can make. The last thing I want is to wound something the next client or PH must deal with.

How many stories have we all heard about client’s wives, or even daughters? Think yours are any different? They are flesh and blood just as we are.

For some untold reason, the international hunting community has assigned a “Rock Star” status or hero worship to many of these PHs. Perhaps it’s because I can think of no other “sport” where we can participate, side by side with a Professional at anything.

It's November, the phone calls start and the emails arrive. They are asking about coming over for a visit between the hunting conventions. We feel honored to have a "Professional Hunter" actually want to stay at our homes. We buy them dinner, take them places, they drink our finest single malt. We may even try to help them and book more "bumbling clients". We take days off work or away from our businesses to entertain them. Maybe it makes us feel like we are in their inner circle or within their appreciated sphere of influence.

You actually believe that you are somehow different or special. We even see it as some kind of a badge of honor that a real professional hunter from Africa has chosen me as a friend. These are superficial friendships at the very best.

Come as a client, leave as a friend?

It may be hard for some to accept these concepts and learned them the hard way. I have many friends and acquaintances that go back to Africa every year and hunt with the same guys, the same guys that behind closed doors refer to one honorable, successful and admirable man as “a gomer”.

Personally, I have decided to change my approach. Moving forward, I will no longer go alone and look for any sort of companionship from these guys. I will now go with a pal or my wife and treat them as they should be treated, as an employee of sorts. No real difference than your relationship with your taxidermist, your dentist or the guy you just bought your new F250 Super Duty from.

A trophy celebration in a foreign language

Now, they can celebrate "their" successful kills and I can have my own celebration with someone who is genuinely happy for me. The attending PH can take as many high quality trophy photos of himself for self-promotion as he has taken of me, and I could not care less. I once hunted with a guy that never once took a photo on his camera with me in the shot. Seems kind of nuts, but that act alone gave me the awareness to start becoming a student of these behaviors. He showed me his iPod one evening in camp. All of his pictures were of he alone, no "client" to be seen. This particular “Professional” must see the client as no more than a tool to do "his killing" for him.

Honestly ask yourselves, could any one of these guys be successful enough in business to afford to pay for one of the safaris that they ridicule "us" on? How about personal relationships, failed marriages, questionable vehicles and finances. I wouldn't trade my life for theirs for any amount of money. I also am sure they would say the same about my life. But we don't make fun of, nor ridicule them, do we?

Have you ever gone home early?

Have you ever finished a safari early? Have there been "suggestions" of perhaps side trips? Do these side trips usually require a trip home for some reason? I think many clients prefer to just "go with the flow" and not make mention of things that probably don't sit right with us. After all, you really do want this guy to like you, right? I use to feel that way, and would say nothing. "Hey Steve, do you mind if my wife, girlfriend, brother in law, whatever comes into

camp". Well, yes I do. I now just spit it out and keep communication as open and as honest as is possible.

I have never left a safari early, not at my own request anyway. It was suggested once that, I could go home early if I wanted. I didn't, but took the suggestion as he prefer I be elsewhere so rearranged my families trip home to the order of 2,800. for changing the prearranged itinerary.

I really feel that poor communication is the biggest component of a safari gone bad. You as the paying client cannot keep your mouth closed if something bothers you. You need to stop things right then, and tell the PH what it is you want, or don't want, or what he does is bothering you in some way. It is your adventure, you're paying the bill. As long as it's not something weird or increases their cost, it should be granted. If you being popular with this guy is more important than your satisfaction on this safari, by all means, be the nice guy.

Because of the aforementioned changes, I also no longer go to the same place with the same professional time after time. I now see more of what Africa has to offer and see. I have also noticed that the same animals behave differently from country to country and game management areas. I also get to experience many different hunting styles. I will have a much richer bank of experience to call upon for stories to my children and grandchildren.

Who's at fault here

There is plenty of blame to go around here. I think we, the clients can possibly be overbearing at times in our invitations to the PH's to come and visit. This goes back to the hero worship or rock star thing stated prior. Conversely, the professionals could just as easily tell us, they are on a tight schedule, prior commitments, whatever. My personal belief is; it has devolved into a PH being able to pick and choose who he would rather spend a few days with while in America. Can't say as I blame them for that. I'm sure many clients are a bear to be around. Think about this; nearly 24 hours a day 7 days a week for up to 28 days, with a guy you really don't care for. That may very well include me, after all, you can pay anyone to be your friend.

I truly hope my words are read as they are meant. I only wish to help someone else not repeat the same mistakes in safari hunting I have made. Keep things friendly yet, impersonal. It can be difficult, basically living with a guy, you tend to look up to a bit and not personalize the relationship.

All these things being said, I have enjoyed every minute of every day while hunting in Africa, I have made, what I thought to be close friends. As long as I feel that way thats what's important.

Could you just bring along a brick of .22s?

Does this one sound familiar? I have been asked by more than one PH if I could "just throw a brick of .22s, 12ga, .375 etc. ammo in my bag." I chose to not spend my vacation in some African jail or trying to explain away why I have not declared it. I also probably don't have a firearm that matches the stuff in my gun box. So, the answer is, "No", and it should be yours as well.

Why do you think it is that we get requests for things? Sometimes I think we just bring gifts along unrequested. iPods, Oakley sunglasses seem to be a popular request. I've been guilty as well.

Perhaps it's just me. Maybe I'm burnt out on these musings. Hunting in Africa should be pure: it's raw beauty and savagery, her primal killing fields. Not some popularity contest. I believe it has been corrupted, corrupted possibly by us, the clients. A good friend of mine coined this timeless and appropriate phrase.

"Africa is about the men and the dust and the diesel, it sticks to your skin and cannot be washed away, nor does it wain." Andrew Baldry.
 

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Try going with this mentality. I wrote this a few years ago. It appeared in "The African Hunter" and drew many comments from both sides of the transaction.

Actually, I remember I wrote in in 2006 & 07 after the Botswana Elephant hunt.



The Client

I may be young, I may be old. Perhaps I am athletic and in shape or maybe a bit long in tooth and round in profile. I may come for lion and leopard or I simply come for an impala or a kudu.

Who I am is the international hunting client and what I am about should have been written long ago. It may be uncomfortable and frankly unpopular; nonetheless the topic needs to be broached.

We, the international hunting clients of the world fuel this industry, make no mistake. Without us the professional hunters of the world, whether good or bad, wouldn't be able to live the lives of their dreams. Only due to the client's collectively pursued passions are they able to walk daily amongst the magnificent antelopes and grim beasts of Mother Africa. I am sure the professionals of which I speak will have some disagreement with this. I understand, and only bring these things to bear for stimulating thought......on both ends.

Somewhere along the way things, in my opinion, have gone horribly askew. On my last few trips overseas, I have begun to take notice of certain repeated behavior patterns displayed by some very well known professional hunters. Some were in destinations I was only able to dream about in my younger years. Places of danger, places of intrigue. Fantastic places were hunted and some extraordinary creatures were pursued, successful pursuits in most cases.

I have come to the conclusion that "they" (some PHs) now somehow think it (international sport hunting) is all about them. We the sport hunting community are guilty, guilty of creating some of these ego driven, self-promoting personalities. Some of us are willing to even pay a premium to go afield with the "stars" of the industry. Why?

After you are safely aboard the charter on your way out of camp, you are the brunt of stories, jokes and anecdotal fowl ups for the next wave of "stumbling halfwits." We willingly plop down a year’s salary or more for the hunts of our lifetimes. It matters zero to them if you show up prepared physically and mentally, if you’re able to shoot, and you can see the animals. You will be treated the same as a first timer that stumbles around homesick for 21 days with your muzzle pointed at the back of their head and complains, of blisters, the heat or no ice for their cocktails.

I have formed these opinions from my own and unique position of experience. Having 33 Safaris in 21 separate trips overseas I’ve hunted nearly all sub-Saharan African countries.

And, I have collected the majority of her bounty. I am comfortable in my own skin and make no apologies. I claim no special hunting skills, only an ability to read people with an acute aptitude of situational awareness.

I write this in Heathrow, on a layover coming back from a Botswana elephant hunt. I sat one day on this last safari, at lunch listening to a PH of record and another PH that was between safaris. They openly made sport of guys, guys just like me. Guys with business', guys with jobs or perhaps retired. We return home to our families. The professionals return to the bush and make sport of me and others to the next "client". Funny thing, in all the stories, the fools they speak of don't have names, just "client". We never take a moment to think that they feel the same about us. I maintain it's time to quit the game when the names and the faces all become one long blur of pictures, hunting stories and blown shots. These safaris mean far more to us than it does them. This may be the one and only chance many of us get to experience these places and pursue these beasts.

I have even discussed these thoughts with one of the PHs one evening around the fire. His take was this: we finish with the hunt, get on a charter and go back to our safe lives and leave them to clean up the messes we create with our poor shooting. There is probably a lot of truth to his statement.

The romance and traditions of Africa are a powerful aphrodisiac. It draws us back time after time. I know it has me. Personally, I take my responsibility as a sport hunter extremely serious. I show up fit, both physically and mentally. A 21-day safari is a long one, at times you must focus to take things one day at a time and keep your head in the game. I also bring only rifles I can shoot and take shots I am virtually certain I can make. The last thing I want is to wound something the next client or PH must deal with.

How many stories have we all heard about client’s wives, or even daughters? Think yours are any different? They are flesh and blood just as we are.

For some untold reason, the international hunting community has assigned a “Rock Star” status or hero worship to many of these PHs. Perhaps it’s because I can think of no other “sport” where we can participate, side by side with a Professional at anything.

It's November, the phone calls start and the emails arrive. They are asking about coming over for a visit between the hunting conventions. We feel honored to have a "Professional Hunter" actually want to stay at our homes. We buy them dinner, take them places, they drink our finest single malt. We may even try to help them and book more "bumbling clients". We take days off work or away from our businesses to entertain them. Maybe it makes us feel like we are in their inner circle or within their appreciated sphere of influence.

You actually believe that you are somehow different or special. We even see it as some kind of a badge of honor that a real professional hunter from Africa has chosen me as a friend. These are superficial friendships at the very best.

Come as a client, leave as a friend?

It may be hard for some to accept these concepts and learned them the hard way. I have many friends and acquaintances that go back to Africa every year and hunt with the same guys, the same guys that behind closed doors refer to one honorable, successful and admirable man as “a gomer”.

Personally, I have decided to change my approach. Moving forward, I will no longer go alone and look for any sort of companionship from these guys. I will now go with a pal or my wife and treat them as they should be treated, as an employee of sorts. No real difference than your relationship with your taxidermist, your dentist or the guy you just bought your new F250 Super Duty from.

A trophy celebration in a foreign language

Now, they can celebrate "their" successful kills and I can have my own celebration with someone who is genuinely happy for me. The attending PH can take as many high quality trophy photos of himself for self-promotion as he has taken of me, and I could not care less. I once hunted with a guy that never once took a photo on his camera with me in the shot. Seems kind of nuts, but that act alone gave me the awareness to start becoming a student of these behaviors. He showed me his iPod one evening in camp. All of his pictures were of he alone, no "client" to be seen. This particular “Professional” must see the client as no more than a tool to do "his killing" for him.

Honestly ask yourselves, could any one of these guys be successful enough in business to afford to pay for one of the safaris that they ridicule "us" on? How about personal relationships, failed marriages, questionable vehicles and finances. I wouldn't trade my life for theirs for any amount of money. I also am sure they would say the same about my life. But we don't make fun of, nor ridicule them, do we?

Have you ever gone home early?

Have you ever finished a safari early? Have there been "suggestions" of perhaps side trips? Do these side trips usually require a trip home for some reason? I think many clients prefer to just "go with the flow" and not make mention of things that probably don't sit right with us. After all, you really do want this guy to like you, right? I use to feel that way, and would say nothing. "Hey Steve, do you mind if my wife, girlfriend, brother in law, whatever comes into

camp". Well, yes I do. I now just spit it out and keep communication as open and as honest as is possible.

I have never left a safari early, not at my own request anyway. It was suggested once that, I could go home early if I wanted. I didn't, but took the suggestion as he prefer I be elsewhere so rearranged my families trip home to the order of 2,800. for changing the prearranged itinerary.

I really feel that poor communication is the biggest component of a safari gone bad. You as the paying client cannot keep your mouth closed if something bothers you. You need to stop things right then, and tell the PH what it is you want, or don't want, or what he does is bothering you in some way. It is your adventure, you're paying the bill. As long as it's not something weird or increases their cost, it should be granted. If you being popular with this guy is more important than your satisfaction on this safari, by all means, be the nice guy.

Because of the aforementioned changes, I also no longer go to the same place with the same professional time after time. I now see more of what Africa has to offer and see. I have also noticed that the same animals behave differently from country to country and game management areas. I also get to experience many different hunting styles. I will have a much richer bank of experience to call upon for stories to my children and grandchildren.

Who's at fault here

There is plenty of blame to go around here. I think we, the clients can possibly be overbearing at times in our invitations to the PH's to come and visit. This goes back to the hero worship or rock star thing stated prior. Conversely, the professionals could just as easily tell us, they are on a tight schedule, prior commitments, whatever. My personal belief is; it has devolved into a PH being able to pick and choose who he would rather spend a few days with while in America. Can't say as I blame them for that. I'm sure many clients are a bear to be around. Think about this; nearly 24 hours a day 7 days a week for up to 28 days, with a guy you really don't care for. That may very well include me, after all, you can pay anyone to be your friend.

I truly hope my words are read as they are meant. I only wish to help someone else not repeat the same mistakes in safari hunting I have made. Keep things friendly yet, impersonal. It can be difficult, basically living with a guy, you tend to look up to a bit and not personalize the relationship.

All these things being said, I have enjoyed every minute of every day while hunting in Africa, I have made, what I thought to be close friends. As long as I feel that way thats what's important.

Could you just bring along a brick of .22s?

Does this one sound familiar? I have been asked by more than one PH if I could "just throw a brick of .22s, 12ga, .375 etc. ammo in my bag." I chose to not spend my vacation in some African jail or trying to explain away why I have not declared it. I also probably don't have a firearm that matches the stuff in my gun box. So, the answer is, "No", and it should be yours as well.

Why do you think it is that we get requests for things? Sometimes I think we just bring gifts along unrequested. iPods, Oakley sunglasses seem to be a popular request. I've been guilty as well.

Perhaps it's just me. Maybe I'm burnt out on these musings. Hunting in Africa should be pure: it's raw beauty and savagery, her primal killing fields. Not some popularity contest. I believe it has been corrupted, corrupted possibly by us, the clients. A good friend of mine coined this timeless and appropriate phrase.

"Africa is about the men and the dust and the diesel, it sticks to your skin and cannot be washed away, nor does it wain." Andrew Baldry.
Great post, Steve!

I would love to have a detailed list of the PHs that inspired your musings but perhaps you would simply respond that most prolific PHs have these characteristics.
 

spike.t

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Well @steve ahrenberg at least one ended up your friend.... But the only case of anything Andrew would ask you to throw in your bags I reckon would be a case of whiskey.......:D:D Beers:
 

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Try going with this mentality. I wrote this a few years ago. It appeared in "The African Hunter" and drew many comments from both sides of the transaction.

Actually, I remember I wrote in in 2006 & 07 after the Botswana Elephant hunt.



The Client

I may be young, I may be old. Perhaps I am athletic and in shape or maybe a bit long in tooth and round in profile. I may come for lion and leopard or I simply come for an impala or a kudu.

Who I am is the international hunting client and what I am about should have been written long ago. It may be uncomfortable and frankly unpopular; nonetheless the topic needs to be broached.

We, the international hunting clients of the world fuel this industry, make no mistake. Without us the professional hunters of the world, whether good or bad, wouldn't be able to live the lives of their dreams. Only due to the client's collectively pursued passions are they able to walk daily amongst the magnificent antelopes and grim beasts of Mother Africa. I am sure the professionals of which I speak will have some disagreement with this. I understand, and only bring these things to bear for stimulating thought......on both ends.

Somewhere along the way things, in my opinion, have gone horribly askew. On my last few trips overseas, I have begun to take notice of certain repeated behavior patterns displayed by some very well known professional hunters. Some were in destinations I was only able to dream about in my younger years. Places of danger, places of intrigue. Fantastic places were hunted and some extraordinary creatures were pursued, successful pursuits in most cases.

I have come to the conclusion that "they" (some PHs) now somehow think it (international sport hunting) is all about them. We the sport hunting community are guilty, guilty of creating some of these ego driven, self-promoting personalities. Some of us are willing to even pay a premium to go afield with the "stars" of the industry. Why?

After you are safely aboard the charter on your way out of camp, you are the brunt of stories, jokes and anecdotal fowl ups for the next wave of "stumbling halfwits." We willingly plop down a year’s salary or more for the hunts of our lifetimes. It matters zero to them if you show up prepared physically and mentally, if you’re able to shoot, and you can see the animals. You will be treated the same as a first timer that stumbles around homesick for 21 days with your muzzle pointed at the back of their head and complains, of blisters, the heat or no ice for their cocktails.

I have formed these opinions from my own and unique position of experience. Having 33 Safaris in 21 separate trips overseas I’ve hunted nearly all sub-Saharan African countries.

And, I have collected the majority of her bounty. I am comfortable in my own skin and make no apologies. I claim no special hunting skills, only an ability to read people with an acute aptitude of situational awareness.

I write this in Heathrow, on a layover coming back from a Botswana elephant hunt. I sat one day on this last safari, at lunch listening to a PH of record and another PH that was between safaris. They openly made sport of guys, guys just like me. Guys with business', guys with jobs or perhaps retired. We return home to our families. The professionals return to the bush and make sport of me and others to the next "client". Funny thing, in all the stories, the fools they speak of don't have names, just "client". We never take a moment to think that they feel the same about us. I maintain it's time to quit the game when the names and the faces all become one long blur of pictures, hunting stories and blown shots. These safaris mean far more to us than it does them. This may be the one and only chance many of us get to experience these places and pursue these beasts.

I have even discussed these thoughts with one of the PHs one evening around the fire. His take was this: we finish with the hunt, get on a charter and go back to our safe lives and leave them to clean up the messes we create with our poor shooting. There is probably a lot of truth to his statement.

The romance and traditions of Africa are a powerful aphrodisiac. It draws us back time after time. I know it has me. Personally, I take my responsibility as a sport hunter extremely serious. I show up fit, both physically and mentally. A 21-day safari is a long one, at times you must focus to take things one day at a time and keep your head in the game. I also bring only rifles I can shoot and take shots I am virtually certain I can make. The last thing I want is to wound something the next client or PH must deal with.

How many stories have we all heard about client’s wives, or even daughters? Think yours are any different? They are flesh and blood just as we are.

For some untold reason, the international hunting community has assigned a “Rock Star” status or hero worship to many of these PHs. Perhaps it’s because I can think of no other “sport” where we can participate, side by side with a Professional at anything.

It's November, the phone calls start and the emails arrive. They are asking about coming over for a visit between the hunting conventions. We feel honored to have a "Professional Hunter" actually want to stay at our homes. We buy them dinner, take them places, they drink our finest single malt. We may even try to help them and book more "bumbling clients". We take days off work or away from our businesses to entertain them. Maybe it makes us feel like we are in their inner circle or within their appreciated sphere of influence.

You actually believe that you are somehow different or special. We even see it as some kind of a badge of honor that a real professional hunter from Africa has chosen me as a friend. These are superficial friendships at the very best.

Come as a client, leave as a friend?

It may be hard for some to accept these concepts and learned them the hard way. I have many friends and acquaintances that go back to Africa every year and hunt with the same guys, the same guys that behind closed doors refer to one honorable, successful and admirable man as “a gomer”.

Personally, I have decided to change my approach. Moving forward, I will no longer go alone and look for any sort of companionship from these guys. I will now go with a pal or my wife and treat them as they should be treated, as an employee of sorts. No real difference than your relationship with your taxidermist, your dentist or the guy you just bought your new F250 Super Duty from.

A trophy celebration in a foreign language

Now, they can celebrate "their" successful kills and I can have my own celebration with someone who is genuinely happy for me. The attending PH can take as many high quality trophy photos of himself for self-promotion as he has taken of me, and I could not care less. I once hunted with a guy that never once took a photo on his camera with me in the shot. Seems kind of nuts, but that act alone gave me the awareness to start becoming a student of these behaviors. He showed me his iPod one evening in camp. All of his pictures were of he alone, no "client" to be seen. This particular “Professional” must see the client as no more than a tool to do "his killing" for him.

Honestly ask yourselves, could any one of these guys be successful enough in business to afford to pay for one of the safaris that they ridicule "us" on? How about personal relationships, failed marriages, questionable vehicles and finances. I wouldn't trade my life for theirs for any amount of money. I also am sure they would say the same about my life. But we don't make fun of, nor ridicule them, do we?

Have you ever gone home early?

Have you ever finished a safari early? Have there been "suggestions" of perhaps side trips? Do these side trips usually require a trip home for some reason? I think many clients prefer to just "go with the flow" and not make mention of things that probably don't sit right with us. After all, you really do want this guy to like you, right? I use to feel that way, and would say nothing. "Hey Steve, do you mind if my wife, girlfriend, brother in law, whatever comes into

camp". Well, yes I do. I now just spit it out and keep communication as open and as honest as is possible.

I have never left a safari early, not at my own request anyway. It was suggested once that, I could go home early if I wanted. I didn't, but took the suggestion as he prefer I be elsewhere so rearranged my families trip home to the order of 2,800. for changing the prearranged itinerary.

I really feel that poor communication is the biggest component of a safari gone bad. You as the paying client cannot keep your mouth closed if something bothers you. You need to stop things right then, and tell the PH what it is you want, or don't want, or what he does is bothering you in some way. It is your adventure, you're paying the bill. As long as it's not something weird or increases their cost, it should be granted. If you being popular with this guy is more important than your satisfaction on this safari, by all means, be the nice guy.

Because of the aforementioned changes, I also no longer go to the same place with the same professional time after time. I now see more of what Africa has to offer and see. I have also noticed that the same animals behave differently from country to country and game management areas. I also get to experience many different hunting styles. I will have a much richer bank of experience to call upon for stories to my children and grandchildren.

Who's at fault here

There is plenty of blame to go around here. I think we, the clients can possibly be overbearing at times in our invitations to the PH's to come and visit. This goes back to the hero worship or rock star thing stated prior. Conversely, the professionals could just as easily tell us, they are on a tight schedule, prior commitments, whatever. My personal belief is; it has devolved into a PH being able to pick and choose who he would rather spend a few days with while in America. Can't say as I blame them for that. I'm sure many clients are a bear to be around. Think about this; nearly 24 hours a day 7 days a week for up to 28 days, with a guy you really don't care for. That may very well include me, after all, you can pay anyone to be your friend.

I truly hope my words are read as they are meant. I only wish to help someone else not repeat the same mistakes in safari hunting I have made. Keep things friendly yet, impersonal. It can be difficult, basically living with a guy, you tend to look up to a bit and not personalize the relationship.

All these things being said, I have enjoyed every minute of every day while hunting in Africa, I have made, what I thought to be close friends. As long as I feel that way thats what's important.

Could you just bring along a brick of .22s?

Does this one sound familiar? I have been asked by more than one PH if I could "just throw a brick of .22s, 12ga, .375 etc. ammo in my bag." I chose to not spend my vacation in some African jail or trying to explain away why I have not declared it. I also probably don't have a firearm that matches the stuff in my gun box. So, the answer is, "No", and it should be yours as well.

Why do you think it is that we get requests for things? Sometimes I think we just bring gifts along unrequested. iPods, Oakley sunglasses seem to be a popular request. I've been guilty as well.

Perhaps it's just me. Maybe I'm burnt out on these musings. Hunting in Africa should be pure: it's raw beauty and savagery, her primal killing fields. Not some popularity contest. I believe it has been corrupted, corrupted possibly by us, the clients. A good friend of mine coined this timeless and appropriate phrase.

"Africa is about the men and the dust and the diesel, it sticks to your skin and cannot be washed away, nor does it wain." Andrew Baldry.
Helluva article mate, some great points and very well articulated.
 

steve ahrenberg

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Well @steve ahrenberg at least one ended up your friend.... But the only case of anything Andrew would ask you to throw in your bags I reckon would be a case of whiskey.......:D:D Beers:
Hi Spike.

I hunted Bangweulu with Andrew for Lechwe, Sitatunga in 2004. Andrews a good guy, sharp wit and fun. He's also never asked or expected a single thing from me post hunt. I still keep in contact with him occasionally.

I'll post a funny story about a fly camp for Sitatunga deep into the swamp with Andrew some time.

I left AR for several reasons and haven't really communicated with him since I left that site.

I've also hunted Zambia probably 10-11 times with other PH's. All were good PH's and fun to hunt with. But, as your eyes open, as long as you're willing to see these things, they're easy enough to spot.
 

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Look forward to reading it Steve. And yeah Andrew is good bloke and very willing to help people from his experience. also know what you mean about some of the "rock star" personas.....
 
 

 

 

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