Why We Should All Be A Professional Hunter

TOBY458

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Professional hunter. The man with the plan. Been there, and done that, too many times to mention. Fearless in the face of danger. Able to handle heavy recoil in heavier situations.
Knows the game he pursues like the back of his hand. These are but a few of the attributes that are desirable in a good PH.
And these same attributes, among others, are what we all should aspire to possess ourselves as hunters.

I.....personally...hate the word "client". It infers that we are not on the same level as our PH. Be it a higher or lower level, makes no difference. For both PH and "client" have, or should have, the same objective. And that is to hunt hard, shoot straight, and kill cleanly. We as hunters should aspire to be just as proficient at our sport as the PH is at his profession.
No less should be expected of us than we expect of our PH.

It goes without saying that the PH will, or at least should, know way more about the area in which we are hunting. And of course he will know the ins and outs of the country and it's game, much better than we will ever be able to.
But where we can be equal to our PH, is in the things that are conducive to good hunting, no matter where we are in the world.

We could/and should begin with safe gun handling. I once heard Mark Sullivan say that he's more afraid of being shot by a "client" than he is of being crushed by a buffalo. Although no one is perfect, I would hate to think that I was feared more than the dangerous game itself, because I was careless with my rifle.

Next comes good field shooting. I recently returned from a trip to Africa in which I was humbled by a few shots from the sticks, that would've been a piece of cake from the bench. These shots were not long by most standards, but throw in a half mile, hard walk/stalk, before propping up on a very unsteady bipod, and humbled you may become! Few people will admit to this, but most of us should consider 200-300 yards a long shot from a field position. Couple that with a larger caliber than your typical deer rifle, that has a more pronounced trajectory, and suddenly those 3/4" groups you were getting at 100 yards from the bench, are now useless on your distant Gemsbok from the sticks. Trust me. Been there. Done that. Don't want to do it again.
Secondly, if large or dangerous game is to be on the agenda, we will need to perhaps pay even more mind to our shooting abilities. Now we're not only practicing from field positions, we are also dealing with accuracy stealing recoil. While some suitable DG calibers offer recoil that most can handle, (read 375 H&H), some require much more practice and determination. Use as big of a gun as you can handle, but like Clint Eastwood said....A man's gotta know his limitations.

While there are many more attributes of a good hunter that could be discussed, this last, but definitely not least, item on our list is physical fitness. If there's anything more embarrassing than missing an animal or making a bad shot, it's not being able to keep up with your PH. I consider myself to be in relatively good shape for a man of 48 years. I work out regularly, and look pretty damned fit for my age (if I say so myself), but sometimes in the pursuit of game on foot, you will need to run to keep up with your game. And running....my friends....is what sets the fit from the unfit apart! On my recent African hunt, I had several occasions where I needed to run to keep up with the animal we were pursuing, and let's just say it's a good thing we only had to cover 300 yards or so before we returned to a hard walk in most cases. For hard walking, and running are two different things. I will not make that mistake again. I have now incorporated running into my exercise regime. Think of it this way. If you can run a mile, the easy 5 mile stroll behind your next Elephant will be a breeze!

In closing, I guess my main point is....be all you can be. Your PH will respect you, and you can look each other in the eye....as equals. Unless you like being... just another client.....

 

gesch

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Thanks for a thought provoking article. I have a very practical take on some of your subjects. We may not all be great long range shots, but we can be very good shots. We may not all be marathon athletes but we can all be way better than we currently are. We can all focus on safety as our priority. We can all practice the golden rule as we interact with the PH and the whole Safari team. I can by the grace of God be a loving example to others. I think I may stolen many of your great points!! Thanks for challenging us all. Your friend, Brian
 

Shootist43

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No arguments with anything you said. Those of us that have physical challenges have to do it differently to a point. Being a good shot with the caliber rifle you are using is certainly a must in either case. But as you said, "be(ing) all that you can be" will earn the respect of your PH.
 

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I like this Toby!

Not the youngest nor oldest here on AH, I work very hard to stay in shape for my hobbies of fishing and hunting (and raising a granddaughter and time with my two great granddaughters!). I never go to the range without shooting off a Bog Pod. I exercise 2-3 days a week (actually every day only at the gym 2-3). Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be anything I can do to reduce the age life has given me. I am very fortunate life has treated me as well as it has, but no matter what I do, it seems to be catching up with me.
We are only given a short bit of time in life and we are totally responsible for making the most of it! Some of us are given more and some of us less, but IMO it is what each of us makes of our time that counts.
Practice your shooting skills so as to do the absolute best you can.
Take care of your body, ie don’t over do anything because it’s the only one you get! Your mind will follow.
Know your quarry because it deserves your respect!
Cherish every minute you have by not wasting it! You can’t buy more! And there’s no “do-overs”!
JMO probably not worth the pixels on the page, but it’s mine.
 

Newboomer

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I second the comments. I've seen hunters so out of shape they can hardly walk from the lodge to the bakkie. It's not an easy task as we age. We have to really work at it. At 79 it ain't no walk in the park. I do an hour and a half work out in the gym 2 days a week, work with my trainer for a half hour one day, do 15 to 60 minutes every night, my dog walks me 3 miles a day. On my last hunt my PH commented several times that he couldn't understand how I could keep up with him and the tracker. Of course, I didn't mention that I was really working at it. Mind over matter, don't ya know.
Practicing shooting under field conditions helps a lot, too. Rifle and target in hand, run out a distance, set the target, run back, set the sticks and shoot while trying to control breathing and heart rate. Or keeping up with the PH at a fast walk over varied terrain. Physical conditioning is essential for successful hunting.
 

kurpfalzjäger

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We can get angry about the word client , but by definition we are like that , does not change anything as far as our abilities to hunt in africa are concerned and our relationship to a PH.

How far a PH is useful largely depends on the client , if I may continue to use the word. There are assisted hunters and others who , due to their physical condition and shooting abilities , could work without a PH. In this case you don't need a PH as we know it , but a certain amount of experience with Africa is required. The most important by an africa hunting are the trackers and especially a tracker , local guide and hunter , that can make the right decisions. In many countries , some PH do not know the terrain because they were only booked for a hunt. They are still of use to many hunters as coordinators between them and the local team that sometimes does not think like we do.

The word client should not be a problem , everyone has to be able to handle his rifle well and safely , to shoot accurate and a good physical condition is beneficial for any hunt. The PH comes afterwards and stand in where there are weaknesses. Sure , better we would all be a Professional Hunter.
 
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Marcus bock

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I love "Africa." I love hunting and doing conservation work. But, my personal challenge is this. Most likely those of us that hunt in Africa are probably older...so we have some money and are no longer tied to a job or raising kids. We've probably hunted most of our lives and have been responsible for our own stealth, gun handling, conditioning, planning, etc. Now, we hunt FOLLOWING a PH through the brush where he finds a suitable animal to harvest, sets up the sticks, and we take the shot. Absolute fun. Love every moment of it. But, how do we hunters have a part in the process....as opposed to simply taking the shot?? I had the negative experience a few years ago of suggesting to my PH that we walk and stalk. He yelled at me and told me he was the PH. I assume our experiences depend on our PH's and the lodge owners. But, the question for me is how to be involved in the process as opposed to simply shooting an animal when the PH locates it. ??? Maybe that doesn't matter to most people??
 

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But, the question for me is how to be involved in the process as opposed to simply shooting an animal when the PH locates it. ??? Maybe that doesn't matter to most people??

You are correct, there is a big risk that you just turn up to shoot. But, taking in the whole experience while the PH and tracker do their work is also part of the fun. I think you can be much more involved if you are mentally and physically prepared, as it means the PH can do more with you.
 

kurpfalzjäger

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It's best to hunt without a traditional PH , if that is a problem. Otherwise it is logical to subordinate to the professional and experienced.

The relationships are sometimes not easy , but it is difficult to be a client and to perform as a very experienced african hunter. The time is not enough and only unnecessary tensions will arise. All this can make the hunting even worse.

Sure , it will look different if you're hunting only with a local guide without a rifle for backup , and with trackers. Nevertheless , we need in all cases trackers and someone who tells us , you can shoot this one or not. We are not at home and are subject to laws , even in Africa. Appreciating a trophy also requires an experience who only a few clients have.
 
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Shootist43

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Being open and honest with each other is the key to a good relationship with your PH. Obviously he /she has some skills which we (the client) do not, neither do they squeeze the trigger for the first shot. I've found all 4 of my PH(s) to be supportive of me as a client and fellow hunter. I work hard on my shooting skills to make up for my diminished physical abilities. In short, "being all that I can be" fulfills my end of the bargain.
 

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I love "Africa." I love hunting and doing conservation work. But, my personal challenge is this. Most likely those of us that hunt in Africa are probably older...so we have some money and are no longer tied to a job or raising kids. We've probably hunted most of our lives and have been responsible for our own stealth, gun handling, conditioning, planning, etc. Now, we hunt FOLLOWING a PH through the brush where he finds a suitable animal to harvest, sets up the sticks, and we take the shot. Absolute fun. Love every moment of it. But, how do we hunters have a part in the process....as opposed to simply taking the shot?? I had the negative experience a few years ago of suggesting to my PH that we walk and stalk. He yelled at me and told me he was the PH. I assume our experiences depend on our PH's and the lodge owners. But, the question for me is how to be involved in the process as opposed to simply shooting an animal when the PH locates it. ??? Maybe that doesn't matter to most people??


Lazybones, ass kisser, alcoholics, who comes around a lot unfortunately also experiences that.
And many, many Phs would rather drive around in a jeep, than walk through bush and forest.
And a number of Phs talk to you the trophy beautifully, so they have for the rest of the week no more work with you.
As justifiably critical as you can see hunting guests, this also applies to PHs.
We should not tend to idealize the PH here.
I know what I can do as a guest, less a PH should not deliver,than it will be difficult.
Only my 2 cent
Foxi
 
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BRICKBURN

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......... I had the negative experience a few years ago of suggesting to my PH that we walk and stalk. He yelled at me and told me he was the PH. ............

o_O He would have had an immediate title change if he did that to me. UNEMPLOYED PH!
 

BRICKBURN

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........... I assume our experiences depend on our PH's and the lodge owners. But, the question for me is how to be involved in the process as opposed to simply shooting an animal when the PH locates it. ??? Maybe that doesn't matter to most people??

It mattered enough to me that I spent 10 days studying in PH school and passing the course. I could not imagine myself just being "the trigger man".
 

BRICKBURN

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The OP provides an interesting point of view of the relationship he would like with his PH.

Just for the sake of discussion.

I am ultimately the PH's employer. We are not equals in any way shape or form. They are providing a service to facilitate MY hunting experience. They have skills and local experience I need.

The mid twenties PH that walks every day of the season, in the climate he was raised in, will beat my ass up the hill every time. I am not in competition with the PH. I did not enter the Olympics or any other race.

The hunter should also be realistic about what kind of hunt they can manage. If you are a crap shot and want to hunt dangerous game, perhaps you should rethink that choice before someone gets injured or killed.
If you are planning a traditional tracking Elephant hunt, perhaps you should assess your physical ability to walk 20 miles in sandy soil in high ambient temperatures. If you can't, arrange a different hunt.
If you don't ask those better questions of yourself then don't blame anyone but yourself.

If I can't get in front of the animal or blow opportunities due to my capacity the responsibility will be mine.
The guy who blames the PH for these issues does not deserve respect.

Back to the PH.
Has this PH determined the kind of hunting I would like to do? Have the requirements of the type of hunt we are on been explained and discussed well in advance?

Has this PH determined what my capacity actually is? They made you shoot your rifle to see if you knew where the trigger is located. Did they figure out if you are an Olympian or just a fella out for a stroll in a new place wanting to bump into some critters while carrying a rifle?

The PH is more likely to get my respect if they are actually focused on MY hunt and are not out trying to run the animal down on their own.

 
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BRICKBURN

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By they way, my favourite actual (fun) competition with all the guys on the truck or the track is in spotting game. It is a great humbling game to play. I always feel like I win when I can spot anything just once before they do during the entire expedition. :)
When my first Elephant was pointed out to me standing on the side of a Mountain and I could not see it, I thought they were screwing with me. You'd think something that big would stick out. Only in the zoo city boy. :ROFLMAO:
 

kurpfalzjäger

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Despite everything , none of us will reach the level of a local tracker , also not the PH.

I hunted very often in Africa and also in many places around the world , but I have remained very humble and have never tried to rival the locals.
 

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Toby,

Very nice summary come to think of it the only oplace where a PH is called a PH is in Africa the rest of the world it is mostly called a guide. Taking our South African hunting laws the descriptions of a PH and a client had to defined. In the end the PH is still a guide but has to handle a ceratin level and admin to have the hunt run legally.

Most seasons in Africa are also much longer strechted over more than 6 months and in RSA you could hunt the whole year as a client.

But in the end a true hunter is someone who is capable to hunt an animal with minimum amount of suffering for the animal and respect its life given to you. With that comes hard work, practise and fitness as you mentioned I always look up to the true sheep hunters hunting the cold hard mountains. I don't think I will ever be able to do afford it but also not sure if I could be fit enough to enjoy a hunt like that.
 

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Always nice reading people’s views on something important. Just want to say everything said here are true, but not “ALL” Ph’s are lazy, kiss ass and are alcoholics. Some of us do love our work and hunting. Easy to become a PH, difficult to stay one. PH’s are not well payed for the job where sometimes we have to put our lives in danger and take the risk of making our wives widows and our children fatherless, hoping for a good tip to pay our overdue bills. A hunter hunts maybe thirty or sixty or maybe ninety days in a year. Some guides, like you like to call us, because PH doesn’t sound humble enough to you as the best hunter alive, hunt almost 300 days a year. The hunter is always fresh, the guide is not. He has a wife and kids far from him with everyday troubles and he is not there to sort it out. Thats true: it was his choice, but sometimes, just sometimes one must understand he is also just human with normal feelings that can affect him that you don’t even know about, he also gets tired and frustrated. Maybe a future hunter must be careful about hunts where you don’t pay day fees and just pay for animals, then the outfitters put pressure on the guides to get animals for them to make a buck. So if you want a quality hunt everyday and not feel pressure to shoot the first animal you see, then pick a hunt where you pay for the days and your guide can do his best for you to get the best animals - Not being afraid he will loose his job because he doesn’t get animals in the salt. If you don't respect your PH, don’t expect him to respect you. Talk to him and tell him what you expect from your hunt. Not all guides are useless. Just my humble thoughts, as a Outfitter and guide.
 

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Thanks to all the good hunters and men amongst men, who come and hunt with us, I see you all as my equal, all of us are hunters and love nature. Thank you for being my hunting buddies because this is how I see all my fellow hunters. I only know our African animals and their habitats a little better than you because I spend days in our bush with them and you don’t. I respect all of you if you respect nature and animals, other wise you will die here.
Thank you for taking me on a hunt and do the job that I love.
 
 

 

 

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