Posted by Eric on 3/23/2020 to South Africa
We went to Africa to hunt and it was absolutely insane. Truly.... expectations were exceeded in every area and what we entered into thinking would be a "once in a lifetime" hunt/trip quickly evolved into what we would call a "first in a lifetime" trip. In fact, I personally had wanted to hunt Africa ever since I heard it was a thing at about the ripe old age of 15, but had honestly never thought it would be a possibility. It's so far away, it's so expensive, the trip itself is too long, where do I even begin? All of these questions and more I didn't even know I had would be answered in short order.
I'm not going to pad your bottom here. Africa takes a bit of a journey to get to. No matter where you go. The continent is so big you could fit most major countries that come to mind inside of the main continent with ease: USA, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, China, even Russia and most of Western Europe. It's THAT big. And it's THAT far away. So regardless of the country within the continent you're headed for, buckle up for a bit of a journey. But it's SO worth it. Take a few books, bite the bullet for the Comfort+ cabin on Delta or stock up on Tylenol PM and Unisom and you'll be there before you know it. We partnered with a concierge and guest house in Johannesburg (Joburg) called Africa Sky, which Dad mentioned previously, and their help shuttling, planning and hosting if even just 12 hours for me is over the top worthwhile. I forced myself to stay awake on the entire flight from Atlanta to Joburg, arriving at about 4:20pm local time and also stayed awake through dinner and crashed at 8:30pm for a prompt 4:30am wakeup, flight from Joburg to Port Elizabeth to be picked up by our PH Denver Gowar in PE and quickly headed on the road to Coppermoon after a stop in for some snacks. Highly recommend the flavored milk and Biltong if you like munchies for the road.
The drive went quickly as Denver and I spoke a lot about style of hunting, the animals we still had left on the list to go for (after Marty & Ruth had gone on an absolute killing spree in their first 4 days), and the history of Coppermoon and his professional hunting career. Note: Denver is just 22 years young. With several experiences hunting with guides in North America I'd confidently say his professionality, style and communication easily rival with anyone we've ever prepared and stalked with. And those are guides with YEARS of experience and an ever higher level of success.
That morning as I awoke and dressed I planned to quite literally step off the plane ready to hunt. So despite the expected 100+ degree temperatures in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa I wanted to be able to hit the bush running with minimal supplies needed to grab from my suitcase. And since Marty & Ruth shouldered the burden of traveling with firearms, I was pretty nimble on my feet without having to make many stops to get where I needed to go.
Growing up in the midwest and stand hunting whitetails, you pattern the animals, learn their movements and set up in ambush spots waiting for them to come to you. Moving out west 10 years ago I learned to hunt through making a spot on your target then carefully planning a stalk. This has proven a little more satisfying for the impatient hunter. It's not better, it's just different. I've done the same in Nebraska hunting muleys, the same in Eastern Colorado, the same looking for Elk in the mountains of Colorado and even the same chasing turkeys in Missouri every spring. We even did it at Contwoyto Lake, Nunavut, Canada 3 1/2 years ago chasing barren ground Caribou.
Why do I tell you all of this? Because Africa is so diverse, so unique, and so plentiful with game that it allows you to employ each of these tactics in pursuit of your target game. As you've heard Dad say in previous posts, our Pro Hunter Denver would frequently say, "We'll see what the bush has to offer". The application of this is simple because while we might set out to look for a Kudu, if we see the weather conditions are favorable for steenbuck to be moving, then we'll adjust our pursuit to match the personality of the animals and the land for that particular moment. Maybe you're trying to chase down the oft-running Springbuck (a common over-ocean cousin of our beloved pronghorn), but in the meantime Blesbok and/or Black Wildebeest present themselves in similar terrain, you take what the bush gives you.
This diverse style of hunting is both addicting and spoiling. Spoiling in such a way it's tough to even describe with our understanding of just a couple animals in season at a time and a bare minimum of such overlap. Meaning: it's tough to draw tags (for us in CO anyway) for multiple species in the same or overlapping seasons, most often we're accustomed to just going for one animal at a time.
Speaking of one animal at a time, my folks and I still have to have the tough discussion of the 5 animals left on the list and who gets what. Dad's already killed 5 or 6 animals (I can't even keep track) without me there and I'm a little bummed about it. Not to mention Mom has a beautiful Blesbok down and quite honestly it's one of the animals I was hoping to harvest for myself.
In the next post I'll share my thoughts on the first of 6 days of hunting we shared after I arrived.