As I gaze out across the mighty Zambezi River, in awe of her power and humbled by her turbulent size, my mind drifts back over the past month. It has been a month filled with experiences, experiences stretching from the vast Kalahari Desert in southern Botswana, to the plains game paradise of the East Cape, South Africa, and finally into the depths of the Zambezi Delta, Mozambique.
Our teams and hunters have enjoyed some of the finest areas Southern Africa has to offer, coming away enriched with stories from a forgotten era.
For our old friends, John and Lynn Nowlin, together with Professional Hunter, Ed Wilson, it was to be their first trip to Botswana, but their 7th with John X Safaris. Joining them on their quest for Southern Greater Kudu in the Kalahari desert was John’s nephew, Thomas , on his first African safari.
For years it had been John’s dream to harvest a flaring, but wide Southern Greater Kudu. This year saw both him and Thomas achieve just that, and more… Not to mention Lynn’s dream of a trip to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe!
Further south saw the arrival of a keen group of young hunters joining their fathers for their first taste of South Africa. Over the past three years we at John X Safaris have voiced our concern over the fact that so few of the youth are joining their parents on safari in Africa – these young boys and girls are after all the future of our hunting heritage.
With one thing leading to another we decided to put our money where our mouth was. If we were going to stick our necks out there telling folks to bring along a young hunter on safari, then surely we could match their investment?
For this reason we’ve wavered the day fee of any young hunter wanting to join his/her parents or grandparents on safari with John X Safaris. To date the response has been overwhelming with many more young hunters being exposed to not only hunting, but African hunting.
Luther and Dawson Dietrich, Jason and Josh Moe, and Brian, Seth and Cole Lind, made up our first group of young hunters and fathers for the year. While every hunter in the group scored with success on one specie or another, it was the young guns whom impressed us the most.
Of course the boys stole the headlines with some jaw dropping trophies and brilliant hunting, but rest assured the dads got in on the action too, albeit with only a couple, it seems the boys won this contest hands down!
While the young guns were in the process of taking over the East Cape, we welcomed experienced hunters Don McNeely, Bill Perrine, and Craig Horan, on their first hunt with John X Safaris. All three hunters had previously been on safari with our good friends the Haldane’s in Mozambique, and were now after a number of specialized East Cape species.
Over the years we’ve refined the various hunts for our specialized East Cape species. This gives our hunters the options of either the classic walk and stalk, or the thrill of pursuing their quarry over hounds/terriers, or even baited. With so many species to choose from the hunting often varies on a daily basis, keeping both hunter and guide challenged at various levels of both skill and enjoyment.
On this particular safari we had all three hunters enjoy the thrill of hunting Caracal over hounds, together with the traditional long hikes glassing for game along our coastal belt and free range mountains of the Great Karoo. The guys endured some chilly conditions, but each team came out on top in the end.
To Craig and Greg, Bill and Mike, and Don and Rusty – congrats gentleman it’s a fine collection of trophies to accompany your many great memories.
While each hunt requires a certain amount of effort, time, and skill, to achieve the desired success, some hunts just require so MUCH MORE dedication. For Professional Hunter, Rusty, and hunter, Don McNeely, it meant 22 hours of dedication and patience in a Blue Duiker blind.
With a happy crew of hunters heading back to the US, it was time to welcome Cole Taggart to camp. Looking at Cole’s selection of trophies one could be forgiven for being slightly jealous of his East Cape Kudu, Gemsbuck, Springbuck, and… and… and all of them! But receiving a mail from Cole upon his return home, best summed up his experience…“Carl I don’t know where to even begin. Your operation is heads above the rest. You have some of the most friendly and down to earth staff and PH’s I’ve ever met. Everything is top of the line and absolutely amazing. It was refreshing to see an operation with such a focus on every aspect of the hunt. Rusty was the most down to earth likeable PH I could have asked for. His focus on the hunt and pursuing old mature trophies was after my own heart. No matter how many animals I was able to take didn’t matter. The hunt and each animal individually was worth the trip. I will be back in 2016 or 2017! Thank you again Carl for making a lifelong dream come true. Cole Taggart”
At the same time as Cole, we welcomed a bunch of fun-loving guys from Washington. Many of them on their first safari too. Paul Latchford, back on his second safari, with friends, Jay Pippin, George Conniff and Mike Jarvis, had a lot of hunting in mind, but never without a heck of a lot of fun along the way.
With so much happening, one could have been forgiven to think there’s not a space in the house for even a mouse, but that’s the beauty of our three camp/area set up in the East Cape.
Our old friend and marketing partner from Spain, Juan Antonio, was back after many years hunting abroad. With him was his good friend, Ivor Karan, a fellow South African, hunting the East Cape for a selection of species he was yet to harvest. An East Cape Kudu, Cape Bushbuck, and most importantly, Cape Grysbuck, were the species we were after.
Both men made unbelievable shots on the same morning to harvest two magnificent Bushbuck rams – a treat for any seasoned Bushbuck hunter. A further treat to the entire group on the hunt was the inclusion of Donna, Ivor’s new hunting/tracking hound from Spain. For a young dog she proved to be a pleasure and grew in confidence each day. It would be interesting to see where’s she’s at in her development a year from now – something tells me she’s going to be brilliant!
It has truly been a great month, so many new friends have been made around crackling camp fires. Speaking of fires…My fire? It’s finally lost its last vigor-rating flames. The entire camp has been fast asleep for hours, the only company I’ve enjoyed has been the sound of my pen, the wild screams from the ever-present Bush-babies high above in the forest canopy, and the distant image of the Zambezi River flowing away into the night.
Let’s hope our luck will continue… A huge Leopard on the first night, and something about a gigantic man-eating Crocodile, and a wounded Cape Buffalo in the swamps… But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…