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There’s a common believe amongst African folk that any given flock of Ground Hornbills should always group in odd numbers, but apparently someone forgot to teach them how to count.

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For the past few days my good friend, Johnny Posey, and I have been trying to keep a head count of each flock of Ground Hornbills while enjoying the rigors of a Leopard hunt in Mozambique’s Zambezi Delta. It’s not necessarily bothering us, but ever since the guys made mention of this fact around the camp fire we’ve started noticing how many of these peculiar birds can’t count. Day in and day out we’ve noticed odd number flocks, but more often than not it’s been even numbers.

Contrary to popular believe we’ve come to the conclusion that either the 100 degree heat has affected the birds ability to account for the rest of their flock… or Africa has once again proven how mysterious she can be. How else can one explain it? A mystery of diversity, as diverse as the past month at John X Safaris.

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From 1200 yard shots to bachelor parties and African weddings. From exciting adventures to lifelong memories, and ultimately from strangers to friends – that has been the safari world of John X Safaris. We’ve seen families united, reliving childhood memories, while broken relationships have been healed by the African bush. It has always amazed us how much good such a relatively short period of time such as a safari can do.

For Mike Grier it would be his third return trip to John X Safaris, together with good friends, Tyler Geer and Tom Lincoln. For both Tom and Tyler it would be their first taste of Africa – a taste so sweet it would be hard to see them not back again in the near future.

Having started in the south, the guys enjoyed memorable days hunting from our coastal area before heading north to the Great Karoo. A number of great trophies  was just reward for the endless effort put in by the group.

 

A certain highlight of the hunt was to be Mike's long-awaited Bushpig, never an easy specie to pursue, but one certainly worth the wait!

A certain highlight of the hunt was to be Mike’s long-awaited Bushpig, never an easy specie to pursue, but one certainly worth the wait!

With Mike, Tyler, and Tom heading back state side, we welcomed the Motley family for a short, but action packed safari. The species the family were after meant the family would spend most of their hunt up in the north, before heading to Cape Town with Freewalker Luxury Tours. As per usual a couple of days of R&R at Lalibela with big 5 game drives was a must and one the entire family truly enjoyed.

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To Mark, Patrice, Lauren, and Caden, congratulations on a superb collection of trophies – From all reports both Greg and Stix enjoyed your hunt immensely!

With July coming to an end we entered one of our busiest periods of the season. The arrival of Gunwerks saw a hive of activity erupt as we geared up for our second season of hunting and filming for “Gunwerks Long Range Pursuit TV”.

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This year proved to be bigger and better than last season with owners, Aaron and Mike Davidson, hosting the hunt in South Africa. Joining them was first timers, Sam Cunningham and “Uncle” Don Roberts, as well as the father/son duo of Graham and Sebastian Turner.

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Mike and Aaron Davidson.

Each hunter had used the Gunwerks rifle system before and came prepared. The level of understanding of what the guns were capable of made a great impression on us – as the results would prove later on.

Aaron and Mike Davidson teamed up with Professional Hunters, Carl Van Zyl and Rusty Coetzer, respectively, treating the guys to a shooting exhibition like few have seen before. These guys were the men behind the system, and how interesting it proved to be….

While the men behind Gunwerks were keeping us busy, so were the rest of the group too.

Sam Cunningham enjoyed a memorable hunt with Professional Hunter, Stix Hoole, taking over proceedings on any species that anyone else wished to pass on. Sam arrived open-minded, ready for the adventure, and man did he walk away with a very fine selection of trophies. During the course of the safari both he and Stix struck up a special bond between PH and hunter, one that sees a hunting career being built on. It seems Sam enjoyed his hunt that much that on the last day of his safari he had already confirmed his next hunt with John X Safaris – a Leopard hunt in our new concession in Namibia, but more on that later.

With Sam clearly leading the pack on species, the rest of the pack weren’t going to be left in the dust. Having met Don Roberts briefly on the opening day of SCI, Las Vegas 2014, I knew he would be a sure member of this years group. Needless to say, the very next day he and his beautiful wife were back at booth # 850 booking Don’s hunt.

Since then we’ve come to know the stranger a lot better and proudly call him a great friend. “Uncle Don” as he is now fondly referred to enjoyed success on a number of species, and together with PH, Martin Niper, proved to be one of the luckiest team of hunters out there!

A huge Kudu, Fallow Deer, Nyala , and Bushbuck were some of their best, but it was Uncle Don’s Sable that inspired me the most.

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Picture the scene, I had just come into camp off one of the tallest mountains in our newly secured 80 000 acre concession in the Great Karoo, having been after Eland for most of the day with Aaron , when Uncle Don meets me at the door pleading to have a word. Immediately the alarm bells start ringing in my head – what could have happened today that Uncle Don wants to see me so urgently? Then I notice the frown on his brow turn into a smile, asking;” Carl , today I saw the most beautiful animal I have ever seen in my life…. What are the chances that I could hunt it?” As they say the rest is history! Uncle Don got his Sable, and a beauty at that, not to mention that smile he has yet to wipe off his face!

Professional Hunter, Dave Burcy, teamed up with Graham and Sebastian Turner, for a selection of species they had not hunted before. This was to be a multiple return trip to South Africa for the Turners, before they headed up to Mozambique for the second part of their safari.

The guys did extremely well in both South Africa and Mozambique – coming away with a number of dream trophies.

As early August rolled along, with Gunwerks still enjoying our northern areas we welcomed a wedding party on safari to our southern base, Lalibela. The change of the season was upon us, with us ultimately deciding it was time to open up Treetops lodge again after the cold winter. Treetops proved to be the fairytale setting to what turned out to be one hell of a safari and wedding.

Father/son duo of Wade and Casey Fairchild enjoyed a memorable hunt with PH, Tyrone Schulpfort,  while mom in law, Michelle and bride, Rusmira, joined in on the action too.

As I’ve come to expect from Tyrone, that is since I’ve known him from the 3rd grade, always expect the unexpected! I’ve always believed that each PH should enjoy the privilege of planning his daily hunt as he wishes, as long as it maintains our high standards, and keeps all involved, firstly safe, and secondly, very happy on safari. Tyrone not only ensured a memorable trip was enjoyed by all, but mixed hard hunting with down time at the beach, a day of shopping here and there, and ultimately ensuring a dream African wedding for the wedding couple.

The Fairchild’s enjoyed a truly memorable hunt with a wedding and setting like no other. To the John X ladies who put the wedding together, I fear I may have to start a wedding service business – you’ve all missed your calling in life! What you ladies put together not only blew my mind, but all who were present too,  thank you.

I sign off this past months report with pictures from a fairytale wedding… Congratulations Mr and Mrs Fairchild… It was not only beautiful, but spectacular ….

 

For more information and current updates about John X Safaris; follow us on Twitter, connect with us on Facebook and visit our Website!

Lion

Mention the word Africa, and most drift off in thought with visions of Lions and Elephants roaming the vast plains of Africa. Zebra dotting the savannah in their thousands, and Africans drumming in chorus long into the night. That is Africa, but not all of Africa is the same.

There are most certainly endless savannahs stretching for as far as the eye can see, but then there are the forests, mountains, and deserts. The same can be said about rifles.

Over the past thirty years John X Safaris has seen the likes of numerous great rifles from various makers in a large variety of calibers. With each new rifle entering the market so the norm gets challenged – boundaries are pushed far and beyond what was thought possible before, and each gun maker stakes claim to the next best thing. Stick around for long enough in any industry and you’ll meet them, see their new product, and most certainly hear it all.

So you could imagine my interest and skepticism when I passed the Gunwerks booth at a trade show the very first time. With a slogan like theirs, who could not stop to wonder for a minute before continuing on in the maze that is a safari trade show today? And so I stood there day dreaming about, “ 1000 Yards out of the box” , thinking of the many older clients I’ve had to guide over the years, knowing that even 500 yards out of the box would have helped on the side of a mountain when one step further was not an option anymore.

With the imagination running wild I stepped into the Gunwerks booth and picked up a brochure. I realized everybody was extremely busy attending to customers, so I strolled over to the nearest display and picked up the 300 Win Mag. I’m a 300 man – eat, sleep, and preach it. I have come to believe it’s the most versatile caliber for any hunter after plains game in Africa. With various loads you’ll bring down the tiny Steenbuck on the plains of the Great Karoo, to a sneaky Kudu along the edge of a coastal forest, and even an old gun steel-blue Eland bull strutting his stuff on the open savannah. My belief is not one based around theory of what I’ve heard, but more of what I’ve seen proven in the field.

“I bet you could do with one of those in camp”, beamed a familiar voice over my shoulder. It was an old friend of mine and John X Safaris’, Kregg Thomassen. Kregg had been on safari with us to the East Cape, South Africa, on two previous occasions and now had teamed up with Gunwerks.

With one thing leading to another, there we were eight months down the line awaiting our first group of Gunwerks hunters. I’m still not certain who was more excited – The professional hunters or the hunters? Having arrived back home from the US I had broken the news to the guys that Gunwerks would be joining us on safari later that year. The hunt would be televised and the guides would be able to try out the guns themselves too.

From Gunwerks we had Kregg Thomassen and Garret Wall, getting myself and my guides up to speed with the rifles and their capabilities. You must realize, none of us had ever seen anything like this in Africa before – let alone imagined shooting anything like it. The various variables of gauging wind, shoot to distance, temperatures, and height above sea level was discussed in-depth.

Both Kregg and Garret’s shooting school expertise came through strongly here as all of us were up to speed with our hunters by the end of day one. Being up to speed with the system and the theory behind it was one thing, but seeing our hunters use the guns was a completely different story.

Chad and Jennifer Fraughton, from Utah, and Peter Corrado, from Canada, together with the professionals from Gunwerks made up the hunting party.

In all we hunted for eight days, and in those eight days we not only had the privilege seeing what the Gunwerks rifles were capable of, which was impressive to say the least, but more so the capabilities of our hunters.

Not all the shots were long, this in itself proved how versatile the rifles were. This may sound simple and obvious, but not all rifles built for long-range shooting handle targets at close quarters to well. Africa threw the hunters a number of curve balls too, with a couple of days of gale force winds, a rainy day or two, but luckily for the most part the weather was as spectacular as ever.

The hunters had to deal with various difficult set ups, this was not the range anymore, the game was unpredictable and we had now entered their territory on their terms. And then of course there were the long shots, many that left us astounded. As good as the guns were, they still needed the operators, and this is where our belief of the Gunwerks rifles grew substantially.

The system could be the best in the world, but if it proves too complicated to operate and enjoy using, then what would be the point at all? In this regard the four hunters sporting various Gunwerks calibers proved how enjoyable these rifles truly are.

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For Peter Corrado and professional hunter, Rusty, there were numerous memorable hunts and shots. A Blue Wildebeest across a canyon at 798 yards was a certain highlight for all, but Peter’s Gemsbuck was just magnificent in every sense of the word.

: Gunwerks professional, Garret Wall, experienced Africa for the very first time with head Professional Hunter, Greg “Roy boy” Hayes. Garret proved to be a wealth of knowledge on the shooting system and watching him operate was a privilege in itself.

Gunwerks professional, Garret Wall, experienced Africa for the very first time with head Professional Hunter, Greg “Roy boy” Hayes. Garret proved to be a wealth of knowledge on the shooting system and watching him operate was a privilege in itself.

Chad and Jennifer Fraughton teamed up with Juan MacDonald for their first taste of Africa too. Chad proved to be a wealth of knowledge on the system, and could be mistaken for a professional shot from Gunwerks. The man was a master and one of the most important team players in the group.

Chad and Jennifer Fraughton teamed up with Juan MacDonald for their first taste of Africa too. Chad proved to be a wealth of knowledge on the system, and could be mistaken for a professional shot from Gunwerks. The man was a master and one of the most important team players in the group.

And our old friend, Kregg Thomassen, joined me for his third trip back at John X Safaris. He had made a true “hog” of himself when it comes to big East Cape Kudu on both his previous hunts, scoring with a top 5 Kudu of a lifetime on his second hunt. That bull was a particularly narrow bull; this time around he lucked into another monster at 450 yards. The trackers now refer to him as; “Kudu King”, and his rifle as “The magic stick”!

And our old friend, Kregg Thomassen, joined me for his third trip back at John X Safaris. He had made a true “hog” of himself when it comes to big East Cape Kudu on both his previous hunts, scoring with a top 5 Kudu of a lifetime on his second hunt. That bull was a particularly narrow bull; this time around he lucked into another monster at 450 yards. The trackers now refer to him as; “Kudu King”, and his rifle as “The magic stick”!

In all more than twenty trophies were hunted by the four hunters at varying variables and distances – all a challenge in their own right. But that was not as impressive as the fact that not one single animal had been wounded and needed tracking down. This not only proved that the Gunwerks system was one which could be mastered by anyone, but that the system had covered all the bases from the caliber, to the optics, and the ammunition. It had without a doubt proven itself in Africa.

Many months later, after the dust had settled and the Gunwerks group had departed the African continent, I revisiting our experiences and got thinking about long-range shooting in the hunting world, and particularly in Africa, as that is where I’ve gained my experience. It was at a time when I was writing about my experiences with a dear friend of mine, Lee Friend, whom had first told me about Gunwerks.

Lee Friend with a superb Vaal Rhebuck taken at 400 yards with his Gunwerks 6.5×284.

Lee Friend with a superb Vaal Rhebuck taken at 400 yards with his Gunwerks 6.5×284.

I started off that particular article questioning long-range shooting and the ethics surrounding it. And as the story unfolded and I relived those adventures through the words flowing freely with excitement on the screen in front of me, it is then that I realized I had answered my concern and put any doubt to rest.

In saying that if any reader would like to read about that particular experience with Gunwerks rifles, feel free to visit; “Against all odds – the man without hips….” @ http://johnxsafaris.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/against-all-odds-the-man-without-hips/ Upon reading the story of that safari I’d like to leave it up to each individual to decide, I know I’ve certainly made up my mind on the matter.

Gunwerks taking Africa by storm.

Looking back on my experiences over the past 18 months, one thing is for certain and that is that Gunwerks has pioneered us into virgin territory when it comes to long-range calibers and hunting. Who knows what the boundaries may be? As long as those boundaries are ethical and both hunter and guide understand their equipment’s’ capabilities, then I predict exciting times ahead. Gunwerks has most certainly taken the African continent by storm…

For more information and current updates about John X Safaris; follow us on Twitter, connect with us on Facebook and visit our Website!

8

If you thought 2014 couldn’t get any better, then don’t feel alone, I was sitting on the banks of the Zambezi River a mere three weeks ago counting my blessings and wondering how the remainder of the season would pan out? I’ll be honest, at that moment I was sipping a cold locally brewed Mozambican 2M with my good friend Jeff Edland, savoring the success of the days hunt. At our feet lay a known man-eater, at 14 foot in length and more than a meter at the belly, one could understand the fear the locals had for this Crocodile.

It had not been an easy hunt, the wind wasn’t perfect and the day had been long. Numerous Crocs had been seen, two of them meeting the requirements we were after, but nothing had come from endless patience. We had given up, called it a day, and then no more than a mile from our landing site there he was. Jeff made another telling shot – this time at 70 yards off sticks – and if you’re thinking what’s the big fuss at 70 yards? Go try hitting the centre out of an Oreo cookie at 70 yards without a dead rest. It’s tough!

It had not been an easy hunt, the wind wasn’t perfect and the day had been long. Numerous Crocs had been seen, two of them meeting the requirements we were after, but nothing had come from endless patience. We had given up, called it a day, and then no more than a mile from our landing site there he was. Jeff made another telling shot – this time at 70 yards off sticks – and if you’re thinking what’s the big fuss at 70 yards? Go try hitting the centre out of a Oreo cookie at 70 yards without a dead rest. It’s tough!

Jeff not only enjoyed success on a huge Crocodile, but a first night Leopard over hounds had set our safari off on the right foot. Our hounds man Coenraad had expressed his concern over rain that was expected later that week, and he wanted to give it a go on that very first night. We trusted our man on the ground and within hours had a big tom treed.

To say that it was a relief would have been an understatement! Forget the success rate ratios - As described to me by a friend of mine, the famous Zimbabwean Leopard hunter, Lou Halimore, " It's a 50/50 - Either get one or you don't!" We had ours! And at that a beauty!

To say that it was a relief would have been an understatement! Forget the success rate ratios – As described to me by a friend of mine, the famous Zimbabwean Leopard hunter, Lou Hallamore, ” It’s a 50/50 – Either you get one or you don’t.” We had ours – And at that a beauty!

And that’s the way our Mozambican hunt went… The trophies speak for themselves and the adventure enjoyed with our old friends and hosts, Poen and Zandre, was a treat and as good as ever. Poen, together with our local trackers, Gotchi and Albieno, have become an extension of John X Safaris in Mozambique. Seldom does a day pass without unexpected adventure, with the quality of the hunting a given…

Back south in South Africa, we welcomed Steve and Charlene Galas, as well as the father/son duo of Dan and Jake Tomcheck. For both parties it was to be their first hunt with John X Safaris, enjoying both our coastal and northern Karoo areas.

Steve and Charlene teamed up with Professional Hunter, Ross Hoole, hunting a variety of plains game. An outstanding Gemsbuck and Kudu hunt was some of Steve’s favorites, but a certain highlight for us was Steve’s Waterbuck. From time to time one stumbles upon an interesting trophy, one that sees one becoming addicted in its pursuit.

For Steve and Ross it turned out to be a superb Waterbuck, the only catch, this bull had broken its right horns’ tip during the course of their hunt. It was now more than “just” the hunt, there was a story… In the end they did get him, and while many would wonder about their quest in turning down so many good bulls to hunt this particular bull, I and others who knew what they were after could appreciate their dedication. He may have had a broken tip, but the broken horn still tipped off at 27”, while the other 32”. A trophy of a lifetime in my eyes, and story to go with it.

For Dan and Jake Tomcheck, joining Professional Hunter, Greg Hayes, it was to be a truly special safari. Since the start of our father/son hunts we’ve been overwhelmed by the response of so many of you. But the added bonus that was not expected has been the reward of seeing fathers and sons spending quality time together, and ultimately rekindling relationships and family bonds without external distractions.

The hunting proved to be a treat under the guidance of Greg and tracker, Bless. From the coastal forests, to the plains of the Karoo, and finally up onto the mountains in the north…

With early July rolling on it was time to welcome our extended family from Reno, Nevada. Over the years we at John X Safaris have been privileged to host many hunters from around the world, some come on that once in a lifetime safari, others a couple more times, then there are those who form part of the family, coming every other year. They bring their kids, their friends, and families – ultimately bringing them home to Africa as often as they can.

One such family is the Robinson family. Steve had first joined us on safari with our good friend, Rich Adams, many years ago and since has shared a number of memorable safaris with us. Since that first hunt, Steve has introduced his wife, Linda, as well as kids, Ashley, Hunter, and Kaley, to African safaris. Our families have grown together, enjoying many trips throughout southern Africa.

This year proved to be one of our most enjoyable safaris to date. Together with the Robinson’s, we welcomed the Pitts and Tripp families. The plan was for the entire group to spend four days at Lalibela, and then the girls would head down to Cape Town with Trish, while the boys headed to the Karoo for some more hunting. From there we would all meet for the last two days of our safari down in Knysna on the Garden Route.

An action packed safari it proved to be with a number of record-breaking trophies hitting the salt. A 55 3/8’’ East Cape Kudu for Bo Tripp was the trophy of a lifetime, not to mention an awesome Klipspringer and Waterbuck with the family. Arnie and Hunter Pitts made for quality entertainment with some trick shooting, with humor like no other. My team of Steve and Hunter were as solid as ever, with Steve hunting a magnificent Kalahari Springbuck of 17’’, while Hunter stole the limelight with an epic old Bushpig we’d been after for quite some time.

 

While the “seasoned” hunters may have dominated the hunting in numbers, it was the junior hunters whom most impressed us. Two very special young ladies reminded us what it was all about and why we enjoy our passion for hunting. To Kaley Robinson and Abie Tripp – Congratulations on some exceptional shooting and a great bunch of trophies!

Meanwhile down in Cape Town the girls were warming up to their new-found slogan of “Living on the Edge”…. Yes folks adventure sport junkies to say the least! From the V&A Waterfront to the Nelson Mandela Apartheid Museum, Cape Point to Table Mountain and Paragliding off Lions Head, to Great White Shark cage diving. That and so much more…

All in all it proved to be a mammoth safari to say the least. The combination of hunting, Big 5 photographic safaris, and the Garden Route to Cape Town sight-seeing tour, provided for first class vacationing. The fun and games never stopped from the minute the group arrived to the day they left.

As mid July rolled along we welcomed our partners from Blaser, Marc Hillerman, and hunter, Jan Bredensen. They joined Professional Hunter, Ross Hoole, for a week of mountain hunting. Over the course of the week the guys hunted hard, enjoying long hikes with hours of glassing, hoping to find what they were after.

During their quest they hunted a variety of species including a Caracal with hounds, Blesbuck and Common Duiker, but their mountain species is what they had come for, and wow were they impressive…

A 9 3/8’’ Vaal Rhebuck...

A 9 3/8’’ Vaal Rhebuck…

A 7 4/8’’ Mountain Reedbuck...

A 7 4/8’’ Mountain Reedbuck…

And 4’’ Klipspringer.

And 4’’ Klipspringer.

Eat your hearts out all you mountain dwellers! These three would be the pride of any mountain hunters’ trophy room.

I’m still in awe at a number of trophies from the past three weeks. As I said before, who would have thought it could get any better, considering the season we’ve had to date, but our areas keep producing the goods and the teams on the ground keep providing world-class experiences.

As I sign off this month’s report, we find ourselves spread across the Eastern Cape. In the north we have our old friend Mike Grier, together with Tom Lincoln and Tyler Geer, back on his third hunt with John X Safaris, while Jose, Trish, and I, are giving back to the industry with our annual PHASA donated hunt. We’re looking forward to a busy period running into early August before we set sail to Mozambique once again.

Until next month – Enjoy the outdoors and do so responsibly.

Until next month – Enjoy the outdoors and do so responsibly.

For more information and current updates about John X Safaris; follow us on Twitter, connect with us on Facebook and visit our Website!

 

 

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.

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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.

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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. 

Dawson could be considered as one of the luckiest hunters you'll ever meet. A 13+ year old Eland bull and a huge 50" East Cape Kudu, all in the space of 24 hours put him on cloud nine... We're still not sure if he has ever come off it!

Dawson could be considered as one of the luckiest hunters you’ll ever meet. A 13+ year old Eland bull and a huge 50″ East Cape Kudu, all in the space of 24 hours put him on cloud nine… We’re still not sure if he has ever come off it!

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For Josh it would be the unexpected… A huge Cape Bushbuck stepped out when least expected.

 

For Seth it was a epic hunt on a great East Cape Kudu. The stalk was long, in difficult terrain, but more concerning was the fading light. In the end it was up to him to make our one chance count... what a great hunt!

For Seth it was a epic hunt on a great East Cape Kudu. The stalk was long, in difficult terrain, but more concerning was the fading light. In the end it was up to him to make our one chance count… what a great hunt!

For Cole - a champion of a young hunter, there were many memorable hunts, but his Blue Wildebeest was the highlight of a plan to outwit a smart old bull. Well done young man!

For Cole – a champion of a young hunter, there were many memorable hunts, but his Blue Wildebeest was the highlight of a plan to outwit a smart old bull. Well done young man!

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.

Man was it worth it - What a monster!

Man was it worth it – What a monster!

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!

Having hunted hard for Cape Grysbuck on two previous safaris, Ivor had always come up short - this time we wouldn't be beaten and persisted like never before. The reward was greater than even we could have hoped for - the trophy of a lifetime.

Having hunted hard for Cape Grysbuck on two previous safaris, Ivor had always come up short – this time we wouldn’t be beaten and persisted like never before. The reward was greater than even we could have hoped for – the trophy of a lifetime.

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.

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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…

For more information and current updates about John X Safaris; follow us on Twitter, connect with us on Facebook and visit our Website!

By Cari Smith – A Lucky Safari Addict

Africa – The word alone brings a smile to my face. The entire experience was absolutely amazing! Not just the hunting, but the graciousness of the entire John X team. While I enjoyed a number of great hunts and an array of trophies, there’s always one in particular that comes to mind each time… In my mind he’s the most amazing animal I’d ever seen, and since our hunt I’m starting to realize there’s a couple more people whom seem to think so too…. A beast of a bull – That’s my Waterbuck.

Firstly, it takes a great team to achieve the unimaginable. I absolutely loved my P.H. Greg Hayes; he’s so knowledgeable, yet so willing and eager to share that knowledge. He had been hunting with my dad, Jim, previously so I had heard allot about him. I now had the privilege of hunting with him as well. Together with Greg was our tracker, Bless, a great man with a passion for the bush, and our Jack Russell terrier, Jock. Together with Dad and I, this was our A-team!

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Greg had been watching this particular bull for two years, but had not been able to get onto it when he needed to. Then we had seen him earlier in the week as well, but I had not made up my mind if I wanted a Waterbuck, so we missed the opportunity.

Towards the end of the hunt I had made up my mind… I wanted to try for the Waterbuck bull we had seen. Heading out that morning I was actually quite nervous for a few reasons.

Firstly, the previous day I had missed an Impala twice before finally getting it. I had been shooting quite well up to that point, so there was no obvious reason why I had suddenly started missing. The second reason was one which was much closer to the heart… I was nervous, extremely nervous. I was fearful of disappointing my amazing Dad, and the rest of the team. After spotting the bull that first time, it didn’t take much to realize what a trophy and opportunity it was to be hunting him. And lastly, I have to admit it was a pride thing. Being a female hunter I wanted to show up the guys in the group. Gender aside, it would just be cool to pursue one of the biggest trophies of the season at John X Safaris.

It was actually an unusual morning. It started normal. Up early, breakfast, load up the truck, and off we were. Then Greg got a phone call from Carl asking if we could help out by giving his nephew a lift to school in Grahamstown. No one complained. It was actually kind of fun listening to a child that had grown up in the African bush – he knew so much about hunting. (p.s. Which by the way was much more than me!)? Before collecting Ross we had actually joked in the truck that doing these favors would bring us good karma… If only we knew how good it would turn out to be!

By the time we got to our hunting area it was about 10:00. Greg parked the truck and we headed out for a slow walk through the brush to a small clearing the bull had frequented before. I was told that old Waterbuck bulls were extremely territorial, so this was the logical place to start if we were to find him again. We had only walked for about 15 minutes when Greg spotted our bull in a clearing further up the ridge. We approached slowly, keeping a constant check on the wind. At 75 yards out he suddenly appeared. He stood there for a minute then turned. Greg quickly set up the shooting sticks and I set up the rifle. I was shooting my dad’s bigger 30-378, the perfect caliber for a big old weary Waterbuck. Dad’s rifle was fitted with a different scope to my gun; it had various crosshairs for different distances. As I looked through the scope and prepared to squeeze the trigger I suddenly realized I had the bull lined up in the wrong crosshairs. I quickly adjusted to the correct ones, tried to regather myself, while the bull just stood there, unaware of our position. I’m sure it was only seconds, but it felt like a lifetime before the shot rang out. 

At the crack of the shot I quickly reloaded, and looked up with dread to see if I had hit him…… Both Greg and my dad had huge grins on their faces – “You got him!” Those words from Greg were like music to my ears!

The bull had taken the hit well, disappearing into the nearest undergrowth. We immediately released Jock to pick up on the blood trail, hoping he’d relocate the downed bull. It didn’t take long before Jock started barking franticly indicating he’d found the bull. He had run a mere 40 yards before piling up. Then real celebration began.

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Dad and I admiring my bull with the rest of the team….

No mere handshakes, no, there was hugging all around. WAHOO!!!!!! After the hugs and the many pictures (more than most weddings), it was time to appreciate a bull like few others have ever seen.

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My bull came in at just under 33”…. A trophy of a lifetime!

After the emotions had settled and I had time to reflect, I have to admit I feel kind of guilty taking credit for this beautiful trophy. All I did was follow Greg into the bush and shoot when he asked me to. 

For my Waterbuck of a lifetime I’d like give credit to Greg. Without him and his knowledge and work, this awesome trophy would not have been mine.

For my Waterbuck of a lifetime I’d like give credit to Greg. Without him and his knowledge and work, this awesome trophy would not have been mine.

Now, as I sit here in Utah, weeks after our amazing adventure had passed, I am already planning my return trip. This was, thus far in my life, the most amazing experience of my life.

For more information and current updates about John X Safaris; follow us on Twitter, connect with us on Facebook and visit our Website!

 

With the month of May coming to an end, and a wet early season dominating procedures, combined with bouts of cooler weather, we have seen a peak in the rut earlier than usual. While a peak may have been reached, there are tell-tale signs that it should be here for a couple more months. There have been bouts of cooler weather, but it has most certainly not been cold as to date. And if the old heads’ theory stands for anything, it should mean that the main rut is yet to hit.

 

With the warmer weather lasting longer than usual, it has provided our hunters moderate conditions with breath-taking scenery prior to the winter dull. The current condition of the wildlife is something worth mentioning – the animals are in immaculate condition across the board, with even the older game boasting rounded bellies and shiny coats. It is most certainly a paradise in the East Cape at the moment.

Looking back at the months results, one asks oneself how it could get any better? But then again it all lies in the planning, and that’s not only from the teams side, but our hunters too. Our entire May was booked up more than three years ago. We knew it was going to be a busy one, but Trish and I often have to pinch ourselves to realize its all real. Yes, hard work and dedication goes hand in hand, but the support from our friends in Utah has been a humbling experience to say the least.

Having met a group of guys from Eagle Mountain on their first safari some eight years ago, it would be fair to say not them or I thought our friendships would prosper to the point of family. With time I’ve come to know a special group of people, people who have become my extended family in the US, whom have taken in my entire team as their own from day one. To Bwana Big Jim Smith, Chris & Collette Ashcroft, Brett & Shelie Wright, and the many past hunters from Eagle Mountain, I don’t know if there are enough words to express our gratitude for everything you do year in and year out.

Knowing you the way I have come to know you, a simple thank you would be sufficient. BUT you all deserve more than that – I truly hope we as a team have produced the results and experiences that shows our gratitude and says more than just thank you.

To our new friends; the Hamilton’s, Edwards’s, Heaton’s, Wilson’s, Terry’s, Wallace’s, Maxwell’s, and Fullmer’s – the latest additions to the John X family. Welcome – Enjoy the memories… Our journey together has only just begun….

After all the dust had settled on the last evening and beaming faces enriched with new experiences had gathered around a cozy dinner table, the entire group decided to each share a fond memory/experience from the hunt. Of course there was the usual banter and laughter that can only be shared in a hunting camp, and there were some emotional stories too – not because anyone was sad, but more so the emotion of gratitude.

I had personally shared a funny story about my old friend, Chris Ashcroft, whom had brought me close to tears with laughter after witnessing a sequence of funny mishaps on his Impala hunt. But in the moment I had forgotten about one particular experience – I’d like to share that story with the entire group and you the reader.

While hunting up north one day, I had the privilege of witnessing something truly special – something that reminded me, and many of my guides and team members, why we wake at sunrise each morning.

Kelly Edwards and I were done hunting for the day and decided to lend a hand and spend some time with Larry and Claudia Fullmer, together with PH, Sean Cromhout. Larry was after an Eland, and as tradition would be with most big things, the better the quality of trophy, the harder it is to achieve. To cut a long story short, Larry, Sean, and Claudia made an epic stalk on a group of bulls we’d spotted earlier that morning. The bulls were feeding in a valley below their final position, and as the hunters popped their heads over the top of the cliff we saw Larry’s gun go up and the immediate rapport of the shot. The bulls took off at a pace, while Larry’s bull slowed to a walk before going down.

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The moment was a great one. Larry, Claudia, Sean, and Tsikelelo – The team who did it!

The smiles all round told of a succesful hunt and an experience enjoyed by all. It was only much later, after the bull was back at the skinning shed that I for the first time realized that the grin on Larry’s face which had been there since the moment we collected them at the airport was even broader than before. Larry quietly stood in awe as the old gun steel-blue bull was hoisted high above his head. He just stood there smiling with a glimpse of a tear not far below the surface. He was speechless.

I decided to step back for a minute too – and to enjoy the moment. The scene unfolding in front of me was as rewarding as I had ever witnessed or experienced before. Here was a man whom I had only met on two prior occasions, before spending the first part of the hunt together – we knew very little of one another. Yet through the age-old tradition of hunting we had come together like old friends and could enjoy the silence between us more so than any words could ever have spoken.

It was the experience of that moment that saw me rise at 4am the following morning. Not because I had to, but because I wanted to. I wanted to be the first to see the sunrise – to greet the day and count my blessings…..

There's so much to look forward to, and its only the end of May.

There was so much to look forward to, and it was barely the end of May.

For more information and current updates about John X Safaris; follow us on Twitter, connect with us on Facebook and visit our Website.

Now in our second season of partnering up with Gunwerks, the leader in long-range shooting, we at John X Safaris are excited to announce our upcoming show schedule on The Sportsman Channel.  As to date the first two episodes have aired with the 3rd and 4th airing as follows.

Gunwerks

The 3rd episode will rerun the week of May 19th. While the 4th episode is scheduled to air the week of June 30th, and will then rerun the week of August 4th.

Airtimes are Standard Eastern Time:

  • Friday’s 10:00 am
  • Friday’s 5:30 pm
  • Saturday’s 2:00 am
  • Saturday’s 1:00 pm
Please watch our show and give us some feedback on what plains game species you’d like to see hunted in our next season of shows. You may just see one of the John X Safaris Professional Hunters realize their dream to hunt that most asked for specie with one of these amazing Gunwerks rifles.
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At this time we would like to invite those interested in joining Gunwerks owners, Aaron and Mike Davidson, together with friends and family, as they set out to join us on another adventure to the East Cape, SA, from 29 July – 7 August 2014.

This year once again sees the groups point of arrival being Port Elizabeth, South Africa, where they will be met by the John X Team. A total of eight days hunting, nine nights, will be split between our renowned coastal area, Lalibela, and the Great Karoo in the north.

On the coast, hunters can enjoy the benefits of our luxurious safari lodges, combined with Big 5 sightings each day, with hunting occurring in adjacent concessions to Lalibela.

From the coast the land rises gradually, climbing the plateau to 4500 feet to reach the escarpment of the Great Karoo. In a mere 3 ½ hours from our coastal base camp, hunters will arrive to our northern camp in the Great Karoo. Sit back around a crackling camp fire each evening reliving the stories of the day’s hunt and gaze at the brightest stars on earth.

In total, hunters will have the opportunity to hunt over 25 species, ranging from the tiny Steenbuck to the giant Cape Eland. Long range enthusiasts can expect various challenges from each area, with exciting setups and even greater shots on a daily basis. Opportunities in Africa are like nowhere else on earth – come to be amazed by the sheer number of game, size of the hunting areas, and beauty of Africa.

INTERESTED HUNTERS can reach Aaron / Mike Davidson on 307.762.3240 / Or Carl on hunting@johnxsafaris.co.za  . Don’t delay – We only have a few openings left, and its time to book air travel.

Don’t miss this opportunity of a lifetime to hunt with the men who are the masterminds behind Gunwerks.

Carl van Zyl
John X Safaris

For more information and current updates about John X Safaris; follow us on Twitter, connect with us on Facebook and visit our Website.

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