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As with previous years, the early season produced some fantastic hunts and phenomenal trophies yet again. This year saw a change in guard for the first time in over ten years. It would not be Brett Nelson and his crew making the most of the rested areas and beating all to the first hunt of the season, but our good friends Jarod Wallace, Chris Ashcroft and Bwana Big Jim Smith.

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It may have been fate that brought us all together on February 28th, 2015 – who knows? Some things are just meant to be. Big Jim, Chris, and Jarod had joined us on safari during early May of 2014, and weren’t set to return again until 2016.

On that particular hunt Jarod was after a Cape Buffalo, together with a host of plains game. While he enjoyed tremendous success on a variety of plains game, it would be early mornings and long days stalking Cape Buffalo in our coastal forests with his bow that would captivate him most. With time running out on that hunt, he together with his trusty PH, Ross, came across a very impressive Cape Buffalo bull.

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The bull was everything Jarod had dreamt of… he had the mass, drop, and spread. Only one small hick-up – The bull was not on quota. So they sat silently watching him walk out of bow range.

That evening both Jarod and Ross pondered over the days events – wondering how they would ever get the opportunity to hunt a bull in that class? It would have to be fate….

As early December 2014 rolled along, Ross and I were wrapping up final preparations for our trip to the US, when I mentioned to Ross that we would be seeing Jarod and friends in Eagle Mountain, UT, during January, and that we should check our Buffalo quota for that particular area where Jarod watched his dream bull walk a mere 7 months earlier. With one thing leading to another we finally received confirmation of one Buffalo on quota for 2015 – There was no guessing who would have first option on the hunt.

Of course Jarod was never going to turn it down – let alone miss the opportunity of returning to Africa within a year of his first safari. Having experienced the “group” safari atmosphere on his first hunt, he wasn’t planning on returning alone, and kindly invited both Chris and Bwana Big Jim along.

The boys were pretty excited to be a part of Jarrod's Cape Buffalo hunt - let alone sink their teeth into a couple of hunts of their own!

The boys were pretty excited to be a part of Jarod’s Cape Buffalo hunt – let alone sink their teeth into a couple of hunts of their own!

With a couple of months of preparation we had configured a great plan, allowing both Jarod and Ross to be concealed under a hollowed out Acacia tree. The cover would prove sufficient for the guys to go undetected, but if the prickly thorns would deter a herd of grumpy Cape Buffalo from investigating anything out of the ordinary – that would remain to be seen.

As luck would have it, the guys got an arrow into the unaware bull at first light, coming in to drink and then feeding a mere 18 yards away. Having never hunted a Buffalo with a bow before, none of us knew how the bull would react? And in true Cape Buffalo form he took an arrow perfectly placed behind the shoulder and ran off 80 yards before coming to a sudden halt in wonder of the bee that had just stung him. The guys were certain the placement was perfect, yet the bull showed no signs of weakening.

And then suddenly he turned away from the herd and disappeared into the undergrowth. All this time to bull still showed no signs of weakening, but his behavior suggested something was up. We gave the bull another two hours before the guys started tracking him in the thick undergrowth. There was blood – but not enough to confirm the fatal blow. After a couple of hundred yards the blood all-together dried up, and 5 hours later we called it a day. The bull had broken cover twice – a charge was imminent, that was to be expected, but if it was to be the last stand, best we did it in better light.

That evening around the campfire we discussed the arrows placement in great depth – all aware of the danger that loomed the next morning. A decision had to be made, and a mature one at that too. It was time to put away the bow and take up a trusty 375 H&H – it was not only the safest option in our situation, but the right one too. It is not only our responsibility as Professional Hunters to keep you safe, but to honor the game we hunt by ensuring a clean kill, and when things do not turn out as planned, to ensure a speedy follow-up kill.

That next morning the guys did exactly that! Jarrod had hunted a dream bull with his bow on his terms and then honored the bull by a well placed heart shot. He had the bull he had so long dreamn't about!

That next morning the guys did exactly that. Jarod had hunted a dream bull with his bow on his terms and then honored the bull by a well placed heart shot. He had the bull he had so long dreamt about!

After further investigation it was noted that the arrow had hit a rib and broken off, finally working its way out during the night. The penetration was far too little to prove fatal, and all involved learnt a great lesson on heavy boned big game with a bow.

The rest of the day was spent working away the mass of meat, ensuring the cape got into the salt and every inch of meat and bone, including the hooves, intestines, and organs, was used as a source of protein by the local population.

The following morning we were up at sunrise and off to the wild coast to pursue the ever elusive Cape Bushbuck.

Our home for the next four days would be the "Camp on the Krantz" (Camp on the Cliff).

Our home for the next four days would be the breath-taking “Camp on the Krantz” (Camp on the Cliff).

For Chris and Jarod it was all about pursuing Cape Bushbuck with their bows, while Bwana Big Jim just goes with the flow, hunting anything truly great he and his longtime PH, Greg Hayes, stumble upon.

Professional Hunter, Martin Neuper, a new member to our team would join Carl and Chris, showing off some of his neck of the woods, enjoying a heap of home-ground advantage. Having grown up with a bow in his hand and a Cape Bushbuck not far off his 30 yard pin, we knew we were in for something special.

And that very first afternoon of walk and stalk Martin put Chris onto a ram at 27 yards.

And that very first afternoon of walk and stalk Martin put Chris onto a ram at 27 yards.

To say that the entire crew back at camp looked at us with envy that evening would have been the understatement of the safari! It seemed all were suddenly rising earlier than discussed and every member of every team looked more determined than ever. It was officially game on!

Chris, Martin, and I, headed off into the high country in search of Cape Eland, while Greg and Bwana Big Jim weren’t being completely truthful about their plans for the day or what they had seen the previous afternoon. Ross and Jarod would head back to a newly built blind – one that seemed promising with plenty of activity from the day before.

Knowing Bwana Big Jim the way we’ve come to know him, and knowing all too well he and Greg make a dream team on the worst of days – we should have seen the signs of confidence that morning – it’s not that they ever commit to anything in particular, but its the manner in which they bring quality to the shed.

And they always do... this time with a world-class 52'' East Cape Kudu!

And they always do… this time with a world-class 52” East Cape Kudu.

Jarod and Ross on the other hand were baking their brains in a bow blind at 110F – only to earn a big Baboon with the bow – a truly tough feat. Those who’ve tried this will vouch for it!

Up in the mountains the air was cool and a steady south-western breeze would ensure the remainder of the day would remain pleasant as cool air would be pushed from the ocean onto the escarpment. We literally spotted large herds of Eland from the word go, seeing numerous great bulls, until our eyes came to rest on a herd of +-80 animals. It’s not everyday that one gets to see so many Eland within a 360 degree view, but when one lays eyes on something you search for, for so long, there’s no mistaking it’s a monster when not even I make sense to myself anymore.

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I would have hated to have been Chris listening to nervous, yet excited instruction from myself and Martin, hardly able to contain our child-like excitement. Then on the other hand… I would have given anything to have been Chris to have hunted the Eland of a lifetime.

He had everything. The sweep in horn like a Lord Derby, a dewlap that saw him strain his neck with every step he walked, and a mop so rich in color - a combination of color that words cannot describe.  Hi sheer size was beyond impressive, while his gunsteel blue made him a candidate for for one of my  all-time  favorite Eland.

He had everything. The sweep in horn like a Lord Derby, a dewlap that saw him strain his neck with every step he took, and a mop so rich in color – a combination that words cannot describe. His sheer size was beyond impressive, while his gun steel-blue made him a candidate for one of my all-time favorite Eland.

And then as if it couldn’t get any better the Bushbuck came out in hordes on our last day….

First Chris...

First Chris with his heavy horned 15 1/2”….

And then Jarrod with a whopping 15 3/4'' ram!

And then Jarod with a whopping 15 3/4” ram!

With time running out we packed up our gear, loaded the dogs, skins, skulls, trackers, and ourselves, and headed back to Lalibela for our last evening around the campfire.

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Each and everyone had enjoyed their time together, once again reminded of the camaraderie we as hunters share.

Fate? Or coincidence? I’m not to sure it was either. When it comes to our great friends from Eagle Mountain in Utah, it’s not that we need much of an excuse to get-together in Africa…

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Like I said before… Some things are just meant to be….

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

Late last week we received the following information from Safari Club International and wanted to share it with our fellow hunters from the U.S.

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Safari Club International has received information about changes in the requirements for hunters who wish to export/bring their firearms and ammunition with them when they travel to hunt outside the United States.  SCI has been researching these new requirements in order to understand exactly why these changes are going into effect and what will be required of hunters who wish to travel with their firearms and ammunition to hunt in other countries.

A great deal of confusion still remains, but we are attempting to present all with some of the questions being raised and the answers we have discovered so far.  Please note that the information below is not intended to serve as legal advice.  Before traveling, hunters are advised to consult directly with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and/or their own legal counsel.

Q: What is now required of a hunter who wishes to export/bring his or her firearms/ammunition to hunt outside the U.S.? 

A. If a hunter wishes to temporarily export three or fewer non-automatic firearms from the United States and 1000 or fewer cartridges — at the time of his/her departure from the U.S., he or she must declare the articles to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer, present the Internal Transaction Number (ITN) obtained from the submission of the Electronic Export Information in the Automated Export System (AES) and present the firearms and/or cartridges for a visual inspection to the CBP officer at the port of departure from the United States. The firearms and ammunition to be exported must be with the individual’s accompanied or unaccompanied (checked) baggage or effects. The owner must declare that the firearms and/or ammunition to be exported are for his/her exclusive use and not for re-export or other transfer of ownership.  The owner must state that it is his/her intent to return with the firearms/ammunition on his/her return to the United States.

Q.  Which of these requirements are new?

A.  Firearm/ammunition owners are newly being required to submit Electronic Export Information (EEI) in the Automated Export System (AES) to obtain an Internal Transaction Number (ITN). The AES is a joint venture between CBP, the Foreign Trade Division of the Bureau of the Census (under the Department of Commerce), the Bureau of Industry and Security (under Commerce), the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (under the Department of State), other Federal agencies, and the export trade community.

Q.  How are the new export requirements different from what was previously required?

A.  For many years, the State Department’s International Trafficking in Arms Regulations (ITAR) have allowed Americans to temporarily export up to three non-automatic firearms and up to 1,000 rounds of ammunition without a license, as long as the firearms were declared and presented to a CBP officer (also known as a Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) license exemption).

B. Previously, the owner of the firearms/ammunition would bring the firearms/ammunition to a CBP office at some point before the trip and would complete Customs Form 4457—a form that can be completed for any personal property and that is normally used to prove that the traveler owned the property before going abroad.  The form protects a traveler from paying import duties on items already owned.  The owner of the firearms/ammunition would retain the form and present it upon reentry if needed.  Form 4457 will no longer satisfy the requirements for bringing firearms/ammunition out of the country. Additional information about the new requirements can be obtained from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement website:  https://www.ice.gov/cpi/faq

Q.  Why is this change going into effect now?

A.  These new requirements became part of regulations that went into effect in 2012.  For reasons unknown at this time, the U.S. government has only recently decided to implement them.

Q.  When do these changes go into effect?

A.  While it is not known for certain, some sources indicate that these changes have already gone into effect.  Other sources state that the changes will be imposed on April 3, 2015.  Regardless, it appears that CBP may not actually be ready to fully implement these changes. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may not be able to require individuals to use the AES system because the system requires entry of an Employer Identification Number (EIN).  EINs are normally only obtained by businesses, and the Internal Revenue Service says they should only be used for tax purposes.  Because individuals do not generally possess EINs, it may not be possible for ICE to require hunters to utilize them for firearms exportation purposes.

SCI is currently investigating this question. SCI has learned from the National Rifle Association that CBP has instituted a temporary plan for those who wish to export their firearms and who are either unaware of the new requirements or are unable to use the AES system.  We have been told that, under the temporary plan, CBP officers at airports can manually enter identifying information about the traveler/exporter and his/her firearms.  SCI is attempting to verify this information.  We do not know how long this temporary plan may be in effect. We also do not know what system will be available for those who are leaving the U.S. by means other than airports (e.g., driving to Canada).

Q.  What is SCI doing to address these changes?

A.  Currently, SCI is gathering information to try to better inform our members about what they will need to do to ensure that they are complying with the new requirements.  At the same time, SCI will be working on ways to delay the implementation of the requirements until all have a better understanding of how to comply.  SCI is also working with their partners in the hunting and recreational shooting communities to challenge the implementation of these requirements.  They will continue to update you as we obtain additional information.

Q.  What is/has John X Safaris doing/done to address these changes?

A. John X Safaris has invested in a number of new firearms which can be hired at a minimal fee/per safari for those hunters wishing to simply traveling. All rifles are fitted with either Zeiss, Swarovski or Leupold telescopes, ensuring top quality optics. Please do however note, we still encourage you to bring your own weapon/s as that is what each hunter would be the most comfortable with.

John X Safaris will be keeping you updated as further news is received, as to ensure all of us in the hunting community are well-informed to any changes.

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

As with many of you, here in Africa, we too eagerly await our copy of Safari Club Internationals’ by-monthly magazine. It literally looks worn out and truly ragged by the time each PH has read the many stories and viewed the interesting pictures. As tradition would have it, it’s usually a mad scramble for the office once news of its arrival by snail mail, a mighty 3-4 weeks after most of you have received your copy, filters through to the teams in the field.

Having beaten the rest of the guys to the latest March/April ’15 publication, due to its EXTREMELY early arrival, we were delighted to see and read about one of our very own hunters on safari and their experience with John X Safaris. Congratulations once again goes out to Chris Petersen on his fabulous hunt and trophy.

But first, before we get into this epic tale, we wanted to share the video of this adventure. Photos and pictures tell an amazing story, but there is nothing like capturing your safari of a lifetime on film. If you’ll be joining us on safari this season or next and would be interested in having your hunt filmed, then mail us on info@johnxsafaris.co.za for further details.

Those of you who do not receive the SCI magazine, here’s our celebrated feature article from the SCI Safari Magazine March / April 2015 issue.

An epic tale of a “Monster Blue”…

Contributed by Chris Petersen, A confessed safari and photography addict.

Be forewarned, this is NOT a short story.  It has become almost an epic tale of an unbelievable safari adventure that is told to all who will listen.  It is about a magnificent trophy hunt … but it is more about all the incredible experiences that collectively make up what is simply called a “safari”.  It is also about a John X Safaris PH, who turned into one of my closest friends on this planet.   I hope that my story can begin to capture the experience for those of you who have been on safari … and to create a burning desire for those planning your first safari adventure.

I’ve never met anyone going on their first safari saying:  “I’m going after the small stuff”.  Like most first timers, visions of Kudu and Gemsbok filled my first safari dreams.  I had the good fortune of having Carl van Zyl from John X Safaris as my PH to help me earn my Kudu and Gemsbok.

On that first hunt, he also introduced me to the challenges of hunting South Africa’s national animal.  After chasing black, white and common Springbok on the open plains of the Karoo, that was about as small a target as I ever wanted to hunt in that big open country.  Some humbling misses made me appreciate the Karoo and Springbok!

Like many, both my wife and I were bitten by the safari bug and literally had to return the next year to celebrate our 35th Anniversary.  After her Zebra and Black Wildebeest the first year, my wife added a fine Hartebeest, Blue wildebeest and an Ostrich. I then decided to go even bigger with an amazing Giraffe hunt, followed by a beautiful Nyala.  Our second, supposedly “last” safari ended with an unexpected Bushbuck, which looked very small at 300 yards in the scope.

I ended up returning to Africa two years later with my brother and a close friend on a special photo safari.  But when you have 3 Eastern Cape Spiral horns, you discover that you need to complete the “spiral grand slam” of the Eastern Cape.  Again, John X Safaris and Carl provided an amazing hunt for a magnificent old “blue” Eland bull.  When you realize how big an Eland actually is, and you already have a Giraffe and many plains game filling your trophy room, it’s about the time that a sane hunter starts to ask questions … what else is there to hunt?  More importantly, where will I put the trophies?

Over the camp fire while toasting success on the Eland, I posed the “I have no more trophy space” dilemma to Carl.  He immediately said, “my friend I need to introduce you to the Tiny 10”.  By my third safari I was reading the John X Safari blog and I remember Carl’s article about the Tiny 10.  I knew that these species were the “small stuff” … literally the smallest members of the 27+ species of antelope in Africa.

Maybe it was by the 3rd (or was it the 4th?) glass of wine, or maybe it was the late night, but when Carl started rattling off the names of the Tiny Ten, they all sounded exotic.  But one specie in particular stood out from the crowd … the Blue Duiker.  It is the smallest of the South African antelope weighing in at a whopping 4 kgs … that’s just over 8 pounds for a monster!  After shooting an Eland weighing in at almost a ton, I decided then and there I wanted to hunt the smallest of the Tiny Ten and capture a “Monster Blue”.

There is a very good reason that you hunt with a top quality outfit like John X Safaris.  You quickly learn that trophy Blue Duiker are not found just anywhere.  John X Safaris has millions of acres of hunting concessions, but you also need at top outfitter that knows where the trophies are.  You need an outfit like John X Safaris and a PH like Carl who has the relationships with well-managed land, with strict quotas for quality trophies.  Well that meant some serious planning, which meant another safari … perfect!

What started as a lively discussion and education on the Tiny Ten around the Eland campfire, turned out to be a safari that was 3 years in the making.  I came to learn Blue Duikers are not only very small, they inhabit the really dense stuff … I mean thickets so thick that a big guy like me could never get through.  One of the reasons hunters don’t think about Blue Duikers is that you rarely ever see them!   So how in the world do you hunt them?

If you watch the hunting shows on the American sports channels, you might possibly have seen a Duiker hunt.  In fact Mike Rogers from SCI was filmed on a Blue Duiker hunt with John X Safaris.  Like most Duiker hunts, Mike and his PH stood by a trail in dense cover waiting for the Jack Russel Terriers and trackers to “push” the Blue Duikers past their position.  Rogers made an amazing “wing shot” with his shotgun on a streak of blue to get his Duiker.  And as I recall, it was a top trophy with horns exceeding 1 inch!  With Blue Duikers you have a whole new appreciation for the specie, and what constitutes a real trophy.

I have absolutely nothing against hunting with dogs in any way.  I have hunted with dogs for other species.  Dogs have been hunting with man since they joined at the campfire.  It is not an ethical issue for me at all.  For me it was a question of the quality of the hunting experience I was looking for.

I grew up as a North American whitetail hunter.  One of the absolute joys of the hunt for me is being able to see the animal in their habitat, study their moves, and have the time to determine if you will take the trophy.  I tried to explain this to Carl, and as a true sportsman, I thought he understood.

My quest for a “Monster Blue” was interrupted by another safari.  We were hosting Randy and Cherie DeFreece on their first John X Safaris hunt.  Of course we had to make a trip to the magnificent Karoo where they had their dream hunts for Kudu and Gemsbok.  I would refer you to the John X blog posts on “Catching a Ghost” and “She Safari” to get a feel for amazing Kudu and Gemsbok hunts.

During this Karoo safari I developed some severe back issues, and it was clear that I would not be doing any climbing, or even much walking.  Since Carl and John X Safaris practically live in the Karoo during hunting season, he was crafty enough to put me in a valley to take a wonderful Klipspringer without a painful walk.  He then guided my wife to a wonderful Steenbok.   Now that we had two of the Tiny Ten … we were definitely hooked.

The discussion about Blue Duikers continued over the course of the next two years.  Carl is a master PH … and it turns out that he listens extremely well.  He finally said, “Come back on safari for your “Blue”.  I’ve been scouting for three years and I have finally found a concession where we can hunt Blue Duiker from a ground blind.  I’ve never seen anything quite like it … both you and I will absolutely enjoy it.  In fact, we should be able to film the whole thing.”

As it turned out, the concession was literally by the ocean near Kenton-on-Sea where Carl’s parents live.  The concession is carefully managed and imposes strict quotas and hunting standards.  One first scouts for “middens” … small mounds of dung that the males use to mark their territories.  You then know where to set up in prime Duiker habitat.  Like Whitetail Deer, they actually use trail cameras to study Duiker movements and patterns.

A typical Blue Duiker midden.

A typical Blue Duiker midden.

After finding a prime location, they then build a very small watering hole.  Duiker definitely come to drink.  But, the water and some surrounding feed are prime ways to attract Vervet Monkeys.  Why are monkeys important?  Duikers tend to feed primarily on forage that drops to the forest floor.  Since the monkeys are always dropping left overs from forest canopy above, Duikers tend to follow the Monkeys.

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As it turned out on our 2013 safari, we had brought some very close friends.  We had been touring with them, and even went Waterfowl hunting.  We also wanted to be with them as they took their first African trophies.  So we were down to just a couple of days for the Duiker hunt.  To say that I was anxious would be an understatement.  There would no room for error … I only hoped that the setup was as good as my PH described.

The morning of the hunt could best be described as an early fall Whitetail hunt.  We got up well before dawn, and made our way carefully down the trails.  The major difference was you could hear the waves of the Indian Ocean rolling in on the shore in the distance.

I was given explicit instructions about not spreading any scent and keeping noise to an absolute minimum.  In the dark we finally arrived at the blind.  That’s right … a popup ground blind exactly like you would use for deer or turkey hunting!  As the first rays of light began to penetrate the thickets, it began to look exactly like a deer trail and setup … but in miniature … like 1/10 life-size.

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For any of you who have hunted in blinds, you know that the first light plays tricks on you.  You see things that are not there.  Then you catch of glimpse of movement or what you thought might be a Duiker.  I was told not to make a sound.  So I tapped Carl on the shoulder when I saw a Blue Duiker flash, proud that my old eyes could even make it out.  Carl gave the thumbs up, so the game was on.

As it turns out, my trusted PH was frustrated that I did not shoot.  But the Duiker had gone behind some heavy brush from my view-point, and I did not feel comfortable taking the shot.  The Duiker then faded into the bush.  I was told later that at least two other Duikers came and went that I did not see, but they did not present a shot.

As often happens in blind hunting, things went dead.  Well that’s not entirely true.   Some amazing birds came to visit the waterhole as light filtered through the trees. We continued our wait, I was given strict orders to stay alert and keep the gun up on the sticks, because you never know when “it” will happen.

And then it happened.  There they were … the Monkeys!  Climbing and chattering all over the trees above the water hole.  Carl came to full alert as did Jose who was manning the video camera.

About two minutes later there they were … it was like a pair of Duiker just materialized out of thin air.  To say that they were jittery, twitchy little creatures would be an understatement.  They looked like two small, dark Chihuahua dogs in constant motion.

When one finally stopped broadside in front of the miniature watering hole, Carl gave the signal to shoot by tapping my leg.  Somehow out of the corner of my eye, I saw the other one literally jump over the standing trophy and land in front of it.  Somehow I managed not to squeeze the trigger until the intruder had cleared.  It turned out that it was the female of the pair who bounded in front.  She finally drifted off and left the “Monster Blue” standing in front of watering hole just 25 yards from the blind.

I was using a shotgun, as is typical with hunting Duiker due to all the brush.  When the shot went off, the roar was deafening and I think everyone jumped, especially me.  When the dust cleared, no Duiker!  How could anyone possible miss with a shotgun at 25 yards?

To say that Carl was nervous would be an understatement!  He scrambled from the blind to see what had happened.  As it turned out, the momentum of the shot had carried the tiny Duiker into the miniature water hole so that he was out of sight from the ground blind.

Once Carl discovered the trophy, there were shouts and high fives all around. We had an amazing “Monster Blue” with horns measuring 1 7/8 inches, with great solid bases.  Forget all the measurements … it was truly a monster trophy because of the amazing experience.

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As you can see from the photo this creature is small.  That is a 12 gauge shotgun shell by the Duiker!  Blue Duikers are truly the tiniest of the Tiny Ten.  But what they lack in size, they make up for in character.  Simply an amazing animal that I had the privilege of observing in its native habitat for an entire morning. In fact, like I said, we were lucky enough to have Jose capture the entire hunt on film!

I don’t know if it is possible to have a bad African safari.  I do know that the quality of the outfitter and your PH can make the experience absolutely incredible.  I simply cannot thank Carl and John X Safaris enough for working for over 3 years to find a way to hunt Blue Duikers from a blind.   Based on my experience, I know that you could actually take a trophy Blue Duiker with a bow from the blind setup I was in with John X Safaris.  You do not have to settle for a Duiker hunt with dogs and drivers.

As I sit and write this, I’m in my trophy room sitting under my Giraffe, across from my monster Eland.  I’m reliving my whole safari experience by sharing it with you.  The hardest part will be waiting until spring when the Monster Blue mount arrives from Splitting Image Taxidermy in Africa.

What will be the trophy room favorite?  As you can tell by this epic tale, the Monster Blue is at the top of the list.  But you know what, we now only have 30% of the Tiny Ten.

We might not be done just yet with the journey they simply call “safari”!  If you haven’t booked yours yet, what are you waiting for?

If you’re not a member of SCI, then become one today and receive their various publications. Or to receive the Safari Magazine go to the Safari Club International web site.

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

By Professional Hunter, Ross Hoole

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Mid winter in John X Safaris’ Great Karoo northern areas are characterized by frosty mornings, windless days, and dry rugged conditions. The crisp mornings and dry vegetation are synonymous with exciting days high above the world at 6000 feet, where the cold forces even the shy to venture out catching the first morning rays, making the early morning climb well worth the effort getting into a high position to view game basking below.

Bo Tripp

On this particular hunt was, Bo Tripp, a seasoned North American Sheep Hunter who shared the same passion as I, always looking to hunt the higher undisturbed areas in search of that exceptional trophy that may be hiding up there. We were on our last hunting day of the safari and had taken many exceptional trophies, including a brute of a 55″ East Cape Kudu, but both decided on taking one last hike to look for a Klipspringer in the mountains.

The Klipspringer forms part of the Tiny Ten and is a big trophy in any hunters collection.

The Klipspringer forms part of the Tiny Ten and is a big trophy in any hunters collection.

We left camp at dawn and by first light we were more than half way up Spitzkop, a mountain which had gained an infamous reputation during the Anglo Boer War. In the early 19th century it was used by the Boers as a lookout in spotting the platoons of English soldiers in their red coats as they crossed the Karoo plains in search of these “guerilla fighters” who had made a living as farmers in the region prior to the English and the arrival of their taxes.

There was local talk of a big Klipspringer up there, however, it had not been seen in at least a year…

We got to the top of the sharp peak and immediately saw reasonably fresh tracks. Bo and I left the trackers Rudi and Thanduxolo on one side to spot, while Bo and I walked over to the other side. There was continued alarm barking from distant baboons with a few fairly close by. I had joked with Bo about them being potentially aggressive and that a big male was fairly close above us on the cliff, no sooner were my words out of my mouth when a baboon hopped up on a boulder right behind us! A few more were not even 10 feet below too!

Baboon

Wild troops like these living in the mountain ranges are very wary of humans and usually spots you a mile off – making it quite special to see them so close.

To our benefit they flushed a female Klipspringer which came hopping below us and stood at 150 yards. Klipspringer are almost always in pairs so I was very optimistic about a ram coming along the same path. We ranged a few distances to be prepared, and continued waiting motionless. Bo was shooting a .300 ultra mag, the ultra mag is too much gun for this little antelope, but it was his sheep gun so he was confident shooting it out at longer ranges.

On the other side, one of the trackers was changing position, moving further around the peak to a blind spot we couldn’t quite see. He hadn’t even had a chance to sit down and spot when that unmistakable Klipspringer alarm call sounded. Within minutes the ram came hopping rock to rock below us.

Now at 250 yards, a target not much bigger than a jack rabbit, standing just briefly after being spooked is for one, impossible to judge horn size, and two, impossible to get into your scope quick enough for a shot. Luckily the hunting gods smiled on us that day, for by chance my spotting scope just landed on the ram the first time at 60x zoom and Bo was on it at the same time without assistance. It took 3 seconds from the moment it hopped up on a rock to judge it and for Bo to make a seriously tough shot from the top of the cliff!

Bo Tripp

Bo’s little Klipspringer was massive.

Physically one of the biggest I’d ever seen which measured deep into the tail end of 4 3/4 inches. A lucky man indeed!

As we look towards the start of the new season with excitement, envisaging the many days out in the field, we are reminded all to often of the beauty and wonders around us and how we at times take it all for granted. Be it a noisy baboon at 10 feet, or watching the sunrise at 6000 ft on a frosty morning, or taking that exceptional trophy after working hard for it. It’s a privilege to be a part of the safari life – and one I can’t wait to experience for yet another season.

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Cheers – Hunting season has begun, I’ll see you on safari…

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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For the past 32 years John X Safaris has been a part of the show circuit in North America each January / February. During those early years it was Rick and Sue, together with their crew, crisscrossing the United States on those original infamous Delta passes. Who would have thought an overnight connection was the only affordable option compared to a hotel room on cold winter nights? Things were a lot different back then.

Today Carl and Trish, together with their much younger crew, follow those very same footsteps from humble beginnings. SCI has grown to become the biggest hunting convention on earth, while the Dallas Safari Club keeps producing world-class shows year in and year out.

A lot has changed since those early years – the Delta passes no longer exist, neither do the evening cocktails at the Long Bar in Vegas. Long forgotten are the 28 day safaris from yesteryear, let alone the traditional 14/21 day hunts. No, it has all become a race against time. To say that our industry has changed would be an understatement, but one aspect that has remained the same and stood the test of time, is the renowned American hospitality that welcomes us to that great continent each year. It’s something to be commended on, and something we’re extremely grateful for – Thank you.

Arriving home to Africa after a five-week stay in the U.S. is always an exciting prospect. Catching up with family and friends, and sharing our experiences makes for memorable occasions. And then it’s time to get out – there’s only so much city life and airplanes a PH can take.

Having received the news from home of good rains during the month of January, nothing could have prepared us for what she has turned into. Africa has always been beautiful, but you have got to see her now, it’s breath-taking….

The game has flourished and the country side has bloomed into a summer wonderland of prosperity.

Our first hunters will be setting out on safari in two weeks time, with past experience telling us current conditions will see our season to be a great one for hunting. Until then be sure to let us know if you’d be interested in our limited remaining dates available for 2015.

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For now its all systems go for the next two weeks, it’s time to get cracking for what will be another memorable season……

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

Having enjoyed a fun-filled January crisscrossing across the United States, and meeting so many new folks booking numerous hunts, we’ve finally arrived in Las Vegas, for SCI’s annual convention.

The views are spectacular...

We’d like to thank our hosts who opened their homes and welcomed us into their families and communities over the past month – your hospitality was much appreciated. To the old and new faces who booked their next African hunt with John X Safaris – Thank you for your support and welcome on board folks – Prepare yourselves for the adventure of a lifetime!

Those whom have not made up your minds about your next African hunt, why don’t you take a few minutes viewing what we’re about, and feel free to drop us a line if you may be interested in joining us on your next African hunt or visit us at SCI.

This year sees a change from previous conventions at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, with all exhibitors showing on one floor. You will find John X Safaris in the main area at booths # 2433 & 2435.

Zebra

Come along down to the show and just look for the Zebra.

Furthermore we’d like to remind all of a number of hunts and opportunities that are still available for 2015. May it be a trip to the East Cape of South Africa to enjoy our renowned camps and areas, or a return safari to either Namibia or Mozambique – we have the areas, expertise, abundance of game, and world-class field crews to turn your dream safari into a reality.

PLAINS GAME HUNTS, EAST CAPE, SA

Be the first to catch the bulls in the rut…

Be the first to catch the bulls in the rut…

  • Prime 2015 rut date has come available – While most of the rut period, April – July, has been sold out, we have had a group postpone their 2015 hunt to 2016, opening up a prime rut slot from 28 April – 9 May 2015. If you or some of your friends may be interested in that particular period, be sure to drop Carl a line, we’d be willing to offer you/group a special rate to fill that particular slot at such a late stage of the booking season.

Karoo days...

  • Group leader hunts free – Bring the family/your very own group hunting. If you’d like to bring your very own group and book the lodge for your exclusive hunt, feel free to do so by bringing along another 5 hunters all hunting 1×1 for 10 days, excluding yourself. You as group leader hunts for free – only pay for trophy fees. Observers are welcome to join.

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  • Cull Hunt/s – For the first time in many years we have the pleasure of offering more than 100 head of game to cull. Come and enjoy a cull hunt, not a shoot/driven shoot, in one of our northern Karoo concessions. This hunt will be conducted as a management hunt with old/poor genes being culled out at a selective basis. Hunters can look forward to great stalks in a beautiful setting of valleys, mountains, and flats. Species available include, 25 Kudu Bulls, 15 Cape Hartebeest Females, 15 Blue Wildebeest Females, 10 Blesbuck Rams/Ewes, 10 Waterbuck Females, 5 Impala Rams, 20 Springbuck Rams/Ewes. This quota can be booked up as a group hunt or part thereof. Contact us for rates and dates.

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  • #Getting the Youth Hunting at John X Safaris – As with previous years, we’d like to once again challenge parents/guardians of youths under the age of 18 to get them off the couch and into the field. John X Safaris will once again be sponsoring the day fees of any minor joining his/her parent/guardian on any of our 7/10 day safaris. Come on folks – let them work for their airfare and you spoil them with a couple of trophies/visa versa. In today’s world you need to get away to reconnect – no better place than a hunting trip to Africa.

BIG 5 HUNTS, EAST CAPE, SA

White Rhino

  • White Rhino Hunt – With the current state of Elephant hunting and the political pressure surrounding Elephant hunting cropping up more often each month, it would be fair to say that Rhino hunting will be the next pressured species. As of this stage John X Safaris has secured a magnificent White Rhino Bull on one of our East Cape concessions. The bull is estimated at close to 31” with a total score of 101’’ – making it a SCI Gold. This hunt is available at a 10 Day Safari for 1 Hunter and 1 Observer, including Rhino – $120 000.00 (All Incl). Contact us for limited open dates and further details.

A Dagga Boy nestled in the coastal forest....

  • Cape Buffalo Hunts – Want to combine a great Cape Buffalo hunt with a variety of plains game in breath-taking lodges? Then this is the hunt for you. We have secured a quota of 10 Cape Buffalo in the East Cape ranging from Big 5 Game Reserves to large game ranches. Expect to hunt on areas of 15 000-30 000 acres, with opportunities on numerous hard boss bulls. Rate: 7 Day hunt for 1 Hunter + 1 Cape Buffalo bull up to 39 7/8’’ – $ 18 000 (All Incl) OR 7 Day hunt for 1 Hunter + 1 Cape Buffalo bull over 40’’ – $ 20 500 (All Incl). Plains game can be added onto these hunts.

LEOPARD & PLAINS GAME HUNT – NAMIBIA

Enjoy the challenge of the patience game...

  • Leopard Hunt – Join us on a 14 day Baited Leopard Hunt in the Erongo Mountains, Namibia. This area boasts a large number of Leopard, together with Hartmann’s Zebra, Greater Kudu, Kalahari Springbuck, and Steenbuck. Leopard are pre-baited to ensure optimum success. This hunt includes 14 days for 1 Hunter + the following game: 1 Leopard, 1 Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra,1 Kalahari Springbuck, 1 Steenbuck – Cost of hunt – $30 000 (All Incl). Contact us for further details and best dates.

CAPE BUFFALO & SABLE – MOZAMBIQUE

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  • Cape Buffalo/Sable Combo – Are you looking for a concession hunt in darkest Africa, but would like to know that you have a near 100% chance of success on both Cape Buffalo and Sable. Join us in the Zambezi Delta during the late season – August thru November, and experience a game rich paradise like few other government-owned concessions in Africa. Join us on a 10 Day 1×1 Cape Buffalo + Sable Combo, including charter, community fee, gun license, taxes & export admin / trophy fee @ $28 000 (All Incl).

Feel free to contact me on hunting@johnxsafaris.co.za if you are interested in any of the above listed offers. I can also be reached on US cell #1 682-706-5383 until February 8th.

I look forward to seeing you at SCI and talking more about your next hunt with John X Safaris.

I look forward to seeing you at SCI and talking more about your next hunt with John X Safaris.

Yours in hunting,

Carl van Zyl

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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I have been an avid hunter of North American game for 50 years and had some trepidation about this experience being a “real hunt”. Then to further add to my trepidation upon arrival, entering the game reserve viewing vast herds indifferent to us did not alleviate my uneasiness at first. Once the hunting got underway I could see this was real hunting with a PH and tracker that knew exactly what they were doing.

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Every stalk was a long and memorable experience which I have indelibly sketched into my memory. No animals peacefully grazing in easy range for sure! I was excited on every stalk, but Greg and Bless where just as excited as I was and the planning and thought that went into every stalk illustrated clearly their experience and natural instincts. They were not afraid to work hard on every hunt and not afraid to push me. Doing what we needed to do to be successful.

In many cases decisions needed to be made quickly and most shots were long and many in windy conditions off sticks. Two memorable shots were a Kudu stalk of a couple of hours and, even then, he was still 355 yards when we peeked over a bluff and there was no getting closer. The tracker was keeping tabs on the big boy from 1200 yards out – where Greg’s keen eyes had spotted him in some brush. Ultimately it was matter of fact “take your time and make the shot”. I really appreciated the confidence and the permission which was pervasive throughout the trip. The permission was only withheld by “we can do better” or that shot is just too risky.

The second memorable shot was a Red Hartebeest at 275 yards in a 20 mph wind off the sticks. My thought was frankly "are you crazy to think I can do this?" But I did!

The second memorable shot was a Red Hartebeest at 275 yards in a 20 mph wind off the sticks. My thought was frankly “are you crazy to think I can do this?” But I did!

All in all I killed 8 animals of trophy plus quality.  It is hard to compare sitting in a tree stand for two months trying to kill a trophy whitetail to Africa, but I would say to sum it up “I will be back” and my trepidation about barn yard animals are replaced by dreams of wonderful challenging experiences.

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Having hunted the northern areas and returning to the coast it was just as challenging, if not more so for the Nyala and the Waterbuck. I kept feeling we were lucky given the wind and general conditions, but I think the guys turned the odds in our favor more than a little making the seemingly impossible happen through perseverance and experience.

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Having arrived back home, we have now, as a group, compared our trophies to others who have been to Africa. I am very proud to say John X Safaris sets itself apart and should be very proud of the quality of their animals and staff.

A bit about John X Safaris – Everything was great. From the accommodations, first class service, right to the friendly staff. The PH’s were all very much into it and worked very hard, as did the trackers, skinners, extraction teams, and camp staff. The food was wonderful and best of all was the camaraderie.

Starry nights around the campfire in the Karoo

I could not believe the PH’s and staff hung with us in the evenings and added a lot to the trip with their stories and experiences. It is a long season and the stamina that it takes to stick with hunters from 7:00am until very late is beyond the call of duty. I thought having a PH and tracker exclusively assigned to each of us for the trip was extraordinary and enabled us to really build each day on our teamwork and effectiveness.

My good friend, Paul Latchford, and I stayed a couple of extra days to fish, but 8 meter seas precluded that. The hospitality extended to us by John X Safaris in lieu of the fishing trip was extraordinary and we really appreciated Louwrens delaying a long anticipated visit home to show us the beaches, restaurants, and surroundings. An added bonus during this time was our participation in a Zebra and Warthog hunt that added to the memories… I am still on overload a few weeks back!

Thanks so much for beyond a bucket list experience.

George Conniff

To view more photos from The Conniff Safari click here.
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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