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ElandBull

As you start planning your next safari, we beg to ask the obvious question; “How do you know you’re choosing the right outfitter for your next African hunt?”

We know how limited your time is and we understand your concerns. You have a predetermined budget for your next safari, and you’re not only after getting your monies worth in hunting, but the entire experience. You want to hunt large areas and have a shot at world-class trophies day in and day out. You’re after an enjoyable hassle free trip from the time of booking until your beautiful trophies are proudly displayed on your wall back home. You’re after the turn-key experience with a professionally guaranteed outfit , and we’re here to ensure that’s exactly what you’ll get.

In fact we’re so confident in our product that we asked Craig Boddington what he thought of John X Safaris after his first experience on safari with us.

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Carl van Zyl and his team at John X Safaris are a real class act! Carl’s “home lodge” at Lalibela is one of the nicest lodges I’ve ever seen…and Carl has other concessions scattered around the Eastern Cape. Depending on the game you’re looking for, you can hunt coastal thorn-bush, high mountains, or the Great Karoo. Carl was my choice when I took my daughter Caroline on her first safari, and a great choice it was!
Craig Boddington

We then went one step further and asked Aaron Davidson, owner of Gunwerks, leaders of the long-range industry, whom have joined us on numerous safaris, to share his views on John X Safaris.

There is one thing I’ve learned from 10 years of international hunting, if you go with the right outfitter to the right place, you will have an excellent experience. If you’ve ever made the mistake of making the selection about the “deal” or package, you know what I’m talking about. 
For a South African safari, John X Safaris is the right place, and Carl Van Zyl is the right outfitter. He knows how to put you on big animals in an environment suited for lifelong memories. Our partnership to develop a “Long Range Safari” experience is in its fourth year, and I can recommend no other hunting trip or shooting event that will give you a better opportunity to test and improve your long-range shooting expertise.
On one trip, you can get a lifetime of not only long-range hunting experiences, but opportunities at big game like nowhere else.

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Carl and his team have a passion for your success, and they know how to find and stalk game the Gunwerks way.
Aaron Davidson

At John X Safaris we pride ourselves on our high percentage of repeat clientele, a direct result of our dedicated team of professional hunters, trackers, skinners, camp staff and office personnel taking care of your every need.

The Eastern Cape of South Africa is our base and home. This Malaria Free area offers a diverse combination of landscapes, vegetation and wildlife, together making it a unique hunting destination for the first time hunter to Africa. We hunt large Big 5 game reserves/ranches offering world-class Plains Game, Cape Buffalo, and White Rhino.

Further north, Mozambique’s Zambezi Delta is our flag-ship in concession hunting, making it one of the few areas where one has the opportunity of a true classical big five safari combined with a variety of plains game. In Cameroon we hunt the Savannah for the magnificent Lord Derby Eland, or enjoy the thrill of a Pygmy led chase on the ever impressive Bongo in the rain forest. Botswana and Namibia’s Kalahari Desert offers some of the best bow areas in Africa, with numerous opportunities on trophy quality plains game. While Zimbabwe and Zambia plays host to some of the best Leopard and Lion hunting in Africa.

SO if you’re after…

  • An outfit that welcomes all hunters, no matter what your age, physical condition or hunting capabilities.
  • Over 30 Species of World-Class Plains Game in abundance across large concessions.
  • Fair Chase Big 5 on large concessions/reserves.
  • Lodging second to none. Where you can choose 1 of 3 different lodges throughout the East Cape, with our base camp located on our Big 5 Game Reserve. Yes – you will hear free-roaming lions at night, and experience Elephants, Giraffe, Cheetah, Hippo, Rhino, Buffalo, and Zebra in the wild. You do not have to be on a Big 5 hunt to experience this at John X Safaris.
  • Unlimited Tiny 10.
  • Mountain hunting like nowhere else in Southern Africa.
  • Both large high-fenced concessions or free-range areas. We have access to over 3 million acres in the East Cape alone.
  • A hunt that caters to you the hunter – serious about achieving your desired results without “package deals” standing in the way of your goals.
  • A family friendly atmosphere where youngsters are welcomed free of charge. Take us up on our initiative of #Gettingtheyouthhunting
  • A destination that welcomes lady hunters and has been doing so for many years.
  • A destination that welcomes observers and prioritize their experience/s as much as that of the hunter.
  • A destination that welcomes groups, and can cater to groups by having large enough areas and a big enough team ensuring every member of the group leaves us satisfied. Feel free to take us up on #Groupdiscount or #Groupleaderdiscount.
  • Professional Hunters who take your safari seriously, ensuring your priorities are not only met, but your expectations exceeded.
  • An outfit who hunts for a living – You – Our Hunter, is our priority, not the ranch or any sideshows. Our business is hunting, and hunting only. We dedicate 24 hours a day to you ensuring your safari is everything you’d hoped for.
  • Hunting with an outfit that not only “talks” about the good work it does, but actually get’s it hands dirty making a true difference via our John X Foundation.
  • An outfit who believes in hunting for conservation – after all, if we didn’t practice what we preached, how could we still be the leaders after 32 years in the safari industry.

Then John X Safaris is the Outfit for YOU.

So if we have ticked your requirements then we’d like to hear more from you. Bookings for 2016/17/18 are coming in at a steady pace and we look forward to seeing as many of you as possible during our upcoming travels across North America.

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Below is a quick reminder of our 2016 show and travel schedule. If you or any of your friends may be interested in meeting with us, please drop us a line, we’d be glad to fit you or them into our schedule.

USA – January/February 2016

  • Dallas Safari Club Show – Dallas, Texas: 7 – 10 January 2016 – Both Carl and Stix will be at the show.
  • Houston, Texas, Cocktail Party/Visit: 11 – 14 January 2016 – Any interested hunters can join us for an evening BBQ Reception at the Travis residence in Cypress, TX, Wednesday, 13 January.
  • Kearney, Nebraska Cocktail Party/Visit: 14 – 15 January 2016 – Cocktail evening with the Hertner’s in Kearney, Friday evening, 15 January.
  • Omaha, Nebraska Cocktail Party/Visit: 16 – 18 January 2016 – Cocktail evening with Steve & Jill Evers from Wildlife Creation Taxidermy, Sunday 17 January. Any folks interested in visiting or meeting up with us while in the Omaha area can plan to do so from 16:00 on wards at the Evers residence in Omaha.
  • The week of 18-22 January 2016 will see Carl enjoy a bird shoot in Vance, MS, while Stix will be visiting with our good friend Sam Cunningham in Amarillo, TX. Any folks interested in meeting up with Stix can schedule a preferred time during the week.
  • Jackson, Mississippi: 22 – 24 January 2015 – Carl & Stix will be visiting with our good friend Mike Jarvis.
  • Salt Lake City / Eagle Mountain, Utah: 24-27 January 2016 –Fun evening with all our friends from Eagle Mountain, Wednesday evening 27 January – Both Carl & Stix will be in Eagle Mountain.
  • Pleasant View, Utah: 28 – 31 January 2016 – Fun Evening with the Nelsen brothers, Friday 29 January – Both Carl & Stix will be in Pleasant View.
  •  Safari Club International – Las Vegas, Nevada: 3 – 6 February 2016 – The entire crew consisting of Carl, Stix, Dave Harwood, Brett Nelson, and Jose, will be at the show.

Hunting with John X Safaris is more than just a hunt – It’s the total safari experience. It is a journey of discovery, a wakening of the senses, and ultimately the realization of the dream of hunting Africa.

Whether it is your first trip to Africa, a hunt for the big five, or the choice of forty different plains game species, we are here to cater to your every need.

Contact us for your next hunt on hunting@johnxsafaris.co.za – We’d gladly assist by dropping you a mail, giving you a call or visiting you in your home state.

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

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Africa

 

When you’ve acquired a taste for dust,
the scent of our first rain,
You’re hooked for life on Africa,
and you’ll not be right again.
Till you can watch the setting moon,
and hear the jackals bark,
And know that they around you,
waiting in the dark.
When you long to see the elephants,
or hear the coucal’s song.
When the moon rise sets your blood on fire, 
You’ve been away to long.
It’s time to cut the traces loose,
and let your heart go free,
Beyond that far horizon,
where your spirit yearns to be.
Africa is waiting, come!
Since you’ve touched the open sky
And learnt to love the rustling grass,
the wild fish eagle’s cry.
You’ll always hunger for the bush,
for the lion’s rasping roar,
To camp out beneath the stars
and be at peace once more.
 Author unknown

As we look back at our 32nd year in the safari industry, John X Safaris, was once again able to fulfill its conservation, humanitarian, and youth initiatives through your continued support. Without you the reality of this past season would merely have been a dream.

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While our trophy quality is a given, the passion of our professional hunters the standard, and our friendly crew our trademark, it is the experiences created at John X Safaris that we pride ourselves on. We hope that experience has been one that alters the course of your life, because after hunting Africa, nothing will ever be the same.

We started our season in March, after the summer rains had fallen, and finished off our last hunts in mid-October. We once again enjoyed hunting our renowned East Cape concessions in South Africa, as well as southern Zimbabwe, and Namibia’s Damaraland.

We welcomed back numerous old friends to the Safari World of John X Safaris this past year, eager to see and experience Africa with John X Safaris once again. A number of new faces embarked on their very first trip to the dark continent, placing their trust in our team. By all accounts the smiles around camp and fantastic mails received upon their return home, told us that their experiences with John X Safaris may have been their first, but most certainly not their last.

Glancing back over this years monthly reports you’d agree special mention needs to be made of our teams in the field, they, together with our loyal agents, trusty lodge crews, and long-standing team members, have once again proven why they’re one of the most recommended teams in the industry. And it seems it’s not only you recommending John X Safaris, but Craig Boddington too. Craig’s endorsement of John X Safaris during 2015 is a testament of the operation and our trophy quality, as I’m sure you would agree, when looking over some of the best from 2015. That together with luxurious lodging and world-class cuisine, combined with our Big 5 Game Reserve base – makes John X Safaris one of the best southern African destinations.

After the amazing success of John X Safaris’ first Safari World publication back in 2010, we’ve continued on with the popular tradition. This year’s book looks to be our finest to date – a must for any past, current or future John X hunter. Feel free to purchase The Safaris world of John X Safaris 2015 and add to the growing collection.

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Looking towards the future and 2016, one finds oneself pressed not to ignore the winds of change that have started blowing. Never before have hunters seen such an attack on their actions, heritage, and passion.

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The world of social media has changed everything. From Cecil the lion to the ban of trophy exports on certain airlines, it seems the momentum has shifted, and if left will see the anti-hunting fraternity gain further ground as they aim to ban hunting around the world. While the threat is real, it is not too late to act, and the battle has most certainly not been lost.

It is now more important than ever that each and every hunter stands up and takes responsibility for their actions. The world is out to judge us – let’s not be found wanting. In saying this we cannot, and must not apologize for being hunters. We must continue to hunt, but more importantly do so in a manner of which we can be proud of.

As you start planning your next safari we’d like to hear more from you. Bookings for 2016/17/18 are coming in at a steady pace and we look forward to seeing as many of you as possible during our upcoming travels.

Below is a quick reminder of  our 2016 show and travel schedule. If you or any of your friends may be interested in meeting with us, please drop us a line, we’d be glad to fit you or them into our schedule.

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USA – January/February 2016

  • Dallas Safari Club Show – Dallas, Texas: 7 – 10 January 2016 – Both Carl and Stix will be at the show.
  • Houston, Texas, Cocktail Party/Visit: 11 – 14 January 2016 – Any interested hunters can join us for an evening BBQ Reception at the Travis residence in Cypress, TX, Wednesday, 13 January.
  • Omaha / Kearney, Nebraska Cocktail Party/Visit: 14 – 18 January 2016 – Cocktail evening with the Hertner’s in Kearney, Friday evening, 15 January. Carl & Stix will also be visiting with our good friends the Petersen’s, as well as Steve & Jill Evers. Any folks interested in visiting or meeting up with us while in the Omaha area can plan to do so on Sunday, 17 January.
  • The week of 18-22 January 2016 will see Carl enjoy a bird shoot in Vance, MS, while Stix will be visiting with our good friend Sam Cunningham in Amarillo, TX. Any folks interested in meeting up with Stix can schedule a preferred time during the week.
  • Jackson, Mississippi: 22 – 24 January 2015 – Carl & Stix will be visiting with our good friend Mike Jarvis.
  • Salt Lake City / Eagle Mountain, Utah: 24-27 January 2016 –Fun evening with all our friends from Eagle Mountain, Wednesday evening 27 January – Both Carl & Stix will be in Eagle Mountain.
  • Pleasant View, Utah: 28 – 31 January 2016 – Fun Evening with the Nelsen brothers, Friday 29 January – Both Carl & Stix will be in Pleasant View.
  • Safari Club International – Las Vegas, Nevada: 3 – 6 February 2016 – The entire crew consisting of Carl, Stix, Dave Harwood, Brett Nelson, and Jose, will be at the show.

Lastly, it is with great pride that we can share one of John X Safaris greatest achievements to date. Each year PHASA (The Professional Hunters Association of SA) recognizes the best trophies hunted in South Africa during that particular season via the Uncle Stevie award.

This year saw numerous entries for the award, with world-class trophies from right around South Africa making for stiff competition. As usual John X Safaris had a number of trophies in the running, but it finally came down to Steve Robinson’s Vaal Rhebuck guided by Professional Hunter, Carl van Zyl, during 2015 who took top honors.

What a privilege to have guided a trophy of this class, and one that is most certainly a greater challenge than most. It was the opportunity of a lifetime for Steve, and a dream come true for me.

In closing both Trish and I have some fantastic news to share with you. Trish will be expecting our third child during June 2016, something we’re extremely excited about!

On behalf of the entire team we salute and thank you for choosing one of our southern African destinations as your choice safari during 2015.

Until your next safari – A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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Carl, Trish, Brett & Abigail Van Zyl

Lalibela, December 2015

Please note – John X Safaris will be shutting down from 3 December 2015 until 2 January 2016. We will be checking mail on a weekly basis during the festive season. For any urgent bookings or safari related inquiries, contact Carl on hunting@johnxsafaris.co.za

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

Since the inception of the John X Foundation seven years ago – John X Safaris and our valued supporters have seen numerous projects bear fruit through the collective effort of like-minded people.

Some of our most recent success has been with our Serval program. This program was first introduced to our Foundation supporters a mere three years ago.

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At that stage our resident Serval population was much the same as this picture. They were there, well camouflaged, but the population was a long way off from its hidden potential.

Our goal at the time was to successfully breed Serval in captivity, before releasing the offspring into the reserve. The project ran its course and soon we realized through the various donors generous support, our Serval were breeding much better naturally in the wild, so we dully did away with the breeding enclosures, and released all into the reserve. That combined with Rick’s relentless effort of beating back the encroaching exotic Black Wattle trees on the reserve, has seen numerous stretches of once open grassland slowly but surely return to its original state, ensuring 2015 turned out to be a watershed year in Serval sightings.

Images such as these are now a daily occurrence at Lalibela - nowhere else in Africa will one view Serval this often and at such close quarters. The future now looks better than ever before for our thriving Serval project - every single hunter who took part in this initiative can feel proud of a truly successful project.

Images such as these are now a daily occurrence at Lalibela – nowhere else in Africa will one view Serval this often and at such close quarters. The future now looks brighter than ever before for our thriving Serval population – every single hunter who took part in this initiative can feel proud of a truly successful project.

This year, for the first time ever, we used sport, through the great game of baseball, to give hope and opportunity to the kids in our local community.

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Like our iconic late president Nelson Mandela used to say; “Sport has the power to change the world. Sport has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to the youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.”

Having enjoyed a memorable hunt with Justin Travis, we soon came to realize there’s so much more to this young man than what meets the eye. As the only child of Steve and Haylee Travis, growing up in Houston, Texas, Justin has enjoyed the many privileges of a caring home.

Here’s Justin story and how he together with the John X Foundation made a difference in the lives of those less fortunate during 2015.

We thank you Justin for all your effort in getting this project up and running. By achieving your goal you have not only succeeded in launching this new initiative, but more importantly have set the marker and offered a challenge to other young hunters out there. Sport can unite like nothing else on earth,through sport hope is only a game away. We salute you Justin.

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Looking towards the future, it is becoming more evident with each passing day, that without the involvement of the youth, our proud heritage of hunting, stands to lose further ground. Gone are the days of SCI and Dallas Safari Club standing alone in carrying the torch of responsibility. While those organizations work relentlessly in their goals of involving the youth in hunting, it is up to us to do our part too.

If each one of us, who proudly claim to be passionate hunters, were to look back at that watershed moment when the penny dropped and you became a hunter, were to pin the period in your life that, that happened, the majority would surely point towards their younger years. When a father, uncle, older brother, or grand father, introduced you to this amazing past time and instilled the values of hunting. And it is with these fundamentals that we are proud to launch the John X Foundations’ initiative for 2016.

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Our Foundation will be teaming up with Patrick Cairns from the Ithemba Trust, initiating a Junior Hunters Course for previously disadvantaged youth from our local impoverished communities.

The aim of this course is to encourage youngsters to get out to the great outdoors and to create a genuine love for outdoor activities and lifestyle. As such it aims to introduce nature, hunting, and conservation, to a part of our community that has never had the opportunity until now. While hunting is the focus, it will be within a conservation style setting and ethos. The course is open to both young ladies and gentlemen.

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The course will be held on the 2000 acre, Orange Grove Farm, outside Tarkastad in the Eastern Cape.  The property has wonderful camping facilities were the junior hunters will be based.

The emphasis of the course will be on acquiring practical skills on the following topics and activities –

  • Conservation – The Role Hunting Plays
  • Animal Identification
  • Hunter and Gun safety
  • Introduction to Ballistics
  • Introduction to Shooting
  • Basic Hunting Principals – Stalking and bullet placement.
  • Tracking skills – Track one of the big five – Buffalo
  • Archery
  • Survival skills
  • Judging Trophy Animals
  • Each child will be offered the opportunity to hunt their first Springbuck.
  • Gutting, Caping, and Skinning – Learning about the process where nothing goes to waste.
  • Camping
  • Night Drives

At the completion of the course, each participant will receive a tanned hide of his or her Springbuck hunted, kindly sponsored by Splitting Image Taxidermy.

SO HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED?

John X Safaris will be sponsoring all the required clothing and foot wear for the children, as well as assisting in transportation to and from Orange Grove. GTS Productions has come on board as to capture the entire experience on film for not only the participants, but the sponsors too, ensuring these first fond memories of hunting are immortalized forever.

SPONSOR 1 of 8 KIDS

The cost for the course is US $500 per kid covering:

  • Accommodation in canvas tents at Orange Grove Farm for four nights.
  • All meals, cool drinks, tea, coffee etc for the duration of the course.
  • Transportation throughout the course with 4X4 hunting vehicles.
  • All rifles and ammunition.
  • Instructors – Professional Hunters, Trackers, and Skinner’s.
  • The opportunity to hunt one Springbuck.

Feel free to contact Carl on hunting@johnxsafaris.co.za or Trish on info@johnxsafaris.co.za if you would be interested in sponsoring a kid for this opportunity of a lifetime. If there may be corporate sponsors wishing to come on board we would be more than happy to include brands/ing of any of those organizations too.

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2016 will be an exciting year for the John X Foundation, join us and become a part of securing the future of hunting for generations to come.

Happy memories, happy times, and happy moments – These we wish for you to enjoy with loved ones on this Thanksgiving Day. A blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours.

The John X Team & Foundation

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

Some of you may recall the story  posted in April 2012. At the time we had just enjoyed the company of Steve Travis out on his first hunt with John X Safaris.

On that particular hunt things just fell into place, and before we knew it we had racked up some of the best collection of trophies ever harvested on one safari.

On that particular hunt things just fell into place, and before we knew it we had racked up one of the best trophy collections ever harvested on one safari.

Soon thereafter I was once again in Dallas, at DSC’s annual show when Steve walked into our booth and introduced me to the rest of his family. Unbeknown to me plans were already underway for a return trip to the East Cape where his son, Justin, would embark on his first African hunt.

Justin’s safari got booked, with the hunt only due to take place in August 2015. So when the opportunity arose during 2014 for a  late-season Mozambican Buffalo hunt, Steve jumped on-board once again. Never one to shy away from a hunting opportunity, we made the most of our 7 days in the Zambezi Delta, Mozambique.

We once again struck gold in our hunting partnership, with a certain highlight being a day in the swamps, where Steve hunted 3 magnificent Cape Buffalo all within the space of an hour. That particular day combined with the biggest Chobe Bushbuck I had ever harvested in Mozambique, set the stage for yet another high-class hunt with the rest of the family during 2015.

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This would be Justin’s safari – For there is only ever once a 1st trip to Africa….

Together with Steve, Haylee, and Justin, was family friends Glynn and Jayne Underwood, as well as their 2-year-old son Woodson. Our hunt started in the south from our coastal area, Lalibela, before heading north to the Great Karoo.

Justin started off his hunt brilliantly, with a superb Waterbuck and hard-earned East Cape Kudu within the first 3 days. A sly old Cape Bushbuck crossed our path too, giving Justin the same opportunistic trophy his Dad had earned some three years previously.

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Glynn Underwood.

While Professional Hunter, Carl van Zyl, and the Travis family were hard at it, Glynn and PH, Greg Hayes, weren’t planning on sitting around either. Glynn had previously hunted in South Africa, but never before with John X Safaris. Glynn’s hunt would turn out to be one for the ages, with GTS Productions capturing Glynn’s entire safari on film. Join him and his crew as they embark on one great adventure…

Meanwhile Justin and crew were enjoying one of Steve’s favorite places on earth – The Great Karoo.

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A Gemsbuck bull that first afternoon up in the Karoo set the stage for a busy three days.

With Steve and PH, “Stix”, focusing on a Kudu and possibly a Cape Eland if the right bull showed itself, he too bumped into a good Gemsbuck. It would however take our second day in the Karoo that just about broke us. We had hunted hard giving it our everything, but gale force winds and chilly temperatures, saw us limp home without a hint of success.

The following day saw us rise well before dawn hoping to amend our poor luck from the previous day. While we had spotted good animals the day before, it seemed lady luck wouldn’t give us a break. But it was a new day with revitalized spirits.

We had spotted a big Blue Wildebeest from a distance and dully started a long and patient stalk. Soon we were within shooting distance...And Justin let him have it.

We had spotted a big Blue Wildebeest from a distance and dully started a long and patient stalk. Soon we were within shooting distance…And Justin let him have it.

From there on wards our day just kept getting better and better…

With Justin having achieved all he had come for and more, we headed back to Lalibela and the coast. All this time Steve had been waiting patiently in the wings, ensuring Justin would experience the safari of a lifetime. With two days to go, Steve and PH, Carl van Zyl, rekindled that hunting partnership from two previous safaris together.

It is said that once a PH meets his match in a hunter that trusts him wholeheartedly and refuses to quit, it can lead to mind-blowing results.

A great old Warthog had started our day off on the right foot, but like the saying goes, it's not how you start - Its how you finish... And we finished strong with a 54" East Cape Kudu late that afternoon.

A great old Warthog had started our day off on the right foot, but like the saying goes, it’s not how you start – Its how you finish… And we finished strong with a 54″ East Cape Kudu late that afternoon.

With Steve’s hard-work earning him one of the biggest East Cape Kudu to be hunted during 2015, it would be his trust in his PH that would see him hunt an Eland bull worth writing home about for years to come.

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A brute to say the least… An Eland connoisseurs trophy of a lifetime.

And so our hunt came to an end. Our last afternoon was enjoyed with the families, taking in some of the experiences and sites once the guns were oiled and packed away for another day.

The Elephants were a hit, but then again no safari would be complete without a Lion, Giraffe, Zebra and an African sunset…

As we said our goodbyes at the airport the following day something told me I’d be hearing back from Steve and Glynn sooner rather than later. Needless to say, it took them exactly one week of being home when the phone rang in South Africa. Steve and Glynn were on the other end; ” Hey Carl, we were just thinking, you wouldn’t by any chance be able to accommodate us…. say in late-May 2016 for a return hunt with a bunch of friends?” There’s no guessing what my response was. Come May 2016 and we’ll be back for round 4…

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

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Bushman legend has it, that once you feel Kalahari sand between your toes, you will always return. Sprinkle some liberally over your toes and see what happens…

So we did it. Chris Petersen, Pierre “Ozzie” Prins, and I – And yes there is no place else like it in Africa. The sights and sounds will linger with the three of us for years to come, with the pictures captured telling a story of a wildlife paradise in one of the harshest environments on earth. And while every bone in my body aches to share the wonders of that grand adventure – It is not my story to tell.

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I’m going to leave that to my good friend, Chris – In time he will share it with us. It’s more than just a story – It’s an extraordinary collection of images that few have seen before.

So upon our return home late last week, inspired by the Kalahari, we looked back over the season that has been. Enjoying safari reviews of various hunts, wanting to share what our hunters have been sharing with us.

From all reports, each and everyone had a blast, with a number of hunters having booked their return safaris already.

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This is what they had to say…

Bobby Heintzelman hunting with PH, Rusty Coetzer.

Thank you to Carl and the entire staff at John X Safaris. The accommodations and overall experience in the camps were exceptional. A special thanks to my friend and PH Rusty. The trophy quality and fun we had hunting together in the coastal areas and the Karoo was second to none. Thanks for a truly unforgettable safari.

See you in the future.

Bobby Heintzelman

We also welcomed back our old friends from Nebraska, Randy and Cherie De Freece, for their second hunt back at John X Safaris. Together with them they brought fellow Nebraskan, Graten Beavers, out on his first African safari. They enjoyed hunting from both our coastal and Karoo regions, enjoying the company and guiding of both Ed Wilson and Ross “Stix” Hoole.

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I loved having Stix as my PH! He entertained with stories of the African culture and life, while finding world-class animals. Not only did the hunt far exceed expectations, I also met many wonderful people. The high point was a monster Sable that will be reminisced about for years to come!

Thank you John X Safaris for the adventure of a lifetime!

Graten Beavers

Our John X Safaris experience was outstanding. The food was perfect and our accommodations were superb. Ed Wilson our PH went above and beyond our expectations to make sure our hunts were memorable. I would be honoured to recommend John X Safaris and our PH Ed Wilson to anyone considering a safari in South Africa. We cant wait to return!

Thanks again to everyone especially Carl, Ed and Stix.

Randy & Cherie De Freece

GTS Productions joined Max Taylor and his son, Matthew, on their return hunt to John X Safaris. The action was fast and furious – all jam-packed into 12 days of epic hunting…

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My third trip with John X Safaris. Ty, Patric and Ozzy were great to hunt with. I look forward to my next hunt with John X Safaris.

Max Taylor

 

 

We had an amazing experience taking 20 trophies over 12 days, despite some rain and cold weather. Ty and Patrick did an awesome job putting us on opportunities and Ozzy did an excellent job capturing all of the adventures. The accommodations and service were A1. We had epic stalks on the Wildebeest and Eland that I will remember forever. I bet we may have the record for the luckiest Klipspringer hunt ever. An all round excellent experience.

I will plan to visit with John X Safaris again.

Matthew Taylor

 

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From beginning to end my safari was an outstanding adventure.  It exceeded my expectations with world-class hospitality and a number of fantastic trophies.  My Kudu required the expert tracking of PH Greg and our tracker, Bless, to recover in the thick bush.  The Waterbuck was spotted by Bless and harvested only after a careful stalk led by Greg who steadied my arm for the shot, an exciting hunt that turned out to be.  My final trophy of the hunt was the Nyala, the icing on the cake.  I am already looking forward to my next adventure with John X Safaris.

Brett Kettelhut

Our first trip to Namibia completed our grand slam of hunting all 5 Southern African countries with John X Safaris. The new camp, on the edge of a pan teeming with game to view over sun-downers, is brand new and very comfortable. The abundance and variety of game including Hartman’s Mountain Zebra, Cheetah, Leopard, Kudu, and Warthog was outstanding. The best quality and largest numbers of Gemsbok that we have ever seen.

We took the trophies we came for, a Mountain Zebra and Warthog for John, and a truly outstanding Gemsbok bull and first Kudu for Lynn. Our professional hunter, Ed Wilson, is the consummate pro that can always be depended upon. This was our eighth safari with John X Safaris and will not be the last. We are looking forward to hunting the mountain species next!

Thanks for a memorable hunt.

Lynn and John Nowlin

Yet another bunch of happy hunters having enjoyed world-class hunts with John X Safaris. If you or any of your friends may be interested in joining us on safari in the future, then don’t delay, limited openings remain for 2016. It’s going to be a great season for hunting, the rains have arrived in Africa….

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Feel free to drop us a line at hunting@johnxsafaris.co.za if you’d like to touch base with any of our recent hunters. Our references are current, giving you an up to date assessment of our areas, professional hunters, trackers, lodges, and trophy quality.

For more information and current updates about John X Safaris; follow us onTwitter, connect with us on Facebook, subscribe to our YouTube Channel and visit our Website!

Hunter’s Turn….

Rising well before dawn, still living off the previous day’s excitement, we headed out to a set of mountains just east of camp. As the crow flies it was a mere three miles to the base, but a Land Cruiser doesn’t fly, and so we crawled and bumped our way along until we reached the foot. All of us were on cloud nine, still in awe at the Vaal Rhebuck we had harvested, with Steve still boasting a smile from here to Cairo.

Having enjoyed watching Hunter, Steve’s son, come through the ranks on our previous safaris together, it gave me great pride knowing both Steve and I had worked hard at instilling great ethics when it came to Hunter in the field.

We had always enjoyed our fair share of luck when hunting together, none more so than our hunt for Cape Bushbuck in July of 2012. That particular ram was the most magnificent ram I had ever seen, and since have not seen one more impressive.

This time round we had discussed a couple of specie options with Hunter. Zwayi and I knew of a massive old blue Eland bull we had spotted on a recent hunt in a set of hills not far from camp, but Hunter wanted a mountain challenge. Which had brought us to the foot of massive mountain at the end of a bumpy track.

From there we set off on foot in search of Klipspringer - one of the most exciting species to pursue up in the high country.

From there we set off on foot in search of Klipspringer – one of the most exciting species to pursue up in the high country.

Ozzie our GTS Productions Videographer joined us for the hike, bringing along his still camera capturing every shot along the way.

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And WOW! It was beautiful!

We had spotted a pair of Klipspringer enjoying the first rays of the morning sun high above the cliff line, closer to the peak of the mountain.

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They were too far to judge at that distance, so we asked Steve and Zwayi to keep an eye on them while we tried to close the distance.

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Within hours we had them spotted, but the pair was still 457 yards out…

We discussed a number of options, knowing full well we were gambling from here on in. We had reached the edge of cover and 457 was a long shot on a target that small. And then suddenly the Klipspringer forced our hand. One minute they were feeding without a care in the world, and the next they were bounding along the ridge to a higher point before coming to a halt. The male immediately started feeding, as the female took up a sunny position on a large boulder. I looked around for further options to close the distance, but there were none.

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Hunter, never one to shy away from a challenge, dully took up his position to make the shot.

At the crack of the shot the Klipspringer took off along the ridge having dodged the first shot falling low. Hunter re-chambered and squeezed off another just as they came to a halt between rocks, this time the bullet hit wide. Miss again. I explained to Hunter where his shot had landed, and once again he re-chambered. Again the shot just missed by mere inches. By now the animals were at 550 and I cautioned Hunter to consider the next shot. He gave me that look I had seen before, re-gathered himself and squeezed of the most perfect shot I had seen at 550 in a long time.

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Reaching Hunter’s Klippie, still not completely certain of its quality, as things happened fast, and sometimes one just follows ones gut, we were relieved to find a magnificent old ram. His secondary growth was immense – the true sign of an old warrior of the mountains.

We took our time to study Hunter’s downed Klipspringer before taking an array of pictures high above the world. Then we gutted the ram and loaded it into Hunters back pack for the descent.

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And then one last moment was taken to enjoy the view and savor the moment before heading back down to the rest of the team.

The following morning we headed south, back towards the coast and our base at Lalibela. Along the way we stopped off at Bankfontein, a famous property in our part of the world, previously owned by Peter Flack, the renowned writer and hunter.

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Peter had invested in Cape Mountain Zebra, very similar to ourselves, but had done so some 15 years ago, and since have seen the population more than double to reach a sustainable off-take. We at John X Safaris had never before hunted one of these Zebra, and duly set off with Steve into the unknown.

We made it quite clear to Steve that there was no legal procedure for him to import the Cape Mountain Zebra trophy into the United States, as US Fish & Wildlife still to date has an import ban in place. Steve understood the situation at hand, but still wanted to hunt the Zebra. An approved permit by our South African Nature Conservation authorities ensured the hunt was a legal one, but then the wait would be on to see how well our friend, John Jackson, could do in Washington as to keep fighting the good fight in getting the ban lifted and removed altogether. We have been able to hunt and export Cape Mountain Zebra to Europe, Mexico, and Canada, for many years now, but still US Fish & Wildlife will not accept any of these fantastic specimens as trophies. We can only hope they would come to their senses sooner rather than later as to understand the importance of sustainable utilization for the future of the Cape Mnt Zebra.

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We ended up hunting a massive stallion late that afternoon after numerous foiled attempts on these weary critters.

Now the wait would be on for Steve as he closely follows developments headed up by the various hunting organizations in the US, hoping for a change in law as to finally have his Cape Mnt Zebra proudly displayed in his trophy room. Until then he will be proudly displayed in my office as to be enjoyed by all, and to further create awareness of the good work hunters continue to do for conservation each day out in the field.

For our last day on the coast we continued on with a tradition started many years ago with the Robinson’s. It would be a day of opportunistic hunting. I opted for an area boasting fantastic Warthog, Bushbuck, Kudu, Nyala, and Blue Wildebeest. None of them in any particular order, but all great to hunt.

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By mid-morning the sun was starting to push the spirals back into the forest and we had not spotted a pig worth writing home about yet, so we opted for taking a closer look at a herd of Blue Wildebeest. Having closed the distance between us and the herd to 120 yards I edged Hunter forward onto the sticks. “Take the bull on the right, quartering us slightly”, I whispered in his ear. The shot rang out and the herd stampeded off in a storm of dust. We called in the dogs for back-up.

Bongo immediately took off at a pace with Chili in hot pursuit. We gave them the standard five minutes or so before starting our search for blood. We picked up the blood trail and headed in the direction where we had last spotted the dogs and Blue’s disappear in. After some time the dogs returned, clearly having lost the bull’s scent among the many other hooves of the herd.

We worked the blood trail slowly, finding a small drop from time to time. Each time Bongo would race ahead, as if he had found it, but each time he returned, working harder to find the scent he was after. In all this time Chili seemed to enjoy the role as an observer learning from the older experienced dog as much as she could. From time to time she would work as hard as any dog I’ve seen scenting before, nose flat to the ground, and veering off to our right into the adjacent forest leading over into a large gorge. After a couple of times, and not having much luck on our trail, Zwayi finally couldn’t take it much longer and decided to take a closer look – giving her the benefit of the doubt. Turns out Chili was no longer observing, she had the trail, but not the confidence to pursue on her own. We called Bongo off his scent and put him onto the correct one.

Within minutes all hell broke loose, as the dogs came into full voice in the gorge below. They had clearly bayed the bull, allowing us to close the distance for a finishing shot. Nearing the chaos in the undergrowth we edged forward until all came into view a mere 15 yards ahead of us. Hunter picked a gap in the undergrowth, being mindful of where the dogs were, and touched off his follow-up shot. The bull turned and stumbled over the dogs before gaining momentum once again down the ridge. One could hear the dogs chasing in hot pursuit, stopping from time to time, as the bull turned to fight.

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Finally two miles later the dogs bayed the bull in a small stream. Hunter crept to the edge above the stream and put in the final shot, bringing one heck of an exciting hunt to an end.

What a hunt our short unexpected safari turned out to be. When we had last seen each other in early February at the end of SCI’s annual convention, there was no way or manner possible for the Robinson’s to have squeezed in a trip to Africa during 2015. And look at us now….

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Take the opportunities life presents you and do the things you’ve always dreamt about. You never know how things will turn out unless you go. Who knows? You may just find yourself sitting on a horse in Africa, with a view like no other, sharing a hunt with friends for the trophy of a lifetime….

For more information and current updates about John X Safaris; follow us onTwitter, connect with us on Facebook, subscribe to our YouTube Channel and visit our Website!

The Obsession Cured?

During late May we published a story, The Obsession Continues, about Luther Dietrich and Professional Hunter, Carl van Zyl, going after the holy grail of Vaal Rhebuck hunting. On that hunt the guys finally reached that magical 10″ mark that all Vaal Rhebuck hunters strive to achieve. It was a dream come true for all involved and one we didn’t think could be repeated soon again. It had taken Carl more than ten years to achieve the goal – he wasn’t counting on finding another monster in that class over the course of the next few years, let alone during the course of the same season.

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Our good friend, Luther Dietrich, with his Vaal Rhebuck of a lifetime.

It was a beautiful morning during mid June, when hunter, Lawrence Trunk and I, were on the hunt for Vaal Rhebuck. On that particular day we had spotted a number of Vaal’s, but none within range for Lawrence to feel comfortable in making a clean shot with his handgun. As the day wore on so the wind picked up from the west and within hours the mountains were starting to look dangerous, with a huge front brewing in the distance. We had been off on a hike taking a closer look at a ram we had spotted from higher up the ridge, when out of nowhere the storm hit.  I’d never experienced anything like it in Africa before – it surrounded us within minutes and soon the world was white with sleet.

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The wind picked up to gale force speeds and the snow was literally knocking us back as we tried to make our way back to the truck as fast as our legs would carry us. We weren’t prepared adequately for that kind of weather, and so bore the brunt of an icy storm.

While the storm taught me a lesson I soon won’t forget, I did however come out of it better than having entered it. During our retreat to the truck I had spotted a small group of Vaal Rhebuck, as confused and panic-stricken as us, and with them I thought I saw a huge ram through my snow-caked binoculars. Having a look through the spotting scope under those circumstances was out of the question, and as soon as they had appeared it seemed they disappeared even sooner. The storm engulfed the group and with that visions of my imagination. I truly wasn’t sure what I had seen, it’s hard enough judging Vaal Rhebuck on clear days – in that kind of weather there was no chance.

Not wanting to instill false hope into my hunter, and knowing that the chance of us getting up onto that mountain after the storm was near impossible and not recommended – I put it off to a Professional Hunter imagining things he’d like to see every time he glassed for these masters of the mountains.

It was only some two weeks later when the snow had melted on the lower ridges, with mountain tops still white, that I finally made it up to where I thought I'd seen the big ram in the storm.

It was only some two weeks later when the snow had melted on the lower ridges, with mountain tops still white, that I finally made it up to where I thought I’d seen the big ram in the storm.

Cresting the valley I envisaged the area the ram would more than likely have staked out his territory in, we soon found the small group again. They were resting in some short stuff littered with boulders at the base of a fountain, well camouflaged to the observers’ eye. At first we couldn’t find the ram, and then there he was – in all his glory, quietly dozing some thirty yards off to the left of the group.

I groveled in the back pack for my Swarovski spotting scope and soon found him on 60 power magnification. He was mind-blowing – and this time I knew what I was looking at. With a 10″ ram under the belt for the season already, I immediately knew this ram was bigger.

With Lawrence having left Africa ten days previously, my mind started turning towards whom to call. Who could make it before the close of the season? It was already July and I needed to find a hunter who was willing to make it before the end of the month. I dialed Reno – hoping to reach my good friend Steve Robinson.

Reaching Steve’s office I was told Steve was away on a mountain hunt in Azerbaijan, and wouldn’t be back until that following weekend. In my most polite tone I urged the friendly young lady on the other end of the line to tell Steve to call me the minute he touches base with his office or gets back. Within days I received a satellite call from Steve.

I explained the situation and then calmly told him to get home, collect his son, Hunter, and head to Africa within mere days of arriving back in the U.S.  Luckily Steve had got what he was after and was already on his way home. He had expressed his desire for a Vaal Rhebuck in this class over the course of four previous safaris with me, and we had done our fair share of traveling and hard hunting all across South Africa in pursuit of a big Vaal – Steve got the picture, and was on his way to Africa.

Arriving in Port Elizabeth we immediately set course for the Karoo – there was no beating around the bush – Steve was here for one reason, and one reason only. Would we finally hunt that 10″ ram we had dreamt about so often before?

That first night in camp was a restless one – my nerves were shot. I had convinced a very good friend to take on a long journey within days of getting home from an Asian hunt, and there were no guarantees. We all know it’s an unspoken rule – how could there be guarantees when it came to hunting, but it doesn’t make it any easier for the guide. We’re expected to perform, that’s why we can earn a living from doing so, but this was different – Steve, Hunter, and I, had spent enough time together in the mountains to know this was it.

The following morning we made our way up into the mountains, met up with the landowner, Kobus, and settled in for a cup of steaming black coffee around his kitchen table. There had been another bout of cold weather leading up to our hunt – there was no way the truck would get us to where we needed to go before starting the long hike. Horses were our only option.

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Slowly making our way up the slippery tracks lined with snow the world started coming into view all around. The higher we climbed the more breath-taking the view. As we reached the top we looked back in awe – how could one not be inspired with scenes like this?

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Steve settled into his saddle and with a broad smile of a man content no matter what the outcome of the days hunt, whispered to us; “You know there are millions of people out there that will never feel this alive their entire lives. They will never experience a day like this or even consider the possibility of experiencing anything as exciting as this. This is an adventure – Thanks for making it possible.” It was then that I knew I was sharing my piece of heaven with not only a friend, but a great one. Mountain hunts are not for everyone, but those who find their inner peace high above the world share a common bond and passion for all places high, where the reward is not only the opportunity of hunting an elusive animal, but the thought of knowing that the effort it took to get there was worth every step of the way.

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Reaching a predetermined plateau having spotted three different groups of Vaal Rhebuck on the way up, we left the horses in the care of one of the trackers – from here onwards we’d walk with caution. I knew the group we were after wouldn’t be far from where I’d seen them on the two previous occasions. We had to take it easy, ensuring they didn’t spot us first.

Soon we found them, but as so often happens, they’d spotted us first. We chatted about a possible approach with limited options. The Vaal Rhebuck had us in a “check mate” situation at 500 yards out. Steve came up with a great plan, which would see us leaving Hunter, Ozzie, Zwayi, and the local ranch hand in clear sight of the group while he and I snuck out of view to close the distance between us and them with a blind rise off to our left.

The plan worked like magic! In fact it worked too well, as soon we were too close, and by the time we realized it the group had disappeared over the ridge’s edge to the valley below. Steve and I hurried after them, knowing they’d run a couple of hundred yards before stopping to peer back at these strange-looking intruders in their valley.  We got to the edge and peered over, but they were nowhere to be seen.

Without much option we continued down the ridge in the direction we’d last seen them heading, hoping to find them again within range. Continuing with utmost caution we stumbled upon two wild horses and an inquisitive Jackal shadowing our every move from the cliffs above. This Jackal had clearly never seen human beings this high up before – its behavior was quite disturbing when one considers their usual hasty retreat at the sight of a human.  It felt like we had become the hunted. As for the horses, they were quite magnificent, but extremely wild.

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Legend has it that during the Anglo Boer War which had taken place in these parts over 100 years ago, Boer soldiers had often left behind some of their weaker horses loaded with stones in saddle bags as to lead the English on a wild goose chase while trying to track the retreating Boers who had become masters of guerrilla warfare. This tactic frustrated the English commanders to no end, with them finally ruling that all stray horses were to be shot on sight if they could not be used – they clearly didn’t get them all. These horses, like in many other parts of the world, had taken to the mountains away from humans as to live without bother.

Keeping a close eye on the horses, knowing they would have spooked if the Vaal’s had passed their position in haste, I knew they weren’t far off. We had a clear view of the slope above and below, with a partial view of the opposite ridge, which I was sure they were heading towards. With the two of us approaching the last blind hollow on our slope I steered us towards a large boulder, as for us to climb to gain a better view of the terrain ahead.

Without knowing it and only realizing it with a mere thirty yards to go to reach the boulder, our approach had been hidden by the sheer size of the rock, and now the Rhebuck were a mere 200 yards out. We hugged the boulder, scaled it to a certain degree and then both crept over. The Vaal Rhebuck immediately spotted us, as alert as ever, but paused for a mere second too long. With the ram off to the right of the group on his own, presenting a clear broadside shot, the words weren’t clean out of my mouth when Steve touched off his shot. The ram reared up onto his hind legs before crashing down. I had clearly forgotten how fast Steve shoots.

Steve and I walked up slowly, both as nervous as the other. Was this the same ram I had seen previously? Did we finally have what we had hunted for, for so long? With fifty yards to go our excitement got the better of us and we both picked up our pace to a canter, each trying to reach the downed ram first.

We could hardly believe our eyes. He was more than we could have envisaged…

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He is without a doubt the most beautiful Vaal Rhebuck I had ever seen. The mass, length, light grey color of his coat, and large rubbery nose, made him the trophy of a lifetime.

He measured a magical 10 4/8

He measured a magical 10 5/8″.

Millions of pictures later it was time to pack him out and head back down before nightfall caught us. It was time to reflect on a great hunt and to savor the moment around a crackling campfire beneath the brightest stars on earth. The following morning we’d pursue one of the Karoo’s greatest mountain dwellers for Hunter.
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Lying in bed that evening listing to the rustle of the Acacia tree branches on the roof above I found myself wondering if the days events were a mere dream? Twice in the same year? Could the obsession be cured? You must be joking! The mountains are far to beautiful for that….

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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