Ever considered the possibility of an African hunt? If you’ve never looked into a safari to the dark continent you may be surprised at how affordable it actually is. The reality of an African hunt might be much closer than you may realize.

Are you 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 in the game rich East Cape.
  • Fair Chase Big 5 on our private 30 000 acre concession, Woodlands Game Reserve.
  • Lodging second to none. Where you can choose 1 of 3 different lodges throughout the East Cape. Hunt the game in their natural environment where they are naturally of better quality.
  • 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 #Gettingtheyouthhuntingatjxs
  • 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.
  • 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 33 years in the safari industry.

IF the above is what you’re after then why not join John X Safaris in Africa – It’s your ultimate safari destination…

Below are some of our most popular safari/hunt options on offer – There’s something for everyone.

  • Single or Multi Area Hunt – Make the most of our traditional 7/10 Day Hunt in the East Cape. Limited dates remain for 2017.
  • Get the Youth Hunting – Bring your son/daughter/any minor along on their spring/summer break and we’ll comp his/her day fee. Only pay for trophies.
  • 2017 Cape Buffalo Special – Opening Season Woodlands Cape Buffalo Hunt $15000 (7 Days All Incl) This will be real hunting in a large extensive concession with amazing quality Cape Buffalo. Numbers are high and quotas are conservative  – Expect to be amazed!
  • Tiny 10 Hunts – We’re the team hunters turn to when it comes to their Tiny 10 collections. From Vaal Rhebuck to the Livingstone Suni and everything in between.
  • Mountain Hunts in Africa – You’re an altitude hunting enthusiast? Then we’ve got the hunt for you in Africa. Vaal Rhebuck, Klipspringer and Mnt Reedbuck – There’s no one with more experience and larger/better areas when it comes to hunting the high country in Africa. Our track record and the amount of 10″ Vaal Rhebuck hitting the salt on an annual basis speaks for itself.
  • Hunt the Spiral Slam – East Cape Kudu, Cape Bushbuck, Nyala & Cape Eland. Could there be a more beautiful slam with such challenging hunting.


Below is a quick reminder of our 2017 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.

  • Dallas Safari Club Show – Dallas, Texas: 5 – 8 January 2017. Booth # 4360
  • Houston, TX, Cocktail Party: 11 January 2017 – Any interested hunters can join us for an evening BBQ Reception at the Travis residence.
  • College Station, TX, Cocktail Party: 13 January 2017 – Any interested hunters can join us for Africa Info Night with Horizon Firearms at their amazing factory.
  • Amarillo, TX, Visit: 16 – 20 January 2017 – Any folks interested in meeting up with Stix can schedule a preferred time during the week.
  • Omaha, NE,  Cocktail Party/Visit: 20 – 25 January 2017 – Carl will be hosting a cocktail evening with Steve & Jill Evers from Wildlife Creations Taxidermy on Saturday, 21 January 2017.
  • Jackson, MS: 20 – 25 January 2017 – Stix will be visiting with our good friends Alex Good & Mike Jarvis. Feel free to meet up with Stix while he’s in Mississippi.
  • Salt Lake City / Eagle Mountain / Pleasant View, UT: 25 – 29 January 2017 – Feel free to meet up with Carl/Stix while they’re in Utah.
  • Safari Club International – Las Vegas, Nevada: 1 – 4 February 2017.Booth # 3052 & 3054


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 or alternatively call Carl Van Zyl on US Cell 6824108377 or PH Ross ‘Stix’ Hoole on 6824108373– 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!


As I started my final forward from Lalibela during late September, I found myself gazing out over the game rich plains deep in thought… the moment had finally come for us to say goodbye and close a chapter on twenty memorable years. I would be lying if I were to try to convince you that at that moment I was not feeling overly sentimental or emotional. Twenty years of dreaming, sacrifice, hard work, and achievement. It had been a journey like few.

If we were to rewind the clock by twenty years, to be more precise, October 1996, and I were to tell you about that first sunny afternoon on Hillside Farm, Sidbury, East Cape, South Africa, you would have been excused for being a pessimist like the many others. Rick and Sue van Zyl had just acquired the first property in what would become today’s world-renowned Lalibela Game Reserve, and the home of John X Safaris.

At first it was a meager colonial homestead turned into a “rustic camp” for the few loyal hunters, who unbeknownst to them were playing a major role in getting the dream of a wildlife reserve off to a slow, but gradual start. Soon the first lodge, Lentaba, was completed, giving our hunters a taste of what was to come. With the acquisition of more land and the re-introduction of 22 game species and the first White Rhino, things started coming together nicely.

With 20 000 acres, a lodge, one of the Big 5, over 3000 head of game, and an eager team we set off to launch Lalibela to tourists in the summer of 2002. The concept was a brilliant one; our hunters would occupy and utilize the winter hunting months, while the tourists would take up the summer months, when hunters preferred to stay home for their traditional northern hemisphere hunting season.

By 2003 a second lodge, Mark’s Camp, was completed, the very year both Elephant and Cape Buffalo, joined the White Rhino as members of the Big 5, once again roaming free where they had not set foot for over a hundred years. A masterstroke in developments it turned out to be, with the reserve taking an even bigger step with the introduction of free roaming Lion, Leopard, and Cheetah in the early part of 2004. With the addition of a further 10 000 acres and completion of our flagship lodge, Treetops Luxurious Tented Camp, a first of its kind, during September that same year, Lalibela had established itself and was now a successful brand in both the hunting and tourist industries respectively.

Throughout the years and the numerous developments we have been privileged to have grown as a family, calling a place such as Lalibela, home. It is something that we have not taken lightly in our responsibility to the land, wildlife, our people, hospitality, and business. Your support and safari contributions have allowed us to build and live an extraordinary life – one we could not have been a part of without each and every one of you – after all, Lalibela only became a reality because of you and your commitment to conservation through hunting. It has been a journey we are immensely proud of and an achievement of a goal reached through untold sacrifice and hard work.

With that said we had reached for the stars and fallen amongst them, but something was lacking, it was time to move on… time to let go of the familiarity. It was time to go back to the beginning, to our people, to John X Safaris and the most enjoyable years of our lives.

New Beginnings – Woodlands Game Reserve

“And suddenly you just know… it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings…”

Woodlands Game Reserve – 30 000 Acres, big 5, plains game, over 2500 head of game, 20 + species, rifle, archery, wing shooting, and a brand new colonial safari lodge opening in March 2017 + the very same trusted team – Dedicated to hunters and hunting only. 

We will still be offering our multi-area option safaris in both the coastal and northern Karoo regions, like we’ve been doing for the past 33 years, with Woodlands becoming our coastal base. Those hunters who have booked safaris can rest assured that Woodlands will be everything and more of what Lalibela could have ever offered as a destination.

We have found our new home. It’s a hidden gem like no other, and you’re invited to join us on your next safari as we turn the industry on its head and launch the greatest hunting destination the East Cape has ever seen.

Until your next safari – We thank you for being a part of the Safari World of John X Safaris during the past year and the many before. It has been a privilege hosting and having you on safari. Your support and friendship means the world to us. A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Carl & Family

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!

With one season coming to a close we turn our attention towards the next at a rapid rate. It seems the hunting world has notched up its intensity to the next level with numerous inquiries from around the world. The possibilities are endless from Plains Game to Big 5 with destinations to suite your safari requirements – How about some of these options for your next hunt with John X Safaris?


Make the most of our traditional 7/10 Day Hunt in the East Cape – Single or Multi Area Hunt…

Our renowned hunts throughout the Coastal and Karoo regions of the East Cape have been going for over 33 years, and like Matt and Stephanie Zanin, who joined us during late August, you too can make the most of arguably the best value for money hunt in the world.


Our East Cape safaris allow our hunters the option of hunting from either two or only one region on any given hunt. That allows for the best of both worlds – Matt and Stephane opted for the multi area safari…

While Dennis LaRochce opted for a single area safari during mid-September. Dennis had booked a hunt to Tanzania for 2016, opting to join us for a stop-over safari on the way back home in our Coastal region. An Nyala and Cape Bushbuck were his two priority species to complete his spiral slam. He did so in some style in breath-taking surroundings.

You’ve tried everything the East Cape has to offer? Want to hunt a different region in South Africa? We’ve got you covered!


Our dear Australian friend, Max King, had joined us in the East Cape on two previous occasions. This time he opted for something somewhat different to your traditional African safari.

An Aoudad in South Africa’s Northern Cape…

Upon Max’s return home, having enjoyed his experience to the utmost, he sent us a poem he wrote about his hunt for his weary old ram…


Black and tan piled iron-stone tors

This croque-en-bouche, where Aoudad lay

At rest among the sun dappled gorse

‘Till thirst demands their trek to sate.

For three grey days the mountains howled,

Now lightning strikes and thunder reigns.

And while we cringe ‘neath shelter’s cowl’

The bloodied sands are cleansed again.

Max King (Copyright 29/09/2016)

Or care to join us in another African destination?


You may be in the same boat as one of our longest standing hunters. Ron Machado first started hunting with us at John X Safaris almost two decades ago, and ever since that first safari he not only fell in love with Africa, but became a part of our family too. Ron has joined us on more than ten trips to the Dark Continent covering South Africa, Mozambique, and Namibia. This year he joined us in Zimbabwe for the elusive Sharp’s Grysbuck on his quest to complete his Tiny 10.

Lake Kariba and her magnificent shoreline provided the backdrop to a sensational photographic, fishing, and hunting experience…

Like them, you too can make the most of our various destinations on offer for your next African adventure. You’ve trusted us with your initial hunt to the Dark Continent – Feel free to do so again. You wont be disappointing.

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!


While out on safari up in the high country with Gunwerks owner, Aaron Davidson, during our 2015 safari, the topic of having a Gunwerks rifle in camp came up once again. Having witnessed the class and precision of their rifles, combined with an amazing user-friendly shooting system that simplifies the complicated science of long-range shooting, the matter of getting my very own Gunwerks rifle to Africa became a goal for 2016.


With the help of Aaron and Garrett I picked out my choice gun during SCI’s annual Convention in Las Vegas – My gun was finally coming home to Africa.

Welcoming back the crew and my Gunwerks rifle to Africa


As late July rolled in so too did Aaron with his sons, Danner and Derec Davidson, as well as Gunwerks customers, John Benbow, Sultan Kawarit, Paul Baird, and the Gardiner family.

For Aaron it would be a traditional return joining me on safari for what has become a highlight in my calendar each year. Knowing each other so well and enjoying so much of the same, we have built an enjoyable friendship through our adventures and time on the show circuit each year.


This years hunt would prove to be a special one, as together with him, he brought his sons, Danner and Derec, for their first taste of Africa.

Some torrid cold conditions put the boys through their paces on the first few days up in the Karoo, but credit to them as they stuck it out and soon started mastering challenging conditions overhead. From huddling around a small camp fire with the trackers trying to keep out of the snow and cold, to blistering winds, and finally beautiful sunny days, giving the boys a bit of everything Africa could throw at them. And when it turned the boys turned up the heat with some world-class shots!

Of course Aaron got in on the action too, but it was not until we got back south to the coast that he and I finally found the kind of Warthog we’d been after for many years. It all kind of happened by sure coincidence, but we’ll take our luck everyday of the week! On previous safaris we had always concentrated on numerous species, with a Warthog never proving to be a priority. Over time a pig became somewhat of a priority, and more so – a big pig.

We had passed up a number of shooters over the years, but this time there was no second guessing.

We had passed up a number of shooters over the years, but this time there was no second guessing. A “Boss Hog” finally hit the salt!

Aaron’s Warthog proved to be his final trophy of the hunt, while the boys continued on in style harvesting Cape Bushbuck, Warthog and Zebra. Both the shots on the Cape Bushbuck and Warthog were fantastic setups with great natural shooting platforms due to the nature and the lay of the land, while the Zebra on our last day allowed the boys to get in close, once again proving the versatility of the Gunwerks system.


While Aaron and the boys were enjoying every minute of their family hunt, so too was first timer John Benbow who joined the crew teaming up with Professional Hunter, Dave Burcy. John and Dave hit it off from day one going about their hunt in a quiet way, bringing home pretty loud trophies each evening.


Each morning they’d head into the hills…

And each evening their quality spoke for itself…

It seemed this team had a trick up their sleeve each time someone else brought in something really good. What has become tradition over the years, has seen the team of Professional Hunters choose the best trophy hunted during the Gunwerks safari each season. The criteria is not set in stone, but the specie/animal hunted must carry the attributes of a gold medal class animal for that particular specie.

And so it came as no surprise that John hunted the trophy of the safari - A magnificent 43" Sable.

And so it came as no surprise that John hunted the trophy of the safari – A magnificent 43″ Sable.

Sultan Kawarit had previously hunted the East Cape, but this would be his first taste of what John X Safaris has to offer.

Sultan had previously hunted with PH, Martin Neuper, and was ecstatic to hear that Martin had joined our team, once again teaming up for another safari.

Sultan had hunted with PH, Martin Neuper, before and was ecstatic to hear that Martin had joined our team.

The two of them set out to not only tackle a variety of plains game, but a couple of mountain dwellers too. On Sultan’s previous safari he had hunted a number of species, so this time round he was after not only variety, but quality too. He had arrived at the right destination. The quality of Sultan’s trophies speak volumes of our areas, while the experiences provided by Martin will be lasting memories for both of them.

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There was however one particular hunt that will never be forgotten by all involved. The guys were after Klipspringer and had headed into the hills with a lunch pack for the day.

By mid-morning they had found a couple of pairs, but a heavy mist with sleet rain blew in from the north, covering them in a blanket of white and cold.

By mid-morning they had found a couple of pairs, but a heavy mist with sleet rain blew in from the north, covering them and the Klipspringer in a blanket of white and cold.

For three hours they held their position having identified a shooter ram. When the weather blew over the ram provided a shot at 480 yards.


What a shot – What an effort – What a memory!

Sultan’s hunt proved to be a massive success with his Cape Eland over 1100 yards being one of the best and longest shots of the safari. While Sultan was pushing hard providing a competitive challenge to the rest of the hunters, it was Paul Baird, hunting with PH, Greg Hayes, and the Gardiner family guided by PH, Rusty Coetzer, that left us amazed.


Paul was the first and only man whom we have ever seen taking long-range shots off standing sticks, and doing so successfully time and again. His confidence was a treat to observe – it’s hard not to admire a man who puts in that kind of practice and then to enjoy his success with him when the results pay off.

As for the Gardiner family consisting of Todd Sr, Alex, Gabriel and Todd-Gerald – these guys had very little to no experience with the Gunwerks system, let alone any long-range practice prior to their arrival. Their success and the speed at which they gained confidence once again proved why Gunwerks remains one of the best, if not the best, system in the long-range market.

With this being their first hunt to Africa – a great occasion to say the least – they booked GTS Productions to capture their experiences on film. Enjoy the journey with them and relive the emotions of what proved to be an exciting ten days with John X Safaris.

#GunWerked during 2016

It seems the more we use, enjoy, and hunt with the Gunwerks system, the more we take for granted. It has become the norm to accept that every single last Gunwerks rifle that has ever joined John X Safaris on a hunt has far exceeded our and our hunters expectations in not only precision results, but rewarding experiences for those who have had the privilege to shoot these amazing rifles. The fact that a seasoned long-range hunter or a beginner such as myself can achieve a certain level of success within a limited period of time speaks volumes for the system. That alone is a remarkable feat by Aaron and his entire team at Gunwerks, and for that they need to be congratulated.

I see the new #tag sporting the waves reads #GunWerked – Let’s rephrase that to #GunWerked2011,  #GunWerked2012,  #GunWerked2013,  #GunWerked2014,  #GunWerked2015  … And I can assure you #GunWerked once again in Africa during 2016. Take my word for it, I’m not merely guiding hunters enjoying the system – I’m shooting my very own Gunwerks 7 mm LRM.

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!

When we first set out to launch our foundations mission for 2016, it was probably one of the greatest unknowns I’ve ever taken on within the safari industry. The questions mulling over in my head and the fears of launching a successful program felt more daunting than my first Cape Buffalo hunt. While the John X Foundation has been supporting a number of worthy initiatives and causes over the past five years, this one seemed closer to home. It was my brainchild, something I had been quietly thinking about for a number of years ~ I knew my passion and the unrelenting support from my team would ensure success, but this was still a first for all of us.

Counting down the days and then the arrival at Orange Grove Adventures… The first Jr Hunters Course

Orange Grove

Having raised the necessary funds through the support of our generous hunters, whom we cannot thank enough, we plotted and planned every detail of the course with Patrick Cairns. Trish jumped to work on sourcing the various items of clothing, toiletries, and food requirements. Greg, Stix and I covered the various topics of the course with Patrick, while Ozzie and Jose from GTS Productions worked on the script of how we would be sharing this very first Jr Hunters course with the rest of the world.

The months soon turned to days and before we knew it we were unpacking the trucks at Orange Grove, Tarkastad. With us we had eight shy boys from various backgrounds and communities – all linked to the safari industry in one way or another.

At first I wasn’t sure who was more nervous than the other? Patrick had warned me of something I had never considered when the idea first came to mind. While most of us grew up “wanting” to hunt or have been introduced to hunting at a young age, and would have given anything to have been accepted to a Jr Hunters course at age 13/14, none of these boys from our previously disadvantaged communities had ever hunted before. They understood the concept, but not a single boy had ever held a gun in their lives! Did they even want to be here I kept asking myself. Was it my “want” for them to be here? Or was I being overly ambitious in my concept?

If you don’t dare you cannot succeed….


Nelson Mandela once remarked; “If your plan is for 1 year, plant rice. If your plan is for 10 years, plant trees. If your plan is for 100 years, educate children.” And it was with those words that we jumped in head first. We were determined to make an impact through hunting and the great outdoors on these young men.

That first afternoon and evenings’ schedule was dominated by lectures on topics such as; why hunting plays an important role in conservation, what the correct ethics were in hunting – the do’s and dont’s, and of course we wanted to hear from them what they thought hunting was. How did they see this age-old tradition?



We spoke about the various methods of hunting and then capped off our day with a rifle cleaning session and dinner around the campfire. Some of the boys had never traveled this far away from home before – so all were pretty exhausted after an overwhelming first day. The boys settled into their campsite and were fast asleep before we even realized they had quietly disappeared from the fire.

The following morning saw the “shy” boys from the previous day rise to slightly more confident young men. With their smiles and imminent signs of genuine interest, my fears started dissipating. Things started falling in place as we started the morning lecture off with tracking and track identification in the field. By mid morning we had them back to the final lecture session of the day – animal identification. This proved to be an interesting one as soon one could judge the region a child was from by the game he was able to identify. With our huge variety of game one could understand how a kid from the Karoo didn’t have the slightest idea of what a Blue Duiker or Bushbuck looked like, while the coastal kids had never seen a Gemsbuck in their lives before.


After lunch we were off to the range. This proved to be one of the most rewarding afternoons I have ever experienced. There we were, Greg, Stix, Asisipho, Patrick’s trainer assistant, and myself, each at a bench with the boys taking turns. Patrick covered the various gun safety aspects once again, and then we had the boys take their first shots with a .22. The results were astounding. Expecting a full afternoon on the range we had not planned or banked on how fast they would master the art of handling a firearm in a safe manner, and then becoming crack shots at the same time. We were astounded!

Soon we had them shooting off sticks, and then we put away the .22’s and took out the 243’s – which they would be using the following day to hopefully harvest their first Springbuck.


By the early evening we felt confident in our young hunters capabilities and headed back to camp to discuss the various shot placement scenarios and the general characteristics and habits of their target specie the following day.

8/8 – What a day!

That morning we woke the boys at 04:30 am and headed out for Springbuck. Four teams consisting of a Professional Hunter and two boys, accompanied by a GTS Productions cameraman, set out in various directions. The Springbuck were plentiful and the opportunities numerous. The boys had clearly listened the previous day, and while there were some spectacular misses, there were some pretty amazing shots too. In the end we got home at 17:30 that afternoon with 8 boys, and 8 Springbuck. It was a remarkable feat to say the least. We had taken a bunch of serious “green horns” and achieved a level of success we had not envisaged, but more important than any kill, we had introduced hunting and the benefits of that lifestyle to a group of young men who now clearly seemed hooked.

We had taken 8 boys and turned them into 8 enthusiastic hunters. There’s something to be said about that particular experience.

Wrapping things up in fun –  A Charging Buffalo and Clays…

Our final day saw the weather continue to treat us well, as we set out to work and process the Springbuck carcasses from the previous days hunt. Each boy dismantled the various portions and cuts from his own Springbuck, while Patrick and Asisipho explained what each portion of meat could be used for, or prepared into a scrumptious meal. Once the meat was processed and packed away we were off to the range once again. This time round we had a surprise up our sleeve for the boys.

Arriving at the range the boys soon realized they wouldn’t be shooting at stationary targets, but a mobile one – in the form of a charging Cape Buffalo on a sled. One of the boys would tie a long rope around his waist, which was connected to a life-size Cape Buffalo target, and upon Patrick’s command the runner would take off at a full gallop pulling the sled along at a rapid pace towards a second boy with a loaded .22. The concept was quite simple ~ hit the Buffalo in the head or chest before the sled reached your position. This proved to be a hit with the boys, as the laughter and excitement reached new levels. Soon we pulled out the “Elephant gun” as they referred to the 458, and offered then an opportunity to shoot with a big bore rifle for the very first time. Once those who opted to try the 458 had each had a couple of turns, the instructors and PH’s set out on a small competition of our own, taking on the charging Buffalo with the 458. I can proudly declare each one of the guys made the required kill shots, with our Mexican friend, Jose, out shooting us all! (He just got lucky! LOL) By the end of the charging Buffalo challenge one could see that the boys had now truly come into their own and were engaging in every aspect of every challenge we threw at them.

From one challenge we headed to the next – Clays on the range and the concept of wing shooting. This particular session proved to be an amazing one as some of the boys were recording 3/5 scores on their first round. We all agreed that was pretty impressive considering the time it takes most of us to master the art of successful clay pigeon shooting. We finished up the clays and shells, satisfied with a morning well spent and headed to camp for our final afternoon and evening around the camp fire.


We had all had a blast!

Giving Thanks where Thanks is due…

As I proudly reflect back over the course I can truly say we have achieved everything we had hoped for and so much more. More importantly we have realized how much we take for granted, and how important it is for each and every one of us as hunters, to take responsibility of our actions, by committing ourselves to introducing our age-old tradition we hold so dear, to the next generation. While it is important that we continue to raise our young boys and girls in a manner that accepts hunting and the role it plays in the future of our wildlife, we need to challenge ourselves to introduce a complete “outsider” to the world of hunting. This is something harder than most would realize, and something we could not have done without the support of a number of committed hunters who made this first Jr Hunters Course a reality during 2016.

Most of them, as on previous occasions would prefer to remain anonymous, as they feel it’s not about them, but about the kids. They are the true saints of our Foundation, the people whom I cannot leave out at this time.

Sam Cunningham, Jim and Chris Smith, John Thompson, David and Mary-Lynn West – Words cannot express my gratitude. You all know how close to my heart this mission was, and every one of you never asked a single question, except how many kids the Foundation needed sponsorship for. You are the ones that have truly made a difference. Thank you.

Enjoy the memories with us as GTS Productions takes us back to a week of fun on the first of many Jr Hunters courses to come.

If you’ve enjoyed hearing about the John X Foundations Jr Hunter initiative and would like to get more involved by sponsoring a boy/s for our 2017 course, then please feel free to contact Carl directly on hunting@johnxsafaris.co.za  or catch up with him in the US during Jan/Feb 2017. Also note as of 2017 we will be able to offer our donors the opportunity to claim back 100% of their donations through an agreement reached with the Ithembu Trust via a 501(c)3 Registered Organization under the Jernigan Foundation. We’d be glad to have you on board as we strive to make a difference through hunting.

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!

No matter where you find yourself around the world, there comes a time in any given week that the outdoor enthusiasts sits back and reminisces about a past adventure or a future destination. The word “safari” alone veers one off from the task at hand sending you into a day-dream of sights and sounds of a distant land. As our season draws to a close we are forced into the realm of the real world and the office jobs we’ve put off for so long come beckoning, so too we find ourselves day dreaming from time to time.


Just this past Monday, as with any “blue Monday” in the office, I had barely reached mid-morning when I found myself deep in thought staring out of the window while watching my three-year old son interacting with my tracker while conversing in fluent Xhosa. I’m not sure what exactly the conversation on the far end of the garden was about, but there was a bow involved, and hunting was most obviously the only thing on their minds. It took me back to happy days on safari with my Dad, Rick, when I was a young boy like my own son. I had always dreamnt about a big safari with just my Dad and I, but that never materialized due to the nature of our family business. Luckily for me my Dad always took me along and I got to see and visit some of the most remarkable safari destinations southern Africa has to offer.

It led me onto the extraordinary father/son duo of Joe and Grant Kapaun who joined us on safari during June.

My thoughts led me onto the extraordinary father/son duo of Joe and Grant Kapaun who joined us on safari during June.

Joe had joined us on a previous hunt with our great friend, Brett Nelson, during 2013, expressing a desire after that first safari to have his son, Grant, join him upon his return. The Kapaun’s made the most of our #Gettingtheyouthhuntingatjxs initiative, ensuring money was saved on day fees which could be enjoyed out in the field.

P.H. Rusty Coetzer had made a habit of hunting big East Cape Kudu during the early part of the season and continued on where he had started. Joe was the lucky man to win a head to head game of “rock/paper/scissors” on their first bull, with Grant coming away with a superb bull of his own towards the end of the hunt late one afternoon. From a Caracal with hounds along the Indian Ocean to Gemsbuck and Wildebeest on the plains of the Great Karoo… This and so much more.

But Grant's Cape Eland was the one that caught my attention the most. I had heard about the epic hunt for this beast of a bullfantastic trophies with memories to match.

But it was Grant’s Cape Eland that caught my attention first and foremost. I had heard about the epic hunt for this beast of a bull. He had everything that made for a fantastic trophy. It summed up their hunt. Not only did they come away with the bragging rights on one heck of a bag of trophies, but the memories to match a father/son hunt like few had seen before.

Tuesday didn’t go any better on the work front either. I skimmed through my mails, got the rest of the crew going, and then settled into a cup of warm coffee just after 7am.


The smell of the fragrant Kenyan coffee soon had me off on a journey to a cold evening hustled around a crackling fire in the middle of Zimbabwe’s lowveldt.

That particular evening, and the nine before, combined with the chill in our bones and the ache in our hearts would be the final straw of an unsuccessful Leopard hunt with my dear friend, Dave Kjelstrup. We had thrown EVERYTHING at harvesting a large tom, but it seemed the harder we tried the bleaker the light. Some things it seemed are just not meant to be. Or who knows?


Further south, Dave’s friends, Alex Good and Paul Latchford, were into some nasty weather too.

While Dave and I were up north of the border, P.H.’s Ross “Stix” Hoole and Greg Hayes, were battling the coldest storm of the year on a Gray Wing Shoot over English Pointer at 5000 feet.

Luckily for them the weather improved during the hunt, but the birds had been scattered deep into cover, making for long walks on steep terrain in search of wild coveys.

As for Alex, he always makes the most of everything, ensuring a smile is never far below the surface.

As for Alex, he always makes the most of everything, ensuring a smile is never far below the surface.

With our hunt in Zimbabwe coming to an end, we headed south to join Alex and Paul for the remainder of our safari. A combination of trophies and culls, combined with never-ending laughter from three great friends and a certain new landmark aptly named “The Latchford” blind made for a fun-filled last five days in Africa. Don’t ask us why it’s called “The Latchford” we’ll leave Alex to explain this marvel of a landmark when next you’re in the Great Karoo.

While Dave and my hunt in Zimbabwe saw little reward, I personally found reward in our last few days in the East Cape. I had arranged for Dave to link up with our friends from Gunwerks, recommending the 6.5×284 as a great fit for him. Within months he had his gun and was hunting with it in the US. Soon our hunt had arrived, but Dave was yet to master his rifle and gain sufficient trust in the system I’ve come to trust so much from my experience with it. His growth in confidence as the days passed, and the belief in his capabilities, but more so the sight of seeing him enjoy every minute of it made for one of the highlights in my year.

How fun it was to see him find pleasure in a rifle that has opened the door to so many opportunities in the future.

How rewarding it was to see him find pleasure in a rifle that has opened the door to so many opportunities in the future.

By Wednesday I had at least made it to the halfway mark of my week in the office. The work was somehow finding its way into the ‘done” column and I had reasoned a well-earned break to cast back over a couple of hunts from July. Pretty impressive stuff if I could say so myself…

Here's a certaib Warthog neither P.H. Martin Neuper or Tom Lincoln will be forgetting anytime soon.

Here’s a certain Warthog neither P.H. Martin Neuper or Tom Lincoln will be forgetting anytime soon.

How about Mike Grier's massive East Cape Kudu. How clearly the memory sits with me now. Mike had been on two previous hunts with us before, this was his third and a dream of a 50" Kudu was all Mike had in mind. Phew! It's great to produce the results! Better lucky than good I say!

How about Mike Grier’s massive East Cape Kudu. How clearly the memory sits with me now. Mike had been on two previous hunts with us before, this was his third and a dream of a 50″ Kudu was all Mike had in mind. Phew! It’s great to produce the goods! Better lucky than good is all I’m thinking about right now! Then again the harder we try the luckier our hunters seem to get.

Here’s another great hunt from July. John and Anita Hertner have become more than just good friends over the years. They have become involved in John X Safaris making their home and their trophy room available to our many friends in and around Kearney, Nebraska, each January for a cocktail evening.

This years hunt was their second to John X Safaris and one I most certainly enjoyed guiding.

This years hunt was their second to John X Safaris and one I most certainly enjoyed guiding.

Having spoken at length about the various trophy preferences for their return hunt we settled on a number of great choices. Red Hartebeest, Black Wildebeest, Blesbuck and Cape Bushbuck, all made for great hunting yet relaxing days out on safari.

By Thursday my day dreaming was starting to see the light and an escape plan of eluding the office on Friday was starting to become a reality. No normal P.H. could possibly complete an entire week in the office, so as to celebrate the nearing of my freedom back into the bush early on Friday morning I quickly glanced over one of my favorite safaris from 2016.


Tyler Geer was back making the most of our #Gettingtheyouthhuntingatjxs initiative too, bringing his son, Hunter, along on his second adventure to John X Safaris joining P.H., Greg Hayes, and Tracker, Bless.

The guys hunted both our southern Coastal region as well as our northern Karoo areas.

Tyler’s appreciation of every aspect that goes into any given safari, combined with his mannerism around camp has turned him into not only a pleasure, but a great friend we all so enjoy having on safari. One of their toughest days up in the Great Karoo saw both hunters work extremely hard to achieve a double for Dad and Son on Black Springbuck.

It made for some amazing memories for the entire team involved in the hunt, but also one of my favorite safari pictures from 2016.

It made for some amazing memories for the entire team involved in the hunt, but also produced one of my favorite safari pictures from 2016. Isn’t that what it’s all about!

A hectic week in the office is just about behind me, thank goodness for the many safari day dreams.

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

I’m out of here.. The bush has been calling all week-long.

Ps. I wont be answering emails until Monday – Enjoy the weekend and get outdoors!

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!

A Proper ELAND

By Paul Brisso

A few months before my 2016 safari, John X Safaris owner, and PH, Carl van Zyl, and I were still working out the details of what and where we were going to hunt.  We had an idea with my “wish list”, but were still exploring a few further options for my fifth trip to Africa.


In an e-mail going over some of our plans, Carl closed with:  “Am I correct that you do not have a big proper Cape Eland yet?  If not, THEN THIS IS A MUST.  I FOUND A HONEY HOLE CLOSE TO WHERE WE WILL BE HUNTING FOR BUSHBUCK.  If you do not have one, then this is it!  Trust me—even I want to go hunt one!”  He attached a couple of scouting photos of old block-bodied, blue-gray Eland bulls he had snapped with his large wildlife lens.

I smiled as the last sentence of his e-mail took me back to a hot, dusty evening a couple of years before in Mozambique.  Last light found Carl, our Mozambique professional hunter, and I, trudging back to the truck after spending a few hours unsuccessfully putting some stalks on a big Sable.  We were done hunting for the day, sweaty, dusty and black with soot from grass burns.  We were talking and laughing as we headed to the truck anticipating ice-cold beers waiting for us at camp.

Suddenly, in a heartbeat, Carl returned to hunting mode.  “Shoot that Reedbuck!!!” he said in a low but insistent voice.  I gave him a puzzled look.  This area of Mozambique was noted for having a lot of Common Reedbuck but very average trophy quality.  When I hesitated, Carl spoke again, even more insistent:  “Either shoot that Reedbuck, or give me your rifle and I will shoot him for myself.”

Photo 2013-09-19 8 13 36 AM

I harvested that Reedbuck in the failing light of Mozambique. It turned out to be the biggest Reedbuck taken in the concession since the area reopened to hunting following the Mozambican civil war and a tremendous trophy for any Reedbuck area.

So when Carl said he wanted to hunt one of these Eland himself, he had my full attention.  I have to admit that early in my African hunting career Eland did not appeal to me.  I like big antlers and big horns, and an Eland’s horns are rather small in relationship to the size of their Moose-like body.  Kudu, Gemsbok, Impala, Waterbuck, Black Wildebeest and Lechwe were much higher on my priority list on those earlier safaris. Beside, Eland are so big, after you get one what do you do with it?

After hunting twice in Namibia, I went on my first safari in South Africa with Carl.  My good friends, Steve and Lisa Dahmer, were on that hunt also.  It was Lisa’s first trip to Africa, but Eland was at the very top of her trophy wish list.

Late one afternoon Carl and I saw a group of six or seven Eland, including one huge old bull.  We returned the next morning and the trackers and I sat by the truck on an opposite hillside and watched Carl, Steve, Lisa and their professional hunter put on a long, challenging stalk on the moving herd.  They expertly and patiently used the brush and contours of the hill to close the distance.  After a couple of hours of cat and mouse, Lisa took advantage of her opportunity and dropped the bull with a single well-placed shot.


After a panoramic view of the action, the trackers and I joined the hunting party for my first up close and personal view of a truly magnificent Eland bull.

If you want to make a case that the record book is not always an accurate measure of a true trophy animal, the Eland is Exhibit A.  The scoring systems are based solely on a combination of length and circumference of the horns.  As a result, the record books are crowded with middle-age to young Eland bulls that have not yet reached their true prime.  These bulls have reached their optimal horn length and have enough mass to “score” well.  They are visibly larger than the females (which also have horns) but are generally the same reddish-brown grey color.

However, a truly mature bull is not just bigger than the cows (and the younger bulls) but absolutely dwarfs them.  An old bull looks like a railroad box car with legs that appear too small for the body and a massive neck.  He is usually a steel blue-gray color that can never be confused with a cow or younger bull.  In a herd, he sticks out from the cows and younger bulls like a sore thumb by his sheer body size and color.

The old bulls have other attributes that are never reflected in the record book, such as a thick mop of red-brown hair on the forehead and a huge neck dewlap, which is used as a “radiator” to circulate and cool blood near the skin surface.  The horns also develop significantly more mass at the base and the sharp spiral ridges are smoothed from wear, but unfortunately for those hung up on the record book numbers, the increase in base mass is more than offset by wearing down of the horn length as the bull matures and ages. The bottom line is that a venerable old Eland is very often “outscored” by less mature bulls.

After taking a magnificent Bushbuck on the first day of our safari, we commenced our hunt for a “proper Eland.”

Day one of the Eland hunt found us glassing a herd of about 30 near mid-day with a bull that had us vacillating but ultimately passing (a decision we questioned after reviewing the video several times that evening back at the lodge).

Later in the afternoon we found a herd of about ten, with a couple of young bulls and one larger bull, bedded on a hillside but starting to stir.  Carl anticipated their route perfectly.  We set up an ambush about a quarter of a mile away.  They ultimately passed side hill about 150 yards from us but the best bull in the group was not quite a “proper Eland” yet.

Carl remained upbeat and confident.  “This area has a lot of old bulls I saw while scouting that we haven’t seen yet.  We’ll find them eventually,” he predicted.

The rest of that afternoon and evening those bulls continued to elude us.  However, in the closing light as we were returning to the lodge, we took advantage of an opportunity to take a wonderful trophy Springbok.

We ended the day with a fine animal and undaunted by our failure to find the proper Eland.

We ended the day with a fine animal and undaunted by our failure to find the proper Eland.

We decided to give the Eland some time to get more cooperative the next day and traveled to a different area where we unsuccessfully chased Vaal Rhebuck, but the following day we were back searching for a proper Eland.  Early in the day it appeared the Eland were going to be as frustrating as they had previously been. But it was not to be.

We spotted some Eland in a valley that appeared to have at least one very promising bull.  The wind seemed right.  We anticipated a fairly level, easy stalk of a quarter-mile or so up the valley to get set up for a good shot.  But Carl, Jose Hernandez, my wife, Teresa, and I, hadn’t gone more than about 25 yards before we realized the wind was swirling.  We were going to have to climb to the top of the ridge and make a long loop around on the ridge-line to get into position while keeping the wind in our favor.

I have learned that things can change quickly in Africa, and as we got out of the truck for what was supposed to be an easy stalk I had slipped a bottle of water into a cargo pocket of my pants.  I was glad I did.

We had a relatively short, but very steep climb to the top of the ridge.  It was in full sun and the morning was already getting hot.  I felt like I was on a sheep hunt, but Carl’s 300 Win. Mag.  with its scope and suppressor must have weighed about twice as much as the  lightweight .270 I am used to carrying on climbs.   After a short but steep climb the ridge-line transitioned into a more gradual long, steady grind uphill.   As the morning wore on the heat became more intense and I was sweating profusely.   My wife’s encouragement and the last-minute water bottle kept me going.


Making a wide loop, we eventually reached a spot where a slight downhill into a shallow swale and then a brief short climb though some moderately thick brush, totaling about 500 yards, should bring us to a spot above our Eland.  I was dragging, but could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Hunting on my own, I would have covered the distance relatively quickly.  Carl, however, continued to move slowly, glassing constantly.  I figured he was giving me the opportunity to recover from the climb and be more rested for the shot when we got to our objective.  That’s why he’s the professional hunter.

We had only gone about a hundred yards when Carl slowly melted to the ground and gestured to the rest of us to get down and be quiet.  After a couple of minutes of glassing, he set up the shooting sticks next to him for a sitting shot and motioned me to stay down, but crawl forward.

Reaching his side, Carl whispered, “These are two of the bulls we have been looking for but have not seen yet.”  Despite the fairly high brush, about two-thirds of two bulls’ bodies cleared the top of the vegetation about 100 yards away.  “The one on the left,” Carl whispered.  The sitting shot on the sticks was rock solid, the bull was broadside and filled most of the scope, and the red dot of the lighted reticule painted the point of the shoulder.

At the shot, the bull spun 180 degrees and headed downhill, disappearing into the brush.  As he disappeared everything went quiet—we did not hear him crashing away.  “You hit him perfect!!” Carl assured me.  We circled uphill a bit to get a better perspective then worked our way to the last sighting of the bull.

We found him piled up less than 25 yards from where he had stood.

We found him piled up less than 25 yards from where he had stood.

He was truly a proper Eland.  The horns had massive bases, but the length was worn to stout posts and the spiral ridges were blurred.  He had it all—the horns, a heavy red-brown forehead “mop,” a huge dewlap, massive size, and a blue-gray cape.


I thought I had a place for him in my trophy room.  After recently getting the approximate measurements from the taxidermist and measuring my space, now I am not so sure.  One of the first questions I ever had about hunting Eland is coming back to haunt me:  Now that I have him, what am I going to do with him?”


But it’s a great problem to have.

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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