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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Orange Grove

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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…



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



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….


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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….


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.


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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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…


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.

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….

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June once again proved to be a successful period to hunt the East Cape. Apart from hosting Larry Pendleton and Paul Valentine whom you have previously read about in  , we had the pleasure of welcoming back Lawrence Trunk on his 3rd hunt with John X Safaris. Joining Lawrence was fellow hunter Chris Perdomo on his first African safari.

Chris Perdomo with a well earned Springbuck.

Chris Perdomo with a well-earned Springbuck.

Chris teamed up with Professional Hunter, Greg Hayes, and tracker, Bless, hunting a variety species. Starting off with an Impala and Burchell’s Zebra on his first day set the tone for one great hunt. Chris worked hard for his game, sharing many a story around the dinner table in the evenings, retelling the events from the days hunt. His excitement and enthusiasm for Africa and hunting became infectious for all to enjoy, finally coming away with a variety of great animals as just reward for a deserving hunter.

While Chris enjoyed the benefits of unlimited variety of species that every first timer enjoys, our old friend, Lawrence Trunk, had a few limited East Cape specific species he was after. Having hunted many of the available species on his previous African hunts, this hunt with Professional Hunter, Carl van Zyl, would be one focused on some of the toughest critters out there. To add even further challenge to the hunts at hand, Lawrence as always would be packing one of his trusty handguns as weapon of choice.

A Blue Duiker in the coastal forest, adjacent to the Indian Ocean, is always an exciting prospect. Lawrence's ram being the first we've ever taken with a hand gun - no easy feat to say the least.

A Blue Duiker in the coastal forest, adjacent to the Indian Ocean, is always an exciting prospect. Lawrence’s ram being the first we’ve ever taken with a hand gun – no easy feat to say the least.

And so with a Blue Duiker in the bag and a couple of nights in the blind waiting on a group of Bushpig to hit the bait, we opted for a Bushpig hunt with hounds. In our part of the world, like with many other hunting cultures, pig hunting with hounds is conducted by a certain special group of people. These hunters are dedicated to the point of obsession. Come rain or shine – they will hunt Bushpig EVERY Saturday.

Their dogs are their proudest possessions and a pig hunter’s lead dog may be ranked higher in the pecking order than some of his closet relatives. To the outsider its hard to fathom, let alone understand the obsession of gearing up and heading out on a pig hunt at 4am each weekend. But let me warn you, once you’ve learnt how to judge the hounds and their various tactics of baying, including the all important prediction of where they’re heading, its unbelievably addictive. Experiencing the action at close quarters in the midst of the thickest coastal undergrowth imaginable leaves ones heart racing with a touch of fear – hoping that a ragging Bushpig doesn’t choose you as his next victim. These pigs can be extremely aggressive once pursued and bayed, with many a hound or hounds man bearing sufficient scars to prove their experience from past hunts.

Lawrence's Bushpig proved to be one heck of a challenging hunt. With the pig finally coming to bay in a small stream, a shot had to be made at extremely close quarters. At 5 yards to be exact!

Lawrence’s Bushpig proved to be one heck of a challenging hunt. With the pig finally coming to bay in a small stream, a shot had to be made at extremely close quarters. At 5 yards to be exact!

With the excitement of the Bushpig hunt behind us, and having gathered our breath after a lengthy three-hour chase, it was time to get our pig out of there – A 2 mile hike up the gorge to the nearest road.

Like I said - These Bushpig hunters are a breed of their own. The smallest guy in the team walked up to Lawrence's downed pig, transformed it into a back-pack within minutes and started the 2 mile hike . And in case you were wondering if he stopped along the way to rest? Not once!

Like I said – These Bushpig hunters are a breed of their own. The smallest guy in the team walked up to Lawrence’s downed pig, transformed it into a back-pack within minutes and started the 2 mile hike. And in case you were wondering if he stopped along the way to rest? Not once!

With Lawrence and Chris’s hunts coming to an end it was time to welcome new comer Freddie Seeds to the John X family. We had met at SCI this past January in Vegas, and from the outset it looked like this was going to be a hunt for the ages.


Freddie Seeds

Freddie owns and operates Bears Den Guides & Outfitters based out of New Mexico offering a variety of species including Mountain Lion, Bear, Elk and Antelope. Being an active guide himself he did his “homework” on finding the right outfitter which suited his needs for Africa, settling on John X Safaris.

Having chosen a 7mm manufactured by our long rage partners, Gunwerks, for this first hunt to John X Safaris proved to be a master stroke on his behalf. Guided by Professional Hunter, Ross Hoole, and having his safari filmed by GTS Productions videographer, Pierre Prins, has given you the opportunity to join Freddie and his team in the field as they head out in search of something big…. Enjoy the highlights – The hunting was superb and the shooting even better.

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 many of you would know Craig Boddington and John X Safaris have come a long way since that initial safari in the East Cape with Craig and family back in 2013. Over the course of the past two years our relationship has grown with Craig recommending John X Safaris to many a friend and hunter.

Craig, Donna, & Caroline Boddington on safari with John X Safaris during 2013.

So when Craig and his team contacted us a couple of months ago and asked if John X Safaris would like to be one of the chosen endorsed safari outfits in Africa – it didn’t take much guessing what our answer would be! It was not only a great compliment, but honor having Craig recognize John X Safaris amongst the top outfits in the world.

What exactly is a Craig Boddington Endorsed Outfitter?

BC_7423 Boddington Endorsed Logo_Outfitter_final (2)

The problem with hunting is that it is addictive. You spend time in camp having the time of your life and talking with fellow hunters. By the time you depart one camp, you’re planning your next hunt.

Next comes the research. These hunts aren’t cheap. The bigger the price…the more daunting the research. The Internet overwhelms. Chatting at a show booth is like leaping from holding hands to getting married. Yes, your buddy assured you outfitter X is the best for Species Y, but you know he’s only hunted that species once. The fun of the process diminishes as question marks abound. If only you had Craig Boddington’s satellite phone number. You could call and winnow these options down to the outfitter he would use for the species and region you’re interested in.


Craig has saved you an expensive satellite call by compiling a list of outfitters he has endorsed. Now you can search by region or species all under one site at Craig Boddington Endorsed Outfitters.

This week saw the launch of the Craig Boddington Endorsed Outfitters. Kevin Paulson of Huntinglife.com caught up with both Craig and John X Safaris for further comment on this new initiative. Below is a copy of the article published on Huntinglife.com.



By Kevin Paulson, Founder & CEO of HuntingLife.com

It is no secret that Col. Craig Boddington has had a pretty amazing career hunting across the world. It is also not a secret that Craig has seen a tremendous amount of great outfitters and legendary guides in his day. He has encountered some of the worst as well. You do not go on the kinds of hunts that Craig has experienced in his lifetime without having had some learning experiences along the way.


Col. Craig Boddington has been writing since 1979 while he served in the US Marine Corps. Craig served in the Marine Corps Reserves all the way up until 2005.  Craig has been a regular writer for Guns and Ammo and Petersen’s since 1979 making him one of the longest running writers in the outdoor market. Boddington is nothing if not prolific, having written over 4000 articles in his lifetime and 25 books. It is no question that Craig Boddington inspires me. I have yet to meet Donna, Craig’s wife, but I have had several conversations with Craig, his daughter Brittany and Conrad Evarts, his long time field producer and the CEO of Craig Boddington Endorsed Outfitters. There is no question that I am a tremendous fan of Craig and his work in our industry, as a conservationist and as a writer and hunter.

We had the opportunity to ask Craig a few questions before he took off for the Caprivi to chase elephants across open flood plains.

How did you come up with the idea of Boddington Endorsed Outfitters?

The concept emerged through “campfire discussions.” One of my limitations is I’m a terrible salesman and have absolutely no interest in being a “booking agent” and directly selling hunts…I learned this through a very brief stint in that business in the late 1970s, after I left active duty with the Marines and before I joined Petersen Publishing Company! Over the years, however, I have had extensive experience with outfitters and guides and have many friends in that industry that I trust…as well as innumerable readers and viewers who often ask for recommendations. CBEO developed as a means to put all this together.

What separates a good outfitter from a great outfitter?

A great outfitter must have really good areas and also exceptional organizational skills. With larger outfits, where the guides are hired by the outfitter while the outfitter does little or no actual guiding, the outfitter must also possess strong managerial skills.

What separates a good guide from a great guide?

Hunting skills and knowledge of areas and game to be hunted are essential for a “good” guide. A “great” guide quickly evaluates and takes on board his client’s wishes and expectations…and also his or her capabilities and limitations.

What kind of information should hunters get from outfitters before they depart on international hunts?

Good equipment lists, step-by-step instructions on what to expect through the clearance process for baggage and guns and, before booking, the hunter should understand exactly where he or she will be hunting, and be assured that the outfitter/operator has whatever legal means or documentation needed to ensure that the outfitter has authorization to hunt that area.

How can hunters educate themselves about the laws within a country they are intending to hunt?

The Internet is a great tool that will answer most questions, but when shopping for and booking a hunt one mustn’t be shy. It is perfectly okay to ask the hard questions: Is the operator fully licensed to outfit/guide in the area to be hunted? Does the outfitter have exclusive rights to the area to be hunted? Does the outfitter belong to and support his/her local guide association or the international professional bodies (IPHA, MOGA, APHA, etc.), and the international organizations such as SCI, DSC, etc.

We asked Conrad Evarts, CEO of Craig Boddington Endorsed Outfitters, how can an outfitter become a part of the endorsement program?

If Craig has an exceptional experience with an outfitter, we invite them. Occasionally, we take suggestions from trusted associates and then vet the outfitter. Craig Boddington Endorsed Outfitters simply alerts serious hunters when we discover exceptional outfitters.

I also had the opportunity to check in with Carl van Zyl of John X Safaris, one of the outfitters within CBEO, out of South Africa. Why should hunters use the Craig Boddington website to look up outfitters?

There are 3 simple reasons why hunters should use Craig Boddington website to look up Boddington recommended outfitters:  Craig’s incredible experience, knowledge, integrity.

The biggest challenge in selecting an outfitter is to figure out one you can trust.  Craig has been hunting Africa for 30 years.   He hasn’t just been there, he has personally hunted the areas where he makes recommendations. Craig knows where to hunt, and who are the trustworthy outfitters who will have both quality trophies, and a quality safari experience.

For first time hunters, choosing an outfitter is overwhelming.   There are literally hundreds of outfitters in South Africa.  For many the first safari is a major investment…maybe their trip of a lifetime.  There is incredible comfort knowing that The Expert they see on Boddington Experience TV knows a specific outfitter and can recommend him based upon personal experience.

For the veteran hunter returning on safari, it is often about finding an outfitter that can get you to the premier species you want to hunt.  Safari veterans know Craig from his many articles and his TV shows. If there is anyone up to speed on where to go for specific species, the name to trust is Boddington.  Craig is not only current on hunting areas, but also knows who has quota and quality animals you might want to pursue.

What is the value to outfitters for participating in this program?

Outfitters spend an incredible amount of time marketing their product.   They want to achieve the best fit of what they offer with the types of hunters booking.   If hunters have spent the time researching the Craig Boddington site, an Outfitter knows they are serious about their safari.  Looking for a Boddington endorsed outfitter shows that the hunter is looking for quality in terms of both the trophies and the hunting experience.

John X Safaris is looking for hunters who value the total safari experience.   We customize each safari to the hunter’s trophy quest, as well as each hunter’s abilities and experience.  The value of a hunter participating in the Boddington endorsed outfitter program means that he or she is looking for quality, not just price.

Craig is a strong advocate for involving youth and families in the experience of a safari, which is very consistent with our goals as an outfitter.  So John X Safaris is actively partnering in the Boddington endorsed outfitter program to find more of those hunters who value a safari experience – like those that Craig writes about and illustrates on his TV program.

We know when it is time to book our next hunt abroad, this will absolutely be one of the resources that we use!

CB office

So why John X Safaris; we asked? There are so many other outfits out there. What would the criteria be? Quite simply Craig replied; “I’d feel comfortable recommending John X Safaris to my best friend!”

Enjoy what else Craig had to say about John X Safaris @ Boddington on John X Safaris We sure are proud of being a part of Craig’s Endorsement.

There you have it fellow hunters, the next time you’re sharing stories from your last great adventure at John X Safaris with family and friends, be sure to let them know – It’s not only you recommending John X Safaris for their next African hunt, but Craig Boddington too.

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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