January and February found John X Safaris spread right across the world. Carl together with Jose, Brett Nelson, Dave Harwood, and Steve Evers, were crisscrossing the United States/Mexico on our annual marketing trip, while back home in South Africa, Trish was leading from the office.
At the same time we had our first hunts for the year. Traditionally January has not been a popular hunting month, mostly due to the heat, with temperatures often topping 100 degrees fahrenheit. It makes for extremely early mornings, hoping to catch the game out between 4-8am each morning, and then surviving the midday onslaught of heat, to be topped off by a late afternoon hunt ending after 7pm each evening.
The few brave souls who dared the heat came warned, but they stuck it out and truly kicked off our season in style.
Each year one hopes for a positive start, a lucky omen to get proceedings underway in the best possible manner. To say that the 2014 season shot off at a running start would be an understatement…..
With a start like that we were off to a flying start. From the coast the guys headed north in pursuit of Gemsbuck, Kudu and Zebra. Having arrived in the north and having spent only two days hunting, Bob and Kevin received an urgent call from home. Back south the hunting party had to head and barely made it in time for the last flight out of Port Elizabeth that day. A few days later we received the sad news of the passing of Bob’s mom – our condolences go out to the Stone family. We wish you well and look forward to seeing you again later this year or early next year to pick up from where we left off.
Soon thereafter saw the arrival of Max and Pam King. It’s been some time now since we’ve hosted Australians, and what a pleasure it was. Professional Hunter, Greg Hayes, picked up from where Ross and the Stones started, bagging a number of world-class trophies.
The hunt started from one of our new mountainous areas – with scenes like this breath-taking one a daily blessing.
A Red Lechwe was not at the top of Max’s wish list upon arrival, but after having seen the quality and sure abundance of Lechwe, Max decided a Lechwe would most certainly be making a home for itself in Australia.
Pam joined Max on some of his hunts, but mostly came away with an array of great wildlife shots whilst out on game drive.
Having hunted throughout Africa, it was always going to take a special effort to find the “right” Nyala for Max. The fact that it had to be big was a given, but Max had a certain shape in mind too….
Having arrived back home to a skinning shed full of world-class trophies, even bigger stories of their adventures, and the mere fact that any PH can only take so much from a computer – I mustered up the troops and went on my annual pre-season scout. I usually take a week to get a feel for the areas after the off-season, just to be sure the summer rains had arrived in most our areas and that the game was looking good. You couldn’t call it a scout, it only lasted a week, and we barely covered 200 000 of our 3 000 000 + acres of concessions. In fact we scout all year to ensure we know where to find the best for our hunters, but this sounded like a pretty good excuse after six weeks of winter in the US.
We found all we were looking for and then some…. The rains had arrived, our management principles and foundations seem stronger and better than ever – The quality of the game was astounding, and the views reminded Ross, Greg, and I, how lucky we are to call this our office and hunting our job.
Leaving you with sights like these, we bid you farewell for the next two weeks – we’re heading out on safari this morning – It feels like a vacation already!