Posts Tagged ‘Bushpig’


The month of May saw us welcome back many old faces, with some bringing along new friends to experience South Africa for the very first time. Others joined us for their annual hunt to the East Cape picking up the shooting sticks with old friends as if their previous safaris had never ended. While I am yet to meet a hunter who has not thoroughly enjoyed his safari with us,  nothing quite comes close to the compliment of a returnee. For that individual to choose John X Safaris as his/her choice destination for a second, third, fourth, and in some instances even 9th trip, speaks volumes louder than words.

Dave and Ruth Stark were back on their second hunt with Professional Hunter, Greg Hayes, looking to pursue another Kudu, and then complete their Springbuck slam. They headed up into a newly acquired concession, bagging a number of great animals along the way. Their Lechwe, Cape Eland, and Common Springbuck, proved to be certain highlights on their hunt, as well as the continues pursuit of the kind of Kudu Greg was after for Dave.

The rut was running late, and even with the best planning and optimum moon conditions the bulls just weren’t moving like they usually do at mid-May each year. Never the less Dave came out more determined each morning giving it his all. After having seen numerous shooters the Kudu gods finally won this round, but we are certain Dave will be back to give it another go in a couple of years time.


With the departure of the Stark’s we welcomed our old Spanish friends from Camino Real Hunting Consultants. Alvaro, Danny, and Roberto, had become great friends while hunting various destinations throughout Asia, Europe, and North America. Their passion for free-range mountain hunting in the wide expanses of the Great Karoo is what drew them to the East Cape on this particular hunt.


The top priority on this safari would be the manner in which they preferred to hunt. In saying this it wasn’t that it differed from our usual approach, but it took on a greater meaning once one understood their motto; “Don’t turn down what the mountain offers.” 

And they didn’t….

Klipspringer, Vaal Rhebuck, Mountain Reedbuck, and East Cape Kudu, hunted hard each day from dawn to dusk. Having experienced Tanzania previously, neither Danny or Roberto had envisaged the East Cape to offer the diversity and possibilities on free range game and the hunting thereof. With our multi-area greater conservancies in the Karoo we could offer them something they could never have experienced elsewhere in Africa.

With the main priority species having hit the salt we turned our attention to further free range opportunities in the north before heading back south to the coast for the final leg of our trip.

The entire hunt turned out to be a fantastic trip with three great guys, all sharing the same enthusiasm to hunt hard, never turning down what the hunting gods offered. All three were proven excellent marksman, making numerous unbelievable shots throughout their stay with us. But in the end it doesn’t matter how hard you hunt or how well you shoot – it all starts with the hunters attitude, which proved to be the biggest winner of all. Luck will naturally come to those who choose to have fun, but none more so than the luck of a Spaniard hunting two dream pigs within the space of 12 hours.

Felicidades cablleros! Que caceria la que disfrutamos con ustedes!

By the time late May arrived we eagerly awaited John and Lynn Nowlin’s arrival for their 2016 hunt, which would see them embark on their ninth trip with John X Safaris, a special feat for all involved. Having guided them throughout Southern Africa they decided it was time to return to the point of their original “first” experience of the dark continent. This time they would be after a couple of mountain dwellers, with the usual opportunistic favorites being their species of choice. Professional Hunter, Ed Wilson, once again led the hunt in what has become something of a tradition.


Having hunted a Vaal Rhebuck on a previous safari, the Nowlin’s were game for a second dual in the mountains. This time John hunted a challenging Klipspringer and this amazing 9″ Vaal Rhebuck.

Both John and Lynn made the most of their opportunities on Caracal over hounds, Impala, Cape Bushbuck, Mountain Reedbuck and Warthog, but nothing could come close to the Eland they bumped into on their very last day.


For one to even start to comprehend the quality of this animal, one has start and end at the mop and dewlap on this once in a lifetime Cape Eland. While we hunt many great bulls each year – this one in particular will take some beating by the time our season gets wrapped up in late October. How fitting an end it proved to be on the Nowlin’s last day of their 9th hunt with John X Safaris. More deserving folks one cannot get – the harder they try, the luckier they keep getting…. the more often they come.

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

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

Gunwerks2015_ 4

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

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

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

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

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

JXS CTB Cover 2015

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

_J0C6732 - Copy - Copy

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

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

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

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


USA – January/February 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Carl, Trish, Brett & Abigail Van Zyl

Lalibela, December 2015

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

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

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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!

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Over the course of the past 12 years I have seen the likes of many great hunts enjoyed by numerous lucky hunters. Hunts that carried the camaraderie so familiar to those who choose to share a camp fire in a distant land on a grand adventure. Where trophies abound and the journey that is a safari, is cherished by not the weight of the bag, but more so the greater part that is the experience.


Gunwerks owner, Aaron Davidson, with his East Cape Kudu from our 2015 hunt.

On this particular hunt it was not only the enormity of the experience, but the added bonus of world-class trophies hitting the salt at a regular basis. It does however go without saying, if it weren’t for the Gunwerks rifles and the technology behind the system, we would not have enjoyed the success we did.

In our growing partnership, together with Gunwerks, it has been rewarding to see the expertise the PH’s have developed under the guidance of the Gunwerks pros. Today we look back at those initial hunts as our first “lessons” in long-range shooting. As each group came and passed the guys have mastered new facets in the requirements of long-range safaris.


Together with Aaron, Mike, Garrett, and Kregg, we have developed the ultimate long-range safari, giving long-range enthusiast the opportunity to test and improve their long-range shooting expertise. In one safari, you can get a lifetime of long-range hunting experience.

This year saw first timers Jesse Stout, aka “Super Hunter Rule Maker”, and “Long Shot” Trevor Kruger, join us on their first safaris to Africa, while second time returnee and old friend, Peter Corrado, invited his son, Dominic along for an epic father/son battle for long-range supremacy. As for the Gunwerks crew we once again enjoyed the company of owner, Aaron Davidson, and our good friend, Garrett Wall.

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All in all the guys impressed us to no end. The shooting ability of both the pros and what I like to refer to “the up and coming pros” was outstanding, without a doubt the highest standard to date by any group. There were a number of memorable shots over the 700 yard mark, then there were some in that 750-1000 yard range, and of course we once again witnessed a couple of freak shots over a 1000 yards. But for that and much, much more, you will have to wait for our upcoming shows during 2016 on Gunwerks Long Range Pursuit on the Sportsman Channel. For now… Without giving away too much, join us for some of the epic setups and a sneak preview of a couple of fantastic shots.

Be warned – the trophy quality, challenging shots, and all the drama in between is something not to be missed…..

Want to be a part of the Gunwerks 2016 group to John X Safaris?


Still not sure? Maybe this may help your decision! Eat your heart out and enjoy the quality these hunters came away with during our 2015 safari.

From Mike Davidson

Looking over the guys trophy pictures from this last safari, having sat on the sidelines, totally envious, I can’t wait for our 2016 hunt with John X Safaris.

The funny thing is, I was never interested in hunting Africa until I had the opportunity to do so in 2014. That experience saw me enjoy one of the most amazing places in the world to hunt.

I would like to personally invite you to travel with myself and others from the Gunwerks crew to experience South African hunting at its finest. We will once again be heading back to the East Cape with John X Safaris.

There are very few outfitters who understand long-range shooting and even fewer who will actually let you hunt long-range. Carl and his crew are aware and understand that being able to shoot at further distances only increases the potential of harvesting the biggest and most elusive of trophies. In fact, they are so tuned into long-range shooting and hunting, that they will be able to put you in the perfect position to take the shot. They put the wind, terrain and every other factor in your favor, giving you the time and opportunity you need to make the shot count. You will be amazed by the sheer number of trophy quality animals, size of the hunting areas, and beauty of Africa.

This is one long-range hunting trip you do not want to miss.

Join the Gunwerks team in July 2016 for an action packed safari experience. Call 877.486.9375 or e-mail Mike on mike@gunwerks.com , alternatively feel free to reach Carl on hunting@johnxsafaris.co.za for more details.

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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This year saw the return of Max and Pam King once again. Having thoroughly enjoyed their first hunt with Professional Hunter, Greg Hayes, tracker, Bless, and Jack Russel, Jock, they were back to enjoy the diversity of the East Cape, as well as meeting the newest member to the team, Jackson. Thanks to Max we had diverted Greg off naming his new dog “Hammer” – Thank goodness for that!

The plan was for the hunt to start in the north as a Vaal Rhebuck was one of Max's priority species. Unfortunataly, their arrival coincided with our first cold spel of the year.

The plan was for the hunt to start in the north as a Vaal Rhebuck was one of Max’s priority species. Unfortunately, their arrival coincided with our first cold spell of the year.

Never the less, the guys kept at it, seeing a number of Vaal Rhebuck whenever the weather gave them the slightest chance.


And when it finally did give them an opportunity they got lucky on a great old ram.

Having spent a couple of days in the north, the safari headed back south to warmer weather and a baited Bushpig that would gain legendary status by the time the safari came to an end.

The pigs were feeding beautifully night after night during the month leading up to Max’s hunt. The ground work had been done. The pigs were on bait and a blind was built. All it would take from here on wards was a bunch of patience and a little bit of luck.

Past experience had told us, get into the blind early and wait - The guys did exactly that.

Past experience had told us, check your lights, get into the blind early, and wait – The guys did exactly that.

Night after night the guys headed to the blind. And each evening the sow and her piglet’s would come in to feed, giving the hunters enough action to keep their appetites going.


The boar not once came in with the sow and piglet’s, and when he did our cameras would catch him in action, feeding tentatively, as if he knew something was up.

Realizing this particular boar was somewhat of a “Chevy with different hub caps”, Greg and Max started looking around more and more each evening. Surely he wasn’t far? Soon they noticed the big old boar in the shadows beyond the feeding frenzy. He would pace up and down, but never dared enter the area under the feeder, where a dim red light was lighting up the outlines of the various pigs feeding contentedly. He had been happy to feed under the light all month-long, but now trusted his sixth sense.

Between their nightly vigils the crew kept their score ticking over each day, enjoying a number of good hunts in some beautiful country.

Then each evening, as the previous, they would head back for a rematch with the smartest Bushpig in Africa. And each evening they’d retire back to camp when all were worn out and done, having given it their best shot.

With the Bushpig hunting dominating proceedings it was decided that a break would be the best cure for two despondent hunters and a smart Bushpig. It was possibly the best approach after going at it that hard.

An afternoon duck shoot sounded like a welcome break.

An afternoon duck shoot sounded like a welcome break.

The birds came in hard and fast, giving us a great shoot right up until dark when all we could was hear them hitting the water with nothing to aim at. An enjoyable afternoon was enjoyed by all to say the least!

The birds came in hard and fast, giving us a great shoot right up until dark when all we could hear was the ducks hitting the water with nothing to aim at. An enjoyable afternoon to say the least!

On the second last evening of their safari, having sat in the blind for a fifth night, and still no pig to show for their efforts, Max dully summed up the match; “5-0 Retired hurt.”  They had given their all and then some. Committed and dedicated to the point of obsession right to the end.

And then on our last evening, while we were enjoying one another’s company toasting our friendship and the safari that had been, our fury friend decided to rub further salt into battered wounds….

Of course he'd come, joining the rest of his group at 18:45, like clock work old sport!

Of course he’d come, joining the rest of his group at 18:45. “Like clock work old sport!”- Max would say.

His sixth sense had won him not only the day, but the entire match.

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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There’s a common believe amongst African folk that any given flock of Ground Hornbills should always group in odd numbers, but apparently someone forgot to teach them how to count.


For the past few days my good friend, Johnny Posey, and I have been trying to keep a head count of each flock of Ground Hornbills while enjoying the rigors of a Leopard hunt in Mozambique’s Zambezi Delta. It’s not necessarily bothering us, but ever since the guys made mention of this fact around the camp fire we’ve started noticing how many of these peculiar birds can’t count. Day in and day out we’ve noticed odd number flocks, but more often than not it’s been even numbers.

Contrary to popular believe we’ve come to the conclusion that either the 100 degree heat has affected the birds ability to account for the rest of their flock… or Africa has once again proven how mysterious she can be. How else can one explain it? A mystery of diversity, as diverse as the past month at John X Safaris.


From 1200 yard shots to bachelor parties and African weddings. From exciting adventures to lifelong memories, and ultimately from strangers to friends – that has been the safari world of John X Safaris. We’ve seen families united, reliving childhood memories, while broken relationships have been healed by the African bush. It has always amazed us how much good such a relatively short period of time such as a safari can do.

For Mike Grier it would be his third return trip to John X Safaris, together with good friends, Tyler Geer and Tom Lincoln. For both Tom and Tyler it would be their first taste of Africa – a taste so sweet it would be hard to see them not back again in the near future.

Having started in the south, the guys enjoyed memorable days hunting from our coastal area before heading north to the Great Karoo. A number of great trophies  was just reward for the endless effort put in by the group.


A certain highlight of the hunt was to be Mike's long-awaited Bushpig, never an easy specie to pursue, but one certainly worth the wait!

A certain highlight of the hunt was to be Mike’s long-awaited Bushpig, never an easy specie to pursue, but one certainly worth the wait!

With Mike, Tyler, and Tom heading back state side, we welcomed the Motley family for a short, but action packed safari. The species the family were after meant the family would spend most of their hunt up in the north, before heading to Cape Town with Freewalker Luxury Tours. As per usual a couple of days of R&R at Lalibela with big 5 game drives was a must and one the entire family truly enjoyed.


To Mark, Patrice, Lauren, and Caden, congratulations on a superb collection of trophies – From all reports both Greg and Stix enjoyed your hunt immensely!

With July coming to an end we entered one of our busiest periods of the season. The arrival of Gunwerks saw a hive of activity erupt as we geared up for our second season of hunting and filming for “Gunwerks Long Range Pursuit TV”.


This year proved to be bigger and better than last season with owners, Aaron and Mike Davidson, hosting the hunt in South Africa. Joining them was first timers, Sam Cunningham and “Uncle” Don Roberts, as well as the father/son duo of Graham and Sebastian Turner.


Mike and Aaron Davidson.

Each hunter had used the Gunwerks rifle system before and came prepared. The level of understanding of what the guns were capable of made a great impression on us – as the results would prove later on.

Aaron and Mike Davidson teamed up with Professional Hunters, Carl Van Zyl and Rusty Coetzer, respectively, treating the guys to a shooting exhibition like few have seen before. These guys were the men behind the system, and how interesting it proved to be….

While the men behind Gunwerks were keeping us busy, so were the rest of the group too.

Sam Cunningham enjoyed a memorable hunt with Professional Hunter, Stix Hoole, taking over proceedings on any species that anyone else wished to pass on. Sam arrived open-minded, ready for the adventure, and man did he walk away with a very fine selection of trophies. During the course of the safari both he and Stix struck up a special bond between PH and hunter, one that sees a hunting career being built on. It seems Sam enjoyed his hunt that much that on the last day of his safari he had already confirmed his next hunt with John X Safaris – a Leopard hunt in our new concession in Namibia, but more on that later.

With Sam clearly leading the pack on species, the rest of the pack weren’t going to be left in the dust. Having met Don Roberts briefly on the opening day of SCI, Las Vegas 2014, I knew he would be a sure member of this years group. Needless to say, the very next day he and his beautiful wife were back at booth # 850 booking Don’s hunt.

Since then we’ve come to know the stranger a lot better and proudly call him a great friend. “Uncle Don” as he is now fondly referred to enjoyed success on a number of species, and together with PH, Martin Niper, proved to be one of the luckiest team of hunters out there!

A huge Kudu, Fallow Deer, Nyala , and Bushbuck were some of their best, but it was Uncle Don’s Sable that inspired me the most.


Picture the scene, I had just come into camp off one of the tallest mountains in our newly secured 80 000 acre concession in the Great Karoo, having been after Eland for most of the day with Aaron , when Uncle Don meets me at the door pleading to have a word. Immediately the alarm bells start ringing in my head – what could have happened today that Uncle Don wants to see me so urgently? Then I notice the frown on his brow turn into a smile, asking;” Carl , today I saw the most beautiful animal I have ever seen in my life…. What are the chances that I could hunt it?” As they say the rest is history! Uncle Don got his Sable, and a beauty at that, not to mention that smile he has yet to wipe off his face!

Professional Hunter, Dave Burcy, teamed up with Graham and Sebastian Turner, for a selection of species they had not hunted before. This was to be a multiple return trip to South Africa for the Turners, before they headed up to Mozambique for the second part of their safari.

The guys did extremely well in both South Africa and Mozambique – coming away with a number of dream trophies.

As early August rolled along, with Gunwerks still enjoying our northern areas we welcomed a wedding party on safari to our southern base, Lalibela. The change of the season was upon us, with us ultimately deciding it was time to open up Treetops lodge again after the cold winter. Treetops proved to be the fairytale setting to what turned out to be one hell of a safari and wedding.

Father/son duo of Wade and Casey Fairchild enjoyed a memorable hunt with PH, Tyrone Schulpfort,  while mom in law, Michelle and bride, Rusmira, joined in on the action too.

As I’ve come to expect from Tyrone, that is since I’ve known him from the 3rd grade, always expect the unexpected! I’ve always believed that each PH should enjoy the privilege of planning his daily hunt as he wishes, as long as it maintains our high standards, and keeps all involved, firstly safe, and secondly, very happy on safari. Tyrone not only ensured a memorable trip was enjoyed by all, but mixed hard hunting with down time at the beach, a day of shopping here and there, and ultimately ensuring a dream African wedding for the wedding couple.

The Fairchild’s enjoyed a truly memorable hunt with a wedding and setting like no other. To the John X ladies who put the wedding together, I fear I may have to start a wedding service business – you’ve all missed your calling in life! What you ladies put together not only blew my mind, but all who were present too,  thank you.

I sign off this past months report with pictures from a fairytale wedding… Congratulations Mr and Mrs Fairchild… It was not only beautiful, but spectacular ….


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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If you thought 2014 couldn’t get any better, then don’t feel alone, I was sitting on the banks of the Zambezi River a mere three weeks ago counting my blessings and wondering how the remainder of the season would pan out? I’ll be honest, at that moment I was sipping a cold locally brewed Mozambican 2M with my good friend Jeff Edland, savoring the success of the days hunt. At our feet lay a known man-eater, at 14 foot in length and more than a meter at the belly, one could understand the fear the locals had for this Crocodile.

It had not been an easy hunt, the wind wasn’t perfect and the day had been long. Numerous Crocs had been seen, two of them meeting the requirements we were after, but nothing had come from endless patience. We had given up, called it a day, and then no more than a mile from our landing site there he was. Jeff made another telling shot – this time at 70 yards off sticks – and if you’re thinking what’s the big fuss at 70 yards? Go try hitting the centre out of an Oreo cookie at 70 yards without a dead rest. It’s tough!

It had not been an easy hunt, the wind wasn’t perfect and the day had been long. Numerous Crocs had been seen, two of them meeting the requirements we were after, but nothing had come from endless patience. We had given up, called it a day, and then no more than a mile from our landing site there he was. Jeff made another telling shot – this time at 70 yards off sticks – and if you’re thinking what’s the big fuss at 70 yards? Go try hitting the centre out of a Oreo cookie at 70 yards without a dead rest. It’s tough!

Jeff not only enjoyed success on a huge Crocodile, but a first night Leopard over hounds had set our safari off on the right foot. Our hounds man Coenraad had expressed his concern over rain that was expected later that week, and he wanted to give it a go on that very first night. We trusted our man on the ground and within hours had a big tom treed.

To say that it was a relief would have been an understatement! Forget the success rate ratios - As described to me by a friend of mine, the famous Zimbabwean Leopard hunter, Lou Halimore, " It's a 50/50 - Either get one or you don't!" We had ours! And at that a beauty!

To say that it was a relief would have been an understatement! Forget the success rate ratios – As described to me by a friend of mine, the famous Zimbabwean Leopard hunter, Lou Hallamore, ” It’s a 50/50 – Either you get one or you don’t.” We had ours – And at that a beauty!

And that’s the way our Mozambican hunt went… The trophies speak for themselves and the adventure enjoyed with our old friends and hosts, Poen and Zandre, was a treat and as good as ever. Poen, together with our local trackers, Gotchi and Albieno, have become an extension of John X Safaris in Mozambique. Seldom does a day pass without unexpected adventure, with the quality of the hunting a given…

Back south in South Africa, we welcomed Steve and Charlene Galas, as well as the father/son duo of Dan and Jake Tomcheck. For both parties it was to be their first hunt with John X Safaris, enjoying both our coastal and northern Karoo areas.

Steve and Charlene teamed up with Professional Hunter, Ross Hoole, hunting a variety of plains game. An outstanding Gemsbuck and Kudu hunt was some of Steve’s favorites, but a certain highlight for us was Steve’s Waterbuck. From time to time one stumbles upon an interesting trophy, one that sees one becoming addicted in its pursuit.

For Steve and Ross it turned out to be a superb Waterbuck, the only catch, this bull had broken its right horns’ tip during the course of their hunt. It was now more than “just” the hunt, there was a story… In the end they did get him, and while many would wonder about their quest in turning down so many good bulls to hunt this particular bull, I and others who knew what they were after could appreciate their dedication. He may have had a broken tip, but the broken horn still tipped off at 27”, while the other 32”. A trophy of a lifetime in my eyes, and story to go with it.

For Dan and Jake Tomcheck, joining Professional Hunter, Greg Hayes, it was to be a truly special safari. Since the start of our father/son hunts we’ve been overwhelmed by the response of so many of you. But the added bonus that was not expected has been the reward of seeing fathers and sons spending quality time together, and ultimately rekindling relationships and family bonds without external distractions.

The hunting proved to be a treat under the guidance of Greg and tracker, Bless. From the coastal forests, to the plains of the Karoo, and finally up onto the mountains in the north…

With early July rolling on it was time to welcome our extended family from Reno, Nevada. Over the years we at John X Safaris have been privileged to host many hunters from around the world, some come on that once in a lifetime safari, others a couple more times, then there are those who form part of the family, coming every other year. They bring their kids, their friends, and families – ultimately bringing them home to Africa as often as they can.

One such family is the Robinson family. Steve had first joined us on safari with our good friend, Rich Adams, many years ago and since has shared a number of memorable safaris with us. Since that first hunt, Steve has introduced his wife, Linda, as well as kids, Ashley, Hunter, and Kaley, to African safaris. Our families have grown together, enjoying many trips throughout southern Africa.

This year proved to be one of our most enjoyable safaris to date. Together with the Robinson’s, we welcomed the Pitts and Tripp families. The plan was for the entire group to spend four days at Lalibela, and then the girls would head down to Cape Town with Trish, while the boys headed to the Karoo for some more hunting. From there we would all meet for the last two days of our safari down in Knysna on the Garden Route.

An action packed safari it proved to be with a number of record-breaking trophies hitting the salt. A 55 3/8’’ East Cape Kudu for Bo Tripp was the trophy of a lifetime, not to mention an awesome Klipspringer and Waterbuck with the family. Arnie and Hunter Pitts made for quality entertainment with some trick shooting, with humor like no other. My team of Steve and Hunter were as solid as ever, with Steve hunting a magnificent Kalahari Springbuck of 17’’, while Hunter stole the limelight with an epic old Bushpig we’d been after for quite some time.


While the “seasoned” hunters may have dominated the hunting in numbers, it was the junior hunters whom most impressed us. Two very special young ladies reminded us what it was all about and why we enjoy our passion for hunting. To Kaley Robinson and Abie Tripp – Congratulations on some exceptional shooting and a great bunch of trophies!

Meanwhile down in Cape Town the girls were warming up to their new-found slogan of “Living on the Edge”…. Yes folks adventure sport junkies to say the least! From the V&A Waterfront to the Nelson Mandela Apartheid Museum, Cape Point to Table Mountain and Paragliding off Lions Head, to Great White Shark cage diving. That and so much more…

All in all it proved to be a mammoth safari to say the least. The combination of hunting, Big 5 photographic safaris, and the Garden Route to Cape Town sight-seeing tour, provided for first class vacationing. The fun and games never stopped from the minute the group arrived to the day they left.

As mid July rolled along we welcomed our partners from Blaser, Marc Hillerman, and hunter, Jan Bredensen. They joined Professional Hunter, Ross Hoole, for a week of mountain hunting. Over the course of the week the guys hunted hard, enjoying long hikes with hours of glassing, hoping to find what they were after.

During their quest they hunted a variety of species including a Caracal with hounds, Blesbuck and Common Duiker, but their mountain species is what they had come for, and wow were they impressive…

A 9 3/8’’ Vaal Rhebuck...

A 9 3/8’’ Vaal Rhebuck…

A 7 4/8’’ Mountain Reedbuck...

A 7 4/8’’ Mountain Reedbuck…

And 4’’ Klipspringer.

And 4’’ Klipspringer.

Eat your hearts out all you mountain dwellers! These three would be the pride of any mountain hunters’ trophy room.

I’m still in awe at a number of trophies from the past three weeks. As I said before, who would have thought it could get any better, considering the season we’ve had to date, but our areas keep producing the goods and the teams on the ground keep providing world-class experiences.

As I sign off this month’s report, we find ourselves spread across the Eastern Cape. In the north we have our old friend Mike Grier, together with Tom Lincoln and Tyler Geer, back on his third hunt with John X Safaris, while Jose, Trish, and I, are giving back to the industry with our annual PHASA donated hunt. We’re looking forward to a busy period running into early August before we set sail to Mozambique once again.

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

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

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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