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Posts Tagged ‘Free Range Hunting’

By Cherise Ratliff

In South Africa, I felt freedom from dates and times. That doesn’t happen very often. At least not in my life. Every day is a somewhat predictable juggle of school starting, and work starting, and meetings starting, and school ending, and work ending, and dinner cooking, and bedtime going. On our recent trip, most of the time I had no idea what day it was, how long it was going to take for us to drive somewhere, or what time it was? I can’t tell you how refreshing that was. Our trip to Africa with the Horizon Firearms crew made me feel alive. I can’t decide if it’s sad or just reality that the majority of our lives are lived in a very small space. We drive the same routes, we follow the same schedule, we spend time with the same people, and we do the same things….. day in and day out. When you fly across the world and live life with people WAY outside of that space, something happens inside. Your heart explodes, your mind expands. It’s invigorating and fascinating, and returning to the mundane feels downright depressing. Don’t get me wrong, I missed my little boy with all my heart and couldn’t wait to hug his sweet body, and I missed my bed and my favorite people; however, going on adventures forces me to challenge the way I live and think, and it enhances my desire to plan for bigger and for more! An African safari of a lifetime will do that to you.

In Texas, we drive around on a ranch and get jazzed when spotting a whitetail deer or a hog. Usually the biggest question is how big the antlers were on the buck that was running away or standing in a sendero. With John X Safaris, you drive around and see a Kudu or Nyala or Wildebeest or Warthog or Reedbuck or Zebra or Mongoose or Meerkat or Monkey’s or Blesbuck or Impala or Steenbuck or Baboon or Hartebeest or Jackal or Ostrich or Gemsbuck or Eland or Springbuck or Giraffe or Bushbuck or Duiker … you get my point. “What is that? Did you see that? Look over there. Whoa, look at that thing!”  I believe that God’s creativity, sense of humor, and love for beauty in abundant wildlife is more evident in South Africa than anywhere else I’ve ever been. It is simply stunning.

We all look at life and people through a lens … a lens that has been crafted by our parents, our childhood experiences, our influencers, and the generally accepted ideals and behaviors of the society in which we live. When you travel internationally, you ‘aren’t in Kansas anymore.’ I love asking questions … probably at an annoyingly high rate. Stix and Ozzie thought they were going hunting, not educating a Texan “question-asker” about the history of South Africa, apartheid, Nelson Mandela, current political and cultural climates, the military’s engagement, Dutch and English influences, religious beliefs, racial differences, rugby and rowing, and boarding school (I still can’t get my head around children leaving home at age 5/6 for nine months of the year!). Right, wrong or indifferent, it’s not the same ballgame, and there are things to learn
and people to love all over the world.

Derrick always thanks me for giving stuff a try and having a pretty good attitude about it. I am fairly easily entertained and generally content in most situations. If I had 7 free days, would I choose to hunt during all of those days? Probably not. If I had the opportunity to spend 7 days with Derrick and some amazing new friends while hunting, would I enjoy it? Absolutely.

We took one day off from hunting to go on a photo safari at a nearby game reserve. The John X guys had said that the wives from past trips had gone on the excursion and loved it. It was nice – but it really and truly was JUST like a day hunting. We drove around in a truck looking for animals and got really excited when we found them. We actually saw way more wildlife species hunting with Stix than we did on the photo safari. I don’t think the wives who loved the photographic experience so much realized that they could have had just as much fun going out on the hunt … so ladies, you should try this hunting thing every once in a while. Be open-minded and give it a shot (no pun intended). I may never pull a trigger for the rest of my life, but I still find great joy in seeing Derrick get excited and being a part of the whole experience.

OK so John X Safaris … I have been on many hunts with Derrick throughout our years. We have never, ever been with an outfit like John X Safaris. Having been around the block a few times, I can say with confidence that John X Safaris really and truly is something special. As business owners and leaders, Derrick and I, were observing and analyzing the culture of excellence and family like atmosphere that they have created. Every need or desire was addressed before we even thought about it. From Trish’s pre-hunt correspondence to the arrival at camp. Our glasses were always full; the campfire always received an additional piece of wood when dwindling; a door was always opened for me. The young men who work at John X Safaris have been given some super lesson in style and service, and they were so genuine about it. Clayton even taught me how to Sokkie (African dance similar to our jitterbug) while Ben played the guitar in the “pub” for a couple of hours at the end of the day.

Our beds were turned down in the evenings. Our laundry was done every day. The food was A-mazing … seriously, every meal. Just as much effort went into presentation as taste. Thanks to Lee, Lindiwe, and their kitchen staff, we ate like kings and queens. Ever so thankful to them! I’m so glad Stix pushed us outside of our comfort zone and made us hike a few mountains to help burn some extra calories! The lodge is beautiful – a lovely new construction colonial themed complex centered around original late 1800s “ruins.” The rooms are stunning. The bar is always open. And they help create outings to experience shopping, photo safaris, spa treatments, taxidermist visits, and so much more. John X Safaris creates a destination for the whole family.

Stix was our PH (professional hunter). That’s a real, legit, educated thing over there. Stix is really, really good at what he does. I pretty much coined him Superman. And I can’t really imagine someone being better at what he does while still making every day as fun as he did. Stix is an anomaly of a person — rugged and capable in the world of hunting and wildlife, yet refined and charming in so many ways. He shared his love for Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and opera music, mixed in with some Eminem and Linkin Park. Educated at a high-end boarding school and studied at university to be a finance and accounting mastermind, he can spot a Vaal Rhebok on a mountain a thousand yards away like nobody’s business. He drinks green tea (and suffers much persecution for it from the rest of the PH’s), speaks three languages, kayaks marathons, and was “beaten by his English grandmother if he didn’t use the right knife at dinner.” I entered Derrick and Stix’ second year of friendship, and I hope I get to consider him a friend for life as well. His genuine character and kindness equally matches his ability to estimate a half-inch discrepancy on a Vaal Rhebuck horn from an adjacent mountaintop.

Ozzie – oh Ozzie! We were blessed with the addition of a pretty great cameraman from Got the Shot Productions, the filmmaker partner for John X Safaris. For Horizon Firearms, the video footage from a safari is one of the most valuable takeaways after the hunt is said and done. Real life long-range success helps build credibility and kick off conversations, and the budding partnership between John X Safaris and Horizon Firearms is best expressed through footage of our amazing hunts. Ozzie brought a whole new dimension to “Team Awesome” (as I liked to call us). From random video commentary about Frank the Happy Waterbuck and Samuel the South African Snowman, to serving as backseat iTunes DJ, Ozzie kept us laughing the entire week. His appreciation for beauty, his creative eye, his willingness to go above and beyond in all situations, and his mad drone flying skills have created great anticipation of the video we’ll be receiving at the end of the season. Oh and he’s a trail runner who runs 65K trail marathons to stay fit for packing his camera gear around the mountains – who does that?!

Jimmy, Olwethu, Puie, and Ivan were trackers, which is also a legit thing in South Africa. These fellas had been trained by PH’s to serve as their right hand men. Trackers make almost three times as much money as ranch hands (before tips) so their role is an honorable and coveted job in their culture. These guys are extremely valuable to any given safari. They are REALLY good at spotting wildlife (in our case, really tiny animals far, far away). They are also really good at climbing giant mountains as if they were child’s play. They help recover animals via sight, memory, blood trailing, or literally following vague tracks that were left by the hunted animal. Then they skin like a boss. The whole experience wouldn’t be the same without them, while observing how they live and interact with their world is a fascinating experience on its own. Jimmy is usually Stix’ head tracker, but Jimmy’s son had his “coming out” ceremony the week we were there. This process is the most important time in a young man’s life and occurs in their mid teen years. Apparently, they are beaten by their own tribesmen, sent into the wilderness for 3 weeks to survive, and occasionally visited by various men in their community who impart wisdom. If they survive, they are then circumcised (the old school way), declared a man, and receive a huge celebratory party. True story. So Stix engaged a variety of trackers during our time there.

Have I mentioned the stars yet? Try hanging out in the southern hemisphere in a place far from city lights … the stars will blow your mind. Ozzie stayed up till 2 am one night to capture a time-lapse of the stars for the Horizon Firearms video. I feel like we will be receiving a treasure. Ozzie used the cabin that Derrick and I stayed in as the fixed character in the time-lapse. As we slept, the millions of stars danced above us, moving in a perfect trajectory as the earth rotated on its axis through the night. Oh, and I saw the Southern Cross for the first time while Stix taught us how the sailors used it to find due south. Until the iPhone compass didn’t exactly agree, then we determined that the stars were broken!

When it was all said and done, I left a small piece of my heart in South Africa. I got comfy in my backseat spot in Stix’ truck, and I experienced the highs and lows of the hunt right along with the guys. While in Africa, Derrick kicked off his quest for the Tiny Ten by harvesting a Steenbuck, Klipspringer and Vaal Rhebok. He also added a beautiful Waterbuck, Common Springbuck and Black Springbuck. For the Vaal Rhebok, we journeyed to one of the highest points in the Karoo climbing the Sneeuberge mountain range. For the Klipspringer, we scaled a 1000 foot mountain to get 100 yards closer to the tiny animal. For the Waterbuck, we had a view of the bright blue Indian ocean and gorgeous sand dunes. We got skunked by the Common Duiker and heartbroken by the Mountain Reedbuck. And we enjoyed two gorgeous lodges, the wonder of the stars, lots of campfires and ridiculously good food. Ladies…. go on adventures. Have a great attitude. Meet new people. Ask questions to learn. Sympathize with new cultures. Challenge the norms of your life. Be your man’s best friend. Experience God in a very special way. Make memories and friends that will last a lifetime!

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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Johnny Posey, Eason Maykus, Todd Allen, Darren Vohs and Bruce Heikkinen joined us on safari during late June, right at the peak of the rut. It was great having Johnny back. He has become such a good friend and big supporter over the years, that hosting him with his friends at Woodlands during our opening season was a must for all of us at John X Safaris.

Our hunt would incorporate both our coastal region, hunting in and around Woodlands Safari Estate, as well as a trip to the Great Karoo, before joining the ladies down in Cape Town. Heather, Simone and Elise Allen, together with Sydney Posey, spent a few days with us on safari before heading down the Garden Route to Cape Town.

For first timer Darren Vohs, it would literally be a life-changing experience.

Darren teamed up with Professional Hunter, Lourens Lombard, and tracker Spinach, making for a formidable team. For a first timer Darren had set his sights on a number of “not so first timer” species, but we weren’t complaining. The rut was on and who doesn’t love a challenge when it comes to hunting?

A Kudu is always a top priority for any hunter to Africa, but apart from the elusive grey ghost the guys hunted hard for Gemsbuck, Impala, Nyala, Springbuck, Black Wildebeest, Mountain Reedbuck, Bushpig and Cape Bushbuck.

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The broad smiles and images pays tribute to what turned out to be an amazing first trip for Darren, very similar to that of Bruce Heikkinen.

Bruce was a late joiner to our hunt after overhearing Johnny tell a fellow hunting buddy about his upcoming safari to Africa. It kind of summed up Bruce in the way he did things. He goes big or goes home…. When he says he’s here for a good time and not a long time, you better know he means it!

Bruce joined PH, Ross “Stix” Hoole, and tracker, Thando Xolo, for the first half of his hunt before teaming up with Ed Wilson for his last leg of his safari up in the Great Karoo.

A Cape Buffalo, Sable, Eland, Lechwe, Nyala, Waterbuck, Blue and Black Wildebeest, Zebra, Gemsbuck, Kudu, Impala and Bushpig made for a massive hunt. Not knowing much about Bruce up until meeting him on the first day of the safari we all soon learned the man could shoot.

Bruce proved to be not only a great shot, but a lucky hunter too. He however was not the luckiest hunter of all. That tag belonged to none other than Johnny Posey.

If you’ve done your time in Africa, it is said that the rub of the green starts leaning your way more often than not, but on this particular hunt it was more evident than ever before.

If our Sable and Lechwe were the starts PH, Carl van Zyl, and tracker Oluwhethu, were hoping for, then hold your breath for our Tiny 10 quest.

We headed out early one morning from Woodlands, striking a bearing south-east towards the ocean and the coastal forests Blue Duiker inhabit in large numbers along our rugged coastline.

We typically hunt Blue Duiker over Jack Russel Terriers, or make use of blinds over waterholes in the forest. On this particular occasion we opted for the blind option as conditions were dry and the Duiker were drinking regularly.

At times blind hunting can be something of a boring affair, but one thing you can be assured of when it comes to forest blind hunts, is that the bird life is jaw-dropping. The Turacos are particularly striking in both sound and colour.

While peering out of our blind, day dreaming about the various hunts we had shared over the course of the first few days, we noticed through the only hole in the forest, a red coloured animal feeding on the opposite ridge. At first we brushed it aside as a young Bushbuck female, but then our boredom got the better of us and we turned the spotting scope in its direction. And to our amazement we saw it was a Cape Grysbuck feeding in the morning sun. A rare sighting to say the least.

It was too far to tell if it were a male or female, but the opportunity required a closer look. We gathered our gear and made a dash for it. Knowing the Grysbuck would not be feeding out for too much longer we pushed hard, making up the distance between it and us as fast as our legs would carry us. Reaching the pre-determined ridge, we had plotted out previously as a good place to get a shot from, we crested too fast, spooking the Grysbuck in the process. Carl was mad for his silly error, but he had luckily seen it was a fantastic ram before the sly old guy disappeared into the undergrowth. Feeling despondent and ready to give up, knowing our chances were no more than 1/100, Johnny urged us to go on and circle back around.

And 1/100 is the only 1 we needed. This one belonged to Johnny. Through sheer determination we harvested the first ever Cape Grysbuck in daylight. An unheard of feat in the hunting world where Grysbuck are usually totally nocturnal.

With our Grysbuck in the salt and our attitudes in a festive mood we headed back to our Blue Duiker blind. The day was still young and we weren’t about to give up on our original mission.

We had barely sat down for twenty minutes when in wondered this monster from the undergrowth. The hunting gods were smiling on us as much as one could have ever hoped for.

By noon we were heading back to camp to celebrate two of the most difficult critters of the Tiny 10. It turned out to be one of the greatest days we’ve ever experienced in guiding the Tiny 10, and not to mention doing it with Johnny, a more deserving friend than him would be hard to find.

With Johnny smashing records left, right, and centre, Todd was turning his very first African safari into a huge success with PH, Martin Neuper, and tracker Oluwhethu.

Starting off his hunt with a 31’’ Waterbuck set the benchmark high for what was to come.

Todd’s Kudu was the pick of the bulls on the safari, a beautiful animal, hunted for over the course of four days. His Nyala, Cape Eland and Cape Bushbuck wrapped up a spiral slam reeking of quality, while his Sable gave you the feeling of an old warrior.

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Todd’s pigs were however the pick for all of us guides. While we all know PH, Martin Neuper, is one of the best guides around, he sure has a knack of pulling the rabbit out of the hat from time to time.

Finding a Bushpig in broad daylight takes luck, actually hunting it successfully takes skill. Then top that off with a boss Warthog in trying drought stricken circumstances, and you’ve got yourself a hunt like few have experienced.

Todd came out tops when it came to pigs on this particular safari!

For Eason Maykus, a fellow first timer from Dallas, Africa provided an experience like he could not have imagined.

The mountains of the north in particular captured his imagination and set the spirit of Africa alive with in him…

Sharing his hunt with Johnny and PH, Carl van Zyl, he thrived in the tough conditions. Loving every step of the way to the top of the mountains. We harvested Waterbuck, Hartebeest, Black Wildebeest and Springbuck. Coming away with bag to be proud of.

Eason’s Gemsbuck took more than your average Gemsbuck, giving us the run around up in the high country. We had spotted the group early on during the course of the morning and we decided to concentrate on two or three individuals that had stood out in the spotting scope at 1500 yards +.

We climbed higher and higher as the day grew on, hoping to surprise the feeding group by coming over at them from above.At one point we had found a second group we had not spotted originally, making for a tricky situation on an already bare mountain. We decided to back off and allow the lay of the land and the feeding Gemsbuck to give us the opportunity we were after.

With patience our opportunity came, and with that an opportunity at a Gemsbuck to remember. Hunted for the hard way, up where the air is thin and the eagles soar, where memories and friendships were made for life. It was an epic hunt.

From the Karoo we headed back south for one last evening of fun at Woodlands, before saying goodbye to Bruce and Darren, while the rest of us, including Trish, joined the girls down in the wine country of the Cape.

We started off our visit to the Cape in Franschoek, a beautiful little town right in the heart of the wine country.

The setting was spectacular…

We spent the next few days exploring some of the well-known wineries, but mostly concentrating on the boutique style smaller vineyards. Both Johnny and Todd enjoy their wine tremendously, which allowed us all to learn a great deal about the various wines with their aging and flavouring processes.

Before we knew it, two days were up and it was time to make the short journey over the Helderberg Mountains to Cape Town. We most certainly weren’t ready to leave the wine country, but the mother city was waiting in all her glory.

By the time our ten days were up we had hunted in some of the most breath-taking areas the East Cape has to offer, the girls had seen the Big 5 and travelled down the picturesque Garden Route, before we all wrapped up a memorable safari in the Cape of Good Hope. It was one of our many highlights from 2017, shared with friends old and new in beautiful sunny South Africa.

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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For six weeks long we have spent numerous days and countless hours trying to share the wonder and beauty of Africa. Trying to relay the feeling that stirs within when the dark continent creeps under your skin and into your soul. The onslaught on ones senses is like nowhere else on earth.

Even after all these years it seems the traveling abroad only gets longer and the longing for Africa greater. This year, like the many before, saw us once again embarked on our journey to secure the future and prosperity of Africa and her wildlife. The commitment from the American hunter is something that is spoken about often, but needs mentioning again. Without you and your support our wildlife would not enjoy the growth and security it has become accustomed to today. For that we are forever grateful. Thank you.

Record numbers were reached on the booking front this year. From Dallas to Las Vegas and the many stops in between – So many people to thank. So many to welcome on board as they look to embark on their first safari to Africa with John X Safaris. And of course, so many to be indebted to as they once again chose John X Safaris as their choice destination for 2017/18/19. The support, referrals, and recommendations from our returning hunters has left us astounded once again. It only drives us on to keep doing what we’ve been doing – ensuring our safaris are so much more than a hunt, but the complete African experience.

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The acceptance and excitement around Woodlands Game Reserve, our new base and home, combined with our renowned Karoo concessions, has seen us return home even more invigorated than before. The experience of 34 years in the safari industry and knowing the commitment it takes to ensure you as individual will enjoy a world-class safari, is not merely a given, but our word. The success and enjoyment derived from being a part of your safari is something we as a team gain much enjoyment from. It’s something we’re proud of and something that goes far further than the hunt.

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Our traditional season in South Africa will kick off in mid-April, at the completion of our new Colonial Safari Manor at Woodlands. This year will see hunters enjoy safari camps like no other, with our northern Karoo camp having enjoyed an upgrade too. While it had been dry for the most part of 2016, late summer rains have fallen across the majority of our areas, with the promise of more on the horizon each evening. The retention of our renowned coastal and Karoo plains game concessions, combined with Woodlands and the Big 5 dynamic that has added, will ensure our hunters enjoy arguably the finest hunting Southern Africa has to offer.

Between now and April we will be gearing up for the season ahead with scouting, building and planning being the focus in and around John X Safaris. There’s a lot to be done, but so much to look forward to.

Here’s hoping my team at home can get it done – As for me, I’m off to Cameroon to get our season off to a big start, and at the same time tick another adventure from my “half full” bucket list. It doesn’t get much bigger than a Lord Derby Eland for a hunter or for that matter, his Professional Hunter.

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In closing I’d like to thank you once again for your American hospitality, your continued support, and your unrelenting trust in John X Safaris is something we’re extremely proud of as a team. Our appreciation is something that goes beyond words.

Thank you!

Catch you in Africa – Carl & Team

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 years I have been blessed to meet and hunt with some of the greatest outdoor enthusiasts of our day. May it have been a specialized safari in the mountains of the north for Vaal Rhebuck or a Blue Duiker in the forests of our coastal belt, or even a first timer safari with their children. I’ve enjoyed my fair share of sharing many a day out in the field with men and women who have represented our hunting ways and industry for numerous decades.

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Some have joined on one hunt, while there have been others who came back a second time – Then there was Craig Boddington.

When Craig and I first met we were no more than strangers at a cocktail party in Dallas. A couple of months passed and soon we were exchanging emails and a couple of phone calls. Before we knew it Craig and his family were on safari with me and we found ourselves crouching down below a pile of rocks while glassing for a particular Kudu bull I’d scouted some weeks before.

There was a great bull feeding no more than 180 yards below our position, oblivious to our presence, but it was not the bull I was after. Craig gave me some time and when he saw I was ready to move on to continue my search for “the” bull he shuffled over to where I was positioned with my spotting scope. “Look Carl I know you’d like to get us this particular monster you’ve been seeing, but why don’t you keep it for one of your future clients, this bull right here is plenty good for us – lets take him.” And that’s where I realized there’s more to Craig Boddington than just a great writer, adventurer, hunter and explorer.

Since then we have shared many a camp fire in Africa and now for the first time, Craig and I would like to invite you to join us around our campfire this June. Craig will be hosting a group at John X Safaris in the East Cape, South Africa, from 16-24 June 2017.

Hunters interested in joining this group will enjoy both our coastal base, Woodlands Game reserve, as well as our northern areas in the Great Karoo. By combining the two areas, you as the hunter, will ultimately get to hunt three safaris in one, covering the forests and valley bushveld of the coastal belt, the plains of the Great Karoo, and the mountains of the north. In doing so you will enjoy the opportunity to hunt more than thirty species in their natural environment where they are naturally of better quality. The two areas camps are 3 hours apart, an easy transition on any particular hunting day, ensuring no hunting days are lost.

The all-inclusive 1×1 base cost, covering all day, service and trophy handling fees + taxes, for this hunt will be $3600.00. Over and above this fee only pay for trophies harvested/wounded. Feel free to hunt 2×1 or invite observers along. Why not make the most of our John X Safaris getting the youth hunting initiative – You buy the flight and we’ll comp the Jr hunters day fee, only pay for trophies harvested/wounded. Start them young and get them hunting!

If you would like to join Craig and myself in the East Cape between 16 – 24 June 2017 – Then drop us a line on hunting@johnxsafaris.co.za . We have 4-5 spots remaining. For further details on John X Safaris feel free to visit our website on http://www.johnxsafaris.co.za

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We look forward to sharing a camp fire with you in Africa.

Yours in hunting,

Carl van Zyl & Craig Boddington

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

Are you after…

  • An outfit that welcomes all hunters, no matter what your age, physical condition or hunting capabilities.
  • Over 30 Species of World-Class Plains Game in abundance across large concessions in the game rich East Cape.
  • Fair Chase Big 5 on our private 30 000 acre concession, Woodlands Game Reserve.
  • Lodging second to none. Where you can choose 1 of 3 different lodges throughout the East Cape. Hunt the game in their natural environment where they are naturally of better quality.
  • Unlimited Tiny 10.
  • Mountain hunting like nowhere else in Southern Africa.
  • Both large high-fenced concessions or free-range areas. We have access to over 3 million acres in the East Cape alone.
  • A hunt that caters to you the hunter – serious about achieving your desired results without “package deals” standing in the way of your goals.
  • A family friendly atmosphere where youngsters are welcomed free of charge. Take us up on our initiative of #Gettingtheyouthhuntingatjxs
  • A destination that welcomes lady hunters and has been doing so for many years.
  • A destination that welcomes observers and prioritize their experience/s as much as that of the hunter.
  • A destination that welcomes groups, and can cater to groups by having large enough areas and a big enough team ensuring every member of the group leaves us satisfied.
  • Professional Hunters who take your safari seriously, ensuring your priorities are not only met, but your expectations exceeded.
  • An outfit who hunts for a living – You – Our Hunter, is our priority, not the ranch or any sideshows. Our business is hunting, and hunting only. We dedicate 24 hours a day to you ensuring your safari is everything you’d hoped for.
  • Hunting with an outfit that not only “talks” about the good work it does, but actually get’s it hands dirty making a true difference via our John X Foundation.
  • An outfit who believes in hunting for conservation – after all, if we didn’t practice what we preached, how could we still be the leaders after 33 years in the safari industry.

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

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

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

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Below is a quick reminder of our 2017 show and travel schedule. If you or any of your friends may be interested in meeting with us, please drop us a line, we’d be glad to fit you or them into our schedule.

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

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

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

Contact us for your next hunt on hunting@johnxsafaris.co.za or alternatively call Carl Van Zyl on US Cell 6824108377 or PH Ross ‘Stix’ Hoole on 6824108373– We’d gladly assist by dropping you a mail, giving you a call or visiting you in your home state.

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

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By Professional Hunter Ross “Stix” Hoole

Stepping up two low stone terraces into camp for the first time, I looked up, an overwhelming sense of euphoria hit me, in front of me lay a vast river with Elephants drinking to a serenade of Hippo in a deep pool with a setting sun. This was the Luangwa River, we had arrived in Zambia.

Zambia was certainly a destination I had dreamed of visiting for many years. When the country closed hunting on all government concessions in 2012, I never dreamt that just two years later they would re-open. For me, it was an interesting safari destination since it boasts many game species that don’t occur – or are very uncommon in Southern Africa, and it has a revered reputation for great Cape Buffalo and Leopard hunting. Looking for a new destination to travel to with our many John X Safaris friends, Carl and I had sat together for many hours researching and following up on various hunting concessions and operators who would fit the profile for what we wanted our clients to experience on a concession dangerous game safari.

A good friend of ours and loyal supporter of John X Safaris, Sam Cunningham, and I decided that for his next safari we would pursue a Leopard – widely considered one of the toughest of the Big 5. With this being the priority specie, we settled on Zambia as our target destination. Apart from our Leopard, we would hunt opportunistically on the various plains game species available, as well as Cape Buffalo.

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After landing on a remote strip in the Nyamvu hunting concession in the Luangwa Valley, we were immediately met but by a very jovial team of camp staff – singing, clapping and offering us cold pineapple juice and a refresher towel as we walked into camp. We relaxed for the afternoon absorbing the beauty, the good hospitality and warm weather, tomorrow would be our first hunting day.

The first order of business on any Leopard hunt is the hunting of bait animals.

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We harvested a Zebra stallion at the advice of our Zambian Professional Hunter, Werner. He laughed and described it as ‘Desert for a cat’ explaining to us how, in their climate, Zebra meat seemed to last the best and give out a great scent.

We hung six baits over three days and harvested a fantastic Lichtenstein Hartebeest, as well as a Puku, along the way which gave us extra baits and much enjoyed camp meat.

Trail Cameras were set at each site and careful consideration was taken for blind placement at each should a big male start feeding. What was incredible for Sam and I was how well Werner and the trackers interacted with both the game scouts and the local villages. Every morning, the two scouts presiding over our safari would radio the scouts out on patrol in the concession gathering as much “intel” on Leopard and Buffalo sightings or any fresh activity. One such report came from the local village that regularly saw a big male track and had recently lost two dogs in the village. We responded to this call out, and were amazed at how close to the villages we found Leopard, Buffalo and Elephant tracks. The scouts explained the ongoing conflict between the wildlife and villages, especially now during their dry season. Elephants and Buffalo raid vegetable patches and the big cats look for easy prey, may that be domestic stock or human. We hung a bait at a nearby spring, a couple of hundred yards from the village.

By day five we had seen tons of game. We stalked various herds of Buffalo, one herd in particular exceeded 400 animals! Other small herds of “Dagga Boys” consisting of up to five old bulls were spotted and stalked regularly, but we continued on, passing them up. We saw Elephants daily and had some cows and calves charge the truck one morning. We added a magnificently colored Chobe Bushbuck to our list, harvesting a nice ram skulking along the river bank.

Zambia is also one of the few areas you can hunt free ranging Roan Antelope, we were fortunate to harvest a great old bull along the way too.

Zambia is also one of the few areas you can hunt free ranging Roan Antelope, we were fortunate to harvest a great old bull along the way too.

The experiences were mounting everyday, but so to the pressure to get a Leopard. Every evening arriving back in camp, we were heartily greeted by camp manager, Bester, with a warm face towel and cold fruit juice which we sipped gazing out over the 300 yard wide river.

The Elephant had the same plan as us, as they too would come in for their evening drink before heading out to feed for the night. One evening I jokingly asked Sam; “How long before this scene gets old?” “Never!” was his immediate response and the appropriate answer as every evening we ritually sat there and reflected in silence as the Elephant drank.

On the sixth day, many of our baits started being hit! The Leopard activity had kicked in just as Werner had predicted. Interestingly enough was the arrival of an acrobatic pride of Lions hitting the same bait as a nice looking Leopard Tom.

And then one of our baits revealed a Leopard female...

And then one of our baits revealed a Leopard female…

And with her, as if appearing out of thin air…. There he was. All attitude and raw power standing on our horizontal branch eating his ‘dessert’.

There was a huge amount of excitement and a sense of urgency. Werner and his team kicked into another gear as we rushed off gathering blind material and Sam shot a mature Impala as a refresher bait.  Once we had the blind built to Werner’s satisfaction, we drove a few miles away and setup for lunch. Sam and Werner sat with the iPad onto which we had copied all the trail camera photos of the Leopard feeding. They discussed shot placement in great depth while I tended to lunch. We ate and then relaxed for a further two hours – which felt like an eternity – waiting until 15:45 before heading back to the blind to sit till dark.

When you first sit in the blind, you are on full alert. Knowing full well that nothing is going to come in immediately, you still look and listen carefully. After 30 minutes that ‘edge’ had worn off and we relaxed in silence listing to nature. 17:15 – “There is a cat climbing our tree”, Werner calmly whispered. The lazy, sleepy feeling shoots to high alert and full adrenaline immediately! Within seconds our big male Leopard is standing on the branch. He looks around to see if all is in order, “Don’t move” Werner whispered again. The Tom started feeding.

Werner started explaining to Sam once again where he wanted the shot placed, but every time he was about to squeeze the trigger, the cat would move. Our hearts sank when after five minutes of no shot opportunity, the Leopard jumped out of the tree. The frustration in that moment nearly left us in tears! The amount of hard work, early mornings, late evenings, hundreds of miles driven surely couldn’t result in this cat jumping and leaving? It felt like an hour, but two minutes later he was back on the branch. This time Sam did not hesitate and took the first opportunity he could.

There was complete silence after the shot which was a good sign. A wounded cat would certainly always growl while running off, and both Werner and I were positive we saw it drop off the branch. As with any Dangerous Game, we treated it with utmost respect and followed up as if it were possibly still alive. We crested a termite mound in front of the tree, rifles ready, when Werner shouted in a native dialect, “the Leopard is dead!” we all erupted in hugs and handshakes as it sunk in that we had harvested this beautiful animal. We examined it in every way and simply just absorbed its beauty, age, and size. We noticed the animal was down in condition, he had very sadly been a victim of poaching – he was missing a right paw. This could only have happened by being caught in a poachers Gin Trap. To go through the process of baiting, looking for fresh tracks, gathering intel from the local villages, the frustrations of baits not being hit, and then to harvest an old Leopard like this with an injury that was preventing him from hunting properly, was a privilege.

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As we drove back to camp after dark, we could hear our camp staff singing from a mile off. We drove into camp met by traditional tribal hunting song and dance. More than just a trophy and hunting experience for Sam and I, to our trackers and the surrounding villages this Leopard was a gift from the hunting gods, an animal they had endured conflict with, and now with its harvesting much-needed income would be injecting into an isolated rural area, in so doing easing the tension between man and beast. A strict hunting quota would and could be tolerated with sustainable benefits, something so important in these remote concessions.

Spending my Birthday with Sam…..

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A Cape Buffalo was still on our list. We had stalked various herds during the course of our safari, but were unable to get a shot. On the last day of the hunt, we celebrated my birthday. Is there any finer way for an outdoors-man to spend a birthday, but with good friends, world-class hunting, and in Africa?

We headed out with the solid intention of hunting a big Buffalo.

That morning we headed out with the solid intention of hunting a big Buffalo.

Sam and I have hunted together so many times before, that neither of us would leave disappointed if we were not to find the type of Buffalo we were after. It was not that we were chasing inches, we were after a classic old bull with drop and spread. We had seen a bunch up to this point, but could never get onto the right one.

Once again, local intel was pivotal in finding a herd we had not yet looked over. We met up with the game scout that had seen the fresh tracks on his morning patrol. We tracked for about an hour before we caught up with the herd. The wind created a challenge since it kept swirling and just wouldn’t blow consistent. The herd soon broke cover and fled, while Werner and I carefully looked to see if we could see anything worth going after as the dust gathered in the stampede of hooves.

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Werner was standing on a termite mound and frantically scurried over to Sam and I – “there is a Sod of a bull here, I think it may be like 44 inches”. I nearly fell over, but knew I must have heard wrong.

We frantically followed the herd as fast as possible, but careful not to bump them again, this was after all the last day and probably our last chance. We got onto the herd again, but this time the wind was in our faces and the herd was spread out feeding. We looked over the various bulls and then found the bull Werner had seen, he was feeding away from us and he was huge. His spread stretched outside his hind quarters and he stood a foot above the surrounding bulls. I started panicking deep inside as if it was getting away from us and this sinking feeling of it slipping away crept in over me.

Patiently we waited as the bull turned more broadside, but the shot would be a long one. We typically wouldn’t let anyone shoot a Buffalo at 150 yards, and certainly not quartering. Sam wasn’t anyone though, he is the finest marksman I have ever hunted with, and Werner agreed. We set up the sticks and then the years of diligent practice paid off when his shot rang home. The entire herd turned and ran toward us – they had no idea we were there. Sam had kept on the right animal all the way and hit him again on the run at 30 yards – this shot broke the shoulder and stopped the bull in his tracks. As it spun and crashed to the ground, the magnitude of the bull was in full view. We approached carefully and once again our little hunting party was engulfed in a wave of excited euphoria.

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There is a saying in Africa – ‘When it rains it pours’. Well it poured on my birthday. We had just taken the biggest Buffalo ever harvested in the history of the concession – a whopping 45 incher!

We left Zambia having experienced a safari like no other, being enriched by different cultures, wildlife, and individuals. We forged new friendships through hunting experiences that transcended all language, age, or race barriers – coming away with an experience like no other.

We will be back.

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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