What to consider when booking your first trip to South Africa
There are several things to consider when you are booking your first trip to South Africa.
- You will probably be hunting behind a high fence. I’ll start with the one of the misconceptions that I come across all the time when working with clients. Ninety-nine percent of South Africa hunting is behind high-fence. For many hunters, including myself, Africa is their first high-fence hunting experience, but I have learned that with high-fence properties that have over 2-3,000 acres with hilly terrain and decent cover the fence becomes a moot point in terms of the “fair chase.” The animals still have the advantage and it will be a challenging hunt. The fences in Africa are there to keep quality animals in, densities high, and poachers and predators out. It is not about “canning” a hunt for you to open. It’s about predictable trophy quality and numbers of critters.
- Go the daily rate route. Another important subject I tell my clients to consider is that South Africa, in my opinion, is best hunted paying daily fees. Then, shooting animals from a “trophy list” of pre-determined prices per critter. Here is why I say this. Once you get there you will see animals that you never considered taking back home but once your there, in the right situation, they may tickle your fancy. This is especially relevant with how many animals cost less than $600 each and many less than $400. Also you may not see the species that you thought you wanted to shoot, and under a package you will still pay for that animal. Daily fees plus a trophy price list hunt will allow you a lot of options once you get there. My first trip to Africa I shot a blesbuck, which I didn’t know even existed until I spotted it and asked what it was. My guide said it was a big one, I asked the price ($400) and snuck in, with my bow, and shot it. It turned out to be the number 13 in the world! Under a package, I would have passed it up.
- The best time to go. The last common subject I help my clients consider is when to go. South Africa is a year round operation. But most outfitters there are used to a more traditional “season” which is during their early winter (our early summer). It can be quite chilly and being from Idaho I love the idea of hunting somewhere else where the hunting temperature is comfortable. As well, there are so many other awesome things to do while you are there that it is nice to go when it’s nice. I prefer the shoulder seasons, which are our fall and our spring. Because it’s the “off season” there aren’t as many hunters and you have the place almost to yourself. This allows you to jump around to other concessions as well, which is not uncommon. The only months I would avoid (as a rifle hunter) is Dec, Jan, and Feb which is their really hot season and the animals are not as active during the day. I like this time a year as a bow hunter because they come to water more often and will bed in cover which allows for better stalking.
Africa is still my favorite place to go in the world as a hunter or a tourist for that matter. It is a wonderful place to go with your non-hunting spouse as well. All my outfitters are very used to taking spouses on very neat excursions while you are hunting and the people are breathtaking to deal with–just wonderful and accommodating. Africa puts the rest of the outfitting world to shame. It is just something you will have to experience for yourself. If you would like help putting your trip together I’d love to help.