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Mar 25th, 2012
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First timers guide to hunting Africa, from a First Timer #7575344 08/08/19 08:57 PM
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Just returned from my first trip to the Dark Continent I had an absolute blast, and I strongly encourage anyone who is considering it to put it in motion.

I was fortunate in my planning of the trip to be able to lean on the advice and experience of several experienced African hunters, but many may not have knowledgeable contacts, so I thought I would jot down a few things that will help a person thinking of taking the leap but doesn't know where to start. Disclaimer: These are my experiences on my trip to South Africa and may differ from experiences others may have had.

The planning of the Trip:

Finding a reputable outfitter is key, but can be very confusing and intimidating. We purchased this trip on a whim at a charity auction so that took all the guesswork out. Charity Auctions are great because a lot of times they are all inclusive ( daily rates, a few animals, pick up/drop off all included ) and can be a real value. The one we bought was with Numzaan Safaris, probably the biggest Safari Company in South Africa, which we took on faith as I knew nothing about them at the time of our bid. Earlier in the year I went to the DSC convention and the number of African outfitters is staggering. Looking at price alone, our outfitter is comparable to the higher end safari companies but a lot pricier than a lot of others, but the saying "you get what you pay for" holds true in this instance. Variety, Quality of game as well as available property to hunt all comes into play. Call several and talk to them. See if they run any specials and compare daily rates and other fees. I saw a lot of packages with inclusive daily fees, which is not a bad deal as daily rates can add up. We thought 7 days was a long trip but after getting there, we would have been ok with a 10 day safari. You may have days where you don't kill anything and a few extra days gives you some breathing room on your target animals, so factor this in on your planning.


Seasons are opposite there and their winter is our summer, its common to book a trip a year or two out so for next year, start planning now.

I went and booked flights with a company called Travel with guns ( TWG ) here in San Antonio. Got a side by side list of different airlines, prices and other details of the trip. Ended up saving thousands vs. other guys in camp who just called delta and booked a flight direct. We also used a service called Rifle Permits that streamlined the process of getting our firearms into country. we showed up, went to the office, permits were ready, picked up our guns and left. Didn't take 5 min once we cleared customs to get our guns and be on our way. You can rent firearms from the safari company but I like shooting my own rifles if I have a choice, even if there are some fees associated. I got a tetnus shot but RSA is a malaria free zone so there wasn't any other shots or vaccinations required.

The Travel:


No two ways around it, the travel sucks unless you just like riding on an airplane. We decided to go thru Doha, Qatar for a few reasons; to break up the flight time, it was much more cost effective and to see some other stuff on our trip. Doha was amazing, it was like one big shopping mall that happened to have airplanes landing and taking off from it. Qatar airways was great and hassle free and the staff was very friendly and helpful. We flew out of Bush IAH in Houston. The airplane itself was very nice compared to our usual southwest flights. If you can spring for it, business class is a good option, we flew from Doha to Johannesburg in BC but had to fly coach the remainder of the flights. Food was very good and the entertainment was as well. The flight went as good as could be expected....long, but comfortable.

Once you hit the airport they whisk you thru, we were met by a representative with the Safari company who got us thru customs and then the PH met us on the other side, got our guns and loaded up in the truck and went off to the hunting area.

Continued.....

Re: First timers guide to hunting Africa, from a First Timer [Re: txtrophy85] #7575372 08/08/19 09:26 PM
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The Area:

we hunted in the Limpopo Province of SA. Provinces are more like states within the country. This is a popular hunting area, along with the Eastern Cape. This area is diverse with parts of it looking like South Texas and then other parts being mountainous and rocky. Lots of agriculture in the area as well. There isn't a town every 15 min like there is here in Texas, so you want to be prepared as a store might be an hour or more drive. People over there drive small trucks, Land cruisers and Ford Rangers/Isuzu's being the main ones along with a lot of Toyota Hilux's. There is big gap as far as income diversity is concerned so you will see a lot of people hitching rides, walking to work, etc. its different to see at first but its just part of life over there. Highway travel is a breeze but lots of rural areas have no paved roads to travel is often a bit slower than we are used to here. 40 mph on a dirt road is a pretty good clip. According to many people I talked to, Limpopo has the bigger Kudu, Eland, Sable vs. the Eastern Cape. The Eastern Cape would be comparable to the Davis Mountain area of West Texas, and Limpopo more South Texas Brush with some Sky Island habitat ( Mountains ) mixed in. According to the outfitter, both areas offer good hunting. If you want the Spring buck, Lechewe, Black Wildebeest, etc. then you have to go to the plains area of the Free State.

One word of advice; Forget anything you have every read or seen before on Africa. As much as I love Peter Capsticks tales of hunting, they don't apply to hunting in SA anymore than Jack O'Connors Musings would be relevant to an Alabama Deer hunt. This isn't the Serengeti and there isn't cheetahs chasing gazelles across the plain. Its thick bush a lot of the time and visibility can be limited to 10-30 yards in a lot of areas. Cattle ranching has spread the brush around but they do burn/ do brush control to minimize it. Its not jungle, think more south texas or the terrain around the cross plains.

I would say majority of South Africa is high fenced. I saw two, small low fence pieces while I was there, just outside Johannesburg. This is more to keep people out, than animals in, as some animals can jump the fences quite easily. Game Farm is a term that is used quite a bit and can mean anything from a managed hunting ranch to a breeding operation. Game breeding has saved the wild life in south Africa ( animals like sable were wiped out due to competition with cattle as well as sustenance hunting by locals, game breeding brought them back in great numbers ). What they call breeding camps can be anywhere from 100-500 acres in size and managed like mini-ranches, not deer pens we have here. According to locals, about 5-6 years ago the market got saturated and the bottom fell out and a lot of the breeding was not profitable anymore. The ranchers took down the interior fences of the "camps" and let the wildlife run in the perimeter, reverting them back to hunting ranches, the result being excellent quality and game populations on many ranches. This situation isnt the case on every ranch but its common enough to be worth mentioning.


Continued......

Re: First timers guide to hunting Africa, from a First Timer [Re: txtrophy85] #7575439 08/08/19 10:36 PM
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The Hunting:

We went with a certain idea of the animals we would like to harvest in a particular order of importance. They have a saying " take what the bush gives you " and that advice holds true. If you see a quality animal, you take it if its on your list. I had a gemsbok hunt turn into a waterbuck hunt that ended in the taking of an Nyala in the span of about 5 min. I would also have a budget in mind and leave flexibility of animals within that budget, as you will see animals you don't think you would be interested in originally. I believe if you limited yourself to just a few certain animals on your first trip, you would be limiting your fun.

The hunting is generally done safari style if rifle hunting, water holes if your bow hunting. Water hole hunting is like feeder hunting here but with constant action. We did a bit of it and hardly 10 min went by without something new coming in. its a good change of pace. Once you spot something off the Truck, you make a plan to stalk within rifle range. Our PH had a strict "no shooting from the truck" policy which some outfits don't follow, but we did not mind at all.

We hunted several different ranches that ranged from having a fair amount of pressure to having next to Zero pressure and the hunting was challenging on all of it.

We had quite a difficult time getting on Gemsbok, Zebra and Kudu. The terrain made it quite a bit difficult to stalk quietly and getting a shot off unobstructed, takes a lot of stars aligning right. You will cover a lot of country each day, and its common to work a block of brush back and forth until you see an animal moving and locked onto.

We did some glassing in the higher country as well as some tracking but that is a mostly futile attempt as they animals see you before you see them.

The Sable are not nearly as wary and can be gotten fairly easily. this was the case on every property we saw them at. The Nyala were slightly more difficult but they are like the sloths of the antelope word and are fairly calm. But , expect many busted stalks before you end up scoring on an animal. Also, be prepared to shoot thru some brush. I shot thru brush to get the Nyala, the bullet busted thru and hit him in the neck on a shoulder shot. I passed on two shots the PH told me to take because I didn't want to shoot thru brush, but its common place talking to the PH's in camp.



Guns & Gear:

I used a .300 win loaded with 180 grain accubonds. The vitals on a African Antelope are a lot lower and farther forward than on a deer or elk, so the rule is never shoot above the lower half of the animals body, with the ideal shot placement 1/3 of the way up the animals leg. When things were hectic I forgot this and ended up high shoulder shooting most of my game like I would a deer This is actually a spine shot and crumpled the Sable and Waterbuck but did require a finisher as its not hitting any vitals.

Wife shot a 7mm-08 and did well on her animals....only thing I felt she was undergunned on was the Zebra. They are exceptionally tough and I would up my gun in that case. But the 7mm-08 is actually a preferred caliber for plains game, the PH loves his and has killed hundreds of animals with it, along with a .270 and .308. The one they loan out to hunters are .308's and 7mm-08's so that speaks to their effectiveness. I felt like everything I had read prior regarding plains game seemed like if you didn't have a .375 in your hand than you were running a fine line, but you probably already own a adequate caliber. Shots ranged from 50 yards to 180 yards. In the mountains you can get in a situation where a longer shot is required, but in the bushveld shots are going to be closer.

any standard 8 or 10x binos will work. I would stay away from anything stronger than that as most of your encounters in the bushveld seemed to come under 200 yards.


continued......


Re: First timers guide to hunting Africa, from a First Timer [Re: txtrophy85] #7575453 08/08/19 10:49 PM
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Clothing:


I went the traditional African safari route and hunted in Khaki Shirts and shorts.

Wearing shorts in winter in brush sounds weird and your legs will take a beating at first, but it ends up being a lot more comfortable and you can actually move thru the brush better.


They are not anti-camo over there but they will tell you that green or tan khaki is the preferred hunting attire.

I bought a pair of hiking boots for the trip and left my mountain boots at home. any good all terrain shoe/boot would be fine. light quiet boots are key, uninsulated for sure.

a light jacket in the mornings is appropriate as winter can be cool. One morning it was 40 degrees when we went out, but warmed up to the 70's quickly.

Hat, Glasses, Sunscreen, all that good stuff is recommended


After the Hunt:

After you get your animals in the salt ( the preservation process during the hunt is something to see ) and your safari comes to a close, you then go to a dipping and packing agent to get the animals ready for the trip home. They build custom crates that will be shipped back home to the U.S. Taxidermy in RSA is possible, but I was not advised to have my stuff mounted there and seeing the taxidermy work of the local shops I would agree its better to have them shipped here for mounting. Dip and Pack is $190/animal. This includes the cost of the crate. The shipping is an additional charge that goes by weight. I'm told figure $1-$2k to get the animals home.



If there is anything I missed, please feel free to ask any questions. It was a great trip and one that I would recommend to anyone, especially the outfit we hunted with ( Numzaan safaris ). They were fantastic and I like them enough to already get another trip in the works


Re: First timers guide to hunting Africa, from a First Timer [Re: txtrophy85] #7575455 08/08/19 10:54 PM
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At my age and most of my hunting days behind me that was a well written and informative piece you wrote. I enjoyed reading it.

Re: First timers guide to hunting Africa, from a First Timer [Re: txtrophy85] #7575658 08/09/19 02:08 AM
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thank you for sharing this helpful info. Nice job.

Re: First timers guide to hunting Africa, from a First Timer [Re: txtrophy85] #7575683 08/09/19 02:53 AM
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Great write up, I'd only add most shipping cost is based on volume, $190/animal is a little high on average I think most taxidermist would be closer to $100-125/animal. I killed 7 animals on my first safari and had all European mounts and one rug the shipping was $750 by air. Took 10 animals this April also doing all European again so we'll see how much shipping has gone up in the last 2 years.

Re: First timers guide to hunting Africa, from a First Timer [Re: txtrophy85] #7575758 08/09/19 05:33 AM
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Excellent write up. How big was the ranch you were on? How were the meals and beverages and accommodations?

Re: First timers guide to hunting Africa, from a First Timer [Re: Txhunter65] #7575798 08/09/19 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Txhunter65
Great write up, I'd only add most shipping cost is based on volume, $190/animal is a little high on average I think most taxidermist would be closer to $100-125/animal. I killed 7 animals on my first safari and had all European mounts and one rug the shipping was $750 by air. Took 10 animals this April also doing all European again so we'll see how much shipping has gone up in the last 2 years.



the $190/animal was for the dip and back and crate, not the shipping home. Everything is being shoulder mounted so we just skull capped them to save on weight but I did the capes and backskins on most animals along with the zebra rug.

I was told to expect between $1-$2k for shipping but will be more than happy if its only $750

Re: First timers guide to hunting Africa, from a First Timer [Re: Txduckman] #7575808 08/09/19 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Txduckman
Excellent write up. How big was the ranch you were on? How were the meals and beverages and accommodations?



We stayed on a ranch about 20 min from Botswana that was used as a base camp for us and 4 other hunters. Some days we would hunt that camp which was about 3k acres give or take with anther 3k acres directly across the road that we could hunt as well. Occasionally there would be another group hunting on the main camp ranch but all the other places we had to our selves

We hunted one ranch in the mountains that was over 10k acres and then another 3k acre ranch, a 15k acre ranch and a 24k acre ranch.


The meals were excellent. Breakfast was simple, toast and yogurt and lunch was wraps or sandwhiches as we often ate out in the field. Dinner was wild game with fantastic sides and desserts. We got hooked on the hot tea they serve there. Accommodations were good as well being clean and comfortable but with authentic African flair.



Re: First timers guide to hunting Africa, from a First Timer [Re: txtrophy85] #7575876 08/09/19 01:08 PM
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Well written. Lots here might get turned off by the high fence deal. However, in a protein starved continent, that's the only way it can be done. At one time, the bush had been just about killed out. Then they started raising them and high fencing to both keep them in and poachers out. They have to patrol for poachers. Getting what you want isn't a sure thing. I wanted a trophy Kudu but just didn't see what I wanted.

Agree on the meals. We ate what we shot and they knew how to cook it.

WE also spent 4 or 5 days in Capetown just being tourists. Went out and watched the Great White Sharks while we were safe in a cage. When you're under water, they are an unforgettable sight.

Great memories but I doubt that I'll do it again. It's expensive but OK for a once in a lifetime deal. The memories are on my wall.


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Re: First timers guide to hunting Africa, from a First Timer [Re: txtrophy85] #7576140 08/09/19 04:43 PM
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txtrophy8,

Congrats on your safari...! Overall a solid, detailed write-up which is very accurate in your assessment of what a first-timer can expect (with a reputable outfitter)...

I would only add that I completely agree that the old saying "you get what you pay for" is absolutely true especially in regard to African outfitters. Numzaan Safaris is one of the better, more-reputable outfitters in RSA. We actually share a border with one of Stef's properties. Stef, Lenette, and Jaco are good folks...You got lucky in that respect, and I would caution any prospective first-time safari clients to spend the time to do your due diligence in researching outfitters and checking references before booking. The competition among most outfitters in Africa is fierce, and there are unfortunately many fly-by-night guys willing to do or say anything to get your business. Many are still actively willing to lose money to get you in camp in hopes that they can make up for it by up-selling game once you are there. It may surprise some that most African outfitters do not own the camps or the land they hunt. Hunting property in RSA is expensive to own and manage, and therefore, most of the big properties with the nicer lodges are generationally owned withing the families for many years... Many smaller outfits lease rights to hunt by the year and often just by the day to hunt with their clients.

My best advice to anyone considering hunting Africa is to select an outfitter that has a long-standing reputation who also owns his own camp and at least most of his hunting properties. Many advertise tens of thousands of acres for their clients to hunt, yet in reality, they own none of it... Those who do not own their land have little to no control over the management practices, nor the quality or quantity of the game on these properties. Furthermore, only big tracts of land can truly offer naturally propagated animals in a true fair chase environment.There are still quite a few well-established outfitters that own their own camps, amenities, and the land among the various provinces of RSA. The well-established guys not only own their own properties, they have well-maintained gear and the logistics down to a science. You really don't want the small details left to chance hunting in Africa...These are the guys who offer the very best experiences that will having you planning for your second safari even before your first is finished.

Re: First timers guide to hunting Africa, from a First Timer [Re: txtrophy85] #7576373 08/09/19 09:18 PM
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Jaco was our PH for the trip and I will say he was an excellent one. I guided hunts for 10 years and fancied myself as a pretty damn good guide and he is better than I was. He pulled me off of several animals I would have shot and ended up taking several that make Roland ward and an impala that would be top 50 SCI if I decided to enter it.

Stef and Lynette were in camp several times during the trip and were excellent hosts.

Jaco asked me at the end of the hunt if there was anything they could have done to make our time better and I honestly couldn’t think of one thing.

We discussed at length the difference between the established outfitters and the fly by nights or amateur outfits. They pretty much resonated what you have said. I feel like we were blessed to find them the first go around and not having to learn the hard way

Re: First timers guide to hunting Africa, from a First Timer [Re: txtrophy85] #7576599 08/10/19 02:40 AM
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Great write up. I have 4 Safaris under my belt and your advise is excellent. However, We need some pictures or it did not happen!!!!!

Re: First timers guide to hunting Africa, from a First Timer [Re: Erny] #7576734 08/10/19 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Erny
Great write up. I have 4 Safaris under my belt and your advise is excellent. However, We need some pictures or it did not happen!!!!!



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Re: First timers guide to hunting Africa, from a First Timer [Re: txtrophy85] #7577039 08/10/19 09:18 PM
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Best write up I've read on the forum!! What's the reasoning for not using Partions?

Re: First timers guide to hunting Africa, from a First Timer [Re: txtrophy85] #7577081 08/10/19 10:11 PM
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Great write up and great trip!

We did Africa some years back and loved it. We then did New Zealand and even loved it more - those of you who have been to Africa should look into NZ for your next trip


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Re: First timers guide to hunting Africa, from a First Timer [Re: snake oil] #7577380 08/11/19 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by snake oil
Best write up I've read on the forum!! What's the reasoning for not using Partions?



Stupid question. Sorry to clutter your great thread up. BTW this should be a sticky.



Last edited by snake oil; 08/11/19 11:00 AM.
Re: First timers guide to hunting Africa, from a First Timer [Re: txtrophy85] #7577441 08/11/19 01:56 PM
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Excellent write up! I've gone twice and each time I go, thinking I know what to expect, there is always something new for me to learn.

My biggest tip would be to build a slush fund for extra animals, then add some more to that and then some more to that (and then healthy bit for shipping and taxidermy). Two reasons for this, first, if you see something of excellent quality, it's nice to be able to shoot it without having to scratch some other animal off your list to reallocate funds. Second, if you shoot all the animals you had intended early in the safari and have no funds for more, you are now on a photo safari for the rest of the trip. Not terrible if you have only a day or two left, but if you have 6 days left the photo-safari thing gets old (especially if it's just you on the hunt, might be different if you have family/friends along).

I would also recommend trying to get animals unique to the area as, you most likely will be back to Africa, but maybe not that area.

There is another saying I have heard when it comes to shipping stuff home, it's "dip, pack and bend over." What you end up paying to ship stuff homes seems entirely luck of the draw and it's, unfortunately, not something you have much (or any) negotiating power on. I was expecting about $1000 less than what my actual shipping cost came out to be last year. Was a bit disgruntled about it until my outfitter told me about one of his clients who got his bill to ship his stiff home from the Cameroon and it came to something like $12,000 with only two animals in the crate. I stopped moaning about it then.


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Re: First timers guide to hunting Africa, from a First Timer [Re: txtrophy85] #7577449 08/11/19 02:08 PM
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I hunted with Stef about 15 years ago. He ran a good outfit then and sounds like he still does. I agree with taking what the bush offers. Went hunting with Steph I took a Cape Eland that was more than 40 inches on each horn when it stepped into the open. Until then I had no interest in eland. Had I entered it that bull would have been number 13 in the Rowland and Ward book.

I have hunted RSA, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Cameroon. I would not hesitate to hunt with Stef again.


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Re: First timers guide to hunting Africa, from a First Timer [Re: Sevens] #7577468 08/11/19 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Sevens
Excellent write up! I've gone twice and each time I go, thinking I know what to expect, there is always something new for me to learn.

My biggest tip would be to build a slush fund for extra animals, then add some more to that and then some more to that (and then healthy bit for shipping and taxidermy). Two reasons for this, first, if you see something of excellent quality, it's nice to be able to shoot it without having to scratch some other animal off your list to reallocate funds. Second, if you shoot all the animals you had intended early in the safari and have no funds for more, you are now on a photo safari for the rest of the trip. Not terrible if you have only a day or two left, but if you have 6 days left the photo-safari thing gets old (especially if it's just you on the hunt, might be different if you have family/friends along).

I would also recommend trying to get animals unique to the area as, you most likely will be back to Africa, but maybe not that area.

There is another saying I have heard when it comes to shipping stuff home, it's "dip, pack and bend over." What you end up paying to ship stuff homes seems entirely luck of the draw and it's, unfortunately, not something you have much (or any) negotiating power on. I was expecting about $1000 less than what my actual shipping cost came out to be last year. Was a bit disgruntled about it until my outfitter told me about one of his clients who got his bill to ship his stiff home from the Cameroon and it came to something like $12,000 with only two animals in the crate. I stopped moaning about it then.


You mention two good points of consideration and I would add this....

Any of the outfitters that actually own their own properties will have cull options for their guests. Shooting some culls and management animals is a great and inexpensive way to extend your safari. Culls and management animals are usually offered at half the regular trophy fee, and often much less than that if the outfitter has a certain species in excess that he would like to reduce. Outfitters who are able to offer culls is another indication that you are indeed hunting with an outfitter that owns and manages his own land with naturally propagated animals ....

Trophy care after the safari is the most often overlooked aspect of the trip, yet as already mentioned, it can become an expensive consideration without some prior planning and research. All outfitters will have both taxidermists, dip & pack facilities, and logistic companies that they will recommend to you. These recommendations sometimes come from those who will offer the outfitter with the most commission as opposed to those who are actually capable of providing the best work and service at a fair price. Keep in mind that as a safari client, you are not obligated to use the taxidermist, the dip & pack facility, or the shipping company that the outfitter recommends.... You absolutely will have the option of finding your own facilities for the trophy prep and shipping of your trophy parts if you choose to do so. I encourage any prospective safari client to ask the outfitters you are considering about trophy care and your shipping options before booking your hunt. If you do opt to go with your own selections, these arrangements need to be made well before your arrival, and mutually agreed upon with the outfitter. With that said, the most reputable outfitters most often only use the most reputable companies to provide these services. However, it still pays to ask questions of how this process will be handled well before your arrival.

And as a last consideration, we are seeing more and more clients, and especially those who are repeat clients, opt to have Euro mounts done on skulls/horns and backskins tanned as opposed to having full mounts done on their trophy animals. Euros, backskins, and rugs are much more affordable options to have memories made from your trophies. Many African taxidermists/dip & packers can also make some really creative leather goods from backskins such as throw pillows, rifle cases, slings, gaiters, etc., at really reasonable costs compared to what it would cost here in the States to have the same goods made. It pays to do a little research on this beforehand, and you might be surprised to see how many more affordable options are available...

Re: First timers guide to hunting Africa, from a First Timer [Re: tlk] #7577552 08/11/19 05:08 PM
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Originally Posted by tlk
Great write up and great trip!

We did Africa some years back and loved it. We then did New Zealand and even loved it more - those of you who have been to Africa should look into NZ for your next trip



That is on the list for sure

Re: First timers guide to hunting Africa, from a First Timer [Re: snake oil] #7577554 08/11/19 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by snake oil
Originally Posted by snake oil
Best write up I've read on the forum!! What's the reasoning for not using Partions?



Stupid question. Sorry to clutter your great thread up. BTW this should be a sticky.




No I’ll answer it as it’s a fair question.

The accubond is a 21st century answer to the partition.

Nosler creates it to give a bullet partition performance in a tipped boat tail bullet.

Same performance, price as the partition in a contemporary design

Re: First timers guide to hunting Africa, from a First Timer [Re: txtrophy85] #7577560 08/11/19 05:26 PM
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Awesome thread and awesome pics. I love these types of threads. Congrats! cheers


Scott

If you are looking for a mortgage, PM me about my Friends and Family rates.
Re: First timers guide to hunting Africa, from a First Timer [Re: txtrophy85] #7577795 08/11/19 11:36 PM
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Thanks.

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