I confess, I’m shocked. I’m usually the most hesitant at the Ticket when it comes to sharing real life stuff, but in the case of this safari, I went out on a thin limb and said screw it. Other guys might actually want to hear a tale of adventure and the fulfillment of a boyhood dream. I stumbled upon right. Enough of you have said “thanks for sharing” that maybe I should do it more often. I’ve been getting many questions about my trip so I’ll answer the most common ones.
Will you share pictures?
I already have. The flash based slideshow may not work on some iphones so I’ll work at putting up a gallery somewhere else.
No. I went on this safari with a guy I’ve looked up to since I was born, my brother. He got me into hunting. Hunting is a controversial topic. I get that. My own feelings on it are complicated but pure. If you’re disgusted by hunting, read this. It may explain something.
Where did you go?
Namibia. It’s a great place for plains game. Those of you who follow African hunting know of the writer and tv host Craig Boddington. Well Boddington was the guy who told me to hunt Namibia with Dirk de Bod. Dirk was my PH.
What is a PH?
It’s what makes Secret deodorant for women. It’s also short for Professional Hunter. You can’t go hunting in Africa without a professional hunter. He has the authority to hunt the land legally and morally. He’ll make sure you take ethical shots on aging trophy bulls and that you don’t gut shoot a pregnant cow or some similar piece of stupidity. Think of him like a father and you’re a boy who should listen to his parents.
I used a Winchester Model 70 Safari Express rifle in the .375 H&H caliber/cartridge. I’m left handed so my rifle options are more limited than yours, but that didn’t matter in this case because I wanted a classic and the Model 70 is a classic made for southpaws. And you can’t get a more all around great African cartridge than the venerable .375 H&H. I bought the rifle in 2004 hoping to one day go to Africa. Lucky me. They discontinued the left handed safari express in 2006 and the prices skyrocketed. I used 270 grain Remington ammo, but if I did it over again, I’d use the Swift A frame or the Barnes Triple shock. I used a Trijicon 3-9×40 Accupoint scope with the triangle reticle. It’s a fine scope, but I have to admit it got bumped in transit and had to be resighted. Cost me a shot at a fine gemsbok.
Did you hunt for dangerous game like lion, leopard, or cape buffalo?
No. I hunted classic plains game. It’s great for a first time safari and not so specialized and expensive as a dangerous game hunt.
What animals did you kill?
Between me and my brother we took an eland, two kudu, two gemsbok, two mountain zebras, a red hartebeest, an impala, a baboon, a warthog, a jackal, and a waterbuck. We also did a little duck and and geese hunting. One day I’ll tell the story of hitting three animals with one malfunctioning bullet. Then the two shots at 475 yards to finish the job with a four inch grouping. It was extremely bad luck followed by extremely good.
Did you eat what you killed?
What were the accommodations like?
I slept in a tent. But it was the nicest tent I’ve ever slept in. Big and sturdy with a stone floor. It’s winter right now in southern Africa, so temps sunk below freezing at night. An electric blanket kept me warm enough to sleep, but I couldn’t. Anticipation kept me pretty much awake the whole time. The days were in the low seventies and pleasant as an unchatty whore.
I’m glad you bring this up because the exchange of life is always a little deep, that’s why we’re either attracted to or repulsed by thinking about it. It is pretty humbling and guilt-inducing to think of all the things that have to die for us to live comfortably and bountifully. We kill off trees and habitat for our subdivisions. That in turn kills off animals that we don’t even eat. Then we kill plants so we can eat vegetables and have corn oil, or hell, just collect government subsidies while the crop rots in storage. And the most guilty, we erect mass slaughterhouses so we can hire cheap labor to do all of our “hunting” for us, far away from the dinner table and the compassionate mind. All those plants and animals lose their lives so we can live well. Kinda sad. I don’t know if it is deep to reflect on that but it is kinda shallow not to every once in awhile. For that reason, I don’t really fault the guy who shoots something for the dinner table. I did that. And it felt good to see the circle of life without a veil of snark on it.
If you’re such a real man, why don’t you kill a lion with a coat hanger or piano wire?
I don’t understand the “macho” or “real man” nomenclature. I swear to you, I’ve never heard hunters define anything that way. Not even in our secret closed door meetings. To me it is a critical non-sequitur, as silly as saying “oh I guess you feel like a real man for walking across the room and opening that knick-knack drawer.” Not really. I just wanted to go open the knick knack drawer and I accomplished that. You brought up macho.
Another thing that’s odd to me, is that most people that give you the business on hunting are not the pure of heart. Most of them eat meat, wear leather, and support the destruction of habitat. They just have an emotional reaction to death, which they should. But they should go further and decide how to integrate that repulsion into their own consumption, not merely their commenting.
Any other questions, I’ll try to answer in the comments.