Although it would be cool for me and my bro to go to S. Africa on this adventure, we'd both much rather kill an elk here stateside before we jump the ocean to another continent. Besides, my pockets aren't deep enough to come home with many, if any extra species at this point of my life. So, I'm considering trading or selling this African hunt for an elk hunt. But, the more I look at the other S. African hunts that are out there and the lack of interest in a trade from an elk outfitter, now I'm wondering if I just ought to go over there and enjoy the experience...
Does anybody want to try to convince me one way or another? I keep going back and forth on this thing.
Once you hunt in Africa you will keep going back, time and time again.
It's that much fun!
Mountainman ...for many years I had no interest then I woke up one morning and decided I really needed to go, so I am.
I'll probably come back having spent more than I'd budgeted, but I'm going to go and enjoy myself.
...and shoot what I want, how I want.
I have found that for me, I just need to do things. If I want to do it someday, why wait....... Too many people put off things that they would like to do for too many reasons, most of us will never have enough money, never be in quite the shape we need to be, or any other reason to put off pulling the trigger on an adventure.
Elk hunting is great, you could never go wrong doing these every year, but seeing other things is really cool as well. Good luck with your choice and whichever hunt you end up on.
Seems to me you've done the elk thing a few times now. Try something new. What do you have to lose?
Africa is not just about the animals, although that part is tough to beat anywhere else!
You apparently scored a good deal, take advantage of it, go and have a great time (you won't regret it).
Go chase elk the next season, and the next seasons after that. And if you come home from elk camp empty handed, gaze up at the African mounts and feel great about the experience you had on the dark continent.
If you go to South Africa, you will hunt an oversized zoo. The animals are bred for the purpose of being shot. They are replenished in the enclosure as needed. This is not to say that some don't breed, but many are put in as needed. You will sit in a blind next to a man-made waterhole. This is shooting, not hunting. If you want target practice at living animals, this is the place to do it.
Many people here laud the African hunting experience. It is relatively affordable (especially if you don't mount your trophies), it is relatively exciting as you see many, many animals, and it is very accessible. However, driving through the gate and into the enclosure rubs me the wrong way. Some of the ranches are extremely large, and others are quite small. I don't want to debate the size of the ranch/enclosure, and to me it really does not make that much difference. There is just something about being inside that fence. As a hunter, I want to hunt wild animals, in their own habitat.
This is not all conjecture on my part. I have been to Africa, and have hunted a South African ranch. I had a great time. I will never repeat the experience. However, there is nothing more in this world I want than to hunt wild Africa. Unfortunately, a proper Tanzania safari is out of reach financially at the moment. I will return and hunt Africa, just not South Africa or Namibia. If you're comfortable with the shooting experience, go for it. If you want a proper hunting experience, go hunt elk. To each their own, and I have not the slightest problem with South African ranch hunts. They are necessary, as they provide a service.
The first being that if I want to hunt on a game farm, there are lots of those a whole lot closer than South Africa. I did enjoy my time and took 3 great critters, but the one I enjoyed the most was the Red Hartebeest that I crawled a couple hundred yards through the grass to get to.
The second reason is that it is a rather dangerous place to go unless you are on the ranch. In J'burg, the houses have cinder block fences with concertina wire on top. It is real easy to get into an uncomfortable situation. Yeah, I know that there are lost of places here in the states you can find the same thing, but it is a factor.
I was expecting a much more wilderness experience, my fault for not doing enough research before I went. But there are positives to it too. You will meet some fine people and be able to experience a different culture. You will come away with a very different appreciation of the joys of living here in the US.
If you want to go, have a great time, just look at it for what it is.
Bowhunting in Africa is, for the most part, sitting and ambush hunting in blinds: not that you can't get out and stalk if your rancher is set up for that. Once you come to grip with that it is a blast. It is not a slam dunk and the weather and wind can mess you up big time. Success is high but not guaranteed. You will have a chance to see many animals of all kinds and many at the same time. I can remember way back on my first trip that so many animals came in to the water hole at once that I had to sit down and stop looking so that I wouldn't start hyperventilating: which is something that I have never done before or since.
At the end of the day you get to have a hot shower, great meals and relax with typically great camaraderie. It is not either or, when it comes to elk or Africa. Take the opportunity to experience something new, but understanding that it is not the same type of hunting transferred to a new location.
As far as cost and trophy fees goes, you will undoubtedly want to shoot more than you now think. Always have a secret reserve fund, but after 4 trips there and lots of reading about others feelings on the subject, I will give you a few real cost saving ideas: 1. Take as many pictures as you can, and consider just printing them as your trophies 2. Unless you are a craftsman, forget the back skins and just tan the capes. OR, leave the entire skin and just have the horns, tusks, and maybe the skulls. Of course tan your skin if you really have a place to lay it out or hang it up. I still have skins in my closet from 20 years ago waiting for someplace to put them 3. Euro mounts with or without the skulls are substantially cheaper than shoulder mounts, and can even be done yourself as the items are all cleaned before shipping. Many people have made the point that the cost of taxidermy would/could pay for a whole other trip. 4. CULLS. Depending on the ranch, herd growth, and weather conditions it is not at all unusual for them to allow you to shoot excess females or males with injured horns. They get the meat anyway and it helps the herd health. You get the fun of additional shooting at much reduced cost.
Don't miss the chance to see Africa. NOW. Things are changing every year. There is no predicting the future of hunting in Africa in years to come.
I was asked a few weeks ago "if I could only do one trip every year and it had to be the same what would you do" I would hunt elk, hands down.
That is not the way it works though, I can do whatever I want (and can afford) each year. I don't want to do the same thing every year, I like to experience differnt hunts, different location, different people, different species, etc. I like the adventure of all my trips. Yes, some I do more than once, but I do more that are new/different.
People are different. My dad is happy doing the same stuff every year, he has little to no intrest in big adventures. He just shakes his head when I tell him where I'm headed next. We are not all the same.
Any of us could die any day, there are pianos falling out of windows all the time. Well, probably not so many pianos, but you get the idea, life is short and you never know how short it might be.
I want to live my life and have as many experiences as I can. I can't do everything that some guys can do, but I have been extremely fortunate in my life to do a lot of different hunting adventures and cherish them all. I work hard and take risks so that I can do 4-6 hunts a year (plus deer and turkey at home in OK). I make sacrafices and tough decisions to make it happen. We all make decisions, choose what is important to you.
So my take on it is do all that you can, only you can make the decisions of what direction your hunting takes you, but do as much as you can while you can. It is a big world out there!
Africa is great, western elk hunting is great.'only you can decide which is right for you in this situation. I have done both (multiple times each) and will do both again.
Elk hunting is a bit of a chore, a love of life but a chore. Up at 2 or 3am and hike or pack mules up a mountain in the best and worse of weather. Push yourself to the brink and then push yourself further. Maybe you get an elk maybe you don't. More then likely you won't be coming home with one every year but sometimes you do. Either way you still love it. You aren't bagging 3 animals like you can with whitetail. You learn elk the hard way. It's beautiful and re-charging it's my favorite time all year I live for it.
18 years ago we bought our first safari from an RMEF auction we were working at. Like you mountainman it was a multiple animal going really cheap and my mom was upping the price without really any intention of buying it. Well it went for nothing and my brother and I and parents were off to Africa. We had a great time and we learned many things from the professional hunter and his trackers. We expanded our hunting experience and sharpened our skills by being successful. Out of the 4 animal package we took 11 big game and many small game. We built a really good friendship with this younger PH and his new girlfriend. It was great and we saw many areas of S. Africa. We saw animals we never saw on Tv or knew anything about. I spent time hunting with my brother and it was very much a vacation. Cuban cigars, night around the fire, beaches and lots of time in the bush. A time I'd never forget, it changed us all and knew I was going back before I even left.
The Ph and his GF got married and years later bought their own place. He ran hunts all over Africa like his father did. They started coming to the US to stay with us and advertise at trade shows. His safari business expanded he added more territories and our families friendships grew.
My parents were able to go a few more times. But it took 16 years for my brother and I to be able to take our families. His family of 4, me and my new wife and our parents all went back. This time that hardworking PH and his wife have their own family and now their own stunning lodges and farms and do a lot for their local community. He is well respected in his industry. Stan is now the president elect for Professional Hunters of S.Africa. We spent almost 3 weeks there last year and hunted every day with bows/shotguns and rifles we fished and traveled and spent time with our friends. We hunted nearly every day, sometimes in blinds and on foot... even barefoot. Crawl if you want to. Tell your PH what you want from your hunt.
My point is.. an adventure is just that. You never know where it will lead. Our family now has traveled all over Africa and made great friends and had unforgettable life experiences. It is what you make it. Shortly after I got back the first time I took my first elk with a bow.. just saying.
Around Day Two or Three, you will be trying to figure out how you are going to be able to afford the next trip back.
The long plane ride is tough, but the total hunting/cultural experience out weighs to long plane ride. Sleeping pills can soften the long ride over and for some strange reason the ride back is not as long- I think that is because of less anxiety and fatigue.
I would not recommend any hunt for less than 10 days.
As far as "bang for buck" and number of animals you will see- you cannot beat Africa.
Best of luck with your decision making process.
I think you must look at it as others said, as not just a hunt, but a cultural experience.
Like you, I've been bitten by the elk bug hard, and have had some great elk trips. Aside from looking at the elk antlers on the wall, and thinking of the hunt, some of my most enjoyable memories of my elk hunts are the traveling through the beautiful west, meeting locals off the beaten paths and off the interstates.
I enjoy the travel, driving, small western towns, etc., almost as much as the hunting itself.
I'm looking forward to that aspect of my SA trip as well.
You can always make more money, you can't make more time.
To the days of Marlin Perkins and his sidekick , Stan .
It's hard for me to think of a better way to enjoy life !!!!
As far as your Africa hunt. If you got it at a steal and it's with a reputable outfit, I'd say go for it. The elk will still be here.
I used the think I wanted to be Jim.
Now, I'm more of a Marlin kind of guy.
But , Stan Brock had a shorter stint with Mr. Perkins .
Either way... They often had to wrestle the Boa while Marlin would be scouting up ahead for the campsite.
One of my favorite Marlin memories was when they were in the Everglades, and Jim tackled something and things started getting a bit hairy.
In the background you could see Marlin getting the heck out of Dedge, and heading for the airboat.
Anyhow, for reasons other than financial, I declined.
I know many people who have been there (with gun or bow) and it just doesn't interest me at all.
I'm an "ole" northern woodsman though and I can understand that others might enjoy it.
Someday perhaps I'll go back with my own son. It is an experience unlike any other.
Even if you don't bring back any animals or horns, it will provide you experiences you will treasure a long time.
You'll see more game in South Africa on a 10 day hunt than you'll see hunting in the US for the rest of your life.
Take a good camera when if/when you go. My biggest mistake was taking cheap cameras. You only get one chance to take pictures, unless you make another trip:)
Don't let the opportunity slip away. GO!
I am super excited about it as it creeps up closer to time to go. Just hope the soon to be wife doesn't drain the bank account by shooting more than I do when we get there!