Adventures of a Neophyte Hunter – Intro

August 12th, 2013 by davesterli in News

Note:  The following several posts recount my experiences and thoughts during my recent African Safari.  I initially planned a brief synopsis of the events, but as I played back the events in my mind, it turned into a much longer dissertation.  This is really for my personal benefit – it was such a memorable, intense experience that I want to capture as many details as possible.  As I’m tired of writing and have no desire to go through and condense, I’m sharing everything.  Apologies for the length…scroll for pictures if you tire of reading.

 

In the Spring of 2012, at a fundraiser for my son’s school, the “big item” at the end of the live auction was for a 10 day South African Hunting Safari for four people.  Not being a hunter, or someone who had shot any type of firearm since that .22 at camp 30 years ago, I was probably not the most likely person in attendance to end up with the winning bid.  Further, there was no drinking at this event, so there was no impaired judgment that would cause me to suddenly thrust our card with our assigned number “206” in the air.  Nonetheless – and calling into general question our ability to make solid parenting decisions for two relatively dependent minors –  somehow, after discussing the issue for a full 10-15 seconds, my wife and I arrived at the sound decisions that Yes, we should indeed bid on this item.  Still thinking we were crazy, I raised our card and caught the eye of the auctioneer.   Fortunately, God gave us an out, as some benevolent soul elsewhere in the room outbid us.  Not content to let our first foolhardy decision be an orphan, however, we persevered and tried again…up goes 206, and at a price beyond what we had spent on any vacation in our previous 9 years of marriage!  At this point, God clearly just shook his head – stupidity at this level must be punished.  And it was.  ”Going once, twice, SOLD TO THE GENTLEMAN IN THE CORNER!  #206!”

And so, the adventure began.

18 months later…after months of preparation, including a relatively compressed introduction to the world of firearms and rifles in particular, but still never actually having, you know, hunted, I arrived in Johannesburg with my two companions.  It was a 24 hour excursion that took us from Dallas to DC, to Dakar, Senegal, and finally to Johannesburg.  For the first time in my adult life, thanks to a strategic but responsibly controlled combination of drugs and wine, I actually slept on the plane for 6-7 hours.  That allowed me to feel relatively coherent and normal as we worked through passport control, firearms check, and off to our one night in Johannesburg.  After a good meal and great company – we were at Afton guesthouse with a dozen other American hunters – we got a good night sleep in preparation for our trip north to the hunting camp in the morning.

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The “we” for this trip was Clif, Stacy, and I.  Clif and I have known each other for many years, and have done some travelling together already.  Last year we were in Ukraine for Euro 2012, and several years prior we went to Prague with our wives.  Stacy and I have children of a similar age, and he was there that fateful night 18 months ago when this adventure started.  Both are more experienced with firearms and hunting than I am, and that would be evident in the coming days.  More importantly, they are both great travelling companions, and it was easy to spend the almost two weeks together with them.

The North American Clif...out of his native habitat.

Clif

Stacy

Stacy

Throughout the Safari, I captured my thoughts via voice memos, and the following posts are my re-worked transcription of those thoughts.  Ultimately, what seemed like a colossal misstep and expensive joke18 months ago turned out, in reality, to be the beginning of a fantastic journey.  These were 10 very memorable days and, much to the chagrin of my wife, I certainly hope that this was not once-in-a-lifetime.  (There is still a Warthog out there somewhere with my name on it.)

A final note before I begin:  If you find hunting objectionable, you may want to skip these posts.  A significant part of the experience did, not surprisingly, involve the killing of animals, and I suspect I will recount those experiences in some detail.  (As for my views on hunting, I agree with much of what Gordon Keith shared several years back.)  But, for what it’s worth, I saw dozens of animals, and not one was talking, or singing Hakuna Matata.

 

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(In Prague in front of a really big metronome!)




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