Safari Adventures of a Neophyte Hunter – Conclusion

August 21st, 2013 by davesterli in News

On Tuesday the 31st, after 9 full days of hunting, it was time to begin our journey home.  The previous 10 days had been an amazing experience.  I had done something that I never imagined I would do.  Not just hunting, but on an actual Safari in South Africa!

There were so many new experiences…some big, and some small.

  • Spending hours driving and walking around the South African bush, seeing some of the most beautiful animals in the world in their natural habitat.
  • Tracking animals on foot (my best estimate…40-60 miles of walking), sometimes on seemingly endless quests for one decent shot…this was possibly the greatest enjoyment of the whole trip.  The rush and thrill of the hunt was unlike anything I’ve ever done.
  • Shooting, hitting, and killing a live animal.
  • Seeing dead animals “processed”.  It is not pretty, but in some form, the burger, chicken, or turkey we are eating today went through this process. It does not seem too much to ask for us to actually see what is involved for us to enjoy these animals as food.
  • Shooting, hitting, and wounding a live animal, and dealing with the repercussions.
  • Having new foods that were out-of-this-world.  In addition to the melt-in-your-mouth Impala Lasagna and out-of-this-world tasty Eland Steaks, we had Gemsbok cutlets, Kudu Sausage, Kudu Stir-Fry, Wildebeest Sloppy Joe’s, and Warthog Sausage (or at least sausage with Warthog filler).  And I’m not even trying to recall all of the fantastic side dishes that accompanied the daily meat orgy.
  • Playing the bar-game of measuring trophy horns for beer.  (And losing…it is kind of a stacked deck to play that game with PH’s.)
  • Expanding my beer experience to include South African “Castle”, and Namibian “Windhoek”.
  • Speaking fluent Afrikaans.  (OK…maybe not this one.)

Now we are back home, three weeks removed from the experience, and I can’t stop thinking about it.  The “simple monotony” (as Clif so aptly called it) of our daily routine was wonderful.  I have hunting dreams many nights, with missed shots still playing a prominent role.  I suppose I feel that there is still unfinished business.  I did not get a Warthog, Blesbuck, or Bushpig (which was on my original list), and taking a Wildebeest properly still needs to be done.  And of course, there are so many other animals to hunt, each with their own challenges and rewards.  (Stacy is determined to return for a Cape Buffalo.  That is an excursion unto itself, and Clif and I have already offered our services as his assistants.)

This was by no means “roughing it” – we had our every need catered to, and we never had to worry about providing for our next meal or drink (although Willem kept threatening, and I think only half-joking, that if we kept returning to camp empty handed, we might forfeit our right to dinner) – but, even without the high-touch service, I think it is a life that I could easily fall in love with. No TV; no rushing to meetings or pressure to deliver on the next big business initiative; no traffic; no crowds; less stress.  It is not my current reality, and probably won’t be anytime soon, but the “simpler life” – away from the big city and all that comes with it – has great appeal.  Maybe someday when the kids have left home I’ll persuade Lisa to move out to the country where we can work the land and feast off the wild birds and game that I hunt.  (If you are reading this at the same time she is, you can probably hear the howls of laughter and her related comments. “Yeah, right!”  “We would go hungry!”  “Maybe if there is a farm right next to North Park Mall!”  Admittedly, we would probably bare a striking resemblance to Oliver and Lisa on Green Acres.)

Beyond hunting, South Africa and the broader continent have now piqued my interest.  I would like to spend time in Cape Town and Pretoria.  I would love to see the Big 5 in their natural habitat, and not (or not only) through the scope of a gun.  I would like to see life in Africa outside of the game farms in the Limpopo Province.  I know there is so much to see and do, and now that I’ve made my inaugural trip, returning doesn’t seem quite so daunting.

18 months ago, I couldn’t get my head around the possibility of traveling halfway around the world to shoot guns at large-ish animals.  It was so far outside of my paradigm that it was impossible to imagine.  In the days and weeks leading up to the trip, I spent countless hours wondering what it would be like, and whether I would enjoy it.  Now, as I look back, it exceeded my wildest expectations.  Everything about the experience – including the missed shots – contributed to a singular experience.  I hope to do it again, and hopefully with much more skill, confidence, and success, but the excitement and thrill of the first time can never be repeated.

Certainly the memories will fade over time (thus the extensive documentation), but sometime in the next 18-24 months, horns, skulls, and skins from my animals will arrive at my home.  My plans for chairs recovered with Kudu and Gemsbok skins, and horns mounted over the piano, bar, and TV, are still pending the boss’s approval.  But fortunately, I’ve got a bit of time to help her come around to my way of thinking.  And, once I do, I can’t wait to see those daily reminders of an experience that opened up worlds to me (hunting, Africa) that I heretofore never cared about, but now can’t wait to return to.

Some random pictures…

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