Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Blue Duiker’


Sustainable hunting is arguably the finest form of conservation in Africa today. Some species have been brought back from the brink of extinction while others have seen their numbers explode due to the demand created by hunters. Every single specie needs a sustainable value to thrive, but others are slighty more complicated when it comes their survival.

It goes without saying that our Rhino are in big trouble. With the ongoing poaching scourge leading to devastating losses throughout Southern Africa, and mostly South Africa, who boasts more than 80% of the Rhino population on the planet, we are sitting in a crisis unfathomable to the first world.

For our Rhino to survive we have created a value and means to protect their existence via the Vita Darting Experience, and that’s where our good friend Aaron Davidson came in adding his weight to the cause.  Aaron’s list of “don’t haves” has become smaller with each passing safari. Chasing the little guys can become somewhat frustrating at times, so when the vita dart idea came up we all jumped at it.

Electa had joined her Dad on her maiden hunt to Africa, following in the footsteps of her twin brothers, Danner and Derec, starting off with a few “first ups” to get into the swing of things.

Some of our “first ups” weren’t your traditional ones, but neither was Electa. Aaron has always expressed his desire to share Africa with his children, but he warned me that Electa would hunt us off our feet if given half a chance. And how right he was! She spotted the game and got set up faster than any other young girl her age that I’ve had the pleasure of guiding in the past. When tasked to make the shot, no matter how difficult it may have seemed, her response was always one of confidence and optimism, best summed up by her East Cape Kudu at over 700 yards. Don’t miss that show on Gunwerks Long Range Pursuit in the coming months.

Aaron added to our efforts with a pretty impressive Mountain Reedbuck while up in the north, before heading on to start our Vita Dart experience.

As to ensure the shooter would be familiar with the dart gun we setoff to get in some range time with the various scenarios and to prepare the shooter with what to expect. It’s an exhilarating means of hunting allowing the hunter to experience the thrill of stalking these pre-historic beasts to within thirty yards before letting a vitamin dart fly from a dart gun. Once the hunter has darted the Rhino with the prescribed vitamins, a licensed veterinarian immobilizes the animal from a helicopter, where after blood samples, micro-chipping, DNA ID’s, pregnancy tests and a number of check-ups, are administered as part of the management and well-being of the animal on an annual basis. This all sounds fairly straight forward in theory, but throw in a +-5000 LB animal and a game of cat-and-mouse and you’re dealing with an entirely different scenario, a challenging one at that.

Arriving at the range I noticed that mischief smile Aaron get’s when he’s up to something he hasn’t shared with me. I’ve come to notice over the years that he loves sending me a curve-ball from time to time. I was right. Alecta got out of the truck to see what her Dad was up to with the dart gun when Aaron handed her the gun. “You’re up young lady”; and that’s all it took to see a young girl live out a dream.

We spotted a crash of White Rhino off in the distance and started our stalk from about 800 yards out with the wind in our faces. During our stalk, as we approached cautiously, the feeding Rhino bedded down for their morning nap lapping up the sun’s rays on a chilly Karoo morning. With the Rhino fast asleep and a constant breeze in our faces we got to within 17 yards for Electa to make the shot.

At the last moment the Rhino sensed something was up and rose right in front of us. If the bull wasn’t already big enough, it now towered out above the dainty figure of Alecta whose heart could be heard thumping in her throat. She stood motionless for a second, took a deep breath to re-gather herself and yanked the trigger. I literally thought she’d pulled the trigger out of its casing as the bull took off in the opposite direction with two females in close pursuit. The vitamin dart was in and Alecta was smiling.

Next came the vet with our helicopter which was on standby, darting Alecta’s bull with the required M99 to put him down. From there it was time to step back and watch the experienced team go to work on the downed Rhino, finally giving Dad and daughter a few photo opportunities before waking the bull again. It was an experience I’m certain the two of them will never forget.

By this stage Alecta had pretty much achieved everything and anything she may have dreamt of in Africa, giving Aaron and Garrett the reins for the remainder of the trip. Aaron and I were still plugging away at our Cape Grysbuck, which by this stage was giving us a hiding second to none.

John Mercer had teamed up with Professional Hunter, Martin Neuper, hunting from both our southern and northern areas. These two got on like a house on fire, best summed up when one afternoon we met them on a blind bend down in a ravine, singing away to the chorus of some old country song from way back when.

The south treated them well with a number of memorable setups and long shots shared around the pub in the evenings. A broken horned Waterbuck was one of our favourites. Imagine the story behind the break? Looking at his sheer size and mass with the huge neck it left one wondering how old this bull truly was.

Up north they pursued Springbuck, coming away with the traditional Springbuck slam of Common, Black and White up in the Great Karoo.

John’s Cape Eland was however a highlight for all involved. It took a solid effort with a ton of luck and a superb shot when the opportunity finally presented itself. It summed up so much of how John’s hunt went… just superb in every sense of the word.

For Dennis Charleton it would be the hunt he had always dreamt of with his 7 mm LRM. Having met PH, Ross “Stix” Hoole, at the Houston Safari Club show during the previous January, the two hit it off from the word go. After their initial meeting, and having discussed Dennis’s priorities, Stix asked Dennis to consider hiring the crew from GTS Productions along on their safari. Dennis didn’t hesitate and GTS did not disappoint…

With each hunting party going about their business in what we like to refer to the “Gunwerked” way, we finally turned our attention to Garrett and what he was after during his 2018 safari.

Garrett like Aaron, is a man amongst men, always putting the needs of others ahead of himself. I’ve lost count of the amount of opportunities Garrett has given up for others to enjoy and therefore the reason for my gift to Garrett this year. I wanted to introduce him to the Tiny 10 and the wonders of hunting these unknown species. I dully took him Blue Duiker hunting with the terriers…

We had a blast coming away with a great Blue and a superb Gemsbuck bull up in the north, to go with his already impressive Gemsbuck female from some years ago.

Of course there’s very little this team doesn’t do together, with Garrett’s Lechwe being a highlight of our hunt towards the end of our safari.

Aaron and I FINALLY broke our vudu with a Cape Grysbuck just as the bell rang for the final round. And then to top it off we finally got our 6″ Steenbuck. The “unicorn” I had hoped for in our Tiny 10 collection.

It had been three fantastic weeks with Aaron and the many friends of Gunwerks. We had given it our all and hunted hard to walk away feeling boastfully proud of our hunters and their results. Frustrating at times and optimistically over-confident at others, which is largely the reason why we hunt, not so? There will always be those that got away… And then there’s those that didn’t.

It was a certain pig that just about broke us in more ways than one. Talk about playing with our emotions. The one minute you’re in and the next you’re out. Giving one hope and then dashing one into a state of hopelessness.


Garrett’s turning into quite the “pig whisperer”…. how else can one explain his luck on the big ones at such a regular rate. This one however will take some beating in adventure and size. But more about that pig, the dig and the comical moments for another day. That was Gunwerks in Africa 2018. We can’t wait to start the adventure all over again during May/June 2019.

Want to join John X Safaris & Gunwerks on safari with your Gunwerks rifle during 2019? Contact us today for all the info. It’s going to be a big one with watershed opportunities.

For more information and current updates about John X Safaris; follow us on Twitter, connect with us on Facebook, subscribe to our YouTube Channel and visit our Website.

Read Full Post »

Right at the start of May, just as the first Kudu bulls began sniffing that familiar scent of the rut in the air and the professional hunters started reaching for their winter longs, we welcomed Mark Beynon and a group of hunters from Utah and New Jersey.

Mark from the outset was no stranger to African hunting, he had enjoyed numerous safaris over the past decade to the dark continent and had been bitten by the African bug. While he had surpassed his maiden hunt a long time ago, he wanted to share in the wonder of an African safari with a bunch of his friends who had never experienced a camp fire after a successful day’s hunt.

The options were plentiful and the variety something to behold, but finally at a get-together in North Ogden, Utah, during 2016 the ball started rolling. At first slowly and then the names started trickling in and we started meeting the guys. Soon they weren’t a couple of guys anymore, but a group heading to Africa.

Jerry Ohrn, Dustin Spencer, Dave Nguyen, Alex Jolley, Adam Jolley, Kelly Malloy and James(Buz) and Lisa Mullan joined Mark for a combo trophy/management hunt that would turn out to be one of the most enjoyable safaris of the season.

Adam Jolley joined PH, Ross “Stix” Hoole and tracker, Thandoxolo (Jimmy), for an adventure filled week in and around Woodlands Safari Estate. A Kudu is usually the priority for every first timer to Africa and Adam was no different.

He hunted hard and put in the yards to hunt an amazing old bull with spectacular mass all the way to the tips.

A pair of Blue Wildebeest, which look amazing together, an Impala, Waterbuck and a late afternoon unexpected Cape Bushbuck made for one busy week. In between the hunting Adam squeezed in the time to capture the sights and sounds around him with a number of incredible wildlife pictures as he enjoyed the variety and abundance of wildlife on show.

Adam’s brother, Alex, who joined PH, Carl van Zyl, and tracker, Oluwethu, was meant to be on the same schedule as Adam… until he laid eyes on the majestic Sable of Woodlands.

There was no going back and Alex made the most of a magnificent bull getting him off to a BIG start in Africa.

A few days of cold and wet weather dampened the teams’ spirits in their pursuit of Kudu, but perseverance paid off in the end. While the Kudu tested their patience it would be the hunt for a Gemsbuck that brought them together as a team. A long and hot day, with numerous failed attempts on a number of Gemsbuck herds, saw the team just about throwing in the towel when at last light a particularly impressive Gemsbuck was spotted. The hunt was on and soon they were right in the midst of the Gemsbuck and just about everything else in Africa too. If it weren’t Impala in the way it would be an Ostrich, and finally a Zebra which just about got it as it stepped out right as Alex was about to take the shot.

One heck of a shot did the trick and Alex had earned himself one magnificent Gemsbuck.

On the last few remaining days the guys hunted for Cape Eland while admiring the views at Woodlands.

A big old bull finally made the mistake the hunters were after and Alex called it a day with four impressive trophies heading back to Utah.

As for Buzz and Lisa Mullan, who joined PH, Rusty Coetzer, it would be an adventure more than just a hunt. They were after a quota of management game, which forms an integral part of our long-term management plan for our wildlife. They made the most of each day out in the field and took the time to look for the “right” Kudu to hunt. In the end they did just that and plenty more!

For Jerry Ohrn, PH, Dave Burcy, and tracker, Shooter, it would be a hunt for a number of priority species that Jerry had set his sights on. Jerry’s Kudu hunt proved to be one great adventure while his Gemsbuck bull had the entire team green with envy.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Kelly Malloy would travel to Africa focussed on hunting hard for a few selected species. His desire for quality saw him open his mind to the age-old saying of taking what Africa gives you. He hunted Blue Wildebeest, Hartebeest, Impala, Gemsbuck and Black Wildebeest.

However, his Nyala would go down as one of the trophies, if not THE trophy of the season. It’s not every day that one hunts a 30” Nyala.

Is he not the most spectacular bull you’ve seen in ages?

Dustin Spencer who joined PH, Clayton Fletcher, tracker, Koki, and everyone’s favourite Jack Russell, Beans, were on the hunt for inferior genetics, working towards our goal of selectively ensuring only the best breed. They hunted management Impala, Blesbuck, Springbuck, Wildebeest, Hartebeest, and Kudu. Their Warthog would be a certain highlight, as well as an Impala tracked down by Beans and the team in hot pursuit.

Each evening after dinner one would see Dustin sitting on the veranda outside his room admiring the stars with this huge grin on his face. His enjoyment of his experience was obvious but even more so was the thought of him living his dream in Africa. It was infectious and rewarding to witness.

If Dustin’s grin was infectious then Dave Nguyen was our drug! Dave or fondly known as Azn (Asian) Dave was the epitome of fun. In all our time having met numerous people from all walks of life, we have NEVER met anyone like Dave. At first you’re not certain if he’s serious or kidding? You’re continually guessing what he’s about to say next and he’s a wreck about to happen in the nicest way possible. Imagine Mr. Chow from the “Hangover” movie and you’ve got Dave.

Dave and Mark teamed up with PH, Greg Hayes, and tracker, Bless, taking part in our management hunt on offer.

Of course both men couldn’t stop at just management game…. that wouldn’t be the way they role!

Dave proved to be the glue of this group. His character combined with his daily comical happenings still has us in stitches of laughter months down the line. As for Mark, he proved to be the consummate group leader, assisting us daily in ensuring his friends were taken care of to the maximum. From the outset Mark was adamant of what he wanted. The hunting had to be good, that was to be a given, but he wanted his friends to experience the camaraderie of an African safari. That fire that had lit within him all those years ago was something he wanted them to experience.

A certain High card… Low card game for Cinco de Mayo celebrations and a proud trophy of that night hangs in the pub at Woodlands Safari Estate as a reminder of something more than a hunt and of these fine gentleman and lady who came to Africa as strangers but left as friends.

For more information and current updates about John X Safaris; follow us on Twitter, connect with us on Facebook, subscribe to our YouTube Channel and visit our Website.

Read Full Post »

Part 3 Chris’ Story – Journey of a safari addict writing a new chapter

This is the last of the series of blogs by the “Three Amigos”.  It is my story about my journey on my safaris, about friendship and returning to Africa to write a much-needed new chapter of my journey in life.  And oh yes, it is about an amazing buffalo hunt.

The journey of friendship …

I met an incredible young man in 2007.  He was our PH on our first safari.  At the “tender” age of 24, he had already taken over the mantle of running the family’s safari business.  I had children older than Carl van Zyl, and I couldn’t fathom any of them taking over and running a business as complex as John X Safaris.  One thing for sure, his passion was both boundless and infectious.

They say that once you are bitten by the “safari bug” you can’t help but being drawn back to Africa.   Carl was the major reason we came back the very next year to celebrate our 35th Wedding Anniversary on safari in 2008.   From teaching my wife to shoot and hunt, to arranging fantastic photographic game drives for me, Carl was the consummate host in personalizing our experiences over the years.   Simply put, we were not “clients”, we became members of the Van Zyl family.

Carl and I sharing our Kudu experience in 2007. Notice that in 2007 we were both much younger and Carl’s old Jack Russel, Jack, was very much on the scene still!

Despite 30+ years difference in age, Carl and I bonded as friends who could talk about anything, including business.  Very few young people in their 20s will listen to an “old guy” about branding and marketing.   But Carl was different.   He was open, hungry and enthusiastic.   Over the next decade, we worked together on web sites, social media, safari books, and everything imaginable to build the John X brand.

From the very beginning, Carl had an uncanny instinct about what he wanted to create.  He often quoted the statistics about the thousands of outfitters competing for “clients”.  Carl wanted more than clients.  Carl’s passion was making John X different by focusing on the total experience.   Yes clients talk about their hunts, but the passionate remember the experience of being on safari and what they felt.  For Carl, John X would become all about how you felt about your “experience”.

You always remember the experiences and what you felt around the campfire … especially when you’re dancing with best friends and Craig Boddington’s family!

My return a decade later to see “vision come to life”

John X Safaris has been led by Carl for the past decade, but when the family bought their new base “Woodlands Safari Estate” at the end of 2016, Carl simply declared that I had to come back to see the latest developments.   He wanted me to experience what had been built over the last decade, and his vision of where it will go in the next decade.   How could I refuse a friend and family?

Needing to write a new chapter

After 35 years in my business, I grew stale.   Simply put I was not having any fun anymore.  I was dreading some of the upcoming life changes related to my retirement and closing down my business.  One of my daughters sent me a motivational quote …

My daughter was right.  I hadn’t written any new chapters in quite a while.  Nothing like getting off the grid to do some “editing of life’s perspective” in Africa.   With Carl’s compelling offer of a “life changing experience”, 2018 became the perfect time for a safari.   I followed my daughter’s advice and decided I needed to write a new chapter. What better way to do it than to celebrate your 66th birthday in Africa on safari!

Fulfilling the ultimate challenge as a hunter

For me and my wife, 2008 was a banner safari year for some amazing plains game trophies.  In typical fashion, I said that we were “done”, and that I was now going to focus on photography.

At one of those amazing campfire experiences on the 2008 safari Carl simply said:  “My friend you are never done with Africa … you have not yet experienced all she has to offer.  You must experience the “Tiny Ten”!  And, you haven’t lived until you have faced “Black Death” on his turf – I will make sure that you will come back for cape buffalo!”

Carl was right.  I had become a safari addict, and I did come back with family and friends.  Along the way I managed to collect a magnificent eland, klippy and even the elusive blue duiker.  Over the course of those hunts our friendship grew deeper.

Carl even acquiesced and participated in some of my passions for photography.  In the spirit of creating the ultimate personalized photo experience, Carl personally drove me on a road trip of 13+ hours to the Kalahari to photograph the famous black mane lions of the desert.

Nothing matches the photographic experience of capturing a pair of mating lions in the Kalahari Desert.

When 2018 rolled around, Carl said that photography was all well and good, but that I needed to get my passion back for a real hunting experience.   And since I had been talking about “new chapters”, he knew the perfect way to do that – cape buffalo hunting at Woodlands.

There is hunting … and then there is cape buffalo hunting.

The safari of 2018 was a decade of planning with Carl, but it was actually 6 decades in the making.   I started bird hunting with my father at age 6.   There is something about growing up in the outdoors with family that is difficult to explain.   It is the culmination of all those experiences that form an incredible bond, and adrenalin rush to be in the field.  Carl knew me all too well and said that I needed to get that passion back.

However, he also prepared me for hunting buffalo.   He stared in my eyes and said …

“Chris, you must understand that hunting cape buffalo is serious stuff.  You must be fully dedicated and focused.  It is nothing like hunting kudu.  When hunting buffalo, you will see me and the other PHs go into “another zone”.   Buffalo are called “black death” for a reason, and we will be hunting them in the bush at maybe 20 to 50 yards.  I am passionate to take you, but you must take this experience very seriously.”

I don’t think that anyone is quite prepared for what it feels like up close with a dugga boy on his turf!

Ok!  Carl had my full attention.   He spent serious time with me on the range with the 375 H&H I was to use.  And I was dead serious about practicing what I needed to do. To say that it was a different hunt from the get-go would be an understatement.

I only had three requests of Carl:

  1. I did not want to just shoot a buffalo, I wanted to really hunt him on his turf.
  2. I just wanted a real experience; I did not measure it by taking a trophy.
  3. I did not come to Africa to die hunting buffalo.

I was certainly going to test John X Safaris moto of “catering to hunters of all ages and abilities”.  Due to recent health issues, I’m not the nimblest of foot.   Carl does not control where to find the buffalo, and they were in the deepest cover.  But he was incredibly patient in helping make the stalks possible for me through some difficult terrain.

Day 1 – The Buffalo Encounter

Many of the hunting shows depict hunts across vast plains and savannah.   Woodlands is entirely different. It is comprised of steep hills and ravines filled with brush.  And the herds stay in the dense stuff.  It took the better part of the first day just to find any buffalo.  I’m told that many buffalo hunts in this area can require a minimum of 5 days or more to even have an opportunity.

On the first day we finally found buffalo in the afternoon.  Carl was very patient and after a couple of hours stalking we were in a position above the herd about 110 yards away.  The big bull was bedded down and all we had to do was wait for him to get up when the herd moved.   After sitting in position for about 20 minutes a kudu cow rocketed out below us as the wind shifted slightly, busting past the herd.   Busted … buffalo flew everywhere.

In retrospect, I’m actually glad it happened that way.  It is classic to have something bust a herd.   And somehow it would not have been quite the same intense experience of being over 100 yards away sitting on a ledge above them.  Exciting, but not up close and personal as I had imagined.

Day 2 – Buffalo up close and very personal!

So you would think it would be easy to come back the next day and find the buffalo… NOT!   It took even longer the next day to find a herd, and it was probably a different one.   The stalk was even longer.   Carl finally whispered to me sternly:  “Stay focused – we are literally going to be in the herd!”

When Carl said “close” I don’t think even he realized how close.  We could see different parts of buffalo through brush, no idea of telling how many.  You could literally smell them!   So in all of this mass confusion Carl had to determine if there was a shooter bull.

I don’t think either of us was prepared for what happened next.  A young bull came out walking right toward us … stopping maybe 7 yards away staring at us!   My heart definitely felt the pressure.  Somehow Carl had the presence of mind to get the young bull to turn before he smelled us.

I don’t know how but he got us in position and me up on sticks. There was an opening of maybe 3 yards for a shot.  Carl literally had to make the call in less than two seconds and I then had to make the shot.   It was literally all a blur in slow motion … I managed to get a shot off before he disappeared.  When that shot went off, buffalo literally flew out of the canyon everywhere!

Day 3 – Discretion is the better part of valor, and the power of teamwork

Despite my best efforts, the first shot was not where it needed to be … a bit too far back.  Carl got us in the position for a second shot, but it was through some brush.  Dust flew and it looked like he fell, but made it to a ravine.   Carl made the right call:  “It’s growing dark, he is dark black … and night is not the time to pursue him on his turf”.

While the adrenaline rush was incredible, the agony soon set in.  How could I have missed the perfect shot at 25 yards?  Will we ever find him?   It is doubtful if I slept more than a couple of hours that night, and by morning light rain was falling on the roof of the lodge.   So I was sure that all sign would be gone and the buffalo would be lost.

Carl assembled his best team the next morning, and everyone had their game face on.  It has been mentioned many times, but to experience what trackers can do is amazing!  They found the tracks where the buffalo had stumbled and followed him through all the other tracks of the herd.   He actually hadn’t gone more than a couple hundred yards.

And then there was Bongo, Carl’s amazing Jack Russel.  I have grown up with Bongo on safari over the years, first his dad, Jack, and now him.  Despite his age now, he charged the buffalo and had him at bay in short order.   It was such a relief made possible by an incredible team.  Until that buffalo is down, there is no calm, even for an experienced PH…

Epilogue – The Power of feeling alive and writing new chapters

I could write more about my final hunt at John X Safaris.  But suffice it to say that Carl arranged a very special hunt after the buffalo for a majestic sable.  Just he and I together, alone like many hunts before.  It was that special touch of a unique experience that would complete the bond we have built over a decade.

A Sable for the ages..

I would rather use the remaining space to share some highlights of how truly special the John X team is at creating an experience beyond expectation.   Carl’s sister Lee runs a truly high class lodge, and she arranged a surprise birthday celebration that was most appreciated!

Special thanks to Lee for a special birthday on safari, and all that you did to make our safari a 5 Star Experience!

The John X PHs are the consummate professional with incredible hunting talents.  They also become your friends for life!   Stix (aka Ross Hoole) found out it was my birthday and brought his bagpipes to my birthday party, complete with full Scottish kilt.  I cannot begin to describe the feeling of hearing Stix play the magnificent Scottish ballads on the pipes around the campfire!

Thank you Stix! Who else has a bagpipe serenade on their 66th birthday from an amazing PH in full Scottish regalia!

And then there are the Lombards!   We had never met them before arriving to hunt in their magnificent mountain camp.  Louwrence was the consummate host.  His wife Jeanette literally drove untold hours on mountain roads in order to have a bottle of champagne and flutes available to toast a birthday of a stranger they had never met!  I will never forget these new friends and how I felt being toasted on my birthday at their campfire in the mountains.

Mission Accomplished – New chapter written and editing life my story as we speak

There are many reasons to go on safari, and hunting is certainly one of them.  Carl has a vision of creating an unmatched safari that you “feel” when you experience it.  He has already achieved his John X mission of creating a safari experience which is unmatched.  I can’t imagine what he will achieve in the next decade.

And then a toast to The Three Amigos on Safari – We had an adventure filled with memories that will not be forgotten!

I have completely written a new chapter in my life, with an indelible experience with my best buddies.  As I was leaving camp I thanked Carl for my “last great safari”.   He simply said:  “Don’t be so sure my friend … there are new chapters to be written and edited.”   Based upon my last decade with Carl, I would bet that he is probably right … my last chapter on safari has not yet been written.   Thank you my friend for everything!

Trust the next chapter, because I know the author!

Chris, Admitted safari addict with a whole new chapter on the journey of life

For more information and current updates about John X Safaris; follow us on Twitter, connect with us on Facebook, subscribe to our YouTube Channel and visit our Website.

Read Full Post »

Hello – Salibonani – Hallo – Dumela – Lumela – Xewane – Molweni – I nhlikanhi – Sawubona – Welcome to South Africa.

This country we call home is a vibrant place, it’s filled with the colors of the rainbow, a melting pot from all walks of life and tribe that live with a rhythm hard to describe or find anywhere else on earth. There’s something about getting back that excites the spirit as the cabin door opens and Africa flows back through your airways and into your blood. It is then that you know you’re back, you are back home.

The past six weeks have been a roller coaster of success, with the obvious turn in the US economy playing a major role in not only a revived economy, but a revived people willing and wanting to travel. The daily reception and hospitality enjoyed by our team while abroad continued to speak volumes about the American people and their generosity. Your continued support through hunting will ensure growth and sustainability of our wildlife in Africa. It is a model that is finally enjoying the support and recognition that for so long has been ignored. It seems that while the message has always been there, the importance of hunting on the Dark Continent has finally been proven through sustainable results. Hunters are not merely talking about conservation, they are being conservationists.

Arriving home we have turned our attention to the first hunts for the year, with a mere three week’s to go we’re scouting hard in preparation and anticipation of an exciting season ahead. Some areas are still dry, but the rains are here, and the majority of our hunting areas have been blessed with fantastic summer rains.

The game as always will amaze one, with their ability to recover from hard times the minute the countryside changes from dull and barren to lush and green. There are youngsters everywhere with each family group nurturing their young in their own unique way. Many of the old bulls/rams we feared for during the drought are still around, and amazingly so, in fantastic condition. Our trail cameras have been catching them throughout our areas, giving us great confidence going forward.

Between now and the start of our season be sure to follow our social media platforms as we continue to share more from our trail cameras, giving you plenty to look forward to on safari with us this year.

On behalf of my team I would once again like to thank each and every one of you for your hospitality, friendship and support. Ngiyabonga. Dankie. Re a Leboga. Ke a Leboha Haholo. Ndza Nkhensa. Ndo Livhuwa. Enkosi. Thank you – We could not have done it without you.

It’s time to get out there. We’re ready for your arrival – See you on safari!

For more information and current updates about John X Safaris; follow us on Twitter, connect with us on Facebook, subscribe to our YouTube Channel and visit our Website.

Read Full Post »

Back by Popular Demand – The most popular shots from last season…

With our travels across the US in full swing we have been blown away by the sheer popularity of the past season’s safari videos. The fine balance between the actual hunt and the overall safari experience is one that at times can be very hard to capture, as one cannot always predict the precise moment when something amazing is about to be witnessed. Wildlife has a way of surprising one when you least expect it. BUT in saying that, more often than not the unexpected just happens and those are the true moments that shout out AFRICA louder than any.

Our crew on the ground from Got The Shot Productions headed up by Ozzy filmed and produced some of the most amazing scenes during 2017, capturing the true essence of a hunt with John X Safaris. By popular demand here are a few of our most viewed safari videos from the past season.

Starting us off is Cable Smith on his first safari to the Dark Continent. Cable is the host of Lone Star Outdoor Radio and a guy we’ve come to know a whole lot better since his safari. Join him as he got to experience Africa from a first timers perspective, and don’t miss his Warthog “rodeo”. It’s been one of the most asked about hunts from 2017!

Or join the Smith family as they braved some extreme elements hunting plains game from both our southern and northern concessions. This father/son duo made the most of our youth hunting initiative and came away with a host of experiences hard to match anywhere else in the world.

Or jump on board with us as we leave the East Cape in South Africa and travel to West Africa. Cameroon and the Giant Eland has been a bucket list safari for many of us for as long as we can remember. Our old friends, Luther Dietrich and Jeff Edland, joined Professional Hunters, Mike Currie and Carl van Zyl, on this hunt of a lifetime. Hunting Lord Derby Eland is not for the faint hearted…

These are just a few from 2017, there are a whole bunch more on our YouTube Channel to enjoy over the coming weeks.

If any of our booked hunters for 2018 would like to have their safari filmed then don’t hesitate to reach us on hunting@johnxsafaris.co.za . GTS Productions are at your service every step of your hunt, shot for shot, sight for sight, and sound for sound. Take Africa home with you as you share your experience with family and friends.

For more information and current updates about John X Safaris; follow us on Twitter, connect with us on Facebook, subscribe to our YouTube Channel and visit our Website.

Read Full Post »

If only you could see Africa this morning… The rains have come, the drought has broken and the summer has arrived. The world is looking fresher than ever before. The young have started dropping, the first sign that it’s time to reflect on the year that has been.

If we look back at where we were on 18 November 2016 and fast forward the clock to 18 December 2017, then it would be hard to imagine we could have done what we have done without the support of so many of you. We re-located to a new base, an unknown piece of land that looked promising, but held no guarantees.  

Of course we had done our homework on the game, but our first aerial census as to ascertain a scientific quota, threw in a couple of unexpected surprises. For more than twenty years we had invested and spent countless man hours to achieve something like this at Lalibela. Here we were a mere two hours into our first flight at Woodlands…

The natural game numbers were high, in some cases too high, but the presence of Leopard, and the fact that we spotted a large Tom on our maiden flight proved to us how wild Woodlands really was. We found valleys and large tracks of land that had not seen man for many years. We saw great herds and superb trophies. The all-important “Wildlife” box was ticked in a big way.

From the wildlife we turned our attention to the lodging and what infrastructure there was. Roads and natural water sources had to be built or repaired, all during the worst drought in living memory. We were caught in a “catch 22”. There was so much that needed to be done before the first hunters arrived in late April. Without the water there would be no wildlife, and without the lodging there’d be no hunters to sustain the wildlife. We had no choice. 18 Hour days, 7 days a week became the norm.

It took a mammoth effort by a special team to pull it all together. In the end it proved to be worth it….

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

From the very first hunters in April to the last in December, the acceptance and excitement around Woodlands Safari Estate, combined with our renowned Karoo concessions, has seen us looking towards the future even more invigorated than before. The experience of 35 years in the safari industry and knowing the commitment it takes to ensure you as individual will enjoy a world-class hunt, was not merely a given, but something we took to heart even more so this season.

You and your lust for adventure on the dark continent afforded Africa’s wildlife the opportunity to be bold. It allowed us to take on new areas and to grow through sustainability. This year you chose South Africa, Cameroon, and Tanzania. You chose to hunt more than 55 species. You chose plains game. You chose big five. You chose to support your passion.

The success and enjoyment derived from being a part of your safari was something we as a team gained much enjoyment from. It’s something we’ve looked back on proudly. This year’s achievements are a celebration of bold new beginnings at John X Safaris, and most importantly, a celebration of each of you and your adventures. Truth be told… Without you none of this would have been possible. Thank you.

May this festive season be a joyous one filled much laughter, love and celebration.

Until your next safari – A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Carl & Family

John X Safaris will be closed for our annual shutdown and will re-open on 2 January 2018. We will not have access to emails daily, but will respond to your messages as soon as possible. See you at the shows!

For more information and current updates about John X Safaris; follow us on Twitter, connect with us on Facebook, subscribe to our YouTube Channel and visit our Website.

Read Full Post »

There are very few hunters in this world as lucky as Glynn Underwood. Maybe there’s something to be said about being a nice guy attracting great luck? Or may it be the fact that going more often than most affords you more opportunities than others may experience? It is something we as a team have often discussed, wondering how this man and PH, Greg Hayes, keeps turning everything they touch to gold. They have made a habit of coming out on top time and again, to the point where we have nicknamed Glynn, “Super Hunter”.

They are notorious for being the most comical team around. There’s not a minute that passes that you will not be entertained by these two,  day and night! I mean how do you explain the following to anyone without a sense of humour…

Some years ago, a couple of safaris ago to be precise, Greg and Glynn, had as per usual made the most of the evening around the campfire when they rolled out of camp a half hour after the rest, on the hunt for Cape Bushbuck. By this stage Glynn had hunted two world-class Bushbuck rams on previous hunts with John X Safaris, and now was once again pursuing one of his all-time favourite species. Upon arriving at the hunting area they sat up on some high ground to start glassing. Soon the previous evenings activities came rumbling along to Greg and he excused himself for a bit of “bush relief”. Picture the scene, I know its hard.. but there Greg was admiring the view, when suddenly a shot went off. As hastily and dignified as he could he made his way back to Glynn and tracker Bless.

Well… there they were proud as could be with yet another 15″ Cape Bushbuck.

It’s just the way they role. It’s an infectious camaraderie to be around on safari and a certain highlight for us each year. Glynn is a great believer in taking what Africa gives you. This year Glynn returned once again with his wife, Jane, and son, Woodson, as well as in-laws, Darrel and Paula Koleman.

They took part in a vita-dart, hunted a bunch of amazing plains game and then just smashed it with a Cape Buffalo of magnitude proportion. Join them on the hunt…

For more information and current updates about John X Safaris; follow us on Twitter, connect with us on Facebook, subscribe to our YouTube Channel and visit our Website.

Read Full Post »

We first met Sam Cunningham at the Dallas Safari Club Convention during January of 2014. Sam booked to join the Gunwerks crew on a hunt to John X Safaris that summer, where we got to know the man a bit better. Since then we have hosted Sam on four safaris spread across three different countries, coming away with a host of experiences and a bag of trophies ranging from plains game to big five.

Sam’s Zambian Leopard from 2016 being a certain highlight for both Sam and Stix.

What initially started as a client / PH relationship soon budded into an epic friendship between Sam and Stix, making for a formidable team out in the field. This year we welcomed Sam back to the East Cape, together with his wife, Tracey, and friends, the Smith’s.

For Tracey it would be her first trip to Africa…. and for that matter her very first hunt. She not only proved to be an excellent shot, but a really fun addition to have along on safari. When not behind the scope hunting personally, she turned out to be a trooper in supporting Sam as he came on a quest to continue his Tiny 10 collection, as well as going after the biggest too.

Sam’s Blue Duiker hunted from a blind, and his Oribi pursued along the dunes of the Indian Ocean, were great additions to his ever-growing pygmy antelope collection. It seems he has truly taken a liking to these elusive critters with plans for more in the future.

While up in the Karoo he completed his Springbuck slam from his previous East Cape safari, hunting a fantastic Copper Springbuck with our buddy Niel.

With the tiniest of the tiny in the salt the guys turned their attention to the largest plains game specie of all, the Cape Eland. With the acquisition of Woodlands at the end of 2016, unbeknown to us we had bought into an unbelievable gene pool of Cape Eland, with the population exceeding 150 animals on the greater property. This allowed us the opportunity to harvest a quota of six bulls for the season, with our ever conservative quota approach opting for no more than three bulls for the year.

Having looked at more than forty different bulls over the course of the hunt, with many world-class bulls being turned down, they finally settled on this monster. His dewlap hung at belly height, while his mop on the forehead gave away his age at over ten years. But what was the most amazing of all was his horns that boasted both length and shape. A rare combination for old Eland.

Joining Sam and Tracey were fellow Texans, the Smith’s, out on their first African safari.

Aubrey and Robin, together with their son, Tyler Smith.

For the Smith’s it would be a hunt of the ages. They joined professional Hunter, Carl van Zyl, tracker, Oluwhetu, and Jack Russel Terrier, Bongo. Pursuing a number of plains game species including; Wildebeest, Sable, Kudu, Zebra, Gemsbuck, Eland, Nyala, Waterbuck, Reedbuck, Lechwe, and a host of others, making for an exhilarating first experience on the Dark Continent.

GTS Productions videographer, Ozzy, proved to be a great addition to the safari, not only capturing the entire hunt on film, but enhancing Aubrey’s experience through their common interest and passion in photography.

All in all we enjoyed a great week together, with the smiles and many trophy pictures, the result of hard yards under challenging wind conditions. The Gunwerks system once again came out on top, giving both the Cunningham’s and Smith’s, reason to smile not only about the quality of their game, but even more so the rewards of great shots.

For more information and current updates about John X Safaris; follow us on Twitter, connect with us on Facebook, subscribe to our YouTube Channel and visit our Website

Read Full Post »

Johnny Posey, Eason Maykus, Todd Allen, Darren Vohs and Bruce Heikkinen joined us on safari during late June, right at the peak of the rut. It was great having Johnny back. He has become such a good friend and big supporter over the years, that hosting him with his friends at Woodlands during our opening season was a must for all of us at John X Safaris.

Our hunt would incorporate both our coastal region, hunting in and around Woodlands Safari Estate, as well as a trip to the Great Karoo, before joining the ladies down in Cape Town. Heather, Simone and Elise Allen, together with Sydney Posey, spent a few days with us on safari before heading down the Garden Route to Cape Town.

For first timer Darren Vohs, it would literally be a life-changing experience.

Darren teamed up with Professional Hunter, Lourens Lombard, and tracker Spinach, making for a formidable team. For a first timer Darren had set his sights on a number of “not so first timer” species, but we weren’t complaining. The rut was on and who doesn’t love a challenge when it comes to hunting?

A Kudu is always a top priority for any hunter to Africa, but apart from the elusive grey ghost the guys hunted hard for Gemsbuck, Impala, Nyala, Springbuck, Black Wildebeest, Mountain Reedbuck, Bushpig and Cape Bushbuck.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The broad smiles and images pays tribute to what turned out to be an amazing first trip for Darren, very similar to that of Bruce Heikkinen.

Bruce was a late joiner to our hunt after overhearing Johnny tell a fellow hunting buddy about his upcoming safari to Africa. It kind of summed up Bruce in the way he did things. He goes big or goes home…. When he says he’s here for a good time and not a long time, you better know he means it!

Bruce joined PH, Ross “Stix” Hoole, and tracker, Thando Xolo, for the first half of his hunt before teaming up with Ed Wilson for his last leg of his safari up in the Great Karoo.

A Cape Buffalo, Sable, Eland, Lechwe, Nyala, Waterbuck, Blue and Black Wildebeest, Zebra, Gemsbuck, Kudu, Impala and Bushpig made for a massive hunt. Not knowing much about Bruce up until meeting him on the first day of the safari we all soon learned the man could shoot.

Bruce proved to be not only a great shot, but a lucky hunter too. He however was not the luckiest hunter of all. That tag belonged to none other than Johnny Posey.

If you’ve done your time in Africa, it is said that the rub of the green starts leaning your way more often than not, but on this particular hunt it was more evident than ever before.

If our Sable and Lechwe were the starts PH, Carl van Zyl, and tracker Oluwhethu, were hoping for, then hold your breath for our Tiny 10 quest.

We headed out early one morning from Woodlands, striking a bearing south-east towards the ocean and the coastal forests Blue Duiker inhabit in large numbers along our rugged coastline.

We typically hunt Blue Duiker over Jack Russel Terriers, or make use of blinds over waterholes in the forest. On this particular occasion we opted for the blind option as conditions were dry and the Duiker were drinking regularly.

At times blind hunting can be something of a boring affair, but one thing you can be assured of when it comes to forest blind hunts, is that the bird life is jaw-dropping. The Turacos are particularly striking in both sound and colour.

While peering out of our blind, day dreaming about the various hunts we had shared over the course of the first few days, we noticed through the only hole in the forest, a red coloured animal feeding on the opposite ridge. At first we brushed it aside as a young Bushbuck female, but then our boredom got the better of us and we turned the spotting scope in its direction. And to our amazement we saw it was a Cape Grysbuck feeding in the morning sun. A rare sighting to say the least.

It was too far to tell if it were a male or female, but the opportunity required a closer look. We gathered our gear and made a dash for it. Knowing the Grysbuck would not be feeding out for too much longer we pushed hard, making up the distance between it and us as fast as our legs would carry us. Reaching the pre-determined ridge, we had plotted out previously as a good place to get a shot from, we crested too fast, spooking the Grysbuck in the process. Carl was mad for his silly error, but he had luckily seen it was a fantastic ram before the sly old guy disappeared into the undergrowth. Feeling despondent and ready to give up, knowing our chances were no more than 1/100, Johnny urged us to go on and circle back around.

And 1/100 is the only 1 we needed. This one belonged to Johnny. Through sheer determination we harvested the first ever Cape Grysbuck in daylight. An unheard of feat in the hunting world where Grysbuck are usually totally nocturnal.

With our Grysbuck in the salt and our attitudes in a festive mood we headed back to our Blue Duiker blind. The day was still young and we weren’t about to give up on our original mission.

We had barely sat down for twenty minutes when in wondered this monster from the undergrowth. The hunting gods were smiling on us as much as one could have ever hoped for.

By noon we were heading back to camp to celebrate two of the most difficult critters of the Tiny 10. It turned out to be one of the greatest days we’ve ever experienced in guiding the Tiny 10, and not to mention doing it with Johnny, a more deserving friend than him would be hard to find.

With Johnny smashing records left, right, and centre, Todd was turning his very first African safari into a huge success with PH, Martin Neuper, and tracker Oluwhethu.

Starting off his hunt with a 31’’ Waterbuck set the benchmark high for what was to come.

Todd’s Kudu was the pick of the bulls on the safari, a beautiful animal, hunted for over the course of four days. His Nyala, Cape Eland and Cape Bushbuck wrapped up a spiral slam reeking of quality, while his Sable gave you the feeling of an old warrior.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Todd’s pigs were however the pick for all of us guides. While we all know PH, Martin Neuper, is one of the best guides around, he sure has a knack of pulling the rabbit out of the hat from time to time.

Finding a Bushpig in broad daylight takes luck, actually hunting it successfully takes skill. Then top that off with a boss Warthog in trying drought stricken circumstances, and you’ve got yourself a hunt like few have experienced.

Todd came out tops when it came to pigs on this particular safari!

For Eason Maykus, a fellow first timer from Dallas, Africa provided an experience like he could not have imagined.

The mountains of the north in particular captured his imagination and set the spirit of Africa alive with in him…

Sharing his hunt with Johnny and PH, Carl van Zyl, he thrived in the tough conditions. Loving every step of the way to the top of the mountains. We harvested Waterbuck, Hartebeest, Black Wildebeest and Springbuck. Coming away with bag to be proud of.

Eason’s Gemsbuck took more than your average Gemsbuck, giving us the run around up in the high country. We had spotted the group early on during the course of the morning and we decided to concentrate on two or three individuals that had stood out in the spotting scope at 1500 yards +.

We climbed higher and higher as the day grew on, hoping to surprise the feeding group by coming over at them from above.At one point we had found a second group we had not spotted originally, making for a tricky situation on an already bare mountain. We decided to back off and allow the lay of the land and the feeding Gemsbuck to give us the opportunity we were after.

With patience our opportunity came, and with that an opportunity at a Gemsbuck to remember. Hunted for the hard way, up where the air is thin and the eagles soar, where memories and friendships were made for life. It was an epic hunt.

From the Karoo we headed back south for one last evening of fun at Woodlands, before saying goodbye to Bruce and Darren, while the rest of us, including Trish, joined the girls down in the wine country of the Cape.

We started off our visit to the Cape in Franschoek, a beautiful little town right in the heart of the wine country.

The setting was spectacular…

We spent the next few days exploring some of the well-known wineries, but mostly concentrating on the boutique style smaller vineyards. Both Johnny and Todd enjoy their wine tremendously, which allowed us all to learn a great deal about the various wines with their aging and flavouring processes.

Before we knew it, two days were up and it was time to make the short journey over the Helderberg Mountains to Cape Town. We most certainly weren’t ready to leave the wine country, but the mother city was waiting in all her glory.

By the time our ten days were up we had hunted in some of the most breath-taking areas the East Cape has to offer, the girls had seen the Big 5 and travelled down the picturesque Garden Route, before we all wrapped up a memorable safari in the Cape of Good Hope. It was one of our many highlights from 2017, shared with friends old and new in beautiful sunny South Africa.

For more information and current updates about John X Safaris; follow us on Twitter, connect with us on Facebook, subscribe to our YouTube Channel and visit our Website

Read Full Post »

With our season in full swing I found myself around the camp fire at our new base, Woodlands Safari Estate, in deep conversation with an old friend from the US. He and I have shared many a camp fire across four of Southern Africa’s premiere hunting destinations, having hunted most of the big 5. We were reliving many of those hunts, when he came to the conclusion, that while each of those experiences were amazing in their own right, at times they lacked variety. It was not that they didn’t live up to expectation, but more so the question of “IF” one would return on a second or third hunt to any one of those destinations without having to repeat the same species or the same experiences. Here he was back in the East Cape on his 4th hunt with us, and still he had not experienced everything on offer.

Since then it got me thinking, of course all are familiar with our infamous plains game hunts in the East Cape, not to mention the Cape Buffalo hunting which is gaining a huge reputation as we speak. I thought about how best to share what we were talking about, and came up with a few recent hunts over the past two months at John X Safaris.

The bird hunting in the East Cape is nothing like Argentina or the Dakota’s in the US, but they’re an experience of variety on their own. The Tzavellos family from Greece were after a safari that would entail bird hunting, as well as a Big 5 photographic experience, and a tour down the Garden Route to Cape Town.

They started off their hunt from the coast, staying at Sibuya Game Reserve for the Big 5 up close and personal, giving those who wanted to view game the opportunity to do so on morning or evening game drives, while at the same time giving Apostollos the opportunity at birds on nearby concessions.

From the coast they headed north to the Great Karoo, staying at Samara Private Game Reserve. Samara is a beautiful reserve located on the outskirts of Graaf-Reinett with vistas stretching over the horizon as far as the eye can see. Irini, Elini, and Stelios, joined Appstollos for a day in the mountains above 6000 feet for Grey Wing Partridge over English Pointer.

Tim van Heerden and his hard-working Pointers are a sight to behold.Nothing quite prepares you as one is often caught in mere awe of these amazing dogs.

From the Karoo it was onto Mossel Bay and a meander down to Cape Town along the Garden Route.

Finally saying good-bye to Africa from the slopes of Table Mountain.

From birds, Big 5, and touring we got cracking on one of our most successful concepts to date. We take youth hunting serious. In fact we believe it’s so important for the future of hunting that we’re willing to put our money where our mouths are at. Since 2007 we’ve been promoting #gettingtheyouthhuntingatjxs . Our theory is quite simple, if you’re willing to buy him/her a flight to Africa, we’ll comp the day fee! It has been ten years since that first season of getting more youngsters on safari to Africa and to date it has seen more than 50 youngsters falling in love with Africa and our hunting in the East Cape. It has been a success beyond words.

Arturo Jr on Safari…

Arturo Malo took us up on our offer, flying out from Mexico during May with his son, Arturo Jr. They were after a variety of plains game with either bow or rifle.

Arturo Sr proved that patience and endless perseverance combines well when you can handle a bow like a pro. A Waterbuck, Zebra, and Eland all fell to his bow, with his Eland being a particular favorite. A brute of an old bull, well beyond making it through this winter. The absolute perfect Eland to harvest.

Jr on the other hand was taking in every sight and sound that Africa had to offer.

As a father and son they came away enriched with their experience, with no distractions from the outside world, just one on one – connecting through hunting and the great outdoors.

Then to sum it up best one needs to look no further than two very special people who have become an integral part of our John X family. It’s not often that one has the opportunity to host a couple over a period extending more than a decade. Try adding in four countries plus six return trips to the East Cape, and you get the picture. John and Lynn Nowlin joined us on their 10th safari this season. A privilege and compliment that we pride ourselves on.

By this stage they’ve hunted just about everything on offer, so a Barbary Sheep in the mountains of the north proved to be a big interest on this particular safari.

Hunting these weary sheep are a challenge not taken lightly and one any hunter would revel in.

While the sheep and a number of plains game species would be of interest to Mr. John, it was the quest for a big Kudu that would be the focus.

It has been the Nowlin’s focus for more than ten years to hunt a Kudu of magnitude proportion. They have hunted numerous bulls, with a number reaching that magical 55″ mark, but a bull closer to 60″ has eluded them over the years. After all they’re not called the grey ghosts for nothing…

We had found an area along the Great Kei River that had introduced Southern Greater Kudu more than twenty years ago, and with an extremely strict management plan, offering a mere two trophies a year, had seen monsters coming from this area in the past few years. The area is owned by the Rance family, who kindly offered us one of the two tags for 2017, the other as per tradition was reserved for their family.

The terrain is steep and the vegetation thick, offering both hunter and Kudu an environment to thrive in.

Numerous bulls were spotted from day one, with many giving the hunters serious headaches on passing or hunting. Decisions.. decisions…

And then after scratching their heads for long and often enough, Ed made the call…

And 10 safaris all came into one for not only the Nowlin’s, but Ed and I too.

It has been their quest for so long, and it has given us sleepless nights trying to achieve the ultimate goal, like we do for every single one of our hunters, to finally achieve what we had hoped for.

59 1/8′” – A Southern Greater Kudu of magnitude proportion.

A hunt for a Kudu like this comes around once in ten safaris. It’s not your everyday kind of opportunity, but it proved what my friend and I were discussing around the camp fire. What the Tzavellos family and the Malo’s experienced were two different safaris on their own, and if the Nowlin’s could hunt the East Cape on six different occasions, and re-booked for a 7th during 2018, then that my friend tells us..The East Cape is no ordinary safari destination.

Will we see you during 2018?

For more information and current updates about John X Safaris; follow us on Twitter, connect with us on Facebook, subscribe to our YouTube Channel and visit our Website.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: