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Posts Tagged ‘John X Cares’

When we first set out to launch our foundations mission for 2016, it was probably one of the greatest unknowns I’ve ever taken on within the safari industry. The questions mulling over in my head and the fears of launching a successful program felt more daunting than my first Cape Buffalo hunt. While the John X Foundation has been supporting a number of worthy initiatives and causes over the past five years, this one seemed closer to home. It was my brainchild, something I had been quietly thinking about for a number of years ~ I knew my passion and the unrelenting support from my team would ensure success, but this was still a first for all of us.

Counting down the days and then the arrival at Orange Grove Adventures… The first Jr Hunters Course

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Having raised the necessary funds through the support of our generous hunters, whom we cannot thank enough, we plotted and planned every detail of the course with Patrick Cairns. Trish jumped to work on sourcing the various items of clothing, toiletries, and food requirements. Greg, Stix and I covered the various topics of the course with Patrick, while Ozzie and Jose from GTS Productions worked on the script of how we would be sharing this very first Jr Hunters course with the rest of the world.

The months soon turned to days and before we knew it we were unpacking the trucks at Orange Grove, Tarkastad. With us we had eight shy boys from various backgrounds and communities – all linked to the safari industry in one way or another.

At first I wasn’t sure who was more nervous than the other? Patrick had warned me of something I had never considered when the idea first came to mind. While most of us grew up “wanting” to hunt or have been introduced to hunting at a young age, and would have given anything to have been accepted to a Jr Hunters course at age 13/14, none of these boys from our previously disadvantaged communities had ever hunted before. They understood the concept, but not a single boy had ever held a gun in their lives! Did they even want to be here I kept asking myself. Was it my “want” for them to be here? Or was I being overly ambitious in my concept?

If you don’t dare you cannot succeed….

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Nelson Mandela once remarked; “If your plan is for 1 year, plant rice. If your plan is for 10 years, plant trees. If your plan is for 100 years, educate children.” And it was with those words that we jumped in head first. We were determined to make an impact through hunting and the great outdoors on these young men.

That first afternoon and evenings’ schedule was dominated by lectures on topics such as; why hunting plays an important role in conservation, what the correct ethics were in hunting – the do’s and dont’s, and of course we wanted to hear from them what they thought hunting was. How did they see this age-old tradition?

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We spoke about the various methods of hunting and then capped off our day with a rifle cleaning session and dinner around the campfire. Some of the boys had never traveled this far away from home before – so all were pretty exhausted after an overwhelming first day. The boys settled into their campsite and were fast asleep before we even realized they had quietly disappeared from the fire.

The following morning saw the “shy” boys from the previous day rise to slightly more confident young men. With their smiles and imminent signs of genuine interest, my fears started dissipating. Things started falling in place as we started the morning lecture off with tracking and track identification in the field. By mid morning we had them back to the final lecture session of the day – animal identification. This proved to be an interesting one as soon one could judge the region a child was from by the game he was able to identify. With our huge variety of game one could understand how a kid from the Karoo didn’t have the slightest idea of what a Blue Duiker or Bushbuck looked like, while the coastal kids had never seen a Gemsbuck in their lives before.

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After lunch we were off to the range. This proved to be one of the most rewarding afternoons I have ever experienced. There we were, Greg, Stix, Asisipho, Patrick’s trainer assistant, and myself, each at a bench with the boys taking turns. Patrick covered the various gun safety aspects once again, and then we had the boys take their first shots with a .22. The results were astounding. Expecting a full afternoon on the range we had not planned or banked on how fast they would master the art of handling a firearm in a safe manner, and then becoming crack shots at the same time. We were astounded!

Soon we had them shooting off sticks, and then we put away the .22’s and took out the 243’s – which they would be using the following day to hopefully harvest their first Springbuck.

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By the early evening we felt confident in our young hunters capabilities and headed back to camp to discuss the various shot placement scenarios and the general characteristics and habits of their target specie the following day.

8/8 – What a day!

That morning we woke the boys at 04:30 am and headed out for Springbuck. Four teams consisting of a Professional Hunter and two boys, accompanied by a GTS Productions cameraman, set out in various directions. The Springbuck were plentiful and the opportunities numerous. The boys had clearly listened the previous day, and while there were some spectacular misses, there were some pretty amazing shots too. In the end we got home at 17:30 that afternoon with 8 boys, and 8 Springbuck. It was a remarkable feat to say the least. We had taken a bunch of serious “green horns” and achieved a level of success we had not envisaged, but more important than any kill, we had introduced hunting and the benefits of that lifestyle to a group of young men who now clearly seemed hooked.

We had taken 8 boys and turned them into 8 enthusiastic hunters. There’s something to be said about that particular experience.

Wrapping things up in fun –  A Charging Buffalo and Clays…

Our final day saw the weather continue to treat us well, as we set out to work and process the Springbuck carcasses from the previous days hunt. Each boy dismantled the various portions and cuts from his own Springbuck, while Patrick and Asisipho explained what each portion of meat could be used for, or prepared into a scrumptious meal. Once the meat was processed and packed away we were off to the range once again. This time round we had a surprise up our sleeve for the boys.

Arriving at the range the boys soon realized they wouldn’t be shooting at stationary targets, but a mobile one – in the form of a charging Cape Buffalo on a sled. One of the boys would tie a long rope around his waist, which was connected to a life-size Cape Buffalo target, and upon Patrick’s command the runner would take off at a full gallop pulling the sled along at a rapid pace towards a second boy with a loaded .22. The concept was quite simple ~ hit the Buffalo in the head or chest before the sled reached your position. This proved to be a hit with the boys, as the laughter and excitement reached new levels. Soon we pulled out the “Elephant gun” as they referred to the 458, and offered then an opportunity to shoot with a big bore rifle for the very first time. Once those who opted to try the 458 had each had a couple of turns, the instructors and PH’s set out on a small competition of our own, taking on the charging Buffalo with the 458. I can proudly declare each one of the guys made the required kill shots, with our Mexican friend, Jose, out shooting us all! (He just got lucky! LOL) By the end of the charging Buffalo challenge one could see that the boys had now truly come into their own and were engaging in every aspect of every challenge we threw at them.

From one challenge we headed to the next – Clays on the range and the concept of wing shooting. This particular session proved to be an amazing one as some of the boys were recording 3/5 scores on their first round. We all agreed that was pretty impressive considering the time it takes most of us to master the art of successful clay pigeon shooting. We finished up the clays and shells, satisfied with a morning well spent and headed to camp for our final afternoon and evening around the camp fire.

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We had all had a blast!

Giving Thanks where Thanks is due…

As I proudly reflect back over the course I can truly say we have achieved everything we had hoped for and so much more. More importantly we have realized how much we take for granted, and how important it is for each and every one of us as hunters, to take responsibility of our actions, by committing ourselves to introducing our age-old tradition we hold so dear, to the next generation. While it is important that we continue to raise our young boys and girls in a manner that accepts hunting and the role it plays in the future of our wildlife, we need to challenge ourselves to introduce a complete “outsider” to the world of hunting. This is something harder than most would realize, and something we could not have done without the support of a number of committed hunters who made this first Jr Hunters Course a reality during 2016.

Most of them, as on previous occasions would prefer to remain anonymous, as they feel it’s not about them, but about the kids. They are the true saints of our Foundation, the people whom I cannot leave out at this time.

Sam Cunningham, Jim and Chris Smith, John Thompson, David and Mary-Lynn West – Words cannot express my gratitude. You all know how close to my heart this mission was, and every one of you never asked a single question, except how many kids the Foundation needed sponsorship for. You are the ones that have truly made a difference. Thank you.

Enjoy the memories with us as GTS Productions takes us back to a week of fun on the first of many Jr Hunters courses to come.

If you’ve enjoyed hearing about the John X Foundations Jr Hunter initiative and would like to get more involved by sponsoring a boy/s for our 2017 course, then please feel free to contact Carl directly on hunting@johnxsafaris.co.za  or catch up with him in the US during Jan/Feb 2017. Also note as of 2017 we will be able to offer our donors the opportunity to claim back 100% of their donations through an agreement reached with the Ithembu Trust via a 501(c)3 Registered Organization under the Jernigan Foundation. We’d be glad to have you on board as we strive to make a difference through hunting.

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!

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Looking towards the future, it is becoming more evident with each passing day, that without the involvement of the youth, our proud hunting heritage, stands to lose further ground. Gone are the days of SCI and Dallas Safari Club standing alone in carrying the torch of responsibility. While those organizations work relentlessly in their goals of involving the youth in hunting, it is up to us to do our part too.

If each one of us, who proudly claim to be passionate hunters, were to look back at that watershed moment when the penny dropped and you became a hunter, were to pin the period in your life that, that happened, the majority would surely point towards their younger years. When a father, uncle, older brother, or grand father, introduced you to this amazing past time and instilled the values of hunting. And it is with these fundamentals that we are proud to launch the John X Foundations’ initiative for 2016.

THE LAUNCH – FINDING THE RIGHT PARTNER

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Our Foundation will be teaming up with Patrick Cairns from the Ithemba Trust, initiating a Junior Hunters Course for previously disadvantaged youth from our local impoverished communities.

The aim of this course is to encourage youngsters to get out to the great outdoors and to create a genuine love for outdoor activities and lifestyle. As such it aims to introduce nature, hunting, and conservation, to a part of our community that has never had the opportunity until now. While hunting is the focus, it will be within a conservation style setting and ethos. The course is open to both young ladies and gentlemen.

Orange Grove

The course will be held on the 2000 acre, Orange Grove Farm, outside Tarkastad in the Eastern Cape.  The property has wonderful camping facilities where the junior hunters will be based.

The emphasis of the course will be on acquiring practical skills on the following topics and activities –

  • Conservation – The Role Hunting Plays
  • Animal Identification
  • Hunter and Gun safety
  • Introduction to Ballistics
  • Introduction to Shooting
  • Basic Hunting Principals – Stalking and bullet placement.
  • Tracking skills – Track one of the big five – Buffalo
  • Archery
  • Survival skills
  • Judging Trophy Animals
  • Each child will be offered the opportunity to hunt their first Springbuck.
  • Gutting, Caping, and Skinning – Learning about the process where nothing goes to waste.
  • Camping
  • Night Drives

At the completion of the course, each participant will receive a tanned hide of his or her Springbuck hunted, kindly sponsored by Splitting Image Taxidermy.

SO HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED?

John X Safaris will be sponsoring all the required clothing, equipment, and foot wear for the children, as well as assisting in transportation to and from Orange Grove. GTS Productions has come on board as to capture the entire experience on film for not only the participants, but the sponsors too, ensuring these first fond memories of hunting are immortalized forever.

WE ASKED YOU TO SPONSOR 1 of 8 KIDS

The cost for the course is US $500 per kid covering:

  • Accommodation in canvas tents at Orange Grove Farm for four nights.
  • All meals, cool drinks, tea, coffee etc for the duration of the course.
  • Transportation throughout the course with 4X4 hunting vehicles.
  • All rifles and ammunition.
  • Instructors – Professional Hunters, Trackers, and Skinner’s.
  • The opportunity to hunt one Springbuck.

YOUR RESPONSE WAS ASTOUNDING!

Having initially launched our Jr Hunters Course initiative during Thanksgiving 2015, it didn’t take long for the first mails to start trickling in. Many asked to have a couple of kids reserved for their sponsorship, while others planned to meet with Carl and Ross during Jan/Feb 2016 in the US.

Having met a number of you on our travels, it soon became evident how much we as hunters truly care. It’s one thing talking and saying all the right things, it’s a whole different story when fellow hunters step up to the challenge and sponsor the heck out of the initiative. At one stage both Ross and Carl had to push sponsorship over to 2017, as we had run out of spots for our 2016 course. It was like nothing they had ever experienced with the Foundation!

A special word of appreciation must go out to the sponsors of this inaugural Jr Hunters Course. Some of our sponsors did not want their names mentioned, as they didn’t want the recognition for their sponsorship. To them it was about the kids and the opportunities their funds could provide. While we respect their requests we cannot honor it. These are the true heroes among us – these are the people who need mentioning – no matter what they might tell you – without them this new initiative would not have happened. We salute and thank…

  • David & Mary-Lynn West
  • John Thompson
  • Bwana Big Jim & Chris Smith
  • Sam Cunningham

WHERE ARE WE AT NOW – THE DATE HAS BEEN SET.

Together with Patrick we have secured and set a date for the course. The course will be held during our third quarter school vacation, from 4-8 October 2016. Trish, Ross, Patrick and Carl, have started the purchasing of equipment and supplies. There’s a lot more that goes into a course such as this than what one would think!

The selection process of eligible kids falling between the ages of 10/11 -15/16 years of age has started, with kids required to apply via a letter reasoning their interest in the course and why they feel they should be selected. Our trackers, camp staff, and all hunting areas staff children have been given first option on the first six spots on the course, with a further two being offered to PHASA(Professional Hunters Ass of SA).

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Through PHASA’s Fund and its #HuntersCare initiative we felt we would challenge our competitors in the industry by offering these two spots to some of their interested staff members, seeing them benefit via this initiative in giving their children an opportunity to.

Between now and August we will complete the selection process of the kids, with further purchasing of supplies taking place on our monthly town runs.

We feel we’re onto something special here. Where this initiative may end up in years to come who knows? One thing is for sure, with your continued support we can do anything we set our minds on. Together we can bridge a gap for previously disadvantaged communities by developing a passion for wildlife and hunting in their children beyond the boundaries of their social background.

Let’s stand together and keep the rally of support going – We’re not just talking about doing the right thing – The hunters are doing it.

The John X Team & Foundation

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!

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Since the inception of the John X Foundation seven years ago – John X Safaris and our valued supporters have seen numerous projects bear fruit through the collective effort of like-minded people.

Some of our most recent success has been with our Serval program. This program was first introduced to our Foundation supporters a mere three years ago.

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At that stage our resident Serval population was much the same as this picture. They were there, well camouflaged, but the population was a long way off from its hidden potential.

Our goal at the time was to successfully breed Serval in captivity, before releasing the offspring into the reserve. The project ran its course and soon we realized through the various donors generous support, our Serval were breeding much better naturally in the wild, so we dully did away with the breeding enclosures, and released all into the reserve. That combined with Rick’s relentless effort of beating back the encroaching exotic Black Wattle trees on the reserve, has seen numerous stretches of once open grassland slowly but surely return to its original state, ensuring 2015 turned out to be a watershed year in Serval sightings.

Images such as these are now a daily occurrence at Lalibela - nowhere else in Africa will one view Serval this often and at such close quarters. The future now looks better than ever before for our thriving Serval project - every single hunter who took part in this initiative can feel proud of a truly successful project.

Images such as these are now a daily occurrence at Lalibela – nowhere else in Africa will one view Serval this often and at such close quarters. The future now looks brighter than ever before for our thriving Serval population – every single hunter who took part in this initiative can feel proud of a truly successful project.

This year, for the first time ever, we used sport, through the great game of baseball, to give hope and opportunity to the kids in our local community.

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Like our iconic late president Nelson Mandela used to say; “Sport has the power to change the world. Sport has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to the youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.”

Having enjoyed a memorable hunt with Justin Travis, we soon came to realize there’s so much more to this young man than what meets the eye. As the only child of Steve and Haylee Travis, growing up in Houston, Texas, Justin has enjoyed the many privileges of a caring home.

Here’s Justin story and how he together with the John X Foundation made a difference in the lives of those less fortunate during 2015.

We thank you Justin for all your effort in getting this project up and running. By achieving your goal you have not only succeeded in launching this new initiative, but more importantly have set the marker and offered a challenge to other young hunters out there. Sport can unite like nothing else on earth,through sport hope is only a game away. We salute you Justin.

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Looking towards the future, it is becoming more evident with each passing day, that without the involvement of the youth, our proud heritage of hunting, stands to lose further ground. Gone are the days of SCI and Dallas Safari Club standing alone in carrying the torch of responsibility. While those organizations work relentlessly in their goals of involving the youth in hunting, it is up to us to do our part too.

If each one of us, who proudly claim to be passionate hunters, were to look back at that watershed moment when the penny dropped and you became a hunter, were to pin the period in your life that, that happened, the majority would surely point towards their younger years. When a father, uncle, older brother, or grand father, introduced you to this amazing past time and instilled the values of hunting. And it is with these fundamentals that we are proud to launch the John X Foundations’ initiative for 2016.

179-ithembatrust1

Our Foundation will be teaming up with Patrick Cairns from the Ithemba Trust, initiating a Junior Hunters Course for previously disadvantaged youth from our local impoverished communities.

The aim of this course is to encourage youngsters to get out to the great outdoors and to create a genuine love for outdoor activities and lifestyle. As such it aims to introduce nature, hunting, and conservation, to a part of our community that has never had the opportunity until now. While hunting is the focus, it will be within a conservation style setting and ethos. The course is open to both young ladies and gentlemen.

Orange Grove

The course will be held on the 2000 acre, Orange Grove Farm, outside Tarkastad in the Eastern Cape.  The property has wonderful camping facilities were the junior hunters will be based.

The emphasis of the course will be on acquiring practical skills on the following topics and activities –

  • Conservation – The Role Hunting Plays
  • Animal Identification
  • Hunter and Gun safety
  • Introduction to Ballistics
  • Introduction to Shooting
  • Basic Hunting Principals – Stalking and bullet placement.
  • Tracking skills – Track one of the big five – Buffalo
  • Archery
  • Survival skills
  • Judging Trophy Animals
  • Each child will be offered the opportunity to hunt their first Springbuck.
  • Gutting, Caping, and Skinning – Learning about the process where nothing goes to waste.
  • Camping
  • Night Drives

At the completion of the course, each participant will receive a tanned hide of his or her Springbuck hunted, kindly sponsored by Splitting Image Taxidermy.

SO HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED?

John X Safaris will be sponsoring all the required clothing and foot wear for the children, as well as assisting in transportation to and from Orange Grove. GTS Productions has come on board as to capture the entire experience on film for not only the participants, but the sponsors too, ensuring these first fond memories of hunting are immortalized forever.

SPONSOR 1 of 8 KIDS

The cost for the course is US $500 per kid covering:

  • Accommodation in canvas tents at Orange Grove Farm for four nights.
  • All meals, cool drinks, tea, coffee etc for the duration of the course.
  • Transportation throughout the course with 4X4 hunting vehicles.
  • All rifles and ammunition.
  • Instructors – Professional Hunters, Trackers, and Skinner’s.
  • The opportunity to hunt one Springbuck.

Feel free to contact Carl on hunting@johnxsafaris.co.za or Trish on info@johnxsafaris.co.za if you would be interested in sponsoring a kid for this opportunity of a lifetime. If there may be corporate sponsors wishing to come on board we would be more than happy to include brands/ing of any of those organizations too.

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2016 will be an exciting year for the John X Foundation, join us and become a part of securing the future of hunting for generations to come.

Happy memories, happy times, and happy moments – These we wish for you to enjoy with loved ones on this Thanksgiving Day. A blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours.

The John X Team & Foundation

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!

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