Posts Tagged ‘Photo Safari’

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.

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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.

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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.

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A John X Safaris experience for over 100?

Contributed by Cindi McNair, proud new member of the She Safari Sisterhood

I have not hunted game my entire life.  So I was certainly not a lifelong hunter who dreamed of going on safari as the ultimate adventure.  My husband Mike and I were introduced to “safaris” through our good friends Chris and Martie Petersen.  Mike and Chris met in a goose blind many years ago, and they have been hunting together ever since.  While sharing drinks by the fire in their trophy room, the Petersen’s have spent many a night retelling the tales of their African adventures with John X Safaris.

The sessions in the Petersen’s safari room always seemed to end the same way:  “You guys should go on safari … why don’t you join us!”  While the trophies and tales of their safaris created visions of Africa, my husband always responded the same way:  “Africa is just too far … I can’t stand a plane ride that long.”  And this was a hunter talking … one who quite literally grew up hunting as a kid.


What my husband Mike did not know is what I have on my “Bucket List”.  On that list of lifetime achievements, one of my top things to do was:  “Ride an elephant in the wild”.  After four years of “drinking about safaris” with the Petersen’s, they began to get the upper hand.  When Chris mentioned that John X Safaris customize their safaris to visitors individual needs … and can even book elephant rides … I was hooked!  Let’s just say, when wives set their sights on Africa, they have ways of convincing their husbands that no flight could be too long, especially when there are elephants to ride on the other end.

So plans were made for the Petersen’s and McNair’s to go on that mystical adventure called a “safari” in the US summer of 2013.  And I have to admit, a major part of the fun was all the planning and preparation.  Of course my husband had to practice shooting from “sticks” and plan which trophies to hunt.  They even convinced me to participate in shooting practice.  I have done some target shooting, so it was fun to learn how to shoot a rifle.  Although, I was not convinced I would actually hunt in Africa.

“Wilson” goes to Africa

Professionally, I am the Director of a large senior living community, where 150 independent, educated seniors live.  Once the story got out that I was going on safari, all the residents wanted to “participate”.  They were insistent that I brought back plenty of photos so we could re-enact a fun Safari Night together, and they could experience our safari through pictures.

I’m not exactly sure how I came up with the idea, but as I began to picture our Safari Night, I didn’t want it to be just a bunch of pictures running as slides.  I wanted a story to tell, with some fun and from a different perspective.  So, by sure coincidence I found a little bendable figure symbolizing “Joy”.  He was it … he would be my African safari and photo buddy.

Meet “Wilson” … My safari and photography buddy in Africa.

Meet “Wilson” … My safari and photography buddy in Africa.

And he had to have a name…remember Tom Hanks in the movie “Castaway”?  The washed up Volleyball he named Wilson?  That was it, my little yellow guy would be named Wilson.  My plan would be to take photos of Wilson while on safari so that I could share the stories with my senior residents back home.

Wilson went everywhere with us on safari …

Wilson went everywhere with us on safari …

When John X Safaris says that they personalize their safaris to your needs and desires, you have no idea of what that means until you get there!  I thought I was going on safari to ride an elephant.  Indeed, I can successfully cross that off my bucket list!  What an amazing experience to not only ride the elephants, but feed them up close and personal by hand!

Wilson was absolutely with me as I crossed off my Bucket List … Riding an elephant in the wild of Africa.  Look close he’s in my left pocket!

Wilson was with me every step of the way as I crossed off my Bucket List … Riding an elephant in the wild of Africa. Look! He’s in my left pocket!

My Bucket List never envisioned being able to literally put food in an elephant’s mouth.  Amazing!

My Bucket List never envisioned being able to literally put food in an elephant’s mouth. Amazing!

Wilson went on fabulous game drives to witness the wildlife splendor unfold.

One of Wilson’s Big 5 game drive highlights … Elephants at a watering hole at sundown.

One of Wilson’s Big 5 game drive highlights … Elephants at a watering hole at sundown.

One does not immediately think of oceans when going to South Africa.  It turns out that John X Safaris base camp is situated in the coastal region of the East Cape.  With our close proximity to the ocean, we made various excursions, including a couple of visits to the warm Indian Ocean.  In addition, Wilson and I even had a chance to dip our toes in the Indian Ocean!  Who would have guessed?  On Safari!

Another Bucket List achievement for Wilson … walking in the Indian Ocean surf!

Another Bucket List achievement for Wilson … walking in the Indian Ocean surf!

Wilson truly went everywhere with us, including a special safari evening dinner held at the “boma”, which is an enclosure literally in the middle of the African bush.  Nothing can quite describe the experience of dining on South African cuisine under starlit skies around crackling campfires.  This was certainly a night never to forget.  Both Wilson and my husband, Mike, had more fun than should be allowed dancing around the fire.

Wilson and husband Mike, Rock it at the boma!

Wilson and husband Mike, Rock it at the boma!

“The thrill of the hunt” are words I never thought would apply to me.  But my time with John X Safaris proved me wrong!  I can’t begin to describe how exciting it was to hunt my first big game animal.  I proudly took my impala on my first shot … “Animal Down”!  And, suddenly I realized all of the emotion and joy of big game hunting in Africa.  And once again Wilson was there at my side as I became a proud “She Safari” member of the Hunting Sisterhood.

Wilson was in my pocket when I became a member of the Safari Sisterhood and took my impala … my first ever game trophy.

Wilson was in my pocket when I became a member of the Safari Sisterhood. My impala … my first trophy.

On my Facebook page I posted “Wilson goes to Africa” several days before our adventure.  It started as a fun way of documenting our journey and provided terrific photo opps to tell our story on safari.  Everyone at John X Safaris came to know Wilson, and Wilson became the ultimate fan of “sundowners”.  Our trusty ranger, Kelly, seemed to always have our favorite drink and snacks in hand as Wilson and friends watched the sun set on the African plains.

Wilson and Ranger Kelly get us prepared to drink about it on another great Safari Sundowner!

Wilson and Kelly gearing up for Safari Sundowner patrol!

Wilson’s journey to Africa ended up providing untold laughter, and a way of bringing a great story back home.   In fact Wilson went back to Iowa and was the Star of his own Safari Night Adventure where we shared our stories with all the seniors at our retirement community … literally a hundred plus residents “went on safari” with John X that night and had the time of their lives with Wilson.

Africa is an incredible place which is hard to describe.  The beauty of the “bush”, the variety of animals and birds create an amazing experience in the wild.  I came to ride my elephant, and experience many lifetime memories.  I also hunted my first trophy which was an incredible experience in itself!  And Wilson was there for every minute of it.

Ladies out there, if you know someone going on safari, don’t stay home.  Lead the way!  The entire John X Safaris team went out-of-the-way every day to ensure that we all had a fantastic experience that exceeded any of our expectations.  Whether it is hiking the coast, riding an elephant, watching the Big 5, or hunting your own trophy … going on safari is an amazing experience that should be on everyone’s bucket list.

The thrill of Africa wildlife literally unfolds before your eyes on amazing game drives like this one.

A special shout out to my PH, Carl van Zyl, who was more than our guide … he and his family became our friends.  Ranger, Kelly, is simply the “best” who will show you Africa like no other.  Thanks to friends old and new who made our first safari to South Africa a trip of a lifetime.   And finally, I thank my husband Mike, he was my true champ!  He gave me my elephant ride, and didn’t complain for one minute about the length of the flight home!

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

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