Posts Tagged ‘White Springbuck’

“A single day in Africa compares to the experience of an entire year anywhere else on the planet when it comes to long-range hunting.”

I’m no expert on the subject of long-range rifles, for that I have my good friends, Aaron Davidson and Garrett Wall from Gunwerks to fall back on, but I can tell you a thing or two about long-range hunting in Africa. I’ve had the privilege and pleasure to have shared more hours in pursuit of African game with these two guys than any of us can remember. We’ve chased our fair share of “unicorns” as Aaron likes to put it on the odd occasion, but have succeeded in putting a fair number of those in the salt too. Our days in the mountains combined with the kind of banter that only close friends could handle has seen us build valuable experience over the years. Over time we have learnt a great deal about the Gunwerks system and the variables, such as tough wind-calls and difficult setups, that go along with the challenge, as well as African game and their behaviour at greater distances. Each year we learn something new and try to share that with fellow hunters around us.

This year proved to live up to expectation once again with two groups of hunters joining the crew from Gunwerks. Aaron and I teamed up for close on three weeks, while James Christianson joined us for the first half, before Aaron’s daughter, Electa, and Garrett joined us for the second leg of the trip. With them we’d host a number of hunters proudly sporting their Gunwerks rifles ready to take on Africa and whatever else came their way.

The father/son duo of Randy and Ryan Smith teamed up with PH, Ross “Stix” Hoole, and tracker, Thanduxolo, for an unforgettable first trip to Africa. The guys were looking to experience as much as possible over the eight days of hunting, while making the most of the scenery and camaraderie around camp. While hunting would be their priority, they weren’t stopping at only making an impression on our wildlife through sustainable hunting, but would impact the lives of the local children in our community even more so.

The Smith’s together with Rich and Lynah Guild would take our John X Foundation to new heights through unchartered waters. As a team we have always carried aspirations of bigger projects each year, hoping to make a significant difference in our local community. With the identification of the Carlisle Bridge Farm School as our latest humanitarian initiative we set to work sharing our plans and dreams for the future. Within minutes of arriving at the school one could see the impact the dire situation of the school had on our hunters. They too, now understood why we chose to support this little country school on the banks of the Great Fish River.


Their support would provide funding for stationary and sporting equipment as well as a new well for drinking water. The existing well had not been in any kind of working order since the late 1960’s, with scholars collecting water from the river each day. A comprehensive solar plant was installed to provide electricity and a computer for the very first time in the schools history. The day when the lights went on things changed for the kids of our community. Words cannot describe the appreciation and gratitude towards these amazing folks. Thank you is the least we can say. Over and over and over.

With Mr. Rich and Mrs. Lynah’s work completed at the school they set off with PH, Ed Wilson, and tracker, Bongani, on the hunt for plains game. A Kudu, Bushbuck and Nyala were three BIG priorities for Rich. The spirals fascinated him and he was determined to work hard at hunting quality trophies on the desired spirals.

He duly did so and then made the most of a number of specialized Karoo species up in the north. Rich’s Gemsbuck in particular was one he worked extremely hard for, with the Springbuck being a certain must when hunting in South Africa.

His Sable however stole the show in more ways than one. Once a hunter lays eyes on the most striking and majestic of all on the plains it can be hard not to be in utter awe of these immense animals.

A superb bull it proved to be.

As for Stephen Beaudet and PH, Rusty Coetzer, it would be a collection of specialized East Cape species. They concentrated a fair majority of their efforts up in the Great Karoo, hunting the classics such as Gemsbuck, Springbuck and Hartman’s Zebra.

Stephen’s Gemsbuck in particular proved to be one of the picks from the safari amongst the guides. The sheer size of the bulls body combined with fantastic mass from bases to tips made him one impressive bull.

His Wildebeest, both black and blue, were hardy old bulls well past their prime on the downhill slope of life. Perfectly placed shots did the job on his Wildebeest while his collection of Springbuck was of top quality. Some cold and windy conditions added to the challenge, but the Gunwerks system came into its own once again delivering the goods.

As for Stephen’s Hartman’s Zebra… judge it for yourself. Just a gigantic stallion to say the least.

Jason and Lena Goodale together with PH, Martin Neuper, had a later start than the rest of the group. The Goodale’s had some pending business to wrap up prior to their arrival in Africa which took longer than expected, but they still made it out which we were most grateful for. Their time was limited but by the end of day two one would never have thought they’d arrived a couple of days late.

Two great East Cape Kudu bulls were in the salt before we knew it and they were out putting the hammer down on the rest of the competition. We could hardly keep up with them as they truly made the most of their limited time.

With our hunters hard at it and satisfied smiles around the dinner table greeting us each evening we thought it best we started hunting ourselves and get going on putting the new Revic through its paces in Africa.

Aaron and I don’t plan much anymore these days, we both know what we have hunted before, but we’re always open to an upgrade. Some of our previous trophies will more than likely be quite impossible to upgrade on, but we never rule out anything when it comes to our time together each year. The big bonus however was having James Christianson along.

For James it would be a first trip to Africa, and I’d be lying if I wasnt quietly envious of what that must have felt like.

James, like most, wanted a Kudu, Gemsbuck, and Zebra, with anything else being a bonus along the way. We hunted hard for his Zebra and then made the most of an old goat shed on his Kudu. A brute of a Warthog boar with only one tusk would be James’s final animal in Africa, but not before an epic hunt for Gemsbuck and a proper Springbuck at Niel’s up in the Great Karoo.

As for Aaron… Well we did find a piano out in the middle of a field one morning. A strange sight it was which inevitably led us to a great Caracal with the hounds.

Aaron finally got his long-awaited Bushpig after some serious commitment on a cold winters night. We’d been putting it off for a number of years now, but our trail cameras edged us on to make it happen this year.

The smiles from both Aaron and Clayton said it all. Here was one of the true monsters for 2018. Bushpig hunting can be such a hit and a miss at times, and no matter how much prep goes into it, there always seems to be a new challenge that arrises.

Towards the end of the first groups leg we got our Copper Springbuck up at Niel’s. A ram that ended up surprising everyone, including Niel. Talk about some “ground growth”. With a few of the most specialized East Cape species in the salt, and our list of “dont haves” becoming shorter by the day I knew we were in for a few tough hunts for the remaining leg of Aaron’s hunt. But first we would say goodbye to a truly remarkable group of hunters….

These people came to Africa to hunt, but left leaving so much more than just their footprint on the conservation of our wildlife. The impact of their contributions will be something spoken about for many years to come. We salute you and your desire to assist us in making a difference. You are not merely hunters and conservationists, you’re custodians of our hunting heritage.

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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Over the years I have been blessed to meet and hunt with some of the greatest outdoor enthusiasts of our day. May it have been a specialized safari in the mountains of the north for Vaal Rhebuck or a Blue Duiker in the forests of our coastal belt, or even a first timer safari with their children. I’ve enjoyed my fair share of sharing many a day out in the field with men and women who have represented our hunting ways and industry for numerous decades.


Some have joined on one hunt, while there have been others who came back a second time – Then there was Craig Boddington.

When Craig and I first met we were no more than strangers at a cocktail party in Dallas. A couple of months passed and soon we were exchanging emails and a couple of phone calls. Before we knew it Craig and his family were on safari with me and we found ourselves crouching down below a pile of rocks while glassing for a particular Kudu bull I’d scouted some weeks before.

There was a great bull feeding no more than 180 yards below our position, oblivious to our presence, but it was not the bull I was after. Craig gave me some time and when he saw I was ready to move on to continue my search for “the” bull he shuffled over to where I was positioned with my spotting scope. “Look Carl I know you’d like to get us this particular monster you’ve been seeing, but why don’t you keep it for one of your future clients, this bull right here is plenty good for us – lets take him.” And that’s where I realized there’s more to Craig Boddington than just a great writer, adventurer, hunter and explorer.

Since then we have shared many a camp fire in Africa and now for the first time, Craig and I would like to invite you to join us around our campfire this June. Craig will be hosting a group at John X Safaris in the East Cape, South Africa, from 16-24 June 2017.

Hunters interested in joining this group will enjoy both our coastal base, Woodlands Game reserve, as well as our northern areas in the Great Karoo. By combining the two areas, you as the hunter, will ultimately get to hunt three safaris in one, covering the forests and valley bushveld of the coastal belt, the plains of the Great Karoo, and the mountains of the north. In doing so you will enjoy the opportunity to hunt more than thirty species in their natural environment where they are naturally of better quality. The two areas camps are 3 hours apart, an easy transition on any particular hunting day, ensuring no hunting days are lost.

The all-inclusive 1×1 base cost, covering all day, service and trophy handling fees + taxes, for this hunt will be $3600.00. Over and above this fee only pay for trophies harvested/wounded. Feel free to hunt 2×1 or invite observers along. Why not make the most of our John X Safaris getting the youth hunting initiative – You buy the flight and we’ll comp the Jr hunters day fee, only pay for trophies harvested/wounded. Start them young and get them hunting!

If you would like to join Craig and myself in the East Cape between 16 – 24 June 2017 – Then drop us a line on hunting@johnxsafaris.co.za . We have 4-5 spots remaining. For further details on John X Safaris feel free to visit our website on www.johnxsafaris.co.za


We look forward to sharing a camp fire with you in Africa.

Yours in hunting,

Carl van Zyl & Craig Boddington

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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While out on safari up in the high country with Gunwerks owner, Aaron Davidson, during our 2015 safari, the topic of having a Gunwerks rifle in camp came up once again. Having witnessed the class and precision of their rifles, combined with an amazing user-friendly shooting system that simplifies the complicated science of long-range shooting, the matter of getting my very own Gunwerks rifle to Africa became a goal for 2016.


With the help of Aaron and Garrett I picked out my choice gun during SCI’s annual Convention in Las Vegas – My gun was finally coming home to Africa.

Welcoming back the crew and my Gunwerks rifle to Africa


As late July rolled in so too did Aaron with his sons, Danner and Derec Davidson, as well as Gunwerks customers, John Benbow, Sultan Kawarit, Paul Baird, and the Gardiner family.

For Aaron it would be a traditional return joining me on safari for what has become a highlight in my calendar each year. Knowing each other so well and enjoying so much of the same, we have built an enjoyable friendship through our adventures and time on the show circuit each year.


This years hunt would prove to be a special one, as together with him, he brought his sons, Danner and Derec, for their first taste of Africa.

Some torrid cold conditions put the boys through their paces on the first few days up in the Karoo, but credit to them as they stuck it out and soon started mastering challenging conditions overhead. From huddling around a small camp fire with the trackers trying to keep out of the snow and cold, to blistering winds, and finally beautiful sunny days, giving the boys a bit of everything Africa could throw at them. And when it turned the boys turned up the heat with some world-class shots!

Of course Aaron got in on the action too, but it was not until we got back south to the coast that he and I finally found the kind of Warthog we’d been after for many years. It all kind of happened by sure coincidence, but we’ll take our luck everyday of the week! On previous safaris we had always concentrated on numerous species, with a Warthog never proving to be a priority. Over time a pig became somewhat of a priority, and more so – a big pig.

We had passed up a number of shooters over the years, but this time there was no second guessing.

We had passed up a number of shooters over the years, but this time there was no second guessing. A “Boss Hog” finally hit the salt!

Aaron’s Warthog proved to be his final trophy of the hunt, while the boys continued on in style harvesting Cape Bushbuck, Warthog and Zebra. Both the shots on the Cape Bushbuck and Warthog were fantastic setups with great natural shooting platforms due to the nature and the lay of the land, while the Zebra on our last day allowed the boys to get in close, once again proving the versatility of the Gunwerks system.


While Aaron and the boys were enjoying every minute of their family hunt, so too was first timer John Benbow who joined the crew teaming up with Professional Hunter, Dave Burcy. John and Dave hit it off from day one going about their hunt in a quiet way, bringing home pretty loud trophies each evening.


Each morning they’d head into the hills…

And each evening their quality spoke for itself…

It seemed this team had a trick up their sleeve each time someone else brought in something really good. What has become tradition over the years, has seen the team of Professional Hunters choose the best trophy hunted during the Gunwerks safari each season. The criteria is not set in stone, but the specie/animal hunted must carry the attributes of a gold medal class animal for that particular specie.

And so it came as no surprise that John hunted the trophy of the safari - A magnificent 43" Sable.

And so it came as no surprise that John hunted the trophy of the safari – A magnificent 43″ Sable.

Sultan Kawarit had previously hunted the East Cape, but this would be his first taste of what John X Safaris has to offer.

Sultan had previously hunted with PH, Martin Neuper, and was ecstatic to hear that Martin had joined our team, once again teaming up for another safari.

Sultan had hunted with PH, Martin Neuper, before and was ecstatic to hear that Martin had joined our team.

The two of them set out to not only tackle a variety of plains game, but a couple of mountain dwellers too. On Sultan’s previous safari he had hunted a number of species, so this time round he was after not only variety, but quality too. He had arrived at the right destination. The quality of Sultan’s trophies speak volumes of our areas, while the experiences provided by Martin will be lasting memories for both of them.

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There was however one particular hunt that will never be forgotten by all involved. The guys were after Klipspringer and had headed into the hills with a lunch pack for the day.

By mid-morning they had found a couple of pairs, but a heavy mist with sleet rain blew in from the north, covering them in a blanket of white and cold.

By mid-morning they had found a couple of pairs, but a heavy mist with sleet rain blew in from the north, covering them and the Klipspringer in a blanket of white and cold.

For three hours they held their position having identified a shooter ram. When the weather blew over the ram provided a shot at 480 yards.


What a shot – What an effort – What a memory!

Sultan’s hunt proved to be a massive success with his Cape Eland over 1100 yards being one of the best and longest shots of the safari. While Sultan was pushing hard providing a competitive challenge to the rest of the hunters, it was Paul Baird, hunting with PH, Greg Hayes, and the Gardiner family guided by PH, Rusty Coetzer, that left us amazed.


Paul was the first and only man whom we have ever seen taking long-range shots off standing sticks, and doing so successfully time and again. His confidence was a treat to observe – it’s hard not to admire a man who puts in that kind of practice and then to enjoy his success with him when the results pay off.

As for the Gardiner family consisting of Todd Sr, Alex, Gabriel and Todd-Gerald – these guys had very little to no experience with the Gunwerks system, let alone any long-range practice prior to their arrival. Their success and the speed at which they gained confidence once again proved why Gunwerks remains one of the best, if not the best, system in the long-range market.

With this being their first hunt to Africa – a great occasion to say the least – they booked GTS Productions to capture their experiences on film. Enjoy the journey with them and relive the emotions of what proved to be an exciting ten days with John X Safaris.

#GunWerked during 2016

It seems the more we use, enjoy, and hunt with the Gunwerks system, the more we take for granted. It has become the norm to accept that every single last Gunwerks rifle that has ever joined John X Safaris on a hunt has far exceeded our and our hunters expectations in not only precision results, but rewarding experiences for those who have had the privilege to shoot these amazing rifles. The fact that a seasoned long-range hunter or a beginner such as myself can achieve a certain level of success within a limited period of time speaks volumes for the system. That alone is a remarkable feat by Aaron and his entire team at Gunwerks, and for that they need to be congratulated.

I see the new #tag sporting the waves reads #GunWerked – Let’s rephrase that to #GunWerked2011,  #GunWerked2012,  #GunWerked2013,  #GunWerked2014,  #GunWerked2015  … And I can assure you #GunWerked once again in Africa during 2016. Take my word for it, I’m not merely guiding hunters enjoying the system – I’m shooting my very own Gunwerks 7 mm LRM.

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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June once again proved to be a successful period to hunt the East Cape. Apart from hosting Larry Pendleton and Paul Valentine whom you have previously read about in  , we had the pleasure of welcoming back Lawrence Trunk on his 3rd hunt with John X Safaris. Joining Lawrence was fellow hunter Chris Perdomo on his first African safari.

Chris Perdomo with a well earned Springbuck.

Chris Perdomo with a well-earned Springbuck.

Chris teamed up with Professional Hunter, Greg Hayes, and tracker, Bless, hunting a variety species. Starting off with an Impala and Burchell’s Zebra on his first day set the tone for one great hunt. Chris worked hard for his game, sharing many a story around the dinner table in the evenings, retelling the events from the days hunt. His excitement and enthusiasm for Africa and hunting became infectious for all to enjoy, finally coming away with a variety of great animals as just reward for a deserving hunter.

While Chris enjoyed the benefits of unlimited variety of species that every first timer enjoys, our old friend, Lawrence Trunk, had a few limited East Cape specific species he was after. Having hunted many of the available species on his previous African hunts, this hunt with Professional Hunter, Carl van Zyl, would be one focused on some of the toughest critters out there. To add even further challenge to the hunts at hand, Lawrence as always would be packing one of his trusty handguns as weapon of choice.

A Blue Duiker in the coastal forest, adjacent to the Indian Ocean, is always an exciting prospect. Lawrence's ram being the first we've ever taken with a hand gun - no easy feat to say the least.

A Blue Duiker in the coastal forest, adjacent to the Indian Ocean, is always an exciting prospect. Lawrence’s ram being the first we’ve ever taken with a hand gun – no easy feat to say the least.

And so with a Blue Duiker in the bag and a couple of nights in the blind waiting on a group of Bushpig to hit the bait, we opted for a Bushpig hunt with hounds. In our part of the world, like with many other hunting cultures, pig hunting with hounds is conducted by a certain special group of people. These hunters are dedicated to the point of obsession. Come rain or shine – they will hunt Bushpig EVERY Saturday.

Their dogs are their proudest possessions and a pig hunter’s lead dog may be ranked higher in the pecking order than some of his closet relatives. To the outsider its hard to fathom, let alone understand the obsession of gearing up and heading out on a pig hunt at 4am each weekend. But let me warn you, once you’ve learnt how to judge the hounds and their various tactics of baying, including the all important prediction of where they’re heading, its unbelievably addictive. Experiencing the action at close quarters in the midst of the thickest coastal undergrowth imaginable leaves ones heart racing with a touch of fear – hoping that a ragging Bushpig doesn’t choose you as his next victim. These pigs can be extremely aggressive once pursued and bayed, with many a hound or hounds man bearing sufficient scars to prove their experience from past hunts.

Lawrence's Bushpig proved to be one heck of a challenging hunt. With the pig finally coming to bay in a small stream, a shot had to be made at extremely close quarters. At 5 yards to be exact!

Lawrence’s Bushpig proved to be one heck of a challenging hunt. With the pig finally coming to bay in a small stream, a shot had to be made at extremely close quarters. At 5 yards to be exact!

With the excitement of the Bushpig hunt behind us, and having gathered our breath after a lengthy three-hour chase, it was time to get our pig out of there – A 2 mile hike up the gorge to the nearest road.

Like I said - These Bushpig hunters are a breed of their own. The smallest guy in the team walked up to Lawrence's downed pig, transformed it into a back-pack within minutes and started the 2 mile hike . And in case you were wondering if he stopped along the way to rest? Not once!

Like I said – These Bushpig hunters are a breed of their own. The smallest guy in the team walked up to Lawrence’s downed pig, transformed it into a back-pack within minutes and started the 2 mile hike. And in case you were wondering if he stopped along the way to rest? Not once!

With Lawrence and Chris’s hunts coming to an end it was time to welcome new comer Freddie Seeds to the John X family. We had met at SCI this past January in Vegas, and from the outset it looked like this was going to be a hunt for the ages.


Freddie Seeds

Freddie owns and operates Bears Den Guides & Outfitters based out of New Mexico offering a variety of species including Mountain Lion, Bear, Elk and Antelope. Being an active guide himself he did his “homework” on finding the right outfitter which suited his needs for Africa, settling on John X Safaris.

Having chosen a 7mm manufactured by our long rage partners, Gunwerks, for this first hunt to John X Safaris proved to be a master stroke on his behalf. Guided by Professional Hunter, Ross Hoole, and having his safari filmed by GTS Productions videographer, Pierre Prins, has given you the opportunity to join Freddie and his team in the field as they head out in search of something big…. Enjoy the highlights – The hunting was superb and the shooting even better.

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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Over the course of the past 12 years I have seen the likes of many great hunts enjoyed by numerous lucky hunters. Hunts that carried the camaraderie so familiar to those who choose to share a camp fire in a distant land on a grand adventure. Where trophies abound and the journey that is a safari, is cherished by not the weight of the bag, but more so the greater part that is the experience.


Gunwerks owner, Aaron Davidson, with his East Cape Kudu from our 2015 hunt.

On this particular hunt it was not only the enormity of the experience, but the added bonus of world-class trophies hitting the salt at a regular basis. It does however go without saying, if it weren’t for the Gunwerks rifles and the technology behind the system, we would not have enjoyed the success we did.

In our growing partnership, together with Gunwerks, it has been rewarding to see the expertise the PH’s have developed under the guidance of the Gunwerks pros. Today we look back at those initial hunts as our first “lessons” in long-range shooting. As each group came and passed the guys have mastered new facets in the requirements of long-range safaris.


Together with Aaron, Mike, Garrett, and Kregg, we have developed the ultimate long-range safari, giving long-range enthusiast the opportunity to test and improve their long-range shooting expertise. In one safari, you can get a lifetime of long-range hunting experience.

This year saw first timers Jesse Stout, aka “Super Hunter Rule Maker”, and “Long Shot” Trevor Kruger, join us on their first safaris to Africa, while second time returnee and old friend, Peter Corrado, invited his son, Dominic along for an epic father/son battle for long-range supremacy. As for the Gunwerks crew we once again enjoyed the company of owner, Aaron Davidson, and our good friend, Garrett Wall.

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All in all the guys impressed us to no end. The shooting ability of both the pros and what I like to refer to “the up and coming pros” was outstanding, without a doubt the highest standard to date by any group. There were a number of memorable shots over the 700 yard mark, then there were some in that 750-1000 yard range, and of course we once again witnessed a couple of freak shots over a 1000 yards. But for that and much, much more, you will have to wait for our upcoming shows during 2016 on Gunwerks Long Range Pursuit on the Sportsman Channel. For now… Without giving away too much, join us for some of the epic setups and a sneak preview of a couple of fantastic shots.

Be warned – the trophy quality, challenging shots, and all the drama in between is something not to be missed…..

Want to be a part of the Gunwerks 2016 group to John X Safaris?


Still not sure? Maybe this may help your decision! Eat your heart out and enjoy the quality these hunters came away with during our 2015 safari.

From Mike Davidson

Looking over the guys trophy pictures from this last safari, having sat on the sidelines, totally envious, I can’t wait for our 2016 hunt with John X Safaris.

The funny thing is, I was never interested in hunting Africa until I had the opportunity to do so in 2014. That experience saw me enjoy one of the most amazing places in the world to hunt.

I would like to personally invite you to travel with myself and others from the Gunwerks crew to experience South African hunting at its finest. We will once again be heading back to the East Cape with John X Safaris.

There are very few outfitters who understand long-range shooting and even fewer who will actually let you hunt long-range. Carl and his crew are aware and understand that being able to shoot at further distances only increases the potential of harvesting the biggest and most elusive of trophies. In fact, they are so tuned into long-range shooting and hunting, that they will be able to put you in the perfect position to take the shot. They put the wind, terrain and every other factor in your favor, giving you the time and opportunity you need to make the shot count. You will be amazed by the sheer number of trophy quality animals, size of the hunting areas, and beauty of Africa.

This is one long-range hunting trip you do not want to miss.

Join the Gunwerks team in July 2016 for an action packed safari experience. Call 877.486.9375 or e-mail Mike on mike@gunwerks.com , alternatively feel free to reach Carl on hunting@johnxsafaris.co.za for more details.

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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Ivan Carter once wrote – “The photos and trophies we collect are merely a representation of what it took to actually get those photos and trophies…. It is the hunting experience as a whole, that’s what keeps us coming back to those campfires.”


And it is in those experiences that we are proud to present another unforgettable season. We have tried to capture the true essence of John X Safaris. The hunts, campfires, camaraderie, and breath-taking areas. The legendary scenery that goes along with an African safari, and the rewards of world-class results enjoyed by satisfied hunters.

We started our season in January, somewhat earlier than usual, and finished off our last hunts in mid-November. We once again enjoyed hunting our renowned East Cape concessions in South Africa, as well as Botswana’s Kalahari desert, Mozambique’s Zambezi Delta, and Namibia’s Damaraland.

We welcomed a number of new comers to the Safari World of John X Safaris this year, eager to see and experience Africa for the very first time. By all accounts the smiles and number of fantastic mails received upon their return home, told us that their experiences with John X Safaris may have been their first, but most certainly not their last.

Many were back on their second or third hunt, while there were a few nearing the tenth trip mark, enjoying the variety of destinations on offer. The fact that more than 60% of our hunters have been returning clientele over the past three years gives us faith in the quality of our product going forward. Your vote of confidence in John X Safaris is a compliment to the entire team, one we’re extremely proud of.

Some joined mom and dad, while others had the privilege of spending time with grandparents on safari. Our commitment to getting the youth to hunt through our young hunters initiative has come on in leaps and bounds, seeing more and more parents taking us up on our offer of free hunts for the youth. The number of young ladies joining us on safari has skyrocketed from previous years, a truly promising sign for the future. Many of the young guns made the best of their opportunities, often coming away with some of the best trophies from the past season, not a bad showing for hunters on the rise.

Each hunter came away enriched in their experience, leaving behind a small piece of their heart, sure to return again someday…for there is never only a once to the dark continent, Africa captures the heart leaving one longing to return.


Without every single one of you who joined us this season, and the many whom have joined us on safari before, we cannot thank you enough for your continued support – ultimately your faith in John X Safaris. Without you and your contribution to conservation through hunting we would not be where we are today.

Glancing back over this years monthly reports you’d agree special mention needs to be made  of our teams in the field, they, together with our loyal agents, trusty lodge crews, and long-standing team members, have once again proven why they’re considered some of the finest in the industry. Without their continued perseverance we’d never reach our goal of not being the biggest, but certainly the best.


Head PH Greg Hayes


This year also saw our head professional hunter, Greg Hayes, earning the prestigious nomination as one of the finalists for the Basie Maartens award. This award goes to the top South African Professional Hunter annually. While Greg just missed the award at a recent PHASA(Professional Hunters Ass of SA) convention, the nomination by his peers, clients, the industry, and friends, speaks highly of him as a world-class professional hunter. We’re extremely proud of Greg’s nomination and look forward to him leading the team by example once again next season.

John X Cover

After the amazing success of John X Safaris’ first Safari World publication during 2010, we’ve continued on with the popular tradition. This year’s book has seen Trish leading the way, most certainly the reason why this years book looks to be our finest to date – a must for any past, current or future John X hunters’ Christmas sock! Feel free to purchase “The Safari World of John X Safaris 2014” at John X Safaris Books .

Looking towards the future and 2015, bookings are coming in at a steady pace and we look forward to seeing as many of you as possible during our upcoming travels. Next year sees one of our newest members to the team, Ross “Stix” Hoole joining Carl on his travels across North America. Ross will be coming on board adding value to not only our show schedules, but together with Carl, will be heading up all our out of country hunts too. Mozambique, Botswana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, and the exciting new addition of our Namibian operation, will fall under his responsibility.  Carl will as per usual, be running with all our South African hunts, with many new areas being added to an already impressive 3000 000 acre setup. Together with this we are in the process of creating one of the finest Buffalo hunting destinations in South Africa, a project in its infant stages, but one which will be well worth the wait in the future.

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Below is a quick reminder of our 2015 show and travel schedule. If you or any of your friends may be interested in meeting with us, please drop us a line, we’d be glad to fit you or them into our schedule.

USA – January/February 2014

Dallas Safari Club Show – Dallas, Texas: 15-18 January 2015 – Both Carl and Ross will be at the show.

Salt Lake City / Eagle Mountain, Utah stop-over: 19-21 January 2015 – FUN EVENING with all our friends from Eagle Mountain, 20 January – Both Carl & Ross will be in Eagle Mnt.

Pleasant View, Utah stop-over: 21 – 23 January 2015 – FUN EVENING with the Nelsen brothers, 22 January – Both Carl & Ross will be in Pleasant View.

Bismarck, North Dakota stop-over: 23– 25 January 2015 – Carl will be visiting our good friend Dave Kjelstrup.

Amarillo, Texas stop-over: 23– 25 January 2015 – Ross will be visiting our good friend Sam Cunningham.

Burlington, Wyoming stop-over: 26 – 28 January 2015 – Both Carl & Ross will be visiting with our good friends from Gunwerks.

Omaha / Kearney, Nebraska stop-over: 28 – 31 January 2015 – COCKTAIL EVENING with De Freece’s in Kearney, 30 January. Carl will be visiting with our good friends the Petersen’s, as well as Steve & Jill Evers.

Jackson, Mississippi stop-over: 28 – 31 January 2015 – Ross will be visiting with our good friend Mike Jarvis.

Safari Club International – Las Vegas, Nevada: 4-7 February 2015 – Both Carl and Ross will be at the show.

SPAIN – March 2014

CINEGETICA Hunting Convention – Madrid, Spain: 19-22 March 2015



In closing both Trish and I have some fantastic news to share with you. Trish will be expecting our second child during April 2015, something we’re extremely excited about!

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank each and everyone who has been a part of the Safari World of John X Safaris during the past year – it has been a privilege hosting and having you on safari. Your support and friendship means the world to both of us.

Until we meet again on a dusty track in Africa – A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Carl, Trish and Brett Van Zyl

Lalibela, December 2014

Please note – John X Safaris will be shutting down from 10 December 2014 until 5 January 2015. We will be checking mail on a weekly basis during the festive season. For any urgent bookings or safari related inquiries, contact Carl on hunting@johnxsafaris.co.za

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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There’s a common believe amongst African folk that any given flock of Ground Hornbills should always group in odd numbers, but apparently someone forgot to teach them how to count.


For the past few days my good friend, Johnny Posey, and I have been trying to keep a head count of each flock of Ground Hornbills while enjoying the rigors of a Leopard hunt in Mozambique’s Zambezi Delta. It’s not necessarily bothering us, but ever since the guys made mention of this fact around the camp fire we’ve started noticing how many of these peculiar birds can’t count. Day in and day out we’ve noticed odd number flocks, but more often than not it’s been even numbers.

Contrary to popular believe we’ve come to the conclusion that either the 100 degree heat has affected the birds ability to account for the rest of their flock… or Africa has once again proven how mysterious she can be. How else can one explain it? A mystery of diversity, as diverse as the past month at John X Safaris.


From 1200 yard shots to bachelor parties and African weddings. From exciting adventures to lifelong memories, and ultimately from strangers to friends – that has been the safari world of John X Safaris. We’ve seen families united, reliving childhood memories, while broken relationships have been healed by the African bush. It has always amazed us how much good such a relatively short period of time such as a safari can do.

For Mike Grier it would be his third return trip to John X Safaris, together with good friends, Tyler Geer and Tom Lincoln. For both Tom and Tyler it would be their first taste of Africa – a taste so sweet it would be hard to see them not back again in the near future.

Having started in the south, the guys enjoyed memorable days hunting from our coastal area before heading north to the Great Karoo. A number of great trophies  was just reward for the endless effort put in by the group.


A certain highlight of the hunt was to be Mike's long-awaited Bushpig, never an easy specie to pursue, but one certainly worth the wait!

A certain highlight of the hunt was to be Mike’s long-awaited Bushpig, never an easy specie to pursue, but one certainly worth the wait!

With Mike, Tyler, and Tom heading back state side, we welcomed the Motley family for a short, but action packed safari. The species the family were after meant the family would spend most of their hunt up in the north, before heading to Cape Town with Freewalker Luxury Tours. As per usual a couple of days of R&R at Lalibela with big 5 game drives was a must and one the entire family truly enjoyed.


To Mark, Patrice, Lauren, and Caden, congratulations on a superb collection of trophies – From all reports both Greg and Stix enjoyed your hunt immensely!

With July coming to an end we entered one of our busiest periods of the season. The arrival of Gunwerks saw a hive of activity erupt as we geared up for our second season of hunting and filming for “Gunwerks Long Range Pursuit TV”.


This year proved to be bigger and better than last season with owners, Aaron and Mike Davidson, hosting the hunt in South Africa. Joining them was first timers, Sam Cunningham and “Uncle” Don Roberts, as well as the father/son duo of Graham and Sebastian Turner.


Mike and Aaron Davidson.

Each hunter had used the Gunwerks rifle system before and came prepared. The level of understanding of what the guns were capable of made a great impression on us – as the results would prove later on.

Aaron and Mike Davidson teamed up with Professional Hunters, Carl Van Zyl and Rusty Coetzer, respectively, treating the guys to a shooting exhibition like few have seen before. These guys were the men behind the system, and how interesting it proved to be….

While the men behind Gunwerks were keeping us busy, so were the rest of the group too.

Sam Cunningham enjoyed a memorable hunt with Professional Hunter, Stix Hoole, taking over proceedings on any species that anyone else wished to pass on. Sam arrived open-minded, ready for the adventure, and man did he walk away with a very fine selection of trophies. During the course of the safari both he and Stix struck up a special bond between PH and hunter, one that sees a hunting career being built on. It seems Sam enjoyed his hunt that much that on the last day of his safari he had already confirmed his next hunt with John X Safaris – a Leopard hunt in our new concession in Namibia, but more on that later.

With Sam clearly leading the pack on species, the rest of the pack weren’t going to be left in the dust. Having met Don Roberts briefly on the opening day of SCI, Las Vegas 2014, I knew he would be a sure member of this years group. Needless to say, the very next day he and his beautiful wife were back at booth # 850 booking Don’s hunt.

Since then we’ve come to know the stranger a lot better and proudly call him a great friend. “Uncle Don” as he is now fondly referred to enjoyed success on a number of species, and together with PH, Martin Niper, proved to be one of the luckiest team of hunters out there!

A huge Kudu, Fallow Deer, Nyala , and Bushbuck were some of their best, but it was Uncle Don’s Sable that inspired me the most.


Picture the scene, I had just come into camp off one of the tallest mountains in our newly secured 80 000 acre concession in the Great Karoo, having been after Eland for most of the day with Aaron , when Uncle Don meets me at the door pleading to have a word. Immediately the alarm bells start ringing in my head – what could have happened today that Uncle Don wants to see me so urgently? Then I notice the frown on his brow turn into a smile, asking;” Carl , today I saw the most beautiful animal I have ever seen in my life…. What are the chances that I could hunt it?” As they say the rest is history! Uncle Don got his Sable, and a beauty at that, not to mention that smile he has yet to wipe off his face!

Professional Hunter, Dave Burcy, teamed up with Graham and Sebastian Turner, for a selection of species they had not hunted before. This was to be a multiple return trip to South Africa for the Turners, before they headed up to Mozambique for the second part of their safari.

The guys did extremely well in both South Africa and Mozambique – coming away with a number of dream trophies.

As early August rolled along, with Gunwerks still enjoying our northern areas we welcomed a wedding party on safari to our southern base, Lalibela. The change of the season was upon us, with us ultimately deciding it was time to open up Treetops lodge again after the cold winter. Treetops proved to be the fairytale setting to what turned out to be one hell of a safari and wedding.

Father/son duo of Wade and Casey Fairchild enjoyed a memorable hunt with PH, Tyrone Schulpfort,  while mom in law, Michelle and bride, Rusmira, joined in on the action too.

As I’ve come to expect from Tyrone, that is since I’ve known him from the 3rd grade, always expect the unexpected! I’ve always believed that each PH should enjoy the privilege of planning his daily hunt as he wishes, as long as it maintains our high standards, and keeps all involved, firstly safe, and secondly, very happy on safari. Tyrone not only ensured a memorable trip was enjoyed by all, but mixed hard hunting with down time at the beach, a day of shopping here and there, and ultimately ensuring a dream African wedding for the wedding couple.

The Fairchild’s enjoyed a truly memorable hunt with a wedding and setting like no other. To the John X ladies who put the wedding together, I fear I may have to start a wedding service business – you’ve all missed your calling in life! What you ladies put together not only blew my mind, but all who were present too,  thank you.

I sign off this past months report with pictures from a fairytale wedding… Congratulations Mr and Mrs Fairchild… It was not only beautiful, but spectacular ….


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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If you thought 2014 couldn’t get any better, then don’t feel alone, I was sitting on the banks of the Zambezi River a mere three weeks ago counting my blessings and wondering how the remainder of the season would pan out? I’ll be honest, at that moment I was sipping a cold locally brewed Mozambican 2M with my good friend Jeff Edland, savoring the success of the days hunt. At our feet lay a known man-eater, at 14 foot in length and more than a meter at the belly, one could understand the fear the locals had for this Crocodile.

It had not been an easy hunt, the wind wasn’t perfect and the day had been long. Numerous Crocs had been seen, two of them meeting the requirements we were after, but nothing had come from endless patience. We had given up, called it a day, and then no more than a mile from our landing site there he was. Jeff made another telling shot – this time at 70 yards off sticks – and if you’re thinking what’s the big fuss at 70 yards? Go try hitting the centre out of an Oreo cookie at 70 yards without a dead rest. It’s tough!

It had not been an easy hunt, the wind wasn’t perfect and the day had been long. Numerous Crocs had been seen, two of them meeting the requirements we were after, but nothing had come from endless patience. We had given up, called it a day, and then no more than a mile from our landing site there he was. Jeff made another telling shot – this time at 70 yards off sticks – and if you’re thinking what’s the big fuss at 70 yards? Go try hitting the centre out of a Oreo cookie at 70 yards without a dead rest. It’s tough!

Jeff not only enjoyed success on a huge Crocodile, but a first night Leopard over hounds had set our safari off on the right foot. Our hounds man Coenraad had expressed his concern over rain that was expected later that week, and he wanted to give it a go on that very first night. We trusted our man on the ground and within hours had a big tom treed.

To say that it was a relief would have been an understatement! Forget the success rate ratios - As described to me by a friend of mine, the famous Zimbabwean Leopard hunter, Lou Halimore, " It's a 50/50 - Either get one or you don't!" We had ours! And at that a beauty!

To say that it was a relief would have been an understatement! Forget the success rate ratios – As described to me by a friend of mine, the famous Zimbabwean Leopard hunter, Lou Hallamore, ” It’s a 50/50 – Either you get one or you don’t.” We had ours – And at that a beauty!

And that’s the way our Mozambican hunt went… The trophies speak for themselves and the adventure enjoyed with our old friends and hosts, Poen and Zandre, was a treat and as good as ever. Poen, together with our local trackers, Gotchi and Albieno, have become an extension of John X Safaris in Mozambique. Seldom does a day pass without unexpected adventure, with the quality of the hunting a given…

Back south in South Africa, we welcomed Steve and Charlene Galas, as well as the father/son duo of Dan and Jake Tomcheck. For both parties it was to be their first hunt with John X Safaris, enjoying both our coastal and northern Karoo areas.

Steve and Charlene teamed up with Professional Hunter, Ross Hoole, hunting a variety of plains game. An outstanding Gemsbuck and Kudu hunt was some of Steve’s favorites, but a certain highlight for us was Steve’s Waterbuck. From time to time one stumbles upon an interesting trophy, one that sees one becoming addicted in its pursuit.

For Steve and Ross it turned out to be a superb Waterbuck, the only catch, this bull had broken its right horns’ tip during the course of their hunt. It was now more than “just” the hunt, there was a story… In the end they did get him, and while many would wonder about their quest in turning down so many good bulls to hunt this particular bull, I and others who knew what they were after could appreciate their dedication. He may have had a broken tip, but the broken horn still tipped off at 27”, while the other 32”. A trophy of a lifetime in my eyes, and story to go with it.

For Dan and Jake Tomcheck, joining Professional Hunter, Greg Hayes, it was to be a truly special safari. Since the start of our father/son hunts we’ve been overwhelmed by the response of so many of you. But the added bonus that was not expected has been the reward of seeing fathers and sons spending quality time together, and ultimately rekindling relationships and family bonds without external distractions.

The hunting proved to be a treat under the guidance of Greg and tracker, Bless. From the coastal forests, to the plains of the Karoo, and finally up onto the mountains in the north…

With early July rolling on it was time to welcome our extended family from Reno, Nevada. Over the years we at John X Safaris have been privileged to host many hunters from around the world, some come on that once in a lifetime safari, others a couple more times, then there are those who form part of the family, coming every other year. They bring their kids, their friends, and families – ultimately bringing them home to Africa as often as they can.

One such family is the Robinson family. Steve had first joined us on safari with our good friend, Rich Adams, many years ago and since has shared a number of memorable safaris with us. Since that first hunt, Steve has introduced his wife, Linda, as well as kids, Ashley, Hunter, and Kaley, to African safaris. Our families have grown together, enjoying many trips throughout southern Africa.

This year proved to be one of our most enjoyable safaris to date. Together with the Robinson’s, we welcomed the Pitts and Tripp families. The plan was for the entire group to spend four days at Lalibela, and then the girls would head down to Cape Town with Trish, while the boys headed to the Karoo for some more hunting. From there we would all meet for the last two days of our safari down in Knysna on the Garden Route.

An action packed safari it proved to be with a number of record-breaking trophies hitting the salt. A 55 3/8’’ East Cape Kudu for Bo Tripp was the trophy of a lifetime, not to mention an awesome Klipspringer and Waterbuck with the family. Arnie and Hunter Pitts made for quality entertainment with some trick shooting, with humor like no other. My team of Steve and Hunter were as solid as ever, with Steve hunting a magnificent Kalahari Springbuck of 17’’, while Hunter stole the limelight with an epic old Bushpig we’d been after for quite some time.


While the “seasoned” hunters may have dominated the hunting in numbers, it was the junior hunters whom most impressed us. Two very special young ladies reminded us what it was all about and why we enjoy our passion for hunting. To Kaley Robinson and Abie Tripp – Congratulations on some exceptional shooting and a great bunch of trophies!

Meanwhile down in Cape Town the girls were warming up to their new-found slogan of “Living on the Edge”…. Yes folks adventure sport junkies to say the least! From the V&A Waterfront to the Nelson Mandela Apartheid Museum, Cape Point to Table Mountain and Paragliding off Lions Head, to Great White Shark cage diving. That and so much more…

All in all it proved to be a mammoth safari to say the least. The combination of hunting, Big 5 photographic safaris, and the Garden Route to Cape Town sight-seeing tour, provided for first class vacationing. The fun and games never stopped from the minute the group arrived to the day they left.

As mid July rolled along we welcomed our partners from Blaser, Marc Hillerman, and hunter, Jan Bredensen. They joined Professional Hunter, Ross Hoole, for a week of mountain hunting. Over the course of the week the guys hunted hard, enjoying long hikes with hours of glassing, hoping to find what they were after.

During their quest they hunted a variety of species including a Caracal with hounds, Blesbuck and Common Duiker, but their mountain species is what they had come for, and wow were they impressive…

A 9 3/8’’ Vaal Rhebuck...

A 9 3/8’’ Vaal Rhebuck…

A 7 4/8’’ Mountain Reedbuck...

A 7 4/8’’ Mountain Reedbuck…

And 4’’ Klipspringer.

And 4’’ Klipspringer.

Eat your hearts out all you mountain dwellers! These three would be the pride of any mountain hunters’ trophy room.

I’m still in awe at a number of trophies from the past three weeks. As I said before, who would have thought it could get any better, considering the season we’ve had to date, but our areas keep producing the goods and the teams on the ground keep providing world-class experiences.

As I sign off this month’s report, we find ourselves spread across the Eastern Cape. In the north we have our old friend Mike Grier, together with Tom Lincoln and Tyler Geer, back on his third hunt with John X Safaris, while Jose, Trish, and I, are giving back to the industry with our annual PHASA donated hunt. We’re looking forward to a busy period running into early August before we set sail to Mozambique once again.

Until next month – Enjoy the outdoors and do so responsibly.

Until next month – Enjoy the outdoors and do so responsibly.

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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With the month of May coming to an end, and a wet early season dominating procedures, combined with bouts of cooler weather, we have seen a peak in the rut earlier than usual. While a peak may have been reached, there are tell-tale signs that it should be here for a couple more months. There have been bouts of cooler weather, but it has most certainly not been cold as to date. And if the old heads’ theory stands for anything, it should mean that the main rut is yet to hit.


With the warmer weather lasting longer than usual, it has provided our hunters moderate conditions with breath-taking scenery prior to the winter dull. The current condition of the wildlife is something worth mentioning – the animals are in immaculate condition across the board, with even the older game boasting rounded bellies and shiny coats. It is most certainly a paradise in the East Cape at the moment.

Looking back at the months results, one asks oneself how it could get any better? But then again it all lies in the planning, and that’s not only from the teams side, but our hunters too. Our entire May was booked up more than three years ago. We knew it was going to be a busy one, but Trish and I often have to pinch ourselves to realize its all real. Yes, hard work and dedication goes hand in hand, but the support from our friends in Utah has been a humbling experience to say the least.

Having met a group of guys from Eagle Mountain on their first safari some eight years ago, it would be fair to say not them or I thought our friendships would prosper to the point of family. With time I’ve come to know a special group of people, people who have become my extended family in the US, whom have taken in my entire team as their own from day one. To Bwana Big Jim Smith, Chris & Collette Ashcroft, Brett & Shelie Wright, and the many past hunters from Eagle Mountain, I don’t know if there are enough words to express our gratitude for everything you do year in and year out.

Knowing you the way I have come to know you, a simple thank you would be sufficient. BUT you all deserve more than that – I truly hope we as a team have produced the results and experiences that shows our gratitude and says more than just thank you.

To our new friends; the Hamilton’s, Edwards’s, Heaton’s, Wilson’s, Terry’s, Wallace’s, Maxwell’s, and Fullmer’s – the latest additions to the John X family. Welcome – Enjoy the memories… Our journey together has only just begun….

After all the dust had settled on the last evening and beaming faces enriched with new experiences had gathered around a cozy dinner table, the entire group decided to each share a fond memory/experience from the hunt. Of course there was the usual banter and laughter that can only be shared in a hunting camp, and there were some emotional stories too – not because anyone was sad, but more so the emotion of gratitude.

I had personally shared a funny story about my old friend, Chris Ashcroft, whom had brought me close to tears with laughter after witnessing a sequence of funny mishaps on his Impala hunt. But in the moment I had forgotten about one particular experience – I’d like to share that story with the entire group and you the reader.

While hunting up north one day, I had the privilege of witnessing something truly special – something that reminded me, and many of my guides and team members, why we wake at sunrise each morning.

Kelly Edwards and I were done hunting for the day and decided to lend a hand and spend some time with Larry and Claudia Fullmer, together with PH, Sean Cromhout. Larry was after an Eland, and as tradition would be with most big things, the better the quality of trophy, the harder it is to achieve. To cut a long story short, Larry, Sean, and Claudia made an epic stalk on a group of bulls we’d spotted earlier that morning. The bulls were feeding in a valley below their final position, and as the hunters popped their heads over the top of the cliff we saw Larry’s gun go up and the immediate rapport of the shot. The bulls took off at a pace, while Larry’s bull slowed to a walk before going down.


The moment was a great one. Larry, Claudia, Sean, and Tsikelelo – The team who did it!

The smiles all round told of a succesful hunt and an experience enjoyed by all. It was only much later, after the bull was back at the skinning shed that I for the first time realized that the grin on Larry’s face which had been there since the moment we collected them at the airport was even broader than before. Larry quietly stood in awe as the old gun steel-blue bull was hoisted high above his head. He just stood there smiling with a glimpse of a tear not far below the surface. He was speechless.

I decided to step back for a minute too – and to enjoy the moment. The scene unfolding in front of me was as rewarding as I had ever witnessed or experienced before. Here was a man whom I had only met on two prior occasions, before spending the first part of the hunt together – we knew very little of one another. Yet through the age-old tradition of hunting we had come together like old friends and could enjoy the silence between us more so than any words could ever have spoken.

It was the experience of that moment that saw me rise at 4am the following morning. Not because I had to, but because I wanted to. I wanted to be the first to see the sunrise – to greet the day and count my blessings…..

There's so much to look forward to, and its only the end of May.

There was so much to look forward to, and it was barely the end of May.

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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What defies ethics to you as a hunter? Is it the thrill of the chase in an environment that is acceptable to you and respectful to the animal you’re pursuing, or is it the comparison of what the world considers acceptable? Dare I say it may be a matter of personal choice, a place within oneself where you as a hunter feels comfortable with your actions.

I’m not entirely sure that I hold the answer to this complex question, but I’d like to share a story that has got me thinking, possibly in a manner that I have not considered before.


But before I get ahead of myself, picture the scene of a nervous PH standing in his booth at the Dallas Safari Club, trying to come up with a plan after a request from a good friend wanting to hunt Vaal Rhebuck and Klipspringer. It’s not the fear of pursuing these masters of the mountains, the dare devils of the rocks or the spotting scopes of the hills, but the thought of doing so with a man without hips.

Never the less, fast forward to early June – we always make a plan. Well this time it turned out we were part of the plan.

Lee and Debra Friend, together with their son, Coltyn, were back on their second hunt with John X Safaris, and with them came two of the finest guns we’ve ever seen. Lee was packing the Gunwerks  6.5×284 , and Debra and Coltyn shared the Gunwerks 6XC, both were fitted with Nightforce optics, an important aspect in the entire setup.

All three hunters enjoyed a great deal of success, hunting a variety of world-class trophies, including a massive 43″ Cape Buffalo and breath-taking Giraffe. As per usual the fun never stops with the Friend’s, one of the many reasons we enjoy having them on safari!

On the plains game front a number of shots were long, but nothing more than 200 yards, all fairly acceptable under African conditions. Up to that point we considered all “very” doable for Lee. The challenge would come on the mountain dwellers; we were yet to see if Lee’s cowboy days had caught up with him. At age 54, Lee boasted 2 replaced hips, a couple fused vertebra and the years in the saddle had taken their toll.

Lee’s Vaal Rhebuck would be our first challenge on distance. It’s for good reason why they’re considered one of Africa’s toughest. Unparalleled agility and sight allows them to stand out from the pack. A lucky break one morning saw two months of scouting and planning come together, a great Vaal Rhebuck was spotted. A slow, but cautious stalk ensued; finally we were in position – 400 yards out.

Lee dialed in the yardage, took a deep breath, and squeezed off a round.

And one round is all it took. At 400 yards the ram dropped out of sight and earned the awe of both hunter and guide. Lee's ram was one magnificent specimen, well over the 8" class, a trophy to be proud of and a shot to be remembered.

And one round is all it took. At 400 yards the ram dropped out of sight and earned the awe of both hunter and guide. Lee’s ram was one magnificent specimen, well over the 8″ mark, a trophy to be proud of and a shot to be remembered.

With a Vaal Rhebuck going down at 400 yards – Lee most definitely had our attention. The few remaining pessimists started off as optimists the following morning.

Next up was the ever elusive Klipspringer, having earned its name from the Dutch pioneers, in direct translation, “rock jumper”, this specie is one that truly lives up to its name. The secret in hunting Klipspringer often lies with a great pair of binoculars, just spotting pairs high up on the cliffs and rocky outcrops is a challenge in its own right, and then successfully hunting a trophy quality male takes skill.

A misty morning with very little visibility and even less activity was set to dampen our spirits when at last our trusty tracker, Zwayi, spotted a pair below the mist line. I’ve often wondered what he looks for when it comes to Klipspringer spotting, as he has an uncanny ability to spot at least 80% of Klipspringer before anybody else does, truly the best I’ve seen from a tracker.

The pair was far, to be exact 678 came flashing up in red on the lens of the range finder, an easy number to remember, surely a coincidence I mentioned to Lee. We decided we needed to half that distance, or at least try. While the previous days Vaal Rhebuck shot was still fresh in our minds, this target was a third the size and much harder to spot.

While the Klipspringer were a long way out, they were lower than usual due to the mist, and to our advantage we had a deep ravine to follow for most of the way. If our cover held, we’d get a shot.

At 358 we’d reached the end of our cover. One of the many run-offs into the ravine formed the basis of a difficult, but steady setup. Lee basically wedged himself into position. Now all we had to do was talk Lee onto him.

Within minutes Lee had him, and this is where the quality of a good telescope cannot be emphasized enough. Throughout the setup I had to make way for Lee’s gun while my spotting scope took the backseat on top of a grassy pod. Not being able to get steady with my spotting scope, Lee simply dialed up his scope on his rifle and quite calmly pointed out the ram from the ewe – wow! Who needs a spotting scope with a telescope like that!

The rest as they say is history! Of course Lee got his Klipspringer - with one shot the ram didn't even know we were in the same county, let alone state or country. A great ram to say the least!

The rest as they say is history! Of course Lee got his Klipspringer – with one shot the ram didn’t even know we were in the same county, let alone state or country. A great ram to say the least!

After two successful hunts the question I posed to myself on the ethics, was not how far or how long I would consider an ethical shot on a hunt, as neither shots truly pushed the gun to its limit. More so the question of what the hunter got out of his equipment and his experience, while understanding his capabilities and feeling confident within a secure distance of making a clean shot, ultimately an ethical kill.

For me, I personally found both hunts tough, extremely rewarding to guide, and an exhilarating experience to be a part of. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined I could successfully guide a man without hips to two mountain dwellers of this quality, let alone both within 3 days of hard hunting.

The Friend’s have pioneered us into virgin territory when it comes to long-range calibers and hunting, who knows what the boundaries may be? As long as those boundaries are ethical and both hunter and guide understand their equipment’s’ capabilities, then I predict exciting times ahead…. As exciting as the thought of Gunwerks hosting a group right here with John X Safaris at the end of July!

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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