Well, we’re counting down to the last days before we leave for South Africa and our airgunning safari…. it’s my seventh one with airguns and they count as some of my most memorable trips. First, I always feel like I’m going home, and for a guy that’s spent most of his life bouncing country to country that counts for a lot! Granted, all the time I’ve spent there does not equal (or even come close to) the many years I lived in The Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Japan, or Australia in total, but over the years it’s been a constant in my life. My wife and I were married there, we’ve watched my daughter growing from a little baby to a young woman punctuated by our yearly trips to see her granny and the rest of the family still living there, and it’s been an important constant. I also have some great friends spread about the cape, both in and out of hunting, that I always look forward to seeing them. But its the hunting that has me so excited right now, because I have some new guns and gear to try out under some of the roughest conditions an airgunner is likely to encounter.
Also, I’m taking some very experienced, but new to Africa, hunters with me. Everyone here knows AoA’s Kip Perow and one of his buddies that I haven’t met yet (Dave B) along with a cameraman to film the action. Another friend of mine (and Kips boss) will be at another property with his family and Andrew Hugget (yes that Hugget) and will meet up with us one night for a South African Braai (BBQ). I’ll be getting some footage for the American Airgunner TV show, and Kip will be getting some film for the great Video section of the AoA website he’s been doing. I also have commitments to do pieces in the UK airgun magazine Airgun Shooter, Predator Xtreme, and Airgun Hobbyist along with this blog, so there will be a lot of coverage.
I set the trip up with my two very good friends and PH’s Rob Dell and Andrew Myers, and their operation Hounslow Safaris based out of Grahamstown on the eastern cape. I’ve done most of my airgun hunts with these guys over the last decade, beginning when we got government approval for the first sanctioned hunts in the country. These guys are a rarity in SA, they really know airguns and have a lot of experience with airgun hunting! After we booked the hunt, there are a few steps of preparation; we downloaded and completed (to be signed when we land in JoBerg) the SAP firearms import documents, then we took the guns that will accompany us to US customs for the temporary export permits CBP 4457 (certificate of registration for temporary export permit), and finally the outfitter (Rob and Andrew) sent us the letter of invite which details the animals we intend to take.
The adjunct gear I’ve lined up for the trip,in addition to the guns and ammo included binoculars, range finder, electronic call, night vision viewer, shooting stick, camo poncho (been using this a lot lately), my daypack and a ton of camera gear. The daypack I’ve used on the last three trips is a messenger style bag that I can sling under and arm, across my back, or move to the front when I need access. I’d advised everyone go light on packing cloths as we’d have laundry service, so I’d packed a couple pair of canvas pants, three safari style shirts, a sweater, a jacket, boots, one set of thermals and a couple sets of underwear and socks, and shorts, tshirt, and some flip flops for moving around camp at night.
My camera gear consist of my Nikon SLR with additional lenses, GoPro and CenterPoint scope mounted video cams, an HD handicam, and a point and shoot pocket camera, two tripods, and a whole box of SD cards and memory sticks. I also brought my iPad to skype back home to speak with my wife and kids, get a bit of writing in, and have my back issues of several hunting and airgun magazines in one place. As mentioned, in addition to all the camera gear I’ve packed we have a professional along with a whole truckload of his own equipment.
This trip for me is going to focus on the guns and getting good footage; I’ve already taken a few kudu, bushbuck, bleesbuck, wildebeest etc and lots of springbuck, impala, Steinbok, duiker, warthog and other plains game ….. maybe if I get a chance at a gemsbok and I still haven’t gotten a bush pig. I also want to spend a lot more time on varmint and predators this trip, I have my ecaller and laser genetics lights and intend to use them. While the guys are out with the PH’s I’ll grab a truck and get out on my own to shoot the stuff that almost nobody comes to South Africa to hunt.
I’ll post an occasional update on the blog, and keep you all up to date on the going ons. And as I’m updating the blog, think about if this trip is something you’d like to do. Most people can afford it if they plan, and I’m giving you a heads up to start getting ready if you want to join me on next years trip! It is an airgunners hunt of a lifetime!!