I loved Bill & Lerch's Wyoming debacle hunt, which in turn inspired me to write about how we hunt in South Africa which contrasts fairly sharply to what I've read. Let it be known at the beginning of this submission that I would love to hunt the way Bill & Lerch did !!
Firstly there is no hunting on public lands in SA. Majority of hunting is done on private game ranches (and occasionally on large game reserves under strict control with supervision). The hunt normally starts by searching for a suitable ranch that caters for your pocket. Ranches vary in size from 1000 acres, to 100,000 acres, with no facilities to 5 star accommodation.
Game is typically not a problem, and you can shoot as much as you like, but you pay for each animal shot. Most ranches also differentiate in price between trophy and meat animals !!
Almost all ranches provide you with a tracker, who will provide advice (not always the best thing) gut, skin, carry your equipment, ..... He's also there to check that you don't screw up, and if you do, that you pay for your screw up.
Typically it's only you and your hunting party that will hunt on the ranch. Our last hunt of the season had 5 friends on 50,000 acres of pristine, unspoilt ranch. Game was abundant and it was more a case of what you could spend than what you could shoot.
A typical day is to start the morning off with a solid breakfast of eggs, bacon, porridge, .... The ranch manager then takes us in his vehicle to a starting point, where we are offloaded with a tracker. Hunting normally carries on until 11h00 when he returns to pick us and the animals that we've shot. Animals have been field gutted by the tracker. We head off for lunch, while the animals are taken to the cool rooms to be skinned etc. by the trackers. Hunting then resumes from about 15h00 (depending on how hot it is) until sundown. The process is repeated while we sit and have sundowners round the fire, or in the bar. Another tough day in Africa.
While the above may sound great, the biggest disadvantage is that hunting is generally expensive, unless you have family or friends that own a ranch. Hunting is year round, though most ranches have limitations on females during breeding season etc.
There you have it. Quite a contrast, with each having it's own ups and downs.
View of hunting chalets in eastern SA. Fairly basic accommodation (according to my wife) with hot & cold running water, beds, full bathroom, ... Meals, dining room are housed in a seperate lodge within walking distance.
End of a tough day in the ranch bar enjoying a sundowner.
View of a friends private 4000 acre hunting lodge.
View of main lodge of hunting ranch in Kalahari desert.