BOWHUNTING IN AFRICA
Of all the places one can bowhunt around the world, Africa has the most of offer the bowhunter. Mere words can not do justice to the incredible mix that awaits both the first time African bowhunter, and the returning one.
First in most bowhunters’ minds, is the list of huntable species. It’s a long one. Then there is the mystique of Africa. All of us remember reading about the “dark continent” and the traditional African safari. We grew up with the movies of Africa, such as THE SNOWS OF KILIMANJARO. The sights and sounds that await you are a sensory explosion. All of the animals and birds that one sees and hears each day will find a place in your soul. You’ll never again hear the coo of a dove and not think of an African morning around a water hole.
The country is rugged and majestic. It’s hard. Survival of the fittest probably originated in southern Africa. It’s soft and glowing in its sunrises and sunsets. The nights are star-filled and sound-filled.
Photography and exploring are an important plus, even for the most hard core of bowhunters. Believe it or not, there will be times when you reach for the camera before the bow!
I have been bowhunting in South Africa eleven times, as of 2004. My first hunt there took place in 1978. I have been hooked ever since and now hunt there almost every year. I am NOT a paid booking agent. I am, however, looking for bowhunters to join me every summer in South Africa. Let me tell you why...
I hunt with a Professional Hunter named Howard Knott. Howard and his family own extensive ranch properties in South Africa. Howard and his family have become close personal friends of mine and my family. Howard wants to convert his hunting operation to all bowhunting, if he possibly can. In order to do this, he needs bowhunters. I have agreed to help Howard find a steady supply of bowhunters. In exchange for this, he has agreed to put together some special group rates for bowhunters. This makes my annual bowhunt more affordable, as well as yours.
The name of Howard’s safari business is Greater Kuduland Safaris. The Knott family owns a huge amount of land that is all managed as game ranches. As of this writing (October, 2004) they own 70,000 acres and are in the process of adding 25,000 more acres.
There are 28 different species that are offered to the hunter. Of these, there are a few which are limited*, such as Roan and Sable, and are offered with prior arrangements. You will find a bowhunting price list in this site that lists all the species which can be hunted and the trophy fees charged for those animals.
* Limited animals simply means that Howard only allows so many per year to be taken and the bowhunter should make prior arrangement with Howard to hunt these animals in advance. Prior
arrangement is necessary for Leopard because it requires a permit and a SITES permit from the United States, as well.
In addition to these animals there are Cape Buffalo and Lion available on other concessions. Hunting these animals requires advance planning and requires special hunt rates. Howard does hunt these animals and is one of the best for “dangerous game”. I don’t recommend that any bowhunter hunt dangerous game without some experience on the African plains game, first.
Some extra excitement and great photographic opportunity exists, if you’re lucky enough to see them, for Elephants and Rhinos. Howard has a small population of both, which is building up over the years. These aren’t huntable, however, but they are really neat to see.
Bird hunting is also available. The ranch has shotguns, or the hunter can bring his or her own. Lots of birds...doves, guinea, and grouse.
Howard’s camps are magnificent. There are three camps and once you see any of them, you agree that they can’t really be called “camps”. The “Rondavel”, which is Afrikaans for round house is where you stay. This is a lovely stucco round building with thatched roof and all the amenities...shower, tub, beds, clean linen, and trophy animals on the wall. Electricity, of course. Each camp has flower beds, swimming pool, camp water hole for game viewing, and full dining facilities. Each camp has a chef as good as any you’ll find! Laundry is done daily. For the non-hunting observer, the camps are luxury vacation hide-a-ways. The food is superb.
HOW DO YOU HUNT?
There are several ways to bowhunt at Kuduland Safaris. The most common, and the most productive, is hunting from blinds at water holes. Tree standing near water, or along heavily used trails, is another productive method. Stalking, much the same as still hunting whitetails, is also productive and really exciting. Tracking particular species is another method that provides plenty of excitement. The trackers in Africa defy description in their abilities.
You will be hunting in July, August, or September if you want the best seasons for bowhunting. This is winter in South Africa. Temperatures will normally run in the high 70s and low 80s (some winter, huh?) It is the dry season and water is limited. Game waters around the clock, but the most productive time around the water hole is about 7:00 a.m., until noon and then again in the afternoon after 4:00 p.m.
In 1993, I kept a very accurate journal. I wrote down every animal that came into the water holes where I hunted. One day, between daylight and 1:00 p.m., I had 252 animals come to the water. There were ten different species. The far side of the water hole was exactly 18 yards from the blind. The near side was 8 yards. This was a great day...hot and windless. A more typical morning sit would see between 80-120 different animals water.
Blinds are, in almost all cases, rock and concrete, built down into the ground. There is plenty of room for hunter, Professional Hunter (PH) and a couple of observers. No shots are longer than 20 yards...most are around 8-12 yards. We set it up that way. I have done most of the design of the blinds and the placement around the water. The most common complaint I have heard from other bowhunters who have hunted elsewhere in Africa is that the blinds are usually 30 yards, or more, from the water. African game is far tougher and faster than anything you have ever hunted...trust me. Close shots, no matter how fast your bow, are what you want.
The quality of the animals at Greater Kuduland Safaris is legendary throughout the African hunting community. Kuduland produces some of the largest Kudu in all Africa. Their Impala can be immense. The top five South African Sable, I believe, were all harvested at Kuduland. The key is genetics and management...especially management. If anything, Kuduland is under hunted. The game numbers are high, natural feed is superb, and the hunter is encouraged to take only mature animals. All hunts are fair chase and all animals are wild and free roaming.
WHAT ABOUT NON-HUNTING OBSERVERS?
Many bowhunters bring spouses or kids. The daily observer rate is very reasonable. Most observers spend time in blinds, either watching game, and/or photographing it. There are caves with Bushman paintings on the ranch. There are many old fortresses and cave dwellings that were used by the Venda tribe. These are all on the ranch and ranch staff will take both hunters and observers to visit these sites.
As mentioned previously, there are beautiful swimming pools and lounge areas. Each camp has its own game viewing area complete with cocktail bar. There are plenty of places to jog or hike, too.
Side trips may easily be organized to Kruger National Park, either by day, or overnight. This is an incredible trip where the tourist will see Elephant, Lion, Buffalo, and much more game. Also available for the shopper, are trips to local curio shops and even up to Zimbabwe for the really serious curio shopper. Many great curios can be obtained by trading clothing…old blue jeans, flip-flops, shirts, etc.
SOUNDS INCREDIBLE, BUT WHAT DOES IT COST?
Dollar for dollar, Africa is the best buy on the market for a bowhunt. If you compare the cost of a fourteen day hunt and, let’s say, 10 animals harvested, you will find it is cheaper than going on a sheep hunt or Brown Bear hunt. Travel expense is relatively low, too.
Daily rates for two bowhunters and one Professional Hunter are currently $325 per person, based on four bowhunters in camp. There is a daily rate sheet attached to this site to explain all the various combinations of rates. These rates include lodging, food and beverage, and full guiding service. Observers pay $150 per day, with children under ten being charged $85 per day. We always try to make sure we have four bowhunters in camp, in order to keep your daily rate as low as possible. We recommend no more than four bowhunters in camp, although we can change this to accommodate groups who might wish to all hunt in the same camp. This way, everyone has the best chance of hunting undisturbed game.
We arrange travel through Gracy/Marrs Travel, in Texas. These folks are consistently lower than other travel agents, since Africa is their specialty. We receive no commissions from them, so have no motivation other than getting you the best rates. You can contact me by email to get in touch with Steve at Gracy/Marrs.
Trophy handling and/or taxidermy is easy. Field and Stream Taxidermy, in Louis Trichardt, South Africa, will disinfect and box all trophies. They arrange shipping to your location, as well. If you want them to do your taxidermy right in South Africa, it is quite a bit less expensive than having it done here in the states. However, we recommend you stop at their shop (easily done) and see their work before deciding.
South Africa in the Transvaal Province is safe and clean. No shots are needed for tropical diseases, although common sense suggests a Hepatitis A shot for any foreign travel. Malaria is not a problem in the area. We see no biting bugs. Snakes are hibernating at that time of year and it is very rare to see one. In term of the environment, it’s about the friendliest place you can find: almost no humidity, warm days, and crisp nights, with no biting critters.
WHAT ABOUT HUNTING EQUIPMENT?
We recommend bows of 60 pounds, or more. It really doesn’t matter what kind of bow you shoot, as long as you can put the arrow where you want it. The Professional Hunters in Africa are not keen on super light arrows and they are particularly displeased with “open on impact broadheads”. We recommend a good two blade broadhead, such as the Magnus and a good heavy arrow...550 grains or heavier is ideal. African game is big and tough.
WHAT WE WANT!
We are looking for bowhunters...people who love to hunt with bow and arrow and have a good, solid code of ethics. We are looking for bowhunters who appreciate nature and the beauty of their surroundings. We are looking for folks who will be compatible and pleasant in camp.
WHAT WE DON’T WANT!
If you want to fill the some record book with heads so you can strut, we don’t want you to join us. We aren’t into keeping track of animals by judging them “gold, silver, or bronze medal” winners. If you have to kill something every day to be happy, we don’t want you. We are looking for bow hunters, not bow killers. Does this mean you won’t harvest game? Not at all. You’ll have dozens of trophy-class animals broadside during your hunt.
I spent years researching African hunting/bowhunting. I can’t guarantee anyone will take a certain animal, or a certain sized animal. I can promise you that this is the very best bowhunting opportunity in Africa...at a very competitive price. Want to join me there for a bowhunt? Contact me...
I have many references. I’d be delighted to put you in touch with any of them so that you can hear it from the hunter’s mouth.
I’m new at this E-mail and computer stuff. My son is helping me learn whatever he can force me to retain. You can contact me via E-Mail. If you want to talk on the phone, which is the way I like to do it, just email me your phone number and the best time to call you. Let me know what time zone you are in. I spend about half the year in New Zealand, so I need to know the time difference to call you.
This site was last updated 04/11/06