African Hunt of a Lifetime for Father and Son!
by Ryan Gehl
(Esterhazy Saskatchewan Canada)
Africa, a continent that has intrigued me and drawn me to it. Like so many others, the stories and videos from this mysterious continent has held my attention and occupied my day dreams. With every picture I have seen, I knew I must one day step foot on its red soil. Rifle in hand! A potential hunt of this magnitude would take loads of research and planning. Something that would take years to do, if done right. Having made friends with a fellow co-worker who grew up in South Africa and returns every year, the years turned into months. Jaco a hunter from South Africa, now a Saskatchewanian said to me one day.” You want to hunt Africa?” Um “YA!”. He said his family is heading back home this March and we are very welcome to come join them. Now that took care of all my planning and worries. Nothing better than going to a strange land with someone who calls it home. He told me of his hunting fanatic brother Danie who had friends that took people out hunting. Not the kind of place you seen advertised all over the internet; a real hunting place. A place that you had to really hunt! This sounded right up my alley! They had access to huge areas of wild African plains with valleys, granite hills, open plains and heavy bushed in rivers. A hunter’s paradise! They had species of game I had to goggle before I could say “ya I would like to hunt that, lol. So it was set. April was when we would meet Jaco and his family on their home soil. My son Zach, now 9 years old had a school break .Perfect he will only have to play hooky a few days to do this adventure. Mom can’t come?! Mom is a realtor and April is the busy time. She was unable to join us. This was going to be the first time we were not on a trip together and the longest time we were going to be apart. It was going to be tough, but mom gave her blessings. Jason Nicholauson a second cousin of sorts, lol was to join us on this amazing journey.
Esterhazy Saskatchewan, Winnipeg Manitoba, Frankfurt Germany, Johannesburg South Africa and on to Bloemfontein South Africa. Man that was a LONG trip to get there! We were met by our hunting guide and soon to be friend Kruger and Jaco’s brother Danie. It felt real good to know we made it and the dream was now becoming a reality. We were burnt out from the flights and the time change was playing havoc with our senses. Kruger asked if we would like to call it a night and start fresh in the morning “no way!” We can sleep at home, lol. We hit the range to check our rifles. We were surprise with how well our guns faired .Very little re-adjusting was needed after the suitcase guys finished playing discus with our cases. There were a few hours of day light so we put it to good use. The critters started to fall within hours of us being there, lol. We would hunt HARD for the next 10 days. Walking miles at day break, glassing by mid-day, doing pushes on treed areas and spot and stalk by evenings; it was amazing! We hunted from one end of South Africa to the other. The game was thick in the Bloemfontein and Upington areas. The scenery and challenge of the hunt in the Kalahari desert was second to none. Some critters took us 3 days to get a shot at on camera. Others (most of the bigger ones) took eight hours to get within rifle range of. We put our Remington’s to the test on most hunts. Long shots were the norm. I was very impressed with Zach and how he handled his birthday present. The 308 VTR Remington rifle. We never practiced at home shooting off sticks. He took to the sticks and the hunt like a fish to water. You all will be impressed I am sure to see this little guy put down a book blue wildebeest. Also when you watch him shoot and make a crazy long shot at a monster old stallion zebra. Jason and I held or own with our shoot abilities and quality of critters too, lol. I must say the quality of animals was very impressive. Having watched many a show, read books and looked at many pictures, I know we got WAY bigger critters that most guys get. A bonus to an amazing adventure. Great people, scenery, food (I would eat eland every day if I could!) and life experience in general. I don’t want to give away too much of the hunts, so you all will have to tune in and watch them yourselves. I think we all enjoyed this trip and got something different out of it. I know Zach will probable got the most out of this adventure and seeing this part of the world first hand. And yes he thought shooting African gophers was “awesome!”,lol. Would we go back? YES!!!
PS: Yes the darn volcano put a wrench in our flights. The 4 days of endless phone calls and worrying is not going to over shadow our trip though!