African Hunting

My African Hunt

You know one thing leads to another, and a year later, Thomas and I are on an airplane to Africa. Wild! My first African hunt.

My African hunt - hunting vehicles

First off, Teresa and I were invited by our good friends, Mark and Dianne, to stay a week in the mountains of Colorado in my Dad’s favorite town, Pagosa Springs. Having just traded correspondence with my half-brother Thomas Audetat, also of Pagosa Springs, it seemed the perfect opportunity to catch up with friends and relatives in the clear, clean mountain air. And so it was.

Once, we settled into the beautiful condo on the lake, hosted by Mark and Di. We were invited to dinner by Thomas. Sister Donna was as gracious as ever and cooked a fabulous feast for the whole tribe, and everyone had a good time.

While touring their quaint log home–Teresa wants one–Thomas showed us the African trophies he and Donna had taken on their 2010 safari. You know one thing leads to another, and a year later, Thomas and I are on an airplane to Africa. Wild!

Since Thomas had already been, it was an excellent opportunity to go with an old hand arranging hunting dates with the professional hunter (PH), clothes, flights, customs, cartridges, and a whole lot more.

Waterbuck trophy taken on my first African hunt

10 days was just perfect-plan

Ten days was just perfect-plan on spending two weeks with shooting, packing, travel, jet-lag, etc.

Then there is the list of animals we could harvest. It is daunting. They run from small-hard to see and hit to huge-easy to see and harder to kill. The diversity of habitat in the East Cape of South Africa is astonishing, from the low, dark river bottom to high baldy mountain tops within an hour’s drive.

Our host, Nick Bowker, and his brother Rob, rugged 5th generation South African “farmers” of English descent, were most gracious and met us at the “Oliver Tambo” airport in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. A small airport on the order of Colorado Springs or Corpus Christi. Guns, ammo, luggage all right there, and a great relief after a nearly 24 hour of flight from Minneapolis, Houston, Atlanta, Johannesburg, and finally Port Elizabeth.

It took about two hours to the lodgings on in a new Toyota Land Cruiser. The main road was under construction, so we went through a more residential area. A government shantytown was peculiar with the one-room shacks and hydro-solar water heaters atop nearly everyone. The garbage along the road exiting the Port Elizabeth area was everywhere, but the further from town we went, the cleaner the road and surrounding area.

Finally, we approached the farmstead over a seemingly endless series of “speed bumps” engineered to divert the seldom but intense rain away from the unpaved gravel road. Up and down we went, after about a mile, Thomas noted there were 20 in all!

Bushbuck trophy

A couple of hours to the hunting lodge

The charming old single-story farmhouse could have been in Wisconsin was our lodgings for our African hunt.
After getting everything sorted out and having a light lunch, we went off to find a warthog. As we drove down around the farm, the trackers, riding in the bed of the land cruiser, noticed some kudu cows but no shooters, and then a friendly warthog showed up on a distant hillside.