Over the course of my life I have hunted in quite a few of the States but I have never hunted outside of the United States. As I write this, that is all about to change, for in less than a month I am heading to Africa! South Africa to be specific. This is a hunt that I have rarely contemplated, figuring it was beyond my financial means.
Yes, I have read stories by various persons who made safaris, including President Roosevelt’s famous one. I have read books by professional hunters over the years. And I was blessed to be able to spend a week with Finn
Aagaard. That worthy gentleman stirred my desire to see Africa and hunt there someday, though as I said, it seemed out of my reach until fortune smiled upon me. No, I did not win the Lottery. It happened like this:
Several years ago I sat down at my computer and opened my email. The Inbox contained the usual assortment of messages from friend, junk mail and an interesting note from a gentleman in England who had just returned from safari in which he used a Marlin Model 1894 in .357 Magnum to harvest Plains Game. I corresponded with him and had him write up the story of his safari for the website
Leverguns.Com. The story of hunting Africa with a leveraction rifle went over well with the readers of the website, most of whom are committed to using their leverguns for their hunting and recreational shooting.
The article included very high praise for the Outfitter who set up the hunt. A few days after it was published I received an email from the Professional Hunter, Chris
Troskie. Chris was very appreciative of the kind words and wanted to know if we could work together. He specifically had in mind a “Leverguns Safari” and offered some very nice rates. Without going into all the details, the result was that we offered a “Leverguns Safari 2006” for the first 6 hunters who signed up. The owner of the website, Paco Kelly, led this hunt and articles about that hunt along with photos are posted on the site for those who care to look it up. Needless to say the hunt was a great success and led to Chris Troskie offering another Leverguns Safari for 2007.
The ad was placed on the website, limited to the first 12 hunters who signed up. In no time at the reservations were full, including your truly. To some it seemed almost silly to be signing up for a hunt a year in advance, but having experienced it, I can say with no hesitation that a year is about as short a time as I would want to have to get ready.
I should mention several things about this safari. First, though it is “Leverguns Safari 2007” the hunters are not restricted to leveraction rifles. It is so named because the special rates offered by Chris Troskie Safaris are offered for those who sign up through the Leverguns.Com website. The hunters going on this trip are carrying an assortment of leveraction rifles, bolt action rifles, a single shot rifle, at least one double rifle and several handguns.
In addition it is not limited to hunters. Several of the hunters are bringing their wives along and one is bringing his son and daughter as well, making it a great family trip. Chris Troskie has set up sightseeing trips and other excursions for those who will not be hunting. Non-hunting family members are also welcome to accompany the hunters in the bush and take photos or just observe, whatever they wish.
The special rates offered for this hunt were on 4 species of Plains Game; Wildebeest,
Bleesbok, Impala and Warthog. Chris offered us a discount that amounted to quite a few hundreds of dollars. Total cost for the safari (not including airfare) was $3570.00. This included:
1. Transportation between Johannesburg International Airport, hunting camp and hunting areas.
2. Services of a licensed and experienced Professional Hunter, equipped hunting vehicle and the required field staff.
3. All accommodations, meals and non-alcoholic beverages
4. Daily laundry service.
5. Tracking, skinning and field preparation of trophies.
6. Hunting licenses and permits unless otherwise specified.
It did not include transportation from the US to Johannesburg, SA, taxes on the meals/housing provided, taxidermy, a voluntary Conservation levy of $10 on each animal taken, or gratuities.
The hunt is not limited to just those 4 animals. Personally, I added Zebra to the list of game that I want to try and take. Chris Troskie Safaris is very flexible to work with and go out of their way to make the hunt what a person wants it to be.
The bottom line is that a 7-day safari in Africa, hunting for 4 species of Plains Game, can be done for a bit over $5000.00. When you consider that if you do not shoot an animal that you are hunting you do not have to pay for it (as opposed to some hunts in the US where the money is paid up front whether you see any game or not) the African safari starts looking like a pretty good deal. Of course, taxidermy has yet to be figured into the cost but I will have to report on that after I get back.
Once we had signed up with Chris Troskie Safaris and sent our deposits in we started looking at airline schedules. A friend who had used her services put me in touch with Elaine Porteous at African Odyssey. She is a specialist at setting up flights for safaris. Most of us wanted to fly over together but coming from various parts of the US and getting things arranged so we were all on the same flight was quite a challenge. However Elaine got us set up to fly out of Atlanta, GA non-stop to Johannesburg, and tickets were purchased. Suddenly it was serious. We were going to Africa!
The list of things to do seemed to grow automatically. Those who did not have a Passport suddenly found themselves figuring out where and how to get one. Fortunately there is plenty of help online. All it takes is time and little money. While inoculations are not required, the CDC recommends them. Again we checked the Centers for Disease Control website for the pertinent information. I chose to get the Hepatitis A and B shots, Typhoid, and a Tetanus booster. I found by calling around that most all of the inoculations could be gotten at the County Health Clinic and that they did not charge for them.
Then there was the matter of taking firearms and ammunition out of the country and into in a foreign country. First I located Customs Form 4457 on the Internet and downloaded a copy. I filled it out with the make, model, caliber etc. of guns that I planned on taking. Then I had to go to the local Customs Office (where the heck is that?) and have it signed. This is important as without it I would not be able to get my guns back into the US when returning!! Eventually I found out where the local Customs Office was located and got that done with a minimum of hassle.
Then came the forms for the South African Police. Taking the advice of those who have gone before we enlisted the aid of Air2000. They are Hunters Support and one of the things they do is to help visitors like us through the bureaucracy. One of our hunters who has been to Africa numerous times, JJ Miller, set up a group account for us with Air2000. He got the forms from them and then sent them out to everyone along with detailed instructions on how to fill them out properly. Along with the forms we had to submit notarized copies of our Passports and Customs Form 4457. In addition, those of us who were bringing handguns had other paperwork that was required from us. For the handgun I had to submit a letter from the manufacture stating that the handgun was designed and built for hunting purposes and not for self-defense. Freedom Arms was more than happy to provide the letter, saying they had been through this before.
In between all this I received a phone call from Chris Troskie saying he would be in the United States for a short time and wanted to know if he could visit with me. Eventually arrangements were made and I picked him up at the airport. We spent a couple pleasant days visiting. I invited some friends over one evening and Chris shared a video of some of the hunts he has put on as well as showing us the country we will be hunting in. He answered questions about hunting seasons, game availability, calibers recommended and general hunting questions. He also answered some of our questions about what we should pack, how to dress, customs, and mundane things such as gratuities for the trackers etc. The short visit with Chris only whetted my appetite to go!
Once we had the firearms forms filled out we sent them back to JJ Miller who then got them all together and along with a bank draft to cover the cost, forwarded them on to Air2000 in South Africa. Air2000 then goes over the forms to make sure they are filled out properly. Once that is done they then have them signed and stamped by the South African Police Official who is charge of that department.
When we arrive at Johannesburg, an Air2000 representative will meet us at the airplane and escort us through Customs. Those who have used their services say they can cut hours off the process. Having someone who is familiar with the laws and regulations of the country you are visiting is more than helpful.
In the meantime I started working on my shooting skills with both the rifle and the handgun, firing from shooting sticks, standing and kneeling. Once the gun was sighted in I have done no more shooting from the bench and have been concentrating on “field positions”. The guns I will be taking are the same ones I took to Alaska last year; the Winchester Model 71 .348 WCF and the Freedom Arms 454 handgun. I am shooting at distances from 30 yards to 110 yards, which is the maximum I have on my place. I really don’t care to take shots further than that anyhow since all my guns wear iron sights, so it works for me.
Handloads for the .348 are exclusively with the Barnes Original 250 gr. JSP. In the 454 handgun I have several loads I am taking. One is with the Hornady 300 gr. JHP and one is with a 300 gr. cast flat point bullet. All loads are “medium velocity” .. that is, in the 1400 fps range. Both hit the same point of aim so which bullet is used will depend on the game animal I will be shooting at.
I purchased a Pelican gun case to transport the firearms. On the trip to Alaska last year we had a metal gun case and somehow the baggage handlers or machines managed to rip the end off of it! Nothing was lost and the airlines made good on the case, but it caused me to research gun cases. I also talked to friends who did a lot of flying with their firearms. There are a number of good gun cases out there, but in the end I chose a Pelican case.
Just about the time I thought I had everything covered a friend flew in from a hunting trip and related his trouble with the locks on his gun case. Somehow one of the locks was broken off and the other was damaged. Again I turned to those who have gone overseas a number of times and they recommended Tamperseal locks. These have the correct size shank to fill the hole in the Pelican gun case as well as being made so TSA can open them with a special tool they have, without damaging the lock. In addition the locks have a readout that tells you if they have been opened or not.
We are now within the “30 day window” and hopefully by the time you read this I will have returned and will be working on the last part of this article. We are scheduled to meet in Atlanta with the rest of the party. We will all fly over together, which should make the long flight a little more enjoyable. I am extremely hopeful that we will have a good report for you.
(For those of you who have not read it, the report on
Leverguns Safari 2007 is HERE)
AFTER HUNT REPORT: - There were no hidden costs.
Figuring all the preparation plus the airfare, money spent on picking up gifts
for the family, tips for the PH's, meals in the airports etc. this hunt did
not cost me much over $6000.00.
Chris Troskie Safaris
Telephone: 082 859-0771
" THE SPECIALIST IN ADVENTURE TRAVEL TO AFRICA & BEYOND"
8306 Mills Dr. Miami FL 33183
Tel.: 305 271 1878
Toll Free: 866 486 9351
Fax: 509 277 5907
African Odyssey is Registered as a Seller of Travel in the State of Florida
Registration # ST- 24052
email Elaine - firstname.lastname@example.org
Centers for Disease Control
Customs Form 4457