First ever guided hunt - South Africa

npaden

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We just boarded the first of 4 flights on our way to Johannesburg.

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I bid on a hunt to benefit the Wild Sheep foundation of Utah and won the auction but did some research and decided to go ahead and book with another outfit instead based on reviews and pricing. I chalked up the winning bid as a donation and the tipping point to actually get me to quit talking about going on a hunt in South Africa and actually do it.

This is about 3 months of planning and getting ready but it still seems awfully quick and I hope we are ready.

My son is 15 years old and he will be hunting also, my wife is along strictly for the experience.

We have quite the list of animals we are hoping to get “in the salt” but the number one target for both of us will be Kudu.

Talking with another hunter who has hunted with this outfit before, things are exceptionally green and lush for this time of year which makes hunting more difficult so we will be lucky to fill most of the animals on the list.

Hoping that the flights go smoothly and we have a 8 hour layover in Zurich so looking forward to that as well.

Initially I am going to try to do this as a live hunt, not sure whether I can keep it going live or if I will get behind and have to catch up but we will see.

They are shutting the door to the plane now so I will post more as we travel that way.

Wish us luck! Nathan
 

OntarioHunter

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I will be leaving for South Africa next month. Weather should be cold so I hope you packed your North American hunting clothes. I have an eleven hour layover in Frankfurt on the way over and about seven in Zurich on return. Beautiful city with green hills that go right to the edge of town. No suburban sprawl like you see in mountains of US. I usually hang out in airports (this is my third trip). I'm not much for touring cities.

What's on your list? I strongly suggest you go for kudu first. They are wiley buggers and usually stick to heavy cover in rough country. It can take a while to get a nice bull. My first trip I had four fine animals down before lunch of the first day (remarkable even for South Africa). Next morning gemsbuck and springbuck were checked off the list. That left the rest of the week to shoot my kudu. The following afternoon an unforeseen opportunity came up to take a buffalo and then back to hunting kudu. I didn't get my bull until just before dusk on the last day!
 

kansasdad

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You’ve done a fantastic job on starting the safari beard a bit early. Looking good!

It would be really hard to take too many photos on such an adventure. Encourage your son and wife to do the same.
 

npaden

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Okay, first big snag already. Delayed flight in Denver that now isn’t supposed to get to Vegas until after our flight to Zurich is supposed to depart.

Still flying to Vegas and going to try to make the connection.

Of course we already booked an excursion in Zurich that just passed the refund timeframe so that’s $140 down the drain.

The other thing that is looking like we might eat some dollars is the fact that we paid for seat upgrades to premium economy on the connecting airlines and getting those refunded is going to be tricky since they are looking like they are going to be flying on time, we just aren’t going to be on them since we missed the connection since United was late.

Most likely going to be spending the night in Vegas and then rerouting through Newark for a direct into Johannesburg tomorrow evening. That will be getting us there probably 6 or 7 hours later than if we actually make the flight to Zurich, but just got word of another delay on this flight so it is looking very doubtful that we are going to make that one.
 

Salmonchaser

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Damn the bad luck. All our difficulties in May occurred before we started flying. Good luck. I agree focus on the Kudu, have a plan for bumping into an exceptional Nyala or Bush buck. What ever, have a plan because it will happen.
 

ImBillT

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I’ll be keeping an eye on this. I’m excited to see that your wife is going too! Those are some memories mom should be a part of rather than just hear about!

I’ll be praying that the rest of your trip goes more smoothly!
 

BrentD

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You will have a GREAT TIME! For certain. But getting there will be an ordeal, of course.

I did the Africa thing once - Namibia. It was awesome. Your trip will be the same.
 

npaden

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Flight to Zurich was long gone by the time we landed. Flying from Vegas to Newark in another 3 hours and getting into Newark at 5:44 AM. Get to hang out in Newark instead of Zurich now and will be getting to Johannesburg at 5:45 PM instead of 9:10 AM on Thursday.

Now the fun of trying to get all my seat upgrades refunded. I guess I will have time to mess with it tomorrow.

I guess I might check to see if there is anything fun to do in Newark or nearby.
 

npaden

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Well turns out Newark is basically across the river from Manhattan so we are going to see about doing some quick sight seeing. Central Park, Times Square, Battery Park, One World Trade Center, maybe over to the Statue of Liberty if we can figure it out. Life gives you lemons and all that fun stuff. My son will be able to cross two new states off his list instead of Switzerland. I would have picked Switzerland but at least this way we don’t lose an entire day in South Africa, just most of one.
 

Beignet

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Well turns out Newark is basically across the river from Manhattan so we are going to see about doing some quick sight seeing. Central Park, Times Square, Battery Park, One World Trade Center, maybe over to the Statue of Liberty if we can figure it out. Life gives you lemons and all that fun stuff. My son will be able to cross two new states off his list instead of Switzerland. I would have picked Switzerland but at least this way we don’t lose an entire day in South Africa, just most of one.
How long is that layover in Newark? I can speak from many years of very painful experiences (haha) that proximity doesn't always mean short travel times in the NYC metro area, especially getting in and out of Manhattan.

That said, if you've got time on your hands, the American Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side has plenty of taxidermy from Teddy Roosevelt's African excursions (and pretty much every other critter imaginable from the world over) and is worth a visit on its own for anyone into the outdoors.
 
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npaden

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How long is that layover in Newark? I can speak from many years of very painful experiences (haha) that proximity doesn't always mean short travel times in the NYC metro area, especially getting in and out of Manhattan.

That said, if you've got time on your hands, the American Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side has plenty of taxidermy from Teddy Roosevelt's African excursions (and pretty much every other critter imaginable from the world over) and is worth a visit on its own for anyone into the outdoors.
It’s a short 14 hours! They actually have offered to put us up in a hotel and we are thinking of taking them up on that. They can’t check the bags through to Johannesburg because it is longer than a 12 hour layover so we are going to have to figure out something to do with our luggage anyway.

Our son said he would prefer to just hang out in the hotel room but I don’t think I’m going to give him that option.
 

Beignet

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It’s a short 14 hours! They actually have offered to put us up in a hotel and we are thinking of taking them up on that. They can’t check the bags through to Johannesburg because it is longer than a 12 hour layover so we are going to have to figure out something to do with our luggage anyway.

Our son said he would prefer to just hang out in the hotel room but I don’t think I’m going to give him that option.
Ooof on the 14 hours, but at least you won't be lacking for things to do. NYC isn't for everyone, but it's certainly a pretty special place. Enjoy your visit!

Absolutely take them up on that hotel though, the city can be exhausting.
 

OntarioHunter

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Well, crap. I have long layovers at every turn so hoping I'll have enough cushion to float through any flight delays. Also my rifle will have a better chance of keeping pace with me. I see the images on the news of huge piles of "lost" luggage stacked up in Toronto airport ... yikes! I understand it's worse in big US airports. My gun is checked in here at local airport and I don't see it again till Joberg. A bit of anxiety there. But it's important the gun Dad made for me makes this trip.

What animals are on your list? Let me guess ... impala, blesbuck, springbuck, kudu (no guess there), and blue wildebeest. Maybe the wildebeest can be swapped for gemsbuck? That would be my choice. Busbuck, nyala, waterbuck, and zebra usually have a higher price tag. Most folks save them for second trip. Eland, sable, roan are even more pricey and buffalo are mega expensive ... but the most challenging and exciting hoofed animal to hunt. Smart, spooky, hang out in awful stuff, and can easily transform any hunter who can't shoot into a sack of bloody mush. I can almost guarantee you will go back for one. Hope the obstacles are behind you. Have fun!
 

OntarioHunter

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I think the hotel in Newark would be a good plan. Sounds like you've been dumped down to steerage class. That will be a LONG flight from Newark to Joberg in shitty seats. I'm a cheap bass turd so used to it. Hell, I drive to SW Montana from here in one pop ... more than thirty hours. Your family may not be as acclimated. I presume you guys also have a long drive ahead from Joberg to your lodge. You don't want your wife tripping over the bags under her eyes when you get there. Oil of Olay may be hard to find in So Africa.
 

npaden

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Just landed in Newark. Bags are still in Las Vegas. Thankfully there is still plenty of time for them to catch back up to us before the flight leaves out this evening to Johannesburg.

I can’t stomach the upcharge to business class but the premium economy seats aren’t that bad. It will be a long 15 hours to Johannesburg though.

Once in Johannesburg it will be about a 6 hour drive to the property where we will be staying and hunting so looks like we will be getting there at midnight their time.

Now to get the baggage sorted out and figure out what we are going to do for the next 14 hours.
 

npaden

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The excitement is waning.

Evidently you can’t do anything to get your bags to catch up to you even if you can see that they aren’t following you. Bags follow you “automatically” and there is nothing a gate agent, baggage agent or ticketing agent can do in the system to reboot them and get them going again. I’m able to follow them in the app and I also have air tags in the bags so at least I know where they are for sure.

Waiting on a shuttle to take us to the hotel right now. We did check in for our flight from Newark to Johannesburg and that actually did seem to do something in the baggage system because now at least there is a yellow exclamation mark telling us they are trying to get to Johannesburg. That wasn’t there until we checked in again. We checked in originally but this is a completely different flight and for some reason we were checked into the flight to Newark but not all the way through to Johannesburg. Hopefully this is the kick in the pants the baggage needed and it can get moving again soon.

Breakfast and the hotel are number one agenda items right now and then we are going to see about going across the river.

The adventure is real.
 

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