By Michael Maynor
If you ask most Southern sportsmen and women if they would like to hunt Africa, they will tell you yes, but that they also feel a bit overwhelmed at the idea of it all, but with a little planning and preparation your Safari Dreams can be a reality! Here are five tips to help you with the planning process from a Southern point of view!
1. Southerners Value Honesty
As Southerners, we value honesty, and we tell the truth and expect others to do as well. This quality is important when planning your dream safari because you need to be honest with yourself. What I mean is, what experience do you want? Do you want to take a trip to South Africa where you can hunt many different animals and have typically cheaper trophy fees, or do you want to see the same wild Africa that Hemingway and Ruark wrote about? The answers to these questions are important when you start to plan your trip! There is no right or wrong answer, but your safari will be more enjoyable if it’s the one YOU want. Ask yourself, what is my dream safari?
2. Get out of the Deer Stand and on the Shooting Sticks!
In the South, we don’t do a lot of spot and stalk hunting because of thick vegetation. The majority of our hunting is done from treestands, but in Africa you will be on the ground. You will need to shoot off “the sticks” . The sticks are typically wooden tripods that cradle your rifle. They will be carried by a tracker or your Professional Hunter and will be set up when it’s time for you to shoot. Do not wait till you arrive at camp to get comfortable on the sticks, it is too easy to buy a set and practice before you go. You can find a variety of sticks at African Sporting Creations!
3. Granddaddy's Gun- You Can Use Your Favorite Deer Rifle!
Southerners are sentimental folk. We hold onto the firearms we have created memories with. From our first deer to our first duck, we relive each day afield when we see the dings in the wood and the rust on the barrel. Going to Africa does not mean you have to leave your favorite deer rifle behind. Traveling with a firearm can indeed be difficult, but it is not impossible. With the proper paperwork, you can take your first impala with the same rifle you took your first Whitetail. You don’t want to rush out and get a new gun in a caliber you are not comfortable with or causes you to flinch, because it will make for a miserable trip. You want something you are familiar with and shoot well! The only adjustment is if dangerous game is on your wish list. Then you will need to move up to a .375. That is the minimum for hunting the big bad stuff. The .375 has a recoil level that just about every shooter can handle, too. When I went on my first Safari, I took a Remington 700 CDL in .30-06 and a CZUSA 550 Safari in .375 H&H; my goal was to hunt the buffalo with the .375 H&H and plains game with the .30-06. I enjoyed shooting my .375 so much I hunted everything with it. I did take my Hartebeest with the .30-06 and it worked great. It is always advisable to talk to an outfitter about the rifle and caliber you will need to use here. If you are hesitant to take your own gun, most outfitters have the option of using a camp gun for a rental fee!
4. Don't Overpack and Remember to Layer!
The weather in the South during hunting season changes frequently. It can be freezing in the duck blind one moment, and the next, we are pulling off heavy jackets for t-shirts! We are used to dressing in layers, which will come in handy when packing for Safari; most mornings will be cool riding in the back of the Safari truck, but when you start your first stalk, you will warm up, and the days will get warmer. As the day wears on you will want to shed some clothing. That being said, do not over-pack! I admit, I still struggle with this myself, but it is the advice I give to anyone planning their first Safari; you will have daily laundry service, and most outfitters have packing list suggestions on their websites! It breaks down to hunting clothes and clothes for camp; you will want to relax by the fire at night, so shorts or athletic pants and a lite jacket is a great option. I also pack flip flops, a pair for shower use that I’ll leave in camp after the hunt and a pair to wear sitting around the fire at night.Trip Planning and Packing List
5. Southern Hospitality, Yes Ma'am!
If you ask most people, think Yankees, what they love about the South, and what keeps them coming back, outside of good Southern cooking, it will be Southern Hospitality, we know how to behave and conducts ourselves, and we treat others how we want to be treated. This needs to extend on a trip to Africa. There is a saying in Africa. It is “TIA”. This is Africa, and what it means is no matter how much you plan, you have to accept the fact that Africa is Africa, and sometimes things don’t go as smoothly as you want them to. Things as simple as “yes sir” and “yes ma’am” can go a long way. Remember your raising, how your mama taught you to act, and don’t let a little hiccup here and there ruin your adventure.