African Hunting Day
The thing to remember about an African hunting day is that it is your day. The PH will suggest, advise and lead but it is your choice on what you want to do.
Every hunting area has its own challenges and hopefully everyday will be a new adventure. Of course there will be variations depending on what you are hunting and where but essentially this is what to expect on a typical hunting day.
- Your African hunting day will probably begin at first light. There is not much merit in getting up too early unless you have a long way to drive to get to the area where a specific animal has been located. You might have left a herd of buffalo the day before at the other end of the concession but if it is still dark, you may miss something closer to home. Too early and it will be too dark to see tracks and most animals will still be bedded down.
- Once up and sorted out, you will probably opt for coffee and breakfast in camp. The night before the PH will have organised a lunch box if you intend staying out for lunch. He will also have briefed the hunting crew with the plan for the next day, so they know what is mainly going to hunted and whether they need to load bait meat and baiting equipment, if that is on the agenda.
- Your hunt team will be getting themselves and the vehicle ready, loading fresh supplies of cold drinks, snacks, lunch, etc. It will generally be about first light when you depart the camp. Your tracker may often offer to place your rifle into the rack on the truck, plus load your day bag. If you prefer to do this yourself, just let him know.
- Once clear of the camp area, you can sort your rifle out with the correct ammo in the magazine. You might be after a specific animal or any animal that crosses your path. Once you see spoor or are in the likely area or see the animal you want, you will get out of the truck and start off on foot. You can spend up to 6 or 8 hours walking especially if you are hunting elephant or buffalo.
- Towards the end of the morning the temperatures will be getting quite high so you'll either make your way back to camp for lunch and a rest or find a thick shady tree to picnic under and have a snooze.
- If you take an animal in the morning and are fairly close to camp, you can drop it off at the skinning shed. In most fenced areas you are never too far from camp, so you will probably return for brunch and drop off any animals at the skinning shed.
- Depending on the heat, you may not start hunting again until about 2-3 pm. Do not worry about feeling you are wasting too much time, the mid-day hours are generally unprofitable for hunting as the animals are usually laid up in the shade as well.
- Hunting, with few exceptions, ends at sundown and you can expect to be very hot, very thirsty and very scruffy as you drive back. Don't forget to unload your rifle before getting into camp.
- If you were successful in the afternoon, your trophies will be unloaded at the skinning shed. Feel free to visit the skinners to watch them at work. If you are interested in your bullet performance, the skinner will bring you the bullet(s) if and when he finds it.
- At the end of your African hunting day, back in camp, its time to kick back and relax, shower, have a drink, eat dinner and shoot the breeze around the campfire.
If you are hunting cats the African hunting day may be different. Assuming you have got some bait animals, you may spend some hours hanging them in several likely locations. If you don't want to be involved in this and consider that it takes time away from actual hunting, you could use another team to do this and to build the blinds. Preferably this should be organised before the hunt so you know the costs and the outfitter can have another PH and staff on hand to do it. They can check the all baits for you so you can continue hunting in another location. When you get a strike on a bait, all you need do is get in the blind and wait.
If your hunt is going well, you may like to take some time off to relax in camp or go out for a sight-seeing trip if possible. It's often not a bad idea to take some time off, even just a morning, especially when you are doing a long hunt because they can get stressful and exhausting.