Hunting in Africa is an awesome experience, but there are some common mistakes hunters commonly make that can ruin the whole experience.
Whether that is taking the wrong gun or thinking you know too much, or just having unrealistic expectations.
Here’s 7 common mistakes and how to avoid them.
1. You can’t handle the truth about the gun
A lot of hunters that venture to Africa think they’ll need a .400 Nitro or similar super cannon to take an animal but, in our experience, it’s better to shoot a rifle you’re comfortable with than one you’re scared of.
It’s also good to remember that African animals aren’t invincible and bigger isn’t always better.
Most antelope and plains game species can be taken with the same rifle you hunt deer with.
Of course there are times when you will need a bigger rifle especially if you are trying to hunt the bigger game like Cape Buffalo, lions or elephants, but even then, a .375 is more than sufficient.
2. Thinking you know more than the PH
We have heard countless stories from outfitters in Africa about clients who think they know it all, and refuse to take advice.
More often than not, they’re an accident just waiting to happen.
PH literally stands for ‘Professional Hunter’. These men and women are actually qualified and attended PH School (yep, it’s a thing) to get where they are.
They know their stuff.
Your PH knows the animals and the area far better than you ever will. Don’t ignore their expertise and advice because you think you can do better.
3. Having unrealistic expectations
Most people have a wish list of all the animals they would love to hunt, which they send to their outfitter before they go to Africa.
But it’s important not to have this list set in stone. It’s not a supermarket. You may not get everything on your list – or you may come across different species that you had not previously considered. On my first hunting trip to South Africa, I had not even contemplated taking a nyala until I saw one in the field. I instantly fell in love and absolutely had to have one!
Per head, the cost of hunting in Africa is more affordable than anywhere else in the world, and you’ll possibly take more animals than you would on any other hunting trip. But don’t set your expectations too high, and don’t be too rigid in your demands. If you don’t get the animal you were dreaming of, focus on the experience and start planning your next trip!
4. Shooting when you’re uncertain
This is something you should never do – always be certain of your shot and what you’re aiming at. In the heat of the moment, when you’re excitement levels are high, it’s easy to take the shot without making certain you have a good hit. Remember blood trail = trophy fees (even if the animal isn’t recovered).
There is also the concern of taking a bad shot while hunting dangerous game and believe me, injuring the animal will only make it angry and put your whole team in danger.
5. Not practicing perfectly
I still remember my swimming coach telling us that practice doesn’t make perfect – perfect practice makes perfect!
And as much as it applied to swimming, it definitely applies to hunting.
You need to remember to be practising the way you will likely be shooting. The majority of hunting done in Africa is done off a three-legged shooting stick. Before heading over to Africa you should be practising shooting off sticks to make sure you are familiar with them when you get there.
You also need to consider the rifle you will be using. If it’s a new gun, or even a new scope, take it down the range and spend some time getting comfortable with it. We took a new, untried scope to South Africa, and it resulted in a couple of costly misses.
6. Thinking it will be hot
The most common time for people to be on hunting safari in Southern Africa is in the winter months – June to August. When everyone thinks Africa, they think hot and sunny, and that’s quite right (for midday) but the mornings and nights will be cold.
While we were there in August 2018 we would venture out in the mornings in -3 degrees Celsius (26 degrees Fahrenheit).
It’s weird weather to get used to, as you’ll need to cover all bases. Our suggestion – pack warm clothes and gloves but don’t forget a pair of shorts and a short sleeve shirt or two.
7. Don’t be an over-achiever
Yes, Africa has a large list of game species. But don’t make your list so big that you spend the whole time focused on what you haven’t got yet and miss all the amazing things about this great continent.
Leave time to experience Africa – watch the sunsets, enjoy a braai, visit a cultural visit or even just enjoy watching the wildlife.
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