Safari 2012 Journal Entries: Day Two – Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

by david on August 3, 2012



            Today, we run errands and pick up supplies for camp.  One of the hardest things to find was the 12-volt batteries for the trail cameras I brought over.  The batteries came with the cameras but were just too heavy to take over.  We finally find some, and after a quick stop for some groceries, we are on our way.  Vellies had been released from the hospital, so our first stop was Outjo.

            The drive was about three and a half hours.  We pass the time catching up with each other’s activities over the last six months.  We also talk and plan our hunting strategy for the next 10 days.  We are about 20 minutes into our ride when Johann’s phone rang.  It is Jan DuPless, calling to see if I was interested in an exportable PAC elephant.  The definition of an exportable PAC elephant is going to take a little explaining, so bear with me as there a few twist and turns to make our way through.  A “PAC” (problem animal control) animal is one that is doing damage to crops, livestock or property.  Sometimes a PAC animal is actually a man killer, as was the case when I was in Namibia in 2009.  If a PH (professional hunter) and his client are in the area, and the PH deems his hunter qualified, they can go hunt the animal and remove the problem from the community.  The hunter pays a small nominal trophy fee and does not get to keep anything but pictures for his trouble.  If the PAC animal is on tribal lands, they have the option of selling the animal to a hunter for a larger fee and the hunter gets to keep his trophy.  The larger fee compensates more people for the damage caused by the animal or animals.  The bull elephant they wanted gone was supposed to support 45-50 lbs. of ivory on each side.  The cost was to be $7000 and we were to hunt this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

            Now, I had a problem.  This was a really exceptional opportunity.  I had promised myself I would never hunt a bull elephant on a trophy basis.  This is as much a matter of personal conviction as it is pure and simple economics.  Helping a community out with a problem animal was a whole different thing.  The cost was daunting by my standards and I had to put things in context.  The same elephant hunted in the Caprivi could go for as much as $70,000, and even on an economical hunt in Zimbabwe it was over $30,000, so the value was obvious.  The question of whether or not this fit my pocketbook was another matter altogether.  Time was important as the offer of the hunt went out to other PHs, as well, and the first to respond got the hunt.  Against my policy of making snap decisions, I decided it was too good of a deal to pass up.  We told Jan to confirm our intent and we would wait for his call informing us if they accepted our offer.

            We make it to Outjo about 1:30 pm and stop to visit Vellies and Clarissa.  Vera also happened to be in town to check on Vellies and visit Zoe.  Zoe is Johann and Vera’s daughter and this is her first year in boarding school and I don’t think it takes much of a reason for Vera to drop in for a visit.  It was good to see everyone.  If you asked Vellies, he claimed he was fine and did not see what the trouble was all about.  I would expect no less from someone who spent a lot of time in the bush and was a very self-sufficient individual.  His other three family members thought different and were just happy to see him feeling better.  Zoe was due to get out of school at 2:00, and we decided to have lunch at a local restaurant and celebrate Vera’s birthday at the same time. 

            The name of the restaurant was Mangoh and it is very nice.  I have some gemsbok steaks (one of my very favorite things in Africa) and wash it down with a cold Windhoek lager.  It is nice to get out of the car for a while.  After we ate, Vera gets to open her presents.  She is most excited when she opens the gift and finds out she has a new iPad.  I had known about the gift and had my family had sent her a cover to go with it.  It was a pleasure to be included in the family’s festivities. 

            All too soon, we needed to get back on the road if we wanted to get to the lodge before dark.  Johann had one more stop to make.  Some months back, Johann’s new camp rifle reached him and he wanted to pick it up from the police station in Kamanjab.  The law is the rifle has to stay in police custody until the transfer paperwork is complete and the correct permits and license are issued.  I thought this was a long time, but he informed me that this was actually a pretty quick turnaround time.  He is happy to be able to pick it up today.  The rifle was a 30-06 he was going to use as a camp gun for clients to use if the need arose.  The transfer goes well and we were back on the road in no time.   

            We get to the lodge just after dark.  I am soon on my way to my regular room, my home away from home.  When I step inside, it was almost as if I had never left.  I know that dozens of other people have stayed there, but I still consider it my room.  Before I could even turn around, Willie is there with my other bags, asking where I wanted them.  He quickly deposits them where I asked and is back out the door before I had a chance to say thanks.

            Willie is Johann’s apprentice PH.  He is 20 years old and has his whole life in front of him.  At first thought, I am envious.  I would have loved to been in his shoes while I was young and still single.  To live to hunt, and hunt to live, is a choice I would have like the opportunity to have made.  After a little more thought, I am not so sure.  Maybe in 1980, when I actually was 20, I would have, but I don’t think so much anymore.  I wish him well, but in today’s world of anti-gunners, PETA, and all of the forces trying to wipe out hunting, I am not so sure.  I really hope he has the opportunity to retire form something he loves on his own terms, rather than someone else’s.

            I make my way to the lodge for a few delayed sundowners.  Mine is a Brandy and Coke Lite.  It sounds a little strange, coming from an ex-Jack Daniels and ginger ale man, but I am hooked on these concoctions almost to the exclusion of everything else.  I find they go down easily and only very rarely leave me with any ill after-effects.  After the sundowners, the dinner bell is rung and I am most pleased to find stuffed Zebra steak on the menu.  The steak has a pouch cut in it and is stuffed with a mixture of; bacon, onion, garlic, mushrooms, heavy cream, and feta cheese.  It is a meal fit for a king.  After dinner I decide the day has been long enough and I ease my way back to my room.  Tonight I dream of elephants.

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