Future of affordable hunting in Africa

jjhack

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I've been working in South Africa since I moved back to the states 16 almost 17 years ago now. I flew in 1990 for about 800 bucks round trip on NWA through Amsterdam. I remember in about 1997 the cost was 1200 bucks. My then package hunt for 10 days and 5 animals was 5100 USD.

In 2006 the price for me to get there went to $1400.00, almost double the cost of the 1990 trip. Granted there is a 16 year span to double the price. However my 9 day 4 animal hunt was still only $4800 USD. Not even close to double, actually a very small change in that same time.

In 2007 the flight went to $1950.00 The single biggest one year price jump in 16 years. It actually went up by 50% of the cost of a 1990 flight! This past year I was stunned to see it had gone up yet again to almost 2200.00 bucks, the truth is, it was even more when you consider additional baggage, and the 50lb baggage weight limit costs.

The price of the 9 day 3 animal safari was $4800 USD. When you look at the costs here you can see that we are quickly getting to a point where the airfare will be closing the gap with the actual safari cost. I have spoken to several airline people now and the thought is that the trip over to RSA with my flight connections will be over 3000 bucks possibly in the next year or two. The bigger concern is that the amount of flights over will get reduced to every other day on some airlines and maybe once or twice a week for others. They will not stay in business with empty seats on the flight. They feel with the cost increase the number of travelers will be reduced, so the number of flights must be reduced. The ability to get a seat will be harder, and the schedules far more difficult. Especially during the popular May June time frame.

I guess what I'm saying here is, if you think for one minute that you're going to try and save up some money to hunt in 2011 or 2012 think again! I doubt you will put the money away at the rate the airline price increase will happen, and even if you can manage it. Will we still have the chance to fly 1/2 way around the world to hunt the way we can now? Also consider what will the costs be to ship trophies back?

The Safari business is alive and well, actually thriving right now. With fewer hunters coming in the future due to the airfare cost, there will be a lot of Safari operations folding, or combining efforts to stay in business. In time the costs to attract hunters will drop, and so will the quality. You cannot manage high quality for low price very long without something breaking.

There are only three basic elements in any business/sale.
Price
service
quality/time to deliver

Anytime you pick one over the other two those are going to suffer. When you base the trip on price, quality and service suffer, if you base the trip on quality the price jumps up.

In the case of the airlines and any strongly fuel based business price goes up and quality goes down! With the Safari operations using Diesel at about 7 bucks a gallon in RSA now, the trip to get hunters from the airport is now a very significant expense. If you think that the Safari industry will have to get more competitive to compensate for the expense your somewhat mistaken. One industry cannot cover the cost for another. Making the safari cheaper because the airfare is so high is not going to happen. At least not for any safari business that wants to stay functional for the future. There are costs invoved with running a quality operation, these don't change just because the airfare has gone through the roof!

In conclusion, if you dream of doing a plains game hunt in your life, it's not going to get less expensive for the trip as a whole. The airfare and even the ability to get a seat when you want is going to get difficult in the next few years. By 2012 I would guess that the amount of hunters going to RSA from the USA will be 1/2 of what it has been in the past. By 2012 the cost of airfare will exceed the basic package cost of a plains game safari. Add to that you may not even be able to bring your guns with the airline weight limits headed our way.

This is not an attempt to generate fear, uncertainty, and doubt, or bookings for me or anyone else. It's simply the truth about what to expect. The simple and affordable plains game safari is quickly being put out of reach with the travel costs.
 



Dubya D

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Not to over simplify it but, if you want it bad enough, you make it happen
 

foulshot

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I'm thinking I'm going to spend around 10k when I go...maybe 09 or 2010.
 

One Track

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I'm leaving July 25th. We're figuring that this trip will hit $10k by the time we get our critters home. We're paying $2525 to get from San Diego to SA. Ouch. Consequently, I won't be sporting a new safari-style wardrobe. And, I'll be mounting less critters. Euro mounts are starting to sound more sensible.
 

Glass eye

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<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (One Track @ Jul 14 2008, 12:54 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}></div>
And, I'll be mounting less critters. Euro mounts are starting to sound more sensible.[/b]
You can have the hides/horns shipped to a US tannery and then mount them one at a time as money permits. They don't all have to be mounted at once, unless you have them done in Africa.
Good luck
 

jjhack

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My feelings regarding taxidermy are very mixed. I have an 800 sq foot trophy room with 20ft ceilings and I don't even know how many mounts in total. There are several hundred skulls alone.

I need this display for the business, as much as my own pleasure. However I wonder about the costs involved and the actual value, or dispersal when I'm gone. What does your family do with these things, and how much money has been spent on them?

About 1/2 my hunters in the last 6-7 years have brought back nothing but photo's. The trend is growing each year due to the cost. The shipping of trophies combined with the taxidermy costs will exceed the cost of the actual hunt in some cases. I've done my own taxidermy all my life, so I have not gone broke with the taxidermy costs. Still what will my family do with all the trophies when I'm dead? Is the 30,000 dollars in shoulder mounts and lifesize, along with all the skins and rugs a realistic investment? I love having this trophy room, it's an awesome display. But............

About 3 years ago I started having only the skulls shipped back of the animals I want to keep. I'm no longer going to just mount things because I can. If I shoot a sable, lion etc. that justifies the cost. But I'll never mount another Kudu, impala, warthog, etc. The skull mounts take up way less room and cost pennies compared to a shoulder mount. Actually the cost difference between a simple dip/pack and a euro mount is minimal. Shipping is the same and when the crate arrives your done!

I love my mounts, but in retrospect the investment has been insane and I've done the work myself. I cannot imagine the cost of the trophies I have here if I had paid for all of them to be mounted!

Great photo's, video, and skull mounts allow the whole package to be done for a huge percentage less then trying to go to Africa and then have 7-10 shoulder mounts done on top of the cost of travel and the safari itself. After about the 10th guy saying to me that he was not going to bring any trophies home, I asked him why would you hunt here and not bring anything home?

His reply of all the people I asked struck home with me. He said

" I'm a hunter,... not a collector, I can hunt here every other year by saving the cost of the shipping and taxidermy work".

He has great camera equipment, and we take lots of photo's. It's all he brings home. He's hunted with me 3 times now and he's booked with his son to hunt with me again in 2009. He did not even take his Nyala home!
 

bpnclark

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Don’t forget rugs. Rugs are a great way to display animals. And it’s a great excuse to go back when they start fading/loosing hair.

You can save $ by shipping the crates by sea, but the best way to save $ is not to mount small animals. Looking back I regret mounting my impala and springbok. Both are on the smaller side and I know I’ll shoot another one when I go back, so both will probably be moved into the garage when new ones are taken.

Personally I love mounts. Taking home strange looking animals and seeing them everyday is one reasons I want to go back. I also love it when people come to my door and say “What in the hell is that!” I’m pretty sure I’m the only one in Fairfield with a full size warthog in their living room.
 

One Track

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JJ and BP:

Those are some great words of advice which I appreciate greatly. It makes sense. However, the fact that I don't have any African critters on the wall, puts me in a different mindset. A rug and a euro mount would probably bring me plenty of pleasure. However, I can twist my head around right now and see my only mounted muley buck. He's a monster. Just seeing him every day gives me a quick reminder of an awesome hunt and puts a quick smile on my face Will my first kudu and my first impala give me the same feeling? Mostly likely. Is a shoulder mount going to give me more pleasure than just a skull on a plaque? I don't know. There is something about the regal-ness of a quality mount. I look at my big buck with a feeling of respect for the stud that he is, in all his glory. He's breathtaking and I appreciate him every day. I'm a softy that way I guess. I have the same feeling about my pronghorn and my big boar. I do not feel like I need to have another big boar mounted, even if I killed one with bigger tusks.

For shoulder mounts I was considering: kudu, gemsbok and impala, (if I'm lucky enough to score any of those of course.) How could I NOT mount my first kudu or gemsbok? Is that possible? Would I regret not having them stuffed? How about an impala? Okay maybe not. But, they are so beautiful it doesn't seem right to leave that one out. Wildebeest, Hartebeest, Eland, I'd definitely be happy with a euro. What about a duiker as a pedestal mount. That would be hard not to do.

I'm perplexed.

We will definitely be taking taking lots of photos and video.

JJ: Didn't mean to change the theme of the article you wrote above.
 

Glass eye

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<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (One Track @ Jul 15 2008, 12:24 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}></div>
How could I NOT mount my first kudu or gemsbok? Is that possible? Would I regret not having them stuffed?[/b]
Often I have customers bring me antlers/horns and even euro mounts, and request that I find a cape to mount their "trophy" be it big or small, and they tell me of how they "regret not having it mounted".
I've never had someone bring me a mount and ask that I convert it into a plaque mount.
 

bpnclark

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<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (One Track @ Jul 15 2008, 12:24 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}></div>
Will my first kudu and my first impala give me the same feeling? Is a shoulder mount going to give me more pleasure than just a skull on a plaque?[/b]
Absolutely


Nothing wrong with getting them all shoulder mounted. Elands, Kudus, and Gemsboks are a little more expensive and if you take a nice one, you probably won’t take another, so I definitely recommend getting those mounted. I have a nice Red Hartebeest, Blesbok and Black Wildebeest and I will probably never shoot another one. However, I plan on shooting a warthog and impala every time I go (which will hopefully be every 3-4 years). I will definitely euro mount every warthog from now on and impala (unless it’s over 24 inches).

But one thing that JJHack brought up is your Family’s mounts. My father has several nice animals mounted and he was asking me what we were going to do with them when he dies. I told him I was going to sell them on E-bay (a joke that he did not find funny). But I think that my brother will take his N Am animals I will take his African. That somewhat solves my problem on what animals to take while in Africa. I will hunt for the animals that he does not have (one of the reasons I took a Red Hartebeest and Black Wildebeest).

And back to the original post – if you have the $ now, there is no reason to wait. Everything is going up and it will never get cheaper. I will never be able to afford the hunt my father did in Tanzania in 2000 (I don’t think he would be able to afford it now either). It’s the same for everywhere. Prices are only going up.
 

jjhack

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Everything in life is going up in cost. This is not news to anyone with a job and bills.

It's the rate of increase that is going to change the amount of people who can afford this trip to Africa. The majority of my hunters are at a maximum cost of under 10,000 bucks for everything. With that said if you take 3000 for airfare and 1500 for dip pack and shipping you are left with a 5500.00 hunt. That's not the 6-7 animal hunt possible just 3 years ago.

If you put the taxidermy into the mix for just 5 animals shoulder mounted you will add another +-3000 bucks to the total. Taxidermy with the dip pack and shipping in this case is 4500 bucks, 3000 for airfare, and 5500 for a hunt.

People are going to have to decide that hunting in Africa is becoming a lot like catch and release fishing. Catch the fish,.... photograph it,.... and release it. Except in Africa you shoot it,.... take the photo's,.... and release it to the butcher shop! This is not about the pros and cons of taxidermy. I simply don't have a dog in that fight. I have a small fortune in Taxidermy work myself. I am only relaying what trends I've seen over the last 5 years. I worked for a big commercial Taxidermy shop which was about 75% Africa work. In the last three years they have become 50% Africa and 50% NA and other destinations. The amount of costs associated with dip pack, shipping, customs, brokers, and domestic freight to your door has become out of control. Then add the tanning and mounting work and it's usually equal or more then the cost to actually hunt these animals.

A few hunters have said to me: I had to accept that for me to hunt africa and have all the taxidermy work was way to expensive. If I chose to wait til I could afford the whole thing I would never have gone. So I just decided the hunting was the priority for me, I would have to sacrifice the taxidermy work if I wanted to go on this trip in my lifetime.

That is not an exact quote as It's come from several hunters in one fashion or another. But the intent was similar from all of them.
 

Glass eye

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Next week I'm doing a duiker shoulder mount for a young customer who went there several years ago, and he's been bringing me the capes to mount, one at a time, one a year. This has gone on for a long time and one shoulder mount a year is affordable. They don't all have to be done at once.
Now jjhack, I can see your point for guys who have been there before and already have african mounts, and they just want to go back and hunt some more.
 

jjhack

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The best month is tough because both May and June are about equal for some part of the time. Impala start to run early to mid may and they are a lot of fun to be around during that time. They also run around the bush so much that other game is less nervous about sounds and movement when you are stalking them. They see the impalas relentless activity day and night and don't have the same instant fright from a little brush shuffling or twig snapping that they might have at other times of the year. Don't get me wrong, they don't let walk up while whistling a tune, but they have a bit less of an edge with all the commotion around.

Kudu begin the rut about the end of May, say around the 23-25th typically, hitting a peak in early June. If a big Kudu is on the menu then this is a tough time to miss out on. You should really try to get to RSA from the beginning of June on for a big bull. With all this said, late June through July is the period of the least ground water. All species have an attraction to water, some less then others, but all will be nearer to water then further. With the limited water available, even game on 50 square miles of open country will be within a few miles of the water. Some species don't use water much, but get the moisture from the plants they eat. Even so, the most lush plants are usually also nearer to the water points.

So Sometime from May through July is very good, and each week during that time has a different set of benifits to to offer. What are the bad months might be easier. September through November are when the babies are born and most properties do now want hunters there during the birthing season. If the property is only put and take, like much of the eastern cape, then they let you hunt all year round. However we do not hunt our properties during the months that the majority of young are born. We don't even drive the roads, or work in the bush outside of emergency issues or maintaince.

November through March is going to be very hot and very wet. Getting stuck in the mud, sand, and washed out roads will screw up a hunt very fast. I stopped hunting before May first due to this aweful wet conditions. The temps are roasting hot, and the snakes and bugs thick as can be during the summer. It's simply not a pleasant time to be hunting with the conditions of the thick green lush bush and the insects. April is much like August/September. It's a transitional weather period. April can be a great month one year with warm weather and the beginning of the fall, or it can be wet and miserable. Years ago I arranged hunts in April, after several problem hunts with floods, and heavy rain I stopped booking hunts then. I would set up a hunt for people if it were the only chance they could go. But I explain the situation to them very clearly leaving no doubt about my feelings. Any outfitter that does not see these weather issues and seasons the same has blinders on and is simply looking at the income rather then the reality of a great hunt.

Hope that helps
 


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