Spring for many hunters is turkey season. But have you ever thought about a spring trip to Africa? Before you shake your head "no," hear me out.
First thing's first: When it’s spring here in North America, it’s fall in Africa. While other bowhunters are dreaming about big game, you can be hunting big game. Southern Africa is a beautiful place. And in the Republic of South Africa (RSA), currently it’s 8 RAND to the dollar, so costs aren’t what you think.
Bowhunting in South Africa for plains game is like Christmas morning, every morning. You have no idea what type of animal might approach a waterhole. There are 30-plus huntable antelope in South Africa alone, so you could see an impala, bushbuck, kudu, zebra and hartebeest all on one morning's sit!
I just returned from a trip to RSA with my good friend Mark Cuddeback. Mark owns Cuddeback digital scouting cameras; we had talked about going to Africa together for a few years. It was Mark’s first trip to the Dark Continent, and we literally had a blast.
I personally have been to Africa many times, but watching Mark and his reactions to the scenery, the animals, the challenges of bowhunting ... well, it was an amazing trip. Showing someone who likes bowhunting the amazing opportunities found in Africa is as fun as the actual hunting.
Most bowhunting camps in Southern Africa are equipped with ground blinds or hides. These are typically set into the ground to be low profile and help hunters stay cool. Even in winter, daytime high temps can be in the upper 70s. The heat is important—it's what brings the animals into the waterholes.
Blinds are great, but I often prefer to hunt from treestands in Africa. The look and feel of a treestand resembles whitetail hunting, and for the TV episodes I produce, I think that the audience relates to the perspective of a treestand.
Of course, Mark and I took several Cuddeback scouting cams with us and, I must say, the strategy worked perfectly. While Mark and I hunted separate waterholes, we had cameras guarding others. This technology allowed us to see activity in other areas. In fact, we captured a roan antelope on one of the cameras, which allowed me to move locations and arrow this shy and difficult-to-hunt savannah species.
The typical South-African plains-game hunt costs about as much as a typical, low-end elk hunt in New Mexico, and flights are about $1,800 from Atlanta to Johannesburg. The flight is 15 hours and considered the fourth longest commercial flight in existence. But the plane ride is worth it, and the hunting is something you must experience once.
I have many African trophies, but can still look on the wall and recognize my first impala and warthog. The memories of a trip to Africa will truly last a lifetime.
Using a Cuddeback scouting cam helped me stick an arrow in this roan antelope.