Epic – Hunting in Africa

Derrick Epic Africa Hunting What is epic? Is it a specific trophy animal? The great shot you made? The time around the campfire with buddies? Or is it just the hunt?

To me Epic was a term I learned in South Africa this year. I never really thought about it, but it was a term used a lot by my Professional Hunter (PH) “Stix” and looking back that really was the only word that could describe Africa. Earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to receive the invite to go with a couple of great customers and friends of mine, Glynn and Steve. If it was not for their persistence and confidence in going with John X Safaris I would not have even considered it. And I would have missed out on a hunt of a lifetime.

It all started back at the Dallas Safari Club Convention, when I had a chance to meet with Carl and Ross “Stix” of John X Safaris. We had a booth there ourselves and Glynn and Steve convinced me to come meet with the John X guys. After one meeting I knew I had to go with them on the trip. I was impressed by their outfit and the confidence that they had quality hunting land, without acting like a bunch of used car salesmen. I knew I could trust them.

Once the trip was officially booked, I was like a little kid counting down the days until Christmas. After months of paperwork, target practice and getting all my gear together, it was finally time to jump the pond. Not only was it my first overnight flight, it was my first international flight traveling with firearms. Man, was that an experience. It was definitely a learning experience and all I can say is Ann and her crew at Air 2000 were lifesavers! We were in and out of all the checkpoints in about 1/3 of the time of all the hunters that were on our flight. [Side note: Well worth the value of their service, for anyone traveling to Africa contact Ann and tell them Horizon Firearms sent you.]

Once in Johannesburg, we decided to lay low one day to sleep off the jetlag before hopping on one more flight on South African Air to Port Elizabeth. During the hustle and bustle of getting the guns all cleared through the police station, we were greeted by Carl and his crew of PH’s. [Side note: it is very nice to have an outfitter that speaks the local african languages well so that you know what is going on when traveling with firearms in a foreign country.] After all the guns were clear, we loaded all our gear into their sweet safari Toyota truck rigs and headed off for the Karoo. It took us about three hours to get there. Thank goodness I don’t get motion sickness because the South African roads, and the driving on the opposite side of the road, is enough to make your head spin. Once we arrived at camp, we headed out to the shooting range and got everyone all dialed in for the morning to come...

The rest of the trip is more than I can talk about in one blog post, but something we will attack in several posts to come. Every day was filled with a new adventure and every evening filled with amazing food and camaraderie around the campfire. Over the 10 day trip, eight hunters harvested 62 trophy animals. I was fortunate enough to harvest seven animals – a kudu, eland, nyala, impala, bushbuck, caracal and a black wildebeest (my next post!).

Derrick Ratliff with his African Harvest

For now, I will say this: nothing, or no one, can prepare you for your first morning in Africa. Everyone will tell you about the mind blowing diversity, the vast amounts of land, the hundreds, if not thousands, of animals you will see – but you won’t believe it. It’s nothing short of EPIC.

  • Posted on July 12, 2016

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