Planning a trip on another continent is complicated. Before Rolly’s first trip, he researched exhaustively via the Internet and chatted with other hunters on 24hourcampfire.com. That research led to Jim Hackiewicz, author of Africa the First Time (huntingadventures.net).
Hackiewicz is a resident of Washington state, a registered professional hunter and a booking agent since 1990 who led us to Authentic African Adventures, which outfitted our hunt and extra days in Kruger National Park for photography. Hackiewicz made contacts with travel agents who booked our flights, obtained permits for our rifles, and arranged a meet-and-greet at the Johannesburg airport to help us clear customs. International hunters traveling in 2015 had to deal with changing rules concerning traveling with rifles: United States Customs was implementing new regulations for transporting rifles, and so we spent an anxious month trying to learn what we needed to do. The NRA, SCI and other organizations immediately worked to clarify the changing protocols; finally, U.S. Customs abandoned any changes. Regardless, via Hackiewicz, we contracted with a travel company to meet us upon our arrival at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg; a company agent at the gate took us to the VIP customs desk, and then to the security station to pick up our rifles.
The experience convinced me we’d worked with the right man to make our dream hunt come true. Hackiewicz’s extensive world travel, his background as a PH and his 25 years of dealing with all the perils, pitfalls and “what-ifs” associated with hunting Africa simplified our pre-trip planning and preparation. By comparison, a close friend of mine didn’t have the great African hunt we did. In fall 2015, he went to Africa to hunt kudu and gemsbok. Arriving in camp, he learned the area where he booked didn’t offer either species to hunt. The booking agent he’d worked through had never been to the property where they hunted.