A Professional Hunters’ Skill-Set

by
posted on February 15, 2017
ph_skills_f.jpg

Editor's Note: Author Tim Christie recently enjoyed his first career safari. You can catch up on that story here.

Living the African experience provides a whole different perspective on hunting. I’ve been on guided hunts for Dall sheep and caribou in Alaska; whitetails, hogs and turkeys in Texas; pronghorn and elk in Wyoming; mule deer, whitetails and elk in my home state of Idaho. But that African hunt was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.

Whatever you’ve read about African professional hunters is very likely true—and then some. I hunted with three different PHs who guided me to my gemsbok, impala and warthog in addition to the kudu. Now, I spend much of any normal year photographing wildlife, and my skill at spotting game is above average. But these three PHs made me feel like a neophyte. Driving down a road at 10 to 15 mph, they’d stop to show us wildlife in the brush that I had a hard time seeing with my binocular. After I’d shot my kudu, PH Flippie De Kock spotted a big bull standing in brush 50 yards away. We sat in the truck for five minutes while he directed our attention to the animal. Only the bull’s eye was visible peering through the heavy screen of brush.

That quality was exceeded only by the PHs’ ability to track game. Hanno van Rensburg followed my kudu through the grass and broken, tangle-foot undergrowth like a laser-equipped drone. Flippie unraveled the tracks of dozens of game animals in soft sand to put me onto an impala that turned out to have a broken horn. Petrus, my third PH, followed my warthog at a trot, seemingly never looking down at the ground. He was a black man, and though I asked everyone, no one knew his last name. But he was a PH just as the other men. I must say Petrus was amazing both as a tracker and as a PH. He literally could see game under the most difficult situations. Once we were walking through some brush and he stopped me and hissed, “Kudu.” It took me a couple of minutes using my binocular to see the eyeball of the bull staring at us through a maze of brush, and that eyeball was the only thing visible … at 50 yards. Blew me away. I wish he could guide elk hunters. True, these men grew up in Africa, but on top of that, earning a PH license there requires phenomenal skills.

Field-judging trophy animals is simply an impossible task for inexperienced hunters. Graduates of a PH school must accurately judge horn length within one inch on large animals like sable and kudu, and half an inch on smaller animals like steinbok and duiker at 100 meters (109 yards). Graduation requires proficiency in shooting at moving targets and caping trophies, and passing tests in tracking and applicable hunting regulations. Many who try, fail. Those who pass deserve a client’s deepest respect and admiration.

Latest

Review Leupold BX 4 Pro Guide HD Gen 2 Lead
Review Leupold BX 4 Pro Guide HD Gen 2 Lead

Review: Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide HD Gen 2

Leupold’s BX-4 Pro Guide HD Gen 2 rangefinding binocular blends affordability, portability and usability to deliver excellent color, clarity, depth of field and low-light performance.

#SundayGunday: Ruger Super Redhawk in .22 Hornet

Get a closer look at the Ruger Super Redhawk in .22 Hornet, the latest addition to our #SundayGunday series.

Review: Ruger Super Wrangler

The Super Wrangler is reliable, accurate and affordable. It may well be this generation’s best of the best for a “woods” gun and is an excellent rimfire handgun choice for any hunter.

Traditions Launches Outfitter G3 in 360 Buckhammer

Traditions Firearms has announced the release of its Outfitter G3 single-shot rifle line in 360 Buckhammer. This caliber will be available in both the standard and all new Pro Series models.

Head to Head: .375 H&H Magnum vs. .416 Rigby

The .375 H&H Magnum and .416 Rigby are both capable of taking the entire spectrum of game animals, in any climate, on any continent. But which is the better choice for the hunter? We investigate.

New for 2024: Heritage Manufacturing Heritage 92 Line

Heritage Manufacturing has launched its line of Heritage 92 lever-action rifles. Rooted in tradition, the Heritage 92 series is designed to pay homage to the iconic firearms of yesteryear while delivering the precision and performance demanded by today's enthusiasts.

Interests



Get the best of American Hunter delivered to your inbox.