First read this blog that I wrote and published 20 years ago:

I was talking with a colleague the other day and he asked, “So Hanback, when’s your next trip over my man?”

“Over where?”

“To Africa man!” he roared.

I explained that I had never been to Africa, and had never really wanted to go all that much. He looked at me like I was the village idiot.

“Ah, there is nothing like it,” he opined, a touch of British high-brow creeping into his Yankee voice. “I was bitten by the bug several years ago and I hardly want to hunt anywhere else.”

I was talking with another man who went over and shot his first elephant. With his eyes welling up he told me how he’d dropped the magnificent beast with a brain shot at 20 yards, and that it was “a life-changing experience.”

Always one to ask deep and poignant questions I blurted, “Did the ground shake when he went down?”

“Ah, yes,” he replied, almost sobbing now, speaking some Brit too. I find it strange that people start talking like that when they come back from Africa.

From what I understand one fascination with Africa is largely economic. They tell me you can hunt Africa for a week or 2 cheaper than you can go to Alaska, which I consider the world’s top hunting destination (been there 6 times for sheep, moose, etc.). But I bet they are leaving out all the taxidermy bills and especially the trans-oceanic travel and shipping fees.

If this deer-hunting redneck ever goes, what would I shoot? Not an elephant or a zebra or a giraffe or a leopard. I have only marginal interest in a buffalo. I’d probably carry my .30-06 or 7mm RUM and whack some plains game like kudu and impala with 150- to 180-grain bullets. I guess that would be fun.

Okay, now fast forward to August 2023, when my TV producer Mike Baker, a veteran videographer who has been to many African countries many times, talked me into going over to South Africa. Baker, two camera guys and I loaded into a United plane and somehow endured the 16-hour flight… And then a 5-hour drive to camp, where we spent a glorious 9 days watching wildlife, toasting each day’s amazing sunset and enjoying the wonderful people of South Africa, especially my new friend and our PH George Potgeiter, who owns and operates Schoongezicht Safaris.

Long story short, I was all wrong about going to Africa, and disappointed in myself for waiting so long until I did it. I shot 5 animals, the “Big Deer Big 5,” and we are in the process of editing 3 wonderful episodes, a special South African trifecta that will air on this summer on the new season of Big Deer TV on Sportsman Channel.

I hope you’ll watch the shows; for now, a few takeaways from my first safari:

  • I did carry my .30-06 (CZ Model 600 topped w/Trijicon Huron 3X-9X scope) and shoot 180-grain bullets (Hornady SST) like I said I would in the old blog. With it I shot a kudu, blue wildebeest (Poor Man’s Buffalo) and an Oryz.
  • I used my new favorite cartridge and rifle—CZ 600 in 6.5 PRC–and shot an impala and a very cool animal called a blesbok with Hornady 140-grain loads.
  • I still have no interest in shooting an elephant or a zebra; we saw a lot of the latter, and what beautiful and wonderfully spooky, stallion-like game.
  • Yes, a safari in South Africa is a GREAT deal, you can shoot 3 or 4 plains game animals for what it costs (or less) to hunt a mule deer or elk in some areas. (I paid 8K for one whitetail hunt last season, I never could have imagined a deer hunt costing that much.)
  • Baker and I are talking about going back with PH George and hunting a cape buffalo soon!
  • I loved everything about my first trip to Africa, but I didn’t come back with a British accent.