SA hunting advice and tips
South Africa is the only country in Africa where you can walk into almost any bar, pub or restaurant, declare that you are a PH and be in the company of your fellow men of steel! Literally, shake a tree and a couple of PH's will drop out declaring that they are indeed the ones who provide the 'real african experience!'
Although each province differs, there is an oversupply of hunting outfitters and professional hunters in South Africa. This is no joke, because it means that there are as many rotten apples as good and in today's wireless world it is easy for the worms to operate 'under cover of night'. The ease of obtaining a PH license over 14 days means there are PH's out there who have less hunting experience than their clients.
The main thing to bear in mind is that there are so many varying degrees of what a safari hunt is simply because of all these operators and PH's and their experience or in-experience. Most of the time PH's and outfitters are eager to please and make sure you get what you want, often to the point of them sacrificing personal time and money. Yet South Africa has had some great con artists, some were even awarded the prestigious 'hunter of the year' award at fancy conventions and then made of with Millions. Others faked their own death by plane crash and made off with the loot.
So it is with your choice of Safari outfitter and PH that you have to exercise caution and common sense. Experience does count and indeed past references and simply talking to the person who will be in charge of your hunt and actually be hunting you will give you a good feel for what you're in for.
The Million acre Con!
South Africa's many hunting properties also need careful consideration because you don't want your dream Africa Safari to take place on 1000 acres in the middle of the open Free State plains. Property size does make for the experience and many outfitters will claim to have over a million acre concession. This simply is not true and more than likely, when you see this it is a total acreage of all the properties that they have access to, some fairly large, others mere feeding pens. You're not going to be based on and hunting on a million acres as you would be in Zambia or Tanzania or Zimbabwe (these countries truly have massive acreage to hunt on)! As a start, a good sized property for South Africa and for a great safari is around 5000 hectares and up, which translates to 10,000 acres plus. Here you will not feel cooped in neither will the game you are hunting - in other words it isn't a Pet-and-Take!
Bear in mind however that properties here are generally much bigger than in the US or Europe so don't expect the same. As long as you inquire as to the property you'll be hunting on and it's size you'll get a clearer picture of what your hunt will entail.
In South Africa, hunting can easily be dictated by your preferred method and style. Don't fall for the 'this is how we do it in Africa' while bouncing around on the back of a speeding pick-up after galloping game. Many PH's are hell bent on making sure you shoot what you are after, it makes sense to them because not only are you happy, but they also make money on the trophy fees. Even their pick ups from which they hunt have fancy cushioned rests so you can shoot from the vehicle - don't get me wrong here, if that is what you're after then go for it bwana, shoot away from the back of the bakkie but then don't call it hunting, it's simply shooting! Often they'll get you into a situation that you are not comfortable with but pressured to take the shot because they urge that this is the 'only way'. This could not be further from the truth and has as much to do with the PH's inexperience and greed!
In this country, more than any other, you are able to hunt according to your own personal ethical code and style. This means that firstly you can find an outfitter and PH who is going to fit your style, while second, you can enforce your way while out in the field and faced with an uncomfortable situation.