South African Hunting Basics
Hunting in South Africa has often been compared to one of those all you can eat buffets in Reno or Vegas, everything is available in any combination and usually one price covers all. Your choice of hunts, shoots and the so called real African hunting safari is insurmountable, literally thousands of outfitters and Professional hunters falling over themselves to bag your safari dollar.
Unlike other African countries where all game belongs to the state, game in South Africa is more or less privately owned and this is the key to the country's conservation success. If game occurs on your land, it belongs to you and you are allowed to utilize this game in a suitable economic manner. To some this means live sales of game, to others it means eco-tourism and photographic potential but by far the most common use of the many species of game occurring on private land in South Africa is the Safari hunt for international clients.
At your desire you'll find thousands of properties, some rather small and others great tracts of African bush and savanna, developed and structured to allow a type of hunting we commonly know as the Trophy hunting Safari. You'll find that most outfitters and PH's will offer you the same thing - the same species, the same services, the same types of accommodation and the same guarantees. They have to, this is regulated by law so where the difference comes in is usually the region you hunt in, the size of the property you hunt on and the reputation of the outfitter / PH you hunt with.
South Africa is divided into nine provinces which roughly form the basis of species variation, hunting terrains and hunting regulations. Each province has it's own set of regulations for each type of game as well as regulations governing outfitters / PH's and trophy export.
These provinces are perhaps the best way to look at the different types of hunting available in the country as each calls for a different approach to hunting the species that occur there. They are vastly different and allow you to return for many safaris and trophies before you can claim to have truly "hunted in South Africa".
There are various ways South African outfitters can structure a hunt although most tend to stick to the same basic types of hunt. It seems that as soon as one outfitter hits on a winning formula, everyone else jumps in as well so more often than not, you'll find the exact same hunts offered at differing prices and duration all across the country.
By far the most common hunt you'll find being offered and see advertised is the Packaged Safari "more bang for your buck" hunt. Perhaps a reaction to the many confusing fees that can add up at the end of an African safari, this hunt combines all your costs into one price with very few additions at the end. There's a guy that calls himself the HuntPack king, an American, who claims to have invented this type of combo hunt and it does take care of much of the red tape and extras allowing hunters to at least know what they are faced with.
In reality this will be the African Hunting experience the majority of hunters get when they safari in South Africa, a hunting package based upon one or other property where they will shoot species particular to that ranch. This is by no means a let down, it is just not the actual dream african safari.
Seriously, these hunts are very similar to hunting on an estate in Europe or a fenced property in the US, just on a grander scale and with far more choice and of course new adventures. In fact if you look at the hunting set up in the US, these South African packaged safaris may provide the hunter with their own African dream and for many, this is what they perceive Africa to be all about.