Taking foreigners hunting in Africa can be nerve wrecking, traumatic but also hilarious at times. It is not that I have a lot of experience with hunters from over the seas, but on occasion I did take Germans, Americans and on one occasion each an Irishman and three Peruvians. These hunters come to hunt in Africa for bragging rights, and of course trophies to hang on their walls or display as carpets on their floors.
One thing I always did before taking any non professional hunter out was check their marksmanship, and the accuracy of their weapons, this prevented lots of unpleasant work in the field like having to track a wounded animal down. Invariably the foreigners had excellent and accurate weapons.
What amazed me though was the marksmanship, on the shooting range these hunters would be spot on up to a distance of 300 meters, but once in the field they tended to be poor shots, even over a distance of only 50 meters. I subscribe that to nerves, once they had their target in sight the excitement overcame them and they developed the shakes! We generally refer to this condition as "Buck Fever".
The German hunters were pains in the asses. Everything had to be exact and precise, and totally humourless of course. If I indicated that we would leave at 06;00 to try and find whatever specie we were looking for, we had to leave at 06;00, not at 05;57 or at 06;03! If I said lunch would be served at noon, the Germans will sit down at the table at exactly 11;59, and if we placed the food down at 12;05 there would be grumbling.
Their relationship with the animals they were hunting were also strained, the animals would never stand when and how they were supposed to, upsetting the disciplined Germans! My only wish was that these Krauts could place their shots as exact as they wanted everything else to be!
The Americans I have to split into two types of hunters! Firstly you have the rich hunters, they guy that goes on a hunting trip every year, in a different part of the world. These guys are generally very arrogant and full of themselves, coming with the most expensive hunting equipment money can buy, not always the best suited though. I also find their dress code amusing, camouflage clothing that would make any military jealous. They don't seem to know that animals are colour blind and actually depends on smell and sound more than sight in their defences.
These guys are lazy hunters, if you want to call them hunters! They had the attitude that they had "paid good dollar" to be entertained while pretending to hunt. We nick-named them "Canned Hunters", as they wanted the complete hunt to be made as easy as possible, if we could tie their target animal to a pole for them to shoot would have been fine with them. They regularly wounded their prey, fancy rifles and all, and it was then up to the professional hunter to track and actually kill their "kill" for them. They went back to camp to drink whiskey and to talk big about there prowness as hunters. An unpleasant type of hunter indeed.
The second group of American hunter is the "poor" guy, the man that had saved up for years for the once-in-a-lifetime experience to hunt in Africa. To them to whole hunting expedition was an experience, from tracking and shooting to sitting around the campfire talking, helping with the cooking and pouring drinks. These guys never wanted to miss out on anything, making the best out of everything that happened. They made taking out foreign hunters a pleasure.
I cannot generalise on Irish hunters, as I have only had one on a hunting trip. What a pleasant experience. This man was easy going, insisted that there was enough whiskey in the camp, at his expense, so we would all enjoy the story telling sessions in the evenings.
During the Irishman's trip he wanted to shoot a Gemsbok, which is a desert antelope, so we set of for the Kalahari. The Landrover's doors were unhooked and left in camp, this made for cooler conditions in the cab as well as making getting in and out easier. We came across some Gemsbok standing on a dune 500 meters away. O'Brian, the Irishman, got out of the Landrover and stalked the Gemsbok. When he was within 150 meters from his target he took aim and shot. It was a poor shot, he wounded a bull. Gemsbok are not animals who likes being messed around with, or being injured. This bull had spotted O'Brian, and came on the charge. The man dropped his rifle and took off, fleeing for his life, running towards me and the Landrover. The buck was gaining on him, but O'Brian made it to the vehicle with a few meters to spare. I was highly amused by the spectacle and in my laughter stalled the Landrover's engine. The Gemsbok was not going to stop his charge, and he came into the doorless cab, with us two humans fleeing out the opposite door. Fortunately the buck got himself totally wedged inside the cab and I had the opportunity to finish the hunting with a shot to the head. O'Brian's "Fooking stuupit boock" still brings a smile to my face today, years later.
The Peruvians were as much fun to take hunting, even though I would class them as rich as the first type of Americans. They did just have a different attitude to that of the Yanks. They came out to Africa to hunt and to enjoy themselves, which they thoroughly did. They enjoyed tracking their own potential pray; they did their own skinning and took turns with us at cooking and pouring drinks. The highlight of their trip was when we put a live rabbit into their caravan while sleeping. The animal tried its best to get out, hopping on the sleeping Peruvians. We heard screams and shouts of lions, hyenas and wolfs coming from inside the caravan. As it was dark in the van the door was not easily found! Once our guest did manage to get out of the van we put them at ease by telling them what we had done, expecting some anger from our guests. Contradictory to our expectation they were highly amused by this practical joke, saying that it is another experience of their trip to Africa to remember. Once their holiday was over and we dropped them off at the International Airport they were very generous when it came to paying our fee for the hunting, adding a substantial amount to our standard rates.
In conclusion, I won't mind taking "poor" Americans and happy Peruvians out hunting again.