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Shout out to the Professional Hunters

Surely it is not difficult to be a PH. I grin, or grimace, every time I hear someone utter these words. Our fellow professional hunters will agree that this is not a profession for the individual who is looking for ease and comfort. Being the professional hunter on a hunting trip means that you are responsible for doing the heavy lifting to keep both the clients, land owners, and the outfitters happy.

You must adapt to individual personalities, be consistent, and work extremely hard. The PH in camp is usually up before everyone to make sure all is in place to offer the client the best experience for the day. You are last to bed, having to stay up and entertain the clients, and then ensure everything is ready for the following days hunt. You do not get to sleep in the best accommodation, although the PH quarters are usually very comfortable. During the hunt you are the person in charge, scouting and working with your trackers to find the perfect trophy animals for your client. Horn judgement and sexing are done from a distance, through binoculars, to ensure that the correct animals are harvested.

The law around hunting is quite intricate, and changes from province to province in South Africa. As PH, you must know it by heart, as it is your responsibility to ensure that clients conduct hunts on animal species within the law, to avoid serious consequences. When it comes to dangerous game hunts, it gets even more challenging. Guiding a client to harvest a buffalo, leopard, or elephant, for instance, means that if all goes well it is incredible. But when things go wrong and all hell breaks loose, you as the PH must stand your ground and take your place between the charging animal and your client. We have seen some of the great, and most experienced professional hunters lose their lives due to misplaced shots and charging animals. This is the risk, but the reward is even greater. Being out there in the field most of the year, observing the spectacular wildlife, walking and stalking for days on end, and harvesting only the select few, is an honour.

Giving clients an experience that they will remember to the end of their days is magical. Sharing stories of the hunt around the fire and creating memories with unknown individuals from faraway places, who leave as friends, is one of the most satisfying things a human can do. Yet, the most important part of working in this industry, is the pivotal role of educating clients, sharing knowledge of our fauna and flora, and contributing to the conservation of our wildlife through sustainable, ethical hunting practices.