If you’re lucky enough to be planning a trip to Africa soon, get ready for the adventure of a lifetime. An African safari is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most people, so make sure you come prepared. I’ve got some tips to help you make the most of your upcoming hunt.
First things first – learn about the area you’ll be visiting. Find out what kind of animals live there, the terrain, and the typical weather and conditions. The more you know going in, the better prepared you’ll be.
How You Need To Prepare For Your African Safari Hunt
Now let’s talk gear. Having the right equipment is essential on a safari. When it comes to ammunition, you’ll need high-quality bullets suited for the game you’ll be hunting. The ammo that works for white-tailed deer back home won’t cut it out on the savanna. For large animals like kudu or Cape buffalo, look for heavy controlled-expansion bullets that penetrate deep and cause maximum damage. I’m a fan of Nosler Partitions, Barnes TTSXs, and Swift A-Frames. If you’re after buffalo, use an expanding bullet for your first shot then switch to solid non-expanding rounds for follow up shots – this combo works wonders. The Barnes TSX and Banded Solids are ideal but can be hard to find, so Hornady DGX/DGS rounds are a great option too. Shop around and get ammo you’re confident with – as long as it’s quality, you’ll be set.
Now, don’t overlook physical fitness. This is so important for a successful hunt, but it’s often an afterthought. You don’t want to be huffing and puffing during a stalk, or too shaky to take an accurate shot. Even for plains game, aim to walk 2-3 miles, 3 days a week leading up to your trip. If you want to cover more ground daily, bump it up to 4-5 miles, 4 days a week. Throw in some 10-12 mile hikes with your hunting pack to get ready for the long days. And be sure to break in your new boots before you go! Blisters are no fun on safari. Wear your boots around the house and on short walks first. Consider using your trip to properly break them in – you’ll be logging serious miles anyway, so put those miles to good use!
This is another area that hunters often overlook. Many hunters go to Africa with a new rifle they have never used before, let alone sighted in. Being prepared is critical to being a good marksman. After all, you are traveling halfway around the world to have a good chance at shooting a magnificent animal. While African animals are not entirely resistant to bullets, a poorly placed shot can make it challenging to find the animal and potentially result in the animal’s death. You owe it to yourself to make each shot count, and you also owe it to the animal.
Some great resources are available on where to shoot an animal when hunting in Africa, such as Kevin Robertson’s book The Perfect Shot or the pocket-sized mini-edition of the book. Make sure you thoroughly study all available resources to know precisely where to shoot an animal, no matter the angle.
You should not shoot from a bench rest once your rifle is zeroed because you will experience a lot of felt recoil. Most of your shooting while hunting in Africa will not be from a steady rest. It is essential to ask your outfitter what the expected ranges are for shooting at and to practice shooting at those ranges in different positions, such as off-hand, with a modified rest, using a tree for support or kneeling.
It would be best if you also practiced rapid follow-up shots. Then, without pausing to assess the result of the shot, shift your aim to a second target, also at the original range, and fire one shot. Shoot one bullet at one target, then immediately shoot another at a different one without pausing to see if the first shot hit. Next, rapidly repeat this process with another target and range. You’re ready for competition when you can keep all of your shots within a 10-inch radius from a realistic shooting position.
Questions to Ask Before Booking Your Hunt
Do you hunt in high-fenced areas?
Game ranching, raising animals for conservation or hunting, has gotten some bad press in recent years, especially in South Africa. But this isn’t just a South Africa thing – you can also find game ranches with high fences in Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Zambia. These countries have tons of large mammals that have been heavily hunted for ages.
The fences aren’t there just to annoy the animals! They have real purposes, like securing expensive imported species that could jump a normal fence. The fences also prevent disease spread and dangerous animals interacting with livestock on neighboring farms. In South Africa, high fences let you get permits to hunt year-round on your own land. And get this – poachers caught inside can face harsher penalties!
But I get the concerns some folks have. They think animals should have a real chance to escape and that keeping them fenced 24/7 is unethical. I see their point. But even in fenced areas, animals can often still slip away from hunters. So these are generally considered fair chase hunts still. But let’s chat more about fair chase and what it really means…
Great question! Hunting rules vary across Africa, but most agree the technique used determines if the hunt is fair chase or not. The animal should have a reasonable chance of getting away from the hunter. If success was guaranteed every single time, that wouldn’t be very sporting, would it?
Your guide will do everything possible to help you get the trophies on your bucket list. But in most places they can’t just sell you any animal without the proper permits and quotas. You typically need legal access to hunt on someone’s land too. Make sense?
Now some folks say you shouldn’t hunt if you’re within 200 meters of a vehicle. But rules differ – in some parts of South Africa, shooting from a truck is totally legal! Yet it’s prohibited in other areas or countries. Most guides offer tracking on foot through the bush as the classic fair chase approach. But options like glassing from viewpoints or shooting from blinds work for bowhunters and those with physical limitations.
Bottom line – ethical hunting is a personal choice. Talk to your guide about methods that align with your values. This is your once-in-a-lifetime adventure, after all!
The terrain and location really impact this. In wide open areas like the mountains or desert, shots can easily go 300-400 yards. But for bowhunters, most targets are within 25 yards, though some skilled archers stretch that to 45 yards!
Your guide will keep distance within your abilities. But part of the thrill is testing your skills while respecting local laws and ethical practices. Maybe challenge yourself with a long shot one day, then get up close and personal on foot the next. Variety is the spice of life, right?
What are the styles of hunting expected during the safari?
The most common technique is cruising around in a pickup until you spot a decent trophy. In some South African provinces, shooting from the truck is totally legal. But in most countries and some South African provinces, walking and stalking the animals on foot is the norm and legal way to hunt.
Many folks say you shouldn’t hunt if you’re within 200 meters of a vehicle. But different species and areas have different rules and styles. These include tracking, glassing from viewpoints, driven hunts, and shooting from a blind or platform for bowhunters. You can’t use planes, helicopters, or drones for hunting – though sometimes helicopters are used to search for wounded animals.
Ultimately, go with hunting methods that fit your ethics and ideas of good sportsmanship. Hunters with physical limitations will be accommodated. Discuss options with your guide that work for you and align with local laws.
This refers to how often a particular species is successfully hunted, especially for tricky animals like leopards and bongos. If success was 100% guaranteed, that wouldn’t be fair chase since the animal wouldn’t have a chance.
Your guide will do everything imaginable to help you get the animals on your wish list. But in most places, they can’t legally sell you an animal without having the proper permits and quota for that species. Or written permission to hunt it on someone else’s land.
For most animals, trophy size is based on the size of the antlers, tusks, or horns. There are two measurement methods used for hunting records – Rowland Ward and Safari Club International. These are used by folks who want their trophies in the record books. Your animal has to meet the minimum size to qualify for entry. Most guides use these as benchmarks for trophy quality.
Many guides actually prefer if clients focus on the whole experience rather than trophy measurements. But it’s your hunt – work with your guide to make sure you get what’s important to you!
Terrain and location impact this a lot. In open areas like deserts or mountains, shots can be 300-400 yards easily. But for bowhunters, most targets are within 25 yards, though some skilled archers stretch that to 45 yards.
Your guide will keep distance within your capabilities. But part of the thrill is testing your skills within ethical practices and local laws. Maybe challenge yourself with a long shot one day, then get up close and personal the next. Variety is the spice of life, right?
When a cold front moves in, some animals like nyala and kudu seem to disappear into holes. They don’t like the windy, cold conditions. Your guide will focus on other species that live in the open or don’t hide in the brush when the weather’s bad. These fronts usually only last a day or two before things get back to normal.
Full moons make it harder for nocturnal predators like leopards to hunt. The extra light lets prey see them coming more easily. Grazing animals spend more time out at night under the bright moon. Animals like reedbuck rest more during the day, while buffalo may walk long distances at night looking for food. This makes them tougher to catch up with during daylight. But when the moon is dark, reedbuck feed more in the day, and buffalo spend the pitch-black nights on guard against hungry lions. A full moon rising over the African bush is an incredible sight!
Go Get Ready
Prepping for a safari hunt is exhilarating, but don’t forget the mission-critical stuff! Choosing the right ammo for the game and terrain is key. For big tough beasts, go with premium heavy-duty expanding bullets. Those babies get the job done.
Physical fitness is clutch too. You’ll likely be hoofing miles into the bush to track your trophy. Gotta have steady rifle arms for the perfect shot after all that hiking! So hit the gym now and get those hunter muscles primed and ready.
Make sure to break in your new safari kickers before the trip. Blisters suck, and this is no time to be distracted by sore feet!
And of course, practice your shooting. Dial in your skills so when that kudu of a lifetime steps out, you nail it confidently. This is your one shot at a safari hunt of your dreams. Knock it outta the park by prepping like a pro.
Captain Hunter is a seasoned hunting mentor with over 20 years of experience in the field. His passion began as a young man on trips with his father and grandfather in the Colorado mountains. Today, he shares his unmatched skills in survival, tracking, and marksmanship through his website CaptainHunter.com. When he's not volunteering with youth hunting programs, you can find Captain Hunter providing expert hunting tips, gear reviews, and answers to your most pressing questions. His decades of experience make him the trusted guide to help any outdoorsman master the sport.