10 Reasons African Plains Game Help Prep for Deer Hunting

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Have You Ever Hunted in Africa?

Fine Tuning Your Mobility

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1 | Fine Tuning Your Mobility

Moving a little will get you picked off. Moving a lot will get you picked off every time. That's why it's important to brush up on your mobility prior to deer season. Don't make a mistake on a giant whitetail. Make it on something else instead.

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It’s Cost-Effective (Relatively Speaking)

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2 | It’s Cost-Effective (Relatively Speaking)

Hunting Africa doesn't have to be expensive. And it isn't as hard on the pocket book as you might think. Finding a good safari for $2,500 to $4,000 can be done very easily. It just takes time, work and solid planning.

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The Timing Is Right

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3 | The Timing Is Right

You don’t cut into your deer season by hunting African game. Western or Canadian hunts often compete with your favorite hunting trips back home. Since Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere, their winter is our summer and you can safari in July or August when vacation time is easier to get and not miss your favorite opening day in the fall. It’s also ideal for taking your spouse or children since school is out.

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Low-Poundage Bows Work Fine

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4 | Low-Poundage Bows Work Fine

Back in the 1990s, I hunted exclusively with a 60-pound compound and had 100-percent success.  Because African bowhunting is primarily by ambush, like whitetails, most shots are 25 yards or less. Also, most blinds are well-concealed, which allows for quality shots. If you shoot a crossbow or a bow in the 70-pound range, you may shoot completely through most African plains game. Going on an African hunt can really help you get used to your gear, which further prepares you for deer season.

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Animal Education

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5 | Animal Education

Africa has more than 70 species of plains game. Most hunters can recognize an impala, wildebeest, and kudu, but part of the adventure is learning to identify a gemsbok, red hartebeest, and other species. Of all creatures, zebras are among the craftiest and most difficult to take. They are very nocturnal and often completely circle a blind before drinking. In 25 safaris, I’ve had two shots. So, while it won’t help you identify the animals back home, it will help you learn how to make shot decisions on the fly with minimal time to make them.

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Camouflage Testing

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6 | Camouflage Testing

There are no bugs or snakes during the African winter. You won’t find snow, but can expect frost on the ground most mornings, and then a rapid rise in temperature to 60 degrees or more.  Such conditions make your late-October and November hunting clothes perfect for this type of weather. Last year, our group of three hunters wore Banded camouflage in Realtree EDGE which blended perfectly with dry foliage and the rocky terrain. Being able to test out your camo on the eyes of plains game will boost your confidence in the setup.

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Food and Fun

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7 | Food and Fun

Every day in Africa’s dry season (July to September) has a brilliant sunrise, an almost cloudless sky and a rose-colored sunset. Leave your rain gear at home. Most hunts feature modest walking and great amenities. You’ll get a hot American breakfast, a box lunch, and then a sumptuous barbeque over African wood coals at night. Each day ends by the campfire and a chance to relive the many adventures of the day. Getting in the hunt camp rhythm prior to deer season will have you primed to chase big whitetails back home.

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Increasing Skill

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8 | Increasing Skill

As a whitetail hunter, you can employ all your hunting skills. Scent reduction is very important, and you must constantly monitor the wind. Many plains game animals are herd animals, so you will have multiple eyes on you. Expect to have your knees shake and your heart pound as trophy animals move about at close range. You’ll need all your cool to make a lethal shot.

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Testing Your Gear

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9 | Testing Your Gear

Without doubt there is no better way to tune-up for the fall hunting season than to test all your gear, clothing, and shooting skill on a plains game safari. You will need to practice seriously for months in advance, yet once you return home, you’ll be in excellent physical and mental shape.  Also, you’ll know that your gear works perfectly with no need to experiment further for effectiveness.

Penetration on African game is critical because you must shoot them square on the shoulder. That’s why this is a great time to test specific arrow and broadhead brands. There are no lungs behind the shoulder, one of the few differences from white-tailed deer. I have used micro shafts and expandable broadheads with excellent success. Generally, I can watch an animal expire within 100 yards from the shot. If an animal travels farther, most outfitters assist or have native trackers to help with the recovery. Once done, they take the animal immediately to a skinning shed where all the venison is retrieved and preserved.

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Creating Friendships

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10 | Creating Friendships

Finally, I know of a few hunting couples that have gotten married on safari. That’s probably the extreme case, yet plains game safaris are incredible. Family, friendly and most outfitters go out of their way to include families. Because bowhunters mostly hunt from blinds, it’s the perfect opportunity to bring someone along with a camera, even if they are a non-hunter. I once took my non-hunting dentist on a safari and he had the time of his life. If you take your spouse or significant other along on the trip, it counts as a vacation, not an away hunting trip. These were just 10 reasons. There are dozens more and now is the time to begin the planning process at SCI’s Convention or at hunting shows around the country.

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Sooner or later, every hunter dreams of hunting in Africa. If you are bowhunter, the time has never been better as prices are ridiculously low. Consider this: A hunt for elk, caribou, whitetail deer, pronghorn and wild hog for $3,999, with all meals, transports, and licenses included. In North America, such a hunt would be preposterous, yet that’s the deal that’s being offered. It’s a seven-day safari for animals comparable in size: kudu, zebra, wildebeest, impala, and warthog, with the expectation that you will get a quality shot at all five.   

Safari Club International hosts it’s annual hunting convention this week and you can expect to see deals like the above and a myriad of other hunting packages that will blow your mind. Check out the details at www.showsci.org. I’ve made 25 bowhunting safaris in my lifetime and believe it’s the most successful and enjoyable hunt on the planet. Here’s why: