African Management Hunts: Who Knew?

An African plains game safari is one of the best values in big game hunting, yet the author found an even better deal at the recent 2015 Safari Club International Convention: a management safari.

South African game ranches, like Texas whitetail operations, manage trophy quality and overall animal numbers by culling, often by paid professionals. PH Rassie Erasmus allows his clients to take game animals past their prime at huge discounts (50 percent or more), and hunters can mix and match management and trophy animals. This is a great way to afford that first safari or add extra critters to your trophy list.

The antlers of North American animals grow larger and garner more points as they age, while African antelope are all variations of “spikes.” Consider the kudu bull I shot with archery gear and shown in the photo above. It would be a cull animal on many concessions due to its tight curl. To the layman it’s a spectacular trophy, yet its curls are very shallow, which reduces its overall score.

Unlike whitetail deer, a broken antelope horn will never grow back, eliminating it from the trophy pool. Shown below is a cull waterbuck I arrowed recently; it’s one very cool African antelope—even with one horn! Like a huge 3x3 whitetail buck, the antlers are fun to look at but won’t make the record book.

So what can you expect to pay for a management/cull hunt? To use real numbers, a group of three or four hunters can book a five-animal management hunt for about $5,000 each: $1,000 for the daily hunting rate, $1,500 in travel expenses and $2,500 for trophy fees.

I liked this hunt so much I recently booked my 22nd African safari, and personally embrace the old animal approach. I’ve never met a wildebeest I didn’t like and see most African game animals are nothing short of spectacular. The real trophy is in the stalk, the ambush, and the shot memories that last a lifetime.

Late winter and early spring is prime time for outdoor shows, one of the best venues to book a hunt. And consumer shows, such as SCI, allow hunters to speak directly to outfitters and have all of your questions answered in person. Usually, you’ll see pictures of animal quality, camp conditions, and the terrain you’ll be hunting. If you’re interested in a private land hunt, don’t hesitate to ask about culling as an added value.

By booking as a group you have leverage, and an outfitter might throw in a pheasant shoot, hog hunt, coyote adventure, broken-horned critter, or other non-trophy activity that gives you maximum bang for your buck. The beauty of an outdoor show is the ability to deal face to face, and it never hurts to ask about extra perks such as cull hunting, and you can up the ante with an on-site deposit.

For more information about the management hunts mentioned above, contact Rassie Erasmus.

P.S. Taxidermy note: Old creatures make great rugs that wear like iron. Instead of having shoulder mounts of some animals, have the heads mounted European style and the entire skin tanned (about $150).