Africa is a truly magical place and I would recommend every hunter put it on their bucket list. It can seem a bit daunting though, the thought of traveling half way around the world to hunt in a land you have never seen and mostly for animals you have only viewed on TV or in a book. Despite what you may think it is not that far of a stretch and is far more attainable than moist would think.
Granted a lot of the quarry over there are certainly high dollar hunts, reserved for those with deep pockets, however, there are still quite a few “affordable” options available. I like to budget in 3 different buckets when planning for Africa.
The first bucket is getting there and back and this is going to be a good chunk of your expenses. The flights are usually not cheap, but you can buy your ticket well in advance and have yourself “paid back” before you set foot on African soil. Paying for your hunt also occurs before you even leave, but on the bright side you will get to Africa knowing that you will be pursuing several animals over the course of a week.
The cost of a typical plains game package varies by area and outfitter, but it is safe to say that you will have the ability to hunt 4 or 5 different animals over the course of you trip versus usually one in North America on a weeklong trip. The surprising part is that the plains game package is usually comparable or less than a big game hunt out west in the United States for Elk or Deer.
The second bucket is what you want to have readily available while you are in country. You will want some cash in hand for souvenirs, tips, taxidermy, trophy preparation and additional tags. Yup, I said that, additional tags! Inevitably, you are going to see an animal over there that gets you absolutely fired up but is not part of your package. You want to be able to have the conversation with yourself on whether you want that trophy to come home with you! Odds are you do and if feasible you should take advantage of the opportunity.
The last pot of money is the post trip expenses. Unfortunately, once the trip is over the bills continue to roll in, but how much depends on what want to preserve in the form of taxidermy. You will have to pay to have your trophies prepped for shipment back to the US and will likely have to use an importer to help you get all of your permits (if applicable) squared away.
Typically, European skulls can be fit in to one crate and shipped back and imported at a relatively reasonable price. When you start to think shoulder mounts is when the price start to climb. Also, you have to then decide if you want them done there and shipped back completed or it you want to have the hides and skulls prepped and shipped for you to have done by “your guys” at a later date. My personal preference is to have them dipped and shipped and any shoulder mounts done by my shop back here at home. This is for 2 reasons, it spreads the cost out over a longer period of time giving you the chance to build up budget, but also you can easily communicate with your taxidermist and even see progress as he works on your mounts.
The 2nd reason, and I am very guilty of this, is that in the heat of the moment your brain tells you “EVERYTHING NEEDS TO BE SHOULDER MOUNTED!” Trust me, it does not, and the extra time waiting until you get home gives you a chance to cool off and determine what truly is a shoulder mount trophy and what is just as good as a European mount. Unless you have very deep pockets and a GIANT man cave, then by all means, get a shoulder mount of everything!
I have truly enjoyed all of the outfits I have hunted with in South Africa and I think you will find that most are VERY helpful in walking you through all of the hidden costs and procedures to make sure that even after your trip is over everything goes smoothly. The process of talking your own rifles and traveling with them is an article in and of itself, but hopefully this helps you wrap your head around a little bit of what you might encounter on your 1st trip to Africa. The first time I was there I was taking it in as a once in a lifetime trip, but once it gets in your blood you will always be trying to figure out, “when am I going back!”
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