August 19, 2020

Podcast Show Notes: Ep. 28: Pro Hunter vs Pro Guide, Hunting African and North American Game

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Podcast Show Notes

Date: August 20 2020
Episode: 28
Title: Pro Hunter vs Pro Guide, Hunting African and North American Game
Guest(s): Darren Maughan, Silvercore Instructor, professional Hunter & Safari Operator in Africa|
Show Link: Watch YouTube Video Here or Listen to the Podcast Here.
Blog Link: You can find our Blog post for this Episode Here.

Brief Summary of Show:

In Episode 28 of the Silvercore Podcast, Travis speaks with Darren Maughan, a longtime friend and Silvercore instructor. They discuss Darren’s experiences as a professional hunter, preparing for an African hunt, firearm and calibre selection, the differences between North American and African guided hunts, what can go wrong and how to ensure it doesn’t.

If you have a story that would be of value to the Silvercore audience, or know someone who does, email us at podcast@silvercore.ca.  We would love to hear from you!

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Intro [00:00:00 – 00:01:50]
  • Growing up in Africa  [00:01:50 – 00:05:01]
  • Hunting Plains Game & Dangerous Game [00:05:01 – 00:07:37]
  • Professional Hunter vs. Professional Guide [00:07:37 – 00:9:00]
  • Differences in hunts in Africa and North America [00:9:00 – 00:12:59]
  • Differences in Calibre’s used [00:12:59 – 00:15:41]
  • Training required for Professional Hunters [00:15:41 – 00:21:54]
  • Safari Operator [00:21:54 – 00:23:06]
  • Advice for people going to Africa for a Hunt [00:23:06 – 00:27:46]
  • Missed shot,  a camel pack & training with your equipment [00:27:46 – 00:29:51]
  • Immerse yourself in the culture [00:29:51 – 00:31:39]
  • Outro [00:31:39 – 00:32:01]

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Episode Transcript:

Travis Bader: [00:00:00] I’m Travis Bader and this is The Silvercore Podcast. Join me as I discuss matters related to hunting, fishing, and outdoor pursuits with the people in businesses that comprise of the community. If you’re new to Silvercore, be sure to check out our website, www.Silvercore.ca  where you can learn more about courses, services and products that we offer as well as how you can join The Silvercore Club, which includes 10 million in North America wide liability insurance to ensure you are properly covered during your outdoor adventures.

[00:00:43] In this episode, I speak with longtime friend and Silvercore instructor Darren Maughan on being a professional hunter, preparing for an African hunt, firearm and calibre selection, differences between North American and African guided hunts. What can go wrong and how to ensure it doesn’t.

[00:01:02] So I’m sitting down with Darren Maughan.  Darren, I’ve known you for many years now. You’re a super interesting guy. Holy crow, the number of stories that you have and experiences you live a very large life. I’m really, really happy to be able to sit down with you and kind of delve into a little bit of information, which I think would be very useful to the listeners.

[00:01:23] So you’ve got a background with firearms, you’ve got a background in hunting over in Africa and here. You’ve worked in the security related industries for years, being body guard and security detail for Oprah, for the Australian National Cricket Team and other very big names. I don’t know if we can talk about them all, but Darren, welcome to The Silvercore Podcast.

Darren Maughan: [00:01:47] Well, thank you very much, Travis. Pleasure to be here.

Travis Bader: [00:01:50] One of the things that we were talking about before was hunting in Africa versus hunting in Canada and specifically here in British Columbia. Can we just get a little bit of a background on you and your, your hunting experience over in Africa?

Darren Maughan: [00:02:08] Sure. Well as you can hear from my accent  I’ve, I haven’t lost it since the being here, and that was 2005 when we came here, but I’m actually four generations African and, I said it to people and I get quite surprising at how I actually look like. But I grew up in Africa, born in, in Northern Rhodesia, which is changed his name to Zambia.

Travis Bader: [00:02:28] Yeah.

Darren Maughan: [00:02:28] Lived all my life in Rhodesia, which changed his name to Zimbabwe.

Travis Bader: [00:02:31] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:02:32] And you know, growing up in Africa, we were very fortunate because it was, it was special lifestyle. And one of the things I really enjoyed was the bush, the open spaces that we could access at any time and the abundance of wildlife we had there. During the Rhodesian days, it was very well managed, which meant that wildlife increased and was sustainable.

[00:02:54] And it’s sustained a very good hunting operations. So as I grew up, I got more and more interested in it and I started going out in the bush more and started doing some small game hunting. You know, like most, most youngsters that would, would do that, we were all trained in firearms. And I must mention that, from about 75 onwards, we had a pretty nasty civil war going on. So we we’re always taught how to use firearms from a young age.

Travis Bader: [00:03:22] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:03:23] What the safety mechanisms were and where we could and couldn’t go. So, you know, but we we’re also given a lot of latitude and responsibility and I think the responsibility was a big thing for us. You know, that that’s how I grew up.

[00:03:35] I grew up spending a lot of time in the bush, spending a lot of time hunting and, you know, as I progressed in life, left school, went to college, did my stint, and I’ll just leave it at that. But you know, I manage at a very young age to look at purchasing a fairly large parcel of land. Now this is where the first part will be different. The parcel of land, when I say fairly large, I bought it in Southern Zimbabwe and it was a 16,000 acres.

Travis Bader: [00:04:02] Woo!

Darren Maughan: [00:04:03] And to us that was a medium to smaller size ranch in that area. Most of them were 30, 35,000 acres. But I was still very young, I was 24 years old when that happened. I had, you know, I had to get a lot of experience and help from the banks, but I had done agriculture college as well so I had an idea what I was doing.

[00:04:22] Anyway, fast forward, the next sort of five, six years, I went straight into cattle because that area sustained cattle. It was light on the rain, so cropping wasn’t good. But what it meant is that there was a very large, diverse population of wildlife that existed and co-existed with cattle, to a certain degree.

Travis Bader: [00:04:41] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:04:42] And we never thought much of that, except that was really nice and that we would go and do some culling sometimes for what we’d call rations for our labour force. We had a fairly big labour force, you know, the 30 was permanent and 60 in the high seasons. So we were able to feed our labour and also feed ourselves with some of the game there. So it was more sustenance.

[00:05:01] Hunting, we weren’t doing much trophy hunting. Occasionally I’d have friends and colleagues that come out and ask if they would like to hunt. And I would say, yeah, come on, come on hunt. What that then led me to believe is that there must be a value to the wildlife.

Travis Bader: [00:05:15] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:05:15] And as the industry started ratcheting up in the, when I was there in the early to late eighties, we suddenly realized there was value in actually putting these game, this wildlife into a system where you could increase them, you could protect them and then you could also harvest them. And you could harvest them for a trophy fee that would then help you provide that protection and that’s sustenance. And it turned out to be such a wonderful project and very, very viable that in a very short space of time, I’m saying within five years, I had 3,000 head of cattle when I started this project.

[00:05:57] In five years, I only had my pedigree herd lift. Cause what we did is we, we eventually removed the cattle, removed the internal fences, kept the water, put up some game fences on the dangerous influx areas and put our money into game scouts, picking up sneers and protecting the animals. Animals proliferate it.

[00:06:16] So from that, from having a base of animals, I’ll be able, I was able to provide Safari type hunts for paying clients and they paid fairly well. And we could utilize all the meat with our labour, so nothing went to waste. So to me, this was a perfect situation.

Travis Bader: [00:06:32] No kidding.

Darren Maughan: [00:06:32] Yeah. And it just grew and grew and grew. What I then did is I decided well, because I now had a base of clients who were asking me, well we love your palins game because, basically in the ranching areas, we call them plains game, which is a non-dangerous game.

Travis Bader: [00:06:46] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:06:47] Suddenly we had unbelievable amounts of antelope, like Impala and Kudu, and a huge big Eland. The biggest antelope in Africa, we had Waterbuck and Bushbuck, but we didn’t have the dangerous game, which was categorized as the Elephant, Buffalo, at the time, it was Rhino which was taken off the list, obviously it became endangered.

Travis Bader: [00:07:05] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:07:06] Leopard and Lion. So a lot of clients would like to have kept hunting the plains games as we’d call it, on my property, but also would like to have done a dangerous game such as that look, can we do a plan’s game and a Buffalo, the, the Cape Buffalo. And so from that, it led me to go and meet other people who had dangerous game, but didn’t have the pains game I had.

Travis Bader: [00:07:26] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:07:26] And we started, you’re doing a swap. Now, you must understand, this was all regulated, very heavily regulated by the government. And this is where the differences you’ll see now start coming out.

Travis Bader: [00:07:37] Okay.

Darren Maughan: [00:07:37] I don’t have as much or nearly as much experience in North America hunting, although I’ve done it quite a bit here and I love it. The government becomes very heavily involved in licensing. Now to become a professional hunter, that’s the first difference, here it’s called a guide, there it’s called a professional hunter.

[00:07:55] The reason is we also have a professional guide and I’ll explain the differences in that. The professional hunter was, once licensed, was allowed to take paying clients out to hunt wildlife and do it for gain. A guide was only allowed to take paying clients out to go and do photographic safaris.

Travis Bader: [00:08:15] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:08:15] So they weren’t actually allowed to shoot the animals, but they would have to actually carry on occasions, heavy calibre rifles because they were taking on foot photographs of, you know, a dangerous game.

Travis Bader: [00:08:26] Sure.

Darren Maughan: [00:08:26] Elephant, Buffalo and as the names say, they can be dangerous, it can be dangerous, you do get charges and you’ve got to look after your clients, they’re the ones that are paying. So that’s where I got my first in at it and I, I really excelled in, and I spent probably 20 years as a professional hunter. It was, took up about 60% of my time at, at, at that stage. I still had my farming operations, as small as they were.

Travis Bader: [00:08:52] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:08:52] To, to take care of. I had a wife and two small kids that, you know, I look after, but the, the, the hunting operation did really well. So besides the name of the professional hunter,  against the professional guide and as opposed to the guide here in North America, I’m going to say some of the glaring differences that I’ve encountered. One would be the camp.

[00:09:15] Hunting camps in Africa are normally very luxurious and you end up, you end up paying quite a bit of money. The, the expectation of clients coming out, and giving an example, and I’ll give you an average camp. An average camp will not be a tented camp, you’ll have a bed and a very nice appointed bed that has sheets, blankets, pillows, set out for you when you arrive there.

[00:09:40] Every day, your clothes will be washed and ironed and placed at the end of your bed so you don’t have to worry about bringing a lot of clothing out. The food is always cooked for you and presented in a proper manner, especially your dinners. A lot of time, you’re leaving early in the morning, spending the day out. You’ll be taking packed lunches with you. And I can’t help us think of the difference about sitting around a roaring African campfire with an ice cold beverage in my hand.

Travis Bader: [00:10:05] Yeah.

Darren Maughan: [00:10:05] And it actually be served to me by someone and waiting for the dinner bell to ring. As opposed to the hunt I did here a couple of years ago, was a very good friend of mine whereby we didn’t even know that you had to take your own bedding and were told to, you know, buck ourselves up, go to Walmart and buy some bedding. Cause otherwise you’re going to just sleeping on there, on the bunk bed with nothing on. So we, we learned fairly quickly the differences, I, my expectation on that hunt was, was totally a sober moment for me.

Travis Bader: [00:10:36] No kidding.

Darren Maughan: [00:10:37] When I arrived there.

Travis Bader: [00:10:39] Like what are you getting yourself into?

Darren Maughan: [00:10:40] Why don’t I get us and my buddy as well, who had done a lot of hunting with me back in Africa and you know, obviously his expectations. But you know being, being the guy he was, and the guy I was, we, we looked at it as an adventure.

Travis Bader: [00:10:52] Sure.

Darren Maughan: [00:10:53] And you know, we found out that the, for instance, the camp, the cooks, they slept in the same area where they cooked and served us dinner. Where that, that was unheard of for us. But another really amusing part of that story was when we arrived, we arrived and there was this beautiful homestead and we said, Oh, that’s nice, it’ll be good. In very short order they had flown us out of there.  Landed us in a camp in the middle of nowhere and said, that’s where you’re staying.

[00:11:17] And we quickly realized that we had maybe have bitten off more than we can chew because the guides then came out and said, okay guys, we’re going to be getting on horseback tomorrow and going to where they’d seen one grizzly kill. And we went horseback? No one said anything about horseback. So we spent the first day trying to get used to horseback. I mean, I used to ride horses, but not for a long time.

Travis Bader: [00:11:42] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:11:43] And that day was a particular long day. We didn’t get the grizzly, but we’ve, we actually got a huge Wolf, which was amazing to see. I’ve never seen one that was on the ground before, and it was a massive.

Travis Bader: [00:11:53] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:11:54] And they actually got the horse to allow them to put this dead Wolf across, I was like, weird, are you kidding me? This, horses normally go crazy.

Travis Bader: [00:12:01] Yeah.

Darren Maughan: [00:12:02] So anyway, we got back that evening, very sore, very tied. And of course I do the Zimbabwe thing and drink too much cause I think that’s an anesthetic. Well all that caused was the next day sitting on the horseback with the hangover.

[00:12:15] Yeah, there’s been a lot of differences. Another one was for instance, the guides here work in, in, in my opinion, I might get a bit of trouble back with my old colleagues in Zimbabwe, I think they work harder. Because not only do they have to do the hard work of getting you up to the animal and making sure you get the, the trophy that you want. And that’s extremely hard.

Travis Bader: [00:12:33] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:12:33] But once the animals shot, they have to do everything thereafter. They, they’re doing the trophy preparation themselves, they’re doing all that. Whereas back in Africa, you normally have professional skinner’s in your team and you would go back and you would drop the animal at the skinning shed.

Travis Bader: [00:12:51] Ahh.

Darren Maughan: [00:12:52] And there would be a team of skinner’s to actually skin that animal out exactly how you wanted that trophy presented. So there were a lot of differences that we had to find out. So that’s just some of the stuff that I could talk about. I mean, there’s obviously the calibre’s that we use with different.

Travis Bader: [00:13:08] Sure.

Darren Maughan: [00:13:09] Normally, if we’re doing dangerous game, we had to have hit heavy calibre’s. So I mentioned what the dangerous game were, the minimum calibre was a 375 H&H, Holland and Holland.

Travis Bader: [00:13:19] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:13:19] That was your minimum calibre.

Travis Bader: [00:13:20] That’s your minimum.

Darren Maughan: [00:13:21] But as a professional hunter, you, you, you, you didn’t have margin for error. So whereas the 375 H&H would do a perfect job of penetrating Elephant brain on a charge or a Buffalo. It didn’t give you any margin.

Travis Bader: [00:13:35] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:13:35] So most professional hunters carry a much heavier calibre. The 458 Lott which was you know, 375, 5 forms of 458 was very popular. I find it had a bit higher pressure, so my personal calibre for a long time was the 416 Rigby.

Travis Bader: [00:13:50] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:13:50] Loved it and lower pressures, especially when it’s really hot, because you can hunt in some searing hot conditions out there.

Travis Bader: [00:13:56] I believe it.

Darren Maughan: [00:13:57] Yeah. Very, very hot. So, you know, that was, and some of the professional hunters and I also had one for a short time was the, was the old double rifle.

Travis Bader: [00:14:06] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:14:06] I had a 500 nitric express, loved it. But yeah, heavy to carry, but gave you a lot of confidence, basically, you know, when the bush is getting sick and the animals are, you know, out there to get you. So, you know, over here, I found out quickly that the shots you’re going to take a much longer, number one.

[00:14:25] And the animals, the skin is actually a little thinner than what we get over there. So the penetration is not as critical with the ballistics of the bullet over here. So, you know, the first thing I did, I bought here, I bought myself a  30-06 cause that was my, my, my plains game.

Travis Bader: [00:14:43] Sure.

Darren Maughan: [00:14:44] But I believe I can shoot everything on 30-06 here so.

Travis Bader: [00:14:47] Sure.

Darren Maughan: [00:14:47] You know, there it was just plains game. So I toyed with the idea I wanted to get 375, and went why? You know, it’s, it kicks more, it’s louder.

Travis Bader: [00:14:57] More money.

Darren Maughan: [00:14:57] It’s more money and a 30-06 will do everything. I also met a couple of guides here when I was here and asked their opinion and they said, well look, that’s a good, nice heavy enough calibre to take everything. But if you take a longer shot, you might want to try a 300 Win Mag. And I tried one and it was noisy and kicked, and I’m like geez, that’ll develop a flinch in a hurry.

Travis Bader: [00:15:17] Yeah.

Darren Maughan: [00:15:18] But yeah, so we never, typically we never,  took an animal over maybe 150, 160 meters. That was, that was a, and I’m talking plains game.

Travis Bader: [00:15:28] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:15:29] The dangerous game sometimes much closer, you know.

Travis Bader: [00:15:33] Really.

Darren Maughan: [00:15:33] If they’re coming at you, you know, you got to stand your ground. But so those are some of the differences that are found out there.

Travis Bader: [00:15:41] What about training, was there a training process in order to be a professional hunter? Could anyone just hang up a shingle and say, Hey, I’m a pro hunter.

Darren Maughan: [00:15:50] Absolutely. I’m glad you asked that question, Travis cause that’s one of the most interesting aspects of becoming a professional hunt over there. I still maintain to this day and I’ve been around the world a bit, that it’s probably one of the most difficult programs for someone to go through, to become a professional hunter. So I’ll give you an idea of what you do. You have to write, right in the beginning, you write a three day exam to get what they call your learner’s hunter.

[00:16:16] So you basically got your L plate like you have, but you can’t do anything with that, but be apprenticed to another professional hunter, or you have to be apprentice that professional hunter for two years and work under him for two years. And that professional hunter will teach you everything he knows, hopefully.

Travis Bader: [00:16:35] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:16:35] And normally you work for nothing. You work for your food and your bed.

Travis Bader: [00:16:38] For two years.

Darren Maughan: [00:16:39] For two years. And he will teach you and he’ll, he’ll make you do all the hard work and you’ll learn and hopefully learn well, because at the end, not only do you have to write another exam, but the professor, the professional hunter that you were apprenticing under has to write a recommendation for you.

Travis Bader: [00:16:55] Ahh.

Darren Maughan: [00:16:55] So, you got two things. So anyway, the two years up, the next thing you do now is write at five day examination. So there’s, this examination covered, you can just imagine, every type of flora and fauna and tracking and the regulations, firearms, calibre’s. It was all in there. If you did well and you passed that exam and the recommendation from your professional hunter was good, they would then invite you onto the final stage, which was called a proficiency test. Now this is where it got interesting.

Travis Bader: [00:17:22] Okay.

Darren Maughan: [00:17:23] And I think that I still maintain, this is probably the only, Zimbabwe must be the only country in the world that does it to this degree. So what they do is, all the people, all the, the group that have paused a professional hunters exams, the main one and had the recommendation.

[00:17:38] They’ll spend seven days out in a bush, but it’s normally in one of the national parks areas. And this is, this is run by and managed by the national parks board. So it’s very tightly run. And what they’ve done over a period of time is decided what game they would normally cull for, for certain, for management purposes.

Travis Bader: [00:18:01] Sure.

Darren Maughan: [00:18:01] And they would then set aside X amount of animals to be taken by the professional hunters on the proficiency. So for instance, we had a, a group of say, 20 expiring professional hunters. We might get three Elephant, five Buffalo, and you know, sometimes, sometimes very, very, very, very seldom, we would get one of the other animals, like a Leopard or Lion.

Travis Bader: [00:18:25] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:18:26] But that was much a rare occasion. But then what you would do is you would split up into groups. Sop if they were 20, you would split up into four groups of say five and each group would have an examiner from the Zimbabwe Hunting Association, ZHA, and theNational Parks Observer. This is where it got interesting that, those, that group would then go out every day and they would be tested on the bushcraft.

[00:18:52] They would be tested on things like tracking, on how to, how to set up a hunt, how to stalk a hunt. They was, they’d be tested on the trophy assessment. What’s, you know, what size is it, cause I mean, you can’t just walk up to an animal, you got to client paying this huge amount of money and not knowing what size that animal is.

Travis Bader: [00:19:09] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:19:10] So you test them all in and in a short space of time, there would be two or three that were actually not going to pass. And then they became what we call inverted commas, water carriers, they carry the water and then the other three were tested.

Travis Bader: [00:19:23] So they still have to be on?

Darren Maughan: [00:19:24] They still have to be there. They won’t know, no one knows if they passed or not until later.

Travis Bader: [00:19:29] Okay.

Darren Maughan: [00:19:30] So, say the three, and this is, this is average, it’s not, that’s not a.

Travis Bader: [00:19:34] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:19:35] It’s not a exact science as it was, but that those three would then be moved up and they would be tested even more until you, the examiner would say, alright student A, you will take student B, here’s your client, you’ll stalk up to the Elephant. Once he gets up to the Elephant student B, you will shoot the Elephant. Okay, I want a frontal brain, that’s, that’s normally where a professional hunter would have to shoot an Elephant because it’d be charging you.

Travis Bader: [00:20:01] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:20:02] And a student C, I want you to do the backup shot, heart lung. And you’d set the whole thing up and 70% of the time it went really well.

[00:20:12] 30% of the time, it didn’t go so well. And you know, we then had to deal with that. Try not to lose any of our, our students. And when I say, you know, that’s what we try to do because after I’d been a professional hunter for 12, 13 years, they invited me to become an instructor and examiner on those proficiency tests.

Travis Bader: [00:20:33] Very cool.

Darren Maughan: [00:20:34] They were amazing. And one of the things, and this is, this is something that I’ll go back to what we were talking about, the comfort. So each group, would then have to set up their own camp, and this is in the middle of the bush. And in that camp, they had to have a bed for the examiner because each examiner would then stay with that group.

[00:20:54] They’d have to have his tent, his bed, he’d have to have his clothes washed every day. Everything that you would expect as a high paying client. And you’d have to set that up, your food, your drink. So as an examiner, it became quite, quite a special thing because you’re treated very, very well.

Travis Bader: [00:21:10] No kidding.

Darren Maughan: [00:21:10] You know, you’ve got, you’ve got your cold drinks at night. You got your clothes washed every day. And everyone would step up. At the end of those seven days, the examiners then would sit down and we would discuss through each, each, each candidate that had come through and who would pass and who may actually get a restricted license. Now a restricted license was interesting. They might say listen, you’re not quite there yet, but we’ll give you a license to shoot plains game.

Travis Bader: [00:21:35] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:21:36] Now to hunt plains game, come back next year and we’ll see if we can lift up the dangerous game for you. So to me, it was a very interesting way of doing things, and we always believed that the Zimbabwean professional hunter in the heyday was it could compete anywhere in the world, in his profession.

Travis Bader: [00:21:54] No kidding.

Darren Maughan: [00:21:55] So yeah, it was a very interesting time.

Travis Bader: [00:21:58] Man that sounds like a lot of fun.

Darren Maughan: [00:21:59] It was, it was great.

Travis Bader: [00:22:00] A lot of work.

Darren Maughan: [00:22:01] A lot of work, but it, it, it had its rewards really it did.

Travis Bader: [00:22:05] So pro hunter, guide we got the two different distinctions. Safari operator.

Darren Maughan: [00:22:12] Yeah. Well, okay. So they, again, the regulations and how this was running was all done for the betterment of the industry. So Safari operator, if I wanted to bring in clients to hunt, I couldn’t just do it as a professional hunter. I had to be a Safari operator. So it means I had to have an area where I’m going to hunt them.

[00:22:30] And then I had to, had to do all the, the paperwork associated to that. So I had to adhere to the regulations and Safari operators were, could be for hunting or could be for photographic.

Travis Bader: [00:22:41] Okay.

Darren Maughan: [00:22:41] And it was run by different association. So that was all integral part of sustaining standards for the hunting industry and the guiding industry. And it worked really well, in the beginning.

Travis Bader: [00:22:54] In the beginning.

Darren Maughan: [00:22:55] In the beginning. Obviously, you know, I won’t go too much into politics, but after that, you know, things have changed quite a bit.

Travis Bader: [00:23:01] Sure.

Darren Maughan: [00:23:02] And unfortunately corruption does take it’s toll everywhere.

Travis Bader: [00:23:06] Sure, sure. So if somebody came up to you from North America, from Canada and they said, Hey, I’m thinking about going on a hunt over in Africa. What advice would you give to them? Somebody like, let’s say me never been to Africa, it sounds really exciting, it sounds like a lot of fun. But when you look at it, there’s tons of different companies, tons of different options. What, what should you look out for?

Darren Maughan: [00:23:32] You’re absolutely right. And there’s now a ton of different countries that are offering that.

Travis Bader: [00:23:36] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:23:36] You know, in, in, in early days it was really Rhodesian, South Africa.

Travis Bader: [00:23:41] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:23:42] Now it’s expanded and some countries that had banned hunting, have now realized that by sustainable hunting, the actually protecting the animals and then can increase wildlife rather than let the poachers take their toll.

Travis Bader: [00:23:54] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:23:54] That happened with the, with the Rhino, all but extinct. So there are a number of countries. So I would first say, do your research, decide where you want to go, decide which country you want to go to and why you want to go there. Some countries offer different species of animals and you might want a specific species of animal that you’ve always wanted, and it’s not really available in their country, or it might be on a protected list in another country.

Travis Bader: [00:24:18] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:24:18] Sometimes the regulations change. That would be the first thing, do some research on what animals you want. And then, so you’ll find out which country you want to go to. Find out which countries have a viable, the stained and regulated industry, hunting industry that’s.

Travis Bader: [00:24:34] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:24:34] Like I said, Zimbabwe used to have, because that’s going to offer you the best, best form of protection if anything really goes wrong or sideways, you’ve got, you got, you, you’ve got someone to talk to and get it sorted out.

Travis Bader: [00:24:46] Right. Regulatory body or something, then can slip in.

Darren Maughan: [00:24:49] Then once you’ve done that then it’s to, to now narrow it down to which outfit that you want to use, which Safari operator you want to use out there and that is again,. Research you can go to the conventions, like the SCI conventions and meet a whole ton of them and speak to them and talk to them.

[00:25:07] There’s nowadays with, with the crazy internet out there, there’s lots of reviews out there you can look at as well. So you can narrow it down a little bit. We used both ways, but you can narrow it down and you can go and speak to people. So attending one of the big conventions is actually not a bad, bad way of doing it. You can speak to a ton of people and make your decisions on that.

[00:25:28] Once you’ve decided which operator you want to go and which animals you want to shoot. Now you’ve got to start preparing. So the first thing I would say is that if you are going for a dangerous game, you’re going to have to use a heavy calibre. So get proficient with a heavy calibre that you’re using. We unfortunately had clans coming over, knowing they have a heavy calibre, but they went far too big. Nazo Callum was a 460 whetherby.

Travis Bader: [00:25:51] Mhmm.

Darren Maughan: [00:25:51] And you could see after the first two shots on the range, they were scared of it. Yeah, there would be flinching and like, do you really want to shoot this? Or can I just give you my 375 and you can place the shot exactly where I want to. So, if you’re going to heavy calibre, that’s fine. Get used to it, work it, you know, and make sure that you’re proficient with it and you’re not going to get a flinch on it because you don’t want to pay all that money going all the way over there and at that finite moment, when you squeezing the trigger, you have a flinch because you’re scared of the rifle and you ended up wounding a $20,000 animal and it’s gone.

Travis Bader: [00:26:25] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:26:26] So really, really drill down into, into that. The other thing you’re gonna find is the weather’s obviously going to be different. Depending on what time of the year you hunt, it can get really, really hot. And when I say hot, I’m talking upper 40 degrees Celsius. So you got to make sure that you can cover yourself up, you’re not gonna get that heat exhaustion. know, that when you go over there, you’re going to have to consume a pile of, of water. And the water over there, this is another thing you really got to realize, there’s difference over here. Water is scarce over there.

Travis Bader: [00:26:59] Mhmm.

Darren Maughan: [00:26:59] And you better have enough water when you go hunting. Now, a good, a good outfit and a good professional hunter will make sure there’s enough water, not just for him, but for you. That’s his job, his job is to look off to you, make sure that you don’t go down with heat exhaustion. That, make sure you don’t hopefully get trampled by a dangerous charging animal.

Travis Bader: [00:27:15] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:27:16] That’s his job. So, you know, you, you know, you’re going to have to do that and crucial, crucial, a good pair of well-worn in hunting boots. And I think that’s the same as here.

Travis Bader: [00:27:25] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:27:25] Look at the terrain you’re going to be using, we normally, our terrain’s are much flatter. We do, we do, but no, no major mountainous class for any significant amount of time. But look at the terrain you’re going to use. There’s obviously a ton of hunting boots. You can talk about them forever, but make sure they’re broken in. Camel packs are good with the water is good. I’ll give you one little story about a camel pack.

Travis Bader: [00:27:48] Sure.

Darren Maughan: [00:27:49] Because I think this is, people who use a carry, a camel pack and carry a rifle for hunting. Now, make sure  when you carry your, your, if you have a camel pack and you’re carrying a rifle, you know which side you’re drinking tube is going to come over your shoulder.

Travis Bader: [00:28:05] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:28:05] Now why’d I say that? Okay, so I’m left handed, right? So I shoot left handed. I’m actually right handed and I should left handed.

Travis Bader: [00:28:14] Yeah.

Darren Maughan: [00:28:14] But so for that reason, I’ll carry my drinking tube over my right shoulder. Why is that? Well, when I bring my rifle up to my shoulder, I don’t want any impediment.

Travis Bader: [00:28:23] Mhmm.

Darren Maughan: [00:28:24] I saw this first hand was a colleague of mine and he was charged by an Elephant cow and you’re more likely to get charged by Elephant cow with young than with anything else.

Travis Bader: [00:28:34] Okay.

Darren Maughan: [00:28:35] When it comes to that right? As a professional hunter, you wait as long as you can, because you don’t, you don’t really want to shoot that cow to begin with, cause he’s not part of the trophy list.

Travis Bader: [00:28:44] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:28:44] So it’s going to be a self defence shooting and there’s going to be a ton of paperwork and investigation about it.

Travis Bader: [00:28:49] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:28:50] But when, once it gets too close, you have no choice. And he brought his, his rifle up to his right shoulder, his tube was over the right and it slipped. And he, he, he, he missed the brain. It was enough to, to, to stop her just for momentarily, lucky the game scout who had the old FN that we used to use 308 managed to get one shot in before it jammed. Which allowed my colleague to load up again. I was too far away to actually assist at the time, but I, I got there and I said, what happened?

[00:29:20] He said, it slipped off my tube. I said, why is it that side? He said I wasn’t thinking Darren, you know? And so you’ve got to think of these things as well. That was a little story that I think everyone should know.

Travis Bader: [00:29:30] That’s a really good point.

Darren Maughan: [00:29:31] Yeah.

Travis Bader: [00:29:31] You know, go train with what you’re going to be using out in the field and whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.

Darren Maughan: [00:29:39] Hopefully only goes wrong in the training right?

Travis Bader: [00:29:41] Oh exactly, mitigate that there.

Darren Maughan: [00:29:43] Yeah. And I mean, if you look at the, the, the military, the top special forces in the world, you’ll see, that’s what they do.

Travis Bader: [00:29:49] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:29:49] They, they train like that. So, yeah, so the, the, the differences in hunting Africa and hunting in North America are wide and varied, but I would go there and I would say, you know what, just enjoy it. Cause it’s going to be a different experience. You’re going to get to the camp and there’s going to be domestic stuff. Believe it or not, your food is going to be cooked for you, it’s going to be served to you. Your drinks are going to be served and it’s part of the culture.

[00:30:13] I don’t think that oh no, I can pour my own beer or, you know, don’t, this is what they do, this is their job and they love it. And they, you know, the, the, the, the locals, they’re all fantastic people and they work hard, they, they love what they do. So you become part of that, you know, something that you, you don’t say, well, don’t make my bed, I’ll make my own bed, that’s their job right? And they like doing it. That’s part of the reason they employed.

Travis Bader: [00:30:38] That’s very good point.

Darren Maughan: [00:30:39] Yeah. And I’ve seen that around the world. I’ve seen people, you know, get, get angry when I was in India that someone poured they’d beer for them. I went that’s their job, you know, just say, thank you, give them a tip or something, don’t be all, I can pour my own beer.

Travis Bader: [00:30:52] Right.

Darren Maughan: [00:30:53] So I think when, when, when you go to Africa, that’s what you want to do and immerse yourself into that sort of culture. Don’t, don’t think it’s, no one’s being mean to anyone it’s, this is what happens. That you go there and they look after you, you’re like, you know, you’re just like, going to a hotel almost right. It’s fantastic. I wouldn’t mind doing it again myself.

Travis Bader: [00:31:12] I think, I think we should probably look at lining something like this up.

Darren Maughan: [00:31:15] I was hoping you got to say that Travis.

Travis Bader: [00:31:17] Maybe we take a look at the calendar, see what we can.

Darren Maughan: [00:31:21] I’m in big time for that. I have this, another bucket list to go back and do a nice African Cape Buffalo again. I’ve got some areas that, I got some really good contact’s still there, so it is definitely something I want to do and maybe we can do it together.

Travis Bader: [00:31:36] I would love to do that. That’d be fantastic. Darren, thank you very much for sharing your stories with us. It’s always enjoyable to sit down and talk with you. Thank you for making the time.

Darren Maughan: [00:31:46] Travis, a pleasure. Anytime.

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