Contributed by Chris Petersen and Cherie DeFreece
Hello. My name is Chris. I’m hardly a safari veteran by any means. But I count myself as blessed to have been on 4 safaris with John X Safaris in the last five years. Yes, I am a proud victim of the old African saying:
Everything in Africa bites, but the Safari bug
is worst of all … it never lets you go.
They say that nothing can ever replace your own first African safari experience. Maybe so … but on my last safari I had the opportunity to relive the excitement of someone’s first safari through the eyes of my niece Cherie DeFreece.
“Once Randy shot his Kudu and I was there to witness all the excitement and emotions I thought to myself it would be really cool to experience what he went through, especially when I saw the tears in his eyes. Randy was also going to have some really good stories to tell our friends and family back home.
Randy then insisted that I should hunt a Gemsbok. After very little resistance, I decided I needed to do it because this is what was going to make the whole African experience amazing!”
My initial thoughts on my hunt were I can’t believe I am doing this especially since I had no intentions of shooting anything … just watching. Because I have never shot anything in my entire life, I began to wonder if I could really do this.
After Randy shot his Kudu, we had a few hours of sunlight left in the day to scout for a Gemsbok. We came across a herd before sundown, but they would not come out into the open. Part of me was hoping they would step out so I could get this over with. I have never been so nervous and excited about anything in my entire life! Sundown came and it was too dark to continue so we headed back to camp in order to get up the next morning bright and early and try this again.
So now this is where the blood, sweat and tears come in! We left camp around 6:00 a.m. The temperatures warmed up quickly and you definitely work up a sweat climbing around all those rocks. I have never seen such rough terrain in my life. I no longer needed all the layers of clothing I had on earlier in the morning. I even had to shed my She Safari jacket that I bought especially for the trip. Come on … a girl has to look good on her first safari!
We finally spotted the Gemsbok and Carl patiently got me situated where I needed to be. I fired a shot. Unfortunately I missed and unfortunately like many first timers, I held the scope to close to my face and it cut the bridge of my nose. So this is where the blood comes in. Randy helped wipe away the blood and joked that I simply fired a warning shot just to give the Gemsbok a fair chance.
The only problem is that on our second stalk I fired off another warning shot … and this is where the tears came in! At this point I felt like I was disappointing everyone and I should just give up. When I mentioned this to Randy he looked at me and said: If you tell Carl you are giving up … he will kick your butt! (actually I think the word was ass!)
So I stopped being a “girl” and toughened up. And when I say tough … I had no idea of how many more rocks and hills there were to climb. When you say: “I’ll keep up with you Carl”, you have no idea what that means until you are literally sucking wind trying to catch your breath and catch up with the Gemsbok.
Finally around 2:00 that afternoon I shot my Gemsbok and it was more excitement than I can explain. I had taken my trophy at over 180 yards with a clean shot and there is no describing how much pride and satisfaction there was in that.
I knew I had to get the job done because the Springboks were playing a big Rugby match later that day and Carl wasn’t going to miss it. You have not had a safari experience without experiencing South African passion for their Rugby and their team the “Springboks”.
Now I’m a safari “veteran” and trying to explain the safari experience to others. There is nothing quite like the camaraderie that comes as part of the hunting experience. There are the tough times of missing the shot … and there also those special moments that make it all right.
For me there was a special point later in the safari that I inquired about a strange pile of rocks … and Carl told me, that is where they bury misbehaved hunters! Maybe you must have hunted in Africa to understand that joke from your PH who has experienced your blood, sweat and tears with you.
My hunt was incredible and almost indescribable. As a woman who never hunted before … it is hard to explain the exhilaration, challenge and joy of taking a magnificent Gemsbok on his turf.
And what can you say to describe the special relationship with your PH? In my case, Carl’s expertise, patience, and coaching were far more than I would have ever expected. I can also say that my Gemsbok will be proudly displayed next to Randy’s Kudu in our special Africa room where many stories of our hunts will be told and retold for years to come.
Cherie, welcome to the hunting fraternity. Or I guess that should be the: She Safari Sorority. You now share that special bond between all true hunters. Best of all I got to relive the excitement of a first safari through your eyes and experience.
My only disappointment is that it sounds like you won’t be visiting my Giraffe room as often anymore. You had better stock up on Amarula, because I will now be sipping it in your African room where we will relive the stories as you tell the tales of the great She Safari.
One word of caution, when the safari bug bites on a She Safari it can be especially addictive. After my wife’s first Zebra experience, she now has six more trophies and counting.
Randy, you had better start saving money in that cookie jar my friend – we haven’t seen the last of Ms. Cherie on She Safari.