Imagine the amazed look from a bunch of guides when posed with the question; “Looks like chicken, shaped like football – Will fly…” What could it be, asked Bo Friman? With puzzled expressions we listened further to his description before realizing he was referring to a Guinea fowl.
Bo had never seen a bird like this before, let alone ever set foot in the African wilderness. As comical as his description may have been to all present, it set the tone for one of the most enjoyable safaris in years.
Sharing Africa with friends….Scandinavian Style!
The first time we met Bertil Friman we knew there was something distinctly different about the man. To be quite honest, we had our doubts about his motives on that very first safari six years ago. Unlike most hunters, he didn’t make contact via email. A call out of the blue from a stranger in Sweden, a couple of matters of interest were discussed briefly, and then a deposit a mere two hours later. That’s all it took.
Well…. in the safari world things don’t run that smoothly. Something was up – it was too good to be true! After much debate back at camp we finally came to the conclusion that this guy had to be the “paparazzi” or something. What you must understand, at the time there were numerous rumors of European broadcasters going after the safari industry in Africa. Hunting and hunters were under attack in a big way, and while there weren’t any concerns on the legality of the hunt, we weren’t planning on making headlines on a “green” channel.
In any event, Bertil arrived for that first hunt, and we paired him up with Professional Hunter, Juan MacDonald, and our Mexican, Jose Miguel. Under strict instruction they marched him up mountains and down mountains – if he was not who he claimed to be, his colours would show sooner or later. On the third day, we received a call from Juan; “This guy’s the real deal – he’s a true hunter.”
Needless to say from that moment on Bertil Friman, his wife Eva, and daughters, Jennie and Camilla, have become more a part of our John X family than we could ever have imagined. We have shared weddings, Christmas’s, hunts in Africa and Europe, and even surprise visits to Las Vegas.
Each year since we have seen Bertil return for his annual hunt, enjoying time away from home at his African home.
It was to be more than just a hunt. It was to be an introduction of his passion for Africa, its wildlife, culture, and people – It was to be his way of sharing Africa with friends.
Arriving at camp that first afternoon saw the group settle in and relax around the lodge as they acclimatized to the warm African conditions of March.
The following morning we were up early heading north to the Great Karoo. With the odd pit-stop along the way!
Later that afternoon we checked the guns at the range and split into our various teams for the hunt. Goran and Leif with Greg, Benny and Bo with Stix, Bertil and Inje with Carl, Fridthjof and Gunnar with Martin, and Hans with Rusty. The guys weren’t to concerned with what they hunted, but more so the enjoyment of being out in the field and experiencing Africa for the very first time. For many of them it was to be their first hunt in decades while others had never hunted before.
Many of the “first timers” truly impressed throughout the hunt while some of the old faces such as Benny, Bertil, and Fridthjof, made the most of their opportunities.
During the course of the hunt the guys took part in our culling program, assisting in building better genetics for the future.
Over time the population had shot up during the good years causing an over-population on the 20 000 acre concession. Over-population combined with dry years saw tannin levels rise in the vegetation, causing stunted growth in both body and horn. A strict culling policy whereby poorer genetics are selected and removed from the population, and replaced by fresh blood can see an area recover in as little as 7-10 years. A number of “genetically inferior” Kudu were hunted by the group with some of the hunts turning out to be more challenging than expected. Keep in mind old “Murphy’s law” would see the group bumping great bulls all safari long, while all they were after were the poorer bulls.
In total eight bulls were culled by the group, ensuring there’s eight less Kudu of poorer genetics breeding during the upcoming rut starting in the next week or so.
That combined with the fact that we arrived to a dry Karoo and left it with storms on the horizon and flooding in its rivers, sees things looking up for this recovering Kudu population.
With time running out and the safari drawing to a close we ended back at Lalibela for a couple of days of rest and relaxation. Some of the guys made the most of a couple last hunts in neighboring concessions, while the photographers made hay while the sun shone, enjoying the last bit of Africa that Bertil had always wanted to share with them.