While John X Safaris has been traveling to the US for the past 35 consecutive years, we never got to know Houston or attended the Houston Safari Club convention until recently. Various reasons played a factor, but mostly due to the fact that the majority of our serious Houston hunters would take the drive down to Dallas for Dallas Safari Clubs annual convention which has become an enjoyable stop on our travels each year. Then we met Steve Travis.
Steve met us in Dallas and kindly told us all about ourselves and why he wanted to hunt with us. Then he booked his hunt and assured us we’d be having the time of our lives. Well, Steve was right about that, what he didn’t tell us was where the journey would take us over the years. From South Africa to Mozambique and Tanzania, with many memorable hunts along the way. But more than the hunts we found a friend who welcomed us into the Houston family.
Terry and Sharon Morgan, Jim and Linda Pritts, Byron Green, and Mell, Moira and Ben Davis would join us from Houston during the latter part of June. For some it would be their first trip to Africa, while for others it would be a return after many years. The interests in the group ranged from highly specialized hunts to novel beginners. There would be something for everyone in the East Cape.
Jim and Linda Pritts joined up with PH, Rusty Coetzer, and tracker, Ou John, for a memorable two weeks of hunting from both our southern and northern regions. Jim’s interests lay with a few of the spirals and then some mountain hunting to add a different flavour to what would be a traditional first timers hunt to Africa.
A last light East Cape Kudu would set this team up for a memorable start for what was still to come. The hunt had barely begun and the hunting gods had come smiling.
In the days to come, Jim would hunt a magnificent Waterbuck before heading up to the Great Karoo and our northern concessions, taking a fantastic Springbuck and Impala, as well as a huge Hartmann’s Zebra.
They would hit the mountains next for Vaal Rhebuck, giving Jim a taste of what we consider one of the most enjoyable and challenging hunts in the East Cape.
Our mountain areas in the north are vast with record numbers of Vaal Rhebuck due to a well enforced management plan we’ve worked hard at over the past ten years. Quotas are extremely conservative, to the point of little to zero effect on the greater population, affording us the opportunity to hunt for quality and not quantity. Many of our hunters are treated to glassing over 100 of these mountain dwellers on any given day, which would be unheard of anywhere else when hunting for Vaal Rhebuck.
Jim and Rusty spotted a really good ram fairly early in the day, taking their time hoping to score big on their first go. As things go with Vaal Rhebuck hunting, one can never count your chickens before they’ve hatched as one minute they’re there and the next, for no apparent reason, they’re gone. It’s as if they posses a sixth sense.
But perseverance knows no end, and that’s exactly what these guys did. They refused to let it go, they glassed harder, walked further and left no hidden draw or valley unattended in what Rusty was hoping would be the rams territory. Jim would hunt one of the trophies of the season, a Vaal Rhebuck nearing the magical 10″ mark, a proud feat for both hunter and professional hunter. A trophy of a lifetime.
With time running out and their hunt nearing its end the crew headed south again for a last few days of hunting. Linda would join the rest of the ladies for an interesting township tour, learning all about the Xhosa culture and life in a township, something not seen everyday in a first world country.
Jim and Rusty would spend their last remaining days hunting the deep back valleys of Woodlands Safari Estate for Cape Bushbuck. Meandering along the high ground at sun-up and sun-down the hunters would find quiet spots to glass, often spotting these magnificent animals feeding unaware of the watching hunters, a treat in its own right. And then they matched their Vaal Rhebuck with a Bushbuck in the same class…
A ram hunted on its turf in the thick stuff where few ever get to go. It would be the cherry on the cake for this team, bringing together a hunting partnership for life.
At the same time Mel and Moira Davis were making the most of a memorable hunt with their son Ben. Having met Ben some years ago and then again at the Houston Safari Club show this past January, it was evident from the start that this young man was living for the day that he could get to Africa. The excitement was as infectious as it comes!
Ben started his African hunting career with an Impala, like so many before him, and then moved on to hunt a Black Wildebeest, Common Springbuck, Gemsbuck and management Kudu. Spending days with Ph, Greg Hayes, and Ben’s favorite tracker, Bless, and dogs, Jock and Jackson, turned out to be a match made in heaven.
Mel would join in on the hunting too, taking a superb East Cape Kudu at Woodlands and then a Red Hartebeest and Waterbuck while up in the north.
A day to Addo Elephant Park as a photographic outing proved to be one of the highlights for the Davis family, with great sightings of Elephant, Buffalo, Zebra and various plains game.
Mel’s great friend, Byron Green, was along with the crew joining up with Ph, Dave Burcy, and tracker, Shooter. Kudu hunting is always such a big priority for any hunter, that no one on the team truly relaxes until the big one has hit the salt.
Byron like Jim started off his hunt with a stroke of serious luck making the most of a beautiful Kudu bull. The jitters were out the door and a big bull in the salt for Byron to sit back and take what Africa gave him.
A Black Wildebeest and a big Impala in the south, before a Common Springbuck and superb Gemsbuck bull in the Great Karoo, had set Byron up for a big finish.
They hunted hard for Nyala prior to heading north, and then again upon their return. Nyala at times can be everywhere until one needs one.
Getting back south, with only a few days of their hunt remaining, Byron and Dave went at it harder than ever before. They found a great bull in a valley up from camp and got into position to take a shot. Byron hit the bull, but at the crack of the shot it took off into thick stuff. Dave called in Shooter and the dogs to hit the blood trail before starting off after the wounded bull. The bull first headed up the valley with the dogs in close pursuit before turning back and heading straight towards the lodge, passing the hunters without providing a oppurtunity of a follow-up shot. With the dogs in ear-shot, but too far ahead to truly know what was going on, Dave and Byron continued in the direction the dogs were baying.
At the same time, Sharon Morgan was enjoying her sleep-in for the morning, when she was rudely woken by what she though were fighting dogs. “Terry you’ve got to go and see what’s going on with the dogs”, she urged her husband. To their disbelief the dogs had bayed the bull right outside their bedroom with the now even stranger scene being the hunters arriving to the chaos while two trackers were trying to get a hold of the wounded bull.
The rest like they say is history, but a comical part of history on this particular hunt. Never a dull moment on safari, that this group will attest to.
With so much of the hunts attention falling on the first timers to Africa, one would be forgiven for not realizing there was a seriously specialized species safari on the go at the same time. It’s the way Terry Morgan likes it. He’s a man we’ve had the privilege to come to know as more than a hunter, but a truly great friend. Terry is one of those guys who gets on with it, but he does so in style. His wife Sharon, at first glance appears to be the sweetest lady you’ve ever met, but be aware this feisty lady has spunk. She’s a go-getter and her character is the heart and soul of a fun hunting camp.
Terry has hunted far and wide on the African continent. He has a beautiful trophy room at their home in Houston, which in itself is amplified by the stories from Terry as one meanders through the history of his hunting. If ever you’re afforded the opportunity to visit with him in his trophy room, be sure to ask about the Black Leopard. It’s things like that and every duck stamp he’s ever bought that makes it all the more memorable.
The Morgan’s invited GTS Productions along on their East Cape adventure allowing you to join them on safari. From the Tiny 10 to Vita-darting and some interesting species along the way. Ozzy did what he does best and the Morgan’s did theirs in style…
This new-found family of ours enjoyed magical moments with one another reliving the many adventures long after the hunt had come and gone. Africa would hold a special place for them from here on out, as would Houston for us.
If you’d like to get in touch with us for your next adventure to Africa, then drop us a mail on firstname.lastname@example.org for hunts like this and many more. For more information and current updates about John X Safaris; follow us on Twitter, connect with us on Facebook, subscribe to our YouTube Channel and visit our Website.