Making the right connection


I know I make it a point to caution everyone each fall about the dangers of wildlife on our highways, but I was reminded the other day when a large fox squirrel ran out in front of our car and defiantly stood up and challenged me to stop. Luckily I have anti-lock brakes and got stopped just in time. The squirrel just made a nasty gesture and scampered off.

This may sound funny, but I’m one of those people who notice the carnage along side of the road, and if it’s a striped one and you hit it, you will notice it for several days after. According to the latest State Farm report I could find, between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018, there were an estimated 1.33 million collisions in the USA involving deer.

Now this report of deer included the classification of whitetail, elk, moose and caribou. Needless to say, at least around here, I haven’t seen any dead moose, elk or caribou laying along the roadside lately. But that also does not take into account the other critters roaming into the path of our vehicles.

Dogs, cats, raccoons, opossums, turkeys, Bigfoot (I just threw that in to see if you were paying attention), ground hogs, rabbits and so on can cause us to swerve or brake suddenly. Let me remind you, as much of an animal lover as you or I may be, your life or the person behind you or the person coming from the other direction is still more important. Vehicles can be repaired or replaced. That is why we have insurance. Enough said.

Our next segment of safari hunting requires a lot of research on your part. Choosing the right outfitter is as crucial to your success as any other part. We just happen to be very lucky on our first safari to have an outfitter that has been connected to the Safari Club International Organization for many years.

These outfitters can and will work with you, first of all to find a hunt within your budget. We read about the big five, which consist of lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo and elephant, and yes, these hunts can reach into the tens of thousands of dollars. For those of us who don’t have that kind of cash to put into a hunt, there are a lot more affordable options.

Some things, of course, are just standard and set the base for your hunt. Airfare to Africa generally is $1,500-$2,200 a person round trip depending on what part of Africa you are going. Make a decision on whether you are taking your own weapons, or most outfitters will even have weapons you can rent.

We found, on all of our trips so far, not to have had a problem with our guns as long as we have all the proper documentation for the airlines and the legal papers for the country of destination. Our outfitter recommended a company that registered our guns with the local authorities and represented us to the authorities to collect them upon our arrival, which cost about $80 per weapon. This saved us hours of waiting and haggling at the airport.

Your outfitter also will send you an official invitation to hunt with them. This tells the authorities you aren’t there to just wander the countryside shooting anything that moves. They will send you a suggested equipment list designed for your particular type of hunt and location. This is usually a pretty extensive list of what type of clothes to wear, all your gear (backpacks, sleeping bags and such), recommended calibers for the particular game you’re after and reminders of personal items (medicines, toiletries and such).

I know this sounds like a lot of work, but ask anyone that’s been there and they’ll tell you it’s worth it. What’s more? We haven’t even fired a shot yet, so much more to come.

Let me leave you with this: I talk frequently about bringing people into hunting and conservation through invitation and mentorship. Organizations like our Whitetail Heritage and Hunt for Hope hunting programs are just a couple we’re connected with. More importantly, make sure the people around you have a mentor to connect them with their creator. If they don’t have a connection with a church, help them, guide them, lead them to the foot of the cross. Many entire families have been brought into our Christian family simply with a show of interest, a prayer and an invitation.

God bless.

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