Step 8: Offers?
Learn Something About the Types of Offers made by Hunting Outfitters.
You do not now need to make any choice of which type of offer most appeals to you. Simply be aware of the types of offer and know that it is very difficult to compare offers that are not basically of the same type.
1. Package deals – This is where the hunting outfitter offers a fixed number of days hunting for a number of specified animals at some all-inclusive total cost.
2. Daily rates plus trophy fees – In this type of offer the hunting outfitter states the cost per hunter per day, and then provides a list of trophies with the cost for each species of animal hunted or wounded.
3. True custom safaris – Here there is no fixed offer, but you and the hunting outfitter talk (mostly by e-mail) and negotiate about each and every aspect and price until you agree on a specific deal.
Each one of these have it’s pros and cons, and, as you may by now have guessed, there are specialist rip-off artists operating as hunting outfitters using each one, and combinations, of these methods.
The biggest advantage of package deals is that you know well in advance what it is going to cost you, and for how many days you will be hunting. The biggest disadvantage is that you are not guaranteed to get all of the animals listed! The first time South African hunter often has great difficulty planning a safari from daily rates plus trophy cost information. A true custom safari has a much higher chance of success than any other. This is so mainly because during the negotiating phase you will be getting feedback from the hunting outfitter on what are reasonable expectations. When a hunter has reasonable and realistic expectations at the start of a hunt, these are likely to be met or exceeded, and you end up with a happy hunter, a successful hunt and smiles all around!
It may be prudent to again warn the prospective client that whatever is offered in a postal or e-mail communication, or is contained in a web page or was said at a Safari Show, does not constitute a final offer. Only the facts and figures contained in the actual Remuneration Agreement should be regarded as an offer.
Be aware of the difficulty of comparing dissimilar offers. Now write on your "My Safari Planning" sheet, or copy and edit if you wish, the following, or similar, text: "Step 8. I had noted that there are three ways to pay for a safari. Whichever chosen, I demand the best value for the money that I'm going to spend"
Step 9: Learn More about Package Deal Offers.
Package deals seem to be designed to make life difficult for would be hunters planning to hunt South Africa on a tight budget! How, for example, is it possible for a neophyte South African hunter to compare the offer in one package that offers 10 trophies in 7 days’ hunting for a given total safari cost with another one that offers 7 species in 10 hunting days at similar cost? But package deals are a reality, and have a definite place in the hunting industry! Where the honest landowner is also the hunting outfitter, he knows what animals can be harvested every year and he may offer such package deals that may very well really be an offer at very good value for money.
The biggest advantage of package deals is that you know well in advance what it is going to cost you, and for how many days you will be hunting. The biggest disadvantage is that you are not guaranteed to get all of the animals listed! True, some decent operators will exchange animals and some will even refund you for animals not successfully hunted by the end of the hunt. But how will they refund you if you really put your heart on getting a decent representative of species No.1, and you don’t get one? The fact that species No.1 was on the list may have weighed heavy in your decision to take up the specific offer!
A ‘package deal’ is just what the name says it is: A ’deal’ to draw the attention of the buyer – in this case, you as the would-be safari hunter! Just like the fantastic deals offered by supermarkets, it gets you in the supermarket (hunting concession) to buy the cheap beer (animals in the package) – with the usual proviso of while stocks lasts. Once in the supermarket (hunting concession) you are also likely to get some other things like potato crisps, buns, meat and the like that go with the beer (animals not in the package but that are present in great abundance) at greatly inflated prices. Beware of very good package deals! Invariably you will not get all the animals mentioned in the list, often the most desired and most expensive one (the proverbial cheap beer) is the one for which the sales stock runs out soon after the opening of the store!
By and large you are likely to get exactly what many or even most South African hunting outfitters offers. But beware, there are also some very smart operators out there trying to get you into their nets!
Package deals have their place, but beware! At AMS we are not against package deals, in fact we do offer some very good value for money package deals. Click here to see AMS offer for May/June 2006.
The alternative to packed hunts is hunting at a daily rate and separate trophy fees.
Now write on your "My Safari Planning" sheet, or copy and edit if you wish, the following, or similar, text: "Step 9. I'm going to demand that the hunting outfitter that I use guarantee that I won't pay for any animal that I've not shot at".
Step 10: Learn More About Hunting at Daily Rates Plus Trophy Fees.
The first time South African hunter often has great difficulty planning a cost effective safari from daily rates plus trophy cost information. The poor hunter hardly knows anything about the South African trophies and often trophy selection is done along the following lines: “One relatively expensive one, two in the midrange price and two low cost animals seems like a good selection of trophies”. There may be in any one hunting outfitters’ trophy price list two animals each costing $ 800, but it is not apparent that they may be different in size by a significant margin, naturally occur in quite different parts of our country, and have vastly different scarcity value. Many hunting outfitters list twenty or more species on their trophy price lists. How can anyone who is contemplating a first South African safari make any meaningful selection from such a list?
My very seriously meant advice to the first time South African hunter is to restrict your initial trophy selection to the regularly hunted and very common plains game animals. This brings you to an important choice, which will both help you select a hunting outfitter, as some restrict their operations to a specific area and make a more meaningful species selection. You should early in the planning stage decide if you want to start by hunting in the bush veldt, or on the more open grass veldt as was discussed in Document No. 7 of this series. To not risk too much I would say restrict your choice to the following bush veldt species: Kudu, impala and warthog. Your grass veldt selection should be: Blesbok, black wildebeest and springbok. These are our South African “bread and butter” species in the respective habitats. They are the most commonly hunted animals, by both foreign and domestic hunters. So I suggest that if you want to compare prices of different hunting outfitters, then do it on the basis of these species.
In planning the number of days to allow for hunting your expectation or demand for trophy quality should be considered. If you would be happy with taking a “representative adult male” as a trophy two days per species should be sufficient. If you demand that all of your trophies should be record-book individuals about four hunting days should be planned for each species desired.
Now write on your "My Safari Planning" sheet, or copy and edit if you wish, the following, or similar, text: "Step 10. I can now see why it is difficult to plan a safari from a price list with a daily rate, and a list of trophy prices."
Before finally planning a safari based on trophy fees plus daily rates you should be very clear about the quality of trophy that you would expect or demand.
This is very difficult to write about trophy quality expectations without guiding you to accept my view of what attitude to have about trophy quality expectations. Regulation 1 made under the Nature Conservation Ordinance 1983 of the former Transvaal Province of South Africa defines: “trophy” means any part of a wild animal hunted by a client which he retains as a token or memento of the hunt;
In many hunting circles it is an unwritten rule that only fully-grown and mature males of a species are considered worthwhile of taking as a sporting hunter’s quarry. In keeping with this rule it is then only the horns/teeth/tusks or whatever of the mature males is regarded as a suitable memento of a true sportsman’s hunt. Early attempts at defining what exactly is a full-grown male led to the concept of measurements of horn/tusks/teeth/skull and other to be used to classify an animal as worthy or not to be hunted. Today there are many lists which are used essentially as tools to classify the horns as belonging to a worthy mature animal or not. Examples are: SCI, Boone & Crockett, Roland Ward and some others.
Fact is that in real life hunters “should” hunt mostly for the meat of the animal, and then, with proper herd management in mind, the young immature males and old females as well as old males which are well past breeding age are the natural “best” quarry to be hunted! Now I have great sympathy with a sport hunter who insists that he/she would only shoot old males that are well past the breeding age. Practical time considerations preclude a strict adherence to this approach at all times. Some dedicated trophy hunters may be prepared to spend the considerable time and effort to hunt only such ‘real’ trophies. Others are quite prepared to hunt much younger males, provided the horn length are more that some arbitrary minimum requirement! Many hunters are quite happy to, particularly for the first one of any species, take any fully-grown mature male with horns of length and shape at least that of a typical mature male of the species. For some species, like the gemsbok, the hunters may even be happy to take a female with good horns. Some hunters may want to take a male and a female of the species to show the difference between the two sexes.
Whatever the hunter decides, it must be realized that the higher the demand, the longer the hunting time allocated to obtaining a trophy must be. It is important from a planning perspective to be quite sure what your demands, expectations and hopes are.
My advice: Demand a typical mature males, expect at least some to be very nice and hope that at least one trophy on the hunt is really a very good one.
Now write on your "My Safari Planning" sheet, or copy and edit if you wish, the following, or similar, text: "Step 11. The quality of trophy that I expect to hunt can be described as: (a) Mixed from "Just Mature and representative" to some really nice record types. (b) All must be at least SCI Bronze Medal Qualifiers and hopefully some will be really nice record types (c) All must be at least Roland Ward size. (d) I do not really care what the trophy size is, but I would greatly prefer to hunt only really old and battle-scarred males past breeding age.
Biome? Choose between “Bush Veldt” and “Grass Veldt” and “Karoo Scrubland” as Hunting Terrain for your Safari.
If you are to be a first time hunter in South Africa, one of the most important basic decisions that you will have to make is: In what type of terrain do I want to hunt in South Africa? As the terrain determines which animals occur there naturally the same question can also be phrased as: Do I want to hunt bush veldt species on the savannah areas or the grass veldt species in more open terrain?
South Africa has a number of major biome types and most of the country consists of the bush veldt savannah, grass veldt or Nama Karoo. Here is a map of the South African biomes. From a hunting point of view the bush veldt can be regarded as areas where, because of the bush, you will less often see animals, but shooting distance is shorter. The sad truth is that there is very little pristine bush veldt left, much of it has been adversely affected by bush encroachment, so that in general the bush veldt contains much more bush than it really should. The later-mentioned two biome types are from a hunting point of view very similar, in that vegetation is lower and herds will often be seen at a distance, and shooting distances will also be rather longer. Here is a typical grass veldt plain in the Free State. Not much different from prairie in the USA?
In nature there are few absolutes, but by and large any one hunting concession usually consists of only one basic type of terrain. The vast majority of South Africa’s area can be either classified as grass veldt, Nama Karoo or savannah bush veldt, and these each have it’s own typical animals adapted to thrive in that particular biome. There is a lot of overlap, but by and large the Livingstone eland, kudu, impala and warthog are typical bush veldt species and the Cape eland, black wildebeest and blesbok are typical grass veldt species. The springbok is the real Karoo antelope. Species like blue wildebeest, gemsbok and Burchells’ zebra are more or less equally at home in both bush veldt and grass veldt habitats, but not in the Karoo. The steenbok and duiker occur in all three of these habitat types. The mountain specialists like the grey or vaal rhebok, klipspringer and mountain reedbuck also occur in the mountainous areas of all thee these biomes.
Although it is realized that a few photos can never really convey the typical feeling of the different biomes, here is a link to show what these look like. http://www.mclarensafaris.com/photos/biomes.html.
It is a simple fact of life that, if you want to hunt animals in their natural habitat, you have to decide in which habitat you want to undertake a first safari. There are no concession areas in which species typical for all three the major biomes occur naturally, so, if you do not want to travel extensively, you must choose. You are of course quite welcome to simply choose the animals that you like to hunt first, but you must then understand that in reality you are choosing the biome in which you want to hunt, if you want an authentic hunting experience.
Do you like a long and difficult stalk, just to get into a position where a long range and very deliberate “take your time to get settled and aim” shot has to be taken? This scenario is much more likely to be in the Free State grass veldt! If you are one for quick action where you will see just some small part of the animal, very quickly evaluate the trophy value then crouch-walk a few yards to get a clear shot and shoot with very little time to think? This is more likely to happen in the bush veldt!
You do not need to finalize your choice of habitat now, but you must be aware of the fact that habitat determines which species occur there naturally. If you have decided that the authenticity of the hunting experience you wish to have is important, as you should have, the choice of animal groups and biomes is really the same. If you specifically want to hunt some generalists like blue wildebeest and zebra it is not so important.
You are advised to plan on taking at least some of the South African endemic, i.e. those that occur naturally only in South Africa and nowhere else, species on your first safari.
With the limited knowledge of the different biomes, and the animals characteristic of each biome, and in the absence of data about the cost of hunting in each of the major biomes you are unlikely to feel quite ready to complete the seventh step of the planning process. Your decision at this stage may only be a tentative decision, and one that can be revisited again at a later stage. You should now write on your "My Safari Planning" sheet, or copy and edit if you wish, the following, or similar, text: "Step 12. I am sure / not sure that I want to hunt the (a1) savannah or bush veldt biome or (a2) the grass veldt biome first. Thereafter I want to go on (b) a plains game hunt in the alternative of (a)1 or (a2) biome, or (c) the second week of my stay I want to go on a wing shooting (d) varmint hunting (e) go on a tour of some of the national parks. Once I have worked through more of the planning process I intend re-visiting this decision."
What is allowed? Other than the limitation of the use of a .22LR in South Africa there are very few rules and regulations about which hunting tool could/may/should be used. Almost any killing tool with which the hunter is totally familiar is an acceptable hunting tool. If a cast javelin is the tool of choice for some hunter and he knows very well up to which distance he can cast his javelins with deadly accuracy, then he can most certainly achieve ethical kills with his javelin, if he possesses of the stalking skills and patience to actually get to within his sure killing distance before attempting a kill.
Can I bring my own? Javelins and all types of bow can be brought into South Africa freely without any special formality. Juts arrive with your equipment, but tell your hunting outfitter beforehand what you intend to bring. All firearms, be it a rifle, shotgun or handgun require a special import procedure that is described in detail elsewhere. Note: Semi automatic rifles and shotguns are not allowed in South Africa. Hunting handguns require special attention that is described elsewhere.
Archery. Similarly if you prefer to shoot sharp pointed sticks from a piece of wood put under some tension with a string, provided that you know what you are doing you and your traditional bow would be accepted in our hunting environment. Similarly modern bows, and compounds bows and crossbows, in the hands of people really proficient in their use, are also accepted killing tools. Not all hunting concessions allow the use of bow and arrow for hunting, but such hunting can be arranged in every single province. You must however convey your desire to hunt with a bow to the outfitter at an very early stage of your negotiations.
Muzzleloaders. In view of what was stated above it hardly needs saying that you will be most welcome to bring your favorite traditional or replica or even modern in line muzzleloader as the only or primary killing tool for your plains game hunt in South Africa. There are no special seasons for muzzleloaders, and they can be used at will, again as a matter of courtesy, let your hunting outfitter know that you want to bring and hunt with one. Black power is not allowed on any airplane, so be sure to inform your outfitter so that he can arrange a suitable supply to be available. Also allow some extra time to test the powder supplied in your particular firearm.
Handguns. Provided you know the limitations of yourself and your equipment. Weight for weight South African plains game is reportedly at least somewhat tougher that the American equivalents, so they may require a bit more killing power. But, like in the USA and elsewhere, for a sure and quick kill they need to be hit in the right place to start with! The knowledge of where to aim on the different South African plains game species is quite easily summarized as: A little more in front of where you want to hit a white tailed deer.
Modern rifles? Yes. I’m not going to bore everyone with advice on caliber, bullet weights, speed, scope, zero distance and the other BS some hunting outfitters make such a scene about. Just be sure that you know at which distances you can hit what you aim at, and please use premium quality hunting bullets. Note that semi-automatic rifles and shotguns are not allowed in South Africa. If you want advice, by all means ask. The only important lesson in this document is that you must please advise your hunting outfitter early on in your safari negotiations about your intended choice of killing tool. This will allow him time to ensure that your safari will be conducted legally and ethically with good chance of success.Special advice? Note the true fact: Excessive alcohol the night before cases wounding!
Select your killing tools, and tell outfitter of your choice.
Now write on your "My Safari Planning" sheet, or copy and edit if you wish, the following, or similar, text: "Step 13. I acknowledge that I have noted the limitation on bring any semi-automatic firearm into South Africa and state that I want to bring (a) a single rifle, and rely on the hunting outfitter to have a dependable back-up if something goes wrong with mine. (b) .....? (c) .....? (d) .....? "
Decide how you want to go. A single hunter can enjoy many benefits, of mobility, travel flexibility, never having to wait for someone to get ready, undivided attention of his professional hunter and other advantages associated with doing your own thing, alone. The biggest advantage for the single hunter probably lies in the ease of planning such a safari as compared to planning for a whole group of hunters.
You may however wish to share the excitement of a South African safari with your wife/companion. Be aware though that the hunting areas are typically far removed from towns and entertainment centers. For some non-hunting companions the thought of spending a few days just relaxing in camp by a pool may be wonderful. Others will be bored stiff. Many hunting outfitters will cater to arrange entertaining trips for a companion, at additional cost or not. Undertaking such a safari with one hunting buddy is just about the norm. But then many hunters come to South Africa for a first hunt as a whole group of hunters friends and non-hunting companions. The choice is yours! South African hunting outfitters can and in general will gladly arrange a custom safari for groups consisting of multiple hunters and companions. Every hunting outfitter who can arrange a true custom safari will do so at lower individual cost if there is a group of hunters involved. A word of advice if you intend to get a group of hunters together: You are not going to South Africa to compete in some hunting contest, you should all just go to enjoy your dream trip.
Where the species of choice for two hunters occur in different biomes the planning of a group hunt becomes slightly complicated. You may have decided that a trophy springbok hunted in the Karoo is of the highest priority, while your hunting buddy may have set his heart on a nyala. Now these two species never occur naturally in the same area, so you can not hunt together, unless one is prepared to accept an artificially introduced trophy which is hunted outside of it’s natural habitat.
To properly plan a tight budget safari for a number of hunters with different wishes, trophy lists, trophy quality requirements, different choices of killing tools, different size budgets and tastes can be quite a challenge. Be assured that many South African hunting outfitters excel in taking on such challenges and making the dreams of many hunters come true. Needless to say, a group of like-minded hunting buddies with basically the same or similar requirements is just a pleasure to have as clients.
Now write on your "My Safari Planning" sheet, or copy and edit if you wish, the following, or similar, text: "Step 14. For the initial planning I plan to (a) hunt alone (b) Hunt alone with my wife/companion as a non-hunting guest (c) hunt with a buddy", as (i) oneXone or (ii) twoXone hunters (d) ....? (e).....?"
Alone, with one hunting buddy, with a spouse or child/parent as companion or as a whole group, the choice is yours. The more the merrier certainly applies. But, and a big but, the more difficult the planning become!
In Step 4 you were advised (without any real motivation) to allow 14 days for the safari. The question now is: How are you going to spend these 14 days? How much will it cost. Some who read this document will have a hard tome getting say $ 5000 set aside for a safari, while others may have many times this amount readily available. Yet all will want to know: "What will it cost?" and: "What do I get for what is spent?"
The whole safari should be “a trip of a lifetime”, well, at least a first one! How many days do you want to hunt? How many trophies do you want to collect? How much money do you have available for the safari? Do you want to hunt all the time? Or do you want to do some other tour or other outdoors activities also?
I want to now introduce the concept of a split safari. For some hunters the thought of flying all the way to South Africa to get to know only a single area on a 10 or 12 day hunt is less appealing. For such hunters the ‘split safari’ may be an option. By this I mean that you may for example wish to go and hunt for kudu, impala and other bush veldt savanna species for 6 days, and then move to the Free State to do some wing shooting and/or hunt for some of the grass veldt species. In this way you will get to experience two quite different hunting terrains in a single trip.
If there is a group of hunters all of them may want to go to the bush veldt first, then some may want to go wing shooting, while others may wish to travel to the Kalahari for springbok and gemsbok. Any good hunting outfitter will be able to (certainly Andrew McLaren Safaris can) arrange a safari in which one group at some time gets split up into two or three groups hunting at different places. Splitting a group, or merging two or more groups into one is not really a difficult exercise, but it does take some careful planning. All of the activities need not be hunting, some may wish to go and experience the Kruger National Park or the Cape Wine routes or whatever before or after the actual hunting part of the safari. Fact is, you will do a lot of expensive flying just to get here, then why not make the best use of the opportunity and see some more of the country?
Now write on your "My Safari Planning" sheet, or copy and edit if you wish, the following, or similar, text: "Step 15. I don't know all the implications of going on two consecutive hunting safaris in quite deferent types of terrain, but the idea appeals to me. Logic tells me that hunting in open grass veldt terrain first will give me ample opportunity to steady my nerves for the relatively quicker action that can be expected in the bush veldt"
Step 16: Species? Start Formalizing your Selection of Trophy Species that you Wish to Hunt.
There is really no motivation or need to have a specific trophy list to plan your hunting adventure. The critical important decision about in which type of biome you want to hunt dictates which species can be available for ethical hunting. But a list is a good thought to help you get some idea of what to expect, and to help you understand the interplay between number, size, scarcity of trophy animals, and the number of hunting days required to hunt as well as the associated taxidermy and shipping costs. You can now already note that you are going to go around in circles a bit. First you will make a list, set trophy quality demands, then calculate provisional hunting time and cost. Once you compare the cost to your budget, you in all probability will have to change a few things, and then go through the whole procedure again.
Now you make your first preliminary list of the desired trophies, and considering your trophy quality expectations noted in Step 11 you should allocate hunting time according to the guide below. Claims of how many animals of a certain trophy quality can be hunted in any time span varies. With hunting outfitters who offer "package deals" of real put-and-take hunting you can probably “get” more than one trophy every day. For ethical hunting on good concession areas the time is much longer, and from my experience inversely proportional to how lucky the hunter is! As a first approximation planning guideline I advise to allow 2 days hunting for each representative male, 3 days for each SCI bronze or better and 4 days hunting for a Roland Ward or better trophy.
It is very easy to write down a long list of species that you wish to hunt, but the reality ob budget and time constraints should be considered. I advise that you consider firstly the "bread and butter" species, those that are very regularly hunted and for which the costs are realistic.
Consult the “Average Internet Trophy Prices” price list and crunch the numbers to see if your desires are more or less in line with your hunting budget. If not, I advise to increase your budget!
A critical point often overlooked by beginners is the fact that the hunting outfitter’s ‘trophy fees’ does not include any taxidermy costs. How much will the taxidermy work cost? A rough guide to taxidermy cost undertaken in South Africa can be: For commonly hunted plains game a full mount will cost 2 to 3 times the trophy fee, while a shoulder mount will cost between half of to the full trophy fee. But that is not all! What about shipping costs? You still have to ship the completed taxidermy home. And here is a high cost that many planners underestimate. Shipping cost can easily exceed trophy and taxidermy costs. There is simply no good enough rule of thumb to help with the planning the budget for shipping costs in general. The good thing about planning for the taxidermy costs is that you do not need to make a final decision until just before the end of your safari, or even later.
Be aware of the choices you have for getting taxidermy done: 1. Have photos only! 2 Have taxidermy done in your own country. 2a. Have only the horns and/or skulls dipped and shipped. 2b. Have horns/skulls and capes with or without back skins dipped and shipped for taxidermy in your own country. 2c. Have everything for a full mount dipped and shipped for taxidermy in your own country. Note that the shipping costs for dipped and shipped taxidermy is much lower than for the same species as fully mounted specimens as shipping cost is much more about the volume than the actual weight.. 3 Have taxidermy completed in South Africa. 3a. Have only skull mounts with or without fur or leather tanned skins. 3b. Shoulder mount with or without a tanned back skin. 3c. Full mount. The shipping costs are notoriously difficult to estimate – but it is a subject that I’m working on to get better estimates.
Those who are familiar with the use of spreadsheets will realize that the procedures described in the previous few paragraphs can be automated by using a properly designed spreadsheet. This has been done, you only need to e-mail us and ask for a copy, which I will gladly forward for your use.
Now write on your "My Safari Planning" sheet, or copy and edit if you wish, the following, or similar, text: "Step 16. I'm not confident that my first list of species desired, considering the hunting terrain chosen in Step 15 is reasonable and expect tenders from hunting outfitters to be near my actual available budget. I wish to hunt Blesbok, black wildebeest and springbok in the open areas, and kudu, impala and waterbuck in the bush veldt."
Step. 17: The Use of the Management and Planning Cycle in Planning a Hunting Safari.
Planning any vacation like a wing shooting or antelope trophy-hunting safari has many elements in common with the management cycle. You can only plan once you have clear objectives. Many foreign hunters do not really know what types of hunting can be enjoyed in South Africa. They are therefore unclear on what the potential objectives of their trip could be. Reading and asking to learn what can be offered and expected is one way overcome this lack of knowledge. Or you could simply put all your trust in some agent or outfitter, book and learn through actual experience. In the first 9 documents in this series some important aspects have been briefly discussed. These should assist the hunter(s) to formulate a reasonable first set of objectives to present to the hunting outfitter. In the planning cycle these are presented as the “What do I want? What is ideal?” questions in the so-called “Starting Square”. It is then up to the hunting outfitter to go through all the steps in his planning cycle to the point where a formal and full proposal is made to the hunter(s). The proposed arrangements are then scrutinized by the hunter(s) and they may then either accept the proposal as presented, or they may wish to adjust the stated objectives, so passing the ball back to the hunting outfitter.
All the hunts that I offer are custom arranged safaris to suit the needs of a specific individual or group. As potential hunting outfitter for your intended safari, I can only cost the trip once your initial objectives have been communicated to me. In this write-up I will attempt to give you some guidance and choices based on the assumption that the safari will be a first one to South Africa. From these you can set your own objectives, which I then invite you to communicate to me. I will evaluate the practicality of your choice and advise on probable costs. If you make some serious mistake, i.e. expect to hunt Cape grysbok and Natal red duiker at the same venue, I will advise you and make practical suggestions of how to modify your objectives to suit your budget. I will concentrate on planning a plains game safari in this write-up.
Would you now please take a few moments to study the “Planning Cycle” as presented below. This representation of reality may be very simplified, but it is regarded as a good starting point to understand the interactions required to plan a true custom hunting safari.
Both these circles work in a clockwise direction. The "Start" is when a prospective hunter describes in some detail his desires to a hunting outfitter as the contents of the What do I want? and What is Ideal? block. The reason that you have been advised to keep records of your decisions at the end of each step, is to at some time have a detailed record ready of your desires to simply send to the hunting outfitters that you have selected as worthy of giving you a quote for your ideal safari.
The Planning Circles Adapted to Plan a Safari Hunt
The proverbial ball is now in the hunting outfitters' side of the court. He will now "translate" your desires to actions and schedules required to ensure that you get what you want. He will provisionally mark your dates on his planning calendar, and then do a whole lot of things to plan the safari in detail and get a good cost estimate of what it is going to cost him to present the safari. Examples of the arrangements required include
scrutinize the total desired trophy list and decide at which one or more concessions he can present all the desired animals
make provisional bookings at the concessions of his choice
phone and make a provisional booking with suitable professional hunter(s)
arrange to have the hunter or whole hunting party met and welcomed at the airport on arrival - either himself or one or more of the professional hunters, or some other reliable driver
ensure that there will be a suitable vehicle, fuelled and serviced to transport the client(s) to the first overnight destination
arrange for snacks or a meal en-route
There is an almost endless list of things that have to be arranged, booked, planned and cost estimations be done before a hunting outfitter can make a good estimation of how much the safari is likely to cost him. Only when all the work has been done can he then present the hunter with a formal proposal and fixed cost.
Note that this proposal may not be identical to what the hunter had in the first instance desired. A good hunting outfitter will tell a prospective client if his desires are very difficult to meet, and make a realistic counter proposal. As an example a group of hunters compiled a list of species of which all but a single animal can readily be taken at a single concession, like typical bushveldt animals, but the odd animal out can only be collected in a totally different province, like a Cape grysbok. I would suggest that the grysbok be rather replaced by a similar sized and priced steenbok or duiker. For completeness I would make provisional arrangements to actually hunt the grysbok, but I would also tell the hunters about the cost and time implications of them insisting on getting the grysbok about 1000 miles from where they can get the other animals on the list.
The actual formal proposal made by the hunting outfitter would in all probability not yet be in the form of a remuneration agreement, but just a provisional safari plan and schedule.
Now the hunter(s) would consider the proposal by attending the the decision tasks outlined sequentially on the inside circle. when completed the modified request is again passed to the hunting outfitter.
If the requests are clear, and the hunter outfitter does his homework well it is seldom required to have more than a second costing and proposal before everything is ready to formalize the booking.
You may have listed your ideal species as u, v, w, x, y and z and want w as a full mount and the rest all as shoulder mounts! If you the use the guideline costs you find that your budget is exceeded significantly. Now you must make a change in some of the parameters. My advice is to firstly increase your budget, then cut down on taxidermy costs! In Step 11 you were told what a trophy is: A memento of the hunt. Two different species as skull mounts with nice framed photos hung below them is IMHO a better memento of two hunts, as is a single shoulder mount of a single hunt at the same overall cost.Once you have a bit of a “feel” for how long it will take to collect your desired trophies and the interaction between daily rates and number of trophies, taxidermy costs and finally shipping costs you are ready to start contacting a number of selected hunting outfitters for their offers.
Now write on your "My Safari Planning" sheet, or copy and edit if you wish, the following, or similar, text: "Step 17. With the insight gained from understanding the planning circles and the help of the Safari Planning Spreadsheet I'm now confident that the final list of species desired as edited in Step 16 is reasonable and expect tenders from hunting outfitters to be near my actual available budget."