Rough, But Awesome…

YourJob

Alright, let’s get one thing straight. I love this. But no one is going to sit there and tell me that this is easy either.

My point is, to appreciate what YOU have! Appreciate the money you make and the fact that most of you at least have every weekend off amongst other “benefits”. My last day off was somewhere around 6-7 weeks ago, and before that I think somewhere in early May. I am by no means complaining at all but just speaking my mind and hoping that it gives some perspective.

Moving forward, we shot 2 really nice kudu recently. One of which I have great footage of, the other one, long story, blah! And this evening we took a spectacular Blue Wildebeest. I got great footage of this one as well.

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It’s been almost numbingly cold. The only other warm layers I have left to wear are if I double up on my thermal underwear (I brought 2 pairs) and if I throw on my insulated fancy socks. From now on the coldness reviews will be rated by snowballs. One being the least and so on. Well two mornings ago it was at about a one snowball rating. That is if we took the frost JUST on the shooting rest on the top of the vehicle and put it all together, it would make about one snowball in about 4-5 inches in diameter. One is enough… I hope I do not have to rate it anywhere past there this season. This California blood is not used to below freezing temps! Haha!

I hope everyone is doing well! One month from today I will be flying home! I am starting to miss home, friends and family at this point… oh and American food haha (even though we eat very well here).

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Cheers!

-The Jonny

Becoming A Well Oiled Machine…

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The above was a candid photo taken of us. Courtesy of Frank. We smoked a huge Blesbok shortly after this was taken.

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Today I got great footage of a Kudu we took. Our client Brian was shooting a 280 Remington with Barnes TTSX bullets. Unfortunately the video will have to come later but here is a photo to whet your palette.

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Ok-Ok! While I’m at it, here’s the Gemsbok we got on the hillside shortly after the kudu.

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Things really flowed during our morning hunt. It was great.
We just finished lunch a little while ago. I put up the photos and everything to get the companies blog up to date. If anyone is curious you can see it at www.namibiasafaricorporation.com/news
It’s 1:52 and we are heading back out for the afternoon hunt at 3pm. I believe it’s time for a much needed nap! ;)

Cheers!

PS: This morning was below freezing temperatures. There was slush in the bed of the truck where there had been some water before. Fortunately there was no wind otherwise it would have been quite unpleasant.

I Have Two Favorite Holidays…

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One is Christmas and the other is the 4th of July. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I am always a little sad being halfway around the world with people who don’t celebrate this holiday on this day. The closest thing I had to fireworks is our usual crackling African fire. I am happy to be out here but on days like this, I just wish I could teleport home for a few hours and enjoy our typical American rituals on our independence day.

Well our two biggest groups coming through for hunting are finally behind us (including the Ukrainians). I thought we were busy at other times previously this season but these last two weeks have redefined my already redefined understanding of the word “busy”. Sleep, awww, my sweet love, how I could drown in the deepest, darkest-depths of the abyss I now truly know as Sleep… I’ve never known sleep like this, even if it only comes in waves of 4 to 5 hours.

Today was just another work day for me. It was a rough one actually. Everyone I worked with today seemed to have an extremely short fuse or was totally on edge and out of character. That sucked. I really tried hard to just laugh it off and stay positive however. It was a strange day but fortunately its not usually like that. We hunted Gemsbok, Red Hartebeest and Springbok all day long only stopping for a quick lunch but to no avail. The wind was driving the animals mad and they were running around like hell when they caught ANY glimpse of us, even from like 500 yards plus away. It was quite frustrating and I believe that added to the temperaments.

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The wind is officially here again. It usually comes in waves of 2-3 days. And they say it is going to become very cold this weekend. I am not welcoming it. Especially because tomorrow we are going to go and hunt the back mountains for Kudu and Mountain Zebra. When we do those hunts, many days we don’t return until 3pm-5pm. It’s usually a long and vigorous day. But it sure is beautiful back there.

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I’ll be up at 4:30am tomorrow to get up and give the clients a knock at 5, breakfast at 5:30 and hopefully out the door at 6. I hope the temp is at least in the 50′s or higher including wind chill…

With all that said, I hope everyone is enjoying a very happy and safe 4th of July. And if you read this in time, please light a firework or two for me ;)

Cheers!

-The Jonny

This Post Is Just For My Dad

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No Frills. No fluff. Just this.

*Remember to click on the photos to enlarge them. Then Click towards the right hand side of the photo to advance to the next one*

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From the helicopter game count. (Video coming once I get back to high speed internet!)

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I saw a rainbow while I was driving on a hunt. That was tough keeping the Land Cruiser on the “road” while I busted out the camera.

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Just after we downed 2 Mountain Zebras. We were stripping gear and layers as we were heating up in the mid-day sun. We are still all smiles :)

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One of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever bathed in. This was just after we downed a Gemsbok on the mountain side. It was a great stalk that took great patience.

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Up in the back mountains on a zebra hunt. I was playing my usual role, Camera Dude & Rifleman.

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One of our many very nice meals out here. I usually go light on the meat just because we eat so much of it out here. If there is one thing they have more than coffee and tea out here, it’s MEAT, haha.

We’ll end it like this:

It’s just like that old beer commercial…

Guy #1: “I love you man!” Other guy holding the last beer: “Jonny, You’re Not Gettin My Bud Light!”
Hahaha! :)

Cheers!!!

Baby Zebra at Solitaire Cheetah Camp

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Our second day out hunting with two clients, one from Philadelphia and one from Southern Ohio, we struck gold with two Mountain Zebras. Being that that is A LOT of meat to have on hand at once, we decided to take it to help feed the cheetahs at our “neighbors” place. It is about a 1 hour and 10 minute drive away through a beautiful mountain pass and into the flatness of the Namib desert. I was very happy to find that they have an extremely young Mountain Zebra there as a pet. I don’t know the back story on how they got it, but it was there and I was happy to be able to pet it and be so close to it.

Here are two photos of the two zebra that we hunted:

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For those of you thinking of a nice Xmas gift for me, if it is not a large caliber firearm then I will settle for a baby zebra just fine, haha :)

Check out this short but sweet video.

(Ok, that might be the driving video from SA. YouTube is giving me some trouble at the moment but if it is not working here yet just go to my youtube channel and watch the Zebra video. Sorry for the inconvenience)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zawOpv_a6oA

It’s a good thing this young one didn’t know what we were there for!!!

I hope you guys enjoy this! I sure did.

…Also I have the video of the hunt but it’s a larger file size so we’ll see if I can compress it down enough to show it on here. I know, I know, POOR ZEBRA!!! I agree, but this is hunting and this is what happens everyday whether you are looking or not.

Have a great weekend everyone!

-The Jonny

Where Do You Live?

My room was on the top right of the one side of the grass roof house. You can see the window.

My room was on the top right of the one side of the grass roof house. You can see the window.

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Ohhhhhhhh, I’ll tell you!

It all started in a top room in the main lodge. The lodge is very nice but I have to tell you, the top floors aren’t to my liking. Most of the time they are pretty good, I mean the beds are nice, the decor is nice and the bathroom is very modern with good tiling and so forth. BUT, AT NIGHT, when you are sleeping that’s when I begin to have a problem with it.

Now I don’t consider myself to be a “Girly Mon” (Arnold Schwarzenegger-like voice) but I had a hard time dealing with the bugs and possibly other things. You see, when you have a grass roof house/lodge out here in Africa it is considered to be quite a luxury, and by most standards it is quite nice. However, it usually doesn’t seal all the way where the cement meats the grass roof. Therefore you are inviting anything that flies or especially crawls into your cozy little home to spend some quality time with you.

Needless to say I didn’t sleep very well, especially after this crawled across my neck and face one night…

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It’s hard to tell but this thing would fit nicely in the bottom of a soda can. It’s partly smashed already… Just before this picture it was running across the other bed in the room and if you take your two index fingers pointed out straight and do a drum roll on something made of a soft material that’s what this thing sounded like running across the bed. It was surprisingly audible.

I was sitting straight up in bed with the light on at the time that this happened. It ran across my neck then face and I quickly swiped it off not knowing at the time what it was. It flew down and hit the bed then crawled down and into the crease where the mattress met the part that holds the mattress up higher. When I tried to get a better look at him he flopped down to the ground flat, flipped itself sideways onto the wall and disappeared behind the night stand. This all happened in a few seconds. Needless to say, I wasn’t about to go to sleep with a goliath roaming around the room. I knew he would be back. So I waited. About 10 minutes later is when it ran across the bed next to me and I smacked it with my big flash light a couple of times. I felt like I was in something like the scene from Aliens where they get locked in the room with the face huggers running around hahaha!

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Ok, yes, that was the worst out of everything to date, but there was another night I had a small spider crawl across my face (what the H*$# is it with spiders crawling on your face!?!?) and then there was the meandering millipede that made its way across my duvet (that was one of those times where you just feel like something is wrong so you pop your head off the pillow and shine the flashlight around… Always trust your instincts!) and then there was the… Ok ok, I’ll stop. There were plenty more episodes take my word for it.

The worst part was that I never knew what exactly it was. I mean there are spiders and scorpions out here that would make you wish you were dead if you didn’t die a horrible painful death already haha. So you tell me! In the pitch black night what that is crawling on you and see if you don’t leap out of bed and do a superman dive for the flashlight to find out what the heck is nuzzling up to your delicate city boy/girl flesh. I don’t think I should feel ashamed to admit that it kept me on high alert.

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Ok, if you would permit me to rant just a little bit longer, I’ll mention the mosquitoes.
So the other part of this was that the rooms on top are open. What I mean by this is that they do not have walls and a door that you can open and close. If you go up the stairs there is a low “wall” about waist high made from wooden poles with slight gaps in between and that’s it. It looks nice, don’t get me wrong, but when you turn off the lights the mosquitoes inside the whole house start to hunger and naturally they find their way to you since you are out in the open.

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So I don’t know if it was that I was covered from neck to toe with blankets to combat the crawly things or if it’s just what mosquitoes do, but they have a terribly good habit of buzzing around your ear before they land and drink you. Me being a light sleeper (it’s a good and bad thing at times) I would always wake up ferociously and try to switch on some kind of light and kill these things, which actually proved to be surprisingly difficult. At first I didn’t pay any attention to them but after the first few nights of waking up with all kinds of bites on me I decided I had better exterminate these parasites. In fact, the one morning I woke up, I just so happened to look over at the wall about 3 feet from me and I saw THE fattest mosquito I have ever seen in my life. When I moved in closer to look at it (for at the time I was still a bit confused what this pudgy winged bug was doing on the wall) it was so fat with blood that it merely wobbled it’s obese body up the wall a few steps but apparently couldn’t even take flight.

*SMACK* I squished it against the cold cement wall… In fact maybe a little too hard. When I pulled my hand away there was a gigantic splatter of what could only have been MY blood mixed with spindly bug parts. And it actually upset me a bit, to think that that damned thing was slurping on me all night long while I attempted to peacefully sleep. *Shakes head*

THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL:

Thank God for this. Shortly after I arrived here I was told that they were in the process of finalizing the building of a room for me. Wow how great is that!? I felt like a semi-celebrity. A room just for muah??? I didn’t get my hopes up too much because you never know in general, and also because IT IS Africa, and things almost never go as planned here. I am delighted to report to you however that things actually did go pretty close to plan even by African standards. The only hangup was that right when my room was ready to move in we had an extra client that had to come in. Jaco being a nice guy didn’t tell me that I couldn’t use my new room, but then ME being a nice guy I told him that the clients must stay in my new room because it would be much nicer and more private than a room on top of the lodge. Damn my good will… Haha. No regrets however, the few days passed and soon enough I was able to move in.

Check out the new digs! When I’m in here I barely feel like I’m in Africa anymore if it wasn’t for the gigantic 3 pronged wall plugs and such. I am very happy with it :)

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Nice huh? Excuse the clutter, my room isn’t even close to fully furnished yet so I have no place for all my odds and ends.

Eventually they will add a cement slab in the corner behind my clothes rack and make it a mini “kitchen” area. That will be nice.

This room makes me happy. I’ve been sleeping in here for about one week now and the official Bugs in Bed count is still at ZERO! … That I know of, haha!

Cheers!

-The Jonny

Birds, Not Eggs For Easter…

Happy Easter everyone =)

It’s been a fairly easy going weekend because of the holiday. We’ve still been working daily but usually only for a few hours in the morning. We finally were able to sight in my rifle yesterday. It only took about 5 shots to get it back on target, but it was was about 3 inches high and just over one inch to the right. Having that done, I couldn’t resist taking a lil hike with the rifle to see what I could see. I decided to climb the rock hill behind the lodge for a nice view and a few pictures. There was a lot of grass in between the rocks so I took it fairly slow, keeping my eye out for snakes and other dangers along the way.

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It was nice to take a moment to just sit and enjoy the view.
Here are a couple more pics (the first one is a Rock Dassie):

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So birds for Easter. That’s right, birds. Twice in a couple of days I had a small bird fly into (somehow) the lodge. There must be a tiny opening that the birds have found where the grass roof meets the concrete structure because they have been getting in when all the windows and doors are closed.

So get this… A few days ago I was on my lunch break in my room and I noticed a bird flying around the tall ceiling. It was just about time for me to get back out there so I couldn’t make any effort to help the bird get outside. I felt bad but there was nothing I could do at the moment. And if I left the windows open then I would have had tons of bugs and mosquitoes to love me tenderly while I slept that night… no thank you.

Eventually I got home after the long day of getting things done around the property and I looked around for the bird but I didn’t see any sign of it so I had hoped it had found its way back out the same way it came in. I woke up early the next morning with sleepy eyes and began putting my clothes on and grabbed my flashlight off of the nightstand to ritualistically peek into my shoes for something venomous and horrid when out of the corner of my eye I saw a dark blob tucked away between the night stand and the bed. My reflexes instantly thought big big big nasty spider but after a second I realized it was either a bird or a bat. Upon closer inspection it was definitely an adolescent bird (oh thank goodness haha). So somehow this thing managed to crawl into this space in the dark while I was sleeping without my being aware of it.

Well it wasn’t moving… Let’s not celebrate too soon, just in case, you know? But if it is still alive, I have to get it outside. So before trying anything too bold I figured I probably only had one shot at this if it was in fact just sleeping and not dead in the corner. I sneaked over to the window, pushed the curtains aside and opened it all the way. I figured if it was only semi alive and not feeling well at least I could reach down out of the window and place him on the tiny ledge. So now that I had my plans in place, I walked back around the bed with flashlight in hand and slowly reached my other hand into the deep corner with my fingers spread wide apart for maximum “grabbage”. I must have only been 6 inches away from the bird when it’s eyes snapped open. Everything went into slow motion, I stopped my single handed assault for one moment while we both stared at each other with a sort of “uh oh” kind of look. He panicked. So I shot my hand towards him and grabbed him up as best I could without hurting him.

Success!!! I ran around the bed, reached way out of the window and placed him gently on the tiny concrete ledge and backed away. I watched him for a minute. He was a lil wobbly, but after a few seconds he took a drunken couple of hops on the ledge, paused, then flew away onto a rock about 20 yards away. I reached for my camera but by the time I had zoomed in on the rock he had landed on he was already gone. So with a little luck he got some food and water in him shortly after that and is good as new.

I did however get this picture the following day…

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The young birds have been perching here often recently. I’d like to think this is their way of rewarding me for saving one of them, but I’m sure they are just doing what birds do.

So then two days later (4/21/2014) another bird got in. It was small, somewhere in between a finch and a sparrows size. This time I was free and was able to try and get him out. I opened the door but even with some heckling and swooshing of my arms he didn’t seem to notice it or go towards it. Instead my bedroom window was much more enticing. So it flew and banged into the window (this was not my intention) and then continued to flutter around it trying to get out. Fortunately my curtains were mostly covering it so it allowed me to come up from an angle and slowly bring the curtains around it like wrapping it in a blanket. Then I reached in, got a hold of it and quickly ran outside to toss him into the air. So that’s two in three days. I’m on a roll!

Cheers!

As Any Great Trip to Africa Must Start…

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A scotch double! Haha. This is and always will be in honor of my “Great” Uncle for everything he has ever taught me and also for him and his wife (my aunt) opening the doors to the Dark Continent for me. Cheers!

So off I go, on another great adventure in Africa. Every trip starts with a healthy dose of anxiety, not knowing what exactly will come of it. As I previously mentioned a while back, I quit my good paying computer animation job with a blind leap of faith, escaping the corporate world of desks and florescent lighting in exchange for sunlight, pure clean well water and the most revitalizing clean air you have ever had the pleasure to breath. I’m not sure exactly where all of this is taking me, but this time, I had prior experience under my belt. I was ready.

So I am now an integral part of Namibia Safari Corporation. Jaco (pronounced Yack-Oh) is the owner and the big boss man. He is the PH who guided my first African safari right here where I am now. Things have come full circle.

Once I returned from my South African experience the next biggest fork in the road for my life was going to be the Las Vegas Safari Club International convention at Mandalay Bay. It was a few months out, I came home in mid November and the show was in February. I was casually looking for employment in my previous field but somehow I just knew that the doors would either shut or be opened for Africa once I attended the convention. Should I go back to my deadly commute and 9 to 5 grind or see if I should continue my adventures abroad? That was the question.

February finally came. Once in Vegas, knowing that Jaco would be there with a booth of his own I knew for reasons beyond me that he was the only person I needed to talk to in that entire convention full of thousands of people. My prior trip to this convention up in Reno (2013) I was trying to talk to as many people as possible just to see who would accept me as an apprentice so I could learn the ways of the industry. This time it was not that way at all. I was confidently locked on to exactly what I must do.

Once I found Jaco’s booth I said hello to him with great excitement and we got caught up on what has been happening the last few years. I didn’t mention or hint at the least to him that I was interested in going back to Africa and assisting another hunting operation. After a few minutes of talking he told me that it was interesting that I had been previously apprenticing in South Africa because he was actually looking for a some extra help on his property. I played it cool and heard him out without saying much to him at that time, but we agreed that we would go out for a drink one of the coming nights to discuss things. The rest is history. Here I am a few weeks into my trip already.

Now, once again, here is my office…
(CLICK PHOTOS TO DISPLAY A LARGER IMAGE)

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Takin A Ride…

Come take a ride with me in a stylin VW Amarok while I drive through South Africa towards Vryheid delivering a bunch of animal trophies. I’m jammin to some local radio stations in the background so you can get an idea of some of the music they play on the radio out there. Some of it is pretty different! Sorry for some of the bumpy portions in the video, it was all done one handed and the roads out there are less than perfect in many areas. This was a portion of my standard 6 hour drive one way either to or from the airport.

Hold on to your socks at around 9 minutes, lol…

Crank your speakers up and enjoy! Now in HD!!!

Cheers!