Funding your dream hunt

I have been very fortunate in my life and I’ve had the opportunity to have a few “once in a lifetime” trips already. The picture above from Wyoming Pronghorn 2016 stands out as one of those for sure!

People sometimes can’t believe some of the trips I’ve done, or what I have planned for the next few years. I’m going to do one post explaining how I pull off all of the hunting and trips that I do.

Rule #1, you do not talk about fight club. (Couldn’t resist.)

Rule #2, there are two sides to every coin. I will cover all the ways I accumulate cash later, but the other side of saving is spending. Spending wisely! Big trips might take years to plan, you have plenty of time to figure out how to make it cheaper. Easy things to shop are travel expenses, taxidermy fees, and buying any special but required equipment either used or on sale. Every dollar you can avoid spending makes saving so much easier!

Big tip here: If you know a particular outfitter you want to go with, find out if they donate hunts to non-profit organizations. It’s often possible to bid on donated hunt packages and win at less than face value. In a few weeks I will be at a banquet that has an all-inclusive hunt donated that I would really like to do. I will probably lose it, but I will be ready to bid up to 80% of face value when I go. If I win, I will have saved at least 20% on another “once in a lifetime” adventure.

Rule #3, put savings on the monthly budget. I have a small amount for entertainment on my budget for movies or meals out, but then I have a larger amount for “future fun.” I have to put up the money towards my next trip as soon as I’m paid or I will find something else to waste the money on.

Rule #4, put it on autopilot! Twice a month money goes from my bank to my long term hunting account. I started a Wealthfront account and I dribble in my future hunting dreams without ever having to do anything about it.

Rule #5, gather the Acorns before winter. Aside from the budgeted amount I save every month for my future hunts, I have turned on a “round up” savings mechanism. Acorns monitors all of my credit cards and my checking acount, every transaction that goes through, it rounds up and withdraws from my checking account. While it does cost $1 per month, which is incredibly high from a percentage perspective, it does encourage me to stash about $40-$50 extra per month. So while it might cost me $12 per year that I really don’t need to spend, it does bank up $500-$600 that I wouldn’t otherwise save. That money goes a LONG way towards out-of-state camping hunts!!!

Rule #6, Be the CHANGE you want to see in the world. I would like to see my freezer full instead of empty, so when I pay cash for something I always pay with a bill. All coin change I get in a year goes in a jar. It always comes out to a few hundred dollars each year. I always have my guide’s tip plus emergency cash ready to go before any trip. Boy Scout motto, be prepared!

So there you go, there’s nothing magical in the plan. Just a little bit every two weeks, a little bit every time the card swipes, and a little bit every time I get coin change.

Those links for Wealthfront and Acorns are referral links. If you plan to use either of those services anyway, please consider clicking them to help me fund my next hunt!

I wish you the very best in your planning of your dream hunt!

A few thoughts about lions.

Right off the bat, I want to say that I have no interest in hunting big cats. I’ve never done it, and I assume I never will. What I am interested in is the conservation of habitat and animals, and the management techniques that protect both of them.

We had that whole Cecil debacle in July of 2015. Vocal and psychotic anti-hunters caused such a stir they actually accomplished their goal; a bunch of hunters decided not to hunt cats in Zimbabwe.  I’m sure many folks were very pleased with their results. And with their “victory” they created a new problem.

What happpens if a habitat can carry 300 lions and all the animals they need to kill, but you have 500 lions living there? If you don’t let trophy hunters pay to hunt them, you have to pay professional hunters to kill them. That’s right, for Zimbabwe they lost somewhere near ten million dollars of revenue and then they have to start paying people to go kill the same lions that were “saved” by the anti-hunters.

Just in case you think I’m too much of a pro-hunter to be objective, why not read up on the subject over on Nat Geo? There is plenty more information if you would like to conduct your own searches. I particularity enjoyed a piece from PETA suggesting that if we just stop hunting it will sort itself out. Look at all the countries in Africa that stopped hunting and they are the poorest of the lot with rampant poaching. Those are the countries leading the way towards extinction of species and destruction of habitat.

I very much look forward to seeing the management practices of South African land owners next summer and learning about how they establish their quotas when mixed herds live in a habitat with a certain potential to grow food.

Pumping up the draw weight

I was going to wait until January 1st, but I couldn’t help myself. I took an arrow and put a loop of tape around it at 29.5″ (my true draw with ASL longbows.) I strung up my 75# JET Wolverine and took a few practice draws tonight. Man, that bow felt great! The weight was fine, and holding it at anchor brought a nice muscle burn after a few seconds on each draw.

Every bit of burn felt like I was just a little bit closer to hunting buffalo next August.

I’ll be drawing this bow every morning between now and May 1st before I get my first cup of coffee. After that I’ll be on my 85# longbow until the hunt.

Every day, I am one day closer.

Africa 2017, preparations begin!

After doing much research and more than a little soul searching, I’ve decided to hunt Africa next year.  To be blunt, my desire to hunt a few animals over there has been uncontrollably strong. I want to experience the African bush, meet the people, and pursue the animals. The thing that weighed directly against this idea is the fact I’ve never pursued an animal I didn’t intend to eat.

That last part was a real gotcha for me, I’ve gone back and forth on the idea for years without coming to a clear conclusion. At least, until now. I was very fortunate in harvesting 4 animals this year, and with my freezer being so full I was able to give some meat to friends and family members who cherished the gift. This got me thinking about the stories of a Professional Hunter (PH) I met a while ago. He talked about American and European hunters shooting trophy animals and all of the meat not consumed in camp feeding nearby villagers. I read many accounts from both folks with hunting experiences over there, as well as a few articles from anti-hunters. Both sides gave some excellent points to really help me challenge my internal position.

Land in South Africa is privately owned. Just like ranches in Texas, everyone fences off their land from their neighbors. Whatever animals are within that fence are the property of that landowner. Landowners need to manage the herds at a healthy level so they don’t overpopulate leading to a crash or a disease break out.

That last part is important to understand. There are x number of hectares for a given ranch, only so much food can be grown in that land area. If there are too many impala, some must get killed to prevent them all from starving. These herds will be managed to a given number. Some animals will be killed by either paying hunters, or hired guns.

While other countries in Africa have held more appeal to me personally due to lack of fences, what I’ve come to appreciate about South Africa is just how well they have designed their hunting system. Truly it’s remarkable, when I look at all the different game laws in all the different US states, it’s amazing we don’t take some proven practices from them.

There are just a few animals I get really excited about, the vast majority I could take or leave. I must say the Cape Buffalo is singular in it’s effect on me.  It is by far the biggest and most dangerous of any animal I want to pursue in my lifetime. When it came time to plan my hunt, it was the one hunt I had to do.

Dare To Bowhunt is the operation I have chosen to go with. They hunt exclusively with bows, and Lammie himself is a recurve guy from what I’ve heard from some of his past clients.  I don’t have a long list of animals I want to hunt in Africa, but I will pursue the Buffalo first and foremost. Being a hog hunter, I really hope to get a chance at a warthog. I’ve also heard that impala is delicious (and VERY abundant on the property) so I’d like to harvest one of them too.

Given that a longbow Buffalo hunt is a pretty serious endeavor, I started preparations back in September. First thing was to come up with a workout plan to slowly build up to a point where I could comfortably handle my 85# longbow again. Most important part of the plan was minimizing the risk of injury ahead of the hunt. I have read and reread repeatedly Africa’s Most Dangerous and Buffalo! which I borrowed from my friend James.

January will bring the purchasing of some boots better suited for this environment, moving up to my 75# longbow for winter leagues, and purchasing airfare. It feels good to be doing so many preparations this far out, hopefully it will remove stress as the time gets closer.