In reaching out to hunter friends in the USA I often receive well-meant questions and criticisms. Here are some inputs which contain some all-round edification and educational value.
The only thing I have run into with regards to hunting in Africa which I am not pleased about is the fact that no game meat is able to be brought home. It is used in camp while hunting of course but does not compare to hunting in the states where you bring home a couple hundred pounds of meat if you get an Elk or Moose. My mounts are not because they are records but because they represent stepping stones in my hunting career.
This is a valid observation and testimony of good hunter ethics.
One of the reasons why hunting on private land in South Africa costs only about 20% of what is charged in Colorado, Texas, Wyoming and elsewhere is because the meat shot by foreign hunters stays with the outfitter / land owner (depending on the concession contracting) and he has a wholesale market for that - but only if it was a perfect brain shot - or a perfect heart shot on larger animals like buffalo, giraffe, kudu, wildebeest and eland with a premium bullet which left no slivers of lead in the meat (the latter which disqualifies it for human consumption in the commercial market).
The meat in fact CAN be exported - but to have the animal's glands bisected and analysed by a state veterinarian, and do a bacteria count to clear the carcass for export, and then the logistics, simply make it not worth the effort.
Unless the bullet had ripped the stomach open your animal's meat, with the bullet-spoiled sections removed, is shared by the outfitter, PH and camp staff - and the choice cuts certainly are part of the table fare in the hunting lodge or camp. Animals shot through the stomach are not used at all and is a present annoying wastage - and the basis for a poor-shot-placement risk management plan by outfitters which involves stricter education of visiting hunters.
Now, about what that "trophy" really is:
The new smells of dust and unfamiliar tree shapes; the long walk and balmy heat despite it being midwinter; the sudden flash of movement of an ear; the slow stalk; dry lips; the oh-so-s-l-o-w shouldering of the rifle (there is no such thing as a "handy rifle for snap shooting in the brush in Africa"); the soft plop! of the 30-06 that came as if by itself the moment your controlled exhaling lowered the crosshairs onto the low bulge of the humerus bone straight above the inner front leg;
the self discipline to immediately reload while keeping your eyes on the exact spot where the bull had stood; the agonising 10 minute quiet wait and truthful sharing with your PH of exactly where the crosshairs were at the shot; and then the heart-throbbing, slow walk to that exact position;
the identifying of the shot animal´s tracks and the quiet following of these - and then the thankful relief of seeing your first Africa game animal dead on his side 40 yards on;
then, after having been left alone with your kill for a quiet minute, the PH and tracker rolling the kudu bull over to see the bullet entrance hole, and then the sincere pat on your shoulder, and firm handshake, and congratulations on a perfect shot; the PHś accurate estimate of the horns - and the already impressive size of 45" (which are still a full 7 inches below Rowland Ward Trophy size) thrilling you - and at the same time saddening you for having removed him from the land;
seeing the shorts and raw leather ankle-boots-wearing, sun-tanned PH giving the beautiful, dead bull a sad little slap on the rump, getting up and assisting to carefully, almost lovingly set it up for photos - showing visible respect for its manly beauty;
then a sudden façade - to hide his own private sadness? - of firm, quick instructions to the crew to fetch the Toyota Landruiser for loading; the hanging and skinning of the carcass, and the PH detailing and discussing the bullet path with you - showing the cut top chambers of the heart almost severed from the aorta, and your inner pride of knowledge of a perfectly placed shot;
and as the sun makes a red-blooded departure to start a new day in faraway Wyoming, savouring the gentle biting condolences offered by a Scottish single malt on ice or the robust manliness of a cool, South African Shiraz dry red - you remember the insolent way your bull had looked down at you - as kudu do; and, moving a little closer to the warm orange flames of the sicklebush hardwood camp fire licking at the evening chill you experience and savour Africa in a strangely growing way.
ALL OF THAT is the collective sizzle and aroma of the "steak" you take back to the USA; and all of that is your collective trophy to remember - your evolvement towards becoming a more experienced hunter. That also is the "sizzle of the steak" I present to potential hunters of merit when I guide them in the USA as opposed to a one elk-moment in Colorado, or one, soulless, deer assassination at a corn feeder in Texas.
2. I will say also that I would be hard pressed to give up one of my firearms so that I could go and hunt. Both endeavors are too intermingled to me. I will say, that as I am getting older, I am feeling more inclined to whittle down the number of rifles I own. My main goal now is to get one rifle that fits my idea of a true high quality rifle. That means I want it built for me and not an off the shelf product.
(This observation was an honest response to my own mentioning that many American hunters own anything from 8 - 80 firearms, and that by selling three of the inexpensive unnecessary guns could pay for a round trip airfare to be on site at his outfitter in the bush).
You are an ideal candidate for a Musgrave Exhibition Model or a Sabi Rifles Custom in .308W / 30-06 / .300 H&H Magnum priced at about $1,800. If you are a 7mm afficionado a 7x64 Brenneke will be fine.
My own choice were I in your location and position? A 7x57mm Mauser with a throat long enough to accept at least a 168 gr premium quality bonded core or monolithic copper bullet.
The most difficult decision I once had to take was to sell my matched set of four SAKO Mod 85 rifles (.375 H&H / 30-06 / .270W / .243W) rifles to finance a truck I needed to buy. But I still had my Musgrave .308W, Lee Enfield .303 Brit, Walther .22 Hornet, and Spanish-Italian Gamba 12g shotgun.
Later I realised I in fact never had any use for the .243W - and only used the .270W for culling blesbok (brain shots at 180-250 yards with 150gr bullets simply because I had it in my safe - but the 30-06 with 165gr was still better). Now, with the .308W loaded with 150gr Hornady Interbond and zeroed at 220 yards, and the .303 with 180 gr Peregrine VRG-3 zeroed at 200 yards, and the Hornet zeroed at 180 yards I am still perfectly placed for all but Cape buffalo.
3. It will be a process of getting the US Hunters to realize that the world has shrunk enough to allow them the experience they now only believe the wealthy can partake. People like myself grew up reading the magazine stories about Earnest Hemingway and others that had the means and determination to drop everything and go to the "Dark Continent" to hunt for months at a time. I left everything I new and moved West so I could experience it before it was all gone, and it almost is now. You're going to have to make them realize that Africa is only hours away and waiting for them.
$166,000,000 being spent by visiting hunters in South Africa every year says that many Americans are breaking out of their mould of self enforced Pacific-island style isolation and are facing the big, perceived as dangerous - but inviting - world out there. There IS another world out here - a world with civility, and grace, and compassion, and computers, lots of wild game, and very good, consistent quality rifles, and men and women with both feet on the ground who shoot them rather well too; folks who do and whose ancestors have been hunting Africa's dangerous game for the better part of 350 years.
When, due to a lack of scientific process all Wyoming's and Colorado's best elk and mule deer and Texas white tail genes have been shot out, and only the in-bred funny horns remain, and the canyons reverberate from random shots by blaze orange clad shooters dotting the landscape, South Africa will still have 45 different species of game to be hunted - with no inbreeding within any specie. Science and good sense and common visions work together. Hunting here is an opportunity to join in the strategic management and ethical utilisation of a World Heritage Resource.
4. You just have to be careful to promote your hunting ethics and not make them a "your way or the highway" principle. It will be a job to change the way US hunters think about hunting because of all the advertising being done that tells them all they have to do is buy a certain product or hire a certain guide and they will have the trophy they dream about.
I read this as advice to be careful to not be too direct towards American men in marketing what one would have thought as being commonly accepted ethics in the hunting field - ethics towards nature in general, the animal being hunted - and towards people around you. I have this experience in Colorado of big, burly, bearded snowflakes feeling offended when I ask them to hit a 4" target at 200 yards in order to check their scope zero before we start hunting. Invariably they were the ones who could not manage that minimum skill - yet earlier had boasted about their long shots on game.
One can not state basic hunting requirements in an euphemistic tone. American women hunters outright embrace these straight-talking, minimum required inherent skills and hunter conduct that landowners and outfitters demand. Edification for both male and female hunters of course does happen in a supportive way months before the hunting starts:
The optimum cartridge to use for the animal to be hunted;
minimum shooting skills: Before departing the hunter must ensure he can consistently hit a 4" target off-hand at 50 yards (8 MOA); hit it at 100 yards from a field or make-shift rest (4 MOA); and from a dead rest at 200 yards (2 MOA). Most hunting rifles inherently possess at worst a .5 MOA accuracy.
using only premium quality, bonded core bullets of a minimum weight stipulated for the animals to be hunted;
ONLY do heart shots, placing the bullet exactly as indicated by his PH;
never shoot unless the certainty of perfect shot placement exists - that means to shoot only when his PH indicates to do so on the identified animal;
no cartridges in a rifle's chamber or magazine within 50 yards of any vehicle, and then ALL rifles will have their bolts open;
only chamber a cartridge once actual hunting starts - and NEVER move the safety catch to "Fire" until the rifle is shouldered. All magazines to be empty and bolts open when in company and not actually hunting.
Latest shot one hour before sunset.
All the above simply list what indeed is the standard here - and the only way hunting should be conducted anywhere.