Saturday, 8 April 2017

TEXAS, HIGH TIME, PART ONE


TEXAS, HIGH TIME

PART ONE




For almost as long as I dreamt of hunting in Africa, I had dreamt of hunting in America.  I had lived out my dream of hunting in Africa, having taken three safaris’ for plains game, two in South Africa and one in Zimbabwe.  Although the urge to book another safari in the Dark Continent was very strong, I decided a trip to America was long over due, and began scouring the Internet for hunts that would be with in my price range.

The truly big game of North America like moose, brown bear, big horn sheep, dall sheep and elk all command a sizeable fee in order to hunt them, and most require a tag to be drawn in a lottery system, that may take years of entering before your successful.  The white tailed deer is of course America’s favourite species of game animal, with many thousands of hunters going to the woods every year, with an array of weaponry to bag a buck.  I looked at all these species but decided that they were all a bit too much money ‘they were not out of reach, but they would require me to save my pennies for a while longer before booking.


One species on the other hand that did not require me to successfully draw a tag, and was with in my price range was the wild turkey.  There are four sub species of turkeys in North America, the Rio Grande, the Eastern, Merriam’s, and the Osceola.  I chose the Rio Grande, as it inhabits a large geographical area of the southern states of America, and can be hunted at reasonable rates.  After wading through various outfitters on the Internet I found one who offered turkeys, vermin, hog and javalina hunts as well.  Having taken warthog and bush pig in Africa and wild boar in Europe, I was keen to add two more pig species to my collection.  I realise that the javalina or collard peccary is not a true pig, but it does get grouped in with the pigs in Safari Club International record book.  A package of two turkeys, two javalina, unlimited hogs and vermin was in my opinion the most bang for my buck in the USA.

 
Six months later I got my first view of the North American continent, as my British Airways flight passed over Goose bay in Labrador, a couple of hours later and I was in Chicago, then on to San Antonio, home of the Alamo.  I was collected from the airport by my outfitters wife and his mother, who loaded my baggage and me into their pickup, before setting off to Laredo, a four plus hour drive.



We arrived in camp at about 2.30 AM local time, and after a short chat with my outfitter Clay Pope of Pope brothers outfitters I went to bed.  My bedroom being a steel-shipping container, with a bunk bed and an old air con unit in it, not the Ritz, but adequate considering how little time I was to spend there.  Three and a half hours latter I was up and dressed and exploring the camp, now in the half-light of dawn I could see that it consisted of several steel shipping containers and a static caravan, arranged in a U shape under a steel roof, to keep off the midday sun.  At the back of the caravan there was a skinning area, consisting of a steel frame to hang game from, and a hosepipe to wash away any blood.  The camp was located in a huge expanse of south Texas desert, nothing but prickly pear and thorn bush as far as the eye could see in every direction.

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