Friday, 27 December 2013

You are all insane!

I love getting feedback about my blog and my hunting.  So when I get something special, I think it's important to share.  This comment popped up the other day to a post I published over a year ago following our 2012 safari. Hope they visit again soon!

"You are all insane. This creature poses no threat. You are. This creature is near extinction. 
To exterminate such beauty is obscene. You are guilty of such a travesty on life."

I thought a response was important...

Hello Anonymous - my name is Dan. So you're not fond of hunting right?  You are most welcome to visit but I thought I should point a couple of things out. You know this is a hunting blog? Mostly about hunting? And guns. Sometimes taxidermy.

Not to worry.

I admire your very passionate yet anonymous post, however I think you are lacking a few facts which would be worth providing you right here, right now.  For next time you visit. Here's the deal and I'll keep it really short.

Humans have built cities and roads and stadiums and borders and shops and schools and factories and telecommunications facilities and movie studios and wet and wild them parks and that has effected where wildlife can exist and to what extent said wildlife can roam its habitat.

As a result, some clever people have set aside large tracts of  privately owned land for wildlife.  They have taken away all domestic stock and internal fences, some have dropped their fences all together.  All for the wildlife. Most of these landowners are looking to make a dollar, even if the sole purpose the funds generated are for the maintenance and paying wages to staff to manage the

Unfortunately these parcels of land (which may be tens or even hundreds of thousands of acres) have a limited carrying capacity.  So the owners of the land and the government wildlife authorities review animal numbers and the condition of the habitat and make some decisions about how many of each species should be removed in order for that land to continue to provided good habitat for all species - a balance for the trees and the grass as well as the antelope and the predators. 


If Anonymous cares to read on, here's the rest of it...

Now we come to the part where those animals must actually be removed.  It cannot be indiscriminate - it must be a highly targeted strategy so as not to remove young or breeding individuals. Options available are:
  1. live capture for translocation;
  2. sport hunting; or
  3. aerial shooting.
Live capture is an industry in itself and where there is a demand for the excess animals, assuming the terrain allows it and that the entire exercise is economically viable, then this is an excellent option.

Sport hunting can generate a huge income and requires a fairly modest operation - a professional hunter, a couple of skinners and trackers, a cook, a vehicle and a simple camp.  It's fairly non-invasive and I expect you would have a very tough time knowing that a hunter had been in the area, even if they were successful. The meat, skin, horns and ivory is totally recovered and utilised. This provides protein for a reasonable price to locals (often at no cost to them) and creates employment opportunities in the many related industries.

Assuming that the quota of excess animals is not shot by hunters, these animals still have to be removed as part of the total management strategy. So in come the choppers. An aerial shooting operation is highly disruptive to the animals on the ground.  The game reserve must bear the cost for the chopper itself, the pilot, the shooter and a large team on the ground if the meat is to be recovered.

Now we come back to the old bull giraffe, as you put it - a species "nearly extinct" - a beautiful animal which I "exterminated" - mostly because I am "insane".

We were hunting a private game reserve that adjoins Kruger National Park. We were possibly the last hunters for the 2012 season and after out visit, whatever game wasn't harvested would be taken off by the choppers; a big cost, with no foreign hunter dollars coming in to offset the expense.

The Game Warden from the Reserve that was assigned to our hunting party was not a hunter himself and had not been hunting before, however he was enthusiastic about the fact that the reserve was earning good dollars in return for the removal of animals that had to go, regardless of how they went.  Our Warden was also impressed with how discriminating and thoughtful we were - I wasn't surprised at all.

Bearing in mind that we hunted the Southern Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis giraffa), it seems appropriate to provide a response to some of the very emotionally charged language in this comment:

"This creature is near extinction..."

According to The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and the data they have regarding the major threats on this species, I'll let them do the talking:

Major Threat: While southern populations are increasing in abundance, northern populations have been decreasing due to habitat degradation and poaching.

"To exterminate such beauty is obscene..."

Ultimately there's no tip-toeing around the fact that I killed this grand old animal - but totally destoyed?  I don't think so.  There are some positives to come out of our hunt.  We left behind a huge amount of meat for a population greatly lacking protein in their diet.  We left behind some waste and trimmings for the carnivores - both predators and scavengers in the reserve.  And we also left behind cash.  This particular Game Reserve was profitable for the first time in its 15 years of operation as this was the first year they approved the use of sport hunting to remove excess game. Photographic tourists just don't pay the bills. 

"You are all insane..."

Am I and other hunters in a state of mind which prevents normal perception, behaviour, or social interaction? Am I seriously mentally ill? My doctor doesn't think so, but if it's a matter of perception, I guess I'll leave that up to you to decide...

Monday, 7 October 2013

M'eye Precious

We’ve had a rough trot in the land of the hunters. Murphy paid us a little visit and he liked it here, so he stayed a while. All is not lost yet, so its very likely that dear Murphy’s hiding in a cupboard or behind the fridge.

But this is a serious post so other than saying that it’s been raining shit in our neck of the woods, I’ll cut to the chase and just get serious. You see it’s my eye. M’eye precious.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Hey trendsetters

trend·set·ter  /ˈtren(d)ˌsetər/ 
     A person who leads the way in fashion or ideas. 

I am what I am, and regardless of what might be the "in thing" at any particular time, I am who I am.

In 1999 I made a dozen dining chairs for our little house on the prairie. Hewn from heavy slabs of Corymbia maculata, commonly known as the Spotted Gum - the chairs are a big two-handed lift, more of a slide really. But they're very well constructed; mortice and tenon joints throughout and a two-part epoxy resin has held the tight-fitting joints in this oily timber together for an short age. Craftsmanship in timber. 

Seat coverings were a tough call for a minute, until my wife had the audacity to call "skins." Goats and scrubbers, fallow and wildebeest, red, chital and kudu made for an interesting menagerie of hunted game that we could sit on. 

Trendy? I don't think so.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

African Hunting Gazette launches online forum!

Hello hunters, wherever you may be.

A few years ago while on safari, I was snoozing at the Southern Comfort Lodge in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe after a meeting with the local pigeon racing club. I had a head full of Savanna and dreams of the black buffalo I would be chasing in the weeks ahead. There were khakis strewn across the room and my Pelican 1750 in the corner keeping the .300 and .450 banduki nice 'n' cosy.  And as luck would have it, just by the lamp, was a copy of African Sporting Gazette...

The last issue of the African Sporting Gazette, and the first issue of the African Hunting Gazette

Years later, Craig and Lesley Hunt are still running the Southern Comfort Lodge and I'm still a mad keen hunter! However the African Sporting Gazette has grown up a bit and become the African Hunting Gazette (AHG).

Just recently, the team at AHG have started a forum about all things to do with the grand adventure that is African safari. The forum is being host at their new site and to register you need to visit their "Create Account" page here

Given the quality of this quarterly publication, the excellent photography, brilliant contributions and top quality print, I hope that the forum membership will be equally mature and passionate about Africa. As they say in techy land, I'll see you in the forums!

And if you're looking for a top quality hunting magazine based in the South Pacific - you cannot go past the excellent publication, also quarterly, Guns & Game Magazine

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Sentimental me

Early in life I started collecting things. It all began with postage stamps. Thinking back, I had no real philatelic passions, but the fact that there were so many to collect, such variety, some so exotic, some so rare, it somehow made it an exciting process. Collecting postage stamps, exciting ay? Hmmm...

Then I started hunting.

Wandering through some quite remote bushland I would come across weathered and rusted memories of people who came before me. And I collected them.

As I realised the value of being able to identify species by scat and spoor I looked very carefully for well-preserved specimens. I collected those too.

And as an amateur taxidermist, very often a non-trophy animal would have an unusual pelage or antler formation, so I would preserve these for their uniqueness. I got sentimental.

Then I took it further.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Guns & Game Magazine, no.79

In the lead up to our 2012 elephant safari, I put in a few days of hunting to get my eye in with my old .450 Ackley Magnum; I figured a bit of practice holding on couldn't hurt!

One of those trips was a great solo adventure on the western plains where I was lucky enough to get my big bore trained on a few big boars. See the full story in Guns & Game Magazine, July-September 2013, number 79. 

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Shoot first, ask questions later

Every hunter's done it.  I thought I had well and truly learned my lesson in 2009 when I passed up a monster Nyala while on safari in South Africa's Limpopo Province.  We had arrived on a property in Thabazimbi on the banks of the Matlabas River, mostly to hunt the Brown and Spotted Hyena that frequent the area, but also to nail a nice Nyala. We had been hunting for three quarters of an hour when my PH, Stephan, pointed out a massive bull patrolling a clearing ahead of us.  Everything was in our favour - the wind was right, we had the element of surprise and there was plenty of time for a well considered shot.

   "No mate, let's leave him. We have plenty of time."

Stephan looked at me like I was speaking in Japanese.  A strong man from a South African farming family, the love of the hunt coursed through his veins and he was dumbfounded by my reluctance to shoot.  In hindsight he was right; I was an idiot.  Nine days later I shot a nice bull, but not nearly as good as the old boy we spotted in the forty-fifth minute of the hunt...

Friday, 24 May 2013

All you spammers out there

I've been really, really, really busy lately. So busy that I haven't had a minute to visit my own blog, let alone do some writing or catch up on my favourite blogs. 
It seems that if you let a blog sit idle for a bit, the spammers get a grip and dump hundreds of comments on your precious collection of midnight ramblings. Telling me how awesome I am, how enlightening my post has been, how its changed your life, how you'll be back and you'll bring your friends too....

Then you finish with a link to your concrete website, cheap baby cots or some money lending scam...

Well let me tell you I've figured you out you bastards!

Sure you got a couple of your spam comments through... I was naive and read the first two lines of your long and boring post, dismissing you as a lonely fan who doesn't shoot, hunt, skin or butcher...

Then I read the ad for concrete polishing in my post about our 2012 encounters with Africa's big cats and I knew that Blogger's Spam Filter had failed and I had to take matters into my own hands...

Comment Moderation. 

One post at a time. It's over. Go on. Try again. Go ahead punk, make my day. 

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Feline encounters on safari

In August of 2012 we spent three weeks in South Africa hunting elephant, hyena and a couple of the plains game species I had lucked out on during previous safaris. We were fortunate enough to have encounters with lion, leopard and cheetah - so very lucky to have these sitings in such a short space of time! The photography certainly doesn't do justice to the experience; poor light, distance, thick bush and brief encounters meant that we didn't always capture the moment as we would like...

But the stories are part of the adventure... here's what we saw...


Saturday, 2 March 2013

Confessions of a serial killer

I first read this post almost a year ago this month, and I enjoyed it so much I wanted to share it with the DaggaBoy Blog tribe.  I think the opening paragraph sums up how a lot of city dwelling hunters feel.  I've been trying to get in touch with 'Shooter,' the author of this piece and a member of this blog for a while to get his approval to share this post, but with no response, I thought I'd do it anyway!  All credit to you 'Shooter' for a wonderful piece of prose; links and citation below.

Yes I am a serial killer. I didn’t know it till I was told. I never had any remorse for my actions or felt that I was doing anything wrong. I liked what I did and looked forward to it. Yes, I suppose most people wouldn’t agree with me and I write this confession addressing all those people. Especially the ones who made me realise what I was...

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

A quick rabbit shoot

I'd had quite enough of "everything" by the end of last week and I could feel the bitumen beckoning me, the old Marlin willing me to unpack it from its tight niche in the safe, the Toyota calling out:
"Go west, young man, and grow up with the country."
                                           John B. L. Soule, c.1851
A couple of braces of bunnies: happy days!

Monday, 18 February 2013

HuntFest is coming to town!

Calling all hunters out there to get involved; HuntFest is coming to town!

The South Coast Hunter's Club (SCHC) has developed the idea of "HuntFest", an annual, Australia wide photographic and video competition held in conjunction with relevant displays of hunting, camping, bush walking and general outdoors equipment, game meats and all of nature's bounty (seafood, wine and local produce), firearms safety training, a display by Game Council NSW and other approved hunting organisations.

You can visit the website for the inaugural HuntFest here

The event at Narooma on the NSW south coast has been granted a five year licence by the Eurobodalla Council; great news for hunters as like Game Council NSW, hunting becomes an entrenched part of state and national legislation, a part of normal community events not just a minority activity as touted by the anti-everything crowd!

I know I'll be setting aside some time to dig through hunting photos, maybe the old "rabbit with fox" might win itself another award?  Wouldn't that be nice! Wonder what the wife has planned for me this June long weekend?  Maybe another road trip down south might suit the family...?

For further information on the events being held at HuntFest contact the organisers at:

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Blame-happy culture way off target

I try not to be the fellow who re-blogs or just shares links, but sometimes its really worth sharing... like when our mass media publishes an article or editorial that is not anti-gun ownership waffle and political spin. This is worth sharing. And because none of us know when it might happen again, I really wanted to capture the moment on the blog for future reference. Good article, intelligent content, written by no other than a SSAA executive. What's amazing is the the Sydney Morning Herald finally printed this article! Enjoy.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Shady Pines Saloon

I was out for drinks with colleagues the other night and one of the younger lads suggested we head to Shady Pines Saloon on account of the taxidermy they have used in this hidden bar and my "strong interest" in taxidermy and game in general... Shady Pines Saloon has a unique theme for a Sydney bar, totally, unmistakeably, American mid-west.

We were in Darlinghurst; we stepped off Oxford onto Crown Street - would you believe I was born a hundred yards from this very spot - and took a quick right down an anonymous alley. Yes, this is an inner-city trendy bar, it just happens to look like a cross between my gunroom and a shearing shed once you're inside. And I'm not trendy unless the measure of trendy is the distance between your two front teeth (I've had to have this chat with my girls already!). From the street, well, it looks... shady...

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Friends and hunters and inspiration

I've not written about Namibia for a long time, and what I have written has yet to pop up here on DaggaBoy Blog. Like many good stories, this one starts with a neat little anecdote... and in this case it goes to show that friends and hunters and inspiration can be found in the most random and unexpected places.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

A shot of a tsessebe

2009. On our final, full day on safari, we decided it should to be an easy hunting day. There were some white blesbok getting about at the back of the place we were hunting, however on the way out there we bumped a herd of the very rarely hunted tsessebe. I was with the missus on this safari, six months pregnant at the time. Our daughter (who was 16 months old) was along for the ride, as was a good friend of hours from Sydney who was playing nanny on safari. The whole lot of us were in the bakkie while our PH Stephan rode up front with Fanwell - tracker and skinner.

We all looked at the tsessebe in the distance. I looked at the boss. The boss looked at me. We both looked at Stephan... we sat there bending spoons in our mind and without saying a word, agreed to have a closer look at the herd "just in case" there was a good bull amongst them...  


Thursday, 17 January 2013

DaggaBoy Blog milestone - 10,000 visits - no celebratory gunfire please

Yay! I've just had my 10,000th visitor to DaggaBoy Blog! Quite a milestone for this little venture and while I wasn't sure how committed I would be to tap-tap-tapping away to some readers who may-or-may-not be reading, I'm very happy that I've been able to maintain some momentum with regular posts and hopefully some interesting content.

I've really enjoyed the comments that have come through, mostly from members and other bloggers. I guess the idea was to share my stories with others and any opportunity to discuss those stories is a good one. So thank you if you've taken the time to keep up to date with DaggaBoy Blog and especially to those who have left comments; excellent to hear from you!

As great a milestone as 10,000 visits may be for me, the celebrations will be limited to this post, perhaps a cider, perhaps two? No celebratory gunfire please, I was reading into it and apparently a lot of people are dying from celebratory gunfire all over the world.

So I will borrow some celebratory gunfire from my middle eastern brothers...

البنادق هي كبيرة
Over the past 14 months, other than general hunting content, the blog has also touched on niche subjects I'm interested in - Africa's big game, the hornet project, return to nitro express and taxidermy 101. There'll be more on all of these in 2013 as well as new content in C.A.R. safari and some great content in beer o'clock.

If you're enjoying DaggaBoy Blog become a member so I can see your smiling face every time I log in. If you're a social-networker, like us on facebook - there's a button up there somewhere. No catch, no gimmicks, just become a part of the cyber hunting community.

For those who hate hunting and private gun ownership, sign up as well so that you might teach us something about the government taking away any rights, freedoms or privileges we may have, and perhaps enlighten this hunter about how environmentally friendly soya bean production is and how it saves so many animals from dying... actually, hold that thought, you might learn something here...

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Hyenas in Addis Ababa

I'm a huge fan of the hyena and think they are a wonderful animal. One of Africa's most successful predators, perfectly adapted to long pursuit hunting and total utilisation of their prey. They kill the old and sick grazers, helping to maintain the health of herding animals and clean up dead carcasses across Africa, greatly benefiting the ecosystem. 

Hyenas offer wonderful game viewing opportunities for travelers and are a very challenging and unique game animal for hunt the hunter willing to put in the effort.  I have been fortunate to hunt the Spotted Hyena and the Brown Hyena and have had success with both species; the Striped Hyena is not easily available to the hunter. 

You can read Part I of my hyena hunting exploits by clicking the link below. Part II is a "work in progress" and will be online soon...

The latest issue of African Indaba has an article by Ludwig Siege titled "Hyenas in Addis Ababa".  Another example of the human animal conflict that can arise in fringe areas across Africa where humans and wild animals must co-exist.  This article relates to hyena in Ethipoia's capital city, Addis Ababa. To view the current African Indaba issue in full click on this link

Click here to read the article "Hyenas in Addis Ababa"

Thursday, 3 January 2013

New Year's Deer

We headed up north on the 30th of December to a friend's cattle property.  The drive was long and uneventful, the food and the company were great, and the hunting was as good as it ever is.  It's been quite dry and the deer have been coming out of the scrub to feed on the few green patches left on the farm - no good for the cattleman, and as it turned out, no good for the deer either. However even with a concentrated effort to cull the deer, numbers are as healthy as ever.

Up and about at 4:00am, a big call on New Year's Day! The walk to the tops was easy going in the cool temperatures before the sun showed itself. I left the cottage on foot and hiked well into deer country well before day break.