African Elite Safaris Surviving the Pandemic
Posted by

Over the past year, I have developed a great online friendship with Richter van der linden from African Elite Safaris. HERE is the first interview I did with Richter, back in March. It is no secret that Covid-19 has affected lives and businesses worldwide, and it’s probably not an exaggeration to say that the Guiding/Outfitting, Safari and Fishing Charter businesses have been affected as badly or worse – than any business. I wanted to check in with Richter to see how he was faring. ~DesertRat

1. This Covid has hurt businesses all around the globe. How has it affected your business?

Well, Covid-19 affected the whole tourism around the world, we are mainly in tourism; hunting safaris is what we do. We have a client base of about 70% foreign hunters and 30% South African hunters. 2020 would have been a good year for us but in March 2020 just before the first Clients would have started their safaris, South Africa got shut down due to Covid and all flights were cancelled. We could not hunt even with South African clients for about 7 weeks, if you go and do the math we needed to push a lot of South African Clients to make it in 2020. Good news is we strive in being one of the best and had a lot of referrals from clients so our business could go on and we will be here in 2021 ready for the foreign hunters.

2. Regarding safaris, have some countries been affected worse than others?

I think that regarding safaris all the countries are affected the same, the only difference is that some have opened up their borders for foreign hunters and some have not. We think that South Africa will open late 2020, but there will be strict protocols for foreign hunters to enter South Africa. Like Covid tests not older than 5 days etc.

3. When safaris suffer, how does it affect the locals?

I think this is one of the best questions; to answer this question we need to start at the top and work our way down to the locals. Let me explain: When we are busy with a safaris the following parties are involved, the Outfitter, land owner and workers (locals). African Elite Safaris have 4 families to support total of 14 peoples. The Landowner has a family of 4, and 8 workers (locals) with average of 4 per family so the total of 36 people dependent on safari. We have about 2500 registered Outfitters in South Africa and 10000 game farms, Outfitters and family members with dependents = 35 000 people.

Land owners with workers, family members and dependents= 360 000 peoples.

Hunting in South Africa is worth around one and a half billion dollars a year- more than half of which comes from trophy hunting. Now we can see what the effect of the Covid did only on hunting in South Africa.

4. What are some things you have been doing while business is down? I know you were doing some conservation projects..

Well I did a lot of varminting for surrounding farmers mostly Jackal culling; we also did some culling on game populations which helped the people a lot because game meat was pushed into the market at a lower rate than beef.

African Elite Safaris also donated an Eland cow that we hunted for a homeless soup kitchen, this happened in May 2020.

Donated eland

5. What can sportsmen do to help?

Sportsman can donate some of the meat they harvested to the less privileged people, because what happened in South Africa is that the poor are only worst of than before Covid.

6. Is business picking up at all, or is it still the same as the beginning of the Covid crisis?

Well at the moment business with the local clients is good, we do not have the same turnover as the years before but we will make it. Lucky for us we always have a SA client base = the term “do not burn your bridges” definitely applies. African Elite Safaris also introduced 12 kids to the sport this year with their first bucks from the age of 5-16, it is always a good year when new hunters are born. Some Outfitters only hunted with foreign clients and I think those had a tough year as a result. Below are some of the Trophies we hunted in 2020 with our South African Clients.

We cannot wait for 2021 season to have our foreign hunters coming back to South Africa.

7. Are you running any specials as incentives?

We had some awesome specials for 2021! At the moment we are going to implement them for 2021 that means that all the specials for 2020 will remain the same for 2021. One of our best package special was 6 nights 5 days hunting, 1 Zebra, 1 Waterbuck, 1 Warthog and 1 Impala for $ 3990 – 20%. This was an all-inclusive package.

Im grateful for Richter taking the time to answer some questions and relieved they are surviving the economic impacts of Covid. If an African hunt is on your 2021 Bucket List (or not!) there’s never been a better time to go. Richter and his staff will do an amazing job when you get there and he’s a great resource to create the best hunt for you. They also do ecotours, fishing trips, upland game, etc.

Have a look at their hunting information

Check out their fishing information

Not a hunter? Check out their tours

Review – Laptop Power Bank From Eggtronic
Posted by

Thanks to Cassandra from Asylum PR for reaching out to me about the Eggtronic Laptop Power Bank. The unit shipped for review arrived just in time as I had just finished a Coues hunt in southern Arizona and had struggled with the power banks I had taken with me. Frankly they were junk – they took a long time to charge, and couldn’t even fully charge a phone drained down to less than 15%. I ended up using my truck to charge my phone more than anything!

From Asylum: “Camping and outdoor kits used to comprise of little more than a tent, swiss army knife and the basic gear needed to do your recreation. Today’s outdoor enthusiasts tend to bring along phones, cameras and GPS devices, but all these gadgets run on batteries that will need to be recharged and the Eggtronic 20,000mAh Laptop Power Bank can help keep your gadgets charged up when there isn’t a wall outlet for miles. The portable charger comes equipped with two USB-A ports to recharge phones, tablets and camera as well as a 45W Power Delivery USB-C port that can quickly recharge compatible laptops. The power bank is covered in soft, water-repellent linen canvas with a soft touch frame around the side as well as a built-in LCD display that tells you the remaining battery life in one clear number, so you won’t be left unexpectedly without power.”

From their website:

All the power you need in one incredible 63W backup battery.

Multi-Device Backup Power: 20,000mAh backup battery with 63W total output over three ports (45W USB-C PD, 18W USB-A Quick Charge 3.0, 5W USB-A 2.4A) can charge 3 devices simultaneously.

Ultra-Fast: Fast charge your MacBook and other fast charge compatible devices. The two high power fast charge ports (USB-C Power Delivery and USB-A Quick Charge 3.0) deliver power at 2x the speed.

Universal USB-C/USB-A Compatibility: Charge all your USB and USB-C devices on the go. Automatic device detection ensures your devices will always charge safely and efficiently.

Stylish and Practical Design: Slim and portable profile, covered in soft waterproof linen canvas and a soft touch frame. The LCD display shows the remaining battery life at a glance.

Package Includes: Laptop Power Bank, USB-C to USB-C cable (3ft/0.91m), USB-C to USB-A adapter tip, user manual. Designed in Italy.

So I really tried to put this charger through its paces. It has three different ports, two of them are “fast charge” ports. The unit charges up fairly quickly; roughly in the same time it takes to fully charge a much smaller unit. It indeed “fast charged” my phones – about in the same amount of time other “fast chargers” take. I easily got three full phone charges out of one charge, and probably could’ve done more. As the final test, I let my laptop drain down and it charged my laptop over night.

What impressed me about the unit is the size and durability. It is really kind of stylish with its fabric (tweed-like) covering – much more than I need for hunting and fishing but it looks nice in my office as well. Best of all is the size. It’s really not much bigger than the large cell phones – the unit is roughly 4″ x 7″ in size. These days, cell-phones and other devices are virtually a “must have” in the field, even when you are deliberately remote. Whether you’re planning to be off the grid or want a power bank for emergencies, this is a great unit. It retails for right around 70 bucks and in my estimation is well worth it. It gets the Desert Rat Seal of Approval for sure and even better – would make a great Christmas gift too.

AZGFD Proposed Rule Change Proves (Again) Lack of Unity in the AZ Hunting Community
Posted by

In the old days, when under attack, it was standard practice to “circle the wagons”. Before that, it was roll up the drawbridge, lock the gate. Even the Neanderthals knew there was safety in numbers, as the first tribes were formed. Not so in the modern hunting community, where we bicker constantly about long shots, baits, modern muzzleloaders, hounds, the use of Guides and now – trail cameras.

Game and Fish recently met to discuss amongst other things, the use of trail cameras. Purportedly, they cite “fair chase” as the reason for their concern. 5-0 the Commissioners voted to move ahead proposed rule changes which would ban the use of trail cameras. Social media immediately came alive with posts, counter-posts, slams and arguments – all around the use of trail cameras. Now, you may already know what I think of the Internet; it is a double-edged sword. On one hand it is a tremendous source of knowledge and has a communication power that can spread a message worldwide in minutes. On the other hand, it is a medium where every conversation is quickly reduced to the lowest common denominator. Where anyone who can tap keyboard keys can pass themselves off as an expert on nearly every topic. A place where we communicate with others in ways we would never get away with face-to-face. Memes and quotes and easy snide comments have polarized hunting topics just like politics, vaccines, or anything else worth discussing on social media.

There’s a quote attributed to Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984). It is about the cowardice of German intellectuals and certain clergy—including, by his own admission, Niemöller himself—following the Nazis’ rise to power and subsequent incremental purging of their chosen targets, group after group. The quote states,

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

The lack of unity in the hunting racks is appalling but not surprising. One may blame the internet. We might blame the commercialization of hunting. We could blame the urbanization of North America. Or, we could just say it is the general, prevalent spread of selfishness and lack of civility that plague modern society. “Not my monkey, not my circus”. Maybe it’s cancel culture. If I don’t like trail cameras, nobody should use them. If I’ve never used a Guide, anyone who does is lazy. If I don’t take 800-yard shots, then no one should. And those very arguments rage on Facebook and other forms of Social Media.

We’ve been here before in Arizona. Trapping was banned. Predator hunting contests. Deer urine and bait. Other things that only affected part of the outdoor community have been successfully curtailed, or at least attacked. Politically, Arizona turned this past election and mark my words – attitudes about hunting are changing too. Sooner or later, all forms of hunting will be threatened. Some people shrug off the changing political landscape. Some mock those who raise the specter of the anti-hunters. Make no mistake – the times they are a changin’. The anti-hunters are organized, and most of all – they are united. They want all forms of hunting gone. Then fishing. And rodeos. Circuses are pretty much a thing of the past. You’ll see. It won’t be next month, it won’t be next year. Probably won’t even be this decade. But sooner or later – how you hunt – will be threatened. And we will have no one to thank but ourselves.

Photo credit: CouesWhitetail.com

Trail cameras aren’t just used for hunting. There are lots of people who use them for a variety of reasons. Hunters use them to verify the presence, type and quantity/quality of game in a given location. Cameras have become so popular that there are Facebook Groups dedicated to sharing trail camera photos. That being said, it would be a bit of a stretch to say that trail cameras directly contribute or assist in the taking of game. One wonders if Game and Fish are not tired of game cameras so much as the bad behavior associated with them – dozens of cameras on top of each other at waterholes. Near-continuous instances of theft, damage and tampering with trail cameras. It’s lunacy, and representative of the childish and selfish behavior that is present in the hunting community today.

There are still some amazing individuals in the hunting community. Knowledgeable folks who are always ready to mentor, coach or offer some tips. People who are willing to give up time and energy helping new hunters, educating youth, or improving habitat. There are some fabulous conservation groups in Arizona who spend thousand of hours every year helping kids and veterans, and doing projects that help all of Arizona’s wildlife. But those people, those groups – are the minority. At the end of the day, I just don’t think it will be enough.

BALL Watch Company’s Partnership with Ducks Unlimited and Mossy Oak Continues
Posted by

Another great high-end gift idea! ~DesertRat

For each BALL Fireman Ducks Unlimited Watch sold, a portion benefits Ducks Unlimited’s Wetlands Conservation Efforts.

BALL Watch Company continues its partnership with two iconic outdoor brands, Ducks Unlimited and Mossy Oak Brand Camo, offering the ultimate watch for hunters and outdoor enthusiasts—the BALL Fireman Ducks Unlimited. Starting at $1,149, Ducks Unlimited members receive a 25% discounted price of $862. Available from the BALL Watch Online: shop.ballwatch.ch

What’s good for the field is good in the field. The BALL Fireman Ducks Unlimited Watch proves rugged enough for dense woods, freshwater streams, treacherous mountains, or dark caves. This crafted timepiece exceeds any challenge that hunters, climbers, hikers, mountain bikers, anglers, backpackers, or explorers face while pursuing their passion, yet is well-suited when style points count.

Designed for life in or out of the wilderness, BALL Fireman Ducks Unlimited comes in two distinct models—a classic black dial or Mossy Oak Original Bottomland camouflage dial—both perfectly paired to your shotgun, waders, or camo gear. What’s more, the camouflage dial is only available in a limited edition of 1,999 pieces and comes with a free Mossy Oak Original Bottomland camouflage NATO strap.

• Movement: Automatic caliber BALL RR1103
• Power Reserve: 38 hours
• Shock Resistance: 5,000Gs
• Case: Stainless Steel, Ø 40mm, height 11.3 mm
• Water Resistance: 100m/330ft
• Anti-magnetism: 4,800A/m
• Patented Micro Gas Tubes: 63 tubes on the hour, minute, second hands and dial combine to produce unsurpassed luminosity for night reading capability without an external power source—
100 times brighter than luminous paint
• Functions: Hours, minutes, sweep seconds and date
• Crown: Screwed-in crown
• Crystal: Anti-reflective sapphire crystal
• Bracelet: Stainless steel

A superb Swiss-made mechanical timepiece, the Ball Fireman Ducks Unlimited remains available for a limited time and is manufactured and sold under license from Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
MSRP: Fireman Ducks Unlimited: US$1,149 Fireman Ducks Unlimited Camouflage with Free NATO Strap: US$1,399

Buy them HERE

About Ducks Unlimited
Ducks Unlimited is the world’s leading private waterfowl and wetlands conservation organization which restores and manages wetlands and degraded habitats for North American waterfowl.

About Mossy Oak
Mossy Oak is the creator of the revolutionary Bottomland design, a “fistful of dirt” natural earth elements color pattern, allowing hunters to blend into surrounding dark hardwoods, flooded timber, and tree-stand environments.

Gilbert Hosts Great Youth Fishing Event
Posted by

I serve proudly on the Board of the Arizona Mule Deer Organization and I am also the Parks and Facilities Manager for the Town of Gilbert in Arizona. In October I had a cool opportunity to wear both hats at the same time, when AMDO asked to help support Grand Opening celebrations at Gilbert Regional Park by hosting a youth Fishing Derby.

Phase 1B of Gilbert Regional Park opened in mid-October, adding a 7-acre fishing lake, a 10-acre great lawn, a pavilion for concerts and events, along with pickleball courts, basketball courts and sand volleyball courts. Due to Covid restrictions, instead of having one huge Grand Opening event, the Town had several days’ worth of events, with different activities each day. The folks at Arizona Mule Deer were excited to help host the youth Fishing Derby, providing around a dozen volunteers to help the more than 100 kids who had registered to fish.

There were trophies for 1st, 2nd and 3rd in three categories – heaviest fish, heaviest total weight and ugliest fish. In addition, every participant received a cool medal.

What was surprising to the volunteers was the number of first-time anglers fishing in the tournament. There were big families, small families and kids from ages 4 – 16 participating. There were single moms and toddlers, grandparents and more – lots of folks enjoying the beautiful new park.

Town staff and AMDO Volunteers did a great job. The tournament was well-organized. AMDO and similar conservation groups love teaching kids whether it is hunting, safe firearms handling, fieldcraft or fishing – and the day didn’t disappoint. Volunteers helped kids with bait and technique, helped get them signed in and helped with weigh-ins. At the end, they even fileted the fish for those who wanted to learn.

Lady anglers owned the day, winning the biggest fish (an 8-lb catfish) and a number of other top finishes as well. The boys had a good showing too, of course, but the gals came out on top when all was said and done.

Well done to the Town of Gilbert and congratulations for opening another phase of a truly beautiful park! Well done also to the Arizona Mule Deer Organization for supplying a good bunch of volunteers in spite of simultaneously staffing a (rescheduled) fundraising banquet in Show Low that same night. It’s not a cliché to say “kids are our future” – they truly are. It is important to foster good ethics in kids and teach them to be good stewards of our natural resources while enjoying the great outdoors!