Hannes du Plessis – a genuine professional in every sense of the word.
African Hunting Gazette: When and where were you born?
Hannes du Plessis: I was born 6 February 1963 in Windhoek, Namibia.
AHG: Tell us about your family.
HdP: My wife, Geraldine, and I got married in 1990. Geraldine was born and raised in Namibia and also grew up on a farm. We have two daughters, Marie-Louise (25) and Caren (23).
AHG: How did you become a PH? How did it all begin?
HdP: Growing up on a farm in Namibia means that one gets exposed to hunting from a very young age. Since I can remember I went hunting with my father for meat purposes. Although he never was a professional hunter he taught me a lot about animals, their behavior, habits and mannerisms. Also, to respect the animals, even after you hunted them. I started off as a hunting guide and qualified as a PH in 1998.
AHG: Which countries have you hunted and where are you hunting these days?
HdP: I have only hunted in Namibia.
AHG: If you could return to any time or place in Africa, where would it be?
HdP: As a professional hunter, any place in Namibia. If I could return as a tourist to other African countries, I would most probably pick Vic Falls in Zimbabwe.
AHG: Which guns and ammo are you using to back-up wounded game?
HdP: I am making use of 7mm Magnum because it is a flat-shooting caliber, and the most common terrain where I am hunting is wide open spaces.
AHG: What are your recommendations on guns and ammo for plains game – to your hunting clients?
HdP: I would recommend any flat-shooting caliber between .270 through to .338.
AHG: What is your favorite animal to hunt and why?
HdP: My favorite would be the southern greater kudu. The Grey Ghost is always a challenge, and has the ability to elude one in no time.
AHG: Looking back, which was your greatest trophy and why?
HdP: For me, the greatest trophy does not necessarily appear in record books, but it is rather about the stalk with the client, finding a true trophy animal, and seeing the smile on the face of a satisfied client. I can remind myself of a lot of special moments like the one described. To me that is, after all, why we do what we do!
AHG: What was your closest brush with death?
HdP: Black mamba! A black mamba once crossed our path, or should I rather say we were in his way.
AHG: How has the hunting industry changed over the years? And the hunting clients themselves?
HdP: For trophy hunters, Namibia certainly became more popular the last 15 years. True hunters were, are, and will always portray the same kind of personality. However, it is noticeable that the number of younger hunters is decreasing. It is a problem all over the world, I would say, that the younger generation is hunting less probably due to increasing group pressure against hunting.
AHG: Which qualities go into making a successful PH and/or a successful hunting company?
HdP: A successful PH in my opinion is not the one who shoots record-book trophies, but should be a conservationist in the first instance. The PH should be prepared to shoot an older animal with his client instead of shooting an animal in his prime, even though the latter might be a more desirable option. A PH should have lots of patience, ensuring he gets his client in the best possible shooting position, and also be prepared to turn around if it is not a true trophy animal despite a tough stalk, lots of sweat and major effort. Walk back and find another opportunity to stalk the correct animal is all part of the game.
In my opinion the number of returning clients you have will always be a good testimonial as to whether you do most things correctly. If you are doing it for the money, rather stop today – business is business, and it will always be about the client and what satisfies him.
A successful outfitting company is a company that can ensure that all the aspects regarding a pleasant stay, such as accommodation, food, laundry service, hunting vehicles and a few others, are top-notch. The hunting component does not always go according to plan, but true hunters will know that it is about hunting, and not having another trophy in the truck at the end of the day.
AHG: Which qualities go into making a good safari client?
HdP: It’s a well-prepared client who has already done some research about the animals he / she would like to hunt, knows about shot placement, and has practiced at home to shoot.
AHG: If you should suggest one thing to your hunting clients to improve their experience of their safari, what would it be?
HdP: To keep a diary and take as many photos as possible, not only of the trophies, but also about nature, birds, live animals, sunrises and sunsets. These will be the memories to cherish for a long time after the safari. Take in every moment this beautiful African nature offers, because the safari will be over way too soon.
AHG: Based on your recent experience in the field, do you think that any species should be upgraded to Appendix I or downgraded to Appendix II or closed all together?
HdP: I believe that in Namibia cheetahs are not endangered any more, and there is really justification to open USA for the import of cheetah trophies.
AHG: What can the hunting industry do to contribute to the long-term conservation of Africa’s wildlife?
AHG: Ask your wife, if she could do it all over again, would she still…?
HdP: Yes, no doubt she would do it again!
AHG: What is her advice to future wives of PHs?
Geraldine: Be prepared for long hours of work – sometimes (many times actually) before sunrise, and so often until just before midnight. Remember, it is a lifestyle choice. It isn’t really a family-friendly lifestyle (in the sense of Mom having to attend most school activities of kids all by herself while Dad is out hunting in the bush).
AHG: Are any of your children following in your footsteps?
HdP: Yes, Caren is also a qualified PH.
AHG: Anyone you want to say thanks to? Or to GTH (Go to Hell)?
HdP: Thanks to a few people who taught me a lot, namely my Dad, Dirk de Bod and Dawid Muller.
GTH to all the anti-hunters who so easily and quickly condemn trophy hunting based on false perceptions. Most of them don’t have any proof of how much they have contributed financially to the conservation of wildlife. Personally, I doubt it if they ever contribute financially at all. All bark but no bite.
AHG: Any Last Words of Wisdom?
HdP: Always remember that it is a privilege to be part of nature, wildlife and helping to contribute to conservation. The areas you hunt, the animals you hunt do not really belong to you, but to the next generation. Treat nature with respect and ensure you give it back to the next generation in better shape than you received it.
That basically to me sums up what our ethos as Professional Hunters should be.