On Safari in Africa with… Hannes du Plessis

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Q: Tell us about your family, how they originally got to Africa.

A: My ancestors arrived in Africa during the 17th century.

Q: When and where were you born?

A: I was born in Windhoek, Namibia on 6 February, 1963.

Q: How did you get into hunting – what was it that influenced you?

A: I was lucky enough to be raised on a ranch, so my father gave us plenty of exposure to hunting. He taught us the importance of hunting and how that also contributes to conservation. He also taught me how to act respectfully towards the animal after it has been hunted. This experience made such a big impression to me that still today I have the greatest respect for every animal I hunt or have hunted as a guide.

Q: With whom did you train, apprentice and learn from? 

A: Obviously I learned from my Dad, and once I become a professional hunter I learned every day, and am still learning. Guiding is like driving a car. You only start to learn once you have got your license.

Q: What was the most important thing you learned during those early years?

A: It was to be honest with yourself and your clients. If you’ve misjudged an animal, don’t try to hide it or make an excuse for it. Admit it to your hunter. He/she will also appreciate your honesty.

Q: The early years of professional hunting – where were they?

A: Namibia

Q: Were there any embarrassing, fun or interesting experiences?

A: Every hunt creates its own fun/special memories. Embarrassing? I don’t see anything as embarrassing – I try to see it as a learning experience either for myself or for the hunter.

Q: Anything you learnt about what not to do?

A: Always be professional. Although we all have the motto of “arriving as a stranger, leaving as a friend” which is really true, the client must still listen to you from a professional point of view. Do not get so familiar that the client tries to override your decisions in the hunt.

Q: Did you have any particularly interesting trophies?

A:  Every safari has its own interesting moments, fun and great trophies, etc. It will not be fair to single one out

Q: If you could return to any time or place in Africa, where would it be?

A: I would be as a guide in Namibia.  And as a tourist – Vic Falls would certainly be on the list.

Q: Which is your favorite trophy animal to hunt?  And why?

A: Kudu – the name “grey ghost “says it all.

Q: What is the best trophy animal one of your clients ever took?

A: There are several top 10 trophies I can remember but the best trophy is a happy client that worked hard for his/her animal and who can return home with great stories and even greater memories.

Q: Tell us about a most memorable hunt, without naming names.

A: When a non-hunter comes along with a hunting friend to do a photo safari, but after a few days on the ranch the non-hunter has a change of heart. He or she is now interested in hunting, has plenty of questions, and after first- hand hunting exposure now returns home a hunter. They are no longer ignorant to the fact that hunting plays such a big role in conservation in Africa.

Q: Tell us about any disaster with a client.

A: Rifles not arriving with client – they got lost at a stopover airport.

Q: Any personal challenges you have had?

A: Crossing a path with a black mamba.

Q: What are your recommendations on guns, ammo, or equipment for the first-time hunter to Africa?

A: It all depends on the terrain, but in our area for plains game, any flat-shooting caliber. Such as .300, 7mm, 270,

Q: Which guns and ammo are you using to back-up on dangerous or wounded game?

A: For wounded game I like 7 mm.

Q: What was your closest brush with death?

A: It was that black mamba!

Q: How has the hunting industry changed in your opinion over the past number of years?

A: Clients really do not have so much time on hand to do a classic 14-day and longer safari. It is 10 to 12 days now, with the exception of dangerous game like a leopard. Also it has become more a family affair nowadays, which I think is great to introduce the younger generation to hunting.

Q: If you should suggest one thing to your hunting clients to improve their safari experience, with you, or with anyone else for that matter – what would it be?

A: Write down what happened every day and make sure you have quality photos of the day and the trophy.

Q: What can the industry do to contribute to the long-term conservation of Africa’s wildlife?

A: The industry already contributes massively to the long-term conservation of Africa’s wildlife. Without the industry there is no future for wildlife.

Q: What would be your ideal safari if you have one last safari? 

A: It would be to guide one of my family members and try to share with them all around the fire in the evenings my vision for wildlife 50 years from now.