On safari with… Alex Thomson

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When and where were you born?

I was born 8 March 1980 in Pietersburg (Polokwane) in the Limpopo Province.

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

It all started on our family farm Paardenberg (Maasstroom area) in Limpopo. Ever since I could remember we spent every school holiday on the farm with our grandparents, and that was where I got the love for bushveld, and yes, the passion for hunting. So, it all started when we were in primary school.

With whom did you train, apprentice and learn from?

I learned from my dad – I could not have asked to learn from anybody else.  I did my Professional Hunting course with Kobus Schoeman 2001, and from there I learned a lot from freelancing for six years.

The early years of professional hunting – where were they?

I freelanced a lot in the Limpopo Province for six years, and we only started in 2006 to hunt for ourselves at Eland Safaris. I learned patience in the earlier years.

Did you have any embarrassing, experience?

It was embarrassing, to say “Shoot,” to the client, and then to walk up to the animal and see it was a wrong call, that it was not that big an animal!

Anything you leant about what not to do?

Yes, and I am still learning every day, to judge the size of the animal once, and stick to the call.

Which countries/areas have you hunted since then?

South Africa, Limpopo Province, Free State, and Zimbabwe, but most of my hunting been done in the Limpopo.

Where do you currently hunt and what makes your area and your hunts special?

I hunt in Limpopo Province on our family farm. There is nothing better than to hunt on your own property and to discover something new every day. There is always something interesting happening when you are hunting – not one hunt is the same.

Every hunt is an experience, to be out in the bush, to do the job you love and enjoy, and then to give your client the best time of his life, to experience South Africa the way we see it.

What are some of your most interesting trophies?

Interesting trophies are always something that is unique, such as a gemsbok or waterbuck with a skew or crooked horn, a kudu bull with a third horn between the eyes. One such hunt was in 2009 with a client who had been to Africa many times and shot a lot of kudus, but when he saw this unique kudu with a normal horn of 53½” and a skew horn next to his body that measured 62” he wanted it.  There was a long wait to get the perfect shot on the shoulder because the horn covered the shoulder, but the client was ecstatic when he walked up to this monster.

Which is your favorite trophy animal to hunt?

Eland, because this was my father’s favorite animal. The best hunt is to pick up the track, follow it, and then know when you get closer to hear the ox-peckers and the click-click sound big bulls make when they walk, and then to get in the perfect shot after a long, hard stalk.

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

There were many, but I think the two that stand out are definitely a 60” kudu and a 40” eland.

My most memorable hunt was definitely my first animal I hunted on our family farm, and that was my first impala many years ago. And then second was my first Big Five animal hunted with a client, a big old buffalo bull.

What are your recommendations for hunting in your current camp?

Just relax and come enjoy South Africa the way we see it. Don’t bring a lot of clothes, pack light comfortable shoes and the rifle you know and are comfortable with, and come and have a great time in South Africa!

Which guns and ammo are you using to back-up on dangerous or wounded game and tell us why?

I use my trustworthy CZ 30-30 for all my plains-game hunting. I love that rifle.  I used to use our Winchester .458 for back-up on big game, but was fortunate to get a Merkel .470 from a great friend, so that is what I’m using now.

What was your closest brush with death?

Been very lucky so far not to have any charges, but the only close call was when a client fired a shot between me and my tracker. The sticks were put up and he just had to put the rifle on the sticks to aim at a blesbok, but his finger slipped off the safety and he then fired off a shot. It was a close call.

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?

To practice from shooting sticks, to be comfortable to shoot from sticks, standing, kneeling or any other position he can think of.

What would be your dream safari if you have one last safari to go on?

It would be to go on a Lord Derby eland hunt one day.