African Hunting Gazette: Tell our readers when and where you were born.
Philip Hennings: I was born in Namibia, the year of Independence, 1990.
AHG: And tell us all about your family.
PH: Both my parents are born in Germany, and migrated to Namibia in 1989 where they bought a farm near Windhoek. My father, Dietmar Hennings, has been a hunting professional since 1992, and is one of the core founders of the hunting conservancies in Namibia. My mother, Ute, is a designer and she has produced high-quality rugs made from sheep wool. After the divorce of my parents, my younger brother Jan and I moved with our mother to Cape Town, South Africa.
AHG: How did you become a PH? How did it all begin?
PH: I grew up in the wilderness parts of Namibia, and when I was five, my father took me in my baby seat when he went hunting for mountain zebra, gemsbok and kudu. At the age of nine I was privileged to shoot my first kudu for the meat to present to our village for Christmas. After finishing school, my intention was to become one of Namibia’s finest PHs. My parents were not very keen for me to only have a PH licence, so I went into aviation mechanics. I knew that mechanical skills are very important when working in the rural parts of Africa. After this qualification no one could tell me anymore what to do and what not to do! Now I was my own man, and pursued the life of a hunter in Africa. At 23 years of age I was hired by a Russian outfitter who had a hunting concession in the northern territories of Cameroon – they knew that I had grown up hunting in Africa and had the skills of managing their camp and being successful with their high-demanding clients.
AHG: Which countries have you hunted, and where are you hunting these days?
PH: In Africa – Cameroon and Namibia.
AHG: If you could return to any time or place in Africa, where would it be?
PH: The mountains of Namibia, especially during the rainy season – then it is a paradise!
AHG: Which guns and ammo are you using to back-up on dangerous or wounded game?
PH: I like .458 Lott with Norma PH bullets.
AHG: What are your recommendations on guns and ammo to your hunting clients – for dangerous game and for plains game?
PH: For plains game, nothing beats the .300 Win. Mag. with a good quality scope, and loaded with 180-gr bullets. For dangerous game – you need at least a 400-gr bullet, thus .416 and up!
AHG: What is your favorite animal to hunt and why?
PH: The eland. Its senses are phenomenal: it hears well, has a good sense of smell, and sees even better.
AHG: Looking back, which was your greatest trophy and why?
PH: The Lord Derby eland. I had only four days to hunt my own. The Land Cruiser was broken, my hunting team and I were physically exhausted after hunting the whole season. The car eventually gave up. Mentally, I almost gave up on getting my own giant eland. The Mbororo trackers did a voodoo ring of fire, and then eventually I got the truck running, and 15 minutes later, the track of my eland crossed the road. Last day magic!
AHG: What was your closest brush with death?
PH: We learn from experience, and there we are ultra-careful in dangerous situations!
AHG: How has the hunting industry changed over the years? And the hunting clients themselves?
Since the world has become a very fast place to live, hunting guests unfortunately don’t have so much time anymore.
AHG: Which qualities go into making a successful PH and or a successful hunting company?
PH: My PHs on my team are part of nature. They hunt sustainably and ethically, and will get you whatever you are looking for. In my whole career I’ve never come across hunters who are so honed and skilled and in tune with their surroundings. This makes us successful as hunters, and is what makes us successful as a company is that every guest feels welcome and is part of our family.
AHG: Which qualities go into making a good safari client?
PH: BE READY FOR THE ADVENTURE!
AHG: If you should suggest one thing to your hunting clients to improve their experience of their safari, what would it be?
PH: Nothing to improve – just be part of the experience!
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?
PH: It’s the people involved on the ground who make the difference.
AHG: What can the hunting industry do to contribute to the long-term conservation of Africa’s wildlife?
PH: Every conservationist must keep the wildlife close to his heart.
AHG: Anyone you want to say thanks to? Or to GTH (Go to Hell)?
PH: First I thank my father and mother who took the risk to leave Europe to live a life in Africa, and secondly, my father for guarding and handing over to me one of the best hunting areas in Africa. Then I thank my two native PHs Isaak Songo and Isak //Hoeb, both of whom have taught me the art of hunting and I know they would place their hand into the fire to protect my guests and myself from any dangerous situation. And I thank all hunting guests that visit and hunt with us to sustain the conservation hunting areas we have.
AHG: Any Last Words of Wisdom?
PH: We will act to protect our wildlife and the open horizon of Namibia!