Are you interested in wingshooting in South Africa? Africa is a long way from the US. No matter how you do it, it takes a long time to get there. If you are a wingshooter, it is worth the travel. Long known for big game hunting, dangerous game, the Big Five, and other groupings of words to designate the big game potential, Africa is also an incredible opportunity for the wingshooter, too.
South Africa, by far the more developed part of Africa, thanks to the gold mining era, has the best infrastructure I have found for quality wingshooting opportunities.
“Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.”
Our PH shows up at 8:00 AM sharp along with a truck load of bird boys to help with the day. We load our gear and guns in the back of the truck and climb inside the cab for our first trip to wherever the PH thinks the most birds of whatever species he thinks is best can be found. Some mornings we hunt doves. Some mornings we hunt pigeons. Some mornings we drive Guinea Fowl. Some morning we hunt francolin over very good German Short Hairs, who hunt, point, and retrieve with the best of them. We do more than one thing sometimes before lunch. Then after lunch we shoot doves, or pigeons, or drive guinea fowl, or plan the evening duck/goose hunt by patterning the flights from a lake the PH has scouted. From place to place we see wildebeest, springbok, giraffes, impala, hartebeest, and other of the many species of plains’ game that thrive here.
We shoot 250 shells each at doves. We try to shoot pigeons, which turn on a dime as you pull the trigger and leave your shot and vision going across bright blue, empty skies. Rock pigeons are the hardest birds I have ever shot. They can turn on a dime, pick up speed and dive, while turning right or left simultaneously. They are maddening. They are great.
Guinea Fowl are not the smartest birds – individually – but put 100 of them together and their collective intelligence is a thing of beauty. If they see you, think you are there, have any question whatsoever, they will flush right or left, or even back over the beaters. When a drive is successful, one will flush over the guns; there will be a shot; and for the next 30 seconds, there will be birds everywhere. It is short lived, but very exciting.
The evening ducks and geese are even more exciting as you see them from a long way off coming toward you from a distant lake. Now is the time to stay still and keep hidden. The geese are big birds, primarily Egyptian geese, but occasionally some Spur Wing geese, with 6 foot wingspans, will come through and to shoot one of those is a trophy in and of itself. Sometimes we are hidden in standing corn fields simply pass shooting. Sometimes our bird boys have dug us pit blinds in a plowed field and we wait covered up with burlap sacks that blend in amazingly well with the rich African soil. Pass shooting or decoying. It is all grand stuff.
Time stands still for the week or more that you are there. The birds are plentiful, the limits liberal, and the whole experience will last a life time…or until the next time you decide you must go wingshooting in South Africa.