Editorial: Wild Wing Shooting Africa

Every year my buddy, Ken Bailey, comes out from Edmonton, Canada. Along with being the Hunting Editor of Outdoor Canada, he writes the wingshooting column for AHG magazine and a book review in each edition of the AHG Monthly. He’s a great friend who has the unenviable task of listening to my updates, future crazy ideas, and never-ending plans. More importantly, he forces me to escape and get away into the bush, which is one of the reasons I started the AHG.

Between his other hunts in Africa, Ken and I try to get away together for a few days every year. Inevitably it helps me get perspective. I’m a useless travel planner, it’s always last-minute, but I hope with medication I’ll get better. This year my last-minute plan found us returning to Mike Currie’s Wild Wing Shooting Africa.

Mike’s new lodge, just two hours from Joburg, is a wingshooter’s paradise; it’s as simple as that. With the décor, bird mounts, relaxing atmosphere and the superb home-cooking provided by his mother-in-law, Ina, I knew I was in trouble the moment we arrived.The lodge is set next to a huge pond above which the sun rises every morning. Except today. This morning a mist enveloped the pond, giving everything an eerie, dream-like feeling. Through the mist, the sounds of birdlife echoed; the pond is loaded with everything from Egyptian geese and flamingos to coots, stilts, wagtails and myriad other birds. While there’s no shooting on the lodge pond, this place is the epicenter for some of the finest bird hunting in South Africa.

Mike is a passionate gamebird and dog lover who strictly monitors and manages dozens of the pans, ponds and dams within an hour’s drive of his home base; the hunting potential here is enormous. The local farmers are delighted to have Mike around. Their avian crop raiders are being contained, they earn revenue, and their laborers get the spoils of the day’s shoot, much-appreciated, fresh protein-rich birds.

I watched with admiration when, along our way home, Mike stopped to drop off a bag of 10 ducks to a jubilant old blind man and his family.

Birds have been my passion (one of the many!) since I was a lightie growing up in Bulawayo. While I love the shooting, I can just as easily admire the plumage of an Egyptian goose’s wing or gaze in awe as the A380 of the waterfowl world, a spur-winged goose, flies over; they are truly a wonder of nature. It’s all a treat, and I so appreciate my upbringing at times like this.  

Until we’ve personally experienced something, it can be difficult to understand. So here’s something to think about.

Visiting hunters to Africa occasionally add a day or two of bird hunting to their safari, tagged on as a last-minute endeavor after they’ve taken all the game they wanted. They blast away at some guinea fowl or pigeons on a nearby farmland with a borrowed shot gun. And that’s okay. I say okay because when you’re hungry, any food will do. But a day or two is only a teaser.

If you love the idea of experiencing a range of species, including guinea fowl, francolin/spurfowl, the revered grey-winged partridge, ducks, geese, doves and the master of the African skies, the rock pigeon, a week-long bird hunting safari is something you really should consider. Much like with her big game, the abundance and diversity of Africa’s gamebirds is unmatched anywhere in the world.

At AHG, we’re committed to paying tribute to this fabulous and too-often overlooked part of the African safari experience. We currently have a book on African wingshooting is in the works and hope to release it late in 2024. For now, we’ll leave you to think about the prospect of booking a dedicated bird hunting safari; they’re eminently affordable and you’ll love the experience.

And while Mike Currie runs a premier international wingshooting operation, he is much more than a one-trick pony. An African Dawn member, he’s also a professional big game hunter with some 23 years’ experience. He hunts annually in Cameroon and Congo, with 100% success on bongos and 100% success on Lord Deby eland (less one client who missed!) And whether he’s hunting the Rolls Royce of big game species up north, or the smallest, fastest game bird species on the continent, he does it all with a smile on his face.

As for Ken and me, it was a wonderful avian adventure, and undoubtedly we’ll go back.

Richard Lendrum

New Steiner H6Xi Riflescope Series

Following last year’s release of the T6Xi series of tactical riflescopes, Steiner Optics, known for precision made riflescopes and binoculars with industry leading light transmission and clarity, releases a new lineup of premium optics designed with the modern big game hunter in mind.

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Classic and Contemporary African Hunting Literature:

Ask the Namibian Guides

Long-time Sports Afield editor Diana Rupp first hunted Africa in 2003, a plains game hunt in Namibia. Captured, as so many of us are, by Africa’s magic, she’s gone back several times, including return trips to Namibia. As she relates in this book’s introduction, despite the plethora of information provided by the outdoor writing community about African hunting, she felt something was missing—the in-depth knowledge that only the experience of having conducted dozens of safaris, year after year, can provide.

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The Baobab Buffalo

It is almost a cliché to say that hunting Cape Buffalo is special. For me it began, curiously enough, many years ago hunting whitewing dove in Mexico with Ralf. Ralf was a successful, greying guy who loved the hunting and fishing life, and who was fortunate enough to have safaried in Africa from the time he was twelve years old. After a hot day of shooting doves, he and I would sip icy margaritas and he would reminisce about hunts and the animals he had taken – hissing crocs, trumpeting elephants, roaring lions, hyenas, baboons, leopards, horned plains game of every sort, and Cape buffalo. To my youthful ears it sounded like high adventure and a test of personal courage. Ralf had been everywhere and stalked everything, but he always came back for buff because, he said, they live up to their reputation for exchanging human damage for a poorly placed shot, and for fighting to the end, especially when they knew who killed them!

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Not Just Hunting in the Eastern Cape

I was not sure what to expect when we stepped off the plane in East London, but I got the feeling that the next two weeks were going to be something incredible – and my gut feeling was correct. We would be leaving with the experience of a lifetime and were already planning to come back in the next few years to this stunningly wild country.

My family and I spent the first two weeks of June in the Eastern Cape of South Africa at Hotfire Safaris, near Cathcart. After being in the air for almost 24 hours and taking three different planes from Calgary and finally to East London.

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Great Bulls of Fire

The smoke stings something in the lungs and the ash particles that whirl through the air tickle the nostrils. And occasionally we had to deal with glow around us. In addition to the ash, the air is full of insects and other small crawlies. Wherever you look, there are birds of prey that, in breathtaking maneuvers, catch mice and other small mammals fleeing from the fire.

We were in the north of Uganda, near the border to South Sudan, where the dry grass is being burned down to provide the soil with new nutrients that grow fresh green grass. As well as the abundant waterholes, this nutritious green grass provides the base for a thriving and diverse wildlife in Uganda.

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Campfire Thoughts & Reminiscences Ch 22 

The long-awaited day has finally arrived. You have your licence for your new shotgun and have collected it from the gun shop – and the season is open! You cannot wait to get out into the field and hunt game birds. You also have a cleaning kit, a game licence, a letter of permission to hunt and a supply of ammo, as well as the necessary eye and hearing protection. What else do you need?
Before we look at the basic needs for most wingshooters, just a reminder: buy the best you can afford and if you look after it, it should last a lifetime.


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Who are African Dawn Outfitters?

The African Dawn Program is about promoting hunting in Africa, not just through what we publish, but with the outfitters’ cooperation in this program… and it is for your peace of mind.

International travel consumes two precious commodities – personal time and money. And when you are a hunter, things can get tricky when there are further considerations like rules, regulations, details and differences between each country and their species. It is important to have a good outfitter, and whether it is your next hunting safari, or your first one, there are many outfitters to choose from. In fact, there are over 500, so how do you find a reliable one, the one that is right for you?

To help you, we decided to promote and work with approximately 10% of this continent-wide group of outfitters. We have listed a limited number of an esteemed group of established and reputable African outfitters and they can be found in this Catalogue. To familiarize yourself with this list, we also offer monthly publications, and monthly trophy gallery posts (Trophies Fresh from the Veld). To ensure you receive these updates, sign up

If you are an agent looking for an outfitter to represent, you’ll be safe contacting one of these outfitters.

If you are researching for your next safari, be sure to contact any one of listed outfitters directly. It will support them and save you money by booking with them. Please tell them that it was by them being an African Dawn Member that contributed to the decision.

Our website has a detailed overview of them all, and you know where to contact me if you need to know anything more.

For now, just enjoy the read.

Richard Lendrum - Publisher African Hunting Gazette

[email protected]

2023 African Dawn Members

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