The Danger of Donation Hunts

The phrase ‘Auction Hunt’ is high on many a hunter’s agenda. This is where bargains are bought, or hunts are purchased knowing you are funding a nonprofit organization. 

It all started in one of two ways.

1: An outfitter said to the hunting association, “Hey, I have a hunt you can auction off,”

2: The association said to the outfitter, “Hey, how about donating a hunt so we can auction this off and raise funds?”

As 2024 dawns, the reality is that they are here to stay. I have heard a lot of whining from outfitters saying it is killing the industry when hunts are sold for pennies on the dollar. I remind them that they always have the right not to donate, and simply offer cash.

Of course, there may be consequences, like poor positioning on the show floor or, in extreme cases, denied being accepted to exhibit.

On the plus side, many an outfitter has used the donated hunt as a vehicle for marketing, awareness, and, depending on the strategy, a source of income.

Associations use this as a major source of income and are unashamed in their approach.

As with many goods offered, particularly in the tourism sector, these this can work well in a variety of ways. The fact that the live auctions sometimes impact on the hours the show is open and pull buyers off the floor is one of my two gripes. The other – and this is the point of this article – is that the unsuspecting winning bid has little comeback when what was purchased does not materialize. And this happens. Regardless of what it may be, a) you don’t want to be the person buying a dud, and b) the negative impact on hunting in Africa is not worth it. Some problems include:

  1. Species are offered when there are no permits in place, so what guarantee do you have that the permit will be 100%? An Afton, we have a few trophies that have been left behind by clients because of they were unable to export them without a permit.
  2. Outfitters sell game or hunts in countries where they are not registered outfitters or, in some cases, are not registered Professional Hunters. Essentially, they are acting as an agent. You will be hunting on the ground with a local hunting outfitter and professional hunter – which is not necessarily a bad thing. You just need to know this. 
  3. Species are offered in the ‘package’ only to find the species you have come for are, well, just not there. A story is made up, and you are left disappointed. Never mind, an alternative is offered and that will be your only option. 
  4. When you buy a 7-day package with three animals, the outfitter may ask what other animals are on your list? Of course, the other animals are sold off a list, and you will have to pay for those, which is not the point. Often, you are taken in pursuit of those animals first. In extreme cases your package of three is left to last, and just might be hard to find.
  5. You thought you could choose the taxidermist you wanted, and it turns out not to be the case. On occasions, the outfitters say, “Sorry, you must use our in-house taxidermist.”

These are just some of the realities experienced out there.

I know that most of the hunts go off fantastically, and this is a very effective way to get hunters across the Atlantic and to get their interest firmly entrenched in Africa. My concern is that after the auction hammer falls, you are on your own. Whether it is the hunting associations or some fund-raising charity offering these donation hunts, most have a clause that states: “The association takes no responsibility…”

My suggestion is simply, ‘Do your homework.’ Before you sign up, create your own questionnaire so you go in fully aware. It is not difficult. Just because it’s a good deal, doesn’t necessarily mean it is not going to be a first-class safari. Conversely, just because you paid top dollar, doesn’t mean it will be up to your expectation.

Without doing prior homework, don’t bid.

All the best,

Richard Lendrum

Classic and Contemporary African Hunting Literature:

Hunting - On Safari in East and Southern Africa

Like many others, early on I read the books of Capstick, Ruark and Hunter, dreaming of the day I could live out my own African hunting adventure. As that dream neared reality, I went looking for books that were less adventure-oriented and more instructive. It was 1986, and where I lived, in Edmonton, Alberta, with no internet and few resources available, I stumbled across this title and had my local bookstore bring in a copy. The price tag is still on it, $41.95, a princely sum for a book in those days. 

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Gin-Trapped Buffalo Leads to the Fall of a Zimbabwean Icon

The letter below was copied to me by an Alaskan hunter.
What made the letter particularly meaningful is that just this week something terrible happened. When you read the letter below, you will see a reference to gin traps and how terrible they are. And the link you may ask?  It was just this week that a game-farming family inadvertently felt the tragic impact of such a poacher’s gin trap.
A tremendous man, from all reports, someone devoted to uplifting communities and wildlife, was killed by a buffalo. The buffalo had fallen victim to one of the impoverished rural poachers’ gin traps. Wounded, suffering, and needing to be put out of its misery, the belligerent beast took out its anger and pain on the very person on a mission to help end its suffering.

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Hunting With an Old-Timer

The springbuck ram stood quartering towards us at just over 200 meters, its impressive set of horns clearly outlined against the background of yellow grass and granite outcrops. My son, Chris, had the 30-06 Ruger Hawkeye rifle steady on the sticks, with Robin giving extra support with his left shoulder, his well-worn floppy hat shading his eyes from the slanting sunrays. It was just after 10h00 and we had been following different groups of springbuck since early morning.

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Respect the River

I kept thinking, “What will my family do if I die in Africa?”
This is the story of how I died.  Well, not literally, but a little inside.
From the time I was a little girl living in a small town in the United States, I wanted to visit Africa. The day after my high school graduation, my dream came true. I got to start my amazing hunting journey in Africa at Comre’ Safaris.
Comre’ was stunning and our perfect guide Richard made the journey so much fun. The first two days it rained, and I couldn’t get anything on my list, but my grandpa did, taking an amazing heavy black wildebeest.

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61-Year Dream Come True

The seed was planted when a young boy of ten years old was given a copy of Outdoor Life Magazine by his uncle.  During these early years, the uncle introduced him to hunting a variety of animals in Kentucky.  Among the uncle’s favorites were Bobwhite Quail and the Eastern Grey and Eastern Fox Squirrel.  Using an old, single-shot 12-gauge shotgun, given to him by his grandmother, the boy’s favorite hunting at the time was for Bobwhite Quail, that were pursued with the highly energetic and extremely tense two English Pointer birddogs that belonged to his uncle.  Nearly 12 years of age brought a new hunting experience for the boy – hunting the Whitetail Deer of Kentucky.  

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There is a Time and Place for Everything

While a respectable number of hunters may wish to debate the ethics of taking a Texas heart shot as your initial shot on big game – few will dispute the effectiveness of this infamous shot as a follow-up. For those who do not know what I am referring to, a Texas heart shot is simply shooting an animal in its’ south end as it is heading due north – yes, in the ass while the animal is facing away from you.The first time I was party to this tactic was on my first safari, when my Zambian PH instructed me to shoot the third of three running greater kudu at about one hundred yards out while they ran past a small opening in the bush. 

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One for the Road

By a strange coincidence, I was in the midst of re-reading all of Jim Corbett’s books about India, the jungle, and his encounters with man-eating tigers and leopards, when the Queen died in early September.  Although seldom mentioned, Corbett and the Queen had a brief but important acquaintance in 1952.

On the night that King George VI died, and Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth, she and the Duke of Edinburgh were visiting Kenya.  They had traveled to Nyeri, and from there to the famous Treetops, where they were engaged in game-watching.  Their guide and guardian was Jim Corbett, already world-famous as an author and hunter of man-eaters.

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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]

2024 African Dawn Members

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