WILTZ: Part I of the Texas adventureThere I was on the floor of the Dallas Convention Center discussing a tuskless elephant hunt with a Zimbabwe professional hunter. Was I crazy?
By: Roger Wiltz, The Daily Republic
There I was on the floor of the Dallas Convention Center discussing a tuskless elephant hunt with a Zimbabwe professional hunter. Was I crazy? It’s the most dangerous hunt in the world! Seldom alone, these elephants look out for their peers as well as the calves. They hunt you while you hunt them. I asked, “Would a .375 mag be legal for me?”
The PH quipped, “It’s OK for you, but I’ll have a lot more gun in my hands when I back you up!”
I was caught up in the moment. I had asked about cost, and as hunts go, it was cheap. Zimbabwe had way too many elephants. Why pay local game officers to cull the herd when American hunters will pay for the privilege? The Dallas Safari Club’s 2012 expo, “Out of the Wild,” had my mind in a whirl.
At 6 a.m. on Jan. 5, Jan and Doug Koupal, Betsy, and I piled into our blue Dodge Dakota and headed for Dallas. In spite of breaks, lunch and supper, we pulled up to Dallas’s Market Square Holiday Inn at 8 p.m. A shuttle bus would take us to and from the Dallas Convention Center for the next two days where we would make the rounds at the Dallas Safari Club’s annual hunting expo.
On the trip to the convention center Friday morning, I asked the shuttle driver how far we were from the site of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. “Look right at the coming intersection and you’ll see the book depository on the right side of the street about a half block down.”
Two things shocked me. How narrow the street was, and how close the second story windows of the book depository were to the street. There was nothing amazing about Lee Harvey Oswald’s shot with a scoped Italian military rifle. On Saturday afternoon, Jan and Betsy visited the book depository turned museum. They found it very interesting.
The DSC show was even better than last year’s. Hundreds of outfitters from around the world were joined by gun and optics makers, artists, taxidermists, jewelers, furriers, leather crafters, blind manufacturers and trophy room designers. Seminars were offered throughout the day, and we attended presentations by Ivan Carter, the noted professional hunter of Africa’s most dangerous game, and American Craig Boddington, popular writer, producer and hunter.
In Boddington’s presentation “Mountain Hunting,” he used slides to illustrate his high altitude hunts around the world. He talked about altitude sickness and medication that treats it. He also had high praise for the aoudad, the sheep Doug and I would hunt near the Mexican border following the show. Boddington had hunted the aoudad in both Texas and on its native range in mountainous North Africa. He said the Texas aoudad was significantly larger than its African kin, and attributed that to superior diet.
I found Boddington’s presentation particularly interesting as he addressed an issue I’ve suspected exists among some hunters and fishermen. He referred to an “elitist” attitude held by some sheep hunters that inferred “I am better than you are because of what I hunt.” Boddington compared the intelligence of our North American sheep to a retarded whitetail, and went on to say that the country where sheep are hunted is what makes Dall or Bighorn sheep so special. My sheep-hunting buddy is not one of these.
Based mostly on what I’ve read, I get the impression that some of the anglers who cast their hand-tied flies to native, not stocked, trout seem to think that they are superior to a guy like me with a spinning rod and catfish bait. It seems people in all walks of life sometimes see themselves as better than others. Boddington had no time for them.
I enjoyed visiting with outfitters about the hunts they offered. As a result, I’ve reformulated my hunt bucket list. The list now includes a stag hunt in the Czech Republic. I feel the European red deer is the most regal critter I’ve ever hunted, and hunting him in his native forest while residing in an ancient castle would be huge. Also sharing the top of my list would be an Argentine waterfowl hunt and an Alberta moose hunt. The previously mentioned cow elephant hunt? Not the way I shoot!
After two days of DSC show, we headed southwest out of Dallas Sunday morning for the Ghostwater Creek Ranch (www.ghostwatercreek.com). The ranch lies on the Devil’s River about 60 miles north of the Mexican border town of Del Rio. The extremely rugged terrain features gaping canyons with perilous, sheer rock walls dotted with caves and strung with narrow ledges. Plant growth, predominately scrub oak, yucca, cactus and brushy red cedar, offered ample cover to the wildlife.
The local fauna included whitetail deer, axis deer, feral hogs, peccary, elk, black bear, mountain lions, turkeys and aoudad along with numerous smaller species.
Soon after our arrival at the ranch late Sunday afternoon, we learned hunting licenses were not available at the ranch. That called for a trip to the Del Rio Walmart and two more hours on the road. On the return trip, we were stopped by the U.S. Border Patrol. After questioning, as well as a thorough sniffing by drug dogs, we went on our way. They were very courteous. I was suffering from a sore throat and sinus congestion, and the additional trip did little for my attitude.
Though I’ll tell you about the hunt next week, we were in for a dining adventure every bit as awesome as the hunt. Had Jan and Betsy, already splendid cooks, gone to a three-day culinary workshop, they wouldn’t have learned more tips for the kitchen.
*See you next week.