_ So, here's the cheery post I promised. I've really been looking forward to putting it up because I'm so happy for my friend, Donna, and so proud of her success on this South African big-game hunt.
First of all, those of you who read Field & Stream owe a lot to the magazine's copy chief Donna Ng. There's not a word in F&S that doesn't pass under her careful eyes. She's the part of the editorial process where any misspellings, grammar mistakes, logic errors, or any other problems get caught and fixed (I shudder to think of all the screw-ups she must catch reading this blog!).
Well, Donna decided to put those careful eyes to the scope of a Ruger for a November safari. A full photo gallery of her trip will be posted on fieldandstream.com, including pictures of warthogs, scenes from camp, and a huge variety of game, so keep an eye out for it. In the meantime, Donna provided a preview of her story just for the blog. I'm so psyched to share it with you! -K.H._
After working at F&S since 1999, I wanted to have my own taste of the kind of adventures I was always reading about in the magazine. As a native New Yorker without much time in the woods, I decided: Why not go all out and have my first-ever big-game hunt in Africa? Besides, my husband Jock and I were already talking about going to South Africa, to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary.
So there I was, setting off to stalk warthogs with my professional hunter Theuns of Sportsman's Safaris on the third (and final) day of my hunt. We only saw some females and immature males that morning, though. Later we sat in a blind by a water hole, watching more warthog family groups come to drink and cool off in the mud (very entertaining!), but a thunderstorm set in and ended the action.
I didn't get a warthog, but my trip was definitely a success. The previous morning, I had taken a blesbok antelope. And an hour before sunset, after Theuns had spotted him at 100 yards and we stalked to within 45 yards, I shot this beautiful impala with my borrowed Ruger M77 Mark II .30/06. When this photo was taken, I was feeling overwhelming relief that I had made a good, clean shot, and happy and sad all at once. (Now of course I wish I'd known that my collar was crooked from pulling off the binoculars!)
South Africa gave us an amazing experience, both the hunt and our subsequent 10-day travels. I heard that hunters who go on safari usually head straight to their camp from the airport, and then fly right back home afterward. But if you can manage the time and expense, the country has so much more to offer -- warm and friendly people, wonderful food and wines, a visit to the Cape of Good Hope, African penguins, whale watching, hikes through Afromontane forests and along the glorious coastline, and more. It was truly the trip of a lifetime...and I only hope that someday I'll be able to go back and do it again! -D.N.