Starr’s South African Safari, Dispatch Two: More Hunts and an Elephant-back Excursion
Britney Starr 07.17.14
Greetings from South Africa! For the past few days my “to do” list has read, “Go to Africa. Hunt. Make memories,” and I’ve been doing just that. I’m leading a group of five female hunters in the Eastern Cape with Starr & Bodill African Safaris, of which I am a co-owner along with my father Dwaine Starr and professional hunter Louis Bodill. Here are a few highlights from days four, five, and six of our hunt.
Day four started with my hunting partner Michelle Whitney Bodenheimer shooting a blue wildebeest in the Fort Beaufort area of South Africa. It took a few days of hunting them for her to seal the deal, as they are incredibly skittish. Michelle also took an impala on day three.
That afternoon, we set out after a herd of Burchell’s zebra, in hopes that I would be able to connect. After an afternoon of blown stalks and being spotted by blue wildebeest that were intermixed with the herd, we finally got within 300 yards of a group of zebra. After spending quite a bit of time differentiating the stallions from the mares (some of which were pregnant), Dad pointed out which zebra I could shoot. I squeezed off a 300-yard, frontal shot, and the rest is history.
Probably the most exciting thing about this trip for me so far is the fact that one of the “observers” in our group decided that she wanted to hunt. Cindy Grove, Andrea Fisher’s sister, had never hunted before, but she had shot guns in the past. She said that being here with a group of women who were so excited about hunting, made her want to give it a try. After firing Andrea’s rifle during sight-in time on day one, she shot a beautiful impala on day four of the trip. Cindy said that the experience was “awesome” that she is probably going to continue hunting after this trip. She plans to look into finding a rifle range near her home so she can practice, and wants to buy a .30-06 for herself.
Andrea took a bushbuck on day three of the hunt, and another member of the group, Julia Chamberlain, took a white blesbok on day four of the hunt.
The morning of day five started out slow, but became exciting during the afternoon, when Michelle shot a warthog that came to a waterhole where we had just sat down to eat lunch. After a quick photo session, we finished our lunches and then headed back into the field. The property manager spotted a waterbuck (an animal that I wanted to hunt) not too far from our location, so we headed over to take a look. I ended up passing on it, because it just wasn’t old enough yet, and could benefit from a few more years of passing on his genes.
We continued to hunt for waterbuck, but ended up spotting a mature, lone white blesbok during our quest. It wasn’t an animal that I planned on hunting, but sometimes it’s hard to pass up an opportunity when it arises. I made a clean, broadside shot at roughly 150 yards.
I checked something off my bucket list on day six of the trip: elephant riding! Michelle, Andrea, Cindy, and I took a day trip to Kwantu Elephant Sanctuary near Grahmstown, South Africa. We were informed that the four female elephants at the sanctuary were taken from Kruger National Park when the owners of the facility learned that they were going to be killed. Their handlers trained the elephants, and they now give rides to visitors. The girls and I had a great time gliding from our high perches next to a heard of grazing giraffes, and then feeding the elephants oranges and food pellets. The 21-year-old elephant that I rode is named Marula after Amarula liquor. The liquor is made from the marula fruit that elephants eat and become intoxicated from, after it falls on the ground and ferments.
Stay tuned for more dispatches, live from Africa!