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Back to Africa!

Day 1

By: Rebecca Francis

My first trip to Africa this April left me without harvesting any animals, but provided me with a mountain of lessons and experiences to draw upon as I left for my second try at a shot for for the big five with a bow. After painfully learning why I had missed a leopard three times with my bow, my guide encouraged me to quickly return to Zimbabwe to try again since we had seen a lot of big leopards in that area. I continued to practice shooting my bow in the dark every night. It finally became second nature for my nose to hit the knot I tied on my string to ensure that the peep was lined up with the sight. I still couldn’t believe that something that simple had cost me a leopard. Mike Ellig from Black Gold had experienced the same issues and used glow in the dark paint on his peep to correct the problem. I am planning to try that as well.

Before returning to Africa for my second trip, my guide suggested I get Lumenoks for my arrows. Lumenoks would be a great benefit for hunting at night allowing us to see where the arrow hits. When I received the arrows I couldn’t believe how cool it was to see the flash of the arrows as I practiced shooting in the dark. I have no idea why I hadn’t tried Lumenoks before now, but I will never go without them again!

I am so excited to try out the Lumenoks on my arrows!

It had only been three weeks since I left Africa the last time, yet I still got butterflies in my stomach and a grin from ear to ear as the plane touched down once again in Johannesburg. I was traveling all alone this trip and without firearms, so I naturally assumed that things would go smoothly as I made my way through customs to meet up with John Faul from Kusini African Safaris. Not a chance. As I stood waiting for my baggage, a uniformed man was leading a dog through the crowd sniffing for something. I didn’t pay much attention because I figured they were searching for drugs. Then the dog walked straight up to my backpack and started sniffing. I became quite nervous thinking oh no, they can see I am alone so they planted something to take advantage of me. The officer then asked me if I was carrying any fruit with me. Very relieved, I smiled and said yes I have some oranges and apples. I turned in my fruit and was thankful when I spotted my bags coming down the belt.

Just as I reached for my first duffle bag, another uniformed officer approached me and asked if I was carrying a bow and arrow. I am not quite sure how they knew that, being that I didn’t pack a typical bow case. I had two large wheeled duffle bags, each with a bow strapped inside, with clothes packed all around them. In all the years I have traveled to Africa, I have never been asked about my bow and arrows, only my rifle and ammunition. This trip I did not bring any sort of firearm. I told him yes that both of my bags had a bow in them. Once I retrieved the bags, he had me follow him to room where he filled out some paperwork, and checked my equipment. I was very apprehensive as he got into my bags because I still was not sure how they knew I was carrying a bow.

John and Claire Faul from Kusini African Safaris.

By this time I was knew John and his lovely wife Claire had been waiting for me for longer than usual. Once the man allowed me to go, I thought I was clear and could hurry to meet them. I only walked about a hundred yards when another uniformed officer stopped me and said they needed to check my bags again. I must have looked quite suspicious traveling alone, because I had never had anything like this happen before. Once again I unlocked both of my bags while the officer handled all of my personal belongings. I really was beginning to wonder why they kept picking on me as other passengers just walked on by.

I was so thankful as I passed through the last set of doors and spotted John with a big smile waiting for me. I had been flying for over 22 hours and knew that I still had a long drive ahead as we continued on to Zimbabwe. We would be driving to the Botswana border today and staying in a lodge that night. The next day we would drive the rest of the way to our camp in Zimbabwe.

Another incredible sunset in South Africa.

I was so happy when we arrived at the lodge and could finally take a shower. The water was quite cold, but I didn’t care. That shower was perfect! From my window I could see several impala and warthogs. I was so excited to be back in Africa. I can’t quite single out any particular reason, but there is something so special and addictive about Africa. As I watched the sun setting in the red sky of South Africa, I unquestionably counted the breathtaking sunsets as one of the many reasons I love it there.

NEXT: Day 2 – Hunt 2.

Be sure to catch my African adventure on Eye of the Hunter, Thursdays at 2:00 pm EST, on the Versus channel.