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Saturday, January 17, 2009

2008 Arizona Desert Sheep Hunt

I have been putting in for a desert bighorn tag for the past 9 years. I had 9 bonus points plus 1 "hunter ed" point, and 1 "loyalty" point, for a total of 11 points. I put in for units that were within 4 hours drivng distance from home so I could scout it more easily if drawn (not that I ever expected to be).

One morning my 18 month old son woke up at 5AM and my wife told me it was my turn. So while he was playing on the floor I decided to check my email. I checked the email and decided to see if I was drawn for deer. I logged on to the AZGFD website and noticed I did get drawn for deer in 30A and almost clicked off when I noticed I had been drawn for something else. I blinked a few times to clear my vision and to my amazement...I was drawn for a desert bighorn tag!! Now here's the problem...it was 5AM. Who the heck can you call at 5AM to tell them you were drawn for the most coveted big game tag in the US?? Pretty much nobody, because anyone who knows what it is will be so jealous that they will want to kill you, and the rest of the world couldn't care less!

I had to wait until football signup, for my 8 year old son later that morning, to tell anyone. That's when I told my business partner and hunting buddy Jon Tate. He was so jealous he wanted to kill me. It took him a few days but he couldn't resist and started to help me plan the camp, and scouting trips. I thought about hiring a guide but decided to do it on my own with friends. A friend of mine who is a well known hunter and conservationist in Yuma, AZ suggested that I call his brother-in-law Mike
Daily to see if he would help. Mike is a sheep nut who lives in Yuma. He knows about almost every ram killed each year in AZ and tracks sheep populations around the state. He is especially knowledgeable about what is going on in the Kofa NWR and the other areas around Yuma. Mike told me that the Mtn lions had hit the Kofa sheep pretty hard, but he thought that we could still get a good ram in there. Mike sent me a bunch of data going back to 1990 on the sheep killed in the unit that we would be hunting, 45A. The average ram was about 153" so I figured anything over 155" should do, especially since sheep numbers there are well below normal. The AZGFD survey flights flown in November confirmed that the numbers were down. A few scouting trips to the area by myself and Mike continued the bleak outlook. We saw 2 ewes and Mike saw 1 ram pre-season. So when Jon and I set off for camp, I figured it could easily take every bit of the 31 day season to find a shooter. We had a lot of helpers. For the 2 days before the Dec 1 opener we had about 8 guys out glassing different parts of the unit. We glassed every hour of daylight for 5 days and saw a total of about 5-6 ewes and 2 very young rams. I started to get a little discouraged but Mike, Jon, and Bobby kept my spirits up. Jon wanted to check out a particular part of the unit which was a pretty long drive on some rough roads. When Mike went to town to go back to work for a couple of days, we took a shot at this new place. It was midday when we stopped the truck in a very nice valley to have lunch and wait for prime glassing time. I went to set up my tripod and binos so I wouldn't have to later. When I focused on the mountain I instantly saw a ewe, then when I glassed a bit I saw 2 rams, and then Bobby saw a 3rd!! We hit paydirt...three Rams and one ewe through the spotting scope. Now I really wished Mike was with us because he was the best at judging rams on the hoof (although as it turned out, Bobby was right on). I ran to try to find cell service to call Mike back out there, but no service. We watched these sheep and "put them to bed" at dark.

Back at camp I reached Mike and he met us at about 5:30 the next morning. We drove within a mile or so of the spot, then we hiked on in to the glassing spot we had marked. At sunrise we found the sheep almost immediately and Mike and I started the stalk while Jon and Bobby stayed back to keep an eye on them. After about a 2 hour stalk, in some pretty rough stuff, we were within 400 yards and Mike was able to see the biggest ram. He confirmed he was a 160" class ram, which was my personal minimum, and we stalked in a bit further. At 325 yards I set up for the shot. But the ram was bedded looking away from us, so I had to wait another 15 minutes or so till he stood. As soon as he stood I fired and broke his shoulder and clipped the heart. He wobbled a bit and stood

there. I've shot enough animals to know that if they're still standing, I'm still throwin' lead. So I took a final shot to anchor him and he was down. Now came the real work!!
It was a great hunt and a great experience thanks to Jon, Mike, Bobby and the rest of the guys. Thank you for all your help.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Some photos from New Zealand




Todd Rathner with a very nice New Zealand Chamois
"Deer Delivery" The lodge I stayed in in New Zealand
New Zealand "taxi cab"




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Some photos from my recent hunt in Australia

A Trophy Buffalo


A big Bull who is still out there!

A cow buffalo from a management hunt. This young boar has small tusks but a good sized body
A management bull and a trophy bull.




Alison, Todd and a great Barramundi fish.



A Management Bull




Thursday, October 2, 2008

AIRPORT GUN BAN?!?

According to a recent USA Today article the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is considering a proposal to ban all firearms in all areas of ALL airports in the US. Including unsecured areas of the airport like lobbies, areas where the ticket counters are located etc. This would have a huge negative impact on anyone travelling with firearms. It could have a seriously chilling effect on international hunting as well as domestic hunters who travel. It will also have a negative effect on those with CCW permits who may be at the airport picking someone up or conducting other legitimate business.
The NRA is working on this issue and is asking people to contact TSA as soon as possible to tell them a ban on firearms in the unsecured areas of airports in not acceptable. Please contact them today. Click here to contact the TSA.

TJSC ON AMERICAN HUNTER TELEVISION!

The T. Jeffrey Safari Company will be featured on NRA's American Hunter Television Show on the Outdoor Channel. The story is about NRA Past President Sandra Froman and NRA Editor Karen Mehall hunting wildebeest in South Africa with the T Jeffrey Safari Company. The original broadcast ran in July and the show will re-run on:


Thursday, October 2: 9:30 p.m. (Eastern) Friday, October 3: 3 p.m. (Eastern) Saturday, October 4: 2:30 a.m. (Eastern)
Please be sure to tune in and watch!

Monday, June 23, 2008

The T Jeffrey Safari Company in the News

The T Jeffrey Safari Company has really had an incredible few weeks in terms of exposure in the press. This week we are featured in Forbes Traveler Magazine in an article entitled Bachelor Party Blowouts!

I guess the old fashioned bachelor parties are out and more wholesome, adrenalin pumping activities are in. This is good news for a lot of reasons, one of which is to have a prestigious mainstream publication like Forbes covering hunting as a positive activity! We have also been featured a couple of articles of NRA's American Hunter Magazine.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

TJSC in the News

The article A World In One Country by Karen Mehall from the April issue of the NRA's American Hunter Magazine is available to read online here.

The article covers the 2007 Women on Target safari we sponsored in South Africa. It is an excellent article and I encourage you to read it.

TJR

Friday, April 25, 2008

A bunch of great trophies!

One of the benefits of owning a safari booking agency is getting to see all the great photos and hear the wonderful stories our clients bring back with them from wherever their adventure was. This afternoon I was sitting here putting together the April newsletter and TJSC client Kevin Warner walked in with his photo album and some CD's of photos to show me. We spent about an hour just talking about the hunt and looking at his photos. I have posted some of them here for your enjoyment.

That really is so much of what safari hunting is all about, participating in a wonderful journey (which is what safari means in swahili) and then sharing the stories with friends and family. I am honored that Kevin both trusted The T Jeffrey Safari Company to arrange his safari and that he came in to share his memories with us.

The photos we take on safari are so important because they are the memento most likely to bring us right back to that place where we had such an enjoyable experience. Safari hunting is often about the "trophies" we take meaning the actual horns and hide of the animal we pursued. But those trophies may not be here for a number of months and it is certainly more difficult to take them to a meeting or dinner party to share with friends.

That is why it is so important to have a good quality camera and learn how to take good photos.
Congratulations to Kevin and thanks for sharing your trophies with us - TJR


















Gunsite Academy 2008




This was my second trip to Gunsite Training Academy. Last year I took the 270 General Rifle Course which starts out with the basics and gets you shooting well enough to hit a 9 inch kill zone at 400 yards. This year we asked Gunsite Master Instructor Il Ling New to come up with a custom class designed especially to suit our clients. The idea was to combine a basic rifle class with what Gunsite calls a Hunter Prep Class. So the 170 Rifle class was born! This is the general rifle (270) class reduced from 5 days to 3 days which gets you hitting 9 inch kill zones out to 200 yards consistently. Then we added a 3 day Hunter Prep Class right after the 170 class. Hunter Prep is set up to use "real world" hunting targets everything from flat targets to 3D animals. This includes turning targets, and a robot that is used to simulate an animal coming toward you, away from you and crossing in front of you. It is quite an experience!

A number of the target courses are set up to walk through so you experience targets in realistic hunting environments and at realistice ranges. This also includes targets with horns which require judging which trophy is the bigger animal. There is a little friendly competition involved as well as some timed shooting this helps to simulate the pressure you feel when you are hunting in the field. It's all designed to help you develop the skills you need to be a confident marksman while hunting. When you combine Gunsite's world class instructors with a very well thought out training program it's easy to see why those who take a class at Gunsite gain confidence in their shooting ability. We are planning to put together another TJSC class next Spring so keep your eye on this newsletter for an announcement, if you don't want to wait that long please call the Gunsite Academy at 928-636-4565 and sign up for the next class.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Leupold VX-7 Scope Review

Leupold VX-7 Scope Review

It's no secret that I am a big Leupold scope fan I mount one on every rifle I own. So when Leupold's Cindy Flannigan offered to send me one of their new VX-7 rifle scopes, I jumped at the chance to test it.

The VX-7 series is the pinacle of optics. From the time that they agreed to send it to me I knew this was more than the run of the mill rifle scope. I got an email from Leupold's custom shop asking me the details of the ammunition I would be using with the scope. This was in order to supply me with a Bullet Drop Compensating (BDC) custom elevation adjustment turrent made specifically to match the ballistics of the load I was using. With the BDC you can adjust the elevation of the point of impact quickly and easily.

When I unpacked the scope it was obvious that it had some features that were extremely well thought out. The adjustment knobs are a new design that Leupold calls "Speed Dial" you simply twist a bit until they pop up so you can make your adjustments. This system works extremely well and the adjustments make a positive click for each 1/4 MOA increment. This system also prevents the dreaded "lost scope adjustment cap" syndrome I have suffered from many times because the caps remain attached to the scope.

Looking through the lenses it was obvious that the glass and coatings Leupold uses on the VX-7 line are superior. The image was crystal clear.

One of the features I really like but have some mixed feelings about are the Alumina flip up scope covers. These are an aluminum version of the flip up scope caps you see from after market suppliers Leupold has offered them for a while but I haven't used them until now. I really like the way they work once they are installed on the scope. They fit tight and flush and flip completely out of the way when you are ready to shoot. My only complaint is that the front cap cannot be installed on the scope once the scope is mounted on the rifle, and of course I didn't know that until the scope was mounted! So beware if you install one of these scopes put the Alumina caps on BEFORE you install the scope.

On the range the scope performed extremely well. One of the most important things I look for in a scope is long eye relief because on heavy recoiling dangerous game guns this is critcally important. While this scope was mounted on a Kimber 84M in .308 Winchester I still like long eye relief to prevent getting "scope bit". Quite often the European scopes which this series was designed to compete with have a much shorter eye relief which I really do not like. Also, I am not convinced that the European scopes are as durable as the Leupold's are.

Last year I had a Zeiss scope mounted on the same rifle and after about 50 or 60 rounds of shooting at Gunsite the reticle just snapped. This year I fired over 600 rounds with that rifle and the VX-7 mounted on it there was absolutely no malfunction of the scope. It performed flawlessly.

In my experience Leupold scopes are extremely durable. I wasn't sure what to expect from this new premium line of scopes. Sometimes premium does not equal durable but based on a 600+ round test in the heat, dust and vigorous training at Gunsite I am convinced that the VX-7 line is an extremely high quality and durable product. Although they cost more than a standard Leupold scope they are worth the money when you consider what we demand from our optics. In the near future I will do a report on the custom BDC adjustment knob and how it works and I plan to do a report on the scope's perfomance while hunting. - TJR




Monday, February 4, 2008

US Dollar Strong vs South African Rand

Recently there was a report in another hunting publication regarding the sinking value of the US dollar vs. other currencies and the effect it has on the price of hunting. While the report was accurate regarding the Canadian Dolar, Australian Dollar and others. It was not accurate in it's discussion of the South African Rand and it's relationship to the US Dollar. The US Dollar is holding strong and is actually rising against the SA Rand!
As I write this the South African Rand is trading at 7.44 Rand per 1 US Dollar that is a better rate than it has been over the past 3 years!
In January of 2005 the dollar was trading at 5.6 Rand to 1 US Dollar there has been an increase in the US Dollar's value of almost two SA Rand (almost 30%) since then. The dollar is nearing it's 3 year high of 7.97 rand. See this detailed chart. And look at this one:

What does all this mean for the average American hunter? It means that this is an excellent time to hunt in South Africa or Namibia (the Namibian dollar is tied to the SA Rand) because the dollar is worth more in South Africa than it has been in the past three years and is approaching it's 5 year high of 8.02 Rand per US dollar.

Since 2006 most of our hunt package prices have remained the same. A couple of them went up a bit to cover rising fuel prices but trophy fees and daily rates have remained stable and the cost of incidentals, souvenirs, and other things you may buy while on safari are still very low.

When you compare African safari prices to other hunts in other countries it is still the "best bang for the buck" no doubt about it.

The bottom line? It's a GREAT time to go on safari in Africa!



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