Hunts, Lies, and Beer Talk

Kent Robinson – Past Chapter President/Current Director SCI Houston Chapter
Proprietor- Texafari Outdoors

My goodness, it has been years since I last penned my old column ” Hunts, Lies, and Video Tape” for our SCI Houston newsletter. I had such a wonderful time doing that project. I hope this new attempt will bring me a similar appreciation and that it will serve its purpose to both entertain and inform our members.

I recently used this ” COVID Shutdown” as a time to return to my old dear camp of 18 years after a short, four year sabbatical in Junction with fellow chapter member, Brad Bull. Those years were fantastic and we made many wonderful memories hunting in the majestic hill country parallel to the South Llano River. That 4200 acres had a good, healthy deer herd that produced some great deer with a few reaching the 150 class. We enjoyed seeing free-ranging aoudad, axis, sika, blackbuck, hogs, and turkey. We even had a mountain lion sighting! You just never knew what game might appear on your game cam or while hunting.

Going back to “The Garden of Eden” in Concho County has actually been quite refreshing. I left many good friends there and had become good friends with several ranchers in the area. Last year was a rejuvenation of spirit for me hunting a new area and seeing so many new deer! It’s what the doctor ordered for me!

This article today is my attempt to give you an update on several operators in Texas and a couple in Africa on their status during these most challenging times. This is not by any means all-inclusive but rather a snapshot of information on what I have learned from my outfitters that I represent.

South African operations have been hit extremely hard as have most other African Hunting concessions and operators. Some local hunting has been allowed, as have meat hunts and culling. All American hunts and travel have been postponed or canceled due to COVID, by South Africa. My two operations, Numzaan in the Limpopo region and Mt. Carmel in the Kimberly region have had opportunities to continue to take animals for the local meat markets but that is not a sustainable practice for the long term. The hope naturally is to move all 2020 bookings to 2021 and to also have new bookings. The shut-down of USA hunting shows has made it difficult for outfitters to promote their operations in the states. Many may be in limbo for 2021. Let’s hope not. I will do what I can to help them. Fortunately, SCI, DSC, HSC, and a few other shows were able to function successfully prior to the March outbreak. The Hunter’s Extravaganza (Texas Trophy Hunter’s Show), SCI Houston Chapter Banquet/Show, and others have been canceled or postponed.

The misfortune for international travel has brought limited fortune to Texas operators and ranchers barring any unforeseen changes. I’ve talked to ranchers and operators from the hill country to south Texas and most are seeing a surge in spring-summer exotic hunting. I spoke with Houston Erskine of the Record Buck ranch out of Utopia – and hunts are up as are fall bookings. Roy Dale Leifester of the Lucky 7 in Concho County, has experienced similar activity. L and L Adventures in Wimberley also have experienced similar activity. Early on bookings may have been stymied but recently more exotic hunts have been booked. Cabin fever has set in and hunters that may have normally hunted Africa or elsewhere during the summer have gone back to Texas hunting as an excellent option. Jay Wrobliski ( Chapter member) of the SOS Ranch in South Texas has also shared similar sentiments. All these ranches make sure that they have a thorough sanitation process in place, practice social distancing, and limit party participation. Hunting Texas is a great way to practice social distancing and to get out in the healthy outdoors.

The best way we hunters can help is to hunt and support those that have supported us. All of the above-mentioned outfitters and or ranchers have supported this chapter in some form or fashion over the years.

I have used this COVID time to do some deer camp work and to cull an axis doe or two while hunting with a friend and chapter supporter, Scott Blankenship, in Rocksprings. Now that is a perfect way to practice social distancing and to put some great protein for the body and soul on the table!

Till next time- Keep the beer cold for after the hunt, stay healthy, and keep booking those hunts.