Travel: Safari South Africa with Starr & Bodill

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South Africa is rich with history, saturated in beauty and has more species of animals to hunt than any other area in Africa. The malaria-free Eastern Cape of South Africa is especially plentiful when it comes to species of animals to hunt. That’s what makes it the perfect destination for a first time hunting safari.

Starr & Bodill African Safaris

Starr & Bodill is owned and operated by three people, Dwaine and Britney Starr (father and daughter) based in the United States, and Louis Bodill who is based in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Not many safari owners are citizens of the U.S.A. like we are at Starr & Bodill. This allows for easy and fast communication with our clients. We pride ourselves on the personalized service we provide, as well as our attention to detail. Embarking on your first safari can seem like a daunting task, and whichever outfitter you decide to book your safari with should be prepared to take care of all of the planning details, from start to finish.

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Anna Katherine Williams and her husband recently returned from their first safari, during which, they hunted plains game and also were married at the Starr & Bodill lodge. Anna said, “Starr & Bodill is different from other outfitters because they kept in touch with us during the safari planning process and they left nothing to chance. They were in contact with us within 24 hours after our initial email inquiring about their operation and accommodations. From airplane tickets and travel insurance, to what to bring and what to expect, pricing and everything in between, we were always well informed and never had any surprises. Dwaine, Britney and Louis are among the most professional and knowledgeable outfitters in the safari industry.”

Location and terrain

Starr & Bodill’s safari areas are located near Fort Beaufort and Cathcart in the Eastern Cape of South Africa and consist of concessions with hundreds of thousands of acres available for hunting purposes. We have more than 40 different species of animals to hunt, ranging from steenbok and impala to deadly Cape buffalo, and just about everything in between.

Hunting in the Eastern Cape is a very unique experience, the terrain ranges from rolling grasslands to thick bush and mountains. The East Cape also contains native species that are unique to the area like East Cape kudu, Cape eland, black wildebeest and mountain reedbok; just to name a few.

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Recommended gear

Because of the terrain in the area, hunters can expect to be presented with shot opportunities at 150 to 200 yards. A bi-pod and a 4×16 scope are two items that are strongly recommended as part of our clients’ shooting system. Anna said, “Starr & Bodill provided us with a list of gear to bring, one of those being a rifle bi-pod. We’ve never had them on our rifles previously, but we are thankful that it was recommended because it came into play every day while hunting. Also, after reading Starr & Bodill gear recommendations, we upgraded our scopes to 4×16 power from the 3×9 power scope we were already using. Previously, I had read that I wouldn’t need more than a 3×9 scope on safari, and that is not entirely true. When shooting out to 200 yards and beyond, 4×16 power gave us the edge that we needed. In the end, Starr & Bodill’s gear checklist was pretty much our bible, and it was definitely spot on.”

Regardless of your hunting location, the outfitter should be able to provide a list of recommended gear that is specific to the area you will be hunting.

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Practice, practice, practice!

Practicing shot placement and ballistics before your safari is crucial. We recommend going to the range and shooting in different positions to simulate hunting scenarios. Practicing off of a bench rest, prone with a bi-pod, sitting with a bi-pod and also standing and resting on shooting sticks are all recommended.

Regarding preparation for her first safari, Anna said, “My husband, Peter, started taking me to the range a year before our safari. I studied the ballistics of different types of ammo to find the best match for game I was hunting. I also studied the different types of terrain as well as the as the anatomy of the animals I was going to hunt.

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Because we were using a Nikon 4×16 scope, we utilized the Nikon “Spot-On” website. We simply typed in the load we would be using, the .300 H&H magnum – 180 grain Nosler, and let the website do the work for us. Then, after that we checked the Federal Premium web site to cross reference the data, we went to the range to see if both the Nikon and the Federal Premium websites were accurate. Both the scope and the ammo performed exactly as expected. We sighted in our rifles to shoot two inches high at 100 yards, and knew where our shots would hit if we were shooting out to 150 or 200 yards.

Although I did not have as much shooting experience as Peter, when I was in Africa, two out of my three animals were complete heart shots. Because of my pre-safari practice, I had great shot placement and the bullet did the rest. When the professional hunter showed me the hearts of my harvested animals, they were literally split in half.”

Lodging

When thinking of hunting in Africa, people may envision the misconception of sleeping in a tent without running water or showers available. Although some safaris outfitters still offer “rustic” accommodations, Starr & Bodill’s modern lodge is sure to provide all the comforts of home. We have a total of four chalets on the property. Each thatched-roof chalet sleeps two people and has an en-suite bathroom with a shower, toilet and vanity. Also, located inside each chalet are a mini fridge, microwave, kettle, upright safe and modern beds.

All meals take place in the thatched-roof lodge. The lodge has two stories on one side with huge windows overlooking magnificent views. The lodge also features a bar area, reading room and fireplace. Starr & Bodill’s clients enjoy nightly bonfires, during which they can reminisce about their hunting excursions and get to know the other clients in camp.

Other amenities include a pool, outdoor barbeque, skinning area, salt room and shooting range. For a bit of history, there are also caves on the lodge property that have bushman paintings.

Our hunts are truly “all inclusive,” clients are treated to nightly multi-course meals, open bar (to be enjoyed after hunting, of course) and daily laundry service. Often, our clients complain of gaining weight from all of the delicious food, even though they are spot and stalk hunting for the duration of their trip.

If you’re looking for an all-inclusive safari but not sure where to start, the East Cape of South Africa is a great place to begin your research process. Plenty of shooting practice, the right gear, an outfitter who is willing to help, modern accommodations and the magic of Africa’s ambiance will surely make your first safari a memorable one.

By Britney Starr, www.sbafricansafaris.com. Originally published in the October 2013 issue of GunUp the Magazine.

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