I took a varmint call along on my first safari to South Africa almost 10 years ago. We tried it one night just after dark. After about five minutes of squealing from the electronic call we turned on the lights and jackals were everywhere.
A brief firefight broke out and we hit nothing. We tried again a few nights later with no success and gave up.
On my most recent and sixth safari, which occurred in the Limpopo and Northern Cape provinces, I decided to give it another go. I contacted FoxPro and they hooked me up with their Shockwave call, pre-loaded with African sounds.
ExtremeBeam provided several high intensity white, red and green lights and I hand loaded 40 rounds of ammunition with 85-grain Nosler Ballistic Tips for my custom Mossberg MVP in .25-45 Sharps. I was serious this time.
I’d have thought predator calling in Africa would have become more popular since my first visit, and something most professional hunters would be well versed in. That’s not the case.
As fun as it can be, I assume this lack of interest is partly because predators are low on most clients’ trophy list and partly because outfitters do not make as much money when one is killed. And, well, the pursuit of a kudu or sable would undoubtedly have priority.
After a full day of hunting, and with the lure of the campfire and the wish for cool drink tugging on your soul, it’s hard to include some late evening calling into the program. Still, that extra hour can be the best hour of your day.
After watching two falcons attack and try to carry off the FoxPro, and then shooting a jackal two minutes later, my son exclaimed, “Dad, we gotta do this again!”
The process for calling predators in South Africa is really no different from the one we use in the States. For example: windy days are unproductive, you need to find concealment and move as little as possible, keep an eye out downwind and stay alert.
Just like in North America, the terrain in Africa and how you use it varies, too. In the tight confines of the brushy Limpopo area, a shotgun is ideal (we called bat-eared foxes in as close as 20 feet). In the openness of the savannah-like Northern Cape you might need to reach out there a ways. There, my son missed a jackal that locked up at more than 300 yards.
The bat-eared fox brings up a major difference between predator calling here and there. In Africa, they are a protected species and so is the African wildcat. Both are very apt to respond to calling, so you have to be completely sure when you shoot. Your targets will be jackal and caracal, which are the African version of our coyotes and bobcats. I’ve never managed to call a caracal but several PHs said they’ve heard of it occurring. Caracals are frequently hunted with dogs.
You also might be fortunate enough to call in a brown hyena. This werewolf-like critter would make a great trophy but you’ll need to arrange a permit in advance and you won’t be able to export any part of it. Alternately, brown hyenas can be baited and this is the preferred method for hunting them.
If you’re planning an African safari, don’t leave your varmint call at home. Common distress calls like the ones you use here in the States will work but you’ll put yourself at an advantage if you invest in a call like the FoxPro, which has pre-programmed native African calls.
You’ll want to bring your lights, too. While most find it more fun to see the action as it happens, an hour or two of after dark hunting can be a blast if you can pull yourself away from the fire ring and the official safari drinks.