Open Season: Dark Continent, bright memories
Hunters dream about it. Theodore Roosevelt loved it so much that he wrote a book on it. Today, outdoors television shows can bring you there from the comfort of your La-Z-Boy.
But Scott Humphrey is one of the few people who can say he's actually done it.
Scott and his wife, Jenny, found themselves whisked away on a dream excursion after getting the winning bid on a South African hunting trip during last year's Cass County Wildlife Club banquet.
The Humphreys, of Milnor, N.D., spent four days at Ditholo Safaris on the Dark Continent's Limpopo Province, lavished by "five-star accommodations and amazing hospitality," Scott said.
"The people, the culture, all the different species of animals; it was a trip of a lifetime," he said.
Ian Tolmay was the gracious host who donated the trip package last year. CCWC's Mike Rost said that the operator and head guide of Ditholo Safaris will once again be at this year's banquet to offer another hunting trip for auction. Rost said the package, which will not have a bid reserve, has an estimated value of approximately $4,500.
The CCWC banquet begins at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 22, at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds in West Fargo. Tickets are $30, and are available in advance or at the door. Cost for admission includes food.
"It's a pretty good feed," Rost said. "There's probably 20 different hors d'oeuvres, and toward the end of the evening they have sandwiches. And there's also the usual auctions and raffles, with all proceeds benefiting CCWC."
Rost said CCWC partners with several programs every year, including Delta Waterfowl, Hunt of a Lifetime, and others. The organization also sponsors the rifle range on the outskirts of Casselton, N.D., as well as Boy Scout shooting programs and youth programs.
The fund-raising banquet and a 50-gun raffle in the works produce the majority of CCWC's funding for the year, Rost said.
Even so, the South Africa trip likely will be the highlight of the banquet.
The style of hunting in Africa that Scott Humphrey got to participate in was spot and stock, in which the guides and hunter travel around looking for a prospective animal and, upon finding one, creep within range to get a shot. While there, Scott Humphrey managed to bag five animals in such a fashion, including kudu, impala, blesbuck, blue wildebeest and zebra.
He said he also had tags for other species, but didn't get the chance to fill them. Even so, Scott had some amazing encounters.
"We kind of picked the specific animals for each day, and it just happened that one day we were looking for a zebra and saw a nice kudu," Scott said. "I got him and the zebra about a half hour apart."
Jenny managed to do a bit more shooting than her husband, however, and brought home more than 2,000 trophies - on her camera.
"It took a while to get through them all, but we did," Scott said.
Scott also is expecting an early Christmas present. Before heading back to the United States, he brought his harvested animals to a local taxidermist in Africa.
After the long wait, "they're in the process of being delivered right now," he said, though he "has no idea where they're going to go" in his home.
Although he himself won't be bidding on this year's South Africa trip, Scott does have some advice for the lucky person who finds him or herself in possession of the winning bid.
"Enjoy it," he said. "I'd love to do it again, but maybe in the future. I'd absolutely love to save up and give it as a graduation present for my son and stepson."
And be forewarned: once you've been to Africa, you'll want to go back, Scott said.
"People would always tell me that you'll want to do it again and I'd say 'no, one time will be enough,' " he said.
"I would do it again in a heartbeat," he said.