Hunting in Africa-interview With V. A. Smelov
Not so long ago, I had the opportunity to meet a very interesting person – Vladimir Alexandrovich Smelov, head of Safari-Valmir, a company that specializes in organizing trophy hunting in Russia and abroad. The other day I asked him to answer a few questions about hunting in Africa. The result was a short interview.
Vladimir Alexandrovich, tell us how and when you first appeared on the African continent with weapons in your hands? With hunting, of course.
I made my first trip to Africa in July 2004. This was Namibia. Before that, at a hunting exhibition in Dortmund, I met the hunting company “Otjiruze”, which offered its own hunts. Returning to Russia, I decided to offer these hunts to my friends. Two of them agreed to go, then another hunter joined them.
Namibia is a wonderful country, where 365 Sunny days a year, vaccinations are not needed, since there are no centers of diseases, visas are placed immediately at the airport upon arrival. Bought tickets and flew!
Hunting in Namibia, of course, is different from hunting in Russia. There are different landscapes, different vegetation. The process of tracking the beast, it, both in Russia and Africa, has always been the main one in hunting. However, in Africa, it was necessary to wind up 160 km a day in search of the desired trophy.
Hunting in Namibia takes place in closed areas of about 6 thousand hectares, which makes things a little easier. At the same time, there are also open areas where hunting is much more difficult to overcome large spaces.
In Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Zambia and other countries, too, there are no fences and animals are in a state of their own freedom.
I always travel to Africa as an escort, and I try not to take up arms. The video camera is my reliable companion.
Is the big five of Africa really the “pinnacle of excellence”? Or is there something even more interesting and complex?
I would not say that this is the pinnacle of skill, it is rather the crown of all African hunts. Mountain hunting is definitely the pinnacle of skill.
Fortunately, I was able to visit all the big five hunts and, of course, these are the most interesting hunts in Africa. To them, you can only add a complex hunt for hippos and crocodiles.
In General, in my opinion, as a professional hunter, the most difficult hunting in Africa can be called elephant hunting. At first glance, many people think that there is nothing easier than getting into a 6-ton animal. Our parents kept telling us, ” Why do you walk like an elephant?”. They just never saw him walk as silently as a mouse.
Once in Tanzania, we spent 21 days looking for a worthy specimen of an elephant, but we saw it on the day of departure, when our plane was already taking us home.
On this hunt, there are criteria by which you need to evaluate the trophy and only then get it.
The most beautiful and exciting hunting that you remember in Africa?
In fact, all the trips were very exciting and each of them was different from the other. Although you can mark one of them. This was a hunt in Zimbabwe in 2017. A hunter from St. Petersburg ordered a lion, leopard, and Buffalo hunt. Arriving at the farm Matetsi, we immediately saw prepared Baty (bait) for the lion. In the first days, the lion could not be seen, or rather it came once at night and it seemed to us that it was not so large.
Then we tried for five days to shoot some animal for a bait, but they all ran away from us to the national Park. Only a herd of 40 head elephants came across our eyes every day. My hunter didn’t want to shoot an elephant, thinking it wouldn’t be so interesting. When, on the fifth day, I convinced him that this was a very good offer (the price was $ 12,500), he agreed.
It was a very interesting hunt. We managed to find the largest elephant and get within shooting distance of it. The elephant came at us, shot, but the beast did not fall. The wound was severe and the elephant did not go far from us. We manage to approach again, and the hunter has hit his target. Wiping the sweat from his forehead, the hunter noted that this was the most exciting hunt of his life.
After that, the hunter managed to get a lion, Buffalo, Hippo, crocodile, giraffe and bushbuck. Of the leopards, only the females came to the bait, and they are forbidden to be shot. By the way, 9 animals came to one bat for a lion: a lion, lionesses and lion cubs. The rest of the pride.
And what was the most difficult and dangerous hunt?
One of the most difficult and dangerous was the same lion hunt in Zimbabwe. After the elephant was taken, my hunter fired a shot at the lion in the morning, but he was in a hurry and fired at the bayonet. The lion turned over its head and disappeared into the Bush.
The next 5 hours of chasing a lion in the Bush were very dangerous. It was only through the experience of the black trappers that we were able to find the wounded animal, and the hunter successfully killed it on the spot…
There were also curious cases… Once when hunting a leopard, I was so interested in shooting that I didn’t notice how I missed a huge cactus 80 cm high with needles of 7-10 cm between my legs. After the hunt, I had to pull the needles out of my legs, which stuck into the body of 25-30 mm.
Well, that only in its feet! :))
Is there such a thing as commercial hunting and what do local people get?
In Africa, all hunts are set up for foreign hunters, and local hunters are forbidden to have weapons.
Local residents are engaged only in poaching. Those who live near the hunting organizers get meat from the animals they hunt.
How interested are Russian hunters in African Safari today and what trophy is the most desirable for them?
Those hunters who have visited Africa at least once are sure to return there. Due to the change in the ruble exchange rate, activity has fallen somewhat, but still the Russian hunter is the most popular and desired now in Africa.
In Russia, there are already many hunters who are not inferior to the Americans in terms of the number and quality of trophies obtained there.
By the way, the prices of hunting in Africa. If in Kamchatka one elk is already sold for 10-15 thousand dollars, then in Africa you can shoot ten animals for this money.
For example, we now have an offer for 4 people – hunting in Namibia. It costs 2850 euros. For this amount, they offer to get 6 Oryx and 15 Sprinboks plus maintenance.
In General, hunting in Africa differs from hunting in Russia in its diversity. If a hunter goes hunting in Russia, it is usually for a certain species. Maximum can simultaneously get the second type of animal. For example: bear and elk, elk and snow sheep.
In Africa, you can get 10-15 different species of animals in one Safari.
Our hunters and “foreign ” – how do they differ in the first place?
Most of our hunters are interested in meat hunting, while foreign hunters are interested in hunting trophies.
I have heard several anecdotes in your performance. Tell me, do foreigners have decent anecdotes about hunting and fishing?
If there are anecdotes from foreigners, they are the same as ours… And let’s tell our best, but the most that neither is African.
The world championship among hunters in Africa is scheduled. Hunters gathered from all countries, from Russia was sent the best hunter-Chukchi. The judges on the first day explain that you can shoot all animals except the crocodile. After a week of hunting, the results are summed up.
The American reports that he got: an Elephant, a Lion, a Hippo and 5 antelopes.
Spaniard – two Elephants, two lions, two Leopards and 10 antelopes.
It was Chukchi’s turn. He proudly reports that it has produced 10 Nosirov.
The judges in disbelief asking: “Who are Nosery?!”
Chukcha explains that when he was hunting, he noticed a black spot. He asks, ” Do you have a crocodile?”
In response, he hears: “No sir!”…
The anecdote is old, but among foreigners it causes a lot of smiles and they say that they also have a similar one.