Date: August 13, 2003 To: The Hunting Report From: Dumukwa Safaris RE: Complaint from Adam Bleile
Dear Hunting Report,
We regret receiving the letter from you and would like to light out a few points in our defense. The hunt Mr. Bleile was on was a hunt bought on an auction originally be Mr. Keith Lowery. Mr. Bleile was to be the second hunter on this donated package for 10 days with two impala, two blesbuck, two warthog, and two blue wildebeest. The company received back U$840.00 to cover expenses towards this hunt. Original dates for this hunt was determined from June 11 - June 21.
E-mail received on 21 October 2002
Dear Elene Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. The new dates from June 11 to June 21 will be fine. Thanks, Keith
Mr. Bleile and Mr. Lowery came to see us at Safari Club International show in Reno and asked to move the dates. We agreed to this, but let them know that camp would be cramped in as we already had enough bookings to fill camp. But trying to accommodate them we agreed to the dates to June 28 - July 8.
E-mail received on 16 May 2003
Dear Elene I wanted to send you a note and tell you our plans. We are scheduled to hunt the 29th of June until the 8th of July (if my memory is correct). We were planning on being there on the 28th of June in Petersburg.... Before Mr. Lowry cancelled his hunt I received this e-mail dated 16 May 2003 from Mr. Bleile.
There will be a total of three of us (Keith Lowery, Jim Matacia and myself - Adam). This will be Keith and Jim's first time in Africa. It is important to me for them to get many animals. I have been in Africa several times and only want a couple animals. The ones I want are going to be tough though. I would like a bushpig, a serval, a klipspringer and a sharps grysbok. If I do not get any of them that will be ok and I will be happy to be there. Keith and I have the donated animals (blue wildebeest, impala, warthog and blesbok). Keith and Jim are both figuring out what other animals they want. Is it ok to make one of us officially a non hunter so all of us go together? The three of us together is the most important. I will probably video most of the time.
I told Keith and Jim to let me know immediately what they want to hunt. I am hoping they let me know by the end of the weekend...
On May 22 I wrote
Dear Adam Just a note to confirm that I received your e-mail
It will be fine to be a non hunter. Depending on what other animals the guys want it might be more difficult to let all three of you get all the animals you want since they're already hunting 2x1....
I understand there are no guarantees about what animals we will get. We will do the best we can and have fun in the meantime.
Up till date I have not received any additional information stating if the clients were interested in hunting any additional game, except for the package and the animals Mr. Bleile wrote about in the above mentioned e-mail. On May 29 Mr. Lowery sent and e-mail in which he apologized on not being able to do the safari due to unfortunate circumstances. On June 1, 2003 Mr. Bleile informed us that his father might join the group if we would be able to arrange the hunting of a hippopotamus for him, which we did. With hunting a hippopotamus, which is a big game hunt we arranged for a professional hunter to take out Mr. Bleile's father alone. We then arranged another professional hunter to take out the (2x1) hunt which included Mr. Bleile and his friend. The group of three people arrived on Friday June 27 and departed on July 8. Thus arriving one day earlier than agreed on. Each member of the group was charged a non-hunters fee of $150 for this extra day, even though they hunted and should have been charged $300. on arrival the clients made us understand that all three of them still wanted to hunt together as they were making a movie on hunting Africa with several different caliber rifles. They brought six rifles and wanted to hunt specific species with each rifle. Note that this was the first time we were aware of the fact that they were making a movie. On Sunday evening they went to hunt the hippo, but complained that the light was not good for camera footage. The guides told them that the hippo's came out in the late afternoon and that there would be no other time to hunt them. This was also explained in an e-mail to Mr. Bleile around June 4.....they normally graze in the late afternoon and at night and we have to wait for them to get out of the river......They did not want to split up to get their different animals but insisted on taping the hippo hunt for the movie. The hippo was hunted on Monday evening. It took all of Tuesday to skin the animal out and get the hide to the taxidermist. The taxidermist offered to come out to skin the animal for $200 which the clients declined. The other big hunt they had was shooting a giraffe which was also a full day's hunting if you include the time to get it skinned. Except for the above mentioned animals, 10 other animals were hunted in this period. Seven of the eight donated animals were hunted successfully which excluded a second warthog. These clients had many opportunities to hunt the other species, but declined as the prices of game increased, the camera was not ready to tape the hunt or they did hot have the correct caliber (out of six rifles) with them at the time that they wished to film the hunt with to make the movie a success. Mr. Bleile had a chance to shoot a klipspringer, but due to personal circumstances could not take a shot. Around the third night of the hunt Mr. Bleile asked me for a price sheet which was given to him. He was very unpleased by the fact that some of the prices had to be increased due to the current rand/dollar exchange rate and landowners increasing their prices. He had asked that we still give them the prices of the year they booked in. I explained to him that if he signed a contract with us we would give him the prices as contracted. As far as I know there were never a contract signed, but only an agreement with the chapter the donation was given to, to hunt the specified animals that was donated and that any other animals was to be hunted at the normal rates. Mr. Bleile was furious and said that he will not spend money on any additional game and that he will only hunt the donated animals. I told him that if that is what he wishes to do it will be fine with us, but we cannot decrease the prices as there was no additional game contracted with him at specific prices. As normally, we were to settle the account on the last night of the safari. After dinner we got all the paperwork ready and asked the clients to please come to the dining area so that we could settle the account. Finally, after calling them several times, Mr. Bleile came to the dining area around midnight. He refused to pay for the extra day they spent in camp and demanded that they were to be taken back to Petersburg immediately. (You must understand that this is a two hour drive from where we live and to take that ride at midnight, after hunting all day and having to hunt the next day, was ridiculous) the outfitter said that they should just leave the money for the extra day, which then they did not pay. Mr. Bleile said that he had asked many times to speak to the outfitter but that the outfitter never came back to him. The truth is that the outfitter was here every night, and that Mr. Bleile had all the chances to call him aside if he had any problems. We also have signs in the rooms asking clients not to smoke, which one hunter in this group ignored. He was also not to smoke which he ignored. In trying to hide this, he threw cigarette butts in the toilet which caused a drain blockage after a few days.
On the client that Mr. Bleile talked about that wounded a gemsbuck: the gemsbuck was tracked for longer than an hour and then stopped bleeding. We did try to send the client back for a day, but we were unable to reach the landowner to make the arrangements. The clients wanted to hunt an additional gemsbuck and knew that they would be charged for it. It says in our price sheet and contract that trophy fees are payable on all animals killed, wounded and/or lost. I do not see how this has anything to do with Mr. Bleile. None of the properties where Mr. Bleile hunted was to be sold. Clients that are in camp all rotate to different areas. This was difficult with this group as they made it clear that due to price increases they would just hunt the donated animals. All the donated animals were on properties that are fairly close to camp. Landowners increase their prices each year, how can he expect to pay last year's prices? All other clients in camp wanted to hunt a variety of species, which we send them to our areas (one hour away from camp) where those animals were to be found. On one occasion the clients went to lunch in a local restaurant where they heard of a blue wildebeest with one horn in a small camp that they wanted to hunt. They did not find this wildebeest, but wanted to go back for a second day. They were fully aware of the camp size etc. and now want to complain about it. They were the ones who insisted.
I do have copies of all quoted e-mails and would forward it to anyone who would like to see it.
To my opinion Mr. Bleile bought a hunt for basically free on an auction. He made it clear on the night that he left that this was his main problems - we had a price increase which he refused to pay the additional money - we charged him (rightfully) for an additional day they spent in camp which he also reused to pay. Mr. Bleile is now trying to make us the bad guy by trying to make all other kinds of accusations about food, accommodations, guides etc. I'm forwarding other e-mails for the record of the other hunters that were in camp at the same time in which they thought the above mentioned was great. I'm also forwarding a price sheet for 2002 and for 2003 to show how minimal the price increases were and only on a few animals.
We thank you for giving us the opportunity to share our views.
Hunting Area 1, Northern province, all days. Our base camp, Dumukwa Lodge, is situated on the banks of the Limpopo river - the border between South Africa and Botswana. The camp comprises five modern thatch roof chalets accommodating 10 guests - two guests per chalet. Guests will be collected from Petersburg International Airport and driven to the lodge (two hours). Activities for non - hunters includes game drives, visits to the Lion Farm, Crocodile Farm, and shopping in Petersburg.
Daily Rates for 2002: one hunter/one ph (1x1) $300 per hunter per day; two hunters/on ph (2x1) $250 per hunter per day; non-hunters $150 per person per day.
Trophy Fees: baboon $50, blesbuck $350, blue wildebeest $800, bushbuck $600, bushpig $200, caracal $400, civet cat $350, duiker-common $200, eland $1,600, gemsbuck $900, genet cat $250, giraffe $1600, impala $250, jackal $100, klipspringer $600, kudu greater $1,000, mountain reedbuck $550, nyala $1,500, ostrich $500, porcupine $150, red hartebeest $800, sharp grysbok $600, steenbok $200, tsetse be $1,600, warthog $200, waterbuck $1,350, and zebra $800. Please note that 14% vat must be added to daily fees.
Daily Rates for 2003: one hunter/one ph (1x1) $300 per hunter per day; two hunters/on ph (2x1) $250 per hunter per day; non-hunters $150 per person per day. Trophy Fees: baboon $100, blesbuck $350, blue wildebeest $800, bushbuck $600, bushpig $350, caracal $550, civet cat $350, duiker-common $200, eland $1,600, gemsbuck $900, genet cat $350, giraffe $1600, impala $250, jackal $100, klipspringer $600, kudu greater $1,100, mountain reedbuck $550, nyala $1,750, ostrich $500, porcupine $150, red hartebeest $800, sharp grysbok $600, steenbok $200, tsetse be $1,600, warthog $200, waterbuck $1,450, and zebra $900. Please note that 14% vat must be added to daily fees.
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Date: August 28, 2003 To: The Hunting Report From: Dumukwa Safaris RE: Complaint from Adam Bleile
Dear Hunting Report,
Please find below a reply of one group of hunters:
We did have a safe trip back home. We all enjoyed our stay with you very much. We were happy with the accommodations. I want to thank you again for allowing us to change our scheduled hunt dates to allow my wife to join in on the trip. I also want to thank you for getting my son a different bed (one that was a little more firm) while he was staying in our room. He really appreciated the change. His back has been giving him problems for the past several years.
The meals were excellent. The gemsbok back straps were superb, the giraffe stew was a real treat, and the BBQ warthog was very good. I do wish we could have tried the back strap from one of the Kudu, but I realize that you had already preplanned the meals. The Kudu sausage was great. The spices in the meat tasted very similar to our old family recipe for pork sausage. We also used small intestine for casings. ALL meals were good.
Our guide (Wheels) and our tracker (John) were both very good. We hunted a total of 6 different areas. All had ample game in them. I would have liked to hunt several of the areas on a second day after having located good animals on the first day, but as it were, everything worked out fine. We finished our hunt on the seventh day. We really enjoyed the trip to the crocodile farm. Please thank big Peter again for us.
We were disappointed when we were not able to go back after Ken's wounded Gemsbok. On the day that Ken wounded the animal, we as well as Dave and Linda Scianimonico, were hunting the same property. Dave and Linda were in one section of the property during the morning and we were in the other section. At mid day we switched areas. We hunted where Dave and Linda had been and they where we had been. The trackers did follow the Gemsbok for quite a distance but apparently it had stopped bleeding. I definitely would like to have gone back to that same section after lunch to try to locate that wounded animal but it didn't happen. I appreciate your trying to set up another trip to that property. Ken was able to harvest a nice Gemsbok on another day on a different property.
We enjoyed visiting with the other hunters in camp. Due to the timing of our stay with you, we actually spent more time with Marvin and Mike than anyone else.
Once again, we thank you for a great experience. I would like to do it again in the future. If you would like, I am willing to be a reference for your business.
Richard "Rick" Depaoli Bureau of Land Management Supervisory Rangeland Management Specialist Support Services Carson City Field Office 775-885-6105
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Date: August 13, 2003 To: The Hunting Report From: Dumukwa Safari RE: Complaint from Adam Bleile
Dear Hunting Report,
This correspondence is in follow up to a fax I received on February 4, 2003 regarding Dumukwa Safaris. I will address the issues raised in the fax in the order they were presented.
Dumukwa has stated that this was a hunt bought on auction by Keith Lowry. This statement is only somewhat correct. Keith and I went to a Safari Club International fundraiser in Columbus, Ohio. It was first reported that a member of this chapter had hunted with Dumukwa. Unfortunately this statement was found incorrect. Essentially, the donation was a blind donation. Keith and I wanted to go to Africa together as Keith had never been there. We bought the hunt for approximately $1,700 (far from "my opinion Mr. Bleile bought a hunt basically free" as stated by Dumukwa). Have no doubt, this hunt was not even worth going on for free much less $1,700. I was much more upset at losing valuable vacation time (with which I spend hunting) at a poor hunting operation. The chapter had to write a receipt for payment and wrote the receipt in Keith's name. Keith in no way owned this hunt alone. From the beginning both of us were going to go to Africa together.
Dumukwa also appears dissatisfied with the amount of money they received for the donation (as they did not hesitate to express numerous times during the hunt). I believe they should be dissatisfied with the chapter and not me on that issue. I did not set up the terms of Dumukwa's donation to the auction. I feel bad for them for making a bad bargain but this was by far within my control. If I had known my experience was going to be based on the amount of funds they received back from the chapter I would not have bought the hunt. I am sorry they did not make the amount of money they would have liked on the hunt. Keith and I did make plans to attend to hunt on June 11 to June 21. At the Safari Club International fundraiser in Reno, Nevada, both Keith and I spoke to Dumukwa about the dates. Keith and I were going to purchase another hunt and make the hunts back to back. As we were committed to Dumukwa first we inquired into their availability. We would have organized the other hunt around Dumukwa if there was a problem. Elene (please forgive the spelling if the name is incorrect) told us she could move the dates around. We had no idea "that camp would be cramped in as we already (sic) had enough bookings to fill camp". I have never been on a hunt in Africa (four total trips with six different hunts scheduled) where I had to share a camp. I had no idea that they brought large numbers of hunters to hunt at the same time.
Again, this was completely foreign to me and we did not expect this until we arrived. If there was a problem with those dates I wish she would have told us as we were very flexible with time (and had no problem using the original dates).
Keith Lowry did have to cancel out of the hunt as his wife was found to have brain cancer. I did tell Dumukwa that there would be three of us arriving (Jim Matacia, a friend of mime inquired about going with us as he has never been to Africa- Dumukwa had no problem with addition of Jim) and I did not feel it was fair to Dumukwa for less then three of us to come. My father decided to hunt with us to make the third person.
I did tell them how important it was for Keith and Jim to get as many animals as possible as it was their first hunt. I would have liked to get several exotic animals but it really had no importance for me. I just wanted to be there with my friends on this hunt.
As this is hunting I completely understood/understand that there are no guarantees when it comes to getting trophies. However, I do think it is reasonable to at least be given some opportunities to take animals (you cannot shoot at animals that are not there). Don't get me wrong, not all the properties were desolate of game (of course none of them could be considered abundant in game either). One property in particular had some klipspringer's on it. I hunted at the top of this rock ledge for three days on this property. The first day we saw a glimpse of one. The second day we did not see any. The third day we saw three males. One was small and we let it pass. One was average but the PH could not judge it due to the amount of cover and we only found it to be average as it was making its exit. The third one was exceptional but stood just long enough to see it and then ran off. I did have an opportunity to harvest a klipspringer but sometimes it does not work out. I assume this is what Dumukwa meant by their statement "Mr. Bleile had a chance to shoot a klipspringer, but due to personal circumstances could not take a shot". I do live by the philosophy that I will not shoot at an animal until my PH gives his approval (especially on an animal I have no idea on how to judge). This same property also had its fair share of baboons on it as well. We did not see any other game on that property. The property where we took the gemsbok did have a fair amount of gemsbok, wildebeest and blesbok. Overall, the best property I hunted on with Dumukwa was still the worst I had experienced in all of Africa. I hunted for 10 days on sub par properties.
I would like to make a slight addition/correction to Dumukwa's statement about the seven of eight donated animals which were successfully taken. If you look at the animals that were donated, they were probably the most common in Africa. In most places, all of these animals could have been taken in three or less days. The animal that was not taken was a warthog. I could not believe how few warthogs there were in this area. The other hunters didn't take them either (or they were extremely sub par). The warthog I shot was the third biggest they took that year. I was disappointed in it as I was going to let it go until my PH told me to shoot it. I did not even have it mounted.
The second warthog they were referring to was a baby warthog. I did not even shoot my gun until the seventh day. The PHs were talking about barbequing a baby warthog that night and how good it was going to be. I asked if I could shoot it for the barbeque pit as I haven't taken a shot at anything up until that point (now remember, I have four animals already prepaid and it is the seventh day and I do not even have one animal or a fired gun). We found a baby (maybe 10 pounds) without tusks. The PHs told me to shoot it and so I did. Don't get me wrong, it was fun to do. However, as they are bringing up "a second warthog", make sure it is known that it was intended for an appetizer for dinner and not a trophy. The blessing they reigned upon me was minimal if that.
Dumukwa stated that they did not know what game we wanted. I thought is was clear that since it was Jim's first time, we wanted to see a lot of game and get him an opportunity at as much as possible. We were not picky about the species of animals; we would have been happy to see any animals.
My father did inquire about a hippo. They did have a hippo permit and my father was really looking forward to this. The details were fine and the price was quite reasonable. Dumukwa did give us two professional hunters for the three of us. All three of us did want to see and experience the hippo hunt. Neither Jim nor I needed to pull the trigger to enjoy the experience.
Dumukwa did state we arrived a day early. Actually we arrived at 11:30 p.m. on June 27, 2003. This was after we spent a couple of days in Johannesburg touring around with a guesthouse (it wa fun there thanks to Louis from Afton Guesthouse.
As soon as we arrived in country we contacted Dumukwa to let them know we made it with all things intact. We inquired as to when Dumukwa would like us there. They forwarded us all the flight details to Petersburg. I am somewhat lost as to where Dumukwa's complaint is here. we arrived the night of the 27th and were to hunt for 10 days starting the 28th. The last hunting day should then be July 7th, 2003. We would then depart on July 8, 2003. Is Dumukwa suggesting that it is actually an eight day hunt that we purchased and we should pay for two days of non hunting time that was actually travel time? Again, we got in at 11:30 at night so officially we were paying $150 each ($450 total) for being there for half an hour? I would have told the driver to slow down his drive to camp if I would have known we would be expected to pay $450 for that half hour of the 27th.
I would like to note that apparently Dumukwa's daily fees do not include breakfast as they don't provide any. Please take note that they did not address the breakfast issue anywhere. they did start providing coffee (they actually served chicory until we requested real coffee) and toast after we requested something to start the day on. This is the first hunting camp I have been to where no breakfast was provided (not even once).
We left the camp to go to another hunt with Melton World Safaris (that ended up successful and well put together) at about 4:00am on July 8th (as usual, no breakfast). I guess Dumukwa expected us to pay an additional $450 for being in their camp for those four hours. Again, I have never experienced having to pay an additional daily rate to be allowed to leave camp. Again, such a fee is nowhere in their literature. Next I need to address "the movie". I have no idea how they have turned the interest in video taping our hunt into making a movie. I did not realize that they have not experienced hunters wanting video of their hunts. I did not know this was even such a burden on them. As for "they brought six rifles," I actually had a .416 Win. Mag., a shotgun he wanted to (and did) give to the PH at the end of the hunt. Jim had a .458 Win. Mag., a shotgun I wanted to (and did) give to the PH, and a Savage Model 99 take down. My father had a .600 Nitro Express and a 7mm. We mainly wanted to video my father shooting a hippo with a .600 Nitro Express. it should have been a fun experience. Those account for "the six rifles", "the movie", and "wanted to hunt specific species with each rifle". as an afterthought, I do have to agree that we wanted to shoot larger game with larger calibers. it did not make sense to shoot a giraffe with a 7mm.
Dumukwa states that on Sunday evening we complained the light wasn't good enough for our "movie" for the hippo hunt. Unfortunately they missed some important details. Sunday morning when we came back from hunting in the morning Dumukwa went into my father's room packed all his things up and moved him into another room without his knowledge. This was infuriating as my father takes several medications at certain times of the day. My father could not find his medicines and became both angry and ill. He could not hunt the hippo that Sunday night because of his health. Dumukwa was searching frantically for the medicine. It was found late Sunday night. it was so serious that plans were being made to leave camp and get him to a doctor to get the medicine. When Elene found out about the mistake she did feel terrible about what happened. It was not her fault as she was taking orders from the owner Bertus. We requested to see him the next day. He avoided us like the plague. We requested to see him the third day. He again would not see us. After three days of him avoiding us, we got the point. This was a bad situation and we needed to salvage what we could. I decided if he wanted to avoid me he could only do so for a couple of days as he would want to get paid at the end of the hunt. Bertus never apologized for taking my father's things or losing his medicine.
Back to the hippo - no we did not want to split up as we all wanted to experience the hunt. Jim and I had no problem giving up our hunting time for it. The first night we hunted for the hippo we did not shoot the hippo because it became too dark for my father to see. It was pitch black and there were four or five hippos moving in and out of each other. We were afraid of shooting the wrong hippo. We decided to try again. We were ok with everything regarding the hippo as this was part of hunting. The following night it was pitch black again. It was determined that we would have to switch on a flood light and shoot it very quickly as they hated the flood light and would run to the water. My father got the shot off and the hunt was underway. It was a lot of fun and well worth the money. I thank Dumukwa for this. As for the video or "movie", we did not get any real video as the light was too bad and that again was hunting. It was disappointing in that aspect but again it was fun and we talk of the experience often. It did take all the following day to skin the hippo. However, I did not understand why it took both of our PHs to make this occur. It did not make sense why one of them could not supervise and the other one take us out hunting. I still don't understand that. Yes the taxidermist did offer to skin it for $200. Dumukwa was pushing us hard to spend this money. I didn't understand that. My father paid for skinning in his daily rate and we did not understand why we needed to pay twice. Again, to us it was simple - one PH manage the skinners and the other PH take us out hunting.
I would now like to address the issue of the price increase on animals. When we got there I saw the prices were higher than the brochures given to us. in my past hunts the prices are locked in when you booked. I asked them if we were hunting under current price list or when we booked price list. Elene told me the current price list. I told them that is not what I remembered in the paperwork and asked them for a copy of the paperwork. Elene would not get it for me. I told her that any problems regarding price could easily be solved by the paperwork. Now the price increase was very slight but as this hunt went from bad to worse I just assumed they were trying to milk us for more money as they made it clear they did not get enough money out of the auction. I did get angry as she didn't hestitate to show me the paperwork of how little money they got out of the hunt but she didn't want to show me details regarding cost. Either the following day or the day after that Elene approached me with the paperwork that states animal prices were subject to change. I was ok with that as that was a detail of the hunt I accepted as I bought the hunt. My frustration was with the way they conduct business. Making me feel like second class once I (and my father and friend) was there because they did not get the money they wanted out of the auction was a classless way to treat people. Anyway, when she showed me the paperwork, I was content as that is what I agreed to and I would stand by it. You can see I was fine with the prices as we shot several other animals.
They were angered by my father's smoking. I can almost understand that as I am a non smoker also. However, my father had a valid point. There was absolutely nothing in the literature about non smoking. Being a smoker all his life, he looks in brochures about smoking policies. if they had asked my father nicely at the beginning, he would have complied. He would have smoked on the porch or anywhere else outside. After they (Dumukwa) took all his belongings from his room, lost his medicine and then Bertus the owner would not see us about our problems, my father told Elene that if they wanted him to stop smoking, have Bertus come and tell him. Bertus did not address any of these problems (especially the lack of game). My father did not try to hide his smoking. He made it clear it would continue unless Bertus was willing to discuss matters. As Bertus did not wish to talk about it, neither did my father.
Now I really did not have a dog in that fight but again I understood my father's frustration. As Bertus was ignoring us, my father figured he would ignore Bertus just the same. It was hard headed on both persons part and just elevated problems but my father's smoking in his room has no bearing on Dumukwa having desolate properties with sparse game.
As for the wounded gemsbok, Dumukwa says it was tracked for more than an hour and stopped bleeding. Well, if it stopped bleeding, how did we find fresh blood the following morning from it? If arrangements could not be made with the landowner to get them on the property, then how did we end up there? Why didn't Dumukwa just ask us if we would trade properties with the other hunter so he could track the wounded game? Dumukwa asked what this has to do with me and my response is that it shows poor hunting ethics. Being a Professional Hunter and Outfitter must mean more than money. Everything only equates to dollars to Dumukwa.
As to the properties being sold, Dumukwa may be correct. The PH's told us they were up for sale and I overheard the son of a landowner talking about the farm potentially being sold. However I cannot tell you that they are definitely being sold as I did not speak to a real estate agent about it. I am just going off of what I heard which could be incorrect.
I have already addressed the fact that we did hunt several other animals other than those donated (a hippo, a gemsbok, a giraffe, a vervet - tried at a klipspringer and baboons) thus showing we did not refuse to hunt animals other than those donated. Once we had the prices settled, we were happy to shoot anything of quality that came in front of us (remember this was Jim's first time in Africa and he wanted a tremendous number of animals). However, we did not have an interest in shooting expensive animals without knowing what their cost was. We did not shoot animals off of "last year's prices" and shot at animals knowing we were being charged off the current price list. The price increase was minimal and did not bother us. The frustration arose with the way Dumukwa would hide paperwork when there was a problem and show paperwork that benefited them. The whole price issue was so small but it just perpetuated a bad smell on this hunt.
One thing I cannot tell is if Dumukwa is saying these donated animals are not on other properties (warthog, impala, blesbok and blue wildebeest) or if we demanded to stay close to camp? I would have happily traveled to see animals. We specifically requested several times to go to a camp called "Blackwater". it was approximately an hour away. Several clients went there. it appeared to be an abundant property because good animals did come off of it. At first Bertus told our PHs that we would be rotated there. We were content to wait. When we saw that we were not rotated to Blackwater we kept inquiring without much of a response. Suffice it to say that we never ended up at Blackwater.
As Dumukwa was purely fiscally oriented, and since Dumukwa was not making money on those donated animals, they sent us to sparsely populated hunting areas. If we did not take the animals then they did not lose any money. We ended up not shooting a warthog as we only found one mature male the entire time. Jim wanted an adult male (later he would have taken an adult female). He sat in a blind several times without seeing one. The places were barren of game. Dumukwa incorrectly thinks I am complaining about the size of a camp where I hunted a broken horned blue wildebeest. There was a small camp which was still under construction. It was probably less than 100 acres. There were really no animals on it other than about three wildebeest. One was large and had a broken horn which was appealing to me. Those three wildebeest avoided two PHs, three hunters and three trackers for two days. We decided that that animal deserved to walk away as it out foxed us. That was hunting and my hat is off to the animal.
What I had a problem with was an area where they put us a day or two after that. it was right next to their base camp property. It parralled the road and the river. At the widest it was a quarter of a mile across (it would surprise me if it was that far as the road and river limited its width). Most of the time it was about fifty yards across. There were no animals in there other than two wildebeest. The property was just shy of a mile long. We essentially walked until we had them pinned in the corner. I did not know this until after we took the animal. I had no idea how long the property was as we first walked it. I saw how narrow it was but assumed it would get larger. The PH pointed to the two wildebeest standing up ahead. We just sneaked up to them without them running away. I shot one and it came straight at us. I was surprised as I never experienced a charging wildebeest. I shot it again and it went down. When we (my father and I as Wellas the PH) walked up to where they were standing I quickly found out why they did not run away and why they charged. They were pinned into the corner of the fence. Their only means of escape was straight at us. This is embarrassing even to write. at first I was so impressed that I had this animal charge and then I became embarrassed when I found I had the animal corralled in the corner. That is killing, not hunting.
If there is any doubt about how small this place is I have the video to prove it. Please do not hesitate to ask for it. for eighty percent of that area I could throw a rock from one fence to the other. Please have Dumukwa respond with how wide they think this area is. I am curious how wide they are going to try to stretch this area.
as for the emails, I also have a copy of all of them. The emails Dumukwa quoted were often taken out of context as they did not print the whole email. I do stand behind that I was looking forward to the hunt and hoping to take a large number of animals. I have never had a bad experience in South Africa as this country is usually pretty good at controlling the bad apples in the hunting industry. As with the video, please do not hesitate to ask for the emails.
Dumukwa states their position very well in one of the last paragraphs: "To my opinion Mr. Bleile bought a hunt for basically free on an auction". it all came down to making money for them. I do not consider $1,700 free by any means and if they were not happy with that amount I wish they would have put a minimum bid on it (Dumukwa - please do not donate any more hunts and if they do I hope your readers do not purchase them).
Dumukwa has accused me of complaining about food. Well, a better way to put it would be that I was disappointed at the lack thereof. Again, no breakfast was provided. Please ask them if they are going to dispute this point. As for dinner, they often ran out. I do not remember them having extra food very much. When they did have desert, there were no second helpings.
Dumukwa is also stating I was complaining about the guides. This is untrue. The PHs did the best they could with what they had. If I was unhappy with my PH I would not have left him the shotgun. Again, the PHs did with what they had and my complaint was not with them but with their managers (Bertus and Elene). Even after all this mess I would hunt with the PHs again.
As a final note, I did have a problem with the accommodations. Please, at a minimum, provide bathroom doors. I can deal with no garbage cans, no heat, no extra blankets (I luckily brought an extra), and even the mice in the room leaving droppings everywhere (even after asking for mouse traps) but I really do not like having to watch Jim do his daily business. When you walked into our room the beds were on the right and you were immediately looking at the toilet. Even a simple curtain would have been nice to curtail the aromatic effects of Jim's indigestion. Again, please put up some door or curtain for the toilet.
To finalize, South Africa is generally a great place to hunt. There is usually game everywhere as the property owners should (and usually do) take pride in their land. I do not believe we ever hunted on land owned by Dumukwa. I question whether they even own land which is hunted. They own a small area where the lodge is and take large numbers of clients to farms they have contracted with in order to have hunters chase ghosts. I absolutely stand by my previous warning to stay away at all costs.
I do not doubt they will have clients who say good things about them. Almost all of their hunters were first timers to Africa. These first timers do not have any knowledge base of what Africa can actually offer. Naturally, these hunters will think pleasantly of their first hunt (easy to justify no door to the toilet on your first trip by saying "well, it is Africa after all").
Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions or to check my veracity. I will refer you to my father Carl and my friend Jim and let you hear their opinions. This bad hunt made me appreciate the well run hunts I attended in other areas of Africa.
Thank you for the opportunity to respond, Adam Boyd Bleile, Esq.