A successful hunt begins well before you take that first step out of a vehicle, lodge, tent, or your back door. It pays to plan ahead, and this goes double when you are heading out of the country.
Keith Atcheson with a Botswana elephant.
Staying well organized and knowing what to expect requires guidance by an experienced booking agent or professional hunter,” says Keith Atcheson, who is a representative with booking agency Jack Atcheson & Sons, based in Butte, Montana. Your PH or outfitter will provide you with the basics, but when it comes to making sure you have remembered everything and know what to expect, Atcheson says, “A good agent here in the States is usually more practical and effective.”
“Hunters should begin by having a chronological checklist of items that need to be taken care of in a timely matter. For example, some species require CITES permits for importation, and those permits need to be obtained at least two to three months prior to departing for the hunt.”
Hunters should also think about, and plan for, their personal safety.
“Rent a satellite phone!” urges Atcheson. “Buy accident, sickness, and evacuation insurance without fail. To not do so is completely foolish. We had it when my wife was gored and nearly killed by a Cape buffalo in 2004, so believe me, this is really important, and it’s cheap. Deposit cancellation insurance is also a great idea, but it does make the insurance package more expensive.” These policies will need to be purchased, and the forms completed, well before your departure date.
So what’s the best strategy to head off airline problems and other unplanned travel disasters?
“Consider spending an extra night along the route to your destination to make sure your baggage can catch up to you if it’s lost,” Atcheson suggests. “The benefits of the extra rest are also obvious when dealing with jet lag.”
He also strongly suggests carrying your optics, medications, and one change of clothing, plus hunting boots, if possible, in your carry-on bag in case your checked luggage is hopelessly lost. You will at least be prepared to hunt with some comfort.
So what’s the one thing that’s always useful when traveling to hunt?
“Knowing that you have done everything possible to be organized from beginning to end,” Atcheson says. “Peace of mind is priceless.”–Michael D. Faw