by Andrea Bogard - Monday, June 29, 2020
The waiting game is over. That African safari you have planned for years isn’t happening. The borders are closed and international travel has ground to a halt. The airline check-in notifications on your calendar need to be deleted, but they serve as a faint hope your dream hunt is still on for this year.
They say Africa gets in your soul and never leaves. They say the longing goes away while you’re there, only to come back with a vengeance the second your feet no longer touch that sacred ground. Why is it so special? Is it the vastness? The heat? The people? The animals? All of the above?
What if an African safari was transcendental, transformational and epic simply because we wanted it to be so? If so, what’s stopping you from having a life-changing, soul-altering experience closer to home? Follow me, let’s go on an adventure.
Do you seek Africa because of the vast space and unforgiving landscape? If so, then check out Texas. The wide variety of biomes and terrain are eerily reminiscent of many parts of Africa. The hunting styles are similar as well.
From archery waterhole-style hunts to riding on high-rack vehicles covering thousands of acres per day in search of game, Texas is a hunter’s paradise. Whitetails, hogs, coyotes, exotics and turkeys can be pursued in much the same manner as the gemsbuck, warthog, jackal and zebra you planned to chase a continent away.
Not planning an African adventure, but missing out on a trip elsewhere? Perhaps a wingshooting foray to South America was on the docket? Check out snow geese in North Dakota instead. It might be a tad colder, but the thrill is the same.
Not a cold weather fan? Then circle back to Texas and check out sandhill cranes. They are huge, vocal and sometimes tough to bring down so shot placement is key. And they are absolutely delicious. You will soon find out why these flying behemoths are known as the “ribeye of the sky.”
How about a Midwest, multi-species excursion? In many Midwestern states such as Michigan, the Dakotas, Ohio, Minnesota, Wisconsin, etc., you can do a cast and blast adventure, including some combination of upland birds, waterfowl, whitetails, turkeys and fishing. The moderate temperatures (season dependent), combined with Midwest hospitality and ease of travel, can yield an outstanding family experience as well as a hunting trip.
Was it dangerous game that prompted you to buy that plane ticket? If so, postpone that Cape buffalo or hippo hunt for another year. In the meantime, there are a few things closer to home that can offer a “man versus beast” staredown.
Predators can take many forms. Mountain lions, bears, gators and coyotes are all great options. A long-range coyote hunt on the plains? An open-water gator hunt? Hounds and a hissing cat? All offer a unique predator-prey experience close to home.
The “stay-fari” may not be the safari you planned, but you might be surprised at the adventures to be had within your own borders. From hunts like those mentioned above to short fishing trips and wilderness excursions, the safari experience can be had in many ways and in many places. For many, the desire to go on a safari is a primitive desire for an experience so visceral it leaves an indelible mark.
So, let’s go on a stay-fari. Let’s make the best of the opportunities here, today, now. The true trophies that return home with us don’t come wrapped in a packing crate. They come home as photos, as remembered smiles, as shared laughter and as priceless memories. The lessons learned, the self-discovery and the precious friendships made along the way are the true quarry. The horns and hides are a bonus.
While the world is healing, take advantage of the pursuits close to home. Postpone, don’t cancel, that safari. Take your stay-fari this year and enjoy the blessings of being outdoors. Cheers to your 2020 stay-fari.
E-mail your comments/questions about this site to: