Francois Rudman, born in Uitenhage, South Africa in 1974, is the son of Arthur and Trinette Rudman and the fourth generation on the family ranch, Blaauwkrantz. After graduating from Muir College, Francois became a qualified professional hunter in 1995 and has guided since 1996.
Blaauwkrantz Safaris was established in 1978 when Francois’ father, Arthur, guided their first international client. “The hunting industry in South Africa has evolved over the years to what it is today,” explains Rudman. “Hunting back in the 1950’s to ’70’s was all about the meat and size of the animal. Today, among international trophy hunters, the size of the horn is the main criteria.”
Blaauwkrantz was originally only a stock farm, but over the years has been transformed into an extensive hunting ranch. The wildlife was always there, but was never utilized to its full potential until international hunting became reality and thus put an economic value on the animals. “We started decreasing our small stock ratio per acre over the years and increased our wildlife per acre. Currently we have over 20,000 head of wildlife on our ranch with a kudu herd of over 2,000 and a bushbuck herd of over 1,500. Our ranch has over 24 different huntable species and has grown from 10,000 acres in 1968 to 92,000 acres currently. We hunt on average over 90 trophy kudu bulls a year on our property,” says Rudman.
During school vacations, Francois and his brother, Eardley, accompanied their dad and various professional hunters and their clients, including C.J. McElroy, on hunts on their ranch. Francois comments on his philosophy about being a PH: “To be a good professional hunter is more dealing with different characters of people than the actual hunting. Pulling the trigger is a small part, but a very important part of the whole business. To enjoy being a professional hunter you have to enjoy people and being around people. Throughout the year we interact with many people from all walks of life, but we all share one common passion–hunting.”
Guiding a 70-year-old hunter with one prosthetic leg was one of the most challenging hunts Rudman had ever done. “The hunter wanted quite a few different species in our area, which is quite hilly, rocky and with thick vegetation,” Rudman recalls. “When hunting with a client with these challenges, you realize just how fortunate you are to be able to get in and out of a truck or a hunting stand, get over a fence or simply sit down and get up. The client managed to get all his trophies thanks to being a crack shot. What he lacked in physical abilities, he made up for in his shooting.”
Rudman always tries to maintain some form of contact with his clients, even if it is just a one liner on Facebook every now and then, or text message or email. “It is always nice to hear from some of your past clients or see them at the SCI Convention,” he says.
Regarding his choice of firearms and calibers, Rudman’s first rifle was a Remington .270 Win. that he received for his 16th birthday and he still has it. Currently, he also uses a. 300 Win. Mag., which he believes is the “one-stop” African plains game caliber. For dangerous game, Rudman carries a Winchester in .375 H&H.
Rudman guides only for Blaauwkrantz Safaris, hunting exclusively in the Eastern Cape of South Africa where the diverse terrain accommodates a wide variety of species. “The Eastern Cape is probably the area in Africa where the most different species can be hunted in their natural environment than anywhere else on the African continent,” Rudman says. He became a SCI life member in 2007 and a certified measurer in 2008. Currently, he is the chairman of the local agricultural association.