Johnny Vivier grew up in the bush with the safari way of life, as his father, Chris, was a PH who worked for Selby Safaris. As a young apprentice PH, he guided his first client in Zimbabwe in 1978 on plains game, which was the beginning of his 37-year career. Johnny has hunted all of the Big 5, including hippo, crocodile and more than 50 different species of plains game throughout Southern Africa. SCI-PAC selected Vivier to conduct the SCI Big 5 Hunt of a Lifetime four times.
Wintershoek Safaris owns four areas in the Northern Cape region of South Africa offering clients 35 different species. They also have access to concession areas in Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia and Namibia.
“For 30 years, I have used my trusted .458 Ruger bolt action as a backup on wounded duiker thru elephant,” says Vivier. “I use handloaded Barnes X Bullets in 510 grains as a soft, and handloaded 500 grain Woodleigh solids. A .375 is the minimum caliber used on dangerous game. For plains game, my favorite caliber is a .300 Win. Mag., loaded with Barnes X Bullets. As a PH, it is of utmost importance to get the client as close as possible to his target and refrain from taking long shots.”
During the past 36 years, Vivier has guided hunters ranging from six to 86-years-old has many memorable experiences. He considers the most outstanding experiences were guiding clients to the Big 7 over a 28-day safari. He possesses a unique skill thought impossible by skeptics– Vivier can call in Cape buffalo. “My dad taught me how to call buffalo by projecting my voice as a calf in distress in herds where cows have calves,” Vivier explains. “We have had herds of 400 buffalo coming at us and have been surrounded by buffalo standing 40 paces from where we were hiding. Clients have expressed doubt until that big bull decides to come out of the herd to investigate and challenge whatever it is that has captured a calf. It’s great excitement when a client is not expecting that kind of an up close and personal encounter.” Mike Rogers Jr., host of SCI’s Expedition Safari TV show, has witnessed Vivier’s awesome performance and in mid-2015 plans to film the spectacle for the show.
Two years ago, in one of their hunting areas, Wintershoek established a rural pre-school where a qualified teacher prepares the students for primary school and a daily meal is provided for the children. Wintershoek established Wild Hearts Rehab Center for orphaned animals and clients can visit it, and a rhino breeding project ensures that no rhino poaching takes place on any of their hunting areas in the Northern Cape Province.
In 2015, for the second year, Wintershoek Safaris donated a South African hunt to a United States wounded warrior. Vivier has been a member of Safari Club International for more than 28 years. Wintershoek Safaris also offers fly-fishing and photographic safaris.