Alex McDonald grew up fascinated by nature, sustainable utilization, conservation and exploring untouched wilderness. That led him to follow in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, becoming a professional hunter. McDonald points out that hunting plays an integral role in conservation and speculates an inherited DNA strand led him to his chosen career.
McDonald focuses on hunting in Mozambique and South Africa where he hunts a variety of plains game, elephant, rhino and buffalo. “First and foremost, ethics come to mind in that regardless of what we are hunting, we make sure the animals are past their prime and that what we hunt is not detrimental to the overall population of the species,” says McDonald. “Since I’ve been asked what species I prefer to hunt, the wise old leopard is at the top of my list. It is like a chess game at times to try to outsmart them making the hunt itself more rewarding when you finally connect.”
When afield, McDonald prefers .458 Lott in his pre-64 Winchester. “The late Jack Lott, with the assistance of my grandfather, designed and built the first .458 Lott to improve the performance of the .458 Winchester Magnum, which many found did not have enough knock down and penetration,” explains McDonald. “The caliber continues to prove itself. The same pre-64 Winchester they first worked on was given to my father who gave it to me.”
Each safari has its unique experiences, but some are truly priceless. McDonald recalls that he guided his first leopard hunt at a young age. “Although I had been on a few leopard hunts with my father and other senior guides, I was still rather green in respect of taking control and responsibility of such a hunt. As the Soutpansberg cats are known to be, this leopard remains the largest cat I have hunted to date.”
One humbling experience McDonald experienced was when a client saw an eight-year-old 44-inch plus buffalo, but chose to shoot the bull beside him that was long past his breeding time. Once, McDonald was treated to the overwhelming breath of the “madala” old lion that stuck his muzzle through the peephole of our blind, and a leopard that would have put him in the hospital had it not been for his dog, Bang.
Conservation has been the cornerstone for McDonald and McDonald Safaris since its founding in 1953. Their objective is to manage their land responsibly to ensure it remains sustainable. Funds from safaris pay for anti-poaching, community development and educating the local population about the benefits of tourism. McDonald Safaris has taken preventative measures to combat the increase in poaching in their hunting areas including establishing a 501c(3) foundation, MozParks of which Alex is a director, that is geared toward further supporting concessionaires in combating poaching, conserving wildlife and uplifting communities.
An example of MozParks work is the Sabie Game Reserve and other concessions in the Lebombo conservancy in Mozambique — considered the only areas in all of Mozambique with a viable rhino — where it costs the counter poaching organization up to $75,000 per month to look after these animals.
McDonald and his father are a long tenured SCI members who attend shows and annual gatherings with friend and marketing partner, Mr. Charles Bazzy of Safari Adventures, Ltd.