Category Archives: Guides & Outfitters

What’s happening in the world of professional guides and outfitters.

SCI Addresses PHASA Executive Committee

Craig Kauffman and Hans Vermaak President PHASA
Craig Kauffman and Hans Vermaak President PHASA

This afternoon at its annual meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, CEO Phil DeLone and I addressed the 10-member Executive Committee of the Professional Hunters Association of South Africa (PHASA),

There, we renewed our support of PHASA in its commitment to protect hunting and maintain the professional image of huntng in South Africa, and ensured open lines of communication so the important efforts of PHASA are heard by all SCI Members. PHASA President Hans “Scruffy” Vermaak thanked SCI for its support calling it, “vital to the PR drive that is underway.”

As the leaders of professional hunting in South Africa, PHASA sees what is happening to hunting in Botswana and Zambia and hopes its effort to protect hunting in South Africa also impacts its neighbors to the north.

We expressed how well Convention is shaping up for 2014. At its current pace, 2014 is rivaling 2012, which was our biggest Convention ever and also SCI’s 40th anniversary–2014 could prove to be a new record and we look forward to welcoming and seeing many PHASA members exhibiting in Las Vegas.

Craig Kauffman and Hermann Meyeridricks PHASA President-elect
Craig Kauffman and Hermann Meyeridricks PHASA President-elect

Lions and lion hunting remain on the front burner as a major concern of SCI and our efforts will have an effect on lion hunting in South Africa. Last December the anti-hunters filed a petition to uplist the African lion to “endangered” through the Endangered Species Act.

The African lion is not endangered, and SCI has already raised more than $1.2 Million dollars to prime a war chest for the coming battles over lions. We reported to PHASA that some of that money had already been spent for on-the-ground studies of lions and, as this battle could be one that is fought publicly, we have also conducted focus groups on what the public thinks of lion hunting and how to fight this battle so that facts prevail over emotion.

We still have several days of important meetings ahead of us, plus more in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia, and I look forward to bringing you regular reports as the information and Internet connections are available.– Craig Kauffman

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Professional Hunter Spotlight – Liliana Saccomano

Liliana Saccomano
Liliana Saccomano

Though she owned a successful business, Liliana Saccomano launched a second career to fulfill her aspiration to be a professional hunter.  The Argentina native has been guiding hunters since 1992 when she and her husband, purchased their first hunting ranch, Algar Safaris.  Explaining her motivation she said, “I wanted to utilize my expertise focusing on enhancing clients’ opportunities for successful, memorable hunts.”  Interest in improving the quality of species and dedication to conservation were additional motivating factors that led her to this new venture.

Saccomano guides for 18 species including fallow deer, axis deer, Pere David deer, mouflon sheep and the majestic red stag, which is the most popular. On Expedition Safari, Saccomano guided host Mike Rogers, Jr. on his red stag hunt and appeared on the show.

When afield, Liliana carries rifles chambered for .270, .30-06 or .300 Winchester Magnum, which she regards as optimum for their hunts.  She also guides for bowhunters and often hunts from horseback to cover the vast unoccupied private ranch in Neuquén province in northern Patagonia.

Saccomano’s decades of days afield with clients have provided many memorable experiences. She shared her cherished recollection of guiding the late, iconic exhibition shooter, Tom Knapp, on his red stag hunt. “My experience with Tom was fabulous during the several days we spent finding his trophy. The first day, we saw the red deer far away. On several occasions, we had to crawl, but despite the effort and fatigue, Tom with his characteristic good humor, always lifted everyone’s spirits. Finally, in a forest, we found the red stag surrounded by several females at about 120 yards. We communicated in sign language to get Tom set up and he made a clean one shot kill.”

An active member of the Argentina SCI Chapter, Saccomano offers a program for youngsters designed to give them the chance to get interested in hunting and learn about conservation. She also participates in the Sensory Safari program.

PH Spotlight – John Scurr, Cardrona Safaris

CardronaJohnPixFifteen years ago, PH John Scurr established Cardrona Safaris as a family owned and operated business. He explains its beginning, “The company was started in conjunction with our high country farming business located in one of New Zealand’s premier hunting locations, the Queenstown/Wanaka region on the South Island.”

Commenting on his PH work, John says, “Being in the safari business has been a special time of my life.  Guiding clients from around the world, I have developed lasting friendships. This involvement broadened my interest in international hunting. I have bagged nearly a hundred different species of animals on all huntable continents. I do not yet have all of the Big Five, but am intimately familiar with an elephant charge and mixing it with the big cat.”

When afield John carries rifles chambered from .270 to .300 caliber. “We do not require anything bigger than .300 because we do not have dangerous game to contend with and the shots are rarely over 300 yards except when hunting tahr and chamois. Every year we harvest good quality animals for our clients across all the species available in New Zealand.”

2009 stands out as a highlight when Scurr guided a client on a red stag that scored 655—an SCI world record at the time. “It was a privilege to guide Prince Dimitrie Sturdza of Romania on that stag,” says Scurr. “The animal was high in the valley and the climb was quite a challenge for the Prince, who is in his seventies, to make it into a comfortable shooting position. The hunt was special because of his connections with hunters in Europe, his standing in society and the great respect he has for the history of hunting. He has a wonderful hunting culture, with gratitude and passionate respect for the species he pursues. We have become good friends and I have hunted with him in Romania as his guest. Developing these relationships makes the outfitter/guide business so rewarding and gives us a perspective on international experience.”

John described his own hunting experiences. “Along with fantastic African safaris, I have great respect for the big mountain ranges of the world. Hunting for ibex and rams in the Tian Shans, chamois in the Carpathians, tahr in the Southern Alps, mountain goat in the Alaskan mountains, tur in the Caucasian Mountains and mountain nyala in the Bale Mountains are memories of burning energy and personal satisfaction. Not all of my hunting ventures have been successful, so I have something to look forward to in coming years.”

Scurr provides hunts on foot, and can get you to hunting locations by four-wheel drive vehicles or helicopter. Small game, duck and quail are offered at their hunting preserve.  Trout fishing is available in nearby Lake Wanaka and surrounding rivers.

An SCI member, John Scurr has invested in SCI knowing those funds are carefully and strategically used in programs educating young hunters, who are the foundation of the industry, about ethical hunting and conservation.  John and his wife Anne have enjoyed hosting many families and take great pride in seeing those parents, girls and boys enjoying New Zealand’s wildlife and environment.

PH Spotlight–Nathan Olmstead

PHSpotlightNathanPix523Raised in the outfitting business, at five years of age Nathan Olmstead began learning the skills that qualified him for a guide’s license by the early age of 17.  Now in his 14th year of guiding, Olmstead explained, “I wrangled horses, learned to cape, built fires, listened and learned from the staff, my parents and clients. Being in the mountains isn’t just a job; it’s a passion my parents instilled in me. We will forever be stewards of wildlife.”

Olmstead operates the Yukon area, one of four Prophet Muskwa locations, where he guides Dall sheep, grizzly bear, black bear, Alaska moose and caribou. “Hunting in North America is different from hunting Africa, and that has to be conveyed to clients,” he commented.

When guiding clients, Olmstead’s favorite rifle is a Blaser R8 chambered in .300 Weatherby, or .375 for moose and grizzly bear. While hunting sheep and mountain goats, he carries a Blaser K95 chambered in .257 or .300 Weatherby.

An SCI member, Olmstead said his memorable experiences afield are watching clients, both young and old, complete a successful hunt. “I have taken hunters from age 12 to 83, and each hunt was a hunt of a lifetime for them. Being part of that success is what keeps me involved in guiding.” He has also guided for Expedition Safari TV show.

A recent Dall sheep hunt with Dean Capuano of Swarovski Optik, provided a special challenge since it was Capuano’s third attempt at the elusive Dall, and the first with Olmstead. The 10-day hunt began at a floatplane base. After arriving at camp, the hunt was conducted on horseback.  On the first hunting day, they made two major climbs, but found no exceptional rams.

On the way back to the horses, Olmstead spotted four rams in a basin about a mile away. They had about an hour and a half of daylight left. The options were going after the rams or waiting until the next day. Though tired from a grueling day, Capuano decided to try for a ram. They made a 1,500-yard stalk through a wide-open tundra basin and got into position. Capuano made an incredible 435-yard steep uphill shot and took a ram.  Capuano was pleased with his trophy and Olmstead was happy his client scored.

Prophet Muskwa is involved in local programs–conservation, education, anti-poaching and the Hunt of a Lifetime program.  Currently, they are working on a new program involving youth and hunting. They have exhibited at SCI Conventions since 1994.