They aren’t married to a rock star or an international professional hunter and they don’t look like Tiffany Lakosky, but they have hunted in Africa. They are real women. They are mothers, grandmothers, homemakers and/or career women. Some of them hunt or have experience with guns, while some of them don’t. Yet, when given the opportunity, they have hunted in Africa. The following are their stories.
John Schultz booked a safari with Kemp African Safaris in 2014. He invited his best friend, Maria, as a non-hunting guest. Maria is a mother, grandmother, college educated woman who is self-employed in the agricultural industry, with an emphasis in dairy cattle and milk production. She also suffers from severe Fibromyalgia and Celiac disease. Maria battles pain on a daily basis even with medication. Her Celiac disease is controlled with a gluten free diet. One friend said she is in pain and she is a pain, “Have you ever tried to take this woman out to eat? Nobody knows what to feed her because they don’t know what is or is not gluten free”.
Seven years ago John saw Maria in an emergency room at a local hospital after she attempted suicide. She was in a very dark place. John’s solution was to teach her to fish and hunt….yep, give the crazy lady a gun! Most would not think this a wise method of therapy, but Maria thrived. Maria had found a brighter place in God’s country.
John and Maria became best friends when she needed a place to rent and John needed extra income. They both had the love of dairy cattle in common, however she did not share John’s passion for fishing and hunting. John soon rectified that situation. She bought the proper licensees and he bought the fishing pole, the guns and the ammunition. Maria was out fished by John on almost every occasion, but loved being out on the water with rod and reel in hand. Simply put, she was hooked. Fishing was the perfect way to end a hard day of being a farmer.
Summer turned to fall and fishing season was replaced with hunting season. John, an avid bow hunter, made a valiant effort to include Maria in this sport. Maria didn’t have the necessary upper body strength to bow hunt, but he would put her in a tree stand none the less. Maria loved the view from high above the forest floor. She sat in awe as white tailed deer grazed or wandered below her perch. Maria was a happy camper, unlike John, who soon realized Maria’s Fibromyalgia caused her to adjust her position frequently. She was, quite literally, scaring off the deer John so eagerly sought to hunt. John’s solution was to place her in tree stand far away from his stand. Problem solved!
Maria’s love of the outdoors and the hunting experience turned to squirrel hunting. The squirrels didn’t seem to notice she did not sit perfectly still. Maria would be sitting on the ground skinning and gutting a squirrel when she would catch a glimpse of a squirrel climbing down a tree. She would put down the skinning knife to pick up the 20 gauge. Bang! Another squirrel to clean. Another squirrel to fry.
John taught her the ways of the white tailed deer as the rut started before the November deer gun season in Wisconsin. He showed her where a buck had rubbed his antlers or where he had made a scrape. John told her tales of his previous hunts in this particular forest over the years. He knew the forest like the back of his hand and he put her in a tower stand where he knew she would have a chance to harvest a whitetail. However, it took seven years before Maria harvested her first whitetail. All the old timers at the registration station congratulated her on her 2 point buck saying it was a good thing not to shoot a 10 or 12 pointer the first time because now she had room to improve. Yippee!
Prior to Maria’s 7th year of hunting whitetails, John booked a safari with Kemp African Safaris. He had gone to the show without Maria where he first met Dawie Kemp. When he got home he knocked on her door and opening it a bit simply told her they were going to Africa in 2014. But, John’s story, although intertwined with Maria’s, is to be told at another time.
Johannesburg, South Africa! Maria was excited to be in an airport an ocean away from Green Bay, Wisconsin. She was excited for John’s dream coming true and gave thanks to God for the safe trip and for John realizing his dream. Maria scanned the crowd looking for Dawie, thanking God once again when John spotted Dawie and he had spotted them. The adventure of a lifetime was about to begin more than Maria realized at that point.
The first night was spent at Dawie’s parent’s home, although Maria thought the term palace was a more accurate description. Introductions were made, a meal enjoyed and bedrooms assigned. Morning would come early as Dawie was picking them up to travel to Botswana to begin the hunt the following day.
Dawie took John out to sight in the rifle he would be using before heading out for the first hunt of the safari. Maria tagged along happy for her friend and enjoying the company of Dawie’s young relative, Matt, who was in the process of becoming a professional hunter and Jeff, the professional hunter from Botswana who, by new regulations, needed to attach himself to the hunting party. The hunting party returned to camp at dusk hungry, tired, thirsty and dusty. A campfire was burning as the weary hunters settled around the patio drinking wine or beer. Maria enjoyed the opportunity to take a quick shower before returning to the patio to listen to the men relive the events of the day before the evening meal was served.
The days of John’s hunt passed quickly. When John harvested his kudu it was hard to tell who was happier, John for his success or Maria for her friend’s success. John’s hunting in Botswana came to an end without John having harvested his zebra. Dawie decided to drive back to South Africa to hunt with Marco, as Marco had access to land with zebra.
Driving back to South Africa, Dawie had ask Maria if she was going to shoot anything while in Africa. Maria asked Dawie if he would teach her how to shoot a rifle with a scope, as she had never shot a rifle other than a twenty-two and never with a scope. Dawie assured her would teach her everything he knew.
They were greeted by the sight of three ostriches strutting across the road when they arrived at Marco’s. Dawie made introductions and Marco brought out a rifle he thought John would like to use for the zebra hunt. John shouldered the rifle and gazed through the scope before passing it to Maria. She shouldered the rifle, finding the sweet spot in the scope the moment she did. The men decided to use Marco’s rifle and the hunt was on.
Maria was not aware John and Dawie had, at some point, decided to provide Maria with an opportunity to harvest an animal. In retrospect, Maria thought it was a case of wink, wink, nod, nod, Bob’s your uncle and we will give the little lady a chance to shoot at something. However that was not the case. Dawie takes pride in what he does. He has enjoyed the success of those hunting, usually men, so why not provide an equal opportunity for women. And Maria was about to have an opportunity. Marco was driving the truck when a herd of blesbuck were spotted off to the right. Dawie handed Maria the rifle and told her to get ready to shoot. Maria thought “Thanks for teaching me everything you know!” (Which he hadn’t). It was a very quick thought because Dawie was pointing out the blesbuck she was to harvest. There were at least a hundred or more blesbuck and Maria was not sure which one Dawie was pointing at until three blesbuck were standing a little to the left of the rest of the herd. Dawie told her to take the one in the middle with the horns. Once Maria had the sight on the designated animal she squeezed off the shot. Dawie was saying “Good job!” John was saying “You got him!” Marco and his tracking dog, Flint, were on the move. Maria was grinning from ear to ear like an idiot (her term). When Marco flipped the animal over he showed Maria the bullet under the skin on the shoulder opposite the entrance wound. He told her it was a perfect shot. Maria grinned even more, as if that was possible.
Maria had difficulty putting the experience into words. She was surprised when Dawie handed her the rifle — concerned because she had no experience with shooting a rifle. Feared she would wound the animal. She knew a complete miss would not make her look good, but would be better for the animal. John had missed a shot or two and he had years of hunting experience. Maria wondered how she was going to make the shot with no experience. She said a quick prayer asking God to make her shot clean and true, and Dawie’s voice calmly directing her shot placement that calmed her state of panic. She remembers feeling confident, well, pretty confident, when she squeezed off the shot. John later commented he thought the opportunity would be lost because she was taking a long time to take the shot. Looking back, Maria realized that what seemed to take forever happened in less than a minute.
The white tailed deer eluded her until the fall of 2014. However, a blesbuck harvested in South Africa in the spring of 2014 while on safari with Dawie Kemp of Kemp African Safaris renewed her faith in God, man and most importantly, herself. Although Maria rejoices in the success of her hunt, she is quick to give God and Dawie the credit for her success. She also feels an overwhelming sense of gratitude towards John for inviting her as his guest on this great African adventure.
When asked what she would say to other women wanting to hunt Africa, Maria said, “Women should embrace hunting in Africa the same as any other hunt, guided or not. Hunting is hunting whether you are hunting deer in your comfort zone, elk, antelope, mule deer, bear, etc. in the US or Canada with a guide or hunting in Africa with a guide”. She also recommended women wear their hair in an easily cared for style because you don’t have time to be messing with your hair. Bring hair conditioner! But, find one with as little scent as possible. Any woman hunting with Dawie will appreciate having good hair days in the bush whether they are hunting or just tagging along with a hunting companion, because Dawie takes a lot of pictures. Some are even posted on Facebook!
Maria said she would love to return to Africa to hunt. A warthog, ostrich and hartebeest are just a few of the animals on her bucket list. Although Maria will probably not be blessed with another trip to Africa, she has memories of her time in Africa and the hunt of a lifetime that will remain with her forever. And she will return to hunt Africa, if only in her dreams, and Dawie Kemp of Kemp African Safaris will be with her helping her make the perfect shot.
Vicki is the mother of two adult sons, who are both employed in the field of agriculture. She is the grandmother to three boys and three girls, between the ages of 9 and 18. She is the loving wife of Darrell, her husband of forty-six years. Vicki studied to be a cosmetologist, but did not pursue a career in cosmetology. She also earned an Associate’s Degree in accounting.
Although she is currently retired, she spent twenty-four years as an owner operator of a dairy farm with her husband. They sold their cows to a large dairy called Milk Source. The couple moved to Omro after selling the cows. Darrell went to work for Milk Source at one of their farms located in Omro, Wisconsin, where he is currently employed to this day. Vicki worked for a local dentist for thirteen years as a bookkeeper and receptionist. She and her husband currently live in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
Vicki and Darrell both grew up in Iowa. Vicki stated she did not grow up in a family that hunted. She said other than holding Darrell’s gun when he was putting on or taking off his hunting clothes, she had no experience with guns or hunting prior to the trip to Africa. Vicki and Darrell probably wouldn’t have traveled to Africa to hunt, but Darrell won a door prize at a Business Association Expansion Symposium. Dawie Kemp of Kemp African Safaris was there to present Darrell with a trip of a life time. A safari with Kemp African Safaris.
Vicki was leery about going to Africa, however after meeting Dawie Kemp at the trade show in Green Bay, Wisconsin she said her mind was at ease. Talking to Dawie had calmed her fears. “He made me feel safe”, she said. Their safari was scheduled for late April / early May 2014, which was fall in South Africa. Both Darrell and Vicki looked forward to the amazing trip across the Atlantic Ocean to a land filled with zebras and animals they had never seen or heard of before. Vicki said she kept pinching herself to make sure it was real. She said she even asked her husband, “Who ever thought two farm kids from Iowa would be going on safari in Africa?”
Dawie met them at the airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. He drove them for 3 hours, directly to the privately owned hunting lodge in Limpopo, South Africa, where they would spend the next 6 days. The owners, Marco and Franciska, were waiting for their arrival at 9 p.m. and had a lovely meal waiting for them. All meals were eaten outdoors on an open porch, with wildlife roaming in the fields by the lodge, and they could observe vervet monkeys jumping in the trees next to the lodge.
Darrell’s hunt began the next morning. He hunted April 24 through April 28, harvesting all the animals he had come to hunt. Since his hunt was done, and there was one day left, Dawie and Marco decided Vicki should give hunting a try. Vicki was very reluctant to shoot a gun, much less hunt. Vicki expressed concern about the possibility of the “kick” of the rifle when fired hurting her shoulder. Both Dawie and Marco assured her they would make some special rounds for her so the rifle wouldn’t kick very much when fired. Marco gave her lessons with the rifle. He taught her how to hold the rifle and how to stand. He had her shoot a couple of blanks before having her squeeze off a couple of live rounds. Marco had her repeat this while standing in the back of the truck.
Vicki recalled it was windy when they went out for her to hunt a blesbuck. She said the hartebeests were chasing the blesbuck. All the animals were running that day so Marco decided they should head to higher ground. They spotted more blesbuck, but they too, were running. Finally, Dawie took her to a tree line facing an open field and had her sit on the ground behind some light brush. After several seating and tripod position changes, a couple different blesbuck herds ran by. They settled in and waited for a buck to come into view. She said they waited and sure enough, in the late afternoon, a male blesbuck stepped out of the woods and into her shooting lane. Dawie talked her through the shot. She fired and the blesbuck reared up, and then dropped to the ground. Vicki had made an excellent shot. Her first. Her one and only shot. A beautiful blesbuck was her reward. She said she was so excited after she made the shot. She said Dawie was excited, too, especially because they would not have to track the animal so late in the day.
They admired her trophy and congratulated her on her fine shot. There came a point in the conversation when someone asked her how her shoulder felt. She assured all the guys her shoulder was just fine. Then the guys confessed they had not made special rounds for her; she had been shooting regular ammunition.
When asked what she would say to other women who might be considering a hunt in Africa, Vicki said, “I would tell them to go and give it a try.” She said she was afraid at first, but Dawie made her feel calm, and he was with them from the time they arrived, until the time they departed. She went on to say she would return to Africa again if she had the opportunity and “I will hunt!” She added, “They won’t have to talk me into it if I go [to Africa] again.”
Vicki said the hospitality and personalized care they received during the entire trip was excellent! The food, which included meat from the animals they hunted, was always delicious and presented so beautifully. The facilities were very clean, and an everyday laundry service was provided. The weather was perfect the entire trip, with temperatures in the 70’s during the day, and in the 50’s at night. It was a big surprise there were basically no mosquitos or bugs present. And Dawie’s expertise in knowing the thousands of acres they hunted was amazing!
Dawie’s wife, Leandri, was at the hunting lodge when they returned from Vicki’s hunt, and joined them for the last 4 days of their trip. The next morning, after saying their good-byes to Marco and Franciska, Dawie, Leandri, Darrell and Vicki left for Kruger National Park. In the morning, they stopped to tour the following: a large taxidermy business, the largest baobab tree, and an Amarula liquor facility. They spent the afternoon and the following day at Kruger observing many different animal species, and were lucky enough to see all of the “Big Five” (elephant / rhino / Cape buffalo / lion / leopard), and most were only yards away from their vehicle. After leaving the park, just minutes before the gates were closing for the day, they drove to a beautiful bed and breakfast for the night. The next morning they participated in an elephant interaction, and after learning many facts about elephants, and touching and feeding them, they rode Tembo, a 6 ton, 11 ½ foot tall bull elephant. The afternoon was spent on a tour of the Sudwala caves. The caves were formed about 240 million years ago. After driving though beautiful mountainous and hilly countryside, they arrived at Dawie’s parents’ home in Pretoria, where they spent their last night in South Africa.
Vicki and Darrell decided not to take any trophies home, but took about two thousand pictures. And as Dawie always says “You come as strangers and leave as friends.” This is truly the case, as Vicki has kept in touch with the Kemps through emails and Facebook
Sonya is a mother to three adult daughters and a nineteen year old son. She is a grandmother to six grandchildren. Sonya has a degree in Graphic Design and currently works at Georgia-Pacific in their custom print department. She is married to Scott, her husband of twenty-one years. Sonya is a vibrant athletic woman filled with energy. One need only listen to her speak to know she is filled with life and is confident with her role in it.
Sonya said she was not exposed to hunting growing up. Even after she married Scott, an avid hunter, she did not hunt. She was aware of his dream to hunt in Africa and, as things have a way of falling in place, Scott’s dream became a reality. Sonya was working as a graphic designer when she met Christine, Dawie Kemp’s aunt. Christine owned a coffee shop Sonya frequented where she displayed brochures for Kemp African Safaris. Sonya took one of the brochures, explored what Kemp African Safaris had to offer and she and Scott met with Dawie Kemp. She and Scott liked what they saw and felt the price was right. A safari was booked for July, 2013. The middle of winter in South Africa, which is still warmer than the middle of winter in Wisconsin.
After the safari was booked, Sonya, the non-hunter, decided she wanted to hunt a baboon. Two weeks before they flew to Africa Scott took Sonya out to teach her how to hunt. Sonya stated she turned out to be a pretty good shot. So now it was a hunting party of three gun carrying Wisconsinites heading off to South Africa. Sonya said they took their own guns, which in this age of terrorists, meant tons of paperwork. Although she had some difficulty with the people in charge of the paperwork at the airport in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Sonya reported taking their own guns worked out well for them. They returned home with all their guns.
They stayed at Marco and Fransika’s for the entire safari. They harvested nine animals between the three of them with Sonya harvesting four of the nine. The non-hunter came into her own in the plains and mountains of South Africa under the guidance of the professional hunter, Dawie Kemp. Scott shot a kudu and a warthog. Sonya’s son, Erik shot a gemsbok and two zebras, while she shot a blesbuck, an impala, her baboon and a blue wildebeest.
Sonya said she thought the first day would be spent sighting in their rifles, but no real hunting. She wore her favorite pair of designer jeans and a T-shirt, on outfit she later regretted wearing because they did hunt the first day up on the mountain. Dawie had her hunting blesbuck using a spot and stalk strategy. Dawie had a shot lined up for her, but she was not comfortable with it so she didn’t take the shot. Sonya was presented with another shot, which she took. She stated with pride, “It was a one shot kill shot”. It was during this hunt in her designer jeans that the fabric gave way leaving a horizontal tear across the bottom of her butt and the death of her favorite jeans. She did not bring their remains back to Wisconsin.
Sonya’s second hunt yielded a nice impala. Again Sonya stated, “A one shot kill shot”. Her next hunt was for the baboon. She and Dawie once again utilized the spot and stalk strategy up the mountain from bottom to top. They did not spot, nor did they stalk; they just walked and walked and walked. They returned to the lodge tired from all the walking and no baboon to show for it. Dawie decided they would hunt from a ground blind the next day.
During the night Scott became ill with diarrhea. Sonya recalled how bad their room reeked from his ill discharge. Sonya sprayed the room with her perfume in an attempt to deodorize the room. Her husband prayed for the diarrhea to cease and by morning it had and he was able to hunt with his son. Scott commented to Sonya that she smelled like a French you know what house because of all the perfume she had spayed around the room earlier. Sonya laughed, not giving it much thought at the time.
She and Dawie went up the mountain to the ground blind. Sonya recalled the temperature was around thirty-two degrees and she was cold. Once she and Dawie were in the ground blind she was trying to sit closer to Dawie in an effort to use his body heat to help her get warmed up. Sonya later learned poor Dawie didn’t know what to make of this over perfumed woman who kept trying to snuggle up to him in the relatively small ground blind on a mountain in South Africa. But, despite the mixed signals Dawie was getting from Sonya and the cold temperature, she was finally able to harvest a one hundred pound baboon. And, once again, Sonya proudly stated, “A one shot kill shot.”
Dawie and Sonya made their way back down the mountain with her hard earned baboon. They were informed by Erik’s hunting party there were blue wildebeests on the plains. Another shooting opportunity opened up for Sonya and another one shot kill shot for her as well.
When asked to describe her hunting experience Sonya stated, “She was shocked to discover she was a hunter when she had viewed herself in the past as a non-hunter.” She also said she was nervous about making good clean shots. Then she went on to say, “It was exciting! Exhilarating! A high adrenaline rush!”
Sonya would tell any woman thinking about hunting in Africa to go for it. “It is a trip of a lifetime. You utilize the same hunting skills in Africa as you do in the States. But, most importantly, do not allow yourself to be intimidated by Africa.” Would she go back to Africa to hunt? “In a heartbeat!”
Sonya and Scott had their trophies sent back to the States. Sonya said they are taking the deer mounts out of their trophy room and taking them to their cabin up north to make room for their African mounts.
Sonya, Scott and Erik were three strangers who came to hunt Africa with Kemp African Safaris and left as friends. Sonya and Scott continue their friendship even now, two years after their safari. Part of the reason they are still friends is because Sonya explained to Leandri, Dawie’s wife that she wasn’t hitting on Dawie she was just trying to get warmed up. Sonya also added that she loved her husband very much.
Maria, Vicki and Sonya are real women representing a cross section of women. The average woman can find some aspect of herself in one or more of these women. And, in doing so, can envision themselves as hunters in Africa. These women prove what was once considered to be an activity for men only is no longer true. The fact these women have had success in hunting Africa that has crossed the lines of age, health and athleticism is further proof any woman can hunt in Africa.
These women tell their story to almost anybody who will listen to them. Their stories aren’t about killing animals, although it is the end result of a good hunt. Their stories are about discovering something about themselves they didn’t know existed. Sonya discovered she was very good at making the one shot the kill shot and hunting is something she enjoys. Vicki learned she could rise above her fear to experience something new and be successful. Maria learned being a part of life can be happy and joyful.
Every woman has an “Africa” within her. Some piece of her being hidden, or perhaps even unknown, that needs to be coaxed, nurtured or validated. Vicki, Sonya and Maria found that piece while hunting Africa. Each of these women express a desire to return to hunt Africa. They all have a bucket list of the animals they would like to hunt. Some will have the opportunity to return to hunt Africa, while others will not. Whether they are able to return or not is irrelevant, because no one can take away the experience they have had or the dreams they will have about hunting in Africa.
Any woman can hunt Africa, but can every outfitter or professional hunter hunt with women? Dawie Kemp of Kemp Safaris took the time to meet each woman at her hunting skill level encouraging her to go just a little further outside her comfort zone to experience something spectacular. And every one of these women, have stated a desire for more of this experience. Each of these women, even the least skilled among them, were filled with excitement and empowered by their success.
The story each woman told about her hunt, though different, was the same in the regard they hunted with Dawie Kemp of Kemp African Safaris.
All three women expressed the attributes of Dawie Kemp as a professional hunter. His calm demeanor and skills as a professional hunter emboldened and empowered each of these women. He took them to a place within themselves they didn’t know existed or were not confident about. He gently pushed them out of their comfort zones and proved to each of them they had what it takes to hunt in Africa. In short, these three women felt Dawie Kemp was “The man!” And, to his credit, he praised each of the women on their skill, not his own. Their joy and success was as much his as it was theirs. One only needs to look at the pictures of each of these women with their trophies and their guide; a moment captured in time between hunter and guide to be told to many, as often as hunting stories are shared. But, the life changing hunts these women experienced transcend all words, as they are a very private and personal bond between the guide and the hunter.
Kemp African Safaris provided these women with more than a hunt of a lifetime. Dawie, who was at times joined by his wife, Leandri, was eager to provide an African experience in addition to the hunt. Dawie proved to be an excellent guide when touring Kruger National Park, which is a must see addition to any hunt if time and budget allow. The elephant experience, the very old and very large baobab tree and the Amarula liquor factory were other points of interest Dawie was glad to share with his hunting visitors.
Vicki, Sonya and Maria are real women who have hunted Africa. They encourage each and every women who dreams of hunting in Africa to follow their dream. They also encourage you to book your safari with Kemp African Safaris where you will be treated like royalty and enjoy an amazing hunting experience guided by the highly skilled Dawie Kemp of Kemp African Safaris.
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