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South African Hunt Report: Clothing
The following is an excerpt from Randy D. Smith's longer article "South African Hunt Report," which you will find in its entirety on the Hunting Stories and Articles Page of Guns and Shooting Online. - Editor
Because of my hometown's size and location I had to order all my clothing for my African safari from an outside source, with the vast majority of it coming from Cabela's. It is winter in South Africa in July and we experienced unusually cold conditions during most of our hunt. Temperatures ranged from the mid thirties to the high sixties during the day. Early mornings and late evenings in the back of an open hunting car were especially uncomfortable. Another trait of the South African bush is that almost every tree has some kind of thorn or "hook" to cut you or catch on your clothing. You need to wear your clothing in layers and it needs to be tough stuff.
Camouflage clothing is legal for hunting in South Africa but not in many Central African countries. I see little benefit in wearing camouflage for this type of hunting except that it is usually designed for hunters with roomier dimensions and more pockets. I chose khaki and olive colored clothing and got along very well.
My pants were Cabela's Outfitter Series Expedition Wear in mushroom color of 67% brushed cotton and 33% nylon. They were roomy, comfortable and warm.
My shirts were long sleeve Cabela's Serengeti Safari models of 100% cotton canvas. This shirt has a number of flap and zipper pockets and it very handy for carrying muzzle loading equipment.
I also bought a Rigby shooting vest from Cabela's, one of the best and most practical pieces of hunting clothing I have ever owned. I took along a Cabela's sweater of 55% wool, 20% acrylic and 25% polyester with patch elbows. I often wore it in the morning and evening. Next time I will take a heavier sweater.
My coat was a Remington upland game coat of heavy cotton canvas. It was great for providing warmth, protection from thorns, and pocket access. During much of the colder conditions I was dressed in layers of shirt, sweater, shooting vest and coat to keep warm, shedding them individually as the day warmed.
I was the only guy who thought to bring gloves and I was certainly glad I did. I have a pair of Cabela's heavy leather and elastic handgun shooting gloves with exposed fingers that I threw in at the last minute of my packing. I took them to protect my hands from thorns but like the exposed fingers for handling muzzle loading equipment and for trigger control. The gloves worked great for that but they also kept my hands warm. You can't do much hunting with your hands stuffed in your pockets.
My primary boots were Cabela's Rimrock Gore-Tex Hikers of leather with 7" uppers. My backup boots were Bass Pro Hikers with 7" uppers and a Gore-Tex lining. Both worked very well. They were light, comfortable and protected my ankles from thorns and contamination. The non-slip treads were important for climbing in and out of the hunting car safely. Heavy upland hunting boots are too bulky for this style of hunting and greatly add to your baggage weight, an important consideration.
Perhaps most surprising was the effectiveness of my choice of socks. While in the Kansas City Cabela's store I happened upon some Cabela's Ultimax socks that were on sale and advertised as "blister proof." At eight dollars a pair I probably would not have purchased them but I bought four pair at the sale price. Once in South Africa I dug them out their packages and realized that they also had a mild elastic ankle support sewed in as well. These socks were absolutely wonderful. I put in several five to seven mile days hiking and stalking the bush without a single blister or any pain from an arthritic ankle I have. I will gladly pay the eight dollars for more of them in the future.
And then, of course, I had to take my lucky Resistol cowboy hat. After twenty-five years and many of the best hunts I've ever been on, I couldn't leave it behind in spite of my wife's objections. Besides, how can you pass up wearing a hat that is almost as old as your PH?
Copyright 2005 by Randy D. Smith. All rights reserved.