The day of your dream Africa hunt is upon you.
You’ve packed and repacked, double and triple-checked paperwork, and sighted in your rifle to be able to take the wings off a mosquito.
You take your bags and all your energy to the airport, but there is a major obstacle that stands between you and your dream hunt — a flight that can take upwards of 16 hours.
So how do hunters traveling from Texas to Africa handle all that airtime?
“Before I went, the best advice came at the office from David J. Sams, who went to South Africa with his daughter, Lil, last summer,” said LSON Executive Editor Craig Nyhus, who recently returned from Namibia. “He said, ‘the travel is the travel — you don’t have to consider it part of the trip.’”
Craig’s trip was his first flight in his life more than four hours long. The connecting flight was from Washington, D.C. to Johannesburg, with a fuel stop in Dakar, Senegal after the first 7-hour leg of the 15-hour flight.
“Fortunately, my seat had ample legroom, as I was in the row behind the bathrooms,” he said. “I couldn’t sleep at first, but remembered how I always seem to fall asleep in the recliner at the hunting lease.”
Craig got out his carry-on bag and used it as an ottoman, and was able to sleep for four or five hours.
“Otherwise, I looked for things to distract me,” he said. “I learned that South African Airlines still considers appearance when hiring flight attendants, so talking with them was quite pleasant.”
Besides getting to know the crew, Craig used some more orthodox time-wasting techniques, which included reading and watching movies.
LSON Managing Editor Conor Harrison has had his share of long hunting trips, with destinations including Botswana, Tanzania, South Africa and Namibia.
“Bring several good books,” he said. “Also, I will always have a playlist of songs in the iPod that help me go to sleep.”
If the soothing music doesn’t work, Conor has another technique.
“Once you’re on the plane, have a few drinks and take an Ambien, then wake up upon arrival,” he said.
Conor said that once you arrive at the airport, lay low until you make contact with your outfitter.
“Try and be inconspicuous,” he said. “I don’t travel with camouflage luggage or wear gear that screams ‘American hunter.’ I don’t have a bunch of stickers on my bow case that tells everyone I am a hunter. There is a time and a place to be loud and proud, but airports in foreign countries are not one of them.”