PH Spotlight – Jaco Oosthuizen

Game Trackers Africa, based in Namibia, also hunts Tanzania, South Africa and Cameroon.  Plains game and elephants are hunted in Namibia. Oosthuizen recommends clients hunt Tanzania, which he believes offers unspoiled nature at its best.

Commenting on what differentiates hunting with him, Oosthuizen explains that, “Everything is not based on size. We hunt ethically, taking the older males, which sometimes results in taking big specimens. Through educating hunters, we find they come to enjoy the African experience rather than the size of the animals.”

“Having shot various double rifles, in 2002 I fell in love with the Chapuis after I shot my friend’s because it fitted me well in all aspects. It is a well balanced rifle and I don’t miss with it,” Oosthuizen says of his preferred gun.

Years of hunting generate many different experiences including some that are heart stopping and indelibly etched in memory. On one hunt in Moyowosi in August 2004 that quickened his pulse, Oosthuizen recalls, “After taking a leopard and other animals, we were working to get a lion for our client during a 21-day safari.  Now we had seven to nine days to devote to lion hunting.  We hunted from a fly camp because there was a huge old well maned single male lion in one block.  While chasing this lion, another one was hanging out close to our main camp. Though we only got a glimpse of him, he seemed to have a big body.

“The last two days we studied the lion near the main camp from a grass blind. He only appeared at last light. I planned to return the next morning to catch him at daybreak. That is what happened the next morning, day 21 of the safari.

“We got in the blind about 30 minutes before daybreak.  The lion ran off and returned after the vehicle left; however, he came back sooner than expected and decided to inspect our blind. I heard something sneaking toward the blind. I grabbed my rifle, but he was too close to warn the client. Next moment that lion was standing right next to me, on my left side, with only a two- to three-inch layer of grass separating us. I could have touched him and could hear him breathing. Options? I could not shoot and I could not tell the client to shoot because we had not yet studied the lion.

“I tried to scare him to have another chance to evaluate his age. The tracker knew the lion was there, but the client had no idea other than me having whispered to him to freeze totally. I hit the lion hard with the butt of my rifle stock and growled at him loudly. The lion jumped away, about 12 feet.  I could see his silhouette clearly in the fast approaching daylight. The tracker had the flashlight on, but it was reflecting against the grass of the blind. I was blinded while trying to explain to the client to be ready to shoot if the lion came for us. The lion growled, turned and leaped towards us. Still blinded, I fired a shot over his head. He came and stopped just off to the left corner of the blind. I fired another shot to scare him and he ran off. The client was now totally frozen and utter chaos erupted.

“The Land Cruiser rushed in. We were already out of the blind, investigating to make sure the lion was not wounded. We left that blind open and built another one at a different angle. On the last night, the lion only came in after dark, earning a free pass, but we had a great safari, having lived the African legacy to its fullest.”

For non-hunters, Game Trackers Africa offers photographic safaris in Namibia and Tanzania. The government in Tanzania insists that outfitters be involved in local programs. Annually Game Trackers Africa spends thousands of dollars on different projects: Maintaining and stocking local dispensaries, maintaining and building school buildings and offices for teachers, providing meat and upgrades of socio-economic standards. Game Trackers also contributes to the American Chamber of Commerce in Tanzania to programs and fundraisers for anti-poaching as well as similar programs in Namibia.

After joining SCI in 1996, Oosthuizen became a life-member. He is a Master Measurer.  Game Trackers Africa provides donations to support SCI’s fund raising activities.  A few special selected chapters are also supported.

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