Spiral Horn Antelope Club

I read Sherwin Scott’s article in an American hunting magazine some years back pleading for unity among American sheep hunting organizations. Something which he wrote rang a bell with me. He said, “What members want is to share in each other’s company, camaraderie, and swap a few stories whether by phone, magazine, or in person. Of course, conservation and raising money are important….”

It reminded me of what hunting clubs and associations were all about and how this sharing and camaraderie were missing from some of the clubs of which I was a member. Maybe I was partly to blame. Maybe it was that some or all of the members of some of the clubs did not talk or write or phone about issues that really interested me – like the spiral horned antelopes which have been such a passion for, and have dictated the hunting of, so many people.

Well, I wanted to swap stories “by phone, magazine, or in person” with people who were passionate about the spiral horns. For example, I wanted to hear from hunters who have had good or bad hunts and why that was so; who had hunted with good or bad PHs and why they were one or the other; who had hunted areas that were producing good or bad quality animals and why; who may have tips for both beginners and experienced hunters alike and, of course, to see their photos.

To test the waters, I first wrote to a number of men and women around the world whose opinions I value, to find out whether there was an appetite for the club and, if so, to ask for advice as to how it should be structured. Some of the issues I raised with them were the following:

  • Should aspirant members have already successfully hunted one or more of the spiral horns before they could be eligible to join? And, if so, how many? I initially suggested that at least three of the nine member group should have been successfully hunted first. The broad consensus was against this view and people felt that anybody who was interested in the spiral horns should be allowed to become a member regardless of whether he had already successfully hunted one or not.
  • However, if members wanted to submit photographs of spiral horns they had successfully seen or hunted – something everyone wanted to encourage – it was felt that the animal should first be measured by an official Rowland Ward or SCI measurer and the photograph be accompanied by a copy of the entry form required for entry into the relevant record book in order to avoid subsequent embarrassment or misinformation being provided to members.

Views in this regard have changed and it is felt that any tastefully taken photo of dead or live spiral horns should be eligible.

Should the club issue certificates or something similar to recognize those members who have successfully hunted all nine members of the spiral horned family? For example, called the Full House Award or something similar.

Ditto for those who have hunted all or substantially all (say 18) of the 26 subspecies of spiral horns recognized by both Rowland Ward’s and SCI’s record books that are currently available to be hunted on licence: Bongo; Bushbuck (Abyssinian, Arusi, Chobe, Harnessed, Masai, Nile and South African); Eland (Cape, East African and Livingstone’s); Lord Derby’s or giant eland; Greater Kudu (East African greater, Southern greater, Northern greater); Lesser Kudu; Nyala; Mountain Nyala; Sitatunga (Northern, Western, Island and Zambezi). For example, called the Royal Flush Award or something similar.

Alternatively, should no awards be considered at this time?

All of those I contacted were unanimous on this issue – no awards! Without exception, even those involved in very senior positions in hunting organizations, were unanimous that awards were the source of many, if not most, of the problems within hunting organizations. Keep it informal, friendly and simple (KIFS) they wrote. A place where like minded people can exchange news and views and seek objective and unbiased information of interest to all those fascinated by the spiral horns.

Should the club keep matters completely informal for the time being or should a rough constitution be drafted for consideration by members? At this stage, most of the people contacted were in favour of informality. Depending on the subsequent popularity of the club, issues such as a constitution and office bearers, could and should be addressed at a later stage.

In the meantime, I would be happy to co-ordinate the news, views, thoughts, suggestions and queries, initially on an informal basis, and look forward to hearing from all spiral horn enthusiasts on anything to do with these quite amazing and challenging animals. In doing so, I hope to enjoy the “company, camaraderie, and swap a few stories” with you and other members.

Eight years on and SHAC membership has grown but the swapping of stories and photos has not been a success and I am to blame. I have been consumed by book production and the five book series on the spiral horns, in particular, as well as three others during the same period – Hunting Icons of Africa, The South African Conservation Success Story and Hunting the African Buffalo – Nature’s Debt Collector – The Six Subspecies, which latter book is due out next year and will be my last hunting book for some time.

So, from the second quarter of next year, I hope to rectify matters and help drive SHAC and create the forum we all wanted it to be. In the meantime, please help me by sending in photos and brief notes on your spiral horn experiences so that I can publish them on the site and help to elicit comments from your fellow members.