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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Do the Research and Buy a Crossbow

If only it was that easy. Two years ago, we were attending various trade events and were amazed at the performance of a unique crossbow manufactured by a leading crossbow brand name at the time.
That's Chuck Matasic at the NRA Show with a Kodabow in Desert Digital. 
We weren’t so impressed with the bow’s shooting performance as much as how the sales guy would periodically excuse himself and trot out to his truck and get a new bow when the one he was shooting came apart. That company is no longer in business. Today, you can’t obtain parts should you own one of these crossbows.  The product comparison charts showing feet per second (fps) and Kinetic Energy (KE) are still around but a lot of those bows ended up shooting ZERO fps.  The comparison chart didn’t disclose that ---- and sometimes these charts are like the MPG sticker on a new car anyway. Impressive miles per gallon but never seen in the real world. At that moment in time, that particular crossbow might have seemed like a good bet. It was covered by a Lifetime Warranty. There were glowing articles in many outdoor magazines about the crossbow and  slick advertising could make a hunter think that the product was one click away from a being a Photon Torpedo from Star Trek. In the end, it was all BS because many of the crossbows didn’t work, failed prematurely and were plagued with problems. The manufacturer acknowledged this after going out of business. Bows were being returned at a high rate and the big box stores finally returned their inventory because of customer service issues. Sometimes, that is how an industry works. Marketing gets way ahead of the actual product. It still remains a bit of a mystery to a degree --- how could so many not observe what we could easily see at a trade event or at a sales counter and not have it reported down the line to consumers. Maybe everyone from retailers, dealers and magazines were too heavily invested to bring down the illusion. Implosion eventually came. This unique scenario didn’t turn out well for irate customers lined up at the sales counters with crossbows that looked like spaghetti.
At Kodabow, we have a different story. Our focus is making a very reliable and accurate crossbow.  A consumer can pick up the phone and talk with us. Our expectation is that we hear from customers when they send us a few photos after a successful hunting trip. One of the actions of that failed company was a strategic decision to source products overseas. Initially, it probably made sense on the accounting ledger. However, there is a lot of manufacturing detail required to successfully get a crossbow out the door and trusting someone thousands of miles away you might not know so well requires close coordination that can be difficult to achieve.  We understand global business --- but there is no substitute for looking your US supplier in the eye and it helps when they understand hunting as much as they understand manufacturing and accounting. We continually receive inquiries that begin like this.  (Actual Letter – “This is Susan from XXXX Overseas Crossbow Co.  Our factory has been manufacturing crossbows and bows for several Top US manufacturers. We would like to supply your products.” 
This is not the Kodabow story. When you spend $899.00 for one of our crossbows, rest assured – you are purchasing the absolute best that we can deliver with the backing of our material suppliers in a close knit supply chain. We test fire every crossbow that leaves our facility and include a range target that was used that details your bow serial number and arrow serial number used. That’s our story and it’s a good one!  My best --- Chuck at Kodabow

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

So you want to hunt Bear?

A Kodabow Crossbow is an ideal choice for Spring Bear 
hunting. In many places, the preferred method is hunting Black Bear over a bait site and with trail cameras in use, the hunting possibilities are exciting. There can be a good sense of what to expect with an understanding of projected animal movement patterns as the norm. We have taken Black Bears in spot and stalk hunts as well as over bait. Very different hunts for sure but for the first time Bear hunter interested in seeing bears, a hunt over bait offers a more settled environment. Always keep in mind that there is considerable preparation between the "idea to go" and having a successful trip.  Expect your Kodabow to work flawlessly and providing you do your part and execute a well placed shot, you will soon be in the skinning shed. The most significant decision will occur months before you head to  the bush.
Pick a good outfitter and you will have a good time, see plenty of game and have shooting opportunities at good sized animals. Make a mistake with your outfitter selection and standby for a miserable time.
It is that simple. If you don't do your homework, you might end up in a camp where taking a good bear is the rare exception and even seeing a bear or having a shot opportunity will not be in the cards.  The tragedy is that your hard earned money was expended just as if you ended up in a great camp. The way to avoid this is to get into the details. Obtain references by phoning hunters who were in camp in the past year. Build a picture of how the operation works and see if everything makes sense and adds up regarding harvest rates, # of hunters in camp, overall success rates, food and lodging. Most outfitters are very good but there are some who will gladly take your money and have no problem creating the illusion of a great hunt. If you get parked on a bait site that has no activity and sit for 6 days with zero opportunity, you are paying the price for failing to do your homework months earlier.  Outfitters may have "go to clients" who can provide  glowing reviews. (They are the one's that get the best treatment and the active bait sites if there are any.) Be more interested in what the hunters say who showed up in camp last year for the first time.
If you can't build a good picture and things don't seem to add up, choose another outfitter.

A successful hunter in the skinning shed.
Ask about fishing possibilities. Many Bear camps offer excellent fishing in lakes and streams and determine if fishing is included or an extra. If you will need a boat, will the outfitter provide that service at a fair price.

Tossing a fly before heading to a Bear stand. 
When hunting over bait, ensure you have the correct yardage measurements in hand and be confident that your Kodabow will put the arrow exactly on the mark. No guide wants to chase down a bear in the thick bush. The Bear pictured in the skinning shed (above) was arrowed at 30 yards with a Koda-Express 185 lb bow. The shot was with a Killzone mechanical 100 gr broadhead and a Kodabow Magnum .338 arrow which resulted in a pass through shot in the vitals. The Bear was recovered 10 yards from the point of impact.
If there will be "bugs" --- be prepared and go overboard with your preparations. Mosquitoes will bite through a single pair of hunting pants so suit up with multiple layers and cover all exposed flesh. Bring a Thermacell and multiple pairs of socks. The critters seemed to be stymied by three pairs of socks but could routinely bite through two pair. A head net or one of the Bug Tamer style outerwear jackets is a solid investment and is a serious element in ensuring a comfortable hunt. Sunset can be very late up North and spending hours chasing bugs is not only bothersome --- all the movement will scare the Bears!

Kodabow at the Ready Position


Friday, May 9, 2014

Jim Shockey is a Patient Man.

Hal Shockey, Chuck Matasic and Jim Shockey in 2003.
Hal died last year - 2013 at 86 years old.
Dinner was over but the guides kept talking about the need to make a good shot on these Black Bears. "If your shot is just a little off, be ready because your guide will be ready with his rifle to quickly put a second shot in the animal." The concern was the danger associated with tracking a wounded animal in the thick undergrowth of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. I listened and after the 3rd cycle going over the same information, I realized two things (1) they were serious (2) an incident must have focused these men on this subject. I didn't ask. Ten years later, I still remember that dinner discussion as if it was yesterday.
Earlier that day, Jim Shockey picked me up at the Vancouver Airport in his pickup truck. I was working with a firearms company at the time. (Actually, that firearms experience helps us make the great product that Kodabow is today.) For the next 4 hours, I talked with Jim about Bear Hunting. It was non-stop and question after question was presented. Jim offered answer after answer. We discussed bear behaviour in early Spring and how bears act, feed and think. He had a scrapbook on the front bench of his pickup and that only fueled our discussion. Jim was very successful ten years ago in the outdoor industry and since then, his career as a professional hunter has continued on a very high trajectory. He is a gentleman, a great hunter and  an all around "good guy" and that is the force behind his meteoric popularity. By the time we arrived in camp,I felt as if I might have discussed nearly every bear hunt , every scrapbook photo and nearly every other hunt in Jim's long hunting career - but he never tired. He is a patient man.

To make a long story short, I headed out with Jim the next morning and we stalked up on a nice black bear. The circumstances required an offhand shot because of a changing wind and the bear was immediately dropped on the spot with a single well placed shot with a .300 Winchester Short Magnum. It was an exciting hunt.

The next day, I was enjoying dinner with Louise Shockey (Jim's wife) and Jim at their home and we talked about family, the outdoor industry and hunting. The discussion eventually turned to our successful bear hunt and I had one final question for Jim. I asked, "Jim, the guides talked about the aggressiveness of these Vancouver Island bears and the need for the guide to be ready with a 2nd shot. I looked over when we were chasing that big bear and you left your rifle in the truck. What the heck was that all about?"

Jim leaned back in his chair and thought for a minute and said, "Chuck, you came a long way. We spent a lot of time together talking about shooting and hunting on the way to camp. You are the type of guy that really gets into the details. I just knew you would make the shot." I thought to myself ..... No one ever paid me a finer compliment.

Jim took this picture. The curse of  a big man.
I can make any animal appear smaller.
The passing years have taught me that there is magic in archery hunting but I still enjoy picking up a rifle, shotgun or flintlock from time to time. I have been on many firearm hunts where I wish I would have brought my bow. I have never been on an archery hunt where I wish I would have had a firearm. That is the difference.

I will head to Canada again this year for a bear hunt .... with a bow this time and  instinctively think about Jim and our hunt together. 

- Chuck Matasic @ Kodabow Crossbows

Monday, March 17, 2014

Make the shot EVERY TIME!

On weekends, our Kodabow factory range is used for archery instruction. We watch hundreds of shooters process information, develop form and shoot at targets.
Whether shooting a traditional bow or a crossbow, here are 2 obstacles every shooter needs to overcome to make the critical shot - every time!

Scenario One:  At 15 yards, our friend Mary Jane (name changed for this article) couldn't miss when shooting her recurve traditional bow. Arrow after arrow found the center of the 17" square target. Mary Jane then stepped back to 20 yards and arrows began flying everywhere. She barely could get the arrows on the 48" square target butt. What happened? 
Analysis: At 15 yards, Mary Jane was seeing the target clearly and was focused on the center 3" yellow X ring. At 20 yards, everything changed. Instead of seeing the same yellow aim point, her mind processed the situation differently and the large 48" square target unconsciously became her aim point. Visually -- Mary Jane was fine but her mental state needed to be pushed to make this type of distance and visual adjustment.  It requires mental work to get in the moment and shoot "small" and reorient to the X ring. Don't be lazy and just see a large massive target. As her instructor, we changed things up and placed a 3" balloon at 20 yards and her very next arrow hit the mark. Full mental engagement again. This scenario could have easily been a hunting situation when a hunter makes the mistake of aiming at the "deer" instead of a small target point in the vitals area.  
Scenario Two: On the range, Fred was shooting well at paper targets but was not setting the world on fire by any means. We suggested Fred shift over and shoot his bow at a 3D deer target.  At this point, 20,000 years of genetics and hard wired DNA magically kicked in. Fred sized up the "foam" game animal. Arrows began finding their mark more consistently and with every shot, there was the equivalent of a fist pump going down on the range. High intensity was apparent. We were under florescent lights but in Fred's mind, he was in the wilds of Alaska or Africa.
Analysis: To hunt effectively, your mental state must include an intensity level that provides you with the fortitude to properly make a "killing shot." Hunting is an exercise where a lackadaisical or casual attitude delivers failure. I think Fred harnessed the hunting legacy of generations of his ancestors. Buried deep inside all of us is the primitive bow hunter of 10,000 years ago. There is no other explanation that explains the exceptional transformations that we see on the archery range every day. Something special "kicks in" for many shooters and a quiet, reserved young lady new to archery can begin launching arrows at a game target with a sense of purpose and ferocity as if her next meal depended on making the shot. She may never intend to hunt a day in her life but the act of shooting awakens that "bow hunter" in us and it feels good. There is always a smile. And for those who choose to make the progression and actually head to the field and hunt, you must WORK to mentally prepare to be fully in the moment. Be ready to make a "killing shot" ---- it is not (1) any shot, or a (2) casual shot or (3) a shot that may or may not be good or (4) a hurried or haphazard shot. It is a killing shot  - a perfect shot honed by practice and taken with focus, the fullest sense of purpose and 100% intensity.  See you out there!  
My best, Chuck @ Kodabow 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Making an Impression

Chuck (L) & Kyle (R) with the big smile!
Trade shows are a big part of the outdoor industry. Since the same vendors see each other frequently over many years, friendships are formed. A year or so ago, Kodabow attended a show in Maryland at a County Fairgrounds. Instead of staying in a hotel room and with Sam, our Labrador in mind, we thought it would be fun to "camp" at the site. It was 8 PM and while walking the dog, Chuck came upon a backpack in a field adjacent to the Show Hall. No one was around. Folks were at dinner or headed to their hotels and the Fairgrounds were now deserted. There was no identification on the bag so Chuck pulled the zipper open and saw hundreds and hundreds of dollar bills.  (There was actually $15,000 in the bag.) Well ...with nothing to be done for the moment, Chuck and Sam turned in for the night and stowed the bag safely in the truck. Around 11 PM, there were voices and activity in the field. Chuck and Sam headed over and found Kyle frantically walking around in the dark and asked him what was up. Kyle was a vendor at the Show selling trail cameras. He said that he and his brother had lost a bag of checks and receipts from the last few trade shows they had attended on the show circuit. They had been looking around all night since they realized at dinner they lost their money. They were both very, very devastated. Chuck reached in his truck and handed them the backpack as they stared in disbelief. Whenever these boys see Chuck, they always yell out --"Hey Kodabow - we love you!) $15,000 is a lot of money. An event like that makes a long lasting impression. 
Channing from Alabama shooting a Kodabow.

We like tradeshows for one reason. Folks get to meet us and shoot our crossbow. We then get emails like this one from Jeff.

Dear Kodabow,
 I have been shooting all the top brand crossbows for a few months and thought I had found the perfect crossbow until I shot the Kodabow at the sportsman show in Harrisburg. I couldn’t believe a crossbow could be so accurate or be built with such quality. I got the bow home and showed it to my wife and then just sat and stared at it that night for a while until my wife said, “I’m going to bed. You need to make a decision, me or the bow”. I’m not stupid. I went to bed.  Jeff

Jeff made the right decision. Keep the spouse happy! At the recent Great American Outdoor Show in PA, we shot a single crossbow for 9 days straight. (Two weekends and 5 days in between.) We couldn't help but notice that there wasn't much crossbow shooting going on in other booths. More talk --- less shooting. Much less. Folks noticed and told us .... "Kodabow is shooting more than all the other companies combined."   Keep that in mind if you are thinking about a crossbow. 
Long after the trade show marketing chit chat is a distant memory, a crossbow needs to shoot and be reliable. An event like that makes a long lasting impression.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


100% Genuine and Authentic is a huge compliment when dealing with people or products.  
At Kodabow, it is our culture to be straightforward and we are rewarded with customers who feel very positive about our company and product. This was in an email this morning and is pretty normal around here.

"Just dropping a note to let you guys know I got my new Bravo Zulu and I love it! I opened the box Tuesday night and it just screamed quality when I started taking it out of the box. I am very impressed with the fit and finish of the bow. I started shooting it in my basement after assembly. The trigger is awesome, so much better than my other crossbow (--deleted---) I bought this bow sight unseen never handled one until I took it out of the box. I am glad I made the purchase! You guys make a beautiful crossbow. A few deer in 3C Susquehanna County are in trouble this coming fall season. Hope to see you guys at the Harrisburg Show next month. - Bob D."

We just returned from the SHOT Show 2014 and with the explosive growth in the firearms business, the Show is "over the top" more than ever with tremendous booths, glitz and Las Vegas glitter. Many attendees have T-Shirts that say things like "Special Operation Group" or come dressed with combat boots and sharp tactical pants appearing ready to rappel from the nearest helicopter. But the front lines are a long way from the Vegas strip. The realization is that many of these guys never had a day of military service or never worked for one of the 3 letter agencies. They are not authentic in the true sense of the word but it is all part of the Show and why not be part of it. (By the way, none of the real spec ops types I meet ever dress this way. The wear jeans, a plaid shirt and loafers - go figure.) But if you scratch the surface, you can still find authenticity like Kelly Glenn-Kimbro. We spent time with Kelly in the Ruger booth where she has reigned as the "Ruger Girl" for 25 years. She and her husband, father and daughter run a ranch in Arizona along the Mexican border. Their land goes right to the border fence. They have mules and dogs and are world famous for their mountain lion hunting adventures. Search the internet and the operation is described as the "real deal." The 10 day hunting experience is authentic and Kelly and her family know their stuff based on both their success and their client's reviews. She is a lady who can deliver the goods with a revolver - 4 inch barrel please -- or shoot a mountain lion on the run with her rifle. Give her a Scout rifle in .308 and she will show you a few things. Listen deeper and the changing life and realities of the Malpais become clear. Malpais is a Spanish word for badlands and this is where the big cats roam that go to 150 lbs. Things changed in 1978 when the first drug smuggler was caught crossing their ranch lands. Today, 36 years later, the Border Patrol catches drug runners nearly every day on the ranch as they make their way North to the US through the mountains and gulches. Every once in awhile, the running dogs, racing mountain lion and Kelly with her hunters riding mules accidently intersect with a drug smuggler and as the drug guys drop their load and run, they must be thinking about the spectacle and their bad luck. They must surely wonder what the heck they just ran into. It is pleasant to be around folks like Kelly who are genuine.

The civilian market follows the trends in military weapons and clothing and the SHOT Show is packed with products that had their origins in military use. We have adapted some of these products for use on the Kodabow with great success but the Kodabow is not a military weapon.  That would not be authentic. It is simply a great hunting tool and as one dealer told us recently, "everything my customers aim at with a Kodabow ends up on the ground dead."  We believe we make a genuine product and in the end, being authentic is important.  See you at the NRA Show!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Kodabow Hunter of the Year 2013 - Jim Aken

Each year at Kodabow, we name and recognize our Kodabow Hunter of the Year.
Jim's Kodabow next to William's Kodabow in Africa.
William is Jim's PH. (Professional Hunter.) 
The award is based on significant accomplishment in the field with a Kodabow Crossbow.  In 2012, Nick Stumpo was our Kodabow Hunter of the Year for his exceptional whitetail taken in Northern New Jersey with his Kodabow Bravo Zulu. For 2013, we are proud to award this honor to Jim Aken following his 2nd trip to Africa with his Kodabow Big Rhino.  For the balance of 2013 and for 2014, we will be searching for next year’s 2014 recipient among the Kodabow Hunting Community.

Editor’s Note:   We sat down with Jim and talked about his recent trip after his return from Africa in September 2013.  Just a few generations ago, Africa was unknown in many ways and those who visited perceived the Continent to be wild, harsh and a dangerous place. Only brave explorers dared to travel there in search of adventure.  Today, the trip is far more manageable but there remains the opportunity for the unexpected. Jim is technically oriented, methodical, experienced and thoughtful. Here is Jim’s story

K:   Jim – thank you for visiting with us and congratulations are in order after another successful adventure. How many trips have you made to Africa?
Jim:   This year was my 7th trip to Africa. 

K. What did you bring home on this trip?
Jim:  I was successful on a Sable, Lichtenstein Hartebeest, Chobe Bushbuck, Reedbuck, Puku, and a Bushpig in Mkushi, Zambia, this year.  Zambia and the Mumembe Ranch was a terrific experience. Zambia is not as well developed as some of the other areas I have hunted.  In South Africa, for instance, it is common to archery hunt at waterholes and in some cases there would be a pit blind dug into the ground expressly designed for bowhunting. On this trip, it was all spot and stalk except for the Bushpig hunt which we did from a blind at night because Bushpigs are nocturnal.

Jim and a trophy Zambian Sable. 
A large Sable can reach 600 lbs. 

K. What was the most exciting part of the trip?

Although it is not a game species, it had to be the Black Mamba, one of the deadliest snakes in the world. We were in the truck travelling slowly along a road when the 2 trackers in the back of the truck began yelling loudly “Snake, Snake!”   I was riding up front and saw a 10’ Black Mamba coming out of the grass apparently planning to attack the truck.  Now, they tell me this aggressive snake can go through the bush at 14 mph, with 1/3 of its body length upright and can strike upwards at half its body length. So imagine a snakehead about 3 feet above the ground headed your way.  William, my PH, threw his hat at the snake’s head to distract it, and shouted to me to “roll up the windows.”  They hate that snake over there. Unless you get to a hospital in 15 minutes, it is 100% mortality rate. The neurotoxin is powerful and the snake injects a level about 1000 times more than is required to kill a person.  So basically, you end up paralyzed and die pretty quick from suffocation. The PH and trackers grabbed big sticks and chased after the snake knocking it down and slowing it. Since I had the only weapon which was my Kodabow, I followed and when I caught up with them, they had beaten the Mamba into submission and I severed its head with a broadhead. This was my first Black Mamba experience in 7 trips.

Jim and his first Black Mamba

K.  What do you like about the Kodabow. This was your second trip to Africa with a Kodabow and you now have a lot of experience under your belt with our product?

I like everything about the bow. I mean EVERYTHING. When you first receive your Kodabow, you will notice the workmanship, how well the parts fit together, how tight the joints are, how nice the finish is, etc.  When you take it to the range, you will see that it is extremely accurate and just has the raw horsepower needed for big game.  Then, when you go hunting with it, you will see how ‘traveler-friendly’ it is.  Airlines are continually restricting baggage allowances (both weight and size), so the ability to take down the Kodabow to fit in a small space is a tremendous advantage when travelling, both here in the U.S. and on international flights.  I take the bow down all the way, put it in a small box (just like in Kodabow's YouTube  video) and stick it in my luggage. The limbs come off and the rail ends up as the largest piece.  When I put all the pieces together in Africa, it is impressive that the bow shoots to the same place as when it was sighted-in back in the US. I shoot in camp and might make a minor adjustment but it is very minor.  It is just simpler than dealing with a big case and the airline hassles. 
I shoot the 225 Big Rhino because of its tremendous power that I find useful on some the larger animals in Africa.  The Sable hunt emerged as an opportunity while I was there.  I would have preferred  600-650 grain arrows for the Sable, and the Lichtenstein’s Hartebeest.  The Kodabow Big Rhino handles all these weights well .  It shoots the 475 grain arrows fast and flat, and it has the horsepower to shoot much heavier arrows, as well.

The Lichtenstein’s Hartebeest
I personally wouldn’t take a compound crossbow to Africa. This trip, I almost clipped a bowstring as I was handling an arrow. It would have not been an issue with my Kodabow.  A hunter might be spending $1,500 or more, per day during his time in Africa. The last thing you want to be doing is fooling around with your bow. I have seen guys lose 3 days on a trip because of bow issues. Another thing I like about the Kodabow is the maintenance. There is none!
K. You seem to work hard at hunt preparation and know your arrows. How did you work up these arrow setups?

I design my arrows for the animals I am hunting on any given trip.  This year my main objective was a Chobe Bushbuck and Puku.  In other words, animals about 8-12 inches thick through the chest area.   I decided on an arrow/broadhead combination of about  475 grains and an FOC of slightly over 21%.  Shot from my Kodabow Big Rhino, this arrow yields a Momentum of 0.66 slug/ft/sec. and 103+ ft/lbs of kinetic energy .  I had pass-through penetration on the Bushbuck and Puku sized animals. But, I would have preferred a heavier arrow for the Sable and Lichtenstein’s Hartebeest, animals considerably thicker through the chest area; something with a Momentum of 0.7 or 0.8; which would be an arrow of about 600-650 grains.

The nocturnal Bushpig - hunted in darkness from a blind
K. What broadhead do you use?

I have been using German Kinetics Silver Flame broadheads.  They are a two-blade broadhead made of hardened stainless steel and an aircraft grade aluminum ferrule.  When I first met William Drummond, my PH (Professional Hunter), he was here in the USA (before my first trip to Africa), I showed him a 3 bladed broadhead I intended to use. He looked at it and told me it was not so good for Africa. He said the steel is not hardened, so the tip might curl at impact and related that they had bad experience tracking African animals that were shot with a weak non-hardened broadhead.  He recommended the German Kinetics, which is what I shoot now. They are 2-3 times the price of regular broadheads, but I travel a long way to hunt and this is one thing I can do to prevent problems on the hunt.
Some of the animals like a Warthog roll around in the mud. They can have stones and rocks buried in the hair and hide, somewhat like a stucco coating. This layer of stucco on the animal can rip the thin razor blade broadhead blades off before the broadhead gets into the animal. As you can see, you need both the power to get through that layer of stucco, and the durability to get through it.  With these broadheads and my Big Rhino, it is usually like tracking a train after a shot and my typical recovery distance is 30-40 yards that is if I do my part and place my arrow correctly.

K. Hunting can sometimes be uncertain.  I will ask the difficult question. Did you have 100% recovery on every shot taken this trip?
The Bushpig hunt was a challenge.  First of all, pigs are durable.  Everyone who has hunted feral hogs in the U.S., or Eurasian wild boar, or any other porcine species is amazed at how they keep going when they should be dead.  Secondly, the hunt was at night, since they are nocturnal. I made a shot on a Bushpig and didn’t recover the animal. We had a trail out to about 100 yards and then nothing. We returned in the morning during daylight and found nothing. Given the circumstances, I might have made a shot that was not as good as I thought at the time in the darkness. Other than that, the outcomes were all spectacular which I attribute to a great PH, a terrific Kodabow crossbow and solid performing arrows.

K. Tell me about your PH. Good guy? Have you hunted with him several times?

William Drummond is his name.  I met William at Chorongo Safaris, in South Africa.  I hunt with him every year.  He is dependable, good natured, and knows his stuff. That is what I look for.  When you archery hunt in Africa, it is important that the PH really knows archery hunting.  As a bowhunter, you should feel welcome and not be treated as a 2nd class citizen or feel merely tolerated.  William has been a bowhunter since he was a kid, and really knows archery hunting.  
You spend a lot of time with your PH and in the end, it should be fun.  Africa is always full of surprises. For the first time hunter going to Africa, do your research and go with a solid PH.  Meet  him in the USA in advance if possible. They attend trade shows, so  use that opportunity to personally communicate your expectations.  Africa can be done economically to get your feet wet.  Hunt plains game and establish a proper budget.

K:  What is a typical day of hunting in Africa?

We are up at 5:30 AM and have breakfast. The day will depend on the particular animal we are after. It might change based on what animals were seen on previous days in the field.  After breakfast, we have a plan put together.  We typically hunt until dark or near dark, then it is back to the lapa for supper and discussion of the day’s hunt, and plans for the next day.

The elusive Puku

K:   What are you and William talking about next year?
William wants me to consider a hippo and a crocodile with my Kodabow. That has me thinking.  He has a Kodabow ‘Big Rhino,’ and knows what it will handle.  A hippo is going to be about 3 ft. thick through the chest area, and have a very thick hide, so we are looking at the absolute maximum performance we can get from the bow, and an arrow probably in excess of 1000 grains.

A crocodile will require a fishing arrow attached to a float.  So, there will be the added drag of the line attached to a heavy arrow.  I will spend a lot of time this year working on that issue and coming to grips with what that might entail.
Hunting with William has been a real blessing.  I am now  looking at 17 animals in the SCI (Safari Club International) Record Book in the Crossbow Segment. We have had tremendous success together.

K:  Any downsides to the trip?
The flight from the US is absolute murder;  16+ hours from the East coast of the U.S. to Johannesburg.  It is long but there is no other way to get there. The flight just lasts forever.  What was good about this trip is that I took a small plane back from camp to Lusaka which saved about 4 ½ hours of driving, and a bunch of potholes.

K.  Are you ever concerned about your safety in Africa?  I am not talking about the Black Mamba – well. I guess that needs to be considered too. But I think many US hunters shy away from Africa because of perceived danger. Is that fair?
Of course, you want to stay away from countries with unstable governments and civil wars in progress, but the southern African countries have stable governments.  South Africa is a country with lots of hunting opportunities and a stable democratic government.  Similarly, Zambia, Botswana, and Namibia have stable political situations.  Zimbabwe’s government and economy is in shambles, but a major portion of their money comes from hunting, so hunters are well received there.

Some Americans might have a view of Africa that is based on what they have seen in Tarzan movies. That is a typical American viewpoint.  Around Johannesburg, South Africa, for instance, 97% of the people speak English (the Queen’s English). The city is the size of LA and just like any major city, there are places to stay away from.  There are suburbs that look just like Albuquerque and there are symphonies and operas, and there are also high crime rate areas, just like any major city. However, there are no giraffes or elephants on the runway when you land. It could be Los Angeles from an airplane window. 
And as far as snakes, my bet is that if a hunter travels to Texas 7 times in a row, they will come across a rattlesnake before it’s all over.  On your hunt, your Professional Hunter will advise you about any dangers in the immediate area, such as snakes, big cats, hippos, crocs, etc.  Your PH will tell you of any dangers, so just pay attention and do what he says.  All in all, probably the most dangerous part of your hunt is the drive on public roads from your house to the airport.

K. Thank you for sharing your insights. Hunting in Africa is an adventure. Best of success in 2014!  - Chuck Matasic / Kodabow