From Benin to Zimbabwe, Blue Duikers to Cape Buffalos, and Airguns to Double Rifles… I’ve glassed the internet to uncover the African Hunting Video landscape. After watching and curating 500 Hunts on this blog, I thought it would be a good idea to write up what I’ve found so far.
The first 500 Hunts curated on this blog were intended to be an exploration of the different types of Hunting Videos (HVs) filmed on the African Continent. Part 1 of this post is a brief summary of what a typical African HV looks like and Part 2 (coming soon) is intended to be a more data-rich analysis and discussion of which factors I think do and don’t make an HV engaging and worthy of your time watching it.
All the HVs curated on this blog are available publically online and don’t require a paid subscription to view them. Also, there is a difference between a Hunt and the Hunting Video it was watched from. A HV can be composed of one or more Hunts where different Animals are hunted. I unpack a HV by curating each Hunt (categorizing and tagging), then I gauge each Hunt according to the HuntGauge framework, as either non-qualifying, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. You can read more about this HuntGauge framework I developed here.
5 points in Part 1:
- About half of the Hunting Videos (HV) found online aren’t worth watching (my opinion)
- HVs are mostly of Hunters, each with his own Professional Hunter as a guide, walking and stalking, with rifles
- On average you’ll see 2 Hunts per HV, where combined there are three shots taken to recover two Animals, and it will take you about 12 min to watch to the end
- Most common hunting destinations curated: South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania
- Most common Animals curated: Springbok, Southern Impala, Cape Buffalo and Greater Southern Kudu
How did I identify these Hunting Videos?
No specific method of searching was used to ensure the 500 Hunt sample was statistically representative, rather the Hunting Videos (HVs) were selected mostly on the Animal species and the location of the Hunt, trying to curate as many different Animals and locations as possible. There are many different types of Hunting Weapons used these days (have you seen what can be done with modern Airguns and Arrowguns?) and the choice of weapon was also considered, which inevitably had an influence on the Hunting Style and Method, which also varies quite a bit (Ambush, WalkStalk, etc.).
The dates that some of the 229 HVs were published online goes back more than 10 years. At the time of watching these HVs, there was a total of almost 20 million views (defined as viewing a video for 30 secs or longer), more than 75 thousand likes and 24 thousand dislikes, and almost 9.5 thousand comments. That’s a whole lot of interaction for just 229 online videos! What was more interesting is that since I started this blog, only two of the videos I gauged were removed from their hosting platform (by their publishers), and are no longer available for viewing online.
The 500 Hunts curated on this blog are probably a good indication of a typical African HV found online. So how do these Hunts stack up against HuntGauge framework then?
The doughnut chart below shows the split of non-HuntGauge (HG), HG Bronze, HG Silver, HG Gold and HG Platinum Hunts. Almost half were non-qualifying HG Hunts (non-HG) that’s the equivalent of me saying: “Don’t bother with these Hunts on these Hunting Videos, because you probably won’t get much out of watching them.”
The other half of the curated Hunts were split up into HG Bronze, HG Silver and HG Gold at 37%, 11% and 3%, respectively. No HG Platinum has been awarded yet. In order for a filmed Hunt to score HG Platinum it needs to have a very high Degree of Difficulty (just analyzing the Hunting perspective) and a very high Execution score (analyzing all three perspectives: Hunting, Storytelling and Educating, for more details read here).
HG Bronze, Silver and Gold Hunts are worth watching, in my opinion. You’ll see Hunters challenge themselves and keep to ethical and fair chase hunting. There’s also a good chance you’ll watch to the end of the HV because it’s well made and entertaining. Also, you will most likely learn something new.
Who’s going on Safari and how are they hunting?
Most of the Hunts curated are of Hunters but about 10% are of Huntresses, JuniorHunters and JuniorHuntresses combined. Most of these Hunters are returning, having hunted in Africa before, and usually don’t share a PH with another Hunter (only 10% of curated Hunts were 2on1). Hunts, where a partner or family member is present, happened about 6% of the time and are probably some of my favourite HVs to watch (check them out PartnerOnHunt and FamilyHunt).
I’ve curated 9 different Hunting Weapons. The rifle is by far the most common at 78% of the time, with bow and shotgun at 13% and 3%, respectively. Three-quarters of the time the preferred Hunting Method is WalkStalk, with Ambush type methods employed about 18% of the time.
What was good to observe is that specific Animal species are being targeted deliberately more often than not, as opposed to hunting opportunistically and shooting any number of different species available in the hunting area. A lot more thought, planning and skill go into the former, and I use this as an important factor in determining the Degree of Difficulty for a curated Hunt.
What does a typical African Hunt and Hunting Video look like then?
Hunts are only identified and HuntGauged when there is a First Shot taken by the Hunter. Not all of the 4-part Anatomy of a Hunting Video (HV)/Hunt needs to be present, but a First Shot is needed to identify and analyze the different parts of that filmed-Hunt. A HV can be made up of many different Hunts all edited together, having been filmed over many days of hunting (typical Safaris are 5-10 days of hunting).
To curate and HuntGauge 500 Hunts I had to watch 229 different HVs at an average video length of 11 min 54 sec. The shortest was a clip of 27 sec and the longest was over 73 min. Taken all together these 229 HVs took over 45 hours to watch, that’s almost 2 days! It probably took much longer than that when I recall all the times I had to replay some of the hunting action in order to gauge the Hunts properly. The average Hunt length was 3 min 42 sec, with the shortest being 16 sec and the longest 20 min 55 sec
On average there were three shots taken and two animals recovered per HV, with zero animals recovered being the minimum (animal shot at is not the same as recovered) and 18 animals being the maximum (same Safari being filmed, including multiple Hunters). These shots are inclusive of follow up shots and reassurance shots, which sometimes are not necessary but are usually taken by a Hunter on dangerous game under instruction of a PH. This is done to ensure the safety of the Hunting Team (especially with Cape Buffalo).
Where and what?
18 African countries are represented on the sample of HVs watched. South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania are known to be popular hunting destinations, so it’s no surprise that most of the HV in this 500 sample were filmed in these countries (80%). Of all of the countries, only Kenya continues to enforce a ban on trophy hunting (only one HV was curated and it was produced pre 1970s ban, posted online 2014), while just this month Botswana lifted a five-year suspension on trophy hunting on its public lands.
So far I’ve curated 83 different Animal species, including sub-species and colour variants. 18% of the Animals hunted in the 500 Hunts were in the Big 5 & Dangerous 7, 16% in the Spiral Horned, 27% in the Large Plains Game, 31% in the Small Plains Game, and 8% in the Tiny Ten categories. The four most hunted animals in this 500 sample were the Springbuck-all colour varieties, Cape Buffalo, Southern Impala and Greater Southern Kudu. The Black Wildebeest and Blue Duiker were the most hunted in the Large Plains Game and Tiny Ten categories, respectively.
According to Rowland Ward’s African Game Animals list, there’s 111 more species and sub-species to go (colour variants excluded). On this blog, I don’t curate small game animals, birds (except Ostrich), and non-African introduced animals. For example, the Barbary sheep’s original distribution is in North Africa, but have also been introduced and are hunted in some parts of South Africa, so it’s included on this blog.
Hunting Videos are not just about hunting, they are also about storytelling and educating viewers. All HVs have some hunting action in them, but not all of them take the time and effort to tell stories worth watching, or educate viewers so that they can be more informed. Go ahead and watch some of the HG Silver and HG Gold curated Hunts. If you think they were worth your time watching them then please comment and let me know.