As I write this, I am just getting finished with my fourth season in the
. When I flip through the photo albums containing nearly 600 pictures of trophy Eland, Bongo, Buffalo, African friends, snakes, spiders, bush life- representing memories of those four years, I am blown away by the incredible circumstances that led me there. Central African Republic
I was born and raised in
, and up until leaving for Kansas Africa in 2008, I had never left the . Even then, I had only started hunting a few years before. I come from a long line of non-hunting family members. At 15 years old, a friend took me out into the woods and I shot my first deer; a 6 point buck. Regardless of my lack of hunting experience, I knew early on (or rather, hoped) I would some day end up in United States Africa. I had read all the classic stories from the likes of Ruark, Patterson, Capstick, Hunter, and Roosevelt. I ate up all the magazine articles I could find from some of the top African safari writers today, like Craig Boddington, and Cameron Hopkins. All these fascinating stories led to my obsession with Africa, but in the end, the one object of interest that led me to make the jump to finally go to Africa, was one animal: the mythical Bongo.
Ever since seeing my first bongo in the
zoo at around the age of 10, and then seeing the amazing photos of the rare animal published by National Geographic, I became obsessed. My laptop computer at home began to fill up with photos and stories of the elusive animal. In my teens, I contacted many safari companies in Central and Kansas City West Africa, and then on toward East Africa. I was turned down by a few, but mostly just ignored by the rest. No one wanted to hire a 16 year old American boy with no experience in African hunting. I gave up the idea of becoming a PH, until later in life. I hoped, someday I could get out there; but my fascination with Central Africa, and the mythical bongo never ceased.
In 2008, I read a small excerpt written in the Hunting Report, about a young Swedish man named Erik Mararv, who had just started his own safari company the year before in the CAR. At first, I had no intention of asking for a job, I just was extremely interested in this development of his new business in the heart of wild
Africa, and one of the main animals there: the Bongo. So, one day I emailed him. We exchanged a few emails, and all of my obsession and book smarts filled every paragraph I wrote. Erik suddenly stopped emailing me back, as he was in the middle of the season, and I forgot all about him. And then, one day as I was sitting at the bank I was working at, I got an email from Erik. I nearly lost my breath when I read his words…
“Dear Adam. I can tell you are interested in
Central Africa. I need people with the fire you have. If you are interested in a job, maybe I can help you.”
After that, it was as simple as replying. The next couple of days, I gave my two weeks notice to the bank, spent the next month buying gear and getting my vaccinations, Passport and Visa, and making other preparations. Two months after that email, I was on a plane bound for
, CAR. I was 19 years old. In no other circumstance, could I have ever been given a chance to work in Bangui Africa that early on in my life. You could say, I contacted the right person, at the right time. I owe a lot to Erik for giving me a chance.
That first year, I spent almost 9 months in
Central Africa. Most of the time I was out in the bush, away from any camps, cutting new hunting roads with 10 or more Africans at a time. I picked up Sango, the local language, fairly early on since there was no one else to talk to except for the Africans, and during that time I earned, painfully, a priceless amount of bush craft. Luckily for me, my main job that first year was to scout out bongo areas, and set up a camp in the forest where the species could be hunted. I found much bongo sign, and learned a lot about the species from my time spent in the forest. The first bongo of the company was even killed from a high stand my African workers and I had built over a new salt lick.
The time I spent in the bush was the greatest adventure of my life, and changed me forever: I had played tag with crocodiles, had our camp raided by two large elephants, interrupted a very large male lion while he was sleeping, and had countless other animal encounters. I ate up as much hunting skills as I could from the best poachers in the area. Even after 9 months, when it was time to leave, I still wasn’t sure if I ever wanted to go back to the states. As I climbed the plane on our bush airstrip, Erik shook my hand and said, “Well done Adam. You’ve proven yourself here. I hope to see you next year.” With a smile and a wink we parted ways.
…The next year, in September, long before our first hunters would arrive, I found myself in CAR once again. Shortly after, I would begin guiding my first safaris in collaboration with a local African PH. As they say, from then on, the rest is history… I’m still in Africa most of the year, and soon hope to start my apprenticeship in Tanzania- I have no intention of parting ways with the Dark Continent I now call my second home. My job now in the states, is to share my love of
Africa, and hope to feed the dreams of hunters and adventurers that hope of going there… Welcome to Central Africa!