Dallas Safari Club’s Annual Convention

Frances and I are in Dallas for the Dallas Safari Club’s annual Convention. We are here to compile video interviews with many of the top names in the hunting and shooting sports. From custom firearm producers like Kerry and Carol O’Day of MG Arms, to Outfitters such as Mark Haldane of Zambeze Delta Safaris to Hornady’s Neal Emery, we will be finding out about some of the newest trends and opportunities for shooters and hunters. We will be posting our videos at TheTruthAboutGuns.com. Stay tuned for what should be a great set of interesting interviews.

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A Brother’s Suggestion, a Family’s Orders

“Let’s go hunting.” It was as simple, and complex, as that. My brother, Randy, and I had been chatting on the phone. I think he knew I was in trouble. Of course, he knew that I had received my diagnosis of Stage 4 cancer. He also knew that the prognosis was bleak. And, I think he knew that I was despairing of not living out my so-called ‘allotted time’ – not walking my daughter down the aisle, not ever seeing my grand-kids, not celebrating my 50th wedding anniversary…The list went on.

Honestly, I wasn’t despairing about not seeing another hunting trip. But, Randy’s statement sent a slight thrill through the body that had been cut open twice and, most recently, poisoned with drugs designed to kill the mutated cells. He was suggesting a trip to the Western US, a region we both loved. I thought for just a moment and then asked, “What about going to Africa?”

Though my brother had been on a Safari, I had never seen the continent where many hunters are said to find their dreams fulfilled. It took only the briefest discussion for us to decide to investigate whether a Safari was possible – financially for both of us, physically for me.

I first went to Frances my, [very] long-suffering, wife of 40 years. We discussed the financial cost, and then we discussed the big question – would I be able to handle the physical side of the Safari. This latter issue might seem like an odd concern for those of you who know that Frances and I had just spent 10 days in the Himalayas, trekking all the way up to ~16,000 feet in elevation. Also, just prior to my diagnosis, I had been a runner for 20+ years. So, why the discussion about being physically able to hunt?

The answer was that the treatment for my particular cancer had knocked out most of my endocrine system. This left me without the capability of producing the molecules needed to keep living, especially when in the midst of physically-demanding activities. But, there were medications that could help.

Shortly thereafter, Frances and my children used the Arnold penchant for sarcasm-in-love and indicated their vote for the Safari with this shirt:

Marching Orders from MY Family

So, Randy and I planned our trip, with my brother making the suggestion that we hunt with Blaauwkrantz Safaris out of Port Elizabeth, SA.

In the midst of the planning, I realized that I needed to let the folks at Blaauwkrantz know about my situation. I was a bit concerned that they might not be very excited about my particular malady, especially given that my prime species would be the Vaal Rhebok, an animal found only in mountainous regions.

My concerned message was met with “Mike, we will take very good care of you.”

Remembering my sarcastic bent, you will understand that I interpreted this to mean that they would send me out with a PH capable of carting my carcass out of the mountains when I fell off my perch.

That latter inference was accurate in that my PH, Arnold Claassen, was a former Rugby player. And, since he was capable of carrying whole Impala down hills, he could have easily handled my limp body.

1a) Loading up the PH

Fortunately, Arnold never had to test his human-body-carting capabilities on our Safari. Though, early in our Safari, as I struggled up the slope to find the Vaal Rhebok, he noted my gasping and asked if I wanted him to carry my rifle. I stopped, popped another Hydrocortisone tablet, and demurred.

We found our trophy, and Arnold didn’t need to roll me down from the top of the mountain.

5) Happy PH

You may be asking what the point of this post might be? Here it is. If you are facing a diagnosis that is dire, and you are a passionate hunter, consider going hunting.

No, I don’t believe hunting saved my life, thus far giving me almost three years of clear scans. I believe that is attributable to God and modern medical treatments.

However, my wife and children’s love, my brother’s love, and the care of Arnold Claassen and all those at Blaauwkrantz provided this cancer-challenged man with an adventure that lifted his spirits in a way that no other experience likely would have. The memory of that one adventure has continued to buoy my desire to fight this disease.

By the way, Randy and I head back to Africa in 2020 to share another Safari, this time in Mozambique – and Frances is going along for her first taste of Africa.

I intend to keep Kicking Cancer’s Ass.

1) On the Lookout

Quotes of Note: How Times Have Changed?

“It is curious to hear the nonsense that is talked and to see the nonsense that is written about the distances at which game is killed…I always make it a rule to pace off the distance after a successful shot, whenever practicable…and I was at first both amused and somewhat chagrined to see how rapidly what I supposed to be remarkably long shots shrank under actual pacing.” (T. Roosevelt. Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail)

A Bad-ass Wife with a Bad-ass rifle [and Hornady Ammunition]

Please forgive the French. Just a short note to say that the accompanying photo shows what a person who has never shot a center-fire rifle before did with a Delta 5 rifle using Hornady ELD ammunition today – from 715 yards! That’s not a misprint!! Those were the last two shots fired today. And, they were fired by my sweet, novice-rifle-shooter-wife, Frances.

Thank you Daniel Defense (Delta 5 rifle) and Hornady (140-grain 6.5 Creedmoor). You guys rock!

Bad-ass lady