Local pheasant hunt special for South African visitor
DALMATIA – Driving across the bridge over the Little Schuylkill River at Drehersville, Bruce Nobela asked if crocodiles inhabited the river.
A few minutes later, while entering the parking lot at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Nobela wanted to know if it was safe to walk in woods without a firearm for protection.
Apparently, the fact Nobela had been assured that whitetail bucks do not use their antlers as weapons to attack people the night before while out spotlighting deer had not completely erased his concern. And while not actually having seen any black bears, he subscribed to the theory of “if it could attack, it will attack.”
Before scoffing at the fears of the 36-year-old South African native, who recently spent 10 days on a first-time visit to Pennsylvania as the guest of nationally known travel writer Cindy Ross of the Orwigsburg area, one must understand his reason for concern. After all, few of us have dealt with the death of an 11-year-old brother who, while riding his bicycle, was attacked and killed by a leopard, as Nobela has.
“Leopards are one of the ‘Big Five’ among African game animals, along with the lion, elephant, cape buffalo and rhinoceros,” Nobela said. “They are called that, not because of their size, but because they are the most difficult animals to hunt in the wild and because they can kill you and eat you.”
During Nobela’s stay, he did many things and saw many of the sights that are part of any tourist’s itinerary, from touring Independence Hall in Philadelphia to seeing the mounts of North American and African big game at Cabela’s. He also took time to lay the groundwork for his return visit next year by visiting the recent Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, where he will be promoting his businesses at the 2013 show as an exhibitor.
A true entrepreneur, Nobela owns a tourist business in Limpopo Providence, which is one of nine provinces in South Africa. It is also the most diverse. Located in the far north, Limpopo is close to Zambia, Mozambique and Botswana and has five cultures and languages, while the other eight provinces have one each.
A few years ago, Nobela began laying the groundwork to become South Africa’s first black Professional Hunter, or PH, the title given to hunting guides in Africa. His experience with knowing the ways of wildlife came in the form of on-the-job training as his father is the conservation wildlife manager of Kruger National Park, which is one of the largest game reserves in Africa and covers 7,523 square miles, extends 220 miles from north to south and 40 miles from east to west.
“This is a very prestigious position for my father, as a black man, to have approval of the government,” Nobela said. “Because of this, I was lucky that I could be with him and led me to getting my Nature Diploma, which is like becoming a game warden, but before I open my own guide service as part of my tourist business, I must serve as an apprentice with another PH, which I will do when I return home.
“I believe what I will offer is unique because very often a hunter who books a 14-day hunt fills his tags in less time, and I will be able to provide a complete vacation. Obviously, the other advantage is that I’m a native and not someone from Holland or Germany or another country, as South Africa is my country; it is the land where I was born and lived all my life.
“Also, I will provide quality by hunting open, private land and not hunt preserves where the animals are raised for hunting. My hunters will hunt truly wild animals, and it is my job to know if an animal is the quality a hunter wants and tell them if it is OK to shoot.”
In addition to the guiding hunts for the “Big Five,” Nobela will provide hunts for the popular species of plains game made popular by the likes of authors such as Peter Hathaway Capstick, Ernest Hemmingway and Teddy Roosevelt. While these animals are the stuff that dreams are made, so too – at least for Nobela – is the ringneck pheasant.
Of all the displays of mounts Nobela saw at Harrisburg, what he found most fascinating were the pheasants displayed at the Martz’s Game Farm booth. In fact, he became nearly mesmerized watching the DVD showing hunts and asked if it were possible to hunt “the pheasant.”
From the lips of Nobela to the ears of Mike Martz, and he invited him to the farm for a pheasant hunt, which provided him with an experience of a lifetime. It was not only the first time he ever did wingshooting, but hunting over a pair of Labrador retrievers was the first time he had hunted with dogs.
Clearly, the pheasant hunt proved that enjoyment of the outdoors knows no barriers of race, cultures or religions. And, best of all, in addition to enjoying his first meal of roast pheasant, Nobela understood there was no need to worry about an angry elephant showing up and spoiling the hunt.