Letter from Peter Flack

Hunter, Writer, Conservationist, Retired Game Rancher

August 2012 | www.peterflack.co.za

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Hunting the Spiral Horns - Kudu, the Top African Antelope
Edited by Peter Flack

The definitive book on hunting the six kudu species and sub-species is a big book, nearly 300 pages long with over 400 colour photographs. The list of 16 hunters and authors who have contributed material specially written for the book reads like the Who’s Who of kudu hunters and includes luminaries such as Anthony Dyer, Brian Herne, Robin Hurt, Alain Lefol, James Mellon, Jason Roussos and Tony Tomkinson to name but a few. The book also looks back at the exploits of famous hunters of yesteryear such as Maydon, Selous, Swayne and others and contains chapters on rifles and ammunition, clothing and equipment and two “How To” chapters by expert kudu hunters. It is available from both Rowland Ward and Safari Press at US$65.00 / ZAR535.00.

Dear <<First Name>>

Almost a year has passed since my last newsletter. The reason is quite simple, I have not had much in the way of news to share as I have been hard at work. Last year I reached an agreement with Rowland Ward to write five books on my favourite antelopes - the 28 spiral horn species and sub-species. The first is on the six kudu species and sub-species, the next on the five eland sub-species, then the nine bushbuck sub-species, the four sitatungas and, lastly, the two nyalas and two bongos.

Normally it takes me about two years to write a book and a further year at least for the publishing house to bring it out. Owing to my own enthusiasm for the project, the enormous help I have received and Rowland Ward’s efficiency, the first book – Hunting the Spiral Horns - Kudu, the Top African Antelope – should hit the shelves in September, less than a year after starting on the book and the next four are due out at yearly intervals.

I have so enjoyed the project – the research, working with some of the top hunters and, of course, the writing which satisfies something inside me which is hard to explain. A little like hunting in a funny kind of way. The people who have written brand new pieces for the book read like the Who’s Who of kudu hunting – Anthony Dyer, Brian Herne, Robin Hurt, Alain Lefol, James Mellon, Jason Roussos and Tony Tomkinson to name but seven of the 16 contributors. The book also looks back at the exploits of famous hunters of yesteryear such as Maydon, Selous, Swayne and others and contains chapters on rifles and ammunition, clothing and equipment and two How To chapters by passionate and very experienced kudu hunters. In total it is nearly 300 pages long and contains over 400 color photos and some interesting old black and white ones as well.

Kevin Robertson, the famous professional hunter, vet and author of The Perfect Shot and many other books and articles, kindly agreed to review the new book and wrote about it as follows: “Think again if you reckon you know all about kudu. I foolishly thought I did and I have been humbled. This book opened my eyes to my inadequacies. Beautifully written and masterfully assembled this new book is a treasure trove of valuable information, useful hunting tips, tried and tested techniques and interesting anecdotes. So much so that I will never again look at a kudu with the same eyes. Peter Flack’s latest effort is destined to become a classic. This is the definitive work on these magnificent antelopes.” Craig Boddington, Fiona Capstick and Rolf Baldus have also had good things to say about the book and it will be officially launched at the Dallas Safari Club Convention on 4 January 2013. I will be there and hope to see you at the Rowland Ward booth.

In Cape Town during May I attended the General Assembly of the influential European body, CIC – The International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation, and was delighted that the DVD and book I produced entitled The South African Conservation Success Story, received the prestigious Environmental Prize. Even more pleasing has been the fact that it has been distributed to all members of parliament and many schools throughout South Africa as well as to politicians in surrounding countries. In this regard, I have been informed that IUCN intends to host a conference in Nairobi later in the year to discuss some of the issues raised in the film and book. Some 200 copies of the DVD have been bought and distributed to politicians, civil servants and academics in East Africa for this purpose.

It has not been all work and no play however and, after handing the kudu book over to Rowland Ward at the end of May, I took a break in Britain, the highlight of which was stalking a roe deer to within catapult distance on a friend’s beautiful estate in Perthshire, Scotland. And no, I did not shoot it but will return next year to hunt both red and roe deer with my friend and the co-author of Hunting Lessons for Life (currently being serialised by the South African magazine, African Outfitter), Derek Carstens, proud owner of Taste of the Karoo, the purveyor of fine Karoo products such as venison, lamb, honey, pecan nuts and many others.

Another highlight has been the publication by Sherwin Scott, the inspiration behind the establishment of SHAC (The Spiral Horn Antelope Club), of his epic hunt for a truly wonderful mountain nyala, one of, if not THE, top spiral horn, in the August edition of Magnum, the most popular hunting and shooting magazine in South Africa. In the near future a copy of the article should also be published in African Indaba, the e-zine published by Gerhard Damm via CIC - The International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation. I have been privileged to read the much longer, unedited version of the story and, in this day and age of instant gratification, canned and put-and-take killing, it is an inspiration to read about a man who epitomises dedicated walk and stalk hunting, where it is the hunt and the manner of the hunt that counts and not only the results thereof. I recommend the article to you.

I have started the next book in the series, Hunting the Spiral Horns – Eland, Everyman’s Elephant, and already have a number of top hunters and writers on board including men such as Craig Boddington, Robin Hurt, Jofie Lamprecht, Christophe Morio, Paul Phelan and Kevin Robertson to name but seven. I am however looking for an action photo for the cover - a picture of an eland jumping, fighting, mating or simply the father of all eland. Set out above is the cover of the kudu book and I hope this will give you an idea of what it is that I am looking for. Also, if you have a great eland story you have been thinking of writing, now is the time to sit down and put pen to paper. The book must be with Rowland Ward by no later than March next year so, if you want to be considered for inclusion, now is the time!

About four years ago the Graaff Reinet Municipality, situated about 95 kilometres from our game ranch, Bankfontein, in the Eastern Cape, asked if I would give them the some 300 taxidermied mounts in my collection to form the basis of a natural history museum in the town.  Keen to help them increase their tourist attractions and the additional jobs this would help create, I immediately agreed.  Unfortunately, despite significant funds having been raised – some R8,5m (about $1 million) in total - they were deemed insufficient to create the facilities to house the Graaff Reinet Wildlife Conservation and Fossil Research Centre, which is what ultimately became of the original proposal.

So, for a while, it seemed as if the mounts (now housed in rented premises on our old game ranch after we sold it), were at risk of having no home to go to when the lease expired until the Cape Town Museum, now called the Iziko Museum, asked whether they could have the animals. And, come next month, that is where they are headed.  Much as I would have preferred them to go to Graaff Reinet, given that I believed they would do proportionally more for the town than a big city like Cape Town with its already almost overwhelming number of attractions, it will be nice for me to have them on my doorstep where I can pop in every now and then to visit and reminisce.

When the Peter Flack website was designed by my daughter-in-law, Eileen Flack, I had no idea what to expect. I wanted it to showcase my books, articles, DVDs and, of course, the activities of SHAC itself but didn’t know if anyone would be interested. Well, approximately 400 to 500 new viewers access the site each month from over 25 countries and it is a source of great joy to me that so many people find the site of use and interest. Each week viewers contact me with news, views and questions. I love to hear from you all and do my best to answer each email individually and as soon as possible but my work and hunting schedules sometimes interfere so, if you do not hear from me immediately, please know that I will reply as soon as I can.

Kind Regards,