Their winning bid on a Ducks Unlimited silent auction item led a Palestine couple on a true adventure during a 10-day African hunting safari in September.
Mike and April Johnston, who own the Texas Art Depot and Granny Muffin Wines in downtown Palestine, went on the hunting trip with their friends Ed and Delores Wright of Tyler. The men were able to kill several exotic animals on their “wish lists” during the trip with the assistance of a professional hunter and a tracker/skinner.
Their adventure began with a 15-hour trip that took them first from Dallas to Washington, then to Dakar, Africa to Johannasburg, South Africa and then finally to the place they stayed during their trip — the Tolile Game Lodge. (Be sure to ask the Johnstons next time you see them how much fun it was to take their hunting guns with them through the airports.)
“The travel was a little frustrating and it was extremely exhausting, especially with a seven-hour time difference,” Mike said.
After two days of travel, their hunting trip started on Sept. 8 — with Mike and Ed making out their “wish lists” for the exotic animals they wanted to hunt. April and Delores tagged along with the men (as well as the professional hunter Angus and tracker/skinner Queves) on about eight of the 10 hunting days, which started at 6 a.m. and lasted late into the evening.
“It was hot and dirty but also exciting,” April said. “There was no point wiping off the dirt throughout the day because it was never-ending.”
Mike killed seven animals during the trip — including a zebra, kudo, impala, blue wildbeast, gemsbock, bush bok and warthog. Ed was able to kill seven animals on his wish list, with Delores killing one as well.
“The kudo was a gorgeous animal, a speckled horned antelope about 600 to 700 lbs. His horns were 52 inches long,” Mike said. “The gemsbok is pretty elusive. It had horns over 40 inches. They say I could come back to Africa and never get that one again, so I'm glad to have had the opportunity.”