To put a Frenchman on the label of a bottle of South African wine may get a mixed reception, but we are assured the wine (from limited production by Ivan Volschenk in the Cape) is excellent.

That’s “African Professional Hunters’…”

by Terry Wieland

This just in, as we used to say in radio when an urgent bulletin landed beside the microphone:  The African Professional Hunters Association (APHA) is having a special fund-raising auction next week in connection with the Dallas Safari Club.

Up for sale will be a dozen lots of specially bottled wine, each named for, and labeled with, a drawing of 12 famous (not to say legendary) professional hunters of recent history.

The auction will begin January 10 and end January 14, and bids can be made online.  All you need to do is go to APHA’s website (www.africanpha.com) to register.  You can also get details about the wine itself and a list of who’s who on the labels.  There is a direct link to the auction at the top of the APHA home page.

With that out of the way, a few words about APHA and some of its members.  The organization was founded in 1993 for the specific purpose of promoting ethical hunting in Africa, and working to ensure that both game species, and the practice of big-game hunting, survive.

At the time, ranch-style hunting in South Africa was just getting off the ground, and to say that unethical practices were pervading safari hunting from Ethiopia to the Cape is an understatement.  As is usually the case, money was the root of most of the evil, compounded by some egos whose size and scope defy description.

The story of “Milla,” red wine from Ivan Volschenk’s vineyard in the Cape and specially bottled for the African Professional Hunters Association (APHA).

A significant factor was the decline in standards for licencing professional hunters, especially in countries with newly emerging hunting industries.  From the beginning, becoming a member of APHA was not merely a matter of filling in a form and sending a check, and that has remained the case.  As a result, APHA is not the largest such group, but in terms of ethics and professionalism, and genuine concern for conservation and wildlife, it’s in a class by itself.

One of the founding members was Robin Hurt.  Other well-known names include Nassos Roussos (Ethiopia), Danny McCallum (Tanzania), Coenraad Vermaak (South Africa), and Tony Sanchez-Ariño (everywhere).

Rudy Lubin, husband and main squeeze of our own Brooke Chilvers, was one of the founders, and is also featured on one of the auction bottles—alas, without Brooke in the illustration, but you can’t have everything.  Brooke will be writing something about the auction as well, and it should be up in her part of the website here in a day or two.  Years ago, Brooke was instrumental in establishing APHA and is now an honorary member of the organization—the first person to be accorded that distinction.

Robin Hurt was the first professional with whom I hunted in Africa (1990), and I have hunted with his company twice since—in 2004 and again in 2006, both times in Tanzania.  On the second and third safaris I hunted with his sons, Derek and Roger, respectively.  I mention this in order to attest that I have never met a man as completely dedicated to hunting and wildlife as Robin Hurt.

Since we first met, our paths have intersected at various times:  Robin wrote the foreword to my book Dangerous-Game Rifles (2006, 2009) and I contributed a chapter to his own latest book, A Dangerous Game.  As did, I should add, Rudy Lubin.  We’re not quite one big happy family, but close.

When Brooke wrote to draw my attention to this auction in support of APHA, I was only too happy to help.

Gray’s shooting editor Terry Wieland has had some incredible strokes of luck in his professional life, but meeting Robin Hurt was one of the greatest.