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A South Africa family affair

Father, daughter connect on hunting safari

Jim and Brooke Hebb with the white blesbuck she shot on a hunt in South Africa. Photo provided. (click for larger version)
September 22, 2010 - Over the past 30 years, Jim Hebb has completed some very successful hunts— from Alaskan moose to snow geese in the western states to trophy whitetails in Michigan.

However, a recent excursion not only featured a rather unique hunting location, it also included establishing a new hunting partner—his ll-year-old daughter Brooke.

Brooke was absent the first-two days of sixth grade which started earlier this month at Brandon Fletcher Intermediate School as she joined her dad for a seven day hunt between Aug. 29 and Sept. 8 in the South African country of East London—located on the Indian Ocean. Jim and Brooke were on a hunt package from the Flint Chapter of Safari International.

"It was pretty cool the first few days.The weather was a lot like here—except they are going into spring and we are going into winter," Brooke said. "The guides gave us a choice of 30 animals we'd like to hunt on the 14,000 acre property we were hunting. It looked just like the movies out there—we could have shot elephants, giraffes, ostriches, or zebras. There was lots of wildlife running all over the countryside."

The pair stayed in a lodge outside of East London, where Brooke said the food was great.

"We'd wake up at five in the morning to hunt and have breakfast—it was tough getting out of bed especially with my jet lag. Then we'd ride in an open Toyota truck out in the bush. I did not like the baboons—they were everywhere. They really scared me."

During the hunt the pair connected on five animals, including a common blesbuck, a white blesbuck, an impala, a blue wildebeest and a kudo. Jim was hunting with a Ruger 7 mm using 160 grain bullets.

"We stalked the animals on open terrain," said Jim. "It was often difficult to get close to the animals." Brooke connected on a white blesbuck with one shot at about 193 yards with a 243 Winchester.

"That was the first time I ever fired that gun," said Brooke. "I used shooting sticks to rest my gun on when I made the shot. After it fell I ran as fast as I could to where it was laying—we were all high-fiving each other."

Brooke said she put blood on both sides of her cheeks—a tradition of the first kill.

"Honestly, I don't remember the gun going off or the kick," she said. "People think I'm girly, they don't know the tomboy side of me. Once they see the head of the blesbuck on the wall they will change their minds. Still I get my hair done and do my fingernails."

While Brooke had a great hunting experience, she also gained some appreciation for her home.

"To see the third world was unreal," she said. "One of our trackers got bit by a leopard, and hit with cerebral malaria—I was happy to come home and I realize how good we have it here."

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