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Sustainable Use and Field Guiding: PH grading assessment tool


Our 2016/2017 Professional Hunting course has finally come to an end, the final semester examinations have been written and all students have thankfully passed. Our students have therefore completed the theoretical component of their studies here, and they will next year be doing the practical component – that of being an ‘appie’ or apprentice for the 2018 hunting season.  Despite all this it is always nice to know just how effective our training has been.  Just how competent are the PH students we have trained is a question that has for some time now been pondered. To answer this question the SUFG business unit’s trainers devised a Professional Hunter grading assessment regime through which, over a number of weeks, all our students were evaluated.  So as to cover every aspect of their training here, the following questions were asked:

Identify the ten birds shown to you.

Identify the 10 common Lowveld (KNP) trees shown to you.

Identify the 5 common Lowveld grasses shown to you.

Identify the 10 animal / bird sounds played to you.

Identify the 10 animals shown to you.

Give 5 interesting facts about each of the first 5 animals show. I.e. browser/grazer, ruminant/non ruminant, territorial/non-territorial, lifespan, gestation period etc.  

With a laser pointer, indicate the most lethal shot placement site on the following 15 animal species slides. (i.e. the shot you would recommend to a safari client for that particular situation.)

Judge the horn lengths, sex, and name the species of the 20 horn sets you will be shown. A time limit of 10 seconds on each horn is allowed. Large antelope (2” grace), Medium antelope (1” grace), small antelope (1/2” grace). Judge only the thickness (circumference) of the elephant tusks to within 1 inch.

Identify the 10 animal or bird tracks you will be shown.

Identify the 5 incidental signs shown to you.

Name and describe briefly the 5 common rifle cartridges shown to you.  Include the most common bullet weight, muzzle velocity, calibre, sectional density, muzzle energy and suggest what species this cartridge could be used for. (Cartridges will range from .223 to .510)   (Not allowed to pick up cartridges);

Identify the 5 common bullet types shown to you (Swift, Barnes X, Dzombo, etc) explain the properties for each and suggest two animal species you would use them for.  

You will be required to conduct 2 stalks. One on a plains game animal species (impala, wildebeest, zebra etc), and one on a dangerous game animal – (buffalo/elephant). You need to get the assessor to within 80m of a plains game quarry and to within 50m of a buffalo and closer than 30m of an elephant. Ageing, shot placement and judging of the trophy needs to be explained. Getting to within the expected shooting and getting out again without disturbing animal will earn you extra points.  

Explain the baiting procedure of a lion or a leopard (your choice). Do it in point form, step by step.  Explain your decision making as far as possible.

KNP Advanced Rifle Handling Shooting test.  To be conducted with a .458 Win Mag and standard factory ammo.

Field strip and clean a Mauser 98, CZ 550, or ZKK 602.

Sight in a scoped rifle.  A scoped .22 rifle will be given to you, along with 10 rounds of ammunition. Sight the rifle in at 25 m and shoot 3 rounds in the bull.

Social skills. You will be assessed by three or more people, all with the same score sheet, all at the same time. They will ask you general knowledge questions and your opinion on current world affairs. The score sheet will comprise of:-  Overall appearance, clarity of speech, general knowledge.

Track a large hoofed animal (buffalo, giraffe, zebra etc.) of your choice for thirty minutes. Points will be deducted for bad technique, slow pace, losing of spoor regularly and confusing your track with a different track.  No points will be awarded if track is lost and you cannot find it again.

Your 4 x 4 driving skills will be assessed. Points will be deducted for driving too fast, too slow, and rapid braking, scratching of vehicle, poor 4×4 skills, and thoroughness on pre check and passenger consideration.  

You will be asked to use a high lift jack to jack up a vehicle and change a flat wheel.  Points will be deducted for safety and the incorrect use of equipment.

  • Students who achieved 90 to 100 % for all the above mentioned assessments were graded A +
  • Students who achieved 80 to 89% were graded A –
  • Students who achieved 70 to 79% graded B+
  • Students who achieved 60 to 69% graded B –
  • Students who achieved 50 to 59% or those not found competent for their shooting assessment or social skills were graded C.