Kalida youngster Devin Giesige with the kudu he shot during an Africian Safari earlier this summer. (Photo submitted)
Kalida youngster Devin Giesige with the kudu he shot during an Africian Safari earlier this summer. (Photo submitted)
KALIDA - Devin Giesige has been hunting deer in Ohio since he was nine years old.

This past deer season, Giesige didn't have a memorable deer season as he didn't bag an Ohio whitetail. However, his father, Roger, tried to ease his anguish over the lack of a kill by telling him bigger game was in his future this summer. The bigger game his father was speaking of was in Africa as the younger Giesige was scheduled to go on an African Safari this summer.

"This year (deer hunting) was a little frustrating, he didn't have an opportunity (to shoot a deer) and he was getting frustrated and I kept telling him he was going to Africa this summer. You will get some opportunities over there," Roger said.

Those words came true as Devin had a successful hunt in Africa bagging eight animals over the course of an eight day hunting trip. The hunting trip was arranged by Roger through his business Stoney Creek Adventures.

The trip was not only an opportunity for Devin to experience the hunting trip of a lifetime, but for Roger to experience what an African Safari was like as he had never been to the country. The Giesige's were accompanied by a father and son from Lima as the four travelled together over the course of 12 days that started on Memorial Day.

"We were gone for 12 days, but it was only an eight day hunt," Roger said. "The other four days were travel. The places we were hunting were the different places that my outfitter over there has. I had not been over there before so it was a chance for me to see what he has over there first hand."

"It was something I had always wanted to do," Devin sad. "It was a lot of fun. I was really excited. I was prepared for about a month. I liked the hunting every day, that was really fun, sitting on the back of the trucks."

The four had originally planned to go in 2012, but with the father and son from Lima not able to get away last year the trip was postponed for a year. And while the anticipation of the trip grew, Devin spent the extra time learning about Africa and the animals he would be hunting, as well as learning their names. He also was practicing shooting a 25 ought 6 shot gun, one similar to what he would be using in Africa.

"I practiced a lot shooting the gun," Devin said.

"There was a lot of practice shooting, Roger said. "He was concerned about the cost of the animal if he just wounded them. I told him you know what to do, you have hunted before. Take your shot like you are supposed to, don't worry about the animal is. If you hit it right, it will be yours."

Unlike most hunters heading to Africa for a safari, the Giesige's did not select a packaged hunt where they would only be hunting certain animals, they went over there with the idea that Devin would just shoot eight animals to bring back with him.
"We had some ideas which ones we wanted, then we went from there," Roger said. "When we saw something, I said if you want it take it, but we are only taking eight animals, so I let him pick which eight. We had practiced for about a year learning the names of the animals, to know what they were and if he wanted to shoot them or not. They all have different price tags on them. You can shoot less expensive animals or more expensive animals. We picked a range of them and kept it to that."

The animals Devin bagged on his hunt were a spring buck, a Gemsbuck, a Blue Wildabeast, a kudu and others.

"It was a big change," Devin said. "It was different as you don't sit and wait for them to come to you, you go them and stalk them there and you get up closer to them. You are not sitting in trees (for deer) with a gun and like sticks to shoot off of or the back of the truck."

"It's legal there to shoot off the back of the truck," Roger adds. The trucks are Land Rovers converted for hunters to sit in the back with is party and the hunting guides and trackers.

The first place Devin was called Kalahari, a 75,000 acre ranch that is east of Johannesburg, bordering three countries in Africa including Namibia and Botswana. This ranch provided a different sort of adventure as it was mostly sand dunes. The hunters look for animals from high ground, then hike in, get close and take a shot.

"I was nervous the first day out," Devin admitted. "We started small with the Spring Buck and my second one was a Gemsbuck. The spring buck has a smaller body."

One of his more difficult hunts was the Blue Wildsabeast. They tried for three days trying to bag one, but were unsuccessful. On their last day of the hunt they tried one more time getting up at daybreak to go hunting, although they hadn't planned on hunting as they were flying out a 10 a.m. With not a lot of time on their side, they were able to find one and Devin was able to complete his hunt successfully.

The kudu also offered a challenge as Devin shot him in the front shoulder from about 250 yards away. Although he had hit the animal they couldn't find a blood trail to follow it.

"The professional hunter and native trackers were helping and the tracker found a couple of scratches in the sand and he said it had a broken leg," Roger said. "We stopped there and called in another hunter to bring its best hunting dog, a Jack Russell terrier. The brought the dog in, put him on the scratch and within a half hour he found the animal. Devin grabbed the gun and took off. He took four shots and hit it all four times before bringing it down. Without the help of that dog we never would have found it."

"The bigger they are, the harder they are to take down," Devin said. "You may need to take a couple of shots or if you hit them just right they go down."

"He did a good job," Roger added. "They would give him tips and he would listen and take his shot. I didn't do any hunting, but I had a lot of fun watching him hunt. I didn't really have to say too much, just make sure you make a good shot. I know he knows how to shoot because he's been hunting for seven years."

Besides the animals they were hunting, they saw all different kinds of animals like giraffes, zebras, baboons, wart hogs, red wildabeast, black wildabeast, water bucks and of course lions, although they were not after one. The father, Fino J. Cecala, and son, Matthew, they were travelling with went on a lioness hunt, which they were part of.

"We would track lions through the sand, or brush area, we would go into the brush following its tracks and we would come out and it would be watching us and we wouldn't even know it," Devin said. "That was kind of scary."

Besides the hunting part of the trip, the Giesige's made it an educational experience as well. The educational part of the trip was collecting humanitarian supplies for a local school. The donations were used to buy hygenie items, toothpaste, tooth brushes, stuff for the girls like socks, toys, candy, food, drinks.

"Since I was taking him along, I told him we were going to make it a learning experience as well," Roger said. "We collected donations and through the Safaria Club International we got a large duffel bag to put the items into. I knew the teacher, she is engaged to the outfitter, and she had sat it up and told me what supplies they needed. We went there and spent an hour on our last day out."

"As soon as we had the jump ropes out, they were out playing. All kinds of things we had in that bag, like fishing line for them to fish with, balls for the boys, hair items for the girls. It was a learning experience for him as well," Roger added.

The one item that caught Devin's attention was a basketball pole on the playground that didn't have a backboard, just a pole and a rim. The school was close to Kimberly, South Africa, where they flew out of. "You saw a lot of this throughout the country side," Roger added.

Another educational part of the trip was preparing for the weather. At the time they were in Africa it was their winter months. That meant packing clothes for the chilly mornings where they started the day with temperatures in the 30s or low 40s to the afternoons where they climbed into the mid 70s before cooling off again as the sunset.

"You didn't know whether to pack a bunch of clothes, or a couple, sweatshirts or just shirts," Devin said. "It was winter over there. It was cold in the mornings, but it did get hot in the afternoons."

Another part of the trip was enjoying the places they stayed at. They stayed at three different camps bunking in small chalets and eating the local food.

"The food was good," Devin said. "You were basically eating what you hunted. And the steaks were really good."

Although the hunt is over, Devin is looking at going back one day. Prior to leaving, the outfitters they were with for eight days offered them jobs as summer help. It was an offer the two boys were ready to jump at.

"Maybe in a couple of years he can back on another hunt or to work with them," Roger said. "The guy that owns all these properties said he would hire them for the summer and both of them said they would stay."

With the hunt over, Devin waits on his trophies to come home. It will take about six months for the animals to be shipped to Chicago, Ill, then home to Ohio Steve's Taxideremy in Ottoville will mount the animals before they go into is trophy room which is currently being worked on. In all Devin and his traveling companions bagged 20 animals that will be shipped back this way to be mounted the way they want.

And as they wait the trophies, Devin and his father have a lot of stories to share with the local hunters.