10 Favourite Hunting Trips

I’m often asked about my favorite hunts. Some have been better than others, but almost no genuine “bad ones”…invariably, there’s a good memory in there somewhere! So a simple and honest answer has always been, “the last one…or the next one.” But some memories shine brighter than others, and in many cases so bright that I’ve been back time and again. But let’s understand the question, which is “favorite hunts.” If you ask about my “favorite” or “best” animals that’s a whole different story. Really big animals are largely a matter of luck, which in hunting is somewhat defined as doing the right things at the right time, when opportunity knocks…and aside from really incredible luck, such as taking a monster whitetail in an area unlikely to produce one, there’s usually some element of placing oneself in the right place at the right time.

Craig Boddington Endorsed Outfitter (CBEO) member Mark Haldane and me with a great old buffalo bull, taken in coastal Mozambique in 2015.

For me, “best animals” sometimes include some level of adventure and perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime deal. My Suleiman markhor from Pakistan is on the top of the list. It was also a great and memorable hunt…but not a “favorite” because there was some guilt involved—I couldn’t afford it and probably shouldn’t have done it. “Best hunt” is another question, and really hard to answer. A close contender has to be a safari in Zambia in 1984 with Geoff and Russ Broom, at least in part because the sun, moon, and stars all aligned: Best lion, best sable, best Livingstone’s eland, best lechwe, best buffalo (at the time and for a long time), and the list goes on…but there was a lot of luck going on, and such a hunt could never be repeated. Chad in 2001 is right another, a marvelous free-wheeling adventure that covered 500 miles and was very successful, its only downside being that I love dangerous game, and although we tried, could locate neither buffalo nor lion.

“Favorite hunts” is an easier question. Hunts with family are always special: My last hunt with my Dad; the first hunts with Donna and both my daughters, Brittany and Caroline. But this question was my favorite hunts, and although there are close other contenders, it didn’t take ten minutes to come up with this list—note, please, that this is alphabetical with no numerals! Trying to place them in order would take days, if it could ever be done!


CBEO member Mark Haldane and Donna Boddington make the final approach on a buffalo herd. This is when things get exciting!

I’ve never made any secret about this: Africa’s buffaloes are an addiction! Actually, I’ll pretty much extend that to all buffalo, the water buffalo I’ve hunted on three continents, and the other big bovines…next week I’m going on a free-range wood bison hunt in Alberta and I can’t wait! But as a game animal the African buffalo has it all: Keen senses (all of them); innate wariness from life with lions; and a bit of orneriness, probably for the same reason. Hunting them is a lot like hunting a special breed of whitetail that could turn the tables...but the hunt, too, is special. Depending on where you are, it involves tracking, glassing, and stalking…and then closing with the herd and trying to sort out the bull you want. I’ve hunted them all over the continent, and it’s always been marvelous. For many years my favorite was Zimbabwe, where a tracking hunt is the norm. In recent years I’ve spent a lot of time hunting the swamp buffalo in Mozambique, an altogether different but totally fantastic experience. I’ve taken my last lion and almost certainly my last elephant, but hopefully I have some years to before I close with my last buffalo!


This one may surprise you, but here’s the deal: I love the Southwestern Mountains in winter. Coues whitetail almost made the list, but I realized I haven’t hunted the in several years, although I certainly could…but I keep going back to the mountains of Far West Texas for aoudad. I love the cacti, and the buttes and mesas and crumbling rimrock. But, aside from the country, I love all mountain hunting, the climbing, glassing, and stalking. The thing is, most of the world’s sheep and goat hunting has gotten awfully pricey (in case you haven’t noticed). Whether in Asia or North America, it’s not something I can do every year, or even every other year. But mountain hunters are compelled to hunt the mountains. The aoudad or Barbary sheep introduced into the Southwest are plentiful…there are tens of thousands of them in the Chinati, Davis, Glass, and other ranges. They live in magnificent country, and to my thinking they are one of the most attractive animals in the entire sheep-goat families. This is an affordable and exciting mountain hunt that I have done several times and look forward to doing again.

West Texas’ free range aoudad are not only under-rated as game animals, so is hunting for them. This monster was taken with CBEO member Hunter Ross in March 2016.


This is my 2008 desert bighorn…taken after 30 years of applying for the tag!

By definition this was a once-in-a-lifetime hunt, since that’s the Arizona bag limit. I drew the tag in 2008 after fully 30 years of applying, so that would seem to add pressure to the situation, and pressure doesn’t add to good memories. By chance it did not. Five years earlier I’d given up on ever drawing, so I choked up a year’s worth of combat pay and hunted a desert bighorn in Sonora. You bet there was pressure on that hunt! I got a good desert bighorn and completed my grand slam, so the Arizona hunt was thus a bonus. The weather was perfect, and the Virgin River Canyon where I drew is dramatically beautiful. The rams we’d found through scouting had vanished, but I’ll never forget that, as we were glassing some sheep, my friend, then cameraman, and now a partner in our CBEO, said, “What about that ram,” as he pointed to a high pinnacle. We got him early the next morning, and as an added bonus that completed my second North American grand slam, at least one more than I’d ever expected...


I suppose we all have one, but the grizzly bear or, properly “brown/grizzly” bear, because they’re all the same species, is my “totem animal.” When I got to Marine Corps Basic School in Quantico I had just taken my first grizzly, in southeastern British Columbia. So, for years, my Marine Corps nickname was “Grizz.” There is something wild, magnificent, and totally special about a big bear, wherever found; I agree with Theodore Roosevelt that the grizzly should have been our national emblem. I do not believe anyone is entitled to a bunch of them. I have probably taken my only Alaskan brown bear, clear back in 1981, but in 2013 I enjoyed Donna’s hunt for her big brownie as much as if it were mine, and I took another wonderful coastal bear in Kamchatka in ’92. In terms of difficulty, and thus symbolism, the interior grizzly is much more difficult, so my big Arctic grizzly from 2007 is my favorite, and may be my last…but there are other bears out there. I hunted the European grizzly in Romania, and just recently Conrad and I were headed to Armenia to hunt the Syrian grizzly. Politics intervened, but there will be another opportunity.

Although they are all amazing, my favorite “big bear” is this Arctic grizzly, taken in northern Alaska with CBEO member Dave Leonard.


It doesn’t matter what you’re hunting; British Columbia is simply a fantastic place! Donna and I were hunting in the Chilcotin region with CBEO member Mike Hawkridge.

Dad I went to northern British Columbia in 1973…I suppose that was my first “big hunt,” and of course such experiences are etched on one’s memory forever. But, honestly, British Columbia holds some of the most gorgeous country I’ve ever seen…even 40-odd years later. I suppose if I could afford it I’d do a couple more Stone sheep hunts, because for me they are the most beautiful of all wild sheep. I can’t…but if I’m hunting in British Columbia it doesn’t really matter too much what I’m hunting, because the country is so spectacular. I’ve been in the north, and in the Chilcotin, and in the Kootenays, and a few places in between, and it’s all spectacular. Like all hunting, not always successful…but with a great outfitter in gorgeous country, that can be good enough. We’re going back in September to try to get Donna a Rocky Mountain goat, and I look forward to seeing those timbered valleys and rocky peaks yet again!


I’ve hunted muskoxen in Canada and enjoyed the experience, but a summer hunt in Greenland was truly spectacular. This superb Greenland muskox was taken with CBEO member Bjorn Birgisson.

Okay, this is a little oddball, but Donna and I both think of an August muskox hunt in Greenland as one of our best hunting memories. Conrad was there filming with us, and I think he agrees: Greenland in summer is spectacular! We hunted by boat, cruising the fjords and glassing…the muskoxen were in herds like bison, and the bays were full of melting iceberg “calves” in the most fantastical shape. We visited the farmstead of Eric the Red, preserved for a thousand years, and I ordered whale steak off the menu in a little coastal hotel. We hunted reindeer, too. This was such a wonderful experience that I hate to think of Greenland as a one-tie hunt…surely there must be a reason to return?


Honestly, stand hunting isn’t my thing…but I love my Kansas whitetail hunting because we work the habitat and improve stands much of the year, and during deer season the hunting is altogether up to me.

There’s no place like home, right? Kansas has awesome whitetails, but in my timbered ridges it’s not necessarily about big antlers. Rather, for me, it’s the fact that my neighbor and I work the food plots and we put up the stands. During the season I make the calls, which stand on which day. It doesn’t matter whether it’s me hunting or one of our guests…I get to call the shots, on my place, with my deer. Sometimes I guess right, sometimes I guess wrong. In the eight years I’ve had this place this past season was the first time I never tagged a buck for myself (certainly not all monsters!), but it was still a memorable season, and at least I finished it with the thought that next season is gonna be better!


Hunting Nepal’s Himalayas for blue sheep and tahr was one of my very best mountain hunts. This is Mahesh Busnyat, not only fantastic outfitter but a great guy.

Without question hunting Himalayas of Nepal was my most memorable mountain hunt, and one of my favorite memories. The game isn’t so dramatic; their blue sheep doesn’t compare with a Marco Polo argali, and the tahr hunting isn’t as good as New Zealand. Instead, it’s the whole package: A team of Sherpas carrying the camp, some of the highest mountains in the world, a trek on foot from start to finish…and some of the nicest people I’ve ever been around. I went in spring, when the weather was simply glorious; below timberline flowers were in full bloom. Nights were cool and days balmy. Of course, that could go any which way, but when I was there it was perfect. So perfect, in fact, that I’m going back in 2018. I sure hope I’m still in good shape and health to handle it, because that’s one of the tough ones!


Donna took this tahr in June 2015 in true Hobbit country, literally in sight of where some of Lord of the Rings was filmed. We were hunting with CBEO member Chris Bilkey.

I think I’ve hunted in 56 or 57 different countries, and I have no idea how many others I’ve visited. If this election goes really badly and I feel the need to leave New Zealand is the only other country I have ever visited where I could happily live out my days. It really is that pretty, and filled with people who are that nice, infrastructure that is that familiar…and lots and lots of game! I’m not sure how many times I’ve hunted there, but a whole bunch since 1988. Unlike a whole lot of places in the world there’s nothing there I haven’t hunted…I finished the South Pacific quest in 2010, all free range, with a sambar on the North Island and a whitetail on the South Island, a very lucky hunt. Even so, I’m not done with New Zealand. Donna and Brittany and I were there last June, hunting in true Hobbit country. I don’t know when I’ll go again, but for darn sure I will.


This was my ultimate spiral-horned antelope, a huge Lord Derby’s giant eland, taken with CBEO member Mayo Oldiri Safaris in Cameroon.

This is another addiction. Actually, I love all blessed nine of them! Realistically, I probably won’t ever hunt Derby eland, bongo, or mountain nyala again (although I’d like to), and I may not hunt lesser kudu or sitatunga again. But the thing is, the entire tribe is worthy: Not only dramatically beautiful animals, but wary and elusive and, collectively, one or another is found across almost the entire depth and breadth of Africa. They’re all tasty, each and every one, and nearly half the tribe can be hunted on affordable plains game safaris. So I will almost certainly hunt bushbuck, eland, greater kudu, and nyala again…maybe many times.

I refuse to tell you which is my favorite…and in fact I don’t know. The nyala may be the most beautiful of all the African antelopes, and I love to hunt them native-range free-range in Mozambique. The eland, on the other hand, offers the best venison in the entire world, and is one of the most difficult of all. But the greater kudu is simply amazing, and the little bushbuck (“Africa’s whitetail”) has always been one of my favorites. Maybe it doesn’t matter? All the spiral horns are cool!

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