From a young age, before the days of YouTube, I would be super excited for a Thursday night, as every Thursday my favourite hunting and fishing show would air from 8 pm till 9 pm! I would sit there, as a child, and get so caught up in what was happening in each episode, that I felt like I was there. These people behind the little box telly screen were my role models and all I wanted to do was grow up and become like them, a star of my own hunting and fishing show. For a little boy with a passion, it seemed rather far off and far-fetched, but in reality, this ignited a flame in me, which has brought me to the place I am in today. Today I am proud to be a part of the Catch Cook team in presenting our hunting and fishing shows to all our viewers, with the most rewarding part of the job being the young fans that run up to me saying “can you please sign my Catch Cook shirt” or “Can we please make a video together”. I am going to guide you through how my dreams came true, which helped me bring Christian Darlows’ dreams to life, hopefully inspiring him to chase his dream of having his very own hunting and fishing show/business as he grows into the ranks of adulthood!
How It All Started
I have been privileged to have been brought up in an environment that is conducive to the outdoors. My earliest memories as a child run back to the days when my father was a pilot and flight instructor in the Ultralight aircraft class. Many days he would come home from work and ask me whether I would like to go for a quick flight down the coast into the Kei Mouth area or grab a rod and go catch some black tail at Nahoon reef. I cannot think of a more difficult decision for a young boy to make at the age of 6, whether to go flying with your dad in your families own airplane or grab a rod and go fishing. Those were the days! Being a young boy whose most difficult decision in life was to decide which form of fun to have after school with your dad.
At this stage in life, I enjoyed fishing more than anything else, hunting was very occasional only happening once or twice a year (although I had a passion for hunting); and the aviation with my dad ended up taking a back seat, resulting in my dad packing his wings in as I started my venture in competitive angling. One might question why we would give up aviation for competitive angling, but there is a simple explanation for this. When you have a choice each time there is great weather, a choice between taking the boat out to go fishing or taking a flight down the coast, one sport will always suffer. The more time you spend flying, the less time you have to build your experience as a skipper; adversely, the more time you spend boating, the less time you have to build experience as a pilot. The result is that you become very competent in one area, but become very “rusty” in the other, with the simple truth being this, as you become less competent in your skills as either a skipper or a pilot, you will be putting yourself, as well as your passengers lives at risk.
Based on my choice to follow my competitive angling career, over an aviation career, my dad made the tough choice of selling his airplane and investing in the boats and equipment that would enable us to compete in the competitive angling environment. This decision lit a flame inside me for angling, which has driven me to achieve every single goal that I set out in my angling career, ranging from achieving my South African colours for light tackle boat angling to presenting videos for Catch Cook!
There were two driving factors behind my passion for angling. Firstly, angling has fueled an unbreakable bond between myself and my father, who has taught me everything that I know in my angling career, and I wouldn’t trade this for anything! Secondly, the likes of ESA (Extreme Sports Angling), the angling show hosted by the likes of the legend himself, Raymond De Bruin in the years of around 2007. These two driving factors pushed me to go out there and achieve my dreams of achieving my green and gold blazer for angling, as well as staring in a show like ESA, which I have done through Catch Cook. Now that these dreams have come true, along with many of my hunting goals, which I will elaborate on in another article coming soon, I can give back to developing the next upcoming generation of Primal Providers, who also have far-reaching dreams in the realm of angling and hunting. Now that we have a small background of my passion for angling/hunting, let’s dive into the story of Christian Darlow.
Christians’ Dream Come True
This is a story with a lot of excitement, many laughs and memories that will last a lifetime! This story began in the most unlikely of places now that I come to think of it. I was on my way to the local camera specialists to have ID photos taken for a firearm license application when I received a call from Lynton at Catch Cook. He mentioned that a very “hopeful” mother had contacted our offices stating that her dreams would come true if her sons favourite YouTuber could call him to wish him a happy birthday on his birthday. Lynton also made mention that she stated, it might be a long shot, but you never know until you ask. I won’t lie, I came down with goosebumps while on the phone with Lynton and felt extremely humbled by this request.
I will never forget that moment when I called Christians’ mom July, from the parking lot and said “Hi July, it’s Kyle here from catch cook!”. Her reaction was priceless, she couldn’t believe that little old Kyle from Catch Cook had contacted her. Again, this was extremely humbling for me, as it brought back memories of the first time, I met Raymond De Bruin from ESA. After a bit of idle chatter between July and myself, I suggested that instead of giving Christian a birthday wish over a voice note, why don’t I just video call him instead. We both loved this idea, but I couldn’t settle for just a video call with this young man, I wanted to be part of his birthday in the flesh, which gave me the ideas to give him a birthday present like no other! I suggested that I could hop on an airliner, fly to Johannesburg and take Christian on a hunt for his 11th birthday and to top it off, he would be the star of his very own Catch Cook video.
The best part of this whole plan is that Christian had no idea of what I was scheming with his parents, while at the same time his parents and myself felt as excited as children on Christmas morning. Both myself and his parents were excited to see his dream come true. Fast forward three weeks and all the arrangements have been made and it’s official, this trip is happening, but at the same time, it’s d-day, today is Christian’s birthday! I received a message from Christians parents saying that he, plus all his friends are gathered around the table waiting for a big surprise. It was time, lets dial moms’ phone on a video call. The moment Christian answered that call and saw my face, is again, a moment that will stay with me for the rest of my life. It was as if he was blown out of his seat by a shockwave! The pure excitement on his face was priceless. So, as planned, I wished him a happy birthday and made some idle chatter to build some suspense, then right at the end of the call, I made mention that I had one more surprise for Christian, a birthday present for him. I let him take a couple of guesses, but the suspense was killing us all! At the moment I told him that his present was a birthday hunt with his favourite YouTuber while being the star of his own show, he took off on a very long victory lap around the Darlow family property, which is massive, something that made me laugh till my stomach hurt, but it also brought a sense of reality over me. I was now completing the full circle. Just 13 years earlier, I was that little boy doing victory laps because I met my role model, but now I am the role model that has little boys getting all excited and doing victory laps. This is a priceless feeling, but very humbling!
When looking at the conditions in which we had to hunt, it was certainly not an easy hunt! Koedoeburg Safaris certainly provides a hunting experience that gives you a true sense of what African bush hunting is supposed to be. The entirety of the hunt was done on foot, tracking our quarry, the way it should be. I might be starting a bit of a storm with my statement, but I don’t enjoy hunting with a vehicle and don’t see it as ethical hunting.
Taking this into consideration, our hunting area consisted of mostly dense bush, with not much open area to see the impala which we were hunting. In any hunters’ mind, this is not easy hunting, as you will only see the animals when you are right on top of them. Now imagine being an excited 11-year-old like Christian who is eager to learn, it can become very frustrating very quickly! I must say that Christian handled this hunt extremely well, walking alongside me in the bush from 6 am that morning until 4 pm that afternoon when he shot his impala, only having a 20-minute lunch break, what a champ!
Backtracking a little bit, it is 5 am and I woke up to some vigorous tapping on my right shoulder, “Kyle wake up, wake up, Cosmas says there’s Impala behind the house”. I woke up and shot out of bed at one hang of a speed when Christian said these words, we rushed to wake his parents and get everyone ready to go. We grabbed our rifles and set out. Without any surprise, within 10 minutes of walk and stalk hunting, we were onto a herd of impala which had a beautiful ram in it, the one that would be perfect for Christians birthday present! As we were approaching our position to take a shot, we spooked a herd of Blue Wildebeest who decided to take off and make a hell of a racquet and chase all the impala with them.
We continued to track the impala for the rest of the morning, getting within a range of around 50 to 70 meters on several occasions, but each time we were just a few seconds too slow to get the shootings sticks set up for Christian to take his shot. Lunchtime came around 12:30 and to be completely honest, spirits for getting a little low. We only had one day on the farm to hunt, and we were already more than halfway through the huntable day. We decided that after our lunch break, we would take a drive to the cold room to see what the other hunters had shot so far that day, so off we went. I’d say we only got as far as halfway to the cold room (which is on the opposite end of the farm from the lodge) and that when Cosmas (our PH) and I spotted a heard of impala ewes. At this point, we had all agreed that an impala ewe would go down well for some meat and we set off!
We tracked the impala into an area of extremely dense bush, thicker than anything we had hunted that whole day, which is when I stumbled across fresh buffalo spoor. This kinda rattled my bones a little, especially considering that I was carrying a .308 and Christian a .270. As we continued to track the impala all of my senses were on high alert, not knowing when we might stumble into a herd of bachelor bulls! All of a sudden Cosmas stopped dead still, the impala was around 30 meters in front of us, but they weren’t focusing on us. We set Christian up for a shot off the sticks, but that’s when we heard a very hearty grunt! Next thing it felt like a couple of bulldozers crashing through the bush. I’ll give you one guess who that was, none other than a heard of around 15 bachelor bulls, enough to give you goosebumps, but what an experience! Unfortunately, at this stage the impala had made a run for it, but not without leaving some good tracks to follow.
After around another hour of hardcore tracking through the dense bush, encountering several buffalo along the way, we spotted a little speck of white and brown creeping through the bush, but being so quiet that you could hear a pin drop, but this would be our last chance, especially considering that it is now close to 4 pm. We managed to beat the impala to a small choke point deep in the bush and we got Christian up for a shot at one of the ewes. It was now 4:30 pm and it was now or never. Cosmas and I were able to get a view on one ewe right at the back, standing broadside, but unfortunately, it was quite a clear shot just yet. We managed to do some Einstein level calculations and come to the conclusion that the piece of the impala that was visible, was its left shoulder, the gearbox as we call it. We instructed Christian to aim for that patch of white in between all the thick bush and pull as gently as possible. The impala was at 40, which many would say isn’t fair, but try being an excited 11-year-old young man, who has to place a bullet through a small hole in the bush, into an impala’s shoulder, not so easy.
The suspense of Christian aiming down the scope, till he pulled the trigger felt like it last minutes when in reality it was around 10 seconds when out of no were the suspense ended with that suspended with that classic “peeew” of the bullet exiting the silencer, followed by a great clap downrange. At that exact moment, I knew he had nailed the shot. Christian gave me his rifle and took off through the bush at a great speed shouting “I got it, I got it”.
What a moment this was, witnessing Christian shoot an impala in the toughest of conditions, with a perfect heart shot! I was so proud of him at the moment, memories that will last a lifetime.
To The Darlow Family,
Christian, I am honored to have been on that hunt with you and blessed to have been able to teach you what I did throughout that weekend. You have so much potential, and with the positive attitude you have, you are going too far with your hunting career. You displayed the highest level of firearm safety that I have seen from any youngster your age, better even than some adults and at all times you showed humility and respect to your quarry, which gave its life to sustain your own. The values that your parents have instilled in you are that of a true primal provider, welcome to the family Christian!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the team at Koedoeburg Safaris for a great African Bush hunting experience, it was truly an amazing trip. To Lindsay and July Darlow, thank you for making this all possible, thank you for the hospitality and thank you for all your own time, money and effort that you put into this to make it possible. This journey was not only a dream come true for Christian, but also a dream come true for me!
Thank you to all the viewers for the constant support. Don’t forget to go check the video on our YouTube channel based on this amazing experience, like the video, share it far and wide and subscribe for more content. Until next time, this is Primal Provider #149 signing out!
Yours in Angling and Hunting
Primal Provider #149