Jon T. Peterson
Scholarships for Professional Hunters/Guides
To become a professional guide or hunter in Zimbabwe requires applicants to undergo rigorous training to ensure only the best are out guiding clients. This process takes years and several steps are involved. Applicants must be a citizen of Zimbabwe and have basic first aid training even to sit for the exams required to obtain Learners Professional Hunters license. This exam consists of four papers including law, habits and habitat, firearms and general knowledge. All the exams must be passed before the learners license is issued.
After obtaining this license both guiding and professional hunting students must serve as an apprentice for a minimum of two years (but often 4 years or more). During this time all students must maintain a log book of their experiences. Students log every activity from game drives, approaching animals on foot (accompanied by a licensed guide) and the number of animals hunted. Yes, even walking guides must hunt, skin and butcher at least four dangerous animals including elephant and buffalo.
Keeping clients (and others) safe is of the utmost importance. Apprentices must demonstrate proficiency with a rifle with timed exercises at moving targets. Whether hunting or guiding, accompanying clients means dangerous situations are inevitable. An apprentice's training can help prevent a dangerous situations turning into deadly one.
Once all of the requirements are met the next stage is a tough oral exam in front of 8-10 qualified professional hunters/guides with at least ten years experience. Students may be asked questions about law, plant morphology, how to identify an animal from a skin/skull or anything and everything in between.
The final proficiency exam is a seven day practical exam held once a year in a safari area. Students are expected to construct a tented camp and to host the examiners as if they were clients for the duration of the exam. Everything including the tents, bedding, vehicles, food/drink and fuel are supplied by the candidates and evaluated by the examiners. Each day the students are bombarded with questions on their knowledge and are expected to behave professionally at all times. Each student is expected to track, stalk, and approach an elephant or buffalo proficiently. Their confidence around these animals, shooting skills, ability recover and skin are all tested.
Only after passing the final proficiency exam can a student now call themselves a professional guide or professional hunter in Zimbabwe.
As you can imagine this process is very difficult and time consuming. The process is also very expensive and students are expected to pay for the requisite courses, exam fees and their own rifle/ammunition. These costs are what keep underprivileged Zimbabweans from trying.
The AWCC provides scholarships through the Zimbabwe Professional Guides Association to cover these costs. We believe deserving students should get a chance to fulfill their dream of becoming a guide or professional hunter.