Ken Moody, Professional Hunter
Ken Moody Safaris opened its hunting operations in 1994 when U.S. Army Captain Ken Moody resigned his commission in order to pursue his love of big game hunting. Traveling to South Africa that same year, Ken formally registered Ken Moody Safaris as a closed corporation and the dream of hunting Africa professionally became reality.
Who were the influencers in your life that helped you get into hunting?
I didn’t have anyone in my life that influenced my decision to get into hunting. My father didn’t hunt so I didn’t come from a hunting family. For whatever reasons, I had an internal desire to go afield and hunt. I just felt the urge to get out into the woods and get after it. I remember always begging my dad to take me but he was always working and he really didn’t have the desire. He encouraged me though and got a buddy of his to take me squirrel hunting when I was about 8 years old. I can still vividly recall the affair as we stalked around in a local woodlot all morning pursuing the elusive bushytails. While we didn’t bag anything that day I recall the thrill of just sneaking around in nature being quiet and alert. That first little adventure is still today on par with any elephant or lion hunt I’ve done. It really introduced me into a world that would later become my passion. In turn, years later, I introduced my father to hunting and he and I became the best hunting buddies imaginable. Hunting has strengthened our relationship and bonded us thru the years.
Who do you admire most in the hunting and conservation world and Why?
There are a few people in the hunting/outdoors world that I admire. One is Bob Foulkrod who I met in 1992 when I purchased a hunting lodge in Tennessee. Bob and I became very good friends and I always admire the fact that he stands firmly for what he believes and has carved out a nice living in this industry. He’s one of the good guys and a man of his word. Another person I’ve come to admire is Ted Nugent. Ted and I became friends around 1994 when he came hunting with me on a video project I was working on. From that he began to hunt with me both in Tennessee and in Africa and we became good friends. Ted has many detractors as well as supporters but the most admirable trait about Ted Nugent is his willingness to take the abuse from those who hate what he stands for. Time and again he is belittled, cursed, and scorned. He has become a primary target of all things anti-hunting and anti-conservative. While lessor men would seek cover from such a withering onslaught of hate, Ted stands up and defends what he believes in and never minces words when supporting that belief. Whether you agree with him or not, you must respect and admire someone who is so passionate about his beliefs.
I read that you were in the United States Army, How did you get into professional hunting?
Prior to getting into the hunting business, I was an officer in the US Army. Serving as a tank company commander in Germany within the 3d Infantry Division was my proudest moment. I loved everything about it. After my command, I looked at what my military future held and it was to be a lot of staff work before getting back to command at the battalion level. Staff work is necessary and essential, but I preferred to be afield so I resigned my commission and embarked on a life in the hunting industry. In 1992, I bought a hunting lodge in Tennessee and began to build it into one of the most popular hunting venues in the US. In 1994 I traveled to Africa and opened Ken Moody Safaris. Africa is my passion! I love everything about hunting the dark continent and still thrill in taking clients afield in pursuit of all Africa has to offer.
Tell us about your first professional hunt?
My first professional hunt occurred after purchasing the lodge in Tennessee. I had a client from Kentucky come down on a hog hunt and I remember how both of us were equally excited about the adventure. Using dogs, we chased around an old tusker until he finally bayed and a good, clean shot dispatching the animal was made. What makes this story most memorable is the part where I ask the client to help me with the field dressing. As I was inside the cavity of the animal the client grabbed one of the hog’s front legs and swung it a bit causing me to seriously cut my finger in the middle of the job. Needless to say, this is not a preferable situation
and I learned to never again ask for assistance in field dressing while my hands were otherwise involved. My most poignant African hunt was with Ted Nugent when he bagged his first elephant. We had a permit to take an elephant bull that was raiding agriculture from the Tuli Block in Botswana across the Limpopo River and into South Africa. The Tuli is highly overpopulated with elephant and as result of no food, they would raid into South Africa getting into anything they could find to eat. The permit fees and landowner fees help to compensate the landowner for the crop damage done by the elephant. When properly administered, it is a good system. An Elephant bull will generally stand his ground when confronted by humans and not feel threatened unless the wind carries human scent in his direction. Moving with the wind, we closed the distance between us and our quarry to only 50 yards. As we shuffled into a good shooting position, the bull became aware of our proximity and began the tell/tell sign of flapping his ears forward signally his obvious agitation with our presence. Still, he stood his ground and we executed a perfect brain shot instantly dropping four tons of raw African pachyderm. What occurred next is the most significant part that hunters play in Africa. As we admired the giant, dozens and dozens of indigenous people flocked to the downed animal with knives, axes, buckets, and intention. In a matter of just a few hours, every bit of edible morsel of that elephant had been dissected and cut up into equal portions of food for the hungry locals. That one elephant would feed a tribe for over a month ensuring their existence and offering the people a reason to not poach and kill off these magnificent animals who also raid their crops threatening their own human existence. If they are getting the bounty of nourishing meat from regulated hunted elephant, they will be more inclined to see that the animals are not poisoned, snared, or merely killed because of negative crop interaction. This hunt signified the full and beneficial attributes of sustainable use conservation and no “starry eyed” emotional rhetoric will change the fact that hungry people will kill animals indiscriminately unless viable options are offered that are mutually beneficial to both the people and wildlife.
What advice would you give someone just getting into hunting?
My advice for anyone contemplating a career in hunting is to first, be passionate about it. If you don’t love the outdoors completely, you will not succeed in this life of long, hard hours and monetary strife. You have to love it!
What is your perfect safari rifle and bullet set up?
In my opinion the perfect safari rifle caliber is the .375 H&H Magnum combined with good quality 300 grain bullets. With the .375 you can legally hunt any species of African game. It is a perfect caliber and my favorite. The recoil is moderate and the result on game favorable.
What is your most memorable hunt?
My most memorable hunt would a rhino hunt in the Waterburg region of South Africa. We were finishing a Big 7 Hunt; elephant, lion, leopard, cape buffalo, rhino, hippo, and crocodile, with the rhino being last on our list. Like most dangerous game hunts, this would be tracking affair whereby we put our trackers on the spoor of rhino, and they begin the tedious task of walking up to the game. Of all the dangerous game species, White Rhino, unlike their Black Rhino cousins, are the most docile and normally do not pose too bad of a threat. For this reason, I had opted to trade my .458 Lott rifle in for a camera as we were filming the hunt for a future outdoor TV show. Providing backup would be my friend and partner, Nico with his own .458. The client was armed with a standard .375 H&H Mag and 300 grain solids. At first light we were off on the track of three rhino. Minutes turned into hours and finally, around noon, we
spotted the three animals grazing off in a distance with no clue as to our presence. Our first stalking attempt failed and resulted in all three crashing off in a thunderous canter heading for deep bush and now fully alerted to our intent. Time and again we would close the distance only to be foiled by a fickle wind. Finally, around 3pm we tried a stalk into a cross wind. Not perfect but we pressed our luck and soon found ourselves about 80 yards away. With the client on the sticks and myself behind the viewfinder, a shot cracked the stillness followed by all hell! Upon impact, the bull swung and began to charge at an angle to our front. When he hit the prevailing wind he turned into our scent and began a full on charge directly towards me and the camera tripod. Accompanying him were the other two beasts so we had six thousand pounds of angry rhino headed our way. Happening quicker than I can tell it, the two larger rhino made a mad dash towards us. As the wounded bull pushed his charge towards me, Nico stepped up and at a mere eight paces, shot the angered animal perfectly bringing him down. So much was the bull’s momentum that though completely dispatched, he skidded forward those eight paces finally stopping with his head resting completely on top of the video camera. The other rhino ran past the client brushing against the man’s outstretched hand. For nearly a minute all of us just stood in silence trying to contemplate what had just occurred. Breaking the tension was Nico who voiced in the typical accent of an Afrikaner, “Well, that was a close shave.” After this hunt, I have always carried my back up rifle regardless of the quarry sought.
What would you like to tell individuals who are interested in hunting Africa?
I would tell anyone interested in hunting Africa to go for it! It is the ultimate hunting destination and will invoke the adventurer in everyone. Be forewarned though. Once you venture to the dark continent you’ll be making plans to return again. It gets in your blood, just look at me!
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