A 67-inch kudu bull from Limpopo, South Africa.

Written by Richard Lendrum


Since record books started and inches measured, some believe this has been a curse on the hunting industry. For many, it is their way of distinguishing themselves, to prove something, be it for themselves as a massive achievement, a reward, demonstrating to their peers, or simply seeking acknowledgement by distinguishing themselves from the rest.


Like or not, respect it or not, it is part of our industry. And one African Dawn member has managed to deliver across a broad range of species to the envy and dislike of some, and the sheer admiration of others – particularly those inch-seeking international big-game hunters. After much time, on the anniversary of his 25 years in business, I finally managed to get Jason Stone, (older brother of Clinton and co-owner of Stone Hunting Safaris), to shed a little light on who is behind this professional hunter. A hunter who in the world of records and inches, seems to have delivered big time.


From way back when, for as far back as I can remember I was always fascinated with animals and coming up with tools to hunt them. It must have been my inner caveman or simply that hunting was just part of my DNA. It would be difficult to say that one single person inspired me to become a professional hunter. I grew up and was fortunate that all my early friends had similar interests to me. For example, one of our finest inventions was the blow pipe, and we made this from plastic PVC pipe. You would roll squares of shiny magazine paper into cones, put a nail through the center and sticky tape the nail to the cone so that the nail would not push back on impact. The cone would be cut off to size, for the diameter of the PVC pipe. We would hit the front of the nail flat with a hammer and with the angle grinder sharpen the point in the shape of an assegai. For front sights we would cut a khoki pen (felt-tip marker) in half and tape it to the front of the PVC pipe like a scope on a rifle. These blow pipes were seriously lethal and accounted for hundreds of white-eye birds and doves. One morning while walking to junior school we noticed some mighty fine racing pigeons in an aviary. I marched on up, put my blow pipe through the wire mesh and planted one. Unbeknown to me this bird belonged to my mom’s boss at the time. Boy, did we get into trouble for that episode. At one stage or another one of my friends always had a pellet gun available that had not been confiscated by the parents. So, we were always shooting at something.

My first 60-inch kudu bull taken some 25 plus years ago.

Zambia is known for big lion. This brute was no exception.

One of my most memorable hunts was a 21-day full bag hunt in an area called Ngarambe which is just to the south of the Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania. We had taken our lion / leopard and three grand old buffalo bulls early in the hunt but were struggling to find a good elephant bull. I was hoping to get the elephant as soon as possible so that I could go home early as my wife was pregnant and was due in the next few weeks. Every night when I got back to camp I would hook up the satellite phone to the Cruiser battery, point it to the East and call my wife to see how it was going. I was always relieved to hear that my daughter had not been born yet. A few days later, early in the morning as luck would have it, we bumped into a mighty fine elephant bull. I had previously hunted elephant with the same client, a very good guy and still one of my all-time favorite clients to this day. On the previous hunt we got right up on a good elephant bull at around 10 yards or so and our hunter tried a full-frontal shot, the only option available to us. His shot was a bit low. We were very close to the bull and the terrain was such that the only way the elephant could go was straight at us. While the elephant was regaining its composure, I noticed our hunter was a bit slow in firing his second barrel. Self-preservation kicked in and I shot the elephant at the same time as the client and down it went. He was not very impressed that I had shot. Fast forward to the elephant above. Our client made it very clear I was not to shoot unless we were all about to get trampled and then only if I was sure that I would die first. Our client gave the tracker his video camera to video the hunt. As we approached the elephant I gave the tracker my rifle and took the camera. I figured it would be better for me to video the hunt rather than even contemplate shooting our clients elephant again. We got to about 25 yards and I told our man to pop it on the shoulder. At the shot the elephant turned and came running at us at great speed. I remember putting down the camera, nice and gentle, so that I did not get into trouble for buggering up the camera. I got my rifle and as the bull passed us at about ten yards the hunter shot it again and down it went. All smiles. The camera was on record for the entire hunt and made for some great footage. When we got to camp I found out that my wife had had our daughter early that morning and I had missed it. Just about every single year from then on I have shot an elephant bull on or around my birthday or my daughter’s birthday which are two days apart. September is now a lucky elephant month for me.


In my career I have had a number of close encounters with dangerous game but, touch wood, have always been lucky enough to come out on top. In 2010 I was savagely mauled by a wounded lion, had 168 staples put in my leg to close all the holes and spent a month in hospital. In 2019 I was run over by a crazy buffalo cow in an unprovoked charge. I was not carrying my rifle that day. If there is one lesson you should learn it is always carry your own rifle in dangerous-game country.

The holy grail of Vaal Rhebuck both horns over 11 inches!

A huge Zambezi Sitatunga this one from Zambia. Both horns over 32 inches.

That time I got run over by the crazy buffalo cow in Zambia – 2019.

Most of our clientele is from the USA. America is without doubt the greatest country on the planet- they have the same sense of humor as us, they speak English, and most of them can shoot very straight. God bless America! You are very unlikely to have an American walk into your booth at convention and ask you to guide him / her on a hunt where they can shoot the smallest buffalo in Africa. Early on in my career I learnt that if we could consistently produce above-average trophies, we would be able to create a niche for ourselves in the safari industry that would create a demand for our services that would separate us from our competition. I have learnt not to worry about what the competition is doing but to focus on what we are doing and our business. When your competition is talking about you, it makes no difference if they say good things or bad things. When they are talking about you it’s because you are successful. Most people do not want to see you being successful. It’s only when your clientele starts speaking badly about you that you know you have real problems. Make sure you keep your clients happy and not the competition. We do not focus on what our competition is doing. It takes time out of our day that I would rather invest in our own business. I also figured out in my early days that the SCI record book was a great marketing tool. Hunters researching a hunt could see where the best place was to hunt and which outfitter to use. I always tried to get my clients to enter their trophies in the SCI record book, irrespective of the size of the trophy, to promote our brand and because SCI is a staunch supporter of conservation. The late great Cotton Gordon had the most record book entries in the SCI record book. When I was younger it was my goal to get more entries in the record book than he had. When someone opens up a record book and your name features dominantly, it is not going to hurt your business. This is some insight into my thinking and marketing strategy when I started out. As you get older your goals and focus change. I no longer have any desire to beat the number of entries Cotton Gordon has in the book. My focus is on finding the best areas to hunt and giving our clientele that next level hunting experience.


Before I qualified as a PH I was an apprentice hunter for the late Jack Rall. I guided a few of his clients before I got my PH license. I remember hunting a massive 33- or 34-inch blue wildebeest with one of his Hungarian clients in the Alldays area of South Africa. That is where it all started for me with my desire to find the biggest. On that same hunt a 60-inch kudu bull followed the wildebeest to the salt pit. For some reason, from then onwards, I have always been incredibly lucky when it comes to hunting and that has been one of my greatest assets throughout my career as a professional hunter. Don’t get me wrong I have always been that PH to leave camp first and get back last. Even today I still want to be the first PH out of camp. For me the great Gary Player sums it up the best – the harder you work the luckier you get!


Jason’s Trophy Gallery

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