A chip off the old block
By Cleve Cheney
> Figure 1: Hunt and his sister, Jess, on the banks of the Levubu River in the Pafuri section of the Kruger National Park
Medic by profession – bowyer and survival specialist by passion. Hunt Cheney was born and raised in the Kruger National Park where the bush was home (Figure 1). In the company of his father he learnt bush skills and the ways of the wild from a very early age and by the time he reached his teens he was an accomplished and very independent outdoorsman.
< Figure 2: Hunt grew up with a bow in his hands and is an accomplished bowhunter
who prefers hunting with traditional longbows and recurves.
His intention was to become a game ranger like his dad, but political changes in the country more or less closed this door for him. He studied and qualified himself in the field of agriculture, but later went on to study for and become an intermediate life support paramedic – a profession he still practises. His love of the outdoors, however, never diminished. Hunt is a super-fit individual clocking a Comrades Marathon silver-medal time of just on 7 hours and a standard marathon best time of 2 hours 33 minutes. Trail running, skydiving and rock climbing are also favourite extreme sports he participates in.
> Figure 3: Examples of bows made by Hunt
He, in a very literal sense, grew up with firearms and a bow in his hands, but he developed a special love of archery and bowhunting. Hunt has bowhunted from a young age and although he has hunted with compound and traditional bows he has a preference for the latter (Figure 2). He was and always has been a very astute observer of things around him – which has also made him a skilled tracker. He used to watch carefully when his dad made bows and was soon making primitive stick bows and more advanced laminated recurves and longbows of high quality himself.
< Figure 4: Busy with survival skills training. Bottom right: A student settles into his accommodation in the tree house built
by Hunt in the canopy of a huge wild fig tree. Top left: Hunt teaches students to make fire with a hand drill. The other
photos show him teaching rope skills and climbing techniques.
Today Hunt is an accomplished bowyer and makes longbows and recurves which not only look good but perform as well as any commercially manufactured bow. His bows incorporate indigenous woods such as tambotie, leadwood, wild olive and bush willow (Figure 3). He also makes beautiful cedar arrows and will even go so far as to craft flint-knapped arrowheads for the real traditional enthusiast.
> Figure 5: I am blessed to havve son like Hunt.
When he has time off from the demands of being a medic he spends time in the bush practising and teaching survival skills, shooting bows and making them. As a sideline Hunt conducts challenging and exciting hands-on survival training courses in the Mpumalanga Lowveld. Students are accommodated in an amazing tree house which Hunt built himself in the canopy of a huge wild fig tree.
< Figure 6: Enjoying the solitude of his workshop while making a part for a bow.
Subjects covered in his survival course include fire-making, identifying edible bush foods, emergency medicine, rock-climbing and rope skills, finding water in the veld and making it safe to drink, building shelters, tracking, hunting, flint-knapping and much, much more (Figure 4). Survival training can also be customised for special interest groups and he can be contracted in to conduct survival training anywhere in the country.
Hunt is a good and patient teacher of calm disposition. Being a non-smoker, teetotaller and a person who does not include swearing and bad language in his vocabulary he is a role model for young people that is hard to find nowadays. I am proud and very blessed to have him as my son (Figure 5).
Hunt and his wife, Lizanne, live on a farm about 35 km east of Nelspruit. He loves spending time in his workshop building bows (Figure 6) and running (often barefoot) in the veld with his six dogs of various shapes and sizes and questionable origin. All six could be safely classified as "tribal-trust terriers". Hunt and Liz are also horse lovers and have four horses of their own.
Anyone interested in ordering a bow from Hunt or signing up for one of his survival courses can contact him at 082 323 8516. He caters for all ages and is involved in the survival training of school groups and students enrolled at the Southern African Wildlife College.
Updated: Tuesday, August 12, 2014 8:52 AM
About the Author
Cleve Cheney, hunting and environmental editor of Africa’s Bowhunter is a very well known figure in bow hunting and in conservation circles in South Africa. Cleve Cheney has been in conservation for 27 years, of which 20 years were spent with the National Parks Board – most of it in the Kruger National Park. During the time spent in the Kruger National Park Cleve culled no less than 50 elephants with a rifle and he has hunted most African game during culling operations.
Cleve has also been an avid bow hunter for 22 years and he has an extensive technical knowledge on bows, arrows and broadheads. Cleve is also an accomplished bowyer and has built many recurves over the years. He began offering bowhunting education courses more than 15 years ago. Until recently, Cleve was a lecturer at the South African Wildlife College where was a lecturer and instructor. He has a diploma in Nature Conservations and a MA degree in animal Physiology. Over the years Cleve has written more than a hundred articles on tracking, hunting, survival skills, and bow and rifle hunting. He started an 18 month long professional hunters course at the SA Wildlife College where he trained the first group of professional hunters.
Cleve has trained many bow hunters and his educative articles on how to hunt African game, as well as many other articles on different aspects of archery bow hunting an bush skills has been published in Africa’s Bowhunter, Game and Hunt magazine, Universal Hunter and many other magazines. He has been the lead article writer for Africa’s Bowhunter for more than 14 years.
His book on tracking, The Comprehensive Guide to Tracking: In-depth information on how to track animals and humans alike, is probably the most in-depth study on this subject available. For those who want to learn more than the basics, this book is a treasure trove of tracking information, insights, methods, and knowledge. The book is divided into logical sections: teaching yourself to track; understanding wildlife behavior; identification of tracks and signs; gait patterns and pressure release; blood trailing; tracking specific animals; track, stalk, and approach; bird, reptile, and invertebrate sign; man tracking; and dangers in the bush.