Fundraising auction results in hunt of a lifetime

October 3, 2018

RANDOLPH — Paul Loberg has some interesting hunting buddies.

“We were at the Nebraska Bow Hunters Association Banquet and I said to a good friend at the table, ‘It would be neat if you would buy this trip and take one of us along,’ ” Loberg said.

Much to Loberg’s surprise, his friend, Neil Blohm of Allen, did just that. Blohm was bidding for the trip as an auction item, thinking he was simply running the other bidders up.

Whoops, he got it.

Then came the second surprise — Loberg became his significant other for the two-person trip and hunt.

“Neil told us to flip a coin and our other buddy didn’t want to go, so I got it,” Loberg said.

It’s not the first time Loberg has been on an extended hunting trip. He and other friends have gone on hunting trips in Alaska, Montana and Wyoming.

Loberg, a welder in Randolph, has been an avid hunter since his high school days. He does some hunting with guns, but his passion is bow hunting.

After attending the Nebraska Bow Hunters Association banquet for a few years, he became acquainted with a group of Northeast Nebraska bow hunting aficionados who share his passion for the sport.

The West Africa Hunting Safari for two listed on the fundraising auction for the Bow Hunters Association had a value set at $10,000. After Blohm was successful with his bidding on the trip, the planning began.

“There’s a lot involved in planning a trip like this — work obligations, family, and then there’s shots, passports and airline tickets,” Loberg said. “It really took a year to plan.”

The hunting duo picked July to go as Blohm is a farmer and July is a slow time. For Loberg’s welding business, most of his customers are farmers, so the same is true.

They also talked to the hunters who went on the safari the year before for advice. With travel time, the trip took two weeks.

The flight to Johannesburg was 16 hours, then a short additional flight to Pocawanee, West Africa, and a drive of 2½ hours to the hunting farm.

The trip included a listing of animals they could hunt. No permits were needed unless they wanted to hunt big game like lions or leopards. Then a special permit was needed.

“Basically, to hunt what we hunted, you shoot it, you buy it,” Loberg said. “I had decided to limit myself to spending $6,000 on animals I shot and I spent $5,500.”

Blohm purchased the 10-day bow hunting trip for $2,200 and that included the option for each hunter to hunt three animals — an impala, warthog and duiker (a small deer). Loberg said he never saw a warthog and missed the duiker so he was only successful shooting an impala.

He shot three other animals to fulfill his quota, including a kudu, water buck and wildebeest. He shot a baboon for no charge because these animals are very plentiful and typically are fed to the crocodiles.

Blohm successfully shot a zebra because he wanted a zebra rug. That skin is on its way. The hunters could keep the skulls, capes, skins and horns of the animals they shot and those items are being processed at a taxidermy shop in Africa, and then will be sent home to be mounted.

The safari location is a hunting farm, occupying 20,000 fenced-in acres. The hunters had a guide who would take them to blinds by a water tank where the animals would walk by, sometimes tempted by a special treat of alfalfa, and they could shoot their prey.

The lodge where they stayed supplied all their needs from meals to laundry and sleeping quarters. Loberg said the safari trip catalog specified everything they needed to bring down to the smallest item.

“When we returned from our hunts, our laundry would be folded on the bed and our rooms neat as a pin,” Loberg said.

While there the hunters ate the local fare, which included entrees like impala steak, which Loberg said was very similar to beef and it was used like beef. One meal was impala lasagna. Another was kudu cordon blue and wildebeest stew.

The facility had its own butcher shop. All the meat was processed, including sausage onsite. Since it would be costly to ship the meat home, all the meat was used in the vicinity.

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