Prime Free-Range Banteng Hunting in Australia Comes Under One Operator

Prime Free-Range Banteng Hunting in Australia Comes Under One Operator

Karl Goodhand with a trophy banteng from his Murgenella flats hunting area

In Australia’s Northern Territory, Karl Goodhand of Goodhand Outback Experience (www.goodhandoutbackexperience.com.au; 011-61-409-024-989) has consolidated available free range banteng hunting in Arnhem Land outside of the Cobourg Peninsula and plans to expand his operation for 2019. Feral banteng originally spread out of the national park on the peninsula into the Murganella floodplains. Over the years, a number of Australia outfitters have offered banteng hunts there, but more recently the areas have been held by two operators, one of whom allowed other operators to sublease. Now, Karl Goodhand has contracted with the Northern Land Council (NLC), the body that administers commercial land use in Arnhem Land, for areas previously leased by Peter Lorman of Tropical Hunting  Safaris. This means that he has exclusive hunting rights to all areas with free-range banteng excluding those in Garig Gunak Barlu National Park on the peninsula.

The Murganella floodplains and more fertile than the higher terrain on the peninsula and produce larger trophy animals.

Says Goodhand, “In late 2018, Goodhand Outback Experience finalized a Section 19 agreement that adds about 300 square kilometers of land to my original contract, with the lease extending to 2029. The biggest plus to this is that it pretty much unifies all the different Aboriginal clan groups involved and puts them under one agreement managed by one operator. This way it will be a lot easier for us to chase up and prosecute illegal hunting operations that have plagued the industry for some time. I have been in talks with the police and the Northern Land Council’s permits and legal departments to try and work out a solution that will allow us some more efficient enforcement in the banteng hunting areas.

“The additional area includes habitat where the animals feed later in the year, so it will allow me to hunt later into the season. I am committed to another ten banteng per year. We are building a lodge similar to what we have in the buffalo area. The will allow us to cater to more clients as we will be operating two camps full-time during the hunting season.

“Australia seems to be a popular destination at the moment. We have lots of inquiries, and the next two seasons are running at near capacity prior to the show. Our management practices have really started paying off with a consistently much higher buffalo bull size on average than we have previously seen.”

Goodhand has long lamented the somewhat loose regulation surrounding hunting operations in the Arnhem Land, where all land is held by aboriginal owners. In theory, hunting operations should have to contract with traditional landowners through the NLC. Negotiations can be protracted, however, and the process is expensive. In the past, most hunting operations have contracted directly with landowners. Goodhand believes this will change.

“I know of multiple outfitters who are having issues with the NLC because they operate on hand shake agreements. With the opening of the live export market, NLC is pushing for the live capture of animals as it tends to bring in moneymore quickly than a safari operation that will harvest limited bulls.”

At the moment, there seem to be three options for banteng hunting (although there may be banteng in small private reserves outside of the Northern Territory). These are Goodhand Outback Experience, Mary River Station (operated by Greg Pennicott Safaris, www.gregpennicottsafaris.com), and 3 Bathers Safaris in Garig Gunak Barlu Park. We have not been able to contact 3 Bathers Safaris yet, and it is not clear if they operated any hunts in 2018. One other operation has a permit to operate in the park, but they are focused on fishing tours.

Subscribers Stan and Pamela Atwood filed a report on a hunt with Goodhand back in June. They hunted water buffalo, banteng and wild boar in the outback, and Goodhand also arranged hunting for rusa deer in Queensland. The Atwoods took their grandson, and gave the entire experience high marks.

Stan Atwood writes. “Besides being an excellent hunter/outfitter/guide, Karl Goodhand is an engaging and entertaining guy with whom to spend 10 days in the bush. His camps lack for nothing, and he will advise hunters on what to bring. All game is abundant and of excellent trophy quality. Our grandson, Harrison, Pamela and I made many good memories and we only wished our hunt could have lasted longer. We were always in beautifully rugged country. Goodhand has a great team of gracious and hardworking folks. We are all eager to return.”

In other news, longtime Australian subscriber Doug Scottorn reports that a friend of his, Danny Vanburgh, was seriously gored by a buffalo on a hunt.

Writes Scottorn, “Please warn all hunters coming to Australia not to be under-gunned. From what Vanburgh tells me, he was using a .300 Win Mag and took a long shot on the buffalo, and it got up and took off.  They were tracking him and the bull came in from the left hand side and charged. Vanburgh put two quick shots into its head but below the brain. It tossed him and did some serious damage to his arm and he got up and tried to get out of there and it got him again from the rear and got him on the ground and started giving it to him. He ended up with a collapsed lung, kidney and liver damage and damaged thr vertebrae in his back. He spent quite some time in Darwin Hospital and 10 operations later he’s only just come good and got back to work. I believe from what he tells me, the guys he was with had to fire several shots into the buffalo to kill it before it killed him. He has since decided now to buy a .375 Magnum for future buffalo hunting. In any case, hunters should know that these animals can be every bit as dangerous as Cape buffalo.”