John B. Barnhardt Sr. lives the life of travel and adventure most of us see in movies or read about.
Twenty years ago Barnhardt became passionate about safari hunting and at 73 is still climbing mountains. He recently returned from a trip to New Zealand's southern regions.
Barnhardt grew up hunting squirrels. He developed an interest in hunting while reading books and magazines about the subject.
When he attended the annual Dixie Deer Classic in Raleigh he met fellow hunter Tom Smith. The two of them decided to put resources together and travel to different parts of the world.
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"The classic is where hunters show off the deer, have hunting related items and get together to talk about it. If you are into hunting you know what the classic is about." Barnhardt said.
"I started hunting in North America and it expanded. I have been all over the Yukon Territory, Mongolia, Asia, Africa, the South Pacific and Mozambique. I go several times a year and some of these locations you can only hunt once in a lifetime by law. It can be risky and many times you are camped out overnight on the side of a mountain because it's too dangerous to come down when it gets dark."
Barnhardt says he hunts over 100 species but among his favorites are mountain sheep.
"I enjoy hunting them because of the challenge and the beauty and harshness of the conditions," he said.
The sheep are found all over in places that include Canada, British Columbia, Asia and the Yukon.
Barnhardt is a lifelong resident of Concord, lives off of Old Airport Road with his wife, Marti, who owns Olde Concord Antiques on Union Street. They have raised two daughters and two sons. For 30 years he owned Barnhardt Electric Co., an energy management firm.
One of the things he would like to stress is that hunters are conservationists.
"The animals we hunt are never wasted. They're used 100 percent on site. We don't bring them back to North America because its cost prohibitive...." He said. "I do bring back the cape however, that is the skin of the animal and the antlers"
These are mounted and displayed in a trophy house on the Barnhardt property.
"There are many misconceptions about hunters," he says. "I don't kill every animal I see. If it were not for hunting revenue that is generated, many of these animals would cease to exist.
"When we go to a village in Africa we put more money into that village with a two week stay then they would see in a year or two. If the safari hunters were not there to help the local economy the locals would kill everything in order to survive and feed their families. But if they have income it is not necessary.
"Many of the species remain there year after year because they are protected and if hunters come back to that area it helps conserve the life of those species. ... Some people think we are mean and cruel and that is just not the way it is.
"I love hunting; it's wild and free, sleeping on the ground, staying on the side of a mountain. Hunting has so many stories."