Kanana Safaris - Bowhunt October 2012
Who: Tom Addleman Client
Jason and Claire Bridger Kanana Safaris
Will Armitage Apprentice
Happy and Morlan trackers/skinners
When: October 1-10, 2012
Where: Western Botswana (Ghanzi is closest town)
Booking Agent: Hunting For Adventure (Hunting for Adventure - Hunting For Adventure)
Animals taken: Numerous Gemsbok and Warthog, Eland, Ostrich, Jackal, Black Mamba
Thirty two miles from top to bottom. Fifteen miles of gravel and dusty driving from the road into camp. Literally thousands of animals on thousands and thousands of acres...thats what you get at Kanana Safaris in Botswana. The game is abundant, people fantastically warm and welcoming, and safari experience something you will truly remember for a lifetime.
I enjoy reading hunt reports that go into details of each animal hunted and descriptive details of how the stalk was made and shot taken. However, I also know that many readers enjoy numerous pictures and minimal written word. Therefore, I am going to try and condense the report as much as possible while still explaining the fantastic time I had.
I had booked this hunt on relatively short notice. After getting the ok from my wife I began preparations in earnest. I am primarily a bowhunter and decided to take my Mathews compound and Black Widow recurve along with enough arrows and broadheads to invade a small nation. I was ready.
The game plan for this hunt was to possibly look for a good Eland bull but otherwise check out the operation and take a few cull animals. As it would turn out, I had multiple opportunities at numerous species.
I began my trip planning by speaking with Jason and Claire Bridger. They are the operators of Kanana Safaris. They are both wonderful people in their early to mid thirties. They live on the 108,000 acres of Kanana. After a few conversations I set my dates for the first week of October.
I chose the flight from Kansas City to Atlanta, then on to Johannesburg. I spent the night at the always friendly Afton House where I was able to speak with other hunters on the way to their safaris. Afton staff was friendly and helpful as always.
The next morning I caught the 10 a.m. flight to Maun, Botswana. I landed at noon and was met by Jason Bridger at the airport and whisked away through Maun and onward to camp. The drive is approximately 2.5 hours, a perfect amount of time to unwind and get to know your PH. We discussed hunting plans for the week and got to know each other better.
Immediately upon arrival in camp, staff members came out and greeted me with a cold drink. I was able to meet the camp staff, trackers, Claire Bridger and the apprentice hunter Will Armitage. I felt like a welcomed guest immediately. I was shown around camp and allowed to get my bags unpacked and bows out to make sure they made the journey in operating condition.
As it was mid afternoon, we decided on a game drive to get see a small portion of the property before darkness. It became immediately apparent that I was in a special area. I have been to Africa a number of times and have not experienced anything like Kanana has to offer. It is truly a magical place. The property is immense and difficult to describe. At over 100,000 acres (170 Square miles!) it is difficult to adequately explain the property. In addition to being difficult to describe, it varies significantly throughout. Some areas would be reminiscent of south texas with scrubby brush up to ten feet tall. Other areas might be more open while yet others are thickets of almost impenetrable brush and trees. Even the soil changes throughout the range of hunting area.
On the game drive there were numerous animal sightings as well as a lay of the land" view of what was to be coming in the next few days. A nice cooler box and snacks were packed for the game drive. What a great way to start the first day.
Over the next several days we hunted some of the 16 archery blinds on Kanana; drove many many miles of roads and had a fantastic time. All of the blinds are Kanana are well thought out and designed with animal behavior and patterns in mind. This is not the concrete pond and feedbunk with hay type of bowhunting. The blinds are comfortable, dark and well positioned. The waterholes are very natural and pleasing aesthetically. The animals are abundant and natural to the property, reproducing and living their entire lives on the giant property. It is truly an amazing operation.
I had numerous opportunities at Eland, Kudu, Gemsbok, Waterbuck, Impala, Giraffe, Ostrich, Warthog, Red Hartebeest, Jackal, Zebra and everything else. Trophy quality was impressive and I'm still kicking myself for some of the animals I passed? Specifically, big Kudu, Gemsbok and Eland abound. I passed on Kudu that were exceptional (mid to high 50ｴs are common) and some Gemsbok (40-44!) that still haunt me. The trophy quality on Kanana is nothing short of amazing. It's the type of place where if you don't come home with the trophy of your dreams then you either can't shoot or can't see. They are there and in abundance.
I shot a combination of weapons on this safari. Some animals with Mathews bow, some with PSE TAC 15 crossbow and some animals with Black Widow recurve. My equipment operated flawlessly and the skinning shed was getting full by the end of my time in Botswana.
I have numerous stories from my time at Kanana but I will retell just one at this time. It was about halfway through the hunt and Jason and I were continuing to look for a solid Eland bull. He had selected a blind setup about 45 minute drive from camp for my evening hunt. After getting settled in the animals started to appear. While this blind was fairly new and similar to the others with a solid roof painted black and foam insulation sprayed in any crevices, it differed in that it had a thatched grass top as opposed to rock and dirt.
As the afternoon became early evening, I thought I heard something in the grass on the roof. As nothing appeared or happened, I picked up my Wilbur Smith book and continued reading. In a moment Jason had grabbed my shoulder and pulled me three feet across the blind, book still in my hand. I looked at him with a curious look and he merely pointed to the ceiling above where I had previously been sitting. About a foot of the business end of a black mamba was swinging about, checking the inside of the blind out. I have been scared in life before but never quite like that! At this point it became obvious that the snake had slept in the grass during the warmth of the day and had managed to find one small crack in the roof that had not been sprayed with foam insulation.
The inside of the blind was deadly quiet. I was standing at the far side of the blind with Jason in front of me, both of us staring at the snake. Seconds seemed like hours. I was waiting for it to fully drop down into the blind. Let me back up a bit here, the snake appeared out of the ceiling above my head and right in front of the door the only door for the blind. In addition, this blind is made entirely of rock and concrete. We were on the opposite side of the blind with our only options to either try and slide out of the shooting windows or shoot the snake and go out the door. After a few minutes of very tense emotion, the snake began sliding further and further down into the blind, still suspended from the ceiling. At this point the snake had descended in the blind enough that Jason could shoot the mamba with his rifle and have the bullet continuing its travel out the soft door of the blind as opposed to ricocheting around the blind like a pinball. I covered my ears and felt the shot more than I even heard it. A 30.06 blast inside a concrete and rock bunker with small shooting windows is something to experience.
Needless to say, he hit the snake. I am still amazed the he hit the damn thing as he basically pointed the rifle at half shoulder and shot. The mamba writhed around for a few minutes (you know how long it takes for a snake to die) and then dropped into the blind?ead.
I am not being theatrical or slapstick-like when I say that PH Jason Bridger handled the whole incident like a true professional. He took me out of danger, assessed the situation and made the right call. I knew he was concerned for my safety when after the incident he said that he knew I had twin two-year old boys at home and that this incident could have turned bad quickly. I truly owe him a debt of gratitude for acting appropriately and protecting me. No joking, no bullshit. It was scary and he did a great job.
While not all of the safari was that exciting? I did have a fantastic time with wonderful memories. I was charged by a warthog, nearly dropped on by a black mamba, and I didn遞 always drink enough water for the heat conditions. However, it just doesn't get any better as far as safari experiences and memories made with new friends.
After seven safaris to Africa I can confidently say that Kanana is a fantastic adventure, well worth the trip and my favorite safari to date. The trophy fees and daily rates are extremely fair. The people of Botswana are friendly, accommodations and food excellent, and the hunting superb. Go for yourself, you won't regret it.
Please scan through some of my pictures below. Thanks for reading.