Another Day In Paradise, Africa
Another Day In Paradise, Africa
Each morning we would get up and look outside, and exclaim, “Another day in Paradise”. It just does not get better than this. Each year, we think it just can’t get any better, and somehow we are blessed again, and it just gets better. Or maybe we just appreciate it more as we get older.
This year was to be our longest trip yet. By we, I mean myself, and my best friend and hunting partner, my wife Jo Ann. We are to be gone 47 days. Now most husbands and wives would shudder at the mere thought of being cooped up with their spouse that long.
Now, if you were to make me sit in a lawn chair at a resort or on a cruise ship for 47 days, I would have a problem, but not when hunting and shooting are involved.
We flew on SAA via Atlanta to Cape Town South Africa, connecting to SAA Airlink to Windhoek Namibia. There we were met by our PH and host Jan Visser and his wife Marie of Klawerberg Ranch. Jan made his first visit to the USA in February, and visited our SCI Chapter meeting. It did not take us long to figure out that we must go see these folks.
There we got to see Namibia, Africa’s Best Kept Secret. Jan’s place is a vast and beautiful land, only a 30-minute drive from the airport.
They grow Springbok in Namibia to gigantic proportions. I had never even heard of a 15” Springbok Ram, let alone ever shot one. They also grow exceptional Red Hartebeest, and Gemsbok (Oryx), second to none anywhere. We took them all while there, and all three trophies qualified for a Namibian Professional Hunter Association Gold Medals.
We also had a new experience in Namibia, RAIN, and it “never” rains in Namibia in April, but let me tell you, it rained and hailed very hard while we were there.
An hour later, the sun is out, and starting to dry out. By sunset, you would never even know it rained as the soil just soaks it all up.
After a great week in Namibia, we flew back to Cape Town. There we did a day tour, and also a trip thru the Swartklip Ammunition plant. They make mostly 22-rim fire ammo there, and I was amazed at how much work goes into making those little cartridges.
OK, now on to more hunting. We arrived in Port Elizabeth at 5 pm, and were met my Jenny Wormald. Jenny and her husband Roy are old friends of ours, as we have been with them 4 times before.
We arrived at the ranch just after sundown, and soon were unpacked and quickly assembled around the fireplace swapping stories, with their dog Milo, snuggled tightly against me as he is my pal when we are there.
We spend 10 days with Roy & Jenny, taking a Klipspringer, and a Vaal Reebok, both which I had never taken before. Jo Ann took a nice Red Hartebeest, and I also took a Kudu, Mt Reebok, White Blesbok, and a Zebra.
Time sure flies when you are having fun, and all too soon we again on our way, this time flying to Johannesburg, to hunt for the 4th time with Piet Fouie and Marius Kruger from African Dawn Safaris.
We arrived in Jo Berg at 12:25 Pm and by 3:30 we were in Marius’ camp, changing clothes and getting a chance to look at game yet before sunset.
We were to be here 7 days, and here we took a 30” Bleu Wildebeest, 23” non-typical Red Hartebeest, another Zebra and Jo Ann took three nice Impala Rams. Her highlight there was going to the town of Warmbaths with Marius’ wife Lana for a “day at the spa”.
Darn, we are half way in our trip already, and we are just getting warmed up. Our next PH, Hennie Badenhorst, from Lyon Safaris came to get us, and spent the night with us before we left to go to his place.
By noon the next day, we were in another camp. We are to be here only 2 nights, as it is just a place he wanted us to see. I can see why, sheer luxury.
But, they had plenty of game here too. Now this entire hunt with Hennie is Jo Ann’s hunt. I just take the pictures.
Right after lunch, Hennie says, “I think you need to shoot a Zebra, because your husband has shot two already”. OK, that’s fine with her.
Sure enough, by 3 PM she has a great Zebra Stallion on the ground with one clean shot with her 7mm Mag and a 175 gr Hornady Round Nose bullet. By the time we got the pictures taken, and the Zebra loaded up and taken to the skinning shed, there was just time for her to shoot an Impala yet before dark.
The next day we spend the entire day looking for a big Warthog but to no avail.
Now after our second night, we again packed up and move 3 hours to Hennie's camp on the Limpopo River.
We are now on a full-scale hunt for Warthogs, but all we can find is Sows and baby piglets. Right at dark that night, we are looking at group of Gemsbok, and Hennie says “Shoot that last one please, he has a broken leg”. OK, Jo Ann is into action again. It was just nicely dark when we got him loaded up and the pictures taken. It was a nice 35” Gemsbok which had somehow buggered himself by stepping in a hole most likely. It’s better to take these out, than let them suffer or the scavengers get them.
Next day starts out rather quiet until 8:10 am, but then pure action. We finally catch a very nice Warthog standing under a tree, not paying much attention to his surroundings. Ahh, this was his last and fatal mistake.
How Jo Ann ever made that shot I don’t know, because she had to shoot thru the crotch of a tree to hit the Wart Hog under a tree behind it and made a clean lung shot and she finally had her Wart Hog.
Twenty minutes later, Bang, and another Impala hits the dust. While heading for the skinning shed, we found the herd of Red Hartebeest, we knew were there somewhere, and Hennie picked out the one he wanted for her, and bang again, one more clean shot with the 175-gr Hornady’s.
We ended our hunt with Lyon Safaris, taking one more nice Male Impala, and great 4” Steenbok.
We are now headed back to civilization, and to a Bed and Breakfast in Pretoria. The next day we are to tour the PMP Ammo factory, and see how the production of ammunition. Whoa, it is assembled in a blur. They load 40,000 rounds a day 7 days a week. What was equally impressive, were the steps of quality control taken, and the vast amount of hand labor. Everything is hand packed, hand inspected and sorted.
The weather continues to be perfect, and I think today was number 28 in a row of perfect sunshine.
While in Pretoria, we took opportunity to utilize the great buying power of the American Dollar, especially eating out. We went to dinner with Hennie and his girl friend one night, and had the “works”. Two waiters, a fireplace, wine, shrimp cocktails, steak, prawns, deserts, etc, all for $59.24 US Dollars. In the states that meal would have cost that much per person.
Lodging in SA is a bargain too. There are lots of B & B where you can stay in wonderful surroundings, and have a full breakfast for $20 to $50 per person.
We are now on to the last leg of our trip, and it seems impossible that we have done so much already. Adriaan Rall from the Orange Free State, a 2-hour drive south of Jo Berg, fetched us and we are off to his home.
He hunts mostly with a bow, and is a large grain farmer too.
We are off to “selectively reduce” some Blesbok and Springbok populations in the area.
It seems that if a herd of animals gets it’s male to female ratio out of sorts, fawn production goes way down so we were to take out some odd animals to fix things.
This is a lot tougher than we thought. It is easier to sort out the big trophy bulls than sort out his competition.
Jo Ann shot 5 Blesbok on the first day, and I took 10 Springbok on the next day.
The next day was Sunday, so we just went with the folks where we were staying on an outing and picnic by the lake. Yes, lake (or dam backwater really) in a National Park with game everywhere to see. It is tough to eat when I’m watching 40” Sable, and Zebra close by, but what a way to spend the day.
We have only one more last day to shoot, and Jo Ann is back on the Blesbok rampage, it took us the best part of the day to sort out 8 more.
The particular ranch we were on, wanted 8 males taken out of his herd. So of course we just had to comply. I’m telling you, we were impressed with Jo Ann’s shooting with her 7mm Mag and 162 gr Hornady BT bullets.
All the meat from the culling goes back to the rancher, and he divides it up to his staff and workers. Nothing ever goes to waste in Africa.
Day 46, the most dreaded day of all. Pack up one last time, and head back to Jo Berg’s airport.
Going to Africa is easy, lots of anticipation and a non-stop 14 hour flight, but that flight going home leaving at 8 PM and having to stay cooped up for 17 hours is the killer.
After the typical arrival at Customs, and then rechecking luggage to the onward flight back home, it just a matter of staying awake a few more hours.
One thing about being gone, “there is no place like home”. Like sleeping in our own bed again, and having enough lights and shelf space in the bathroom. OH and real Ice Cream.
Next year, the Lord willing, same game plan. Going to De Klerk’s in Kimberley first, then down to the Eastern Cape to Roy & Jenny. After 10 days with Roy, back to Jo Berg where Piet will fetch us, and finishing off with Adriaan and Hennie again. There might different caliber guns, but always the same bullets, Hornady’s & Federal Trophy Bonded Bear Claws.