How to spend 24 days in Africa
Hi all this is an Article Written by Rick Batten he hunted with me for 24 days is 2012! (excuse my tiping if I made some spelling errors :rolleyes:
How to spend 24 days in Africa
by Rick Batten
My first plains game hunt in South Africa was a good one. It must have been right? Why else would my mind refuse to consider Caribou in Alaska or Red Stay in New Zeeland? Why else would at least a portion of every day be spend homesick to see red dirt, or to hear the continual call of a laughing dove? No, I had to face the truth, I was hooked, obsessed, ruined for life! Synthia Stockly once wrote a novel entitled 典he Claw? Telling of an Africa that could embed her claws deep into a mans soul, and just as an Impala has small hope of escaping a lions grip, to try and struggle free of Africa was pointless. She had me!
If anything, the tug at my heart to return was only getting stronger. Her alluring call louder and more demanding. And so it was in the fall of 2011 I more or less took over the wife's computer and begun the search. Like a drug addict craving his next fix, safari #2 just had to be booked. I knew I wanted to hunt dangerous game, you know, a buffalo like Ruarks, a lion like the the one Capstick had to shoot off the thatch roof of his hut in the night, a hundred pound elephant that any porter would be honored to bear. It痴 just about here reality sets in, and I come to find out Mrs Batten simply doesn't make enough money for yours truly to bag a 100 pounder! Undaunted by this minor setback, I remained diligent in my cyber probe, determined to plan an outstanding second experience on the Dark Continent. I was going to go big or stay home. And I wasn稚 going to stay home!
They say that cream always comes to the surface, and the more I googled, a certain PH/ Outfitter kept winding up on the computer in front of me. So with limited funds and at least a thousand questions I contacted Mr Henry Griffiths of Henry Griffiths Safaris. I had a few doubts about Henry at first. For one where wasn't the leopard banded, well stained safari hat that had seen 50 years of service in the bush? Also the mustache thicker than the bristles of a thatch broom used to sweep the fire pit. And for that matter the chest hair pushing up from under the collar or eye patch courtesy of the wounder leopard followed up like a real PH on a moonless night. Oh well I thought, lets give him a chance and see what he has to say.
With the understanding that I was on a budget, and greatly to my delight, Mr Griffiths informed me that while I couldn't retrace Roosevelts steps, I could pursue a nice Cape Buffalo cow, a lioness and good Gemsbok which I have been wanting for some time. Throw in a few cull animals, and all the Jackal and Baboons you can handle and you've got my attention! The thing I wanted most of all was a lot of time just to enjoy South Africa. Yes, Henry offered it all, and at a price that didn稚 cause a divorce. So I let the chest hair thing drop and booked with Henry and Tanya his wife for May 2012.
The eighteen hour flight from my home in South Missouri (21 if you count the layover in Atlanta) was uneventful, yet still made an old man sore. We landed right on time, Oliver Thambo airport hadn稚 change much in the three years I had been away, and other than a name mix up on the Afton Guest house greeting sign all went fairly smooth. If you have not stayed at the Afton I highly recommend them. Analiese is a real dear and puts up well with us yanks from across the pond and all our strange ways.
True to his word Henry showed up bright and early on may 1st. We were off to Hoedspruit in the Limpopo province for a Cape Buffalo. I suppose travel days are not high up on any normal persons list of things to do, but then again being normal never appealed to me anyway. Like a golden retriever drewling with his head out the window we crossed mountains, waited for road works, traverse banana plantations, and I enjoyed every mile. After a late lunch of oxtail at the Safari Club, it was time to settle in at the lodge and take a drive around the ranch to see if this place really had any buffalo. Yep, that big mean thing trying to ram the truck is a buffalo alright! Either that or someones mother-in-law broke loose, but I知 pretty sure it was a buff. Note to self: Hold on next time so you don稚 fall down and embarrass yourself in front of your new PH. He did at least help me up. But on day two payback would be sweet.
After several failed stalks and close encounters we found ourselfs glassing a herd of about fifty animals. A couple of nice old cows on the fringe presented a good shot opportunity, but of course I had to be difficult in wanting a huge cow right in the center of it all. The thing is, her horns weren't any better and maybe not even as good as one of the other cows I saw, but what a head! I may live to hunt, but I do taxidermy to live and I know a good cape when I see one. Perfect color, great shape and size on that nogin, no rubs or bald spots. Little by little the heard drifted and thined until at last my Browning x-Bolt in . 375 H&H spoke up. One more for insurance and my first buff was in the salt.
Time to travel again on day three, this time to Phomolong reserve in the North West province, home base of Henry Griffiths Safaris. The plan was to settle in to the tent camp at Phomolong then hunt culls for a few days prior to my lion hunt. It was nearing full moon the first night I bedded down in camp. The tent flaps open, moonlight drenched the bush veldt, all the night sounds were welcome to ebb in. It was enough for a God-fearing man to praise his Maker and an atheist to reconsider.
Only two things got in the way during my cull hunt. The first being a bush, deflecting the 150grain soft point launched from my Remington .308. You can shoot either Blesbuck or bush, but not both at the same time. The Blesbuck seemed happy! Obstruction #2 arose one day as we rounded a bend in the road and came face to face with the widest Impala ram I壇 ever seen. Yes dear, I know I already have an Impala! But Honey, I don稚 have an Impala like this Impala! Truth is, I never asked her. I just said to my outfitter, forget the culls, lets hunt this ram. Next day ... ram in the salt!
Lion hunt went well. We found her in a thicket laid up for the day. Or rather Casper PH #2 says: 的 see her? Henry PH #1 says: 添es just there!? While rookie lion hunter yours truly reaches for the Nikons to verify professionals #1 and #2. P.S. Try not to go #2 on yourself while lion hunting! Mathematically speaking with five people on the spoor, two trackers, two white hunters and yourself you should relatively be safe. But then again, it was big! And it was a lion! She was just over thirty yards away at such an angle as to make a shot almost impossible, especially in such dense cover. After a quick consultation (I just listened) the decision was made to throw a rock in hope that she might stand and present a better angle. Tracker #1 was sure we were going to get eaten. Tracker #2 pleaded no rock throwing to be done lest the lioness go even deeper into cover where he really had no desire to track. But the rock got thrown anyway. So much for the element of surprise! She politely stood up, moved a bit to the left, turned around, and laid up again in a good position to keep an eye on these rock throwing would be lion hunters. The message was unmistakable, loud and clear. This is my thicket, and if you would like the chance to use up your entire life time supply of band aids all at once, please come in. I could see her through the binos, right eye glaring around the stem of the bush, at the other end her tail was twitching as she waited. The ball was in our court as they say, so I moved forward about eight feet. Eight feet can be a long way! Cradled my .375 across some limbs amd put a 300 grain bondded bear claw through both lungs. Three roars later I was running my fingers through the fur of my first lion. No bandaids nesassary.
During my first stay at Phomolong Henry had an away trip planned into the Kalahari with some meat hunters. And though he didn't have to, I was extended an invitation to go along. I did want a Gemsbok and the Kalahari is a good place to get one I致e been told. And besides, this excursion offered me a chance to see a part of Africa most people never get a chance to experience. So on the 14th we loaded everything in the bakkie and headed north west. Before noon saw us at the gate of Geelhout Safaris hunting lodge, a little slice of heaven on earth as I would soon learn. In fact the next morning as we bumped along in the safari truck drinking coffee and solving the worlds problems, the conversation got cut short when Henry abruptly injected: Gemsbok! Naturally I hadn't seen the thing, but Henry seemed certain, so off we went. Sure as shooting after a short tracking job there he stood browsing away! I gave him every chance to surrender, but when he wouldn't get in the truck I was forced to shoot him. The tape on the old bulls left horn said thirty nine inches and a smidge. Those numbers nearly send my white hunter nearly into convulsions. All I thought was I知 sure glad my PH can see good.
Time and space refuse to allow for all the details of a great hunt. There was a trip to the Pilansberg Nature Reserve an ongoing chess game between hunter and Jackal (I did win once or twise), baboon snipering, great friends, food and drink. Warthog, Impala, Guinea fowl and francolin shooting. Books and biltong, the list goes on and on. But I will say this: If you ever find yourself with too much time on your hands, and no clue what to do. I know a great way to spend twenty four days in South Africa.
Thanks Rick! for the Kind words hope to see you in Africa again soon!