Eastern Cape First Safari
6 – 13 October
Stayed at XXL Lodges and Kupusi Safari
Rented PH Rifle: Howa 1500, 300 Win Mag – Bushnell Legend 3x9x40
This was my first safari and I had a pretty good time overall, and I will have these pictures and memories for a lifetime. My PH, Dave is a very knowledgeable professional and knows the region like the back of his hand, but uses very few words. Don’t expect any unnecessary conversation or joking around with him.
I have to admit I wish I had researched the drought conditions and terrain better and had been better prepared to climb rocky, hilly and sometimes very steep terrain. What gym time I had did not prepare me for some of what I encountered. Don’t get me wrong, I got around, but I could have done better keeping up with Dave, who I swear, never broke a sweat or got winded. I think the skinner/tracker and the ranch guide we picked up each day was glad I lagged behind sometimes so they could take their time as well. I finally quit trying to keep up; I figured I paid the money, he can wait on me. But enough of my deficiencies.
The hunting was some of the best I have ever had. We spotted and stalked kudu (morning/evening) for the first three days. I am totally amazed at how these guys can spot a kudu in the thick brush so far away, and how the kudu can spot us so far away. It was the best game of cat and mouse I have ever been involved in. On the third day I got my kudu by chance. We had taken our lunch break on top of the highest hill and glassing for Impala’s in the valley while we ate. As we glassed we saw a couple of kudu cows avoiding the heat (~30 Celsius) under some trees, and further away (~1.5km) we saw three bulls moving which was unusual for the time of day and temperature. We watch them for a bit until they got lost in the brush. We found a good Impala bull and decided to move down the mountain to get a closer shot. We left the skinner on the mountain top to keep an eye on the Impala and guide us closer by radio. While we were setting up for the Impala the Skinner called on the radio and told us to turn right 90 degrees and we would see the Kudu pass by. Dave told me there was no time for sticks, just get ready. Just like clock-work in about 20 seconds the first one passed at about 40 meters in an opening that was roughly 20 feet wide. The second moving faster ran by before I could get a shot off, and then the third one came and I was able to take him. I hit him in the neck and he ran about 20 meters. We figured he was about five years old. He measured 41 inches. He may not have been as big as Dave was looking for me, but like I told Dave; he may not be old or massive, but he is mine and he will look great over my fireplace!
I got my zebra the first day out after spending the morning kudu hunting. Honestly, I thought that would be the easiest of the animals I was after. But, as I found out, every time we tried to get close for a shot they would start running. I hate to admit it, but my first shot was bad. She was quartering me and I shot too far back. In the picture you can see the exit wound from my first shot. Honestly, I did not expect to find her once she ran. Dave saved my bacon. We tracked her for about two hours before I got my second shot. She will make a great rug.
The second day after hunting kudu I got my blesbuck. We drove back to XXL and stalked a herd of about 30. After watching them for a minute they started moving toward us off to the left side which I thought was unusual. As they got closer I had the scope sighted on the first one as they started to run single file. Dave was saying, ok, not the first one, not the second one, not the third one, ok, shoot the fourth one. I hit him in on the move which was pretty exciting. He measured 16 inches.
The fourth day was warthog day. We got out before they started moving and found a place on a high spot that over looked two separate grass fields. As we watched them slowly come out it was a matter of finding one that had the best trophy. According to Dave the three year drought has affected the trophy quality of most of the animals and the warthog was no exception. After about an hour of watching we see the one that I took. He was about 130 meters taking his time grazing, and I just had to wait until he turned broadside. He measured 6 3/4 above the gum line.
The fifth day was when we moved from XXL Lodge to Kupusi and my wife got her shopping trip in East London. All I will say about my wife tagging along is; she said when I go back she won’t be going and she will go to Vegas instead. All I heard is: “when I go back!” On a side note if you book with EAI and you pay for a shopping trip, expect the person that drives your wife to be your PH, taking away one of your hunting days. So much for coordinating ahead of time to make sure that did not happen.
On the sixth day I got both of my impala’s. The weather started out cold, wet and windy in Kupusi. After driving around a bit we got out and walked some ridgelines and glassed a small herd of impala. He was about 100 meters and walked broadside the entire time we watched them. The second one is more impressive having a wider rack. They measured 19 and 20 inches. I will place one on each side of my Kudu over the fireplace.
The one pic is a view from one of hill tops were we glassed for kudu.
Overall it was a good trip. We saw all kinds of animals: cape buffalo, giraffe, bushbuck, waterbuck, sable, rino, baboons, monkeys, cape cobra, ostrich, blue wildebeest, springbuck to mention a few.
Eastern Cape First Safari
Congrats Steve on some fine trophy's I to did my first safari on the East cape this year it looks like you had a great time even if you did lose a day to shopping.