South Africa was ADDICTIVE......
So, my buddy and I (we towed my Dad along, he only wanted to shoot with a camera) just got back from South Africa, Limpopo. It was ridiculously fun. And since I have had a great time reading the stories here I thought I would post mine.
We were picked up by our PH (Jakes vd Merwe of huntsafari.com) in Jo'burg and driven out to the concession. I have to stop here because Jakes was awesome. See, my dad has MS. It's not bad but he can't walk for long periods and is a bit unsteady at times. But Jakes did EVERYTHING he could to make it a great experience for my dad. I can't say enough about Jakes.
Anyway, we drove out and spent a few hours scouting and walking the concession. My background is mule deer and elk so to see the bush come alive and all the animals moving was awesome. We saw pretty much everything we wanted to hunt the next day and I had a 150 yard shot at Gemsbok but passed not because of the size but because I think I was still in shock :) In hindsight, it was a better shot than I took the next morning but that's besides the point.
The next morning we started hunting. My buddy went with Jakes and I went with Stanley Pieterse, another PH. We placed a bet that last one with an animal down made lunch. We spotted a Gemsbok in the bush and off we went. Of course 30 min later we heard a shot followed by another 2 and knew we had lost the bet. We moved slowly for about an hour about finally had a seated shot underneath the trees from 120 yards or so (no rangefinder, just the old fashioned guesstimate). I squeezed it off (man there a LOT of twigs and sticks to shoot through) and hit him, what I thought, was pretty good. I thought I saw his go down about 20 yards from where I hit him. We waited for what felt like an eternity and then moved to the spot we shot the Gemsbok. No blood. We started walking circles and the whole time I was saying that I THOUGHT I hit him well. I looked to the right where I thought I saw him go down and there he was, my first African animal. I HAD hit him well. One shot, one down. My dad came in the truck and we took some pictures. It was amazing.
A sidenote, I was shooting a .300 RUM with TTXS Barnes. New gun for Africa. I am sure a lot of people will have a lot to say about both of those things but I came home and I am buying a .375 with nosler partitions. Won't shoot plastic tips again.
We took a bunch of animals. Kudu (my buddy, not me), 2 Impala, 2 Blesbok, Zebra (me), 2 Blue Wildebeest, 2 Gemsbok, and 2 Warthog. We aren't size guys, just wanted a good animal that represented the species well. The PH's did a wonderful job of guiding, instructing and teaching us.
The last story on the Zebra. I wanted a Zebra. I have spent quite a bit of time in Africa as a whole, never hunting, and wanted a Zebra. Like the lion, I believe the Zebra is extremely representative of Africa. I got a shot on a Zebra at 300+ yards on one and missed earlier in the day. I attributed it to not having a rangefinder at that distance, having a new gun, shooting off of shooting sticks (I have always shot off a pack seated or prone) and a little good old fashioned nerves. In the end, I just missed. So we finally spotted 3 more Zebra towards the end of the day and I lined up a shot at 100 yards. I hit him just inside his front shoulder, heard it hit, and he circled and went down. Maybe some will call me names but the PH recognized that this Zebra was an emotional thing for me and as we walked towards the Zebra after a few minutes we had that moment that only hunters can have. Grateful for the animal and the opportunity. The only problem was when we walked around a bush at 75 yards the Zebra was up and standing. I got back on the sticks and the PH said shoot him between the eyes. I pulled it because I wasn't ready to take a shot. I feel horrible about that shot still. Zebra moved from straight on to a broadside position. I racked a round and shot quickly below his ear. I hit. But that Zebra starting running. So now we are running after him and I'm trying desperately to reload while I am running and cursing myself. Of course Zebra run MUCH faster than we do and we lost sight of the animal. So now back to the blood trail. The PH is on the phone getting a tracker and we are tracing the route but we can't find it for anything. At a road we pick up the blood trail but it's starting to get dark, I'm pissed pissed at myself and the PH is screaming for the truck. Anyway, moral of the story, I blew out both lungs, took out the Zebra's jugular and he still ran over a 1/2 mile. The tracker found him within 30 yards of where Jakes and I lost the blood trail.
I play this hunt over and over in my head. Shot placement, missing, the animal running. It was one of those things you never forget and something for which I will be forever grateful.
I have already committed to going in April or May. I am looking at Spotted Hyena, Jackal, Kudu, Springbok and something else. Although that problem lion hunt here on AH is looking REALLY REALLY REALLY tempting. Not sure the wife is gonna go for back to back Africa trips and then deer and elk in October :)