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SOUTH AFRICA: A First-Timer's Journey (2012 South Africa, Leopards Valley Safari's)

This is a discussion on SOUTH AFRICA: A First-Timer's Journey (2012 South Africa, Leopards Valley Safari's) within the Hunting Reports & Reviews forums, part of the HUNT AFRICA category; Originally Posted by Bobpuckett Absolutely a Fantastic Read Thanks. You are going on your next safari this week aren't you? ...

  1. #121
    rnovi is online now AH Veteran
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobpuckett View Post
    Absolutely a Fantastic Read Thanks. You are going on your next safari this week aren't you?
    Well, not next week. But did I ever tell you the story about backyard gopher hunting in suburbia?




    *******

    Oh, side note, that I forgot to mention: the Rifle.

    The Pre-64 300H&H ran nearly 9.5# empty. Add four in belly and a sling and Goodness that thing got HEAVY by the end of the day! I've since swapped out the stock for a McMillan EDGE and changed to a Leica 2.5-10x scope and knocked the weight down to 8.25# empty. Better, but not quite right yet.

    I'm honestly thinking that I'll pack my Merkel K1 in 7mm RMag next time. It tips in at 6.5# wet and is such an incredible joy to portage. For the whopping 18 rounds I fired including sighting rounds at the range I think I can put up with the recoil.

    But then...that's next time...

    Next up: Kevin whacks a Wildebeast!

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    Quote Originally Posted by rnovi View Post
    Next up: Kevin whacks a Wildebeast!
    ...and left us hanging in midair. Please, Daddy, just ONE more story before bedtime? Pretty pleeeese?!?
    Overkill is underestimated!

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    Right! So I'm back home for the weekend and should be able to (finally!) wrap this up! Sorry for the delays guys, it's been a very busy start of the new year for me.

    Kevin and the Beast.

    Every hunt must be taken with a grain of humor. It's hunting. It's Africa. It's, well, just another day in the brush where life happens.

    After we settled down from the nights festivities, celebrating the Bok and all the goodness of hunting, we retired somewhat early to find out that we now had neighbors! Yes, we had come to camp as just a party of three and now there was a wonderful group of several others who'd joined in for local hunting.

    "Local" is a funny word though. It's kinda like saying Texas is Local to California. Technically they are on the same continent but noone's ever going to mix up the accents! All I remember was that they were from "the other side of SA" and they were huge fun. BIG, loud and laughing fun. You just never know what will happen - we had hoped from some peace and quiet and instead had a magnificent party.



    I truly wish I could remember these fine folks names. They were wonderful fun and I do hope one to share their company again.

    The next day had Kevin on the sticks. He was up for Beast. Black Wildebeest to be exact. I yawned and rubbed a bit of sleep from my eyes as the Bakkie jounced around and decided not to bother. I just closed them again and dreamed happy dreams of Boks' bouncing through the clouds...

    I felt the Bakkie slow to a stop. Craig and Shane were chatting quickly in Afrikaans with a couple of hand signals. A nod and the doors popped open.

    "Robert, I want you to stay back. I saw a few Black Wildebeest several hundred yards off and we need to make a nice stalk. Winds in our face. Kevin, ready?"

    Kevin accepted the Browning from Shane and popped a magazine in. I waved and wished them "happy hunting"...rather comtemplating just how quaint that must have sounded. I peaked over at my wife, asleep in the back seat and made myself comfortable against her. Shane curled up in the bed of the truck with his phone, furiously tapping out text messages to his girlfriend...

    I don't know really how long it was before the radio squawked. I never heard the shot but I knew immediately Kevin had bagged a nice one. The story goes something like this:

    Kevin and Craig had seen the Beest about 500 yards away and decided to put a stalk in on them. They were able to keep a very nice screen of shrubs and trees between them and the beest for a long time and ultimately they were able to get to about 70 yards from the critters. Craig had spotted a very nice bull and they were getting set up on the sticks when the bull decided to walk behind a shrub.

    Immediately Craig readjusted the sticks and position and put Kevin in the perfect position to capitalize on the shot. The Beest had no idea they there.

    "Right" Craig whispered..."When he walks out I want you to hammer it right on the shoulder. No time wasted. Got it?"

    Kevin nodded, got on the sticks and got quiet.

    Sure enough, a minute or so later the bull decides to walk out from behind the brush...

    "NAIL IT!"

    And Kevin puts a 180gr. TSX from his 30'06 right on the shoulder. The Bull collapsed instantly without taking a step.

    "GREAT SHOT! GREAT SHOT! (Backslaps all around) LET'S Gooooo...

    Right about that moment another bull walks out from behind the brush, stares at his girlfriend on the ground, looks at the two hunters and promptly flips his tail and rails out of there.

    Craig stands there, mouth agape, and slowly closes his eyes.

    "Oh bloody hell".



    Unbeknownst to Kevin and Craig there was a Female Beest behind the brush the male had walked behind! In all the excitement, Craig was absolutely sure that he had only seen one bull and therefore the ONLY bull that would walk out was this fantastic Bull...

    Only it didn't quite work out that way.

    "I am going to hate having to explain this one." Craig pondered what to do on this. Kevin had done EXACTLY what he was instructed to do right down to the perfect shot.

    The good news? Kevin isn't really out here for the trophies...he's out here for the HUNT. And it was a GREAT hunt for him with all the bells and tribulations. For Kevin it was still a perfect hunt.

    So, what to do?



    Yeahhh Buddy!

    We all sat down to an absolutely MAGNIFICENT dinner! Kevin's Wildebeest was as tender and tasty as the finest roast beef I have EVER had.



    We celebrated a great meal and toasted our wonderful hostess!



    And then we dined like kings.



    I've heard that nothing in Africa ever goes to waste and I can tell you that THIS night nothing did!
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    RNOVI, thanks for the read, i think i would enjoy hearing you tell a tale or two around the campfire

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    rnovi, this is like a James Patterson novel - there is always another twist. Keep it coming!
    Overkill is underestimated!

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    Well done! Another surprise...you are keeping us hanging every episode! Bravo!

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    I think the dachshund must be Southern Africas regional pet. It seemed almost every landowners ranch I hunted on had one or two of them.

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    Overkill is underestimated!

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    i know how you feel timbear .
    this bloke is big on suspence but its like he has fallen off the planet .

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    Quote Originally Posted by bluey View Post
    i know how you feel timbear .
    this bloke is big on suspence but its like he has fallen off the planet .
    Last post was on Valentines day. My bet is he got some trouble or its that darned job again.
    Practice whispering before you leave for Africa!
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    the ruination of a mans hunting time ;women and work

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    My guess: Valentine's card mix up! Hospital? Traction? In the Hudson with concrete shoes? Hell hath no fury...
    Overkill is underestimated!

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    Quote Originally Posted by timbear View Post
    My guess: Valentine's card mix up! Hospital? Traction? In the Hudson with concrete shoes? Hell hath no fury...
    Damn near all of the above! It's been...well...Life in full session. Let's see, we have a zebra, a Steenbok and...something else to hunt!

    No excuses...onto the next chapter!

    We celebrated the night of Kevin's Beest with wine and song. The campfire roared late into the night...the brush in camp moving with the soft breezes of Africa and the softer whispers of the Karoo Daschunds moving through the nearby underbrush. A glass of red wine, howling laughter of our hosts - the Safari felt well and good and we felt so much at home.

    Kevin turned in early...tomorrow morning would be his greatest morning. It was his chance to find the culmination of the hunt...it was time for his most prized game. I may be sharing a bit more than necessary here but you see...Kevin is not fond of horses. No, nay, not fond at all. Abject hatred is closer...but may not adequately describe his true feelings. I saw him fondling his knife that evening...and odd gleam in his eyes...

    I'm pretty sure he slept with a cartridge under his pillow that night.

    Early morning dawn broke and frost hung in the air. It was cold, the coldest morning yet. Frost crisped the ground and I was careful of footing loading into the Bakkie. Trina came back out from the room with a couple extra sweatshirts while Kevin insisted that shorts were "just fine". Cuts across is shins and calves bore the mark of Africa - the Acacia.

    I snugged my beanie down low and curled up in the bakkie, my wife and I fighting over who got to hold onto Fury for a couple of added degrees stolen from his body in a lap. The thermometer read something like "-2". Craig turned the heater on the truck...

    Samara I think it was. The concession that is.





    Samara was known for it's Cheetah population. Very cool. Apparantly they really liked the Cheetah there as they helped maintain the population of some of the old and decripit critters. What would be cool would be to see one! We would not be so lucky though.

    Par for the course, we rolled by the concession manager, picked up a game scout and headed off into the great unknown. A few Hartebeast studied us as we drove by...Oryx from miles away studied us as well. But they weren't on the list. It was all about the Zebra. Must. Find. The Horse.

    A tap came on the roof and Craig slowed down, parking the bakkie on the red dirt. Everyone piled out and Kevin reached a hand up like a pro...the Browning meeting him with nary a moments delay followed quickly by a magazine materializing from his pocket.



    Craig, the Game Scout and Kevin whispered plans while Shane laid himself out on a well and took a nap. Trina and I sat up in the bakkie with binoculars scanning the area, looking for the Zebra that weren't there. I thought briefly of taking a picture but nahhh, this was Kevin's moment. The three scampered off as quietly as the could, the wind in their faces, the sun at their backs.

    Once again, in seemingly no time at all there was a crackle over the radio and Shane thumbed the button back, speaking rapidly. "Ok, let's go."



    That might just be Kevin's greatest picture of the trip!

    Fury stepped in to Protect and claim the kill.





    And for the record, yes, you can in fact load a full Zebra into the back of a Bakkie as well as two trackers!

    Kevin beamed. He had taken one shot at the Zebra and it was the only game animal that ran on him. It made it 40 yards before piling up. Just amazing what a properly placed bullet can do to virtually any animal, even a critter the size of the Zebra!

    This was a bittersweet moment for Kevin...it was the end of the hunt for him. Zebra, Black Wildebeet, Steenbok, Impala, Blesbok. He had fired five rounds...and downed five wonderful trophies. What more, really, could a hunter ask for?
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    It was barely 10 in the morning. Shane was dropped off at the skinning shed with the Zebra and we had a chance to ponder a few things. Like this:



    Seriously. Like, what the heck is "Imitation Vinegar"? It's Acetic Acid. It's Vinegar. I mean, how do you remotely make Vinegar "imitation"?



    And then there was this monster. The picture doesn't do any justice here...there just isn't any frame of reference. Except that the grinder had a 6" output pipe and a hopper that could handle literally hundreds of pounds of meat at a time. It was HUGE!



    And this one was just fascinating. It was...like chicken...lots and lots of plucked chickens. Except they weren't exactly like chickens. Rather, they were like Ostritches. As in hundreds of pounds of Ostritches. These things were huge! And...looked exactly like plucked chickens!

    I shook my head at the sight and wandered outside. Shane was proving his worth, having skinned off nearly 40% of the Zebra while the game scout had barely completed 5%. And Shane's work was nicer and not by a small margin.

    Craig looked at me. "Whadaya Say? Gemsbok?"

    "Nahhhh...Hartebeest!"

    Craig gleemed. It was right at that moment I realized that one of the great gifts of hunting in Africa is that one really doesn't need a plan. Harte's wasn't on the menu...and when I used to watch Mutual of Omaha I used to think "Man, what a ugly and wierd animal!".

    Yeah, and that was going to be an animal that was going to look GREAT on my Trophy wall!

    The day was warming up nicely. It would be a good day for a walk. Little did we really know how long the walk would end up being.
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    Vinegar is diluted Acetic Acid, we make it up in the lab all the time....still not too many people know this fact.

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    Quote Originally Posted by enysse View Post
    Vinegar is diluted Acetic Acid, we make it up in the lab all the time....still not too many people know this fact.
    I bet you don't leave yours in a nice red wine cask for a year though!
    Practice whispering before you leave for Africa!
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    10 am...the day still had that slightly cold snap in the air even though the sun was brilliant in the sky. We were driving along the road in a very slowly, meandering fashion. There just wasn't any rush at this point. It was the last day of the hunt, the last hours to be savored and enjoyed in the pursuit of game and adventure.

    Kevin has his five in the salt with a Beest, Blesbok, Impala, Steenbok and Zebra. I had a Blesbok, an Impala, two Kudu, a Beest (/sigh, still running around out there somewhere) and a Springbok to my name. I still had a couple of "critters of opportunity" on the list: Steenbok and Duiker though i'd long since resigned myself to not actually seeing them on this trip. While such magnificent game as Gemsbok and Hartebeest weren't directly on the menu per se, they WERE in the area and we still had several huntable hours to go.

    A gentle tap on the roof had Craig gliding the truck to a gentle halt.

    I gave my wife a peck for luck and rolled out of the truck. Shane handed the rifle off from the back and I thumbed four rounds of slender .300 H&H into the magazine. I left my vest behind and swapped binoculars with my beloved. The 10x42 Leica's were magnificent glass...but just too heavy for a stalk: The 8x33's were perfect for that role. Two back up rounds in the pockets and we were off.

    Craig and I didn't really bother with much planning for this walk. Shane had seen something off to the right and we would go for a walk on the flat karoo. Low grass brushed my shins and we dropped down gently into a low streambed, dry and sand filled. There would be no sound here...

    We followed for a couple hundred yards, coming up for air every fifty yards or so and checking the view for game. The streambed turned sharply back to the left and we rose up the four foot high edges and stood above, glassing from the shadows of the acacia. Nothing.

    We enjoyed the walk for some time before a number of Gembok came into view. Four, four to the left walking towards our right about 600 yards out. I chambered a round and flipped the safety on. Craig nodded a "let's get a better look then" look and we rolled in behind a row of brush to close the distance. At 300 yards we came out and the Gemsbok were ahead of us but moving away. Either they sensed us or they just decided to move on, still it didn't matter. We both knew they hadn't given us the look we wanted so off we moved again, following them with the wind to our face and the sun to our backs.

    We bumped the Gembok along for near 30 minutes before finally stopping on the edge of a brush line 240 yards away. They were just slightly off to the left, again moving to the right. Craig set the sticks up and balanced the bino's carefully on the edge of the yoke. One, the other, the next, my PH was sizing them up slowly. I glassed the edges of the area, glassing the Boks. Something said "no" to me...

    Time passes slowly in moments like this. Like a soft, gentle warm breeze that one enjoys on a summer day. I slowed my breathing, inhaling the scent of Africa. The dust in the air, the gentle flower blooms in winter. I shifted softly and glanced about.

    "Craig, to the left. Three more, no, four more Boks coming in at 300 yards, edge of the clearing". Gently, without moving his eyes from the binos he shifted his gaze. "behind the trees now, wait thirty seconds. Two smaller one's I think, possibly one decent one."

    Slowly the long slender horns moved out from behind the trees. The Boks were calm, feeding and moving through the screen. Craig shifted the sticks and made room while I silently slipped the big .300 off my shoulder and onto the yoke. I dialed my scope to 4x and relaxed. There just wasn't any hurry or rush here. I shouldered up and rested my cheek on the Bastogne stock and smiled, looking over the scope at the seven or eight Boks in front of us.

    The display went on for another 8-10 minutes. Every now and again Craig would shift from one side to the next, studying the two biggest. But neither really seemed spectacular. Sure, they were representative Gemsbok for the area but...they weren't the kind of Bok I wanted. I was looking for thick bases...old horns...an old warrior.

    "70 yards, straight out. Steenbok."

    Dead in front of us, without warning at all, a Steenbok stood up and was staring straight at us in the shade.

    Craig shifted, brought the bino's down and back up squarely on the Steen.

    "Take Him".

    WHAM!

    Holland & Holland's finest plainsgame cartridge flamed on primer ignition and the Steen punched the ground with it's skinny legs twitching at the sky. The Gemsbok scattered

    "Nicely done Hunter."

    I cycled the action and pocketed the spent brass, pausing for a moment in thought before thumbing a spare round into the magazine and closing the bolt on an empty chamber. Nearly 80 years old this old, obsolete, magnum rimmed cartridge was still doing it's thing with aplomb. I can't exactly say why but I love this cartridge. There's something "old-school supermodel" about this beauty. Like a Marylin Monroe or Jane Russel...or maybe Audrey...she had a long, tall, slinky look to her. In my office at home I keep several cartridges laying about...and there's no doubt the .300 H&H gets the most attention, the tarnish on the case rubbed bright on one side of the shoulder from a thumb worrying the case.

    We walked up to the Steen, covering the distance in no great hurry. "Where did he come from?" Craig asked. A smaller female jumped up, stared at us and then left the area with great haste. The little mated Steens had been laying in front of us the whole time - we'd never known until he stood up to get a better look at us.

    I loved this little guy - his pelt was a mess at this point, the TSX and hydrostatic shock had emptied him rather completely. "Shane will be happy he doesn't need to clean this one". We offered a short chuckle and thanked Diana for the fortune of the hunt. Sometimes the hunt simply offers itself up.



    The Steenbok was truly beautiful. He would be a beautiful shoulder mount. His near 4" horns had great secondary age growth. More importantly, mine was bigger than Kevin's.



    After posing the Steen, Craig tied it's feet up and carried it over his shoulder telling me about the "Royal Hunt".

    "Steenbok and Duiker...and many of the other game animals that make up the Tiny Ten are also known as the Royal Game. Only the Royals - Kings, Queens, Princes were allowed to hunt these wonderful game. See, back in early times these animals weren't hunted much because they didn't provide enough food or sustinence for the effort. I mean, they're small, they aren't common and they are darn hard to spot. Heck, I had no idea this little guy was even there" He patted the Steen before going on.

    "You may never hunt these guys again. In a lot of cases they are really considered a 'target of opportunity'. If you see them, you take them. This is the great falacy of the 'packaged hunt'. Sure, we can put a lot of critters on a first timers menu of game animals but the truth is that you never really know what you will see. Often they just show up during the hunt, flushed from whereever they've decided to bed down for the day. Shane Shane, come in? Pick on the road. Yes, Steen. Nice one too."

    And right at that moment I knew exactly how I would plan my next African hunt. There would be no "menu". No planning. I would hire the PH and we would walk. Miles upon miles upon miles and we would find whatever game Diana would offer. And only the game that Diana would offer that met Her standards would be acceptable.

    In all the walks, the stalks, the fired rounds...it was THIS Steenbok, the smallest of the game I'd taken that meant the most.

    I think Diana smiled too.
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    Awesome!
    Enjoy life now -- it has an expiration date.

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    We laid out lunch in the shade of a tree I couldn't identify. Warm breezes carried the scent of cattle across the karoo. I chuckled to myself laughing at the primitive senses I was blessed with. Fury with his magnificent nose knew we had a kill long before we finished our walk to camp. Fury came bounding through the scrub and grass headlong, trailing Craig and licked at the fallen blood drops. Shane clapped at the sight of the Steen. Nearly 4 evil little spikes stood atop his head a worthy trophy. A worthy game.

    I munched on a sandwich and a Twix bar, watching the rifle and binoculars swaying on the shooting sticks. Life was good.



    Trina was looking at the rifle when Craig started in on her saying "Whadaya Say Trina? Take a shot in Africa?

    "Oh, I don't do much shooting. I've only been to the range a few times.

    "Oh Hon, you're a better shot than you give yourself credit for. Let the rest carry the rifle and take a shot.

    Craig set the sticks up and coaxed and cajoled until Trina stood up and walked over. The rifle was far too big for her. The slender 26 barrel and long stock was almost comically long. I dialed back the scope to its lowest power to give her more eye relief and stepped back. "See that rock over there?



    The rifle spoke its bark and the rock some 70 yards away shattered.

    "That one?

    Craig and Shane laughed.

    Yes, that one. I snickered to myself. Trina's father had earned a Marksmans medal in the military year upon year. It was no surprise to me that she drilled the rock dead smack in the center.

    "So, how about something bigger next time? With hooves and fur? Shane winked at me and I gave him a shallow thumbs-up from the side Trina couldn't see.

    "Oh no. That's ok. I don't think I could do that. Here, take this thing, it's heavy.

    I smiled and picked up the rifle. I know my wife

    We packed up lunch early and Craig and I started out again. The last great stalk. Four hours of Africa left. I want to wax poetic here, pulling frames from Hemmingway, Ruark, Capstick. I could only imagine Papa in the Karoo, his slender rifle in large hands wandering the lands I trod. I'm pretty sure Ruark wrote something about wiley Kudu and Capstick must have written about the vile personal hatred of monkeys spoiling yet another perfect stalk.

    But no, no here. Not this time. I knew it was the end of the hunt. The great stalks on game spotted miles away. And trying to outsmart Blesbok running in great circles only to have pure luck shine on us in the very end. I didn't want it to end. 3 hours and 58 minutes from now I'd be sheathing my rifle...

    We stood high on a Kopi, scanning and looking over a great many miles of land. A dozen Gemsbok stood out in a cluster. Four Hartebeest milled about a few thousand yards off. Wildebeest trampled the ground with their funny walk.

    We left the Kopi, seeing several Kudu and Eland cows. Gemsbok off in the distance always stayed well ahead of us. Another Steen broke like a chukar and exploded from the brush at speeds I just couldn't fathom. And the minutes passed under a brilliant blue sky that slowly faded to grey.



    In the end hours of walking African soil I reflected on how good my life really is. How such a distant land could be so welcoming. And what the African experience meant to me.

    Somewhere off in the distance was a Bakkie waiting for us. We turned towards it, the sun to our backs again?omehow always to our backs.

    I would love to say that Diana smiled on us one last time but it was bittersweet. A Duiker stood up in front of us at a scant 35 yards. On the sticks I took a fast shot that deflected off a branch somehow. I had clipped the Duiker in the back leg and he ran off like lightning on three legs. We pursued the noble creature for the next two hours mostly at a dead sprint, Fury hot on a trail that crossed back over itself countless times. We saw it once? greybrown streak flashing passed us and never again.

    We gave it our all neither of us wanted to end a hunt on a down note but that was all it was to be.

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  20. #140
    bluey's Avatar
    bluey is online now GOLD SUPPORTER
    Joined
    May 2012
    Posts
    2,019

    Member of ssaa, aba ,bairnsdale field archers

    Hunted australia south africa (limpopo) canada (b.c)

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    thank you rnovi
    youve kept me spell bound and entwined with your words .
    i look forward to reading more once artemis smiles upon you again

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