Namibia Hunt Report - post-trip report
This is a discussion on Namibia Hunt Report - post-trip report within the Namibia Hunting Reports forums, part of the Hunting Reports & Questions About Outfitters/PHs category; First started here: http://www.africahunting.com/namibia...ip-report.html And now, the MEAT! Yes, yes, I know - it's been a whole week since I've ...
06-03-2009, 08:23 PM #1
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Namibia Hunt Report - post-trip report
First started here:
Namibia Hunt Report - pre-trip report
And now, the MEAT!
Yes, yes, I know - it's been a whole week since I've gotten back and I'm just now sitting down to do this - well, I'm still not over the jet-lag, work has been brutal, and my wife is just now calling me "Eric" and not "Bob" (just kidding, dear!)
This will be a multi-part report, as I can only type so much at a time, and of course due to the constant interruptions from love-starved dogs, cats, spouse, and girlfriend (just kidding (OUCH!) dear - damn that hurt.)
May 28 - I arrived home from work, exhausted, after having worked a 16 hour and 10 hour shift the past two days. I got to bed immediately and woke up at 0930. Luckily I was all packed and prepared, though still a little worried about weight limits. Thank God I bought the Tuffpak - it worked great, and allowed me to stuff a bunch of extra clothes, various gifts, etc. into it that a regular gun case wouldn't have allowed. The wife was great, though I could tell she was worried and apprehensive. In 18.5 years of marriage, we've never been so far away for so long. I was surprised at how calm I was, but I suppose that is to be expected after so many months of excitement. Now, it was FINALLY here and happening - perhaps it would really hit me later.
Once at the airport (Orlando) I had no trouble at all checking in or going through TSA - in fact, those guys were great. A very nice older TSA agent even thanked me for informing him I had a rifle, saying they had a bit of a "row" last week when an ex-NYC cop had a handgun in his checked baggage and neglected to inform anyone - all sorts of fun. But they did an external swipe test, came up clean, and didn't ask for me to open the Tuffpak or inspect the rifle. It really couldn't have gone any smoother.
I had some time after the wife and I said our goodbyes, and so headed for the bar for my last beer in America. The server and bartender, upon hearing of my destination and plans, were fascinated and quite open/non-judgmental about my hunting plans. That was quite nice, as they were both young. Maybe there is some hope?
After finishing up the beer, I walked down to the United gate where my flight was supposed to be leaving - I still had 2 hours, but figured being early would be a good idea. And thank the gods I did - when I looked up on the screen of arrivals/departures, imagine my shock to see my flight had been canceled! I went into a bit of a panic, and it didn't help things when the agent at the counter didn't even know that the flight had been canceled. I was supposed to leave at 1600 to go to Washington-Dulles, with a 2.5 hour layover before my flight to Frankfurt. They got me on a later flight to Dulles, but this one would only give me a 45 minute layover. Luckily, though, Kathi Klimes (Wild Travel, and member here) talked me off the Bell-tower. Guys, this is why you use a travel agent - mostly for emotional support (LOL). However, first lesson learned - either take a cell phone with you, or buy a cheap calling card BEFORE you get to the airport - the ones they sell at the airport are too damn expensive and I had to rely on them for making calls to Kathi and my wife.
The cancellation turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I made it to Dulles with no problems, and was able to get on my Frankfurt flight quickly. I hoped my luggage made it, but I'd find out in Frankfurt that indeed it did - hooray for the baggage handlers! When I got on the Frankfurt-bound United flight, I was happy to discover that I had netted an exit-row seat - hello leg room! The flight was long but uneventful, the food was decent, and I grabbed about 2-3 hours of sleep thanks to some Lunesta and a few adult beverages. Granted, those cost some money, but I expected that.
May 29 - arrived in Frankfurt, Germany at about 1150. The airport is rather . . . . confusing, and a bit sterile and closed-off. But it is big, and busy. Not a lot to do while there, so I'm glad that a fellow member here, Gerry, had emailed me a few weeks before offering to play chaperone/tour guide in Frankfurt. Gerry is ex-Army (I get the feeling he was in one of those "special" units, if you catch my meaning), worked for Proctor and Gamble Europe for years in Security, and then met and married a German lady. He's retired now and spends his days hunting, shooting, and heads a program to retrain French prostitutes into mimes (OK, just kidding about the last part - I think he's training them to become lawyers.)
Gerry picked me up outside the USO office (great setup there - free local calls, comfy couches, TV, 4 computers with internet, X-box and Playstation, etc. - very nice people, and I had no problem donating some money to them for their kindness. It brought a tear to my eye seeing the many young soldiers sacking out or unwinding there, wondering how many were coming or going from Iraq or Afghanistan).
Here's a pic of the limo that came for me - note the license plate - LOL.
Gerry was kind enough to let me grab a quick shower at his home, and introduced me to REAL non-pasteurized beer - tastes SO much better than the stuff we get here in the US!
(Note the patented double-raised-pinky pour)
After seeing his collection of trophies, I became more excited about my soon-to-be (I hope!) successful hunt!
We had a great time having lunch (some damn good Black Forest ham, cheese, bread, and of course more beer) and then went out to a couple of gun shops and a shooting range. Very neat experience - nothing like our gun shops. Everything was so . . . . . high end. Blasers, Mausers, Drillings, and all the optics were Zeiss, Docter, Swarovski, Kahles, and S&B. No cheap Chinese-made junk here! I also made my first trophy kill - a HUGE wasp that was attacking (ok, not attacking - maybe buzzing menacingly) at a female employee at the gun range shop - I deftly nailed it with my hat (while Gerry was trying to find ammo for the Drilling - I think he meant to blast it!) - unfortunately I didn't take a photo - that would have been a nice trophy shot, though finding a taxidermist to mount it would have been interesting.
Gerry got me back to the airport and we said our goodbyes - guys, trust me, if you get an email from Gerry inviting you to spend the day with him while on layover in Frankfurt, take him up on the offer - great company, he speaks fluent German (and is learning French thanks to the prostitutes (erm, I mean, [strike]mimes[/strike] lawyers), and it sure does help pass the time.
Kathi told me to get to the Air Namibia counter early, and boy was she right! It started backing up 2 hours before they opened - tons of people waiting to check in, but the time passed pretty quickly when I ran into Nevada Jay (from the site here!) - he, his son, brother, and nephew were going to Namibia for 14 days of hunting, so we had fun talking and making snarky comments about Bwana Bob. Who is Bwana Bob? He's the guy dressed in the manner that I was told NOT to dress like when traveling:
All kidding aside, it was pretty easy and quick once the line started moving. Soon we were on the plane and ready to leave Frankfurt.
A note on Air Namibia - VERY well run airline, attentive and nice flight crew, the Airbus was comfortable, much nicer, wider seats than the United planes, had lots of legroom, and the drinks were free! Yes, boys and girls, free booze on an airplane. Old school. I had my first of Amarula Cream and loved it. Got a few winks and soon was up, watching the sun rise and tracking our flight over the continent as we approached Namibia. The excitement was palpable, and I really truly felt like I was really doing it - I was about to land in Africa.
May 30 - Crossing the border at 30,000 feet, looking down on Namibian soil for the first time. I am amazed to see what appears to be a huge lake. In fact, it is water, standing water, in the Etosha Pan, for only the second or third time in over 100 years. The rains have been great this year in Namibia, and it shows. Soon, however, all thoughts of anything else are pushed aside as we touch down. A feeling of . . . . . elation, wonder, excitement, extreme emotion . . . . overwhelms me. I made it - I really, really made it. As I step onto the tarmac and take in a full breath of African air, I look down at my foot - it is on African soil. I have arrived, and it feels great.
06-03-2009, 08:24 PM #2
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May 30 - arrived at Windhoek (Hosea Kutako airport) - took some time getting through the firearms registration with the police, but that was due to the fact that MY luggage was the last off the conveyor. But it was a fast procedure, and very professional. Helped that I had my paperwork filled out already, though.
And now, the real vacation/hunt begins! I was picked up by Ursi, the wife of Martin Walter, a wealthy retired German who owns Martin Walter Farms, otherwise known as Otjikoko, located outside of Omaruru. Approximately 70,000+ acres on 3 farms, it is a sprawling farm with varied terrain and animals. I was to spend 8 days there hunting my plains game. Ursi was a pleasant lady in her 60s, and as we drove away from the airport I was looking all around me, taking it all in. We stopped to pick up her chef's wife, as the two of them had come into Windhoek the night before to stay at a B&B. We grabbed a light snack and I got my first taste of Namibian game meat - smoked kudu. Damn it was good - like the best pastrami you can imagine, but drier, not briney, and very smokey - rich, meaty - great stuff. Stopped for some petrol - not really much more than we are paying in the states - about $4.50 a gallon. But it was nice getting full-service and a nice windshield wiping. As we drove down the road to the farm, I was surprised at all the clouds in the sky - very odd for this time of year. We saw baboon, springbok, warthog, and oryx along the way.
Arriving at the farm, I was quite impressed with the buildings, terrain, and game I saw. This is a working farm, but is well laid out, has nice lodging, and what appears to be a happy staff. We had a nice lunch and I got to meet Geoff for the first time - Geoff was the man responsible for telling me about Otjikoko and got me interested enough to sign up for the hunt there. I must admit I was a bit apprehensive at first, as I had seen no other hunt reports on this place, but I had a good feeling about everything I'd seen and heard from Geoff, and it all seemed legit. And guess what? It was! Geoff (a member here with the callsign of "Geoff") was coming off a 1 week hunt with a pair of clients, a father and son (Late-Bloomer here on AR), Roland and Josh. We had a nice lunch of thin-sliced beef from the farm and my first (but not last!) taste of Windhoek Lager on draft - great beer, and the beef tasted very good. The chef, Petro, is German-Italian and was just the nicest guy - could barely speak English, but was a great chef and very attentive. Always trying to feed me more - I had to politely keep saying "No mas!" at every meal - otherwise I would have gained 20 pounds.
Josh and Roland couldn't say enough good things about their hunt and their animals, and meeting Tommy Hall (the farm manager and PH) for the first time was great - he's an amazing man, with tons of stories to tell. A veteran of the war in Namibia, he was South African special forces, and then after the war worked for the Namibian Conservation Corps, is an expert on Namibian wild horses, has been a cameraman on a film done in Namibia working with the lead cinematography director from Dances With Wolves, and has been a PH for over 25 years. His son, Rodney, had just recently gained his PH license and I was to hunt with him.
We grabbed my rifle to go sight it in, and as I had feared, my fiddling with it after my last range session had knocked it off about 4 inches to the left - this was due to my tightening the screws on the mount - duh. But three shots got me back on target and sighted in - hopefully. I would soon find out just how "spot on" this rifle was.
We took a scouting drive in the hunting car we'd use for 4 days - a battered Suzuki 4x4 that I just loved - it was comfortable, open, and could get anywhere, including small spaces. We saw a lot of game (Impala, Ostrich, Kudu, Oryx) but nothing yet worth taking. I wasn't too eager to jump right in just yet, especially since I was pretty tired from the plane trips and jet-lag. But I was excited, stoked, and knew I'd be ready to go in the morning.
It gets dark FAST here - 1745 it is starting to darken. 1800 and it is PITCH black dark, and gets cold - brrr. We had some drinks (I had brought a bottle of Balvenie Double-wood scotch - my favorite) to share, and I think Geoff may be buying more of it in the future, as he seemed to really like it. Dinner was grilled Oryx filets (like a good NY strip, no gaminess), and I whipped up some of my homemade BBQ sauce, and had brought a spice rub that some of the guys used on their steaks. I love to cook, and I think Petro really loved that - he and I kept trying to talk cooking, even though he couldn't speak English and I couldn't speak German. Dessert was an Espresso-Chocolate mousse which was great. But the real winner of the evening were the Namibian wild mushrooms - OMG! These things grow right after the rainy season on termite mounds, and are handpicked and cooked up and then frozen. They are pale, thick, not woody at all - they have this buttery, intense flavor that defies description. I couldn't stop eating them, and I'm not a huge mushroom fan. So, good food, good drinks, great company.
Back in my room, I look around and note a nice, well-laid out sleeping area and big en suite bathroom. Big bed, portable heater and AC unit, ceiling fan, coffee maker, bidet (not that I even know how to use one!), and shower. I hoped to get enough sleep and wake up ready to go for my first day of hunting!
Forgot to add - found out from Tommy Hall (the game manager on the farm and father of my PH) that the Namibia wild horses that he is an expert on are quite the natural oddity - they've adapted to their conditions of living in the desert. They are very popular for use in Endurance Horse Racing:
The Namibian horses have been cross-bred with Arabians, and they can go 2-3 times longer without water, their specialized kidneys are adapted to the harsh environments and less water is needed for their filtration action. Neat stuff.
May 31, Saturday morning - I am up EARLY. Surprised about that since I hadn't had much sleep in the last 48 hours, but the excitement of my first day of African hunting (hell, my first day of REAL medium-large game hunting ever!) was too much to allow me to sleep in. I shower, check, double-check, and triple-check all my gear, and gaze lovingly upon my rifle, trying to imbue it with a soul to which I can petition, hoping that it has noticed and appreciated the adoration and attention I have given it over the past few months. Will it perform for me the way I hope it will? Have we spent enough time together to form a "bond"? Do I know it's every curve, angle, sound, and feel? Today will be the first day that my practice, training, thoughts, hopes, and prayers will all come together, and I'll finally be able to answer so many questions I've been asking about myself.
Side note: my gear selection is a mix of what I would consider (to my income level) pricey items and bargain items. Clothing was mostly all purchsed from Cabelas - Safari line of 100% cotton long-sleeve shirts, a faux Underarmor style camo loose shirt for extra warmth, a neat balaclava made of the same material that can be turned into a cravat, watchcap, hood, "do-rag", etc., lightweight (6.4oz) and heavy weight (8 oz) Woolrich Elite pants, and a pair of Irish Setter soft suede leather chukkas, and some Cabelas thick hiking socks. All clothing performed exceptionally well - thanks to everyone who told me that cotton is IT when it comes to hunting in Africa. After seeing the spikes and thorns on everything, and getting down and dirty, scuffed, torn at, and assaulted by the elements, I wouldn't consider wearing anything else there. The boots did surprisingly well - for less than $80, they kept my feet warm, dry, well protected, and yet felt like sneakers while walking. The only time I wished for more support and stiffness was when we were after zebra and in some very rocky, steep terrain. I also used my contacts the entire time I was hunting - this was a departure from 99.9% of the time when I wear glasses. But I wanted the extra field of view and peripheral vision that the contacts would offer, plus I had some very nice polarized Bolle sunglasses I had bought that wrapped around and offered two different lenses for alternating conditions. They were perfect and I never felt overwhelmed by the light or glare, and they helped me see shapes and contours much better than my prescription sunglasses would have.
As for my main gear - I used a pair of Alpen Apex 8x42 binoculars for spotting. These are very nice, made in Japan, and the company has been great to deal with - I had some older ones I'd gotten for cheap second-hand, but their waterproofing had somehow been compromised. Alpen replaced them with brand new ones, newer model, and I paid very little for the upgrade. Compared to my PH's Swarovskis, they held their own even in low light, though they were a hair less clear when it get appreciably darker. Not bad for $300 bins.
My rifle and ammo combo: A Tikka M695 in .30-06 caliber. In my opinion, hands-down, one of the finest production rifles on the planet. If you've never thrown the bolt on a Tikka or Sako rifle, do yourself a favor and do so. You'll be hooked. The term "hot knife through butter" is an apt description of how easily and "slickly" (is that a word?) the bolt operates. The trigger, out of the box, is a joy - breaks like glass, adjustable down to under 2 pounds (set at 2.5 I think). The M695 was the last production model made before they switched over to the new T3 line - which isn't a bad rifle at all, but the M695 is for all intents and purposes a Sako with the name Tikka on it. About 7.5 pounds empty, has a 3 round detachable box mag, and a 23 inch barrel. I used Tikka scope mounts on it (medium) and a Zeiss Conquest 3-9x40 scope with #4 German reticle. For me, no finer scope out there for the money. I like a lot of eye relief, and the Zeiss delivers. I've owned Swarovski, Leupold, Nikon, et. al. and the Zeiss always seems to just "fit" my eyes perfectly. My one concern was my cheekweld - I have a big face with high cheekbones, and I had been using a wrap-around cheekpiece on the stock that raised the cheekrest quite high so I could align my eye up properly to the scope, but it was heavy, kept slipping, and I didn't know if it would work well in the field. My last few weeks of practice at the range I removed it and adjusted my cheekweld and stance, and I was hoping it would be OK in fast target acquisition scenarios. Time would tell.
Ammo - 180 grain Nosler Partition bullets, 55 grains of IMR 4350 powder, meticulously cleaned Winchester brass - these handloads were giving me 1.37" groups at 200 yards - I've NEVER shot that well before in my life, so I think I got them just right - hopefully they would perform that well on the game!
My first real breakfast - and it would be the standard for the next 8 days. Fresh scrambled eggs, bacon (damn good stuff - best I've ever had!), hard coarse bread, sliced meats (sausage, salami, ham) and fresh butter, fresh milk, and coffee. Now, I'm not a big breakfast eater and would have preferred cereal, but I figured I'd need the protein and energy from the eggs and meat so I dug in. One thing I will note that I've heard others mention - I never did get a good cup of coffee over here - I don't know why, but most all the coffe anywhere I went tasted "sour" - maybe I'm just used to my fresh-ground stuff at home. But the fresh fruit juices were great!
We load up onto what would be our main hunting vehicle for the next few days - a beat up but very tough and capable Suzuki 4x4 that, while small, could get into places that a Landcruiser could not.
06-03-2009, 08:26 PM #3
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We head out and within 15 minutes we find a very nice . . . nay HUGE (to me at least) Impala. He was beautiful, with perfectly symetrical horns, a wonderful looking skin, and just so regal looking. We tracked him for about 45 minutes, and every time we thought we had a good angle on him he'd turn or move. Very cagey bastard, and gave us a good run. But we kept at it - I was surprised with myself. I wasn't nervous at all, and I always kept safety foremost in my mind. He kept giving us crappy shots, like he was playing with us - but then, for a quick second, he turned and gave us a good one. And this is when my "fast shooting" practice paid off - Geoff had told me it was very important to take a shot within 4-5 seconds of throwing the rifle to my shoulder, and thank God I learned that lesson. When my PH finally determined we had a good angle, he told me to take the shot and I went on "automatic" - I flicked off the safety, lined the shoulder up in my sights, and squeezed the trigger. No hesitation, no heavy breathing, no regrets or "buck fever" - he was about 90 yards away, slight quartering angle towards us, and the scope was on 4x (which, incidentally, was the magnification I always had it set on at the range.) I barely heard the shot - I immediately chambered another round, glad for all the practice of doing that at the range. The Impala ran for about 20 yards and dropped. I was giddy, I was laughing, I was tearing up at the corners of my eyes - a sense of . . . complete and utter satisfaction and joy came over me as I walked up to this beautiful creature.
Here is the entry wound and exit wound:
My PH said at the angle he presented, it couldn't have been a better shot. I was so happy that my first animal in Africa (and first "large" game animal ever) was put down quickly, and he was a beauty! After seeing his skin I decided then and there to have it tanned, since it was so beautiful.
Measurements - Left Horn 55,Right Horn 55, Base 17 (centimeters) - 21.7 inches Left and Right, Base 6.7 inches
By the way, the Nosler Partition performed perfectly - no recovered bullet - punched right through and dropped him fast.
Wow - 0930 in the morning, not even an hour after the Impala - and we are driving down a wide, dry river bed (the Omaruru river) in the 4x4. I look to the side and see a bird, and ask Rodney (my PH) what it is. He stares at it and says, "Oh, a blue starling." Just then I glance up and see, in the thick brush, staring right at me, this IMMENSE kudu, head on. I whisper, "Look, over there!" and Rodney says, "Yeah, it's a blue starling." - I grab him and point to the kudu, just as we drive past him. He has Absalom, our driver/tracker stop the car and he glasses the brush. After about 45 seconds he finally sees this big guy and whispers, "Damn - that's the one! I told Geoff last week when we saw this guy that he'd be perfect for you." We slowly circled around and got back to where we were seeing him straight on, about 50-60 yards away in the thick brush. I chambered a round and had the scope on 3x - Rodney told me to take him in the chest, just below the throat. Again, no hesitation as I squeezed the trigger.
We were fortunate enough to capture this on video - make sure to play it at high quality, and if you can do frame-by-frame you'll actually see the bullet impact and his chest just reacting like a hammer hit it:
This guy was estimated to be about 14 years old - a very old male who probably wouldn't have survived the year. His points were a bit worn down, but I really felt . . . .right . . . about taking him. He'd had a long, full life and going quickly vs. slowly was a blessing, I would think. As you can see, it was an instant kill - he just dropped like a light switch had been flicked. The Nosler hit him in the distal cervical spine and snapped his spinal column - just dead center. He didn't even twitch.
Measurements - 130LH,138RH,29.5B centimeters - 51.2 inches LH, 54.3 inches RH, 11.6 inches base
Came back for lunch and to view the video, as well as the pictures taken. Everyone at the farm is very happy for me and congratulated me for nice trophies and shots. As I am resting before we head out again, I take some time to reflect on a few things. I think one of the best things that has helped me in shot placement, more than even the Perfect Shot book that I've been studying for months, is my job! I work at a hospital, and knowing anatomy, but more importantly the effects of angles and obliquity and how it changes the alignment of internal organs and body parts, has allowed me to know where the bullet will go, and where I need to place the crosshairs. Who would have guessed it?
I got to meet John-John during lunch. He's a foundling Eland that had been abandoned by his mother. The owner's wife has sort of adopted him as her pet, though he's a damn big pet and is starting to get aggressive as his balls drop. He has a curved damaged horn that will need to be removed soon.
1830 hours - damn it gets dark and cold FAST here. What a day! Just can't believe how amazing this day has been. Other than my wedding day, I do believe this has been the best day of my life. Saw some more game, and a big oryx, but he eluded us - perhaps another day. Also saw a ton of birds of all sorts - very neat.
As we were coming back, after the sun was down, we saw down the road a small moving form - we stopped and glassed him - it was a jackal! Rodney told me to shoot it (they are pests and are free to shoot). He was about 100 yards away, and it was pretty damn dark, but this is where I learned the difference between good scopes and cheap scopes. The Zeiss just seemed to gather in all the light and really made it easy. I was on 4x and put him in my sights - and there was this huge muzzle blast and sound - first time I actually got some ringing in my ears. When my eyes adjusted, we drove to where the jackal was - I nailed him perfectly on the shoulder.
I thought, "Hmm, cleaned up, maybe a nice full mount, right?" - WRONG! We turned him over and saw the effects of a well-placed shot at 100 yards with a Nosler Partition 180 grain bullet at 2800 fps.
OUCH! I'd never seen anything like that before - just brutal, but fast and effective.
Undaunted by the gore, we headed back for dinner and drinks to celebrate my first day of African hunting. Dinner was a wonderful oryx weinerschnitzel, tomato salad with diced wild onion and olive oil, pomme frites, draft beer, and some sparkling wine. Free booze is wonderful, but I really restrained myself as I don't want to feel bad in the morning, nor do I want to take advantage of my hosts or get buzzed and say or do something stupid.
Had a nice time talking guns with Rodney - he's quite the gun nut and so am I (especially military rifles, semi-autos, etc.) He LOVES my Tikka rifle and kept asking if I'd sell it to him - LOL. I don't think I could ever part with it, though the scope may go to him as his old Leupold is pretty bad off.
June 1 (Sunday) - up early and spent the day all over the farm. Amazing how large an area 75000 acres is! Mid-morning we saw a bunch of baboons at about 400+ yards away up on a hill. Rodney took one out with his .30-06 Remington with a pretty crappy Leupold scope (fogged, older, with a heavy 3-post German reticle with no crosshairs intersecting in the middle. Damn nice shot.
Again, watch in high-quality.
We're pretty positive he nailed one, though it was too far away to go up after them - regardless, pretty neat. I hate baboons, as does just about everyone here. Very destructive critters.
Side note - glad I took SPF 50 sunscreen with me - the sun is brutal due to no clouds and higher elevations. I made a note of applying sunscreen every 4 hours, as well as chapstick, and also made sure I kept hydrated with a lot of water, Nam-colas (like Coca Cola, but better, with no caffeine, and flavored with sugar instead of corn syrup.) Good stuff if you get a chance to try it, do so! I also used throughout the hunt some Squinchers - these little packets of concentrated juices in various flavors have electrolytes like Gatorade - you pour water in the pouch and use the pouch as your drinking cup. And it really worked quite well - gave us a "boost" after a long day. I highly recommend them.
Lunch was a nice creamy deviled-chicken salad with kumquats instead of grapes, and main course of spaghetti bolognese with a lot of meat. I can't say enough good things about the food here!
The rest of the day went well - we spent most of the afternoon looking for oryx and warthog. Spotted some warthog in deep brush but they weren't good to take (small tusks). Most of the oryx we saw were females or young males. Finally we thought we found a good looking male. We got out of the 4x4 and stalked for 30 minutes through some thick brush and high grass. We waited for one to finally present us a good shot. Rodney had the camera and got this all on video. Rifle on 5x, about 100 yards away, off the sticks - waited about 5 minutes and this BIG guy came out. I was ready, and when Rodney said, "Take him on the shoulder" he hadn't finished the word "shoulder" when I squeezed the trigger and it was a perfect shoulder shot on the angle.
Again, watch in high quality - you can see the bullet hit and the blood splurt out. It went down HARD and fast - cervical spine shot. Good "meat shot" as it didn't ruin any of the edible bits.
Measurements: 91LH,89RH,21B - 35.8 inches LH, 35 inches RH, 8.3 inches base
Monday morning - up and at them early, though we don't have any major plans for the next 2 days, since our Zebra hunting will be on Wednesday. We're going to look for warthog and springbok today and tomorrow - most of the springbok here are of a decent size, though I'd like to find a large one. The warthog, I think, is going to be tough - haven't seen a lot of them yet, and the ones we've seen have been ok but not too big for the tusks. We'll see what the day brings us.
We got to a stand at a waterhole pretty early and sat there for 2 hours and saw some warthogs, but they weren't what I would call good trophies. Saw a huge kudu bull, 10 year old, beautiful perfect horns with nice tips - too bad I'd already gotten mine.
We got down and stalked some hogs we saw for about 20 minutes, and thought we saw a large one. Threw up the sticks, scope on 4x, and when I took the shot I didn't feel good about it - thought that I'd pulled up or a little left on the shot. We waited 5-10 minutes but saw no movement. Rodney said he saw that I'd flipped the hog 180 degrees around but we didn't know if I'd hit him in the stomach or lungs. We went into the brush and found him further back at a dry waterhole - the shot hit him just right, through the shoulder and lungs. He had nice tusks, especially the lower tusks - they were long, sharp, and not broken off.
Going through a dry riverbed, we came across about 30 baboons running perpendicular to us - I took a shot and JUST missed one - perfect on height (about 200 yards away) but due to not having any experience on moving targets, I was just behind him.
On our way back through another dry riverbed we saw a bunch of baboons about 500 yards away - Rodney told me to take a shot and I really guesstimated the hold-over. I'm dead on at 235 yards, but 8 inches low at 300, 24 inches low at 400 yards, and 48 inches low at 500. With a german reticle, I had no reference lines for bullet drop. I picked out the largest baboon (who incidentally had another baboon behind him) and lined him up with the thick part of the bottom post. The shot was dead on left-right, and Rodney said he saw no puff of dirt - they scattered, but when we got down there we found blood, feces, and urine everywhere - I literally scared the shit out of some of them. We heard one, possibly two baboons in the brush screaming and panting, but it was so thick that we decided to not go in after them. There is a possibility that I hit both baboons with one bullet, though we'll never know for sure.
This made me want a Z600 reticle on my Zeiss due to the carryover lines - time to start saving!
Was also told that they have been having a really bad cheetah problem, and that 3 of them have been killing a lot of livestock. If we see any we are to take them out - no charge! Unfortunately, we never saw them. Would have been some nice pics, though we can't bring any skins or parts back due to laws.
Back at dinner I heard a ton of stories about just how dangerous being a PH can be - and not because of the animals! Tales of various hunters fucking up shots, almost shooting the PH or spouses due to bad muzzle discipline, shooting INSIDE the farmhouse compound at animals at waterholes right outside a guestroom (7 shots at 30 yards on a Kudu - and MISSED!), and arrogant hunters who refused to allow spouses to take nicer animals than what they had shot, and then firing into the brush at movement when the PH and another hunter were inside said brush. Just insane.
The farm got in the first of three new hunting vehicles - very nice, totally decked-out Landcruisers.
06-03-2009, 08:28 PM #4
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Tuesday - at breakfast Tommy Hall tells me a funny story. Years ago when he got out of the Army he was a guide, worked for Conservation, and did various jobs here and there. He is an expert on horses and was hired at one point to help with animal handling for a movie that Olivia Newton John was filming. He didn't know who she was, and at one point she approached him and started criticizing him on the shape of his horses, thinking that they were too thin and not getting fed enough. He pointedly asked her who the hell she thought she was, that his horses were in great shape and she must be some snooty rich horse owner who keeps her horses fat and out of shape. Needless to say this didn't sit well, and when he met her later in the day at a reception and found out who she was, he felt a bit embarrassed, but she actually told him at the reception that she appreciated his candor and wanted to go riding with him the next day - she said he, unlike everyone else, wasn't trying to kiss her ass and treated her like a regular person. The next morning they went riding and had a great time, but her boyfriend, who was jealous, insisted on riding with them and ended up falling off his horse and breaking his ankle! He's also met Patrick Swayze and helped him out as well. Quite an interesting life this man has led.
Didn't see much in the morning - kudu, oryx, and some springbok. Today really felt more like an "off" day for us - we are still looking for cheetah, baboon, and jackal today - going after the Zebra tomorrow.
Had the liver from my Oryx that I shot - I don't care for liver, but this was VERY good - prepared German style, with a sherry gravy and sliced apples. I could get used to this.
About 1645 we saw some baboons at about 500 yards, maybe more, at a good 30 degree angle up a mountain. I asked Rodney if I should take the shot - he didn't say anything for a while, and then said it was a damn far shot, but if I wanted to go ahead and do it then go for it. I had the scope on 9x, estimated carryover and even though the baboon was a big guy, he was totally obscured by my thick reticle as I had to bring the scope up quite a bit for the carryover. I breathed out, squeezed the trigger, and waited - Rodney was glassing with his 10x Swaros and said at first he saw a puff behind the baboon, dead center left-to-right, but didn't know if I was too high. We waited for 5 minutes and saw no movement, which he said was rare - they normally run like hell. He took his rifle out and fired a shot in the area of where the baboon was, trying to spook it out if it was hiding - nothing. So, it is entirely possible that I hit it and it went down. If so, a pretty amazing shot if I do say so myself - with this rifle, ammo, and scope combo, I wouldn't doubt it at all!
Dinner was nice - Eland steaks (love those!) and some wild cream of mushroom soup made with the wild Namibia mushrooms - I am spoiled on those - I don't think I can eat any other mushrooms now! Everyone got a kick out of my grilled watermelon - they didn't know you could do that! But the highlight of the meal was Rodney's mutton ribs - OH MY GOD! I'm not a mutton fan, but his was heavenly - slow roasted over an indirect fire, dry rubbed with salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder, garlic, and MSG - when almost done he put some mango/pear/peach chutney on the ribs and it caramelized it, and it was a nice fatty piece of meat - an intense flavor combined with the sweetness of the chutney - insane. I was nibbling and sucking every bit of meat and fat off the ribs, even though I was stuffed from the meal earlier. I think I'm more excited about the prospect of eating the ribs for lunch tomorrow on our zebra hunt than hunting the zebra!
Wednesday - Spent 5 hours at Herzog Farms trying to find zebra. Little did we know that we would get screwed today - normally this place has some good zebra, but we were told to go to another area of the farm since there were other hunters there at the "good" place. Very tough terrain, quite scary at times driving up the mountains, and the only zebra we saw were over 500 yards away in very steep terrain - and to add insult to injury we had one guide with us and were told that if we got the zebra that we would have to pack it out ourselves - not good. Needless to say Rodney was furious and I wasn't too happy myself.
Here's what the terrain was like - and the few zebra that we saw would move quickly at a distance as we tried to get closer than 500 yards from them:
Drove back through Omaruru and got my first taste of biltong - wow, this is a MEAT culture here! The butcher shops are nothing like what I'm used to here in the States. Also had my first Tafel lager - damn good stuff!
Took another jackal on the way back - this guy was pretty mangy and sick, so we did it a favor.
Rodney did some calling around and found another place for us to go for the zebra - apparently a lot of zebra there, not in tough terrain, and lightly hunted. Hopefully a better experience than today.
Thursday - today has NOT been a good day. I'm frustrated, disappointed, angry - I don't know what I'm feeling. We've been hunting zebra HARD all day today and haven't seen a damn thing other than one guy, far off, that we hiked after and tracked quickly and hard, but no dice. This on top of the day we had yesterday has not led to me feeling very positive about getting a zebra. And out of all of the animals I wanted, the zebra was THE most important to me. Rodney didn't even know that I wanted a zebra that bad until our first day out hunting - and so he had to scramble like hell to arrange for it, and two days we've failed. I realize that you can't always get what you want and that I've already gotten 4 of 6 and they've been good trophies. I'm trying to stay positive, but for some reason I feel like I'll have failed myself and more importantly my wife (who really wanted me to get a zebra) if I don't get it. I felt sort of bad on the drive back as I was very quiet and a bit moody - but Rodney isn't to blame at all, I can't blame him. He's working his ass off scrambling and trying. But at least we are now going to a GREAT place for the springbok tomorrow - my last day of hunting, and he has practically guaranteed me a HUGE monster mutant springbok. If we can do it quickly and early, then we may have one more shot at the zebra at Herzog farms, and THIS time we may get to go to the "good" place for zebra that the other hunters go to. I guess if it doesn't happen, that's a good $1000+ in fees and shipping and taxidermy I won't have to pay for - hey, there's the new scope money!
Friday - my last day of hunting. I slept good last night, and am at peace with my trip. If I don't get my zebra, then so be it. I've psyched myself up with one of my favorite "angry" songs - yeah, not exactly a love song, but it makes me smile and gets me in the mood. On our drive to the farm where the springbok are (the owner is a Namibian native who has been here for over 65 years, and is a really great guy named Norbert) I play my "angry" song for Rodney, and he loves it. So now he's in the mood as well - I'm smiling, so I know today will be a good day regardless.
Norbert's farm is beautiful - he's built his house up on a hill that overlooks his farm, mostly flat savanah with trees here and there. He is a springbok fanatic, and his are beautiful. He takes us out and within 10 minutes we find a BEAUTIFUL huge springbok. My first shot was a little low, maybe about 4 inches below where I aimed - someone in the hunting vehicle moved/shifted in their seat just as I was pulling the trigger - I hit him and broke his shoulder, and he would have expired within a few minutes, but Rodney thought it best to hit him again just to take him down fast and so we wouldn't have to worry about losing him in the brush. The second shot was a perfect neck shot and he went down fast.
Make sure to watch in High quality
Here are pictures of him afterwards:
Measurements - 39.5LH,37.6RH,17.1B
Now, here's a weird thing that happened - his back fur stood erect after he died. This is pretty common and is the only time this happens. However, about 2 minutes after it went down, it WENT BACK UP again! Norbert in all his years of hunting springbok has never seen it happen, and 3 other PHs have never heard of it happening either - very odd.
Norbert is a great guy, as is his wife. He hunts springbok with an R4 (South African Galil rifle in .223) - he has a 35 round mag, and an old Tasco scope permanently welded on top of it, and is a crack shot! I'm going to see about sending him a 12 round mag, though, as that 35 rounder gets in the way and is too long for him to make prone shots with. His wife surprised the hell out of me with how much she knew about military weapons - LOL.
Me with the rifle:
06-03-2009, 08:29 PM #5
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Since we took so little time to get the springbok, we rushed over to Herzog farms and decided to go after the zebra again. I was in a good mood and honestly didn't care . . . . and maybe that's why things just went right afterwards. We picked up our guide and he directed us to another part of the farm - much different than two days before. Here's where things got interesting - Rodney told me later that our guide had been told by the owner's wife (of Herzog farm) to take us BACK to where we hunted the other day. He nodded his head, and then took us to the good place and not back to where we went the other day. He said to Rodney that he sure as hell didn't want to stay out all day and have to haul or track a zebra through that terrain, and neither should we.
We quickly came upon some tracks and began to hike up a small rise. We stalked for about 30 minutes and crested another hill - suddenly, there they were! 8 mares and one large, older male. We crouched down quickly and Rodney had me put my rifle on his shoulder. Both of us were trying hard to control our breathing. The zebra kept showing us his ass for about 10 minutes and we were both getting a bit stiff from the awkward positions that we were in. Rodney had my camera on his knee videotaping the zebra. We were about 50 feet above the zebra, and about 125 or so yards away. Finally the guide motioned to us that he was going to throw a rock down to get the zebra to turn - and it worked like a charm. The zebra turned at a slight angle to me and I took the shot - scope at about 5x and me hoping to God that I hit him properly - I was worried that the .30-06 wouldn't be enough for this big guy, as I'd heard stories before about how tough zebra are.
Well, let me say this - I LOVE THIS ROUND! He went down HARD - I hit him perfectly on the angle, shattering his shoulder and puncturing his lungs. He was still for a bit, then started flailing - his hind legs seemed to have no strength and he was showing us his back and butt again, but he was struggling to try and get up. Rodney told me to take another shot, worried that he might get into thick brush and we didn't want to have to retrieve this one from rough terrain. My second shot entered his back at mid-thoracic spine and exited at the end of the cervical - it destroyed about 6 vertebra in the process and dropped him so fast it was eerie.
I was so stoked and happy! Funny thing - just as I was lining up my scope, Rodney was singing under his breath my "angry" song - LOL - I didn't really hear it until afterwards, which is a good thing as I would have probably started laughing! Unfortunately the video camera got jostled so badly due to the recoil and it being on Rodney's knee - but I have pictures!
The spine shot:
600 plus pounds!
Where we were when I shot him:
Where he was - couldn't have been a more perfect spot, as we were able to back the landcruiser right up to him to hoist him on:
I was amazed at how much feces came out of him over the course of 20 minutes - guess he hadn't gone in a while!
Upon further examination it appears that this male is close to 18 years old, and what is amazing is that he is just so beautiful - he's got hardly a mark on him from fighting or biting/scratching with other males! Other than my bullet holes, his skin is unblemished. Rodney was a little bummed, as he said he really shouldn't have had me make that second shot, that is wasn't needed, but I'm glad we did just to be on the safe side. I didn't want this guy to have gotten away!
We hauled him back to the farm and I got some neat pics of him being skinned - wow, that was fast work! The neatest thing about it all was about 2/3 of the way through it all, I jokingly took out my Buck knife that has never been used to skin an animal and showed it to one of the skinners, making a joke about how this probably wouldn't be good enough. His eyes lit up and he asked to use it - it has 3.5"-4" blade, half of it serrated, and I had sharpened it up very nicely. Well, let me tell you, that is one damn fine knife - the last 1/3 of the skin AND THE HEAD were taken off with my knife - that was just so cool, and now I'll never give that knife up - it has history!
And here's the skin!
So, my hunt is almost over - my last day I get an amazing zebra with a tough shot and Rodney said he's never seen a zebra this big go down so fast from a .30-06 rifle. He offers again to buy it, but I'm never selling this baby!
Stopped by Retoma taxidermy. Very nice shop that I could see. Good prices, and they arrange the shipping as well. I'm going to get all but the zebra done Euro mount on shields, and will get the springbok, zebra, and impala skins tanned. I'm also going to get the front zebra hooves done as lamps, and they will also take the back hoof skin and tan it so I can use it eventually use it for perhaps a knife sheath or sew into a gun case.
Pics of the taxidermists:
06-03-2009, 08:30 PM #6
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On our way back, pretty dark, and we nail another jackal - Rodney took this one, and pulled just a hair and just opened up the jackal like a hot knife through butter along his side - pretty nasty stuff!
Had a nice final dinner, and got a bit choked up. These are GREAT people here, all of them. I really wish them the best. Rodney has worked so hard for me and made this trip something I'll never forget, and I owe him a huge debt of gratitude. I got to meet his PH test administrator tonight, Martin Britz, an old friend of Tommy's. Great guy, and still does some freelance PH work now and then. His brother, Colin, is also a PH and has a list of some pretty famous clients, including some professional athletes.
Gave out gifts and tips to everyone, including soccer balls and pumps, beef jerky, candy, my Zeiss scope to Rodney, and to his family over 6000 songs on CDs that I burned, plus a CD/MP3 player with speakers and AC converter kit - that gift, I think, more than anything, went over very well - they don't get a lot of music out here.
Saturday - time to leave. Honestly, I am torn between wanting to stay for a few more weeks and getting on with the non-hunting part of my trip. I am to be staying tonight at Casa Piccolo in Windhoek, picking up my rental car, and then heading up to Etosha the next day. I have had the time of my life here, and I was quite touched before I left. Tommy and Marion Hall, Rodney's parents, told me that I am welcome back anytime and they want me to stay with them in their house. Rodney told me later that there is only one person outside of Namibia that they have ever said that too, and I got quite choked up thinking about that - I feel like I've made some good, lifelong friends. I hope some day they'll be able to visit the States and I would welcome them into my home without a moment's hesitation. "Salt of the earth" doesn't even begin to describe these people. I am truly in awe of not only how tough and skilled these people are, but how down-to-earth and kind they are as well.
Rodney . . . . what can I say? The young man is just incredible - he never stopped trying every hour of our hunt to help me get my animals, kept me entertained, and became my friend. I wish him the best, and would recommend him without reservation to anyone seeking a PH in Namibia.
06-03-2009, 08:30 PM #7
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Oryx (guarding my liquor!):
06-03-2009, 10:51 PM #8
Boy oh boy oh boy did you get infected very bad with the Africa hunting addiction! You know there is only one way to solve this and that is to give in to your addiction.Frederik Cocquyt, Outfitter and Professional Hunter
Cell: +27 83 709 8927
06-04-2009, 11:02 AM #9
johncrighton, thank you so much for sharing with all of us your excellent Namibian hunting report, pre and post trip, right down to the mounts... It's obvious from your report and pictures that you had an amazing time! Thank you again for such a detailed post, there is so much information here for the first time hunter and then some...
I agree with Frederik, you got it bad, I'm guessing you're gonna need another fix soon!
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Thanks for your AWESOME report! I sure dream of getting back to Namibia sooner than later! Sounds like you had an incredible trip with great people to share it with!
Mahalo John for the great story and pictures. As a novice hunter, usually with a Hoyt Compound bow, i'm putting together my equipment list and prepping for a Namibian trip with a couple of friends in 2013. When i first committed to the trip i couldn't sleep, spend all my time online checking out what binos, what rifle what round etc. I would no sooner get my mind made up and talk to someone about my choices and they would have a better idea or commet and back to square one. It was great following along because i plan to take most of the same animals that you did and will also be using the nosler partition in 180 grain but in a 300 win mag. One constant has always been shot placement and i have been studing the placement shot phots of the animals i want to take. Anyway, someone i know who has hunted several times in Africa told me that i would have fun no doubt. I told him that my wife, although not into killing animals (we use the term harvesting) is all on board with my trip. That it was a once in a lifetime experience. He just laughed. Once you go you'll be hooked was his reply. Anyway, thanks again for the dreambuilding.
10-30-2011, 04:46 AM #12
excellend hunting trip and very good report back!
good luck with the planning for the 'next' time!
10-30-2011, 09:02 AM #14
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You are very welcome! Shot placement is indeed key, but getting on target and firing in a short time is also very important. I did a lot of practicing once I was sighted in at the range by shooting offhand and off the shooting sticks - I would throw the rifle to my shoulder, flick off the safety as I was acquring the target, and then tried to get the shot off within 5 seconds - that really helped me out a lot. The other thing I did was reload quickly every time just in case. I never allowed a good shot to go by in an attempt at a "perfect" shot. I also made sure, other than the really long shots on baboons, to never have my scope on higher than 4x magnification - it worked out very well and allowed me to have a much better field of view.
BTW - do you live in Hawaii? My outfitter who set me up on my hunt lives there and is a wealth of information on hunting in Africa. You might want to look him up for some tips and he may go out shooting with you.
I live on the island of Oahu. As i get more into this hunt, i'm hearing of a lot of locals going to hunt in Africa. I guess i'm going into the shopping mode and taking things off the shelf that will work for me. I used to drive a tractor trailer on the continental USA and it was as foriegn to me as going to Africa. One thing i learned was to always listen to those that know and take advantage of their experience. I noticed that your trophys were finished in (not sure exactly what it is call, but "European Mount style") was that a preference or cost consideration? I know it will weight heavily on my decision on who to go with for my taxidermist in the US. I see and have read lots of stories if you will on the front half of the trip, the "harvesting" of the animals and would like to know more on the second half, what to expect, how are the items shipped what to check out with the various taxidermist. Lots of homework to do. Our group is going to hunt in Namibia with Jan Olefse safaris. If it's ok with your friend i'd appreciate a contact number or email site just to touch bases and make sure i'm on the straight and narrow. My wife is on board but she still sees the bills and i want to minimize cost but maximize efficency if/where possible.
10-30-2011, 06:51 PM #16
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Fantastic Hunting Report and Great Pics really enjoyed the report and Fine Trophies. Bob LOL
11-01-2011, 02:02 PM #17
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Thanks for the report, and congratulations for your hunt and nice trophies !
11-02-2011, 03:17 AM #18
Oh brother.... I can tell you one thing....you're going to be back sooner than you think....Africa's magic have you in her hand John....big time.
Sitting at work, started reading your report and could hear the mails popping into my inbox and for the first time in a long time i did not bother to look at the mail contents, only after i have read your report in full. Excellently written, damn i could tate some of the food you described. Glad you had such a great hunt and good time.FHM3006
Fortes Fortuna Luvat
11-02-2011, 07:07 AM #19
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Aloha Eric, well we (HPD) and i guess everyone else including feds, state department and community made it thru APEC. Took me a week or more to get my schedule and sleep pattern back in shape. Anyway got my H&S Precision 300 Win Mag scoped with a VX-3 Leupold and had our armourer go thru everything and give it a good cleaning. I picked up 50 rds of ammo (Nosler Partitions) from the guy i bought the rifle from. He reloads and worked up the round to where it was shooting half inch groups. I hate to mess with perfection but will have to work at it to make sure i can shoot close to that keeping in mind not to take five minutes to find the target in the scope hairs. Question Eric? What kind of ear protection did you use? I've seen all kinds of muffs, walker game ear tpyes and such on tv infact just watch a show this morning in Namibia, father daughter combo and she looked like she was only wearing foam inserts. I have tinnitis in my left ear so the higher tones i don't get but still would like some input. I would assume that muffs would not be pratical as they would probably be snatched off my head while going under or around the brush. Take care, i enjoyed reading the post story again. You need to get back out there so that you have another story to write.
P.S. now that APEC is over, i'm going to call Geoff.
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