Spiral Horn Hunt Report - Picture Heavy
HUNT REPORT - Spiral Horn Safaris
When: August 29 - September 5, 2009
Where: Spiral Horn Safaris - Limpopo Province, RSA
Who: Tom Addleman
PH: Louis Van Bergen
Animals Hunted: Kudu, Giraffe and Gemsbok
Animals seen but not hunted: Giraffe, Warthog, Tsessebe, Impala, Zebra, Monkey, Waterbuck, Wildebeest, Steinbuck, etc, etc...
I have recently returned from a Hunt with Spiral Horn Safaris in the Limpopo Province of South Africa (www.spiralhorn.co.za). My PH was Louis Van Bergen. Louis owns the land he hunts.
From the beginning of the safari I knew that this was going to be great. Louis and his brother Pieter picked me up at the Messina Airport in their private plane at the conclusion of my buffalo hunt in Zimbabwe (report to follow). The Piper Cherokee 6 seater was beautiful. Very spacious for my gear with plenty of room leftover.
After a short and smooth one hour flight we touched down on their ranch, two nautical miles from the Botswana border. I had never flown in a small plane before. Let me tell you, it sure beats the heck out of driving! We were met at the private airstrip by a truck waiting to whisk us away to the lodge.
The lodge is beautiful. It has two separate chalets with a large open air central area for eating, relaxing and hanging out. Everything is elegant, tasteful and extremely comfortable. I will gladly take my wife there and she will enjoy the pool and wonderful accommodations but it’s not so over the top that you don’t feel at home.
After getting settled it was time to get the Bow out. After a few shots at the archery range I had everything dialed in. Unfortunately my drop away rest had been broken on my flight over from the States. After a little bit of work the whole outfit was shooting great. For this trip I brought my Mathews Switchback and Black Widow PSAX recurve.
The bow blinds at Spiral Horn are well thought out and comfortable. Set deep in concrete, well camouflaged and scent controlled. I hunted out of three main blinds (because I liked the setups) but I know Louis has a few more with plans on building even more.
The first evening out Louis and I saw two nice Kudu bulls. When I say “nice”, I actually mean “Holy S@#T, look at that Kudu”! They were a bit far out and never really presented a perfect shot. Patience is the bowhunters friend.
The next morning found us back in that same area, different blind. Louis had taken time out to move a portable “pop up” blind to a position that he thought might get us a better opportunity at a shot. Was he ever right! After sitting for a while two kudu bulls came in. Both of them looked huge to me but one was obviously a bit more mature than the other.
I have hunted kudu before but never seen anything like this. Louis informed me that they have not taken a bull kudu off of the place in over 10 years. From what I saw, I absolutely believe him. These two bulls were comfortable and relaxed. Their bodies were healthy and horns were exceptional. After several tense moments of drawing and letting down, I finally made a good shot on the bull I wanted. He is very “classical” kudu. I am not a numbers guy but for those that are he taped out a tad over 56”.
Big kudu on the first morning. Now what! We spent the afternoon celebrating the kudu and driving his property so that I could have a look around. The terrain is very thick. It is mostly flat with thick brush and a few small open areas. It looks like perfect buffalo and plains game habitat. In fact, I learned that the place used to have numerous buffalo and hence it is named “Buffelsvlei” (Buffalo Valley). On our drives around the property we saw all sorts of plains game. If a guy was rifle hunting there were numerous opportunities to hop off and go for a stalk. Some areas were really thick while others had a bit more space. It would be fun spot and stalk country.
I had told Louis that I was interested in taking a nice Gemsbok as they have eluded me with the bow for some time. He put me on them. That morning we were out in the blind early. We had several gemsbok come in over a short period. I finally found the one I wanted and placed a 30 yard shot. Everything lined up perfect and the animal was down within sight.
After retrieving that Gemsbok I was thrilled. I had originally planned to take a zebra and a few other animals. I decided that I had so much fun with the Gemsbok that I would take another! The next morning we went back out to the same general area with hopes of finding another Gemsbok. We sure did.
I spent the next few days looking for something that would peak my interest. I ended up playing cat and mouse with a tsessebe (spot and stalk) several times and never released an arrow.
Louis’s property has a very high population of Giraffe. If anyone is interested in a giraffe hunt, they should consider Spiral Horn for that reason alone. I can’t even tell you how many we saw over the term of my hunt. I would guess between 40-75, no kidding. Lots of old bulls and pregnant females, insuring good populations into the future. Dark, medium and light colorations. Really beautiful.
One Giraffe in particular gave us a bit of a show. An old bull came through the area that Louis had set up a “pop up” blind. This bull Giraffe kept coming closer to us. Head down...closer, closer. All that I could see through the window was Giraffe lower chest and legs. I even got my bow up as I was unsure what to do. I was focused on this Giraffe that couldn’t have been more than 3 yards away when Louis yelled “h’yah” or something similar. I just about had to change my shorts. Scared the hell out of me and the Giraffe. It ambled off in that rocking horse style and turned around to look at us. Pretty neat! It turns out he was interested in the leaves above our blind. Coulda fooled me. I could have shot 3-4 Giraffes with my bow from that blind.
My brother was focused on a large dark Giraffe bull. He eventually got the giraffe after a hell of a hunt. Louis guided my brother through the thick stuff at a run and did everything in his power to make sure my brother got his bull. It is a story for another report but it felt more like a buffalo hunt than a Giraffe. Louis was relentless and that ended up being the key to success.
As I said in the beginning, Louis owns the land he hunts. This made a huge difference to me personally. This was a nice change from hunts I’ve had in the past. He had full management authority and has utilized it to produce outstanding trophy animals. I found out that he is extremely careful about exactly which animals he will take off with hunters and which are protected to either breed or grow. This was not a “shoot em up” safari like so many in RSA can be. He uses a methodical, game management approach to produce big trophy animals for now and years to come.
Overall, this was a fantastic safari. Spiral Horn Safaris has a beautiful camp, wonderful food, very high quality trophy animals and a pleasant atmosphere. You are not “pushed into” pulling the trigger or pressured in any way. Louis is an extremely competent and professional person. He has a “never give up” attitude and will make sure that your hunt is what you dreamed of. He sure made mine great! So much so that I hope to return very soon.