The alarm clock chirped at 5am. Gathered with the guys for a coffee. Still overcast this morning but can see a few stars in the twilight. We discussed the plans for the day and loaded up in the bakkie. Our first stop of the morning was after spotting some Blue Wildebeest. One old boy stood broadside but not long enough for me to put the Sauer on the sticks. He ran into some thick green bush and we tracked in after him. This spot is thick and I mean thick. A mixture of acacias, sickle bush, redwood, and knee high grasses. It reminded me of a mesquite choked river bottom back home in Arizona. With a constant wind and wet ground the conditions were perfect. Louis, France the tracker and I followed the tracks in the wet red sand with ease. Moving slowly we got within 100 yards of the noisy wildebeest and a boisterous herd of zebra but the bush was so thick we couldn't see them. Something spooked the other and all were off to the races. We wound our way back towards the road in hopes of getting a glimpse of something crossing over to the next block. When we were almost back to the road we heard a couple of impala rams roaring and fighting. I couldn't believe the sounds these antelope make. It surprised me. I told Louis later that had I heard them after dark and not known what they were all sorts of scary thoughts would have run through my mind. It's raining again. Welcome to sunny South Africa HaHaHahahaah! We worked our way into the wind to see if we could get a good look at the impala. We came to another road which defined the boundary of the next block and Louis quickly spotted a good ram on the side of the road in the bush. The sticks went up fast and while Louis judged the ram I slid the rifle up on the sticks. Louis said "put it right on the shoulder" which indicated a green light. I thought I slid the safety forward to the fire position and crushed the trigger with no response. Again, I pulled the trigger and nothing but an embarrassing flinch materalized! The safety on the Sauer is similar to and located in the same place as on my favorite rifle back home, a Savage 110. However, the Sauer's safety has a spring loaded ball detent between safe and fire and you have to push down on the ball while sliding forward or backward. I quickly and positively slid the safety this time and gathered myself. Placed the crosshairs on the shoulder of the quartering to me ram and....Bang! The look on Louis face wasn't reassuring. We went immediately to the spot we thought the ram had been standing when I shot. That spot was on top of a mound of dirt from the excavation of a warthog den. No blood no hair. Shortly after that Juan showed up with the bakkie and joined in on the search. While the three of them walked about 50 yards into the bush I returned back to the spot I thought the ram was standing when I shot. My attention was fixed on finding some type of spoor. Tracks,blood, hair, anything that might tip us off to what happened after the shot. All of a sudden all hell broke loose! Three sub adult warthogs exploded from the bush not 5 yards from me! I nearly jumped out of my skin! They scattered in three different directions making a quick get away. Good thing for me too because there wasn't anything to climb on or into that doesn't have thorns. To this day I'm still not sure where the warthogs came from. Whether they were on their way into or out of the den I guess we'll never know. Louis and Juan caught some of the action and my reaction. They both laughed when all I had to say was..."Damn, that was a close shave!" After not finding any blood the guys all agreed I had missed. I thought to myself , Damn not again. I just couldn't understand how there wasn't any blood. I felt there was no way that I could have missed him cleanly at that distance. Now, don't get me wrong. I have missed before. I think anyone who has hunted as long as I have has and probably will again. But, I had a gut feeling about this one.......
The guys said no worries let's go find another one. Still, I feel like I have a monkey on my back. I was pretty quiet. Not pouting mind you but Louis must have picked up on my body language. He and I decided I should shoot the rifle to check the zero and build a little confidence. After that we got dropped off on a part of the farm that we couldn't drive on because of all the mud and standing water. While on this walk we saw baboon tracks, hyena tracks, and leopard tracks. The leopard tracks gave me the chills. We bumped some wildebeest before seeing them. It's incredibly thick in this block. With every step in this area our boots sunk and loaded up with a heavy nasty mud. By the time we found our way out of there we were soaked through and through. My wet feet were a mess. I had developed blisters on the top and bottom of my right foot that would plague me for the rest of the hunt. We were all exhausted by the time we made it out of that quagmire! Juan came to pick us up and take us back to camp for brunch. After brunch we loaded up again to go look for something interesting. and we found it shortly after. A beautiful impala ram stood perfectly broadside and I put the pinch on him. A complete and impressive pass through and the ram ran less than 15 yards. I had my first one in the salt and the monkey off my back. Yahoo!!!!!!
We save the entrails for a hyena bait and Louis set up the trail cam then we all went back to camp for a delicious steak dinner. After dinner we gathered around the "Bush TV" and talked about all kinds of neat stuff including witch doctors, warthogs that come back to life after being loaded in the bakkie, werewolves, Louis time spent in Zambia and...........Tokoloshe a troll who dwells in this neck of the woods and will reportedly try to climb into your bed while you sleep. There are a few breaks in the clouds tonight. Long enough for Pieter to point out the Southern Cross to me. Here's a list of animals we saw today: Giraffe, a BIG Kudu bull with cows and calves, lots of wildebeest, zebra, Juan found and played with a Python!, a Red crested Korhaan, and sand grouse. It's now 1am and I'm nodding off so if I have forgotten anything i'll add it to the journal tomorrow/today LOL.
Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.....
Feet don't fail me now!
We made a couple of challenging stalks for Blouwildebees and zebra. One stalk was interrupted when a couple of rutting impala stampeded the wildebeest we were after. Our stalk on a herd of always moving and fidgety zebra was spoiled by my former friend the Grey Lourie. In between those two stalks I had my first sighting of a Banded Mongoose. Any enemy of my enemy the snake is a friend of mine and I can only hope that mongoose is still alive and well fed.LOL! We saw a beautiful red,white, and brown bird known as a Whoop Whoop. I saw several more during my stay and never tired of watching them. We also saw an 8" millipede, 2 steenbuck,red and yellow hornbills,and some mousebirds. It seems they were all waiting for the rain to stop so they could come out to play. We checked the hyena bait and it was all gone. There were some caracal tracks and at least one set of hyena tracks. When the sun began to warm things up and dry things out I became intimately acquainted with the mopane fly. Now, if you have never had the pleasure consider yourself lucky. What a nuisance. They don't bite hard but pester you by trying to get into your eyes,ears, and nose. Especially when you are trying to get a shot off. Die mopane fly die !
The waterbuck incident:
About 10 am we heard some zebra sound off and quickly moved into the wind to get a look at them. France picked up the track of the herd and we followed carefully. France, with his keen eyes spotted them first. They were moving casually and we moved with them at a safe distance keeping out of sight. Louis spotted a stallion and a mare with a foal. We closed the distance, always keeping some bush in between us to cover our movement. When we were about 100 yards from the trio of zebra, 2 warthogs almost ruined it for us. Luckily they ran away from the zebra. Louis and I moved forward another 30 yards. The sticks went up in a clear shooting lane and Louis whispered to me to wait until he was sure it was a stallion. I slid the rifle onto the sticks and the zebra stepped into the open and actually stopped. Louis said it's him. Put it on the shoulder. I lined up the crosshairs and slid the safety forward to the fire position, crushed the trigger and.....nothing. Again, slip the safety forward crushed the trigger and CRAP! What The Hell?! Louis was looking out the corner of his eye at me thinking what the hell is this guy doing? Safety on,safety off,on, off on, off. Every time I slid the safety forward to the fire position it would slide back to safe, on its own! Remember what I wrote in my essay about firearms being mechanical and anything mechanical is prone to failure? And....Murphy always being the optimist......
I whispered to Louis the f**king safety is broken and he took the rifle from me and started tinkering with it. The stallion moved back in the bush and, at that exact moment France got Louis' attention. Waterbuck! Waterbuck! France's eyes were as big as saucers. Louis and I saw the giant forward sweeping horns moving behind some brush at the same time. He looked at me and said "it's huge!" "Do you want to shoot a waterbuck?" I replied yeah, but the damned safety is broken! Louis hadn't had time to sort out the problem when France had gotten our attention. All we could do is watch the pair of bulls trot off into the bush....forever. We were both sick and France looked at us in disbelief. Disgusted and disheartened we started walking back to the road where Juan would pick us up. A baby tortoise crossed our path and lightened the mood some. Still, it was a very quiet walk back to the pick up point. On our way back to camp, Louis said " I have to get me one of those." That's when I knew it was a huge waterbuck. LOL!
Back at camp Pieter had fried up the impala liver as I told him I was a liver lover. I'm glad I did because it was the BEST liver I have ever eaten. We had Boerewors "hotdogs" also very good. Back out after lunch and had a couple more stalks for wildebeest and zebra.
Louis happened to see a vulture soaring. Then we saw several more. Our interest was piqued and off we went to investigate. When we got to within a quarter of a mile of where they were soaring it hit me that they were over the area I shot the impala in the day before. I told Louis,"I bet they're eating the impala I shot yesterday." I don't think he believed me any more than I wanted to think it. But, unfortunately that was the case. The ram was shot well and ran about 60 yards from the entrance of the warthog den where he was standing when I shot him. The partially consumed ram laid in the middle of a dirt circle about 15 feet in diameter. Carved out of the knee high grass, the scene of the crime was mowed flat by the huge White Backed Vultures. It really was quite impressive. I was a bit disappointed about how we got to this point but, it didn't go to waste. Heck, it was already halfway "recycled" in less than 24 hours! Luckily the hyenas and jackals hadn't run off with the head so I'll get to hang the euro mount as a reminder of the unusual ending to the first antelope I shot in Africa.
The day was getting short and we decided to look in an area the Eland like to frequent. Louis spotted one first. Too young. I spotted the next one, also too young. Then Louis said there he is ! The bull I was telling you about. We got really lucky to sneak by two giraffe without spooking them and managed to get to about 150 yards. Louis said these boys are really sharp. You won't have much time when I set up the sticks OK? OK I answered let's do it. Up went the sticks,up went the gun, and off went the 180 grain Nosler partition. Perfectly to the heart. I racked another cartridge and sent another partition down range for insurance. The huge bull didn't go 50 yards and fell over. When Louis and I walked up on this bull I was in awe! The body was enormous and those spiral horns...OH MAN! This bull had everything I had ever read a good eland should have. Huge body,dewlap, bluish in appearance,big forehead ruff,and slightly broomed tips. He wasn't super old but Louis said he was nearly past his prime. I was a very very happy guy. The follow up involved the whole team. It took 7 of us to load him for transport. The caping and butchering was a HUGE job and I am super grateful to have such a great team.
Tomas going to south africa with a outfit called Adonsoina safaris , Mof Venter is my ph and yes the countdown is on , going for a zebra, gembok, kudu, impala and I am not sure for the last one . just might take what Africa gives me or not . but before that I get to go to northern manitobia to hunt black bear on may 28th for a week . Skyline < Kelly Ross> got me lined up with a great outfitter up there. Thanks again Kelly
That's a great wish list and your attitude to take what Africa offers or not is even better.
Wow! May 28th is just two short weeks away, you must be excited. I hope you take a bruiser bruin. That's a critter I would love to cross off my bucket list for sure. Please check back in with us upon your return to let us all know how your hunt went in Manitoba.
If you see a PH in Africa...named Wikus Roos...ask where my hunt permits are? Sometimes he works there. You can mention I haven't forgot I haven't gotten about my animals sitting in Grahamstown because his father was too lazy to get the hunt permit work done.
Hope you have a great hunt and get you animals back to Canada in one piece!
This morning I stepped out of the chalet expecting clear skies because last night was clear and cool but, we're socked in by fog. Surprise! We fueled up on coffee and rusks (shortbread like biscuits) while sitting around the table talking about my good luck yesterday afternoon and , all the hard work they all put in processing the eland.Then it was time to go hunting!
Louis has been trying to target an old Blue wildebeest bull they've coined "The Gatekeeper". A cantankerous old bull who crashes gates and tries to break fences. He likes to hang out in a really thick block by the airstrip. Louis motioned Juan to stop the truck. Somehow Louis had spotted a wildebeest in the fog along way up the road. We climbed out and walked up the road single file. The Gnu appeared and disappeared in the mist like a ghost. When we got to about 200 yards we stopped so Louis could check to see if it was a bull. The fog was too thick and we moved quietly forward again. When we got to about 150 yards we stopped, Louis put up the sticks and I slid the Sauer into the saddle. Louis said he was sure it was a bull but wasn't positive it was the exact one we were targeting. About then the bull turned away and walked down the road into the fog again. We moved forward again and at a little over 100 yards we could see the bull leave the road to our left. For a moment he disappeared but then just as quickly reappeared in the bush on the side of the road. The sticks went up again and while Louis glassed the bull I wiped the scope lens with my bandanna, mounted the rifle, found the silhouette of the bull in the fog and slid the safety forward. Louis said right up the leg on the shoulder. The silhouetted bull was broadside to slightly quartering to us. I aimed through the fog and crushed the trigger. Bang Whack! The bull hunched up just like the eland had and Louis said Good shot,Good shot! We collected ourselves for a couple minutes then moved down the road to look for spoor. We found where he left the road and a bit of good colored blood,but not a lot. Louis said let's back out and as we were, we heard some crashing just inside the thick brush. We quietly exited and went to retrieve Juan and France. We all went back to the spot Louis had marked and moved into the bush single file. France easily followed the tracks and found several more spots of blood. We had moved into the bush about 80 yards when France and Louis signaled to STOP! They could hear the bulls labored breathing in the grass and bush somewhere ahead. Louis signaled me forward and said stand in front of me and be ready, he's close ahead and laying in the grass. Can you hear him? I could hardly hear anything but the pounding of my heart in my ears! I moved forward a few steps at a time following the tracks through the grass when the bull popped up from the grass under a tree just 15 yards away. SHOOT! SHOOT HIM! He was facing us and I took a good offhand shot through the grass and small branches of the tree. He went down and immediately got back up then fell down and thrashed. I could only see the shoulder hump and Louis said see the hump? Follow it down about a foot and give him one through the grass. I crushed the trigger,Bang! and everything settled down. Damn, these things can take a lot of lead Louis said. He's done now. Come on Ty let's move up and see your bull. Do you still have one in the chamber? LOL! When we got close enough for Louis to see the bull he said Great Bull Ty, it's HIM!
Man, what an adrenalin rush. I'm pretty sure I'm hooked on hunting these tough antelope for the rest of my life. We took some pictures and the crew loaded and had him back in the skinning shed by 9 am. The skinners got started and we celebrated with a cigarette and a bottle of water.
After lunch we were off to Louis' friend Pieter's farm. There we saw Gemsbuck,Blesbuck,Guinea fowl,Kudu,Warthogs,and waterbuck.
Back to Buffelsvlei for dinner where we were joined by Louis friend and neighbor Frank. After another great dinner and some time around the bush TV we all took a night game drive. We saw owls, some bush babies,and a jackal.
sounds like a trip of a life time . did you get a chance at the jackal ???
Definitely the trip of a lifetime.
I didn't get that jackal either. Just a quick glimpse of the black backed rascal.
Off to Frank and Jan's farm this morning. While stalking zebra we could hear the cattle and dogs on the Botswana side of the river. We saw Red Hartebeest, Zebra, Warthogs, a Red Breasted Shrike, a Green Bee Eater, Steenbuck, and a Jackal. Back to Buffelsvlei for lunch and then out again for zebra. We found a stallion by himself and I was just about to shoot and he ran. Then a bit later we tracked a herd and were closing the distance when some rutting impala spooked them. I just can't seem to put it together on these jokers.
Tonight Pieter made Eland kabobs,a green salad with feta cheese, and mealies (corn on the cob) then I sat with the guys and watched a New Zealand VS. RSA rugby match.
Breakfast and back to Frank and Jan's farm. Stalked some Red Hartebeest. I did a belly crawl through the red mud to get a shooting lane while Louis assessed sex and quality. Turned out they were cows. Drove the farm but couldn't find the zebra. Since it was so foggy again this morning most everything was bedded and we decided to take a short trip before returning to Buffelsvlei for brunch. We drove to the bridge at the Crocodile River. Thanks to Juan's good eyes we saw some Monitor lizards and my first Vervet Monkey doing a highwire routine on the top strand of a 3 wire cattle fence. Then we drove to the little store at Rooibokkraal. Saw a donkey cart on the way. Truly beasts of burden. Right when we got back to camp we saw a whole troop of Vervet monkeys. After brunch we spotted another herd of zebra. Louis and I got in a position to intercept them,set up the sticks, and when Louis said "you can shoot that one" I screwed up ANOTHER opportunity. Louis asked if I was messing with him and I told him as soon as we have a zebra on the ground he would have the answer. LOL! We decided that since things had dried out a bit this afternoon we would try sitting one of the blinds with my bow during the heat of the day. After a couple practice shots with my PSE we sat in one of the blinds for a couple hours. We saw some giraffe and three impala up close and personal. The water hole cleared out and we took another walk.
Had a "chicken pot" for dinner, watched the Sharks play the Bulls, and talked about booking an exclusively bow hunting trip for next July or August when it wasn't raining everyday LOL! Another great day in the book.
Hi guy's I would just like to post some photo's on Thomas's behalve.
There will be some video clips on the way.
Hope everyone enjoy's
Thanks for a great hunt Thomas it was truly a pleasure.
Vultures who recovered the first impala.
Unfortunately we could not find blood due to a lot of rain.
PH Juan and Thomas playing with a small python.
The look says it all LOL.
Thomas and Frans the tracker at the Crocodile River.