First Safaris with Cruiser Safaris in Limpopo.
This was one of the best hunting trips I've ever been on & it will give me memories to last a life time. the fact that I was able to share it with to of my best friends that I've been hunting with since High School was an added bonus.
We had Planned on leaving Calgary Alberta on April 18th with a 16 hour layover in Frankfurt & arriving in Joberg on aoril 20th. Mother nature had other plans. With the volcano erupting in ice land & all fights grounded with no word on when they may resume we had some decisions to make. After many phone calls to my buddies & flights filling up faster then we could book them we came up with a plan. We would have to drive to Minneapolis Minesota. Road Trip!. It's a bout a 20 hour drive from were I live in Central Alberta & about 17 hour for them. We got there early on the 20th or flight was on the 21st. My one buddy has cousin there through marrige that was able to get us free ticket to the Twins game at the new target field. The game was good ( the Twins won) the beer was cold & the scenery was pretty good to. Our flights all went as planned & were pretty mundane. Minnie to Washington DC, washington to Dakar 1.5 hours on the plane in Dakar & then on to Joberg. Pretty simple getting through the airport with no rifles. But my buddies had Archery equipment & still managed to get hit up from SAPS for a tip even though I told them to ask for a reciept they didn't & just handed over $20.00 US. Because we had to make a quick change in flight plans none of us were able to bring our own rifles. Kind of a let down but I was going to Africa & nothing was going to stop me or get me in a funk.
After being hit up by a barrage of porters looking for tips we made to the greeting area in the airport & found or guide in about 10 min. We drove out to the lodge that night & arrived around 10:30 PM. After a bit of a snack & a couple of beers we were of to bed. I tried very hard but I don't think I slept much. Waking up to check the time every 15-20 minutes anticipating the hunt in the morning.
First morning we ate breakfast & met our guides & soon as there was enough light we sighted in our rental rifles. Mine was a Sako in 375 H&H. The first 2 shots were 1/2" apart 2" high & 1" left. 3rd shot slightly low & to the left but I felt myself pull the shot. 4th shot dead center at 100 yds. My Guide Hans said lets go hunting. We drove down the road & picked up our driver Franky. It took about 30 minuntes to get to the area we were going to hunt. Our first sighting was a nice Gemsbok & as we stalked him the wind shifted & we were busted. Back to the cruiser. 15 minutes later We spotted an Impala. We bailed out of the truck & away we went. We stalked him for about 45 minutes & we were about 50yrds away with the ram feeding not knowinf we were eben there. Hans set up the sticks & told me to get into place. As I steppedd into position I stepped on a twig & the Impala's head popped up and staired in our direction for about 10 minutes then went back to feeding. I got on the sticks & waited for him to lift his head as he was facing directly towards me. When the ram lifted his head I shot & the 300 grain interbond dropped him in his tracks. Has said good shot reload. We watched for a minute or two & there wasn't a twitch from the ram. Hans said he's dead. High fives all around & my first African critter was on the ground. We took our pictures loaded up the Ram & we were off hunting again.
We spotted some Gemsbok back in the bush & got out to track them but the wind shifted & we were busted again so we made a big loop to get around them & got on there tracks & started to move in after walking for a couple of miles we were down to a snails pace moving slowly through the bush & I could hear my pants rubing on every little branch they touched. Hans had seen some Gemsbok moving in the bush but couldn't see exactly where they had stopped. He said that he knew they were close but couldn't see then we continued to move forward we made it about another 50 yds & the bushed exploded on each side of us. There were a half a dozen kudu cows to the right of us & 7 Gemsbok to the left of us. None of them were more than 40 yds. There was no way I was going to try & take a shot at a Gemsbok running through the bush so I just watched as they all ran away & enjoyed the sights. When the air had cleared I appologized to Hans because my pants were making so much noise. He laughedd & said. You just walked up on a herd of Kudu cows & a herd of Gemsbok. Your pants aren't making much noise.
We decided to start heading back to the lodge to unload the Impala. Just as we got underway and Hans noticed a Blue Wildebeest in the bush & he said it was a good one. We were out of the Cruiser & back on the trail. We stalked him for about 15 minutes and started to belly crawl. Hans peeked over the bush & said he is 60 yds away. Put your rifle on my shoulder & take the shot. The Wildebeest was looking at me quartering slightly to his left. I put the crosshairs on chest a liitle to his left on the line were the shoulder meets the chest. I fired & the Wildebeest bucked & ran off before I could reload. Hans said good shot. We went after him & heard him pile up in the bush about 10seconds later. We were folowing the blood trail & I was on high alert because of all the stories I've heard of how tough they can be & everyone saying they don't call them the poor mans buffalo for nothing. We went about 80 yds & he was piled up in the bush & not moving at all. We walked up slowly & gave him a poke. He was done & we had our second animal and it was only the first morning of the hunt. More high fives & hand shakes. Hans had a look at were I had shot him & said it was perfect shot placement. By this time I was thinking these are easy shots how could I miss we're only shooting 50-60 yds. But i didn't say anything I just thought he was trying to be nice. I took us about an hour of slashing bush to get the Cruiser to were we could load the wildebeest but we did have to drag him about 30 yrds to the opening near the truck so we could get our pictures then load him. The Wildebeest has heavy 14" bosses & good scaring & character on his horns.
We headed back to the lodge & picked up my buddy Willie's Blesbok on the way. When we got back to the lodge we took the trophies down to the skinning shed. I was quite impressed by the set up with 2 walk in coolers, a couple of salting bins & everything was organized & kept clean at all times. The guys in the skinning shed make short work of skinning gutting & cleaning up the animals & getting them into the coolers.
We ate lunch at the lodge & headed back out at about 2:00pm. We saw some Blesbok but continued to drive further into the area we were hunting. We did some walking and saw Zebras Hartebeest & Gemsbok & tried to put a stalk on the Gemsbok but there was a slight breeze that kept switching directions & swirling around so we backed off and decided to try another day. When the sun started to get lower in the sky Hans said he wanted to try a different spot for Blesbok. We started out on foot and slowly moved towards an opening in the bush where Hans had seen some good Blesbok. When we were about 400 yrds from the opening that you could see climpses of through the trees we started crouching & crawling along. There were animals everywhere we had Warthogs, Impala, Kudu and Blesbok. We hid behind a bush as the Kudu, Impala & Warthogs slowly moved away. As they were moving away more & more Blesbok kept moving in. From the time we started crawling till we got to the edge of the clearing about an hour had past & the sun was just peeking over the tree tops. There was at least 60 Blesbok in the field & Hans was taking a good look at al of them. He had spotted a good one & told me to get ready for the shot and to shoot of of his shoulder. I lined up the crosshairs on the Blesbok & getting ready to shoot when Hans said wait another one has steppedd out & he looks even better. He said that's the one you want to shoot. After making sure we were both looking at the same Blesbok and confirmed that it was about 110yrds I lined up the crosshairs took the shot. When I recovered from the recoil & reloaded all I could see were Blesbok running everywhere. I said where is he. Hans just smiled & said he is down that was a great shot. I said I do what I can. We walked up to the Blesbok & he was stone dead. Of course high fives & hand shakes. We take our pictires as the Sun has already set & we head back to the Lodge.
We head to the skinning shed with Beers in hand of course. Check how everyone had done for the day & head off for supper & tails of the days events.
That's all I have time for right now but I'll add more to the story later. Please excuse my spelling & punctuation I know it could use some work.