First Hunt with Hartzview Hunting Safari - Surpassing all expectations
So I recently returned my first ever hunting trip to Africa with Hartzview Hunting Safaris, and it was an unforgettable experience! All my friends are commenting on my photos with envy, and when I look at them myself, they truly do detail that our safari was amazing. The pictures just donít lie.
Our safari really began about a year ago. I was fortunate enough to win a hunting photo contest with a simple but wholesome picture from a duck hunt back home in eastern Ontario, Canada. Jacques Spamer of Hartzview Hunting Safaris selected my photo, and the prize was a discounted trip for 2 to hunt with him in South Africa for 8 days. My brother and I were delighted and planned the trip for the next spring, giving us an opportunity to work and save money, seeing as we are both university students and by no means wealthy. From the beginning, Jacques was very generous and worked with us, accommodating our ďstudentĒ budgets and before long we had an incredible safari in the works!
A year later, we were making the long flights from Canada to Johannesburg, but the plane was comfortable and the selection of movies kept us entertained. We were coursing with excitement to meet Jacques and start hunting however, that we didnít really get any quality sleep on the flight over.
Everyone has heard the warnings of potential danger or risks while traveling in Africa. And of course we had our wits about us, but upon touching down in OR Tambo we got all our bags and went through customs with zero hassle, and almost instantly our PH Jacques was there to greet and drive us to Hartzview, roughly 3 west. We arrived at the lodge around midnight, and even the several kilometre drive from the Hartzview front gate to our sleeping quarters was like driving though a zoo! Several Gemsbok and Nyala seemed to greet us as we dodged them simply trying to drive to camp! We could not wait for sunrise.
The typical day would start off with a light breakfast and we would be on the truck in the hunting area between 7-7:30 am. We would hunt till about 12 and break for lunch back at the lodge, recoup for an hour or so and be back hunting again by around 2:00 pm. Hunting would usually cease around nightfall at 7pm. Those night-time drives back to the lodge were epic, with mixed herds of antelope and rhinos around every bend it seemed! Once back, the campfire was always roaring and an incredible dinner would be waiting for us. After dinner we would often regroup at the campfire with cold beers or other drinks in hand, playing snookers and recounting the excitement of the day. I can easily say that each day we encountered between 100-300+ animals of all varieties. A highlight was that all the game we could ever wish to hunt was found in one area. There are up to 27 or more hunt-able species, and we got good looks at just about everything! We would only ever need to drive a short distance to be in game rich areas, upon which we would glass from vantage points. Essentially no time of effort was wasted travelling between lodgings and hunting areas. We were always hunting! The varied landscape was scenic and pleasure to hunt in, yet the terrain was still challenging. The way Jacques likes to hunt, I would recommend some workup training.
I came with hopes set on four particular animals, those being Impala, Red Hartebeest, Black Wildebeest and a big Nyala bull. My brother set his sights on a big Kudu, Impala and Blesbok. Modest, but still a good line up. Either way, Jacques competence coupled with the great hunting location enabled us to harvest big and beautiful representations of each and every one of those animals. The hunting was incredible and some of the stories are so memorable. For example,
I cleanly missed my first Impala ram, only to clip a second through the front shoulder at 160 yards, at which point Bullet, our fearless little hunting dog chased, fought and halted the wounded ram enabling me for a quick and clean finishing shot. He saved the day!
We closed the distance to 80 yards on my Red Hartebeest with Jacques keen knowledge of the land, which funnelled the herd right to us.
My Black Wildebeest hunt was especially memorable. I blew a shot on a real nice one who was mixed in with many other plains game. Our PH and tracker somehow managed to continue following that group of animals for many kilometres. Granted the wind was perfect, but our all morning stalk put us within easy archery range of many nice game animals for several hours. We came upon that same big Black Wildebeest bull for a third time, taking him with an easy 50 yard shot. Awesome hunt!
We had not even really begun looking for Nyala yet, but had spotted several nice bulls over the course of the week. Upon Jacques actually focusing on Nyala they literally began coming out of the woodwork. I had several opportunities to inspect lovely bulls, before settling on the beauty that pranced right up on us while we were sitting on a little hill. Another easy 80 yard shot!
My brother also took really incredible trophies that seemed to get the camp stirring. For many years he had been dreaming of a big Kudu bull only to come home with a well earned 52 incher after several intense days of Kudu hunting up and down mountains. What a trip! We had also brought our video camera and tripod and all alternated filming and hunting as a team, which I felt added to the experience and was extremely fun.
Overall. . . expectations exceeded. The Hartzview operation is top notch and Jacques is an excellent PH and pleasure to hunt with. Accommodations were comfortable, food was fantastic, and the staff and crew were warm and friendly. Beautiful sunsets and rainbows as well might I add. I canít really think of any criticism surrounding this experience other then the transfer at Dulles being hectic and a crying baby on one of our flights.
I would defiantly recommend anyone interested to give Hartzview your consideration. You wonít be disappointed. Enjoy the photos and feel free to ask me any questions you may have.
Jacques, thank you once again very much. Looking forward to the taxidermy and to hunting with you again once I pay off my student loans!