Spiral Horn Slam live from South Africa!
I am writing this Hunt Report live from the Limpopo Region of South Africa.
I returned to South Africa this year to hunt with Louis van Bergen of Spiral Horn Safaris June 6 – 18, 2011. My primary goal was to take a nice Roan and the Spiral Horn Slam. In 2010, I hunted with Louis van Bergen and took a SCI silver medal Sable, silver medal Kudu, silver medal Wildebeest, Gemsbuck and a gold medal Impala. Louis and I hunt well together, stalking and tracking all trophies. Walking is challenging, but it allows us to see a wide variety of animals and birds. I traveled to South Africa with a Mauser M03, and brought the 7 MM Magnum and 375 H&H barrels, along with 2 Leupold VX7 Scopes with me.
June 5 - Louis and Carien met me at the Johannesburg Airport when I landed on Sunday evening. We had dinner that evening and flew out on Monday morning from Wonderboom Airport in Pretoria. We flew right into the Van Bergen Ranch in the Limpopo Region of South Africa. After checking the accuracy of my rifle, we had a quick bite to eat. Shortly after lunch, we began our hunt for a trophy Roan.
This was a very exciting hunting trip, so Louis decided to film the entire 2 weeks.
June 6 - I was very interested in taking a nice Roan to go with the Sable that I had taken last year. We tracked the Roan for several hours and finally I had the opportunity to take a shot. I put the scope right on his shoulder and dropped him with my 375. The Roan’s horns measured 29 & 28 inches respectively, with 9 inch bases. This was a great start to a fantastic hunting trip.
June 7 - As the trip progressed, we spotted numerous animals. One day while walking Louis spotted a beautiful Impala Ram through the brush approximately 150 yards away. He was looking right at us and his body was aligned straight at us. At first I planned to shoot him right under his chin into his chest, but he lowered his head to graze. So Louis suggested that I put the shot right down the middle of his back. Success, the bullet entered and exited his spine. The Impala’s horns measured 25 inches, with 6 inch bases.
June 8 - We spotted a large Waterbuck and tracked him, but eventually lost his trail. While looking for the Waterbuck, we came across a small herd of vary wary Eland. We were able to stay downwind and track the Eland. Finally we saw several Elands hiding in some brush a 100 yards away. Louis picked out the best of the bulls and I shot him right above the shoulder with my 375. He ran for 100 yards and dropped. The Eland’s horns were 32 inches, with 11.5 inch bases.
June 9 - We tracked Waterbucks and Nyalas all day. We saw some very nice bulls, but not the one we wanted.
June10 - It took a while to find the large trophy Waterbuck that we were looking for. Finally, we spotted a very nice bull. I was able to shoot this Waterbuck in the right shoulder and vitals at 150 yards with my 375. He ran for 100 yards before collapsing. The Waterbuck had 30 inch horns, with 11 inch bases. He was a big beautiful bull with light colored bases of his horns.
Later that afternoon, we decided to walk the banks of the Marico River in search of Bushbuck. Bushbuck are extremely wary animals that only come to the river early in the morning and very late in the afternoon. I have to admit that I believed that we would have to be very lucky to ever get close to a Bushbuck. We saw one female, which instantly spooked and ran into Botswana. This was going to be more challenging that I had imagined. As we walked, Louis and Peter saw the tips of a Bushbuck’s horns in the bushes in the river bed. The Ram immediately sprinted for the hill, running at full speed for the safety of Botswana. Louis said “shoot him”. Being an avid quail hunter, I followed him in the scope and shot him like a flushing bird. Upon further review of the digital video, I hit the Bushbuck when he ran and jumped. Not sure if it was luck or skill, but my two PH’s were impressed. This Bushbuck Ram had 17.5 & 16.5 inch horns, with 6.5 inch bases. My first Bushbuck hunt was very exciting and surpassed my wildest expectations.
June11 - We stalked Nyala all day long. Again, we saw several nice bulls, but not the trophy that we were looking for. It was very late in the afternoon and we tried a new area to search for Nyala. We finally spotted the bull that we wanted. It took a while to position ourselves close to him, and we were losing daylight. We were able to get within a 125 yards of him. I placed the shot just behind his right shoulder dropping him with one shot. The Nyala Bull had 28 inch horns, with 8 inch bases.
June 12 - We were very fortunate to have taken 3 of the Spiral Horn animals that we needed for the Spiral Horn Slam. We needed a nice Kudu to complete the Slam….easier said than done. So Sunday was the start of the Great Kudu Hunt. We walked for days trying to spot a trophy bull. I had taken a Kudu with 52 inch horns last year, this year I wanted a Kudu that had horns over 55 inches.
June 13 - Monday morning, as usual we walked the roads and the bush. We spotted a cow and a calf walking in an open area. Finally the Bull followed them into the opening. We estimated the he was 250 yards. I took the shot with my 375 H&H Mauser, aiming 10 inches high to his shoulder. We had misjudged the distance and he was actually 375 yards away. Needless to say the 300 grain bullet passed under the Kudu. Given that the shots were going to be much longer than expected, I decided to switch to my 7 MM Magnum Mauser barrel that shoots much flatter than the 375. We continued to walk and stalk all week.
June 15 - On Wednesday, we spotted 3 cows, 2 calves and a big Bull walking though the bush. We ran parallel to them on a dirt road watching the Kudus through the trees. We ran to the intersection of two dirt roads and sat under a tree, so that we could watch the open roads. One of the cows and a calf emerged at 180 yards. They stared right at us and my heart was pounding. They walked across the dirt road. Two more cows appeared and another calf. They stared at us for a very long time. One of these cows and the calf walked on across the road. The remaining cow continued to stare at us for what seemed like 10 minutes. Finally the bull appeared behind this remaining cow. He was majestic, grand and beautiful. The Kudu bull was walking very rapidly across the road when Louis said “shoot him”. I hit him behind the right shoulder, through his lungs. He ran, so we waited an hour before we began our tracking. Franz, our tracker and Hammer, our terrier, tracked right to him. The bull had only walked approximately 50 yards and was under a tree. The Kudu bull had 56 inch horns, with 12 inch bases. As you have probably discovered, hunting Kudu is my favorite. It is the ultimate challenge.
We celebrated the completion of the Great Kudu Hunt, the Spiral Horn Slam and the Roan, Impala & Waterbuck on Wednesday evening with friends from Pretoria.
June 16 - We arose ready to pursue Zebra and Warthog. I have never taken
either animals. Previously this week, we were able to get extremely close to numerous Warthogs over the past several days, mostly piglets, sows and small males. During this morning, a large boar ran in front of me moving right to left at approximately 100 yards. I followed him in my scope, and shot him with my 7 MM Magnum. He was a very old Warthog, with large tusks. June 17 - We continued looking for Zebras, but no luck. We are beginning to think that the Zebras are conspiring to stay away from us….two years in a row.
During lunch on Friday, June 17, Louis asked me if I had ever shot a bow ??? So I practiced with Richard Cramer’s Bowtech 70 pound bow after lunch. It felt very comfortable, and was able to hit targets at 20 yards and 30 yards.
By 2:00, Louis, Richard and I were in a blind by one of the waterholes with the bow. At 2:30 an Impala Ram arrived for a drink of water. He was 20 yards away from the blind. I drew the bow and hit him broadside. We waited 45 minutes before starting to track him. He is a beautiful Impala Ram with 22 inch horns. My first animal with a bow within 2 hours of becoming a bow hunter! I love it and will buy a bow when I return to Houston.
This was an incredible hunting trip to South Africa with Louis van Bergen of Spiral Horn Safaris. I have learned a tremendous amount of knowledge regarding stalking and tracking trophy animals...as well as bow hunting. I love the horned animals, because they are beautiful, exciting and extremely challenging to hunt.
Reporting live from the bushveld,