Free Hunt for 2 from Koedoeberg Safaris
After 21 weeks of anticipation June 5th had finally arrived. Our bags had been packed for months and all arrangements for our upcoming trip to Koedoeberg Safaris had been made. It all started on January 11th when I opened an e-mail from AfricaHunting.com stating that I was one of two members tied for a free hunt: two hunters, four days of hunting and five animals each, generously donated by Willem Faul of Koedoeberg Safaris in South Africa. The tie breaker was held and once again both of our guesses were tied. It was suggested by Willem that both Scott (aka. 35bore) and myself split the prize. I contacted Scott and we mutually agreed upon dates that would suit both of our needs. We were both going to bring our wives along to share in the African experience and Scott also planned on bringing his five year old son Hunter along.
The travel time from Boise, Idaho to Johannesburg was 27 hours. Upon clearing customs my wife and I were met by Willem who helped us load our luggage into his vehicle. He generously offered to let us shower at his home in Johannesburg before traveling to the farm that night. After a hot shower, a cup of tea and snacks, we were on our way to Koedoeberg’s camp in the Northwest Province. The 2 ½ hour drive seemed remarkably short. We discussed our upcoming hunt and shared hunting stories. We arrived at camp and were met by Willem’s friends Petrie and Ronnie along with Scott, his wife and son. The accommodations were fantastic; a renovated farm house with seven bedrooms, most with en suite bathrooms. A large kitchen, dining room, living room and bar all beautifully decorated and adorned with numerous field photos and shoulder mounted animals. There was a covered area outside that contained a large table with chairs near the fire that could be enclosed in case of foul weather. After putting our bags away we all gathered near the fire to socialize and discuss the upcoming hunt. We enjoyed several cold drinks and a few glasses of wine before retiring to bed for the night.
My wife and I woke before the alarm and went outside to enjoy the sights and sounds of the African sunrise. As the sun rose we were captivated by what we saw. We were nestled on a valley floor surrounded by hills and unspoiled bush in every direction. A large field in front of camp contained a herd of Blesbok and several Ostrich. We were met by our PH for the morning, Renier, and his friend Dave who helped drive. I decided to rent a rifle and shot both Willem’s Wetherby .375 and .30-06 at the range behind the house. Both shot well and we loaded up for our first hunt of the trip. After a short drive down the road we spotted a group of Blue Wildebeest and a large herd of Blesbok. We glassed the Blesbok and found a nice ram by himself. We made a short stalk and set up the sticks 125 meters from the ram. A frontal quartering shot was offered and the bullet struck the ram square in the chest. He went down within seconds. Upon reaching the ram I was amazed at the beauty of the animal. He had nearly 17 inch horns with 6 inch bases. The white blaze on his face was scarred from fighting and his teeth were very worn. He was the perfect animal to take. We took numerous field photos before loading the ram into the truck and traveling to the skinning shed. The plan was made at lunch to check for Red Hartebeest and Eland in the hills in the afternoon. We were guided by Willem personally. We stopped the truck at Rooibok Dam and proceeded to walk up an old washed out road toward the summit of the hill. Near the top Willem spotted a herd of Zebra and we closed the distance to see if anything else was with them. The wind was in our favor and we closed the distance to 125 meters when Willem stated “Red Hartebeest”. I chambered a round in the Weatherby .375 and we continued to close the distance to 80 meters. Willem set the sticks up and instructed me to take the third animal from the right. He was quartering away and by this time the cows had seen us. The shot was true and the bull made it only a few steps before collapsing. We took numerous field photos and admired the bull before calling in reinforcements to get the bull off the hill. It was a truly magical hunt and my finest African moment to date. We returned to camp with sore feet, enjoyed a fabulous dinner and some local red wines and shared tales of the day’s adventures around the fire. Sleep came easy.
Up again before the sun to enjoy a cup of coffee and watch the bush come alive. We headed out in search of Scott’s Gemsbok; shot late the evening before. A massive thunder storm had come through and destroyed any hopes of finding spoor to follow. We were nearing the area where we would start searching when a group of Eland were spotted ahead. Willem quickly made the decision to follow them. We paralleled the hillside and were able to follow the noise of the Eland as they worked their way uphill. We saw them several times but were unable to locate a good bull before they crested the ridge. We also saw Blue Wildebeest, Zebra, Gemsbok and Kudu while chasing the Eland. The storm from the prior evening had made the roads difficult to drive so the decision was made to hunt a nearby property in the afternoon in search of Eland. After a short drive we arrived and began our hunt. We were traveling to an area known to hold good numbers of game when we found a soft spot in the road and buried the rear wheels of the truck in mud. After several minutes of attempting to free ourselves we decided it was time to take a walk in search of game and cell phone service to call for help from Scott and crew. During our walk we saw several Duiker, Steenbok, Warthogs, Giraffe and Eland. Several of the Warthogs were great trophies and I resisted the urge to collect another in hopes of finding an Eland bull. We finally got ahold of Renier and learned of Scott’s success on a great Impala ram. We all met up and got our truck freed from the mud. We continued hunting and saw several great Nyala bulls, kudu and Impala before heading to a nearby Crocodile farm for photos, drinks and dinner. We returned to Koedoeberg and enjoyed several drinks around the fire, shared hunting stories and marveled at the beautiful African starry skies. Another perfect day!
Up again before dawn to enjoy a cup of coffee and watch the sunrise. Renier and Dave arrived and we headed into the hills in search of Eland or Mountain Reedbuck. The weather was not cooperating. High winds and cold temperatures kept most of the animals held up in heavy cover. We did see several nice Kudu bulls, Impala rams, Blue Wildebeest and Zebra while heading toward the top of the hill. Nearing the top we began seeing numerous rock pilings and were told that they were housing foundations from the Bushmen who lived there many centuries earlier. Reaching the top of the hill we were greeted with spectacular views in all directions. It was a privilege and a treat to see such magnificent country. We returned to the lodge and enjoyed a fine lunch and planned the afternoon’s adventures. We again headed out in search of Eland and finally found some along with some Waterbuck late in the afternoon. The decision was made to attempt to take a bull near the rear of the herd. I felt confident about the 85 meter broadside shot and squeezed the trigger. The bull jumped and lunged forward before vanishing into the bush. We followed the blood spoor for nearly a half hour until darkness won the battle. We returned to camp confident that with the amount of blood found and a little cooperation from the weather we would find the bull in the morning. We had a wonderful dinner of Eland and Impala fillets before retiring to bed for a long and sleepless night.
After much tossing and turning we awoke several hours before the sun rose. While enjoying breakfast of eggs and toast I replayed the shot from the day before like a broken record in my mind. Had I shot too high…low…forward on the bull? We gathered some additional tracking help and departed hoping a little luck would come our way. We found the bulls tracks from the night before and followed him for several hours. The tracking skills displayed were absolutely remarkable! We finally lost the tracks for good and returned without the Eland bull, feeling fairly confident that he would survive the wound. The kindness and compassion shown by all was much appreciated and comforting for this was the first big game animal I had hit and not recovered. The late afternoon was spent chasing Impala, Blue Wildebeest, Warthog and Guinea Fowl. I managed to take a management Warthog and impala on our last evening of hunting. We returned to camp satisfied and content with our day. We enjoyed some local South African cuisine and drinks around the fire while sharing stories and talking late into the night.
Morning came early and we were saddened that our time hunting Koedoeberg was over. We loaded our luggage and returned to Johannesburg to begin our journey to Zambia to tour Victoria Falls.
Every aspect of our hunting experience at Koedoeberg was nothing less than exceptional! The game and trophy quality were beyond expectation and the terrain and scenery were first rate. Lodging and meals were fantastic. The camaraderie and friendships developed while hunting and around the fire will last a lifetime. I strongly urge anyone thinking of booking a South African hunting safari contact Willem at Koedoeberg. You will certainly receive first class treatment and an experience you will never forget! Also feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions about my experience or want help planning your own adventure with Koedoeberg Safaris.
Free hunt for 2 from Koedoeberg "Part II"
When my wife Kathy, my 5 year old son Hunter and I arrived at Joberg airport we were greated by Willem and his freind Ronnie. Ronnie took us to Koedoeberg, we were told that Nathan and his wife would be approx. an hour behind us. When we arrived at the camp we were greated by another on of Willem's freind's "Petrie" who is a really great guy and a fantastic cook. After Nathan and wife arrived we discussed the plans for the next day, and had some food and drink. I awoke the next morning to the sound of gunfire, Nathan was already up and sighting in his rifle, I joined shortly thereafter and sighted in as well. P.H. Renier and his driver Dave left with Nathan and his wife. Kathy and I were still eating breakfast, Hunter still asleep, when we heard 2 gunshots off in the distance, we just grinned at each other. Then a 3rd gunshot, still grinning because they had only left about 15 minutes prior. Petrie gathered us up after breakfast, and we went to see how Nathan did. He had got his Blesbok, and left to the skinning shed. We left with Renier and Dave, to start my hunt. We did a couple of stalks on a herd of Impala, but, got busted every time we got close enough. I told Renier that the animal I wanted most was the Blue Wildebeest, so up the mountain we went. We spotted a good size herd with a couple of shooter bulls. We did a couple of unsucessflu stalks, the the 3rd stalk we did it, Renier glassed and identified the best bull. I got into position and waited for the opening, the bull was quartering away and moving away so I had to shoot or try another stalk, I fired and the group took off, we found my bull about 70 yards from where I had shot him, he is the most beautiful animal I have ever taken. 27 1/2 inches wide. The night befor Willem had advised me that he would let me shoot a Gemsbok instead of the Hartebeest if I wanted, and I wanted. The gemsbok was a target of oppourtunity, because Willem said there were not that many on his farm. So we were just driving and Renier spotted and identified the largest of the 5 Gemsbok. I settled in behind the scope and shot the one I was told to, he stumbled at the shot, I shot again and knew it was a miss through the branches, shot a 3rd time right at the bum and hit him again. We started looking for blood and found some, but it was late an light was fading, Renier said we would pick up in the morning, and would bring dogs to track it. Well it rained that night, and it rained some more. We went out the next morning and NO blood, we searched for a while but, was unsuccessful in recovering the Gemsbok. I was very disappointed, to say the least, Renier assured me the first shot was "spot on". Later that day, we go on a group of Impala, Renier said shoot the on that is looking straight at us, I had him in the scope then realized the rifle was on safe. when the ram was back in the scope he took off, but, a bigger ram jumped into sight right behind the first, I told Renier that the second ram was bigger, should I shoot him, and was advised that the second ram was the one he had intended for me to shoot. So I fired at the ram as he was running away from us, and dropped him in his tracks. Renier is not a big guy, by any stretch of the imagination, but, when he slapped my back and congratulated me I would have swore that he was 10ft tall and about 400lbs. He stated that the Impala would go S.C.I. silver. Then back to camp for some nice cold beer and more meat. Next morning we loaded up in search of the last 2 animals on my trip, we were going after Warthog this morning. Driving for a while and seeing alot of good sign, Dave slammed on the breaks as a huge hog ran accross the trail. Renier could not see the tusks, but told me it was the biggest pig he had ever seen on this farm, I aimed right behind the shoulder and fired. We found the Warty about 40 yards away lying on it's back, never saw an animal die like that. His tusk's were about an 1 1/2 shy of going S.C.I. but, this pig weighed in at an even 200lbs.. Renier said something to me that meant alot, and I will never forget his kind words, he said,"Scott I will hunt with you anytime or anywhere". I don't know if he realized how much that meant to me, but that was a great compliment coming from a P.H. that has been guiding clients for over 25 years. We returned to have lunch and Renier and Dave left with Nathan to go after Eland, Petrie loaded us up in search of Blesbok. We did not find Blesbok, we found a nice size mud puddle which we decided to "stick" around in for about 2 hours. Oh Well, would'nt be Africa without a stuck truck, right. During supper and waiting for Nathan and his crew to arrive we found out that Nathan had shot his Eland, but, they were not able to recover it before dark. When they arrived it was my turn give Nathan some words of encouragment, as he did for me the night I lost my Gemsbok, turns out he was just as upset as I was. The gameplan for the last day was to help Nathan find his animal the next morning, so that's what we did. We searched and tracked for 5-6hrs and came up empty handed. After we conceeded defeat, Renier took Kathy, Hunter and I Blesbok hunting. He stated that he wanted me to get a good Blesbok, I advised him that the hunt had already been more than I had hoped for and if we did'nt get one that it would be just fine. He said "NO, I am taking you to a special place" after about a 55 minute drive we arrived and Renier and Daves personal farm, I was honored. After about 10 minutes we found a herd and Renier glassed and glassed to find me the best ram there, which he did. I got on the shooting sticks and the ram died where he stood, the perfect end to this hunt. The ram will go S.C.I. silver 17 1/2 inches. Before anyone ask's My 5 year old son was fantastic on this trip, he had a blast. My wife Kathy does not hunt and has no desire to, was in love with the hunt after the first animal "this is cool" she told me, even though she admits she closed her eyes for each shot. I could not aske for better hunting companions on this trip. Hunter and Dave became very good buddies, Hunter still asks when we are going back to Daves, I just tell him as soon as we can we will. Willem and everyone associated with Koedoeberg were professional and personable, bonds and freindships were made in 4 days 5 nights, that will never be broken. Anyone who is considering a hunt in SA would be foolish not to try Koedoeberg, it was the greatest. The fact that we all walked away freinds on that last morning was amazing, hell there are people here in Missouri I have known most of my life, and I can say honestly that my freindship with Renier is stronger. To Willem, Ronnie, Petrie, Renier, Dave, and Nathan, Thanks for making this and being part of my first experience in Africa. Also special thanks to Jerome and Willem for this contest.