Nyala Safari goes down in Memory Book
Nyala Safari goes down in Memory Book
In my opinion: A Safari with Lake Safari would be a highly recommended hunting safari for an individual or family.
Dates: September 10th through September 18th, 2011
Hunting Days: September 11th through 17th, 2011
Location: Durbin, South Africa
Outfitter: Terry Wagner World Wide Hunting - www.wagnerworldwidehunting.com
Company: Lake Safaris - www.lakesafaris.com
PH: Trevor Lake
Rifle: Ruger M-77 in 338 Winchester Mag.
Ammunition: Remington 225 gr. Core-Lock
2. Bush Buck
3. Red Hartebeest
4. Black Wildebeest
5. Reed Buck
If we have a chance Trophys:
4. Porcupine Wife's number one :)
Outside factors include: Sinus surgery 16 days before flying out plus there was an ongoing sinus infection. I am on medication that is taken 2 times a day and my hearing is poor at best. I am unable to wear my hearing aids due to moisture (sweat) that causes them to short out. Trevor and I will be working on our communication through-out our safari and we both will learn new things.
September is the start of spring in South Africa and the start of the rainy season. This year the rains were early with July and August having rain continually and the grass and trees were getting very green. The weather should be in the 60s for a low with the mid 70s for a high. And again the temperatures were above normal from the mid 70s to the low 90s.
I departed Albuquerque on Friday morning September 9, 2011 at 8:15 AM, on United Airlines. Our flight was leaving a tad late due to a passenger complaint about passenger(s) or gear on the flight. This person elected to take a later flight (yea). So off we went in the United Airlines big silver tube on our 1st leg to Dulles airport. The flight to Africa was a long flight and you definitely wanted a window or isle row seat, and next year I will look at traveling business class.
Fast forward: My South African Airways plane flight lands in Durbin, South Africa at approximately 9:45 PM on September 10th. My checked bag was the last bag to be unloaded and hit the baggage carousel. I was really starting to get worried; the baggage area was empty when I rescued my bag and headed out of the door to retrieve my Tuffpack rifle case.
I was greeted by an infectious big smile and PH Trevor Lake plus a much welcomed hand shake. After signing for my rifle, we hiked to the parking garage and found Trevors Toyota vehicle where we placed my bags in the vehicle and off we drove.
Even though I was tired from traveling for 30+ hours since leaving Albuquerque, we struck up a conversation covering many topics on the 2 hour drive to camp. We would have many different conversations (expectations, rifle, animal priority, ballistics, and others) on the drive to our hunting camp. Right at 12PM or midnight we were winding our way through the hills on a narrow gravel road when we drove up to an 1840sｴ English home where we would be staying for the first segment of my 7 day safari. We were met by Lance and we carried our bags into the old mansion and I was shown my room. I was in bed by 12:20 AM, and as we were both tired and we would sleep until we woke up.
Day 1. Double down Day?r Porcupine & Bush-Buck day.
We were both up at 6 AM and we had a cup of coffee in the kitchen and went to the rifle range across the road to check my rifle and 2 of Trevors rifles. We would be shooting Trevors a 9.3 X 62 with a Bushnell scope with illuminated recital for bush-pig and we set the point of aim dead on at 50 yards. This was Trevors grandfathers rifle and has seen many safaris throughout the years and was an accurate and pleasant rifle to shoot.
Initially, I was not too sure about the Bush-pig thing, as I had not given it any thought prior to now. However, I am always open to new experiences (this would be way better than I initially thought). So off we go to check the 3 Bush-pig bait locations and make sure that the baits were all set for the evening bush-pig hunt. Trevor retrieves the trail camera to see where the big bush-pigs are coming into and what times that they have showed up. The pigs were coming in right after sundown approximately starting at 6:15PM.
We return to have a late breakfast of Eggs, bacon, sausage and toast and boy was it tasty. After breakfast we would be looking for shoot-able old Bush-buck, now were talking. The area we are hunting is comparable to western Oregon, we are in large tree farms, and the hills are up and down and very steep, limiting one visibility to about 50 yards. We spot some good to great bush-buck and they appeared like they had rockets attached to their back-sides as they blasted out of sight never to be seen again. I do believe that these bush-bucks received the memo that I was in town and that they were to lay low. This is going to be tougher than I thought due to the restricted visibility and reduced shooting lanes in the thick timber. This gave spot and stalk a whole new meaning.
We returned to camp and had an early dinner (Bush-pig stew, green beans, potatoes and a fine salad) and it was very good meal. We headed to the hide (Ground bunker) about 5PM and we would sit until 10 PM. Sun set is about 6:05 PM and the bush-pigs were hitting the baits as early as 10 minutes after sunset so we needed to be set in the hide well before dark.
At 9:20-9:30 PM Trevor thought that a pig was on the bait and I was to get ready. As Trevor turned the light on I spotted in the scope a dark lump. That dark lump under the red light turned out to be a porcupine and I just gently squeezed the trigger and viola the porcupine was down. I was lucky to obtain a most prized trophy of the safari, a large Porcupine. My wifes goal was accomplished and now I was free to go after my trophy goals. I think Trevor was a bit despondent that I shot the Porcupine as he was seeing Bush-pigs; however they were not coming to the bait this evening. The wind was moving in all directions, kind of like a twister, and I do believe that they caught our scent. After taking the Porcupine to the skinning shed we decided to go look for a Bush-buck and anticipating that things would be looking up.
At 10:30 PM we left to go Bushbuck hunting and we maneuvered around and through the hills (I am sure that Trevor and Lance knew where we were, I was lost) and we located a very old Bush buck about 11 PM and Trevor gave me the word to take him. Now the pressure was on and I was able to make the 25 to 30 yard shot in some heavy brush. The bush-buck dropped at the sound of the report and, I retrieved my torch from my back pack and we went looking for the bush-buck. We carried the bush-buck back toward the road and our hunting vehicle. Then we went looking for a suitable location to take some pictures of my bushbuck trophy. We kept moving the bushbuck around to get the right spot for the pictures. Little did I know at the time that the right spot for taking the pictures would be on top of an ant hill; and that I would become covered in ants while the pictures were being taken. When the pictures were over, off came my shirt and I proceeded to brush ants off before we headed to camp.
At the end of day 1 we had a Porcupine and Bush-buck in the salt. We decided to have a night cap and we called it a night and we all headed to our comfortable beds.
Day 2. Bush-Pig Day
We were up by 6 AM and out the door after a cup of coffee. We head to a new area looking for Nyala and Bush-buck; there is some great Bush-buck and Nyala in this area. We spot a small Bush-buck however he was not a shooter. However we are not able to locate the big Bush-bucks and Nyala. The Nyala were not going to let us spot them and after about 3 hours we leave the area. We did spot 2 herds of blue wildebeest, zebra, female Nyala, kudu, and duiker.
We went to check Bush Pig baits and 2 were hit hard, tracks were everywhere, we replace the bait and picked up the trail camera to check to see what was coming in. Everything is set for the evening Bush-pig hunt. So we make a move looking for another Bush-buck and if we found a bigger one, we would make an attempt to score. By the way there were 2 to 3 bigger Bushbucks that we ran across, however they wanted no part of us and left for parts unknown when they were spotted.
That evening we were in the Bush-pig tree-blind about 5PM. This location was being hit by different groups of bush-pigs and my instruction was to find the largest or better one before shooting (I under stood this to mean don't mess up). At about 7PM Trevor indicted that 2 bush-pigs were at the bait and for me to find the larger of the two and shoot when I had a shot.
The closest Bush-pig was broad side and blocking the view of the second bush-pig. I was able to determine that the closest bush-pig was the smaller of the two and then it was a waiting game for the second Bush-pig to turn and provide a side shot.
After a few minutes the second bush-pig turned sideways and I gently squeezed the trigger and he went down like he was pole axes, never moved. Trevor made the call for the truck to come and get us and that we have a nice Bush-pig. This was way more fun that I initially thought it would be and to top it off I now have a fine Bush-pig in the trophy line up.
It should be noted that there are many Bush-pigs in the area. Trevor and Lance are currently working 3 bait sites with the ability to develop some more. These men are die hard pig hunters and enjoy the chase and it is a great time watching the process unfolds. I highly recommended this to anyone looking for adventure and a new experience. Trail cameras are being used to evaluate the trophy size of the Bush-pigs and they go after the biggest trophy for the hunter in camp. The way it should be.
A Bush-Pig, Bush-Buck and large Porcupine hunt was a blast and highly recommended to anyone who wants to go this route, I would do it again in a heartbeat.
At the end of day 2 we have 3 trophies in the salt and we will be getting up early tomorrow and moving camp to the second phase of our safari.
Day 3. Our second, Double Down Day or Reedbuck & Blesbuck day.
We found ourselves on the road by 5AM to head in to dairy farm country; we would be looking for an old Reed-Buck. Trevor called ahead to let the dairy farmer know that we are on schedule and that we will be there between 7 to 7:30 AM. After checking in with the farmer we moved to the low fence pasture where Trevor had previously scouted a very old and large Reed-Buck.
Upon entering the pasture we spotted a nice Reedbuck ram and then about 6 to 8 more Reedbuck rams materialize all will be hunt able in the next few years. We have not found the old ram that Trevor wanted me to harvest. So we continued our quest in the finger like draws looking for the old boy.
We spotted his horns about 200 yards out on the far side of the draw. The Reed-buck was lying in the tall brownish grass and he thought that he was well camouflaged and hidden from us. He would have been except for his dark horns were showing above the top of the brown grass. We watched him for about 30 minutes, all the while we were moving ever closer and were able to close the distance to within 130 yards of him. Suddenly he got up and bolted to our left, moving about 30 yards and stopped giving us the deer in the head like look looking right at us, at which time I was able to make a good shot and he went down. This would have been the Reedbuck last season as he was down to one tooth and was looking very thin. We skinned the animal out at the farm place and left the carcass in the shed for the farmer. As we said thank you and our good buys to the farmer we were on the road again by 9:30 AM to continue the South African safari process at our second camp.
We then drove to the game lodge for the remainder of our safari. I was shown my room and placed my bags and unpacked my rifle, backpack and ammunition. I moved my equipment to the front table by the door for loading when we would be departing later today. We went to the dining area and was served a delightful lunch. At 1:15 PM we would go for a game scouting drive and if something presented itself we would make a stalk and see what happens.
We soon encountered a large herd of Impala about 30 to 40. Then we spotted 6 Giraffes. Moving further we spotted 3 kudu cows and a small bull. We came up on a herd of cape buffalo. We spot a large herd of blesbuck (between 300 and 500) about a ? mile away. We dig our field glasses out and proceed to glass and see if we can spot a shoot able specimen. We need to move closer and close to within 400 yards to see if anything was worth going after. We have blesbucks to our left, to our right and all over between the right and left, heck they must be spread out over one-half to one mile right to left. Trevor decided that we should make a stalk on the group to our far left. So here we go after the merry-go-round blesbucks and as we approach Indian style we close the distance from 400 yards to within 200 yards. Trevor has his sights set on a mature bull to our left and asks me if I see the one his is looking at and I do which one from the left 1 through 6. Our target kept changing spots and Trevor kept providing the number I should be looking for. When the shooting window opened up I was on the shooting sticks and ready and Trevor was given the word to take him when ready. At the sound of the report the blesbuck dropped like a rock and we approached slowly, moving from bush to bush ever so gradually closing the distance as Trevor was not sure that the blesbuck was dead and he wanted to be ready if the blesbuck were to get up and make a mad dash for safety. When we were about 100 yards out the blesbuck stood up and I made the finishing shot and the blesbuck went down for the count. We got lucky and we were successful. There are blesbucks leaking at the seams on the game farm and ranches, it was just finding a mature bull in the herd to make a spot and stalk after.
Day 4 Black Wildebeest Day
We are up at 5AM and have a great breakfast of eggs, bacon and toast. We are out the door at 6AM to drive to a large cattle ranch and farm. Our plan had us leaving the ranch in the afternoon at about 4 PM to set up our hide at a water hole for tomorrow Nyala sit. The ranch we would be hunting has about 50 to 60 black wildebeest and Trevor is allowed to harvest 2 this year, and this go around would be Trevors second black wildebeest bull. The old and brown grass in pasture is being burned at different locations until the entire pastures old dry grass would be burned off. So what we would be looking at is a mix of field vegetation. This pasture was an old battle ground site for the Boer-Anglo wars and there are many bunkers located throughout the pasture and hills. We will be using these very bunkers as hides today.
With the lack of vegetation for cover a church mouse would have felt naked in the pasture. This is not going to be easy with the 1000+ wild game animals in this low fence pasture. This ranch pasture has a mix of cattle, blesbucks, zebras, blue wildebeest, red hartebeest, reedbucks, ostriches, and black wildebeest and I am sure I missed some. We spent the better part of a day crawling around the hills and moving from bunker to bunker to get in range of a black wildebeest. By the way I think Trevor is part billy-goat and cheetah the way he moved though the rocky terrain. He would have made a leopard proud.
Today was one of those days, as we would be moving around the pasture, hot-footing it from bunker to bunker and animals would stay out of rifle range. We moved over the hills and through the rocks with the same success and this would go on for hours (my knees would be black and blue and scab covered after today) Thing were not looking promising at this time. We were crossing the rock studded hill for about the 3rd or 4th time when we spot our selected black wildebeest bull about 400 yards out and we are now crawling through the rocky hillside. (Who would have thought?) We make it to within about 250 yards and have a good hide behind a boulder. And set up the shooting sticks. The old boy lies down and we are now waiting for him to get up for a shot. A group of blue wildebeest come thundering by and take our old boy with them. Here we are again on the run trying to get over another rocky ridge and low and behold there our guy is laying down again surrounded by 4 other black wildebeest and blesbuck. Our target is up and shielded by a blesbuck and I am set up in the shooting sticks and we estimate the yardage at about 200 yards. We are now waiting for a clear lane to shoot and as he takes off, a small shooting lane opens up and I gently squeeze the trigger, letting the 225 gr Remington core-lock bullet do it thing and down he goes. Wow, we have a great old Black Wildebeest. This is another old animal that would be questionable if he could have made it through the year.
We take the Black wildebeest to the skinning shed and salt-room as we amble off to have lunch.
Memory, our chef has made us a wonderful chicken sandwich and salad with pickled beets.
After lunch we head to another property where we build our hide in our quest for The Nyala. After the hide is built we will drive the trails looking to see where game is located and to see if we can find a 55 inch or bigger kudu. I know that a kudu is not on my list, however if we happen across one I will not turn it down. Trevor has taken some monster kudu that are greater than 55 inches on this property with the biggest being 61+ inches. To top that off he had previously scouted a couple of bulls that he estimated to be in the 55 or greater range. These bulls were spotted on an earlier hunt and they were still out there, just waiting for the right hunter. We spot 7 kudu bulls with the biggest being in the 47 to 48 inch range, 5 water bucks with the biggest being about 18 inches, 6 herds of impala, large herds of blue wildebeest and gobs of blesbucks and other game animals.
Day 5 White Rhino day
It rained last night and the wind is up a good 20 mph.
I was up at 445AM and we had breakfast at 6AM, Memory made a great breakfast of eggs, bacon and toast. We will be taking a box lunch and drinks with us today.
I have been trying to take pictures of the 4 white rhino near the lodge, and then while we are leaving they are present and the light is sufficient and we are able to get some better photos. There is one female white rhino with no horns. This animal was darted and the horns cut off and left to die. The lodge hands noticed the animal in difficulty and a veterinarian was called to patch her up. And since then they have an armed guard watching the white rhinos.
We reach our hide about 8AM and we sit in a couple of chairs. The wind is multi directional and we think our scent is swirling around and that is why nothing is coming in. We did spot a large mongoose, 38 turtles, a large monitor lizard and at 1PM a small Nyala comes into drink water and catches our scent and quickly leaves. We give up and leave about 2 pm.
Trevor is talking to the area rancher and is looking for an old red hartebeest that he had spotted on an earlier scouting trip and was wondering where it had went. We drive over to the ranch looking for this old Bull. We count 51 Red Hartebeest however we are unable to find the old bull. The rancher indicated that there was a group of about 13 bulls that we should be looking for, however we cannot locate them in the pasture and as darkness approaches we call it quits and mosey on out of the pasture and head for the lodge.
Tonight we are going to go looking for the dreaded Duiker; I think Trevor is trying to eliminate the duiker species. In our quest for the dreaded duiker we spot 9 porcupines within a mile of the farm house, some small to medium size porcupines. However the elusive dreaded duiker is not located. We do spot some kudu, reedbuck, jackal and other game animals, yet we are unable to locate a trophy male duiker.
With no success finding the dreaded duiker we head back to the lodge for fine dinner of lamb chops, garlic mashed potatoes, rolls, salad and a fine desert. We are talking yummy now.
Excitement for the day was a cattle rustler was caught and taken to the skinning shed and within 2 hours was able to tell the rancher where his 20 head of cattle were being hid. The authorities were notified after the confession and they came to collect the cattle rustler.
Day 6 Trophy Red Hartebeest day
I was up at 4 AM and feeling this would be my lucky day.
Breakfast was at 6 AM and we enjoyed another great meal of eggs, toast, steak, bacon. A box lunch was put together for us and we were off.
The wind was steady and in our face. I am feeling better for we have 9 kudu come into drink water at the pond between 9 and 10 AM and we are thinking things are looking up. Things went south after the kudu left as nothing came into drink after 10AM and we left the water hole at 2PM looking for Nyala. We spot a lone Nyala bull about 2:30PM however a group of kudu cows spook him and we are out of luck. Just like a ghost in the night, is our luck turning?
We leave the Nyala area going to look for a red hartebeest so off we drive to the ranchers pasture looking for the bachelor herd. We find the large group of red hartebeest however we are unable to locate the bachelor group and are leaving the pasture when to our surprise the group of bulls just show up running ahead of us and off over the next hill.
It is game on and off we go, hot footing it up the rocky hill, we are bent over at the waist running dead out and Trevor stops after about 100 yards (about time I think he is trying to kill me) new game plan bend over at the waist plus bend your knees and sprint (a new Olympic sport developing), (I am sucking air now) when we near the top of the hill we slow to a snails pace. Trevor is glassing the other side and trying to jockey and work me in to shooting position if we have developed any luck on this quest to secure a red hartebeest. Trevor is steady with the binoculars glassing all the plains game over the hill and I am given the green light to shoot, Trevor indicated that I should shoot the big red hartebeest on the left and I ask which one, the front or back one. He said the back one when the shooting lane becomes clear. (wow some time to catch my breath).
We have a herd of about 50 blesbucks moving left to right going by and the opportunity opens up I am ready to shoot the red hartebeest. The blesbucks movement is migrating to the red hartebeest and my bull is now moving forward when I have an opening and make the shot. My bullet placement is into the right shoulder area.
Trevor says I shot over him and I indicated that he was hit hard and even I heard the bullet wallop the red hartebeest; (laurel & hardy at it best) we had a brief chat about where I thought shot him. All the while the red hartebeest is walking away. Having been hit hard the red wildebeest is looking for a hiding place and wants to lie down. The Red hartebeest moves about 20 yards and lays down behind a small tree in a low depression and blends into the landscape. However we are watching where he went and do some fancy foot work in the rocks and close the gap to within a 100 yards and set up the shooting stick and I make a final shot and anchor the bull in place. Game over and we have a fine specimen and we take the Red Hartebeest to the skinning shed. Boy was that some kind of fun.
We have a few hours of day light left and decide to return and look for Nyala. We spot a couple of bulls on a hillside and the one we are looking at is a good bull about 26 to 27 inches the other one does not show himself and Trevor thinks we can do better than the one we are looking at, so we pass on the shot then darkness overtakes us. As we are returning to camp we are putting together our game plan for tomorrow my last day of the safari.
Back at camp we have Pot Pie, French fries, salad and great chocolate pudding and call it a day and head for the shower.
A little side note: We filled the Toyota up today and the price of Diesel was $ 9.92 a liter. We were looking at $1,340 rand dollars or right at $200 USA dollars for the fill-up. Some things cost way more in South Africa and fuel is one of them.
Day 7 Lucky Lucky Nyala day
I am up at 4 AM and have all my gear ready and know that this will be my lucky day. We have breakfast at 5:15 AM and we have eggs, sausage, bacon and toast a breakfast fit for a king. We are out the door by 6 AM driving to the large game area. Today we will begin by looking the long draw over leading to the water hole. After we have our look-e-see we will head to the water hole hide to sit for the day.
As we slowly amble along stopping to glass over the area, we spot 2 Nyala in a finger draw browsing and we are thinking these are the ones that we had spotted the day before however, we now have the opportunity to look at the second bull. Trevor makes the call and I am given the green light to shoot the larger of the 2 bulls, which is the one on the right and I take careful aim and squeeze the trigger and make the shot and we have not just a good Nyala, we have a great Nyala bull down.
We gather the 5 of us and proceed to pick up the animal and carry it out of the ravine. We take some picture and admire the great trophy bull that we were so lucky to have a chance at. We load the bull in the Toyota truck and take him to the skinning shed.
The earlier goals that I had put together for this safari were realized with hard work and persistence and I feel that the trophy animals we were able to secure greatly exceeded expectations.
This was a fantastic hunt with Trevor and he is doing what he dearly loves. Plus he is a high energy PH going from well before sunrise to well after sun set. We saw many animals every day upward of 1000+ of various species.
We head back to lodge and I am packing my gear for the drive to the airport tomorrow. We sit in the lounge and go over the hunt. Talking about tips, gifts and I put a package together later that will be given out before we leave the lodge in the morning.
Day 8 Departure day
I am up at 5 AM and moving my 3 bags into the lobby. The gift bags and tip money are ready and will be passed out after breakfast, something for everyone.
As we are leaving the lodge we head to Trevors 3rd hunting area and to take his tracker/skinner home. The 3rd hunting area is a great Nyala location and well protected by the local population. This unspoiled land is managed for trophy Nyala with 8 to 10 trophy Nyala taken yearly. If you are hunting for Nyala you will be going to this area and will stay in a well-cared for rustic cabin. We take the time to look this unspoiled area over and I am amazed at the beauty of the area, what a great place to hunt Nyala. Take great glasses and a spotting scope if you have one, for this is a pure spot and stalk area.
We continue to head to Durban and the airport for my afternoon flight to the States.
This is an area that I will try to return to in the future. Everyone was friendly and interested in doing a great job to help you obtain your trophies, plus you will have a great time to boot. There are many animals in Trevors line up, however I did not have the time to see his entire operation. He is continually scouting and working with area farmers to develop new hunting areas where select older trophy animals are taken
As a side note we were able to spot 3 shoot able jackals (day and evening) on this safari, the most in Trevors long hunting career. This was not a trophy animal I wanted to shoot, so I passed.
A safari with Trevor Lake would be highly recommended.
Gifts that were taken:
1. 3 knives from A.G. Russel
2. 4 Caps - 2 NRA, 1 NAHC and 1 from a bank
3. 2 NRA T-shirts
4. 2 2011 Albuquerque balloon T-shirts
5. 2 pounds of New Mexico Pinon coffee
6. Plus other items.
Snacks that were taken: (something different every day)
1. Salmon jerky 3 kinds
2. Beef Jerky 4 kinds
3. Beef nuggets
4. Soft candy orange, cinnamon, and cherry.
5. 4 Different flavors of gum
6. Fire balls and burnt peanuts
I think that these were a hit as?ll extra soft candy had to stay and no jerky would be allowed out of the country.
I would have liked this safari to have lasted a few more days as we had a great time.
I Developed baker cysts in both knees, that were painful and are currently being treated. (second year in a row)