May Zulu Natal Plains Game Hunt
This was my first trip and hunt to Africa. A year ago I was the winner of an auction hunt at our local SCI banquet ( 7 days for kudu, impala, blesbuck). The year flew by as I got ready for a trip of a life time. I actually have had 3 hunts of a life time, this being my 4th trip of a life time. All being single fish or single animal hunts (including a 74 lbs. King salmon and a near record book brown bear). I also, have guided pheasant hunts for over 25 years here in South Dakota. All have been successful, and all have been an experience in my life, but this had to top them all!
I was greeted, in Durban, by my PH, who looked young, in terrific shape, and also had a sense of humor! As, I walked to the right side of the truck at the airport he reached out and handed me the keys, and said, "you want to drive"? Looking in the window and seeing the steering wheel on the right, brought a hearty laugh! Gotcha! After a 2 hour ride, to the country, in the dark, did not enlighten me on the lay of the land.
After a short night sleep I was ready for Africa! Here was one mistake I personally made on this trip. My outfitter suggested I not bring a rifle as they had several good rifles I could use and it would save me 2-3 hours in customs. They gave me a very nice rifle (30-06), that shot where you aimed, but it was just not the same as my own trusty, 300 win mag, which I have put hundreds upon hundreds of rounds through. What I did right, is I brought my laser sight, with a bullet drop program. My PH would tell me 300 yards, 2.7" drop, 3o down. It was calming to know the details on long shots.
That morning I saw what the real Zulu Natal, South Africa looked like. Steep, almost mountainous, like straight up and down. Being from South Dakota, and knowing what "plains" are, I was confused. This was a "plains game" hunt, what the heck are mountain zebra? Cliff dwellers? After trying to drive my arse between my shoulders at least 5 times (slippery shoes, heavy dew), and being completely out of breath from the climbing, my PH decided it was time to go back to for lunch. I know the PH and the Tracker had to be thinking, "what did we get here? this hunter can't even walk, he just falls down all the time", but in short order I relearned how to walk in the mountains, but never quit huffing and puffing, and sweating.
Driving back to camp, we didn't go far that first morning, before the tracker saw some impala. Nothing too good, but then the PH saw a warthog that deserved more attention. After a brief stalk, 100 yd shot, and an easy track (lots of lung blood), I had one animal in the bag, and not a bad one at that!
We hadn't gone another mile when, again, the PH spotted some more impala. After a nice 3/4 mile stalk, a 165 yard shot, I had 2 animals in the bag. When I text'd a friend back home, that night. He said there were bets on me! He had me down for 14 animals (my original trip was for 3, and I kept telling him I would absolutely only harvest 4).
The next 2 days were spent hiking and glassing. I wanted to concentrate on the Kudu, and we did. Once again lots of straight up and down, sweating and being out of breath. We put 3 different stalks on Kudu, but were unsuccessful. One stalk put us 125 yards from a smaller bull only to have a second bull come along and fight the first bull! Boy did the battle! And a memory of a life time! On several stalks I could smell them but we just weren稚 in the position.
On the 4th day we spotted a very good nyala. Set up at 430 yards, but wanted to get closer. So we put a stalk on him, but then couldn't get a clear shot. We backed-off to our original position and I took the shot,,, actually 3 shots. He looked hit! We gave him some time and went to have a look. Found him at 70 yards, took another shot (through the brush) and never saw him again! Got the dogs, found a small amount of blood, but no good! We spent most of the rest of the day looking, but no good. I thought I heard him once, but couldn稚 find any more blood. This was a low part of my hunt! Having harvested, I don't know how many whitetails, antelope, an elk, and a bear, I had never wounded an animal before! The next day, my PH had the day off (how about this for luck, my PH was in a $1,000,000R cooking contest, a PH that is a gourmet cook, what luck!!), so the property owner (and a PH himself), had me the next day. We discussed the nyala deal, from the day before! He offered me another nyala for free, (if we found a good one on his property)! I offered him a carton of cigarettes. That was extremely generous on his part! We first hunted a lease property, and wouldn't you know it after 2 glassing setups, out steps a very, very, good nyala. My PH/owner says if I want it I can have it for his cost. BOOM(280 yards)! Scared the hell out of my PH! I'm watching the Nyala, he's whispering in my ear, and he really wasn't ready for my shot! Dropped him in his tracks! My PH/owner sent the trackers (get this!!), with his 2 trusty tracker dogs (dachshunds), the hounds ran right to the ram. Dead'er than a door nail! High fives all around!
My PH came back early, seems it痴 hard to win a cooking contest with a kabob, of shrimp and pork marinated in a Portuguese sauce, with Muslim judges? The way he fixed my Warthog, he could have won any cooking contest, hands down!! Back on kudu and maybe a bushbuck. Stalked another kudu, could smell him but couldn't see him, another marathon hike!! We were just about to go back for lunch when my tracker thought he saw another kudu bull. We hiked around to get a look and there he was! He looked huge to me, but all Kudu did. My PH whispered he was good! I was on the sticks, 280 yards, 13.8 of bullet drop 5o down . I could see him clearly, my PH a couple of yards away, couldn't see him clearly and thought I didn't have a clear shot. I whispered "why are we waiting"? My PH said, "well if you have the shot take it,", Boom! Dropped him! My PH cautioned to stay on him, but he couldn稚 get up (a little high but right through the spine). PH thought it would go about 48", quick tape said 53". Only a mile from the kudu (cut in half) to the truck, and 2 hours later with 6 tired guys, tells you how rough this area really was! Enjoyable dinner with 7 guys from Sweden tonight! Amazing, these 7 guys are from a village with only 71 people! Several had been to my next door neighbor (Minnesota), to visit relatives, we all had a great time.
Now only Bushbuck left! Up early, set up in an abandoned camp. Tracker, spots a nice ram, 457 yards away. Lieca say痴 38.7 0o. I set up on a deck hand rail with my coat for stability, felt good and I took the shot! We wait and drive across the valley, and find the bush really thick I mean really, really thick! I set up on the sticks and my PH and Tracker have a look. They find the area, but no Bushbuck. They actually had to crawl (on hands and knees) through 100 yards of bush, but nothing! This is the first time I see both my Tracker and PH sweat, I now know they are mortals. Sure would have liked my trust 300 about now! We worked our way down the valley, when my PH see's another very good ram. I tell my PH sometimes missing is a good thing! We set up! For a change I can shoot setting down off the sticks! The PH keeps telling me where the ram is at and I don't see it. He finally points out an opening in the brush and I hold on the opening. A couple of minutes later out steps the ram in the opening. My PH whispers in my ear to wait for a good shot! The Ram turns towards us takes a couple of steps on our side of the opening and turns broadside. BOOM!!!!!! SAFARI OVER!! A very good ram at 155 yards! I am the luckiest hunter ever!
What a trip! I want to thank a number of people who made my trip of a life time happen! Carel Maartens of Southern Safaris for his donation of my trip to Sioux Land SCI and setting me up! I also want to thank David Aanesgaard of Nokada Outfitters, what a great conversationalist, and a PH to boot! Most of all I want to thank, Tweek Roodt, of Roodt Hunting Company for his expert PH work as well as his Tracker Mosey, and his dog Sheze, what a team! What a trip! As a former guide I can assure you they run a topnotch organization.
I hope my trip of a life time leads to a second, I think there is an eland and maybe a couple of wildebeest with my name on them somewhere in Africa!