SA fantastic hunt....lion+14!
This is my and my husband's (Jamie) third trip of a lifetime to Africa and we hope it is not our last! Though we have enjoyed AfricaHunting.com for several years now, this is our first trip report. Our first two trips were unresolved for quite some time but now we hope we have gotten our issues worked out by no longer working with our previous outfitter, Johan Swart. It took us 2 years to get our first year's trophies and only with the help of our PH. Last year? Well...that's a story for another day. So without further ado, here is our hunting report! Since we haven't done reports for our previous trips, the length of this one will make up for it. :wink2:
Our three-week trip took place in August 2012 beginning with photographic safaris in Pilanesberg and Madikwe. Our PH, Danie Combrink, (whom we have had on all of our previous trips) arranged our SAPS paperwork before we arrived so our post-flight experience at SAPS was short and sweet. We stayed at Opikopi Guest House in Pretoria and enjoyed a wonderful stay while finally being able to sleep flat after our last 16-hour flight. The next morning we traveled to Kwa Maritane in Pilanesberg, where we stayed for 3 nights. This was adequate time to see the entire park with our PH as our guide. Though we didn't see the actual kill, we got to watch lions feeding- a first for us.
The roads were pretty bumpy a lot of the time but all in all we had a great experience there. We saw lots of giraffe, zebras, elephants, black and white rhino, blue wildebeest and some hippos along with many varieties of antelope.
Our lodge was extremely comfortable and the breakfast and dinner buffets were awesome!
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There is a watering hole by the restaurant but we weren't at the lodge enough to view anything that came there. We registered our guns at the gate, which was a pretty painless process.
Our next stop was a 2-day stay at The Bush House in Madikwe. Due to rhino poaching concerns the trip into the park with our guns was a bit more eventful. We were met with loaded guns put on us while we were interrogated. We had to go through 3 gates before we got to our lodge (the gun welcoming only occurred at one gate). We felt that they could have a better system in place for hunting visitors since we had to fill out paperwork at every gate. It was all good, though, since they evened out our end-of-the-barrel welcome with a second welcome at the lodge consisting of hot towels and sherry. :biggrin2: Our gate experience did not prevent us from having an awesome time there as well, however. Again, our accommodations were beyond expectations and we would certainly make a repeat visit. They also have a watering hole by their lodge and like Kwa Maritane they also had a hide to be able to view the watering hole at ground level. Elephants and friends came in with the dependable timing of Old Faithful each day in between our daily game drives. From the hide we were close enough for elephants to be able to crack our peanuts for us with their feet so it made for quite a party.
Beyond enjoying another lion feeding Jamie also got to experience being kissed by an elephant on one of our drives. We had just watched this elie sparring with a younger (humiliated) bull. The older elie came up to the vehicle- not aggressively, but merely inquisitive. He wanted to see who it was that had witnessed his recent triumph. After checking out the rest of the vehicle he picked up Jamie's hand with his trunk and investigated him. When he was satisfied with his investigation he slowly went back into the bush. It was an unforgettable experience. It brought Jamie back to memories of our trip last year to Zim, where the elephant encounters were plentiful (though not quite that intimate!). A few hours earlier we also got to enjoy seeing wild dogs feeding. Our conclusion is that you know its going to be a great game drive when your ranger says, Please don't tell the owners this happened!
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Now on to the hunt! Jamie took his Remington 700 300 Win shooting 150gr Barnes Vortex ammo and Stiller 375 RUM shooting 250gr TTSX for the lion hunt (story to follow) and any other big critters. Both guns wore the latest fashion of MPI stocks.
Our first stop was by Kuruman. We are more ketchup and two-piece silverware kind of people and though our lodge was a bit fancier than those standards this did not take away from the great experience we had there. A common experience was to open your door and hear the gallop of a kudu running across the lawn, kicking up divots of grass as he chased a letchwe under the sprinklers. Once the animals left the security of the lodge grounds, however, they were as wild as any other game we've experienced so Jamie still had good hunts. Though it was a large property, it was also saturated with game. There were lots of rolling hills and a different landscape than what we've hunted previously.
The first morning we went out and checked the rifles to find the two Leupold VX-6. 2-12 scopes fared the plane ride very well despite airport baggage handlers attempts to the contrary. We weren't out long before we found out that there are mountains in South Africa! We saw a few Barbary sheep but didn't see any large rams. Then we rounded to the backside of the mountain and found a herd of about 30 sheep with several good rams. It was interesting to see how once they startled they grouped up, making it very challenging to pick one out. The ram that we wanted was right in the middle of the pack so Jamie put him in his scope and had to wait. After 20 minutes waiting and Danie knitting a new scarf, the herd began to shuffle and Danie looked up from his knitting needles and started to say hes co BANG! Danie was going to say that the ram was coming but Jamie wasn't going to wait around for Danie to start the matching cap. After Danie got a chance to rub the blast out of his ears they measured the great trophy- a 29 Barbary sheep. The trip up the mountain to get him was quite precarious with all the loose rock.
After the pictures were taken we were off for more hunting. We saw several very good kudu in the 50-53 range; but Jamie had told Danie he was looking for a 55. Jamie had one particularly appealing kudu in his scope for several minutes at one point but Danie couldn't say he would go over 53. It was a tough decision but we let him go after a great stalk and a lot of fun. We spent the rest of the day looking at many black and blue wildebeest, zebra and eland.
Danie said the letchwe leave the lodge grounds in the night so we were going to look for them first thing in the morning. Jamie felt bad that he was going to hunt a letchwe that was playing in the sprinklers but he underestimated the personality change that took place once they left the security of the lodge grounds. Shortly after leaving we spotted a group of 5 males in a clearing and Danie and Jamie got off the pickup to make a stalk. After a few hours of playing cat and mouse in the thick brush (and arguing over which one was the right one when they could only see one at a time) Danie said, "That's the one!" and Jamie shot him running through the brush (the letchwe that is). After he went down Jamie turned to Danie and asked, "Was that the right one??" Danie smartly replied, "You shot it, so I guess so." When we got there Danie affirmed it was in fact the right one and we had our second trophy- a 29 letchwe.
That day we had a picnic lunch up on the mountain. Boerewors were cooked over the open flame and we were able to have our ketchup after all (and we even got a break from the task of using multiple pieces of silverware!). Soon after we found a blue wildebeest that Danie thought would at least go 28 and after a short stalk he gave us the slip (the wildebeest that is...Danie wasn't done hunting yet). There was a big herd of springbok in the fillet so we decided to switch our attention to them. While looking for a good male we saw the blue wildebeest running through the trees. After a short time of stalking he gave us the slip once more. Now it was personal! They got back in the pickup and decided to try to get him from a different angle. We spotted him across the valley and the pickup went on as a distraction. After sneaking several hundreds yards the wildebeest knew something was up and was watching us. They had to crawl a couple hundred yards- bush to bush. As we were trying to figure out how to get a clear shot all of a sudden the wildebeest was gone again!! We thought we were going to hang our heads in defeat but then saw him running towards us. We figured he was trying to get downwind. Running while trying to get him in an opening, he circled past us and Jamie shot him on the run. A 29 blue wildebeest now earned Jamie his new camp nickname "Mr. 29". Jamie said that was fine with him as long as he didn't shoot a 29 kudu!!
Our third morning out another PH said he saw another large kudu using pickup lines on a female near camp. We went looking for it, finding the unimpressed female, but not the bull.
Attachment 13294 They then shifted their attention to look for springbok. Soon they saw a large kudu bull; but Danie yelled, "wait...he's got one horn shorter than the other!" Continuing on, a large warthog jumped out of the brush near the pickup and Jamie asked for parental permission and as he got his approval, his gun went off before the full answer could be given. Jamie and Danie have a pretty good relationship that way. :cool: A 13 warthog was not a bad morning start!
Heading back to camp for lunch, the PHs wanted to look in the area where they had seen the big kudu male that morning. They found him near a waterhole and we then added a trophy Jamie has been waiting on for 3 years- a 56 kudu!
Our next stop was lion hunting by Vryburg. Here is Jamie痴 story of his hunt:
As we drove up to the property we were going to hunt, we saw our target was waiting for us near the gate. Only a few minutes into the hunt, we already knew this was going to be interesting. Before our hunt Danie asked Johnny how aggressive the lion was and Johnny痴 response was, 展ell, you never really know. The first thing I thought when I saw him was that the lion was not afraid and concluded he must either be really tame?r not tame at all!
We went in another gate so we could get around him and drove to where we thought we should get out to walk and intercept where he was. Danie and Johnny both had their 458痴 and I had my 375 RUM as we went to look where he was, stopping to glass into the bush every few paces. When we got to where we could see he had been lying, he wasn稚 lying there anymore! We continued on figuring we壇 pick up his track where he went into the bush and continued to stop and glass every few paces. We came to the edge of a small clearing and Danie and I both stopped to glass the opposite side of the clearing. After going about another two paces, the other guy exclaimed while looking where Danie and I had just glassed, 典here he is! He had circled around and was now stalking us from behind. I hadn稚 felt like a mouse in at least a week so I was wondering where I had left my hole! The lion was 60-70 yards away with only some small brush between him and us. We quickly discussed whether we should try to get closer and I said we should wait and see if he lays down, thinking that if we tried to get closer while he was still standing then he would likely charge. The lion crept forward to the edge of the bush on his side of the clearing and laid down. We decided not to try to get closer, presuming he would charge if we did. Looking through the scope I found a small opening in the bush directly into his chest. Danie, the other guy and I were all trying to get the sticks up in front of me. We got the gun on the sticks and my first shot was good- directly through the heart. My second shot zinged his mane as he wheeled around, going in his right shoulder and through his lung. My third shot we think was missed and likely hit the brush. The fourth shot went through his spine. When we walked up to him, we threw rocks at him every few feet. The other guy with us could really throw rocks! He was throwing them starting at 40 yards and continued to do so every few yards. At about 7-8 yards from the lion he was going to throw one more under the brush and it ended up hitting Danie痴 rifle barrel. The lion was dead when we got there with a bunch of branches in his mouth. The next day Johnny told me that he hadn稚 said anything before this since people take things differently, but he said he had been nervous going out to hunt that day because he knew this lion was quite aggressive and a fighter. This was only the second time in his history of hunting 300 lions that he had ever been stalked. Just after the hunt Johnny called his mom whom he said had been down on her knees until after this hunt was over. His wife痴 dad also called from a funeral he was attending of a family member to check in. Glasses of champagne were all around as we concluded the hunt with photos and memories for a lifetime.
Attachment 13325I wouldn't take this photo until AFTER the hunt!!
Our hunting had gone so well up to this point that we were ahead of schedule so we decided to hunt in the Bronkhorstspruit area and stayed at Luiperdskloof Game Lodge. The lodge was on a small reserve so there wasn稚 hunting on the property. Instead we went out from there to various concessions. Again, we had a repeat experience of an extremely comfortable lodge and great hunting.
Our first day there we went to one of the concessions that we hunted in 2010 where it is more open and easier hunting. In the course of the day we added a 23 black wildebeest, 22 red hartebeest and a huge stallion zebra with 81 stripes (unfortunately Danie said that Rowland Ward is 82 stripes). The zebra was so beautiful that we now have to find a place to display our full mount zebra that we will be a part of our new d馗or. This was a small concession and Danie had brought his own skinner. Since the zebra was so large we took him to the local butcher shop. It was quite interesting to see a zebra hanging between the cattle and the sheep while Danie was overseeing the skinning.
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The next day we went looking for common reedbuck and this resulted in meeting an interesting rancher. He had plenty of personality and was fun to visit with. He was trying to thin out his reedbuck population because the blacks have been putting out poisoned corn to get the reedbucks for meat, which has resulted in his horses eating the poisoned grain at times. The rancher said we could shoot any we saw because he and his neighbors could use the meat. We passed on some females since we didn稚 want to scare the males; but after shooting a 12 male we also got a female as well.
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It was a lot of work getting them out of the swamp so we decided to call it a day. It may not have been a huge trophy but we had a terrific day of hunting. We spent the rest of the day on a game drive by our lodge and got some great photo ops as well as spotting some jackal.
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The next day we went to another concession near the ranch we had hunted the day before in hopes of finding a mountain reedbuck. Halfway up the very steep, very rocky mountain, Jamie and Danie had a good laugh over noting that their shoes were still wet from walking in the swamp the previous day. As they topped the mountain they spotted a group of reedbuck with a very nice male. They hid and watched them until they calmed down and then had another crawling stalk to get into a shooting position. Sitting on Danie痴 shoulder while also standing on, Danie痴 foot Jamie got in a steady position to shoot a fantastic 8 reedbuck. Now they just needed to get their trophy down the hill. After a 10 minute argument, Danie won and carried the reedbuck down the half mile mountain on his shoulders. He looked to me like a shepherd bringing home his sheep.:)
They also had klipspringer on the property but had never shot one so we thought the conditions were ripe for a real trophy. So after a few granola bars and dry lemon, back up the mountain they went. Jamie saw one out of the corner of his eye and they worked in that direction, peeking over every rise. When they had about given up on finding him they ended up nearly tripping over him. He darted over the hill and in the little time it took the guys to catch up he had gone under the fence to the safety of a neighboring concession. There at 25 yards stood a monster of a klipspringer with his hooves in his ears, tongue out while chanting, 渡a-na-na-na in contempt. Jamie swiftly raised his gun, pointed it at him and let out an enthusiastic, 釘ANG! As the klipspringer once again darted off over the next mountain, Jamie turned and walked by a puzzled Danie. Jamie proclaimed that he had gotten his klipspringer to which Danie chuckled with a reply, 添es, and he痴 a great trophy!?br>
The next day we wanted to go back and get our nemesis on the right side of the fence but the concession owner was busy hunting in another area for a few days. We moved on the Ermelo area. One night they tried calling in jackals but unfortunately none of the jackals answered. We did, however, manage to acquire some needed wedding decorations for the concession owner that included two porcupines (for the quills).
The daytime hunting was much more successful. One of the goals was a white blesbuck and we went to an area with large herds (mixed in with common). They spotted the one they wanted but had trouble with him not positioning himself away from the rest of the herd. While they were standing on a ridge, waiting for the blesbuck's next move a duiker jumped out from below. Jamie once again asked for parental permission and as the PHs discussed the matter in Afrikaans over a cup of cappuccino, the duiker was gaining ground. Upon permission, the first bang (real- not spoken) Danie directed, "Behind him! This shot shifted Mr. Duiker into Road Runner gear. Leading the duiker further ahead, the next shot was more successful. Getting the duiker on the run came to the surprise and amusement of the PH that was escorting us on this concession. Jamie has gotten used to shooting animals on the run with his love for fox and coyote hunting and now he was able to put his experience to good use in Africa!
After getting the very old, 5 duiker they were also able to achieve their intended goal by getting a 15 white blesbuck. This trophy was also a patron of the retirement home where the duiker lived.
That afternoon we went to another concession in search of fallow deer. Since the area was quite open, there was only a lone, usable tree to hide behind. A termite mound surrounded the tree and Jamie used this as a gun rest. The height was just a bit too much so to compensate Jamie stood with one foot on a rock that they found while his other foot was nearly up to his chin while digging into the termite mound for support. Unfortunately I don't have photos to offer the visual. This turned out to be a successful shooting position, however, and the team was happy with the results. When Jamie asked Danie how he was supposed to measure him Danie sheepishly grinned, "How am I supposed to know? It looks like a good one!" So maybe somebody reading this can tell us if it is in fact a good one. ;)
All in all the guns and loads worked fantastic. Jamie used the 375 for the lion and zebra and the 300 on the rest. The TTSX worked great and did very little damage to the hides on the smaller animals yet when put in the right place, it knocked everything down quite quickly. Only one recovered bullet- 149 grains. Interestingly many of the animals bled more out of the entrance than the exit. Jamie was also very happy with the performance of the VX-6 scopes.
In closing, we had a fantastic trip to Africa and we would definitely make a repeat stay at any of the places we experienced on this trip. We are grateful that this successful trip with Danie has helped us to heal from our negative experiences from our last two hunts, largely incurred by our previous outfitter. The hunt for us is about a lot more than the shooting and Danie helps make the hunt memorable in every way. Danie has recently decided to go out on his own and be his own outfitter and we support him in his endeavor. It has taken us several years to finally begin to understand the cultural differences we have with South Africa but learning the culture and experiencing it all has only added to our enjoyment of Africa- despite any difficulties we've encountered.