Big Bores on the Eastern Cape

Discussion in 'Hunting Africa' started by EDELWEISS, Sep 30, 2012.

  1. EDELWEISS

    EDELWEISS AH Senior Member

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    I was not born in Africa but Africa was born in me..... I wish I could take credit for that quote; because its so true, and now I have "brothers for life" there. I just returned from a hunt with KMG safaris. Im not sure I can fully describe how fantastic the trip was and continues to be for me.

    About a year ago I started searching for safari firms, luckily KMG was was of my choices. After serveral emails and phone calls we decided to book with KMG. Between my hunting buddy and I, we have hunted Alaska and Canada and a good bit of the US; but Africa was neww to us. In fact it took a bit of convincing to motivate Frank to join me. Once we agreed on the the idea KMG was an easy pick for us. Marius Goosen is the PH behind the operation.

    Before I started actually planning the safari, I would have told any who asked that I knew all I needed to know about planning my safari. Since I was seven or eight, Ive read everything I could find about hunting in Africa, from Rosevelt, Rouark, Hemingway, Capstick, and even Sullivan (plus many others). Unfortunetly once I actually began planning MY safari, I realized just hoe little I actually did know. During one of my conversations with Marius, I told him this; we joked that I was an expert "cause I read the book". In fact once I admitted that I knew less than nothing the planning could really begin.

    Scheduling for two, took some work and we eventually decided on late September. We flew out of JFK with a direct flight to Joburg and then transfered to Port Elizabeth. The drive to NYC was something Id rather pass on for my next trip and the airport hotel wasnt high on my list for comfort; but nothing could damper the GREAT time me had on arrival.

    We took the advice so many of you offered and not only took care of our customs forms well before the trip; and we also had the SAP forms handled by the Profesional Hunters Association. Both of those steps eased our concerns about flying international with guns. Check in at the SAA airlines desk was simple and quick. Of course I packed too much; but managed to stay under the weight limits.

    Passing through TSA security was another issue. The bottle of water I was drinking was banned and I thought I was in for a full cavity search; but thankfully the TSA agent allowed me to pour it out. Next came the "shoes off and empty your pockets" part. Sure I expected all that; but after the water deal I was on edge. So everything including the wad of cash I was carrying (to pay for the hunt) goes into the bin, then they scanned me. Just when I think Ive passed, the TSA agent calls me over and has my carry-on bag in her hand. Im rushing to grab my belongings and cash when the TSA agent decides my brand new tube of shaving gel is banned and wants me to take it back to baggage. Convincing her to throw it away was an issue but we eventually resolved it and passed the TSA check point.

    The flight to Joburg was 16 hours. I had a great seat with plenty of leg room; but that came at the cost of no TV screen. Thankfully I brought a good book and everyone near me had headphones to drown out my snoaring.... The SAA crew was wonderful. The meals were delicious and the service was great.

    Arrival in Joburg was a bit scary, (the last time I was on a flight that long I had a M16 and a parachute...). South Africa Customs was easy and our bags arrived without an issue. We had been advised to have a pocket full of $5.oo bills to "buy cool drinks" for all the airport staff, as it turns out that included some of the SAP folks checking in our rifles. Some may be upset by this; but for me it was just "Africa". Frankly I was happier paying for the friendly service I got then the usual American version of "its over there..." attitude.


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  2. EDELWEISS

    EDELWEISS AH Senior Member

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    The first thing I noticed at the Joburg airport was how clean it was, in fact evertplace I went in SA was clean. Thats NOT something you can say for places like Baltimore. Our wait for the connecting flight to Port Elizabeth was made nicer by all the South Africans who were so friendly to us.

    Once we landed in PE, we were met by Marius and the videographer he arranged at my request. Johann was from Igala Productions. Initially Marius had been reluctant to offer video because of a previous incident with another crew. I can tell you we were both pleased with him. Im happy to say hees another one my new brothers. Some of you may be thinking a guy with a camera is an extra set of boots on the ground to scare the game and get in the way; but no so with Johann. If anyone startled game it was me, Johann was just there to catch it all on film, (like when we were sitting in the shadows around a waterhole waiting for Warthogs and I fell asleep with my rifle resting on the shooting sticks....). For those still doubting Igala productions are the ones behind "Aim on Africa" which can be seen on the Sportsmans Channel. The quality of their work is super and the price is pennies compared to the missed memories. Sure I took pictures and brought my own mini video camera, but none of that is like what a profesional can do.

    Waiting for us in Marius' truck was his tracker and another family member, "FLEX"; Marius's Jack Russel Terrier. Flex doesnt know hes a dog and Im not willing to try to convince him of anything different. The drive to the Huntshoek Lodge took about an hour. Once again I was amazed by how clean the roads are in South Africa. There just isnt any litter or graffiti.

    KMG offers several accomidation packages, from a "Rough it" package which was anything but rough. Its simply a "A" frame house with beds and a bath over looking beautiful views of the Eastern Cape. Marius describes it as a traditional South African lodge for South African hunters. Its miles ahaead of what most of us would think of as "rough" and so far away of any hunting camp Im used to in the US.

    Frank and I opted for the "Luxury Package". We stayed at the Huntshoek Lodge a beatiful piece of property over looking the Great Fish River. The facility is split into what Im calling the lodge and the villas where we slept. First the "Lodge", its a huge place pirched on the side of a hill. The full glass front over looks the river and provides a daily view of numerous game. This is where we ate our meals and hung out during non hunting times. The Lodge also has a pool on the outdoor deck. Speaking of meals, dont come there thinkning you are gonna loose weight, even the breakfasts were delicious. The evening meals were feasts!

    The villas were also huge. Ive been in apartments smaller than the bath room. The shower was like having a massage, theres no shortage of hot water and the pressure was soothing to sore muscles after a long day of hunting. These werent anything like camp beds Im used too, they were more comfortable then some beds at home.

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  3. EDELWEISS

    EDELWEISS AH Senior Member

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    I love history especially Teddy Rosevelt, so this being 100 or so years since his grand safari, I decided I wanted to dress like TR. I wore knee high English style riding boots (well broken in and re-soled for walking), for pants I chose jodphor type riding britches, long sleeve cotton shirts in green, slate, and navy blue. My khaki four pocket jacket and various poke-a-dot ascots made up the rest, which I topped off with a Rough Riders campaign hat. Well at least I hope TR would have been impressed. Because my hunting buddy insisted I would be hot in the long pants and boots, I opted for a kilt as an alternative. I chose a tan WW1 style canvas kilt cover for the field. So I was set for my TR safari adventure.

    The first morning started early with a simple but filling breakfast, then we were off to hunt. The Eastern Cape is comprised of rolling hills, which seem more like mountains if you are as unprepared for tham as I was. I had begun increasing my hiking range before the trip but neglected to add hill to any extent. That was my failing. Marius and the rest of the crew must be part mountain goat, given the way they easily cruise up and down the hills. Quickly Marius adapted to my limitations, pausing along the way for me to catch my breath.

    We hunted all morning without me getting close enough for a shot. Im a resident of Maryland, our ranges are limited to begin with and I know of none where I can shoot past 200 yards. This not only limited my shooting skills; but it also hurt my range estimating abilities. The second issue was easily handled by Marius's Leica binoculars with the built in range finder.

    He would spot game that I thought was only scrub or brush and talk me into finding them with my binos or scope. Again as most of my hunting is limited to the eastern US, I was amazed at the numbers and variety of game we saw. At home if I pass on a Whitetail Deer, I do so knowing I might not get another shot. In Africa the gae seemed to be everywhere, getting me in close enough and picking an old bull was another issue.

    We hunted all morning and while I never got a shot, I pronounced the trip a success. Africa is beautiful! Bruch was served around 11am each day, and it was a feast. After brunch we rested during the heat till around 3pm before heading back into the field for more hunting. During this down time we watched Rugby and Cricket matches, sometimes I offered the gang a tune or two of my snoring as I lounged on the deck....

    The afternoon hunt was a constant stalk of Impala and Wildebeest. Just as we would settle on one species, the other might come into view and we'd spot a good set of horns to chase after. In fct we were following Wildebeest into a valley when they suddenly disappeared, I thought we were heading back to the truck when we turned a corner and spotted a lone Impala.

    Im not much into record books or for carrying tape measures; as every animal I take is a "record" for me. Its the hunt that Im there for not the mount on the wall. In either case this Impala was beautiful and mature. Marius quickly got me on the sticks and I settled down faster than I had expected. My Ruger RSR is 375H&H more than necessary for the Pains game I was hunting, but the gun just screams "Africa" to me so it was my primary rifle, backed up by my Merkel double in 470 NE, again much more than I needed; but this was my first (of many safaries), and I just wasnt going to Africa without a double rifle.

    If the 375H&H was more than I needed for Impala; thats another question, since it fell with one shot. Marius and the crew quickly moved in and set about readying the scene for pictures. The pictures you take will be your memories after the hunt. I carried a small pocket size camera, even though I was having the hunt videoed. Marius also takes pictures. He saves them for himself and as back up for clients. He recalled a hunter who accidentlly deleted all his pics the last night of the safari.

    It was around 5pm and I thought we were done for the day, so I unloaded the chamber of my rifle for the trip back to the Lodge. We werent more than a mile or so from where the the Impala had been taken, when a heard of Wildebeest ran across the trail in front of us. Marius stopped the truck, turned to smile at me and said, "Come-on". In my excitement I was anything but quiet trying to chamber a round and the hunt was back on.

    We were joined by Flex, Marius's Jack Russel Terrier. He is well trained and stayed close by Marius during the stalk. Once Marius put me on the sticks and started pointing out the bull he wanted me to take, Flex started to wander forward. Rather than scare the Wildebeest away, they seemed to be intriqued by this new "beast" in the fields. They actually came closer and one bull stood apart from the rest. Marius got me on target and the 375H&H did its job again with only one shot. Tjhe bull dropped in its place.

    So day one ended with a Impala and a Wildebeest! This is Africa and I belong here! The dinner was a feast, just as were all of them. We were treated to finery that I had been told to expect; but just couldnt imagine on a hunting trip.

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  4. EDELWEISS

    EDELWEISS AH Senior Member

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    The daily joke was that I had foolishly believed I knew about safaris "because I read the books". Like many of us I had read everything I could find about Africa. I watched the videos, and hit all the blogs. I knew just enough to know I didnt know anything---and I was being schooled by "kids", some half my age. Wow what teachers they were, too!

    Marius surrounds himself with good people. They accepted us, and even my TR garb, with good humor. When I decided to give the kilt a go, they gave me the usual smiles Ive come to expect from the non-kilted folks; but then just went about the busines of making sure I was having a good hunt.

    I cant say it loud enough, these guys were great. Ive hunted with good guides before; but never did I feel like I was part of the family (OK maybe the crazy uncle--but still part of the family). The hunting was serious but the fun was constant. Sometimes the conversation sounded like a "frat" party, where we laughed till it hurt. I had hopped to learn some Afrikaans and local languages before the safari. I did manage to pick up some Swahili (hardly usefull on the Eastern Cape), and with the help of google translate, managed to prepare a rather extensive list of profanity.... With this I was able to impress or embarass my young hosts. As I said they made me feel like I was half my age (until it was time to climb the hills).

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  5. Nyati

    Nyati AH Legend

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    Seems like you had a great time.

    Waiting for the rest :popcorn:
     
  6. EDELWEISS

    EDELWEISS AH Senior Member

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    Each day began with me feeling like it couldnt get any better. Zebra was on my list and Marius put me on target after a short stalk. In what was to become all too common, they were accompanied by other game that made getting a shot difficult. Marius had me seated behind a bush. After I managed to find a comfortable spot in between the thorns and the sharp rocks, I settled in to wait for his call to get on the sticks. I dont know how long we were waiting; but I was comfortable enough to start to sleep, so when Marius nugged me with a smile I was well "rested" and met his smile with an embarressed smile of my own. That made for more laughed tet night at dinner.

    As quickly as my now wide awake eyes could get on target, I took the shot and missed! Well I suppose a good miss is better than a bad hit.....but I wasnt happy with myself. Marius settled me down and the same Zebra came into view this time closer. My next shot hit; but too far back, so the tracking began. Marius alerted the staff and the chase began. There was a good blood trail to follow; but the hills got the better of me. Soon we were spread out. Always on of the staff stayed close enough to me to keep me in sight. As the search continued I was amazed at the volume of blood we found, yet were still being eluded by the Zebra. At one point I thought we had lost it for good, as the trail seemed to end with no Zebra; then the guys realized it had doubled back--and just when I thought I had climbed the last hill.....

    So we were back on the trail even as I was running quickly out of steam. The line between us was again spreading out. Soon enough, Henrick (one of the PHs) came running to me. He could see there was no way Id be able to make it to where the Zebra was, in any shape to shoot it, so he asked if he might just dispatch it for me. As I had blown the shot in the first place and the animal was clearly hurt, and as I was in no condition to take care of my mess, I was quite happy for the offer. I say this with the understanding that the wounded animal was my fault and my poor conditioning made it necessary for help, that I was glad to have available. Its still part of my safari and something I know I must ensure isnt an issue again.

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  7. EDELWEISS

    EDELWEISS AH Senior Member

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    I had mentioned to Marius that I was also a fan of the early history of South Africa. He pointed out some of the original farms and British block houses that were in the area. He also took us to a farm where the owners had refurbished the original house and were using it as a hunting lodge. This was just another joy of the trip. Looking through the original fireing slits I could just imagine the settlers defending against spears and perhaps British Martinis...

    We took the time to drive through a game preserve in search of Hippos and Rhinos for pictures. They managed to elude us; but I got some good close ups of Griaffes and other game. Its amazing how when they know theyre safe from hunters, they dont run on sight of humans. Im guessing it would have been different if we had brought rifles and shooting sticks. We did however bring Flex, Im betting he was as excited as I was--at least I kept my head inside the land rover.

    The next morning as we were discussing what to concentrate on for the day. Marius pointed out a Nyala on a hill by the Lodge. I hadnt planned on an Nyala for this trip; till Marius pointed out his atypical horns. His left horn pointed to the side instead of up. I have seen atypical Whitetails but never any Afriacn game, so the hunt was on.

    We left the Lodge on foot and Marius managed to keep us in the shadows till we moved close enough for a shot. The Nyala was across a pretty steep gorge but less than 200yds from our position. The 375H&H once again proved deadly and I was happy to make up for the poor shot on the Zebra. The Nyala fell in its place with one shot. IIn truth the climb down the gorge and back up the other hill was harder than the shot.

    Its a beautiful Nyala and the atypical horn is even more special. He was an old bull with almost no teeth left. Im doubting it would have survived much longer; but he will in my memories and when the trophies are done, he'll hang in a special place in my game room

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  8. EDELWEISS

    EDELWEISS AH Senior Member

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    We hunted several days on the property of Sid Young. Sid is what I am calling "old school" Africa. He has been a PH and remembers hunting all over Africa and much of the world. I was reminded of Rouark's, Harry Shelby. It was a pleasure just to sit in his game room and drink coffee while he talked about his past hunts. I wouldnt dare ask his age, especially since he out walked me never seeming to be out of breath despite the hills. Sid was the guy that would have you thinking he would never stop, only to pause behind a bush and tell you to get ready because the animal you were hunting, but never saw, was just on the other side of the bush.

    Sid allowed us to hunt some cull Warthogs on his property. I hadnt used the 470 yet and thought it would be fun on the pigs. We set up in the shadows near a water hole. I expected the Wart hogs to come through a spot in the dirt dam that was about 50 yards away, so I flipped the middle leaf up on the big double. It was late in the afternoon and the sitting got the better of me. The rifle was resting on a set of short sticks and my head was resting on the stock, before long I was starting to sleep.... Marius nugged me with a "are you crazy" look, to which all I could do was grin. Hell I was in Africa and NOTHING was ruining it! God how I love the place. Before long, two pigs appeared; but much closer than I had expected. The first shot was over and when one Wart Hog actually ran towards us the second shot was even higher.

    All I could do was laugh. It reminded me of a story I had read about a PH and a novice hunter that came upon a big lion. The lion charged and the hunter shot and missed at "bad breath" range. The lion jumped at the pair and went over them. Both parties retreated into the woods thankful to be alive. Later the PH had the hunter practicing his close range shots, mean while the lion was said to be practicing his close range leaps.....(well if it isnt true, it sure ought to be) -- Yep Ive got some practicing to do with the 470.

    I had never given any thought to hunting Ostrich till I saw them almost daily. Marius told me that they could be challenging to hunt, which seemed odd since we could almost drive up to them. He pointed out that they didnt perceive the truck as a threat; but if we got out and set the sticks up they would be gone in a flash. The more we talked about it, the more the idea took hold and before long I was pestering Marius to add an Ostrich to my list.

    Three days of hard walking got me close enough to miss once; but I was still determined. Sid Young joined us and in his normal fashion walked me all over his property, then got me behind the bush with the Ostrich on the other side. The 375H&H did its part, all I had to do was put it on target, (translation= hit, miss, miss, THUMP) and after what seemed like 50 miles I finally had my velociraptor with feathers.

    All week long a Bush Buck had been tempting me by standing in the open near the Lodge every morning. Marius said it was young; but to me it was becoming an arrogant teenager "flipping me off" by just standing there in the open. He seemed to know we wouldnt shoot from the Lodge balcony, so he could be as bold as he wanted. We attempted a stalk on a mature Bush Buck; but he eluded us, then the next morning the same younger one would show up again. His normal position was about 140 yards away, just outside the tree line. On the last morning, when everything was packed and loaded for the trip to the airport, I couldnt find the sassy teenager. He wasnt in his usual spot. I felt a bit victorious that he wasnt showing himself, till Marius pointed him out a mere 40 yards away! All I could do was laugh. I love this place, its where I belong.
     
  9. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    Thanks for tales and stories. It was honest and fun to read.
     
  10. Nyati

    Nyati AH Legend

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    Congrats for a great hunt and nice trophies. Thanks for sharing !
     
  11. KMG Hunting Safaris

    KMG Hunting Safaris SPONSOR AH Elite

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    Hey Bruce,
    As I am typing this, I am sitting and watching a Nyala bull walking across the valley and i immediately thought of you.
    Thank you for taking the time to write the report. You and Frank created some great memories here, and I cannot
    thank you enough for the great spirit you brought to camp.

    I cant wait to have you guys back! But for now, that is all the time I have to type. Sitting for Bushpig tonight.
    Take Care, Bushdoc!
     
  12. EDELWEISS

    EDELWEISS AH Senior Member

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    Well its official the ladies want to join us for the next hunt! Once we showed them the pics of the lodge and facilities, they were hooked.

    Oh and if you thought my 470NE was to big for Wart Hog, wait till I bring the 577..... Actually I was looking at a 2bore muzzle loader or a 8bore double; but figured I save those for future hunts.
     

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