BOTSWANA: BOWHUNT:Bowhunting at Kanana in Botswana

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports' started by Wildside Outdoors, Aug 17, 2014.

  1. Wildside Outdoors

    Wildside Outdoors AH Member

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    So I sit here after almost 2 years of planning and waiting with high anticipation and realize that it is now over - except for the jet-lag. Its hard to believe that it has passed by so quickly, but such is life as we age (or so I've been told - I'm still too young to care).

    My wife and I boarded the plane in Louisville on August 02 to NY to overnight in the states. We arrived in Johannesburg early on the 4th and then onto Maun. The flights, luckily, were uneventful except that I found out that I must be on every terrorist watch list across the world, because I was frisked and patted down and my bags searched at every airport. I don't know how many times I repeated that "Its a bow case" and "No I do not have any firearms" and "Yes, you can search it". New York was the worst - I had a much more tanned individual that was about a foot taller than me and probably 100 lbs heavier do everything but a cavity search....... Oh well, such are the times.

    We were promptly picked up by Claire Bridger at the airport and began the distant drive onto Kanana. The drive was interesting as we had to continuously stop for the cattle, sheep, donkeys and random hitch-hikers that clutter the roads around Maun. It was neat hearing Claire tell stories and provide local knowledge of the people and their way of life on the ride.

    Finally, after 4.5 hours of driving (one stop for a bathroom break and some pictures with huge Baobabs) we had arrived. After entering the gate we began to some scattered wildlife along the roadways. A handful of kudu cows, a steenbok, several waterbuck and multiple gemsbok were visible as the sunset on our drive to the lodge. We were promptly greeted by the staff and provided drinks as we stepped out of the car and I was unable to reach for my bags before someone was available to take them for me. J.P., a PH that was guiding for NM resident Tom King on his safari escorted us to our tent and provided the brief tour and information that we would need for the night and it was onto the campfire in the boma. There we met Jason Bridger, the owner, who was to be our PH while hunting the next 10 days. It was neat walking into the boma, where the fire was going, the table was set and candles were burning for a 3-course meal. We quickly began talking about hunting and the myriad of other conversations that always come about among like-minded hunters in a camp. I learned that Tom, his wife and his daughter would only be hunting 1 more day and the last animal on their "hit list" was a warthog. After that, we were to have the entire camp to ourselves.

    The next morning we awoke at 5am and began getting all of our stuff together and quickly showered and shot our bows just before breakfast at 7am. After a hearty breakfast and some instruction from Jason, we were off to #1, a blind with a good diversity of game that typically uses the area and was sure to bloody some arrows for our start. On our route we saw steenbok, impala, waterbuck, kudu and one young bull giraffe. Just before arriving at the blind there was a herd of close to 50 impala within 300 yards of the waterhole - HIGH ANTICIPATION!

    Quickly, Morlen and Happy, our trackers for our trip unloaded the truck with a cooler of drinks and food for the day and in the blind we crawled for our sit. 45 minutes later a group of 5 bull wildebeest came in, one mature individual, but Jason said that we would see nicer wildebeest, so we held off. Something had the wildebeest very spooky and they quickly came in and left 2 other times. An assortment of birds and small game continually flooded into the watering hole as we waited on. We didn't see anything else for 2 hrs when a mid 40's kudu bull with 3 cows came in from behind the blind. They were down wind from us, but didn't seem to react to our scent beyond the point of not advancing to the waterhole. - something wasn't just quite right and then we found out what. The kudu began to bark and look beyond the waterhole as I turned I could see spots through the window mesh. "Cheetah" I exclaimed, but then I saw the rosette pattern and quickly said "No, LEOPARD!" The beautiful cat quickly came up to the waterhole and drank at only 20 yards from us as we watched in aw. Jason said it was the first time he had ever had a leopard come into a bow blind at a waterhole. After the cat left we decided to change blinds as the wildlife were clearly avoiding the the resident badazz in the spotted coat. Down the dirt track we went to #2 and we got set up at about 1pm.

    The first animals in for our afternoon sit were at about 3:30 and consisted of 9 cow wildebeest. At 5:30 we had a small group of kudu cows and calves come in and it was then quiet for the next hour until just before dark. As the light faded we saw a nice gemsbok cow begin working her way in, followed by another small band of wildebeest, this time with a shooter bull. Slowly they began to circle the waterhole and finally just before it was too dark the gemsbok advanced enough for Holly to take her shot. I had to move out of view of the window for her to take the shot and I listened as the arrow passed through our first African animal. She had pulled the shot from the shoulder and into the base of the neck, but 60 yards told the true story as it sprayed blood from the carotid artery and quickly went down. The end of day 1 and my wife had shot 1 of her 3 main targets with her bow.

    Day two began with a long trip to the North Side of the property to a large water hole usually used by gun hunters. The day before Tom and JP had saw a ton of kudu at the hole as they waited for a nice boar warthog, including 6 "Monsters". We put up a bow blind at one end of the 80 yard long water hole in hopes to be within at least 45 yards of most of the kudu coming to water on our end. Then we left to sit in another blind for the remainder of the day.
    Just after lunch we saw our first animals, a group of kudu cows followed by 2 young bulls approaching the 50'' mark. At 3 we had another group of kudu cows come in and as they stood in the distance, 2 very young gembok bulls began their approach to the water. About 40 yards out they halted and I quickly saw why as either side of the blind we had warthogs coming in. To the left was a sow and to the right a sow and a huge boar. I waited for a broadside shot and watched as the DRT punched a hole through both sides right on the mark. A squeal and 70 yards later, he was mine. A super old boar of enormous body proportions, much more the size of wild boar here in the states. We sat the remainder of the afternoon quietly, with no further activity, but I was happy as I had also taken my first African animal. (I have alot more pictures on another card but I am currently having to have it restored as the pictures aren't retrievable) - more on that story later.
     

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  2. Wildside Outdoors

    Wildside Outdoors AH Member

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    I will continue to add more as I get time. We had a great trip though!
     
  3. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Looks like you both had a good time.
    Congrats.
     
  4. Wildside Outdoors

    Wildside Outdoors AH Member

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    Day 3 began at the North end watering hole waiting for Kudu. I honestly can say that I don't know how many we saw, but it was well over 50 cows/calves along with 10 warthogs (no big ones though), 1 waterbuck bull and 11 kudu bulls. At around 10am we had one old warrior kudu come in, but he was short in the horn and broken on his left side and finally after all day in the blind, at 630 we had 3 other mature bulls come in. 2 were not quite there yet, but one was exactly what I wanted - deep curls, long horns, mature and standing at 45 yards. I got Jason's go ahead and shot...... and choked. I haven't drawn on an animal that hasn't come home with me in 20 years; since I was 9 years old............. Talk about disgusted - I still don't know what happened or where he went, but he clearly wasn't going to jump in the truck with me........

    Day 4 we sat in the blind the with almost no activity from the waterhole we sat at (just picked the wrong spot) but I did manage to shoot a beautiful jackal with my bow.

    Day 5 started off with a walk/stalk hunt for eland and zebra, but turned up absolutely nothing. The afternoon started off with a bang as we returned to #2 where Holly had shot her Gemsbok. I shot a Gemsbok and as it was beginning to get very warm, we called in the guys to retrieve it. As they were entering the area, they arrived at the same time as a group of wildebeest and we were wishing we had waited another 30 minutes or so. - Oh well......
    Surprisingly, with a perfect shot the gemsbok was still alive when we found it and required an additional pep talk to lay down and give up, but as they say, these African animals are tough.
    The rest of the day was filled with small warthog sightings, a cow wildebeest and a ton of kudu, but no more of the animals we wanted to take.

    Day 6 began with a bang as I decided to try and take one of the many steenbok that we continued to see from the road. We were to head out and look for eland and zebra again that morning but we spotted a nice steenbok and drove past. Stopping, I quickly grabbed my gear and Jason and I sneaked back down the road. As we approached, all I could see were ears and I quickly saw that this little antelope was going to be difficult with a bow. As it disappeared, I knew the next one I would grab the .270 and knock it down as Holly really wanted me to take one of these little gems. The second try panned out with the rifle and I shot it at about 45 yards.
    We continued to look for eland sign and finally spotted the first eland of the trip. As they quickly retreated we prepared for the stalk. After an hour of tracking we caught up with the group but found that there were no bulls in the group, but there were 3 gemsbok - one VERY nice one. We decided to wait and follow the group to see if we had missed any or if they might actually join with more individuals. As we continued to follow, we finally spotted zebra - Also a first. As Holly was to take the zebra from my package, this quickly became her hunt. Happy and I stayed put as Jason and Holly began their stalk. The animals were moving quickly from right to left and the terrain was very open. As they began to approach, the animals changed course and began back-tracking. As the animals continued, this provided Holly a 150 yard frontal shot at the stallion and she sent it home. Unfortunately, zebra stallions are also stubborn and require a little more "coaxing" before giving up, but she was able to sweet talk him a couple more times......... :).
    That afternoon found us back at #1, where we had seen the leopard. I shot another jackal on our route into the blind and Holly shot her first Jackal as two came into the water. He only went about 5 yards as she placed her arrow perfectly behind the shoulder.
    The trail camera had revealed that eland bulls were at the water before dark the afternoon before, but the wind had been wrong so we would sit as late as we could in hopes of them coming in again. Nothing else came into the blind until dark where I began to make out orange/tan forms moving through the bush. It was eland, but not the group of bulls - a group of cows and young immature bulls, too numerous to count. Among the group were two young wildebeest and as the group advanced to the water, the dust cloud began to build and the noise was immense. We waited to see if any other individuals were to come out, but it became evident that the bulls would not be with the group. As the light became nearly too dark to shoot, a group of zebra came in from our left. Jason quickly decided we should take advantage of this and we worked out a tradeoff in my package for the shot. I waited, impatiently, in drowning sunlight filled dust cloud for a shot. Then a wildebeest snorted and I quickly drew my bow for that unlikely opportunity. The zebra stallion ran only about 10 yards out and turned broadside. I released and down he went. Because of the upward angle and the rush of the shot, I had made a nice entry, but the pathway proved to end in the spine. No tracking required so I will take it!

    We had truly made up for lost time and some bad luck so far as we took 5 animals on day 6. BIG SMILES
     

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  5. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Everyone does it at some point.
    Looks like you got over your choking incident quickly enough though.
    Steenbok walk & stalk with a bow… Tough little critter to pull that off with.
     
  6. Nyati

    Nyati AH Legend

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    Congrats for a great hunt, and thanks for sharing !
     
  7. Wildside Outdoors

    Wildside Outdoors AH Member

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    Thanks Wayne, I will continue this again tonight when I get home. I should be able to wrap it up. Oh, and I may have gotten your eland............ just FYI... hahaha!
     
  8. Biddleman

    Biddleman AH Veteran

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    I don't want to ruin the story but I saw pics of that eland. One word... WOW!:)
     
  9. TOM

    TOM AH Elite

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    I can't wait to read more Jason!
     
  10. Wheels

    Wheels GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Enjoying your hunt...........looking forward to more!

    All the best.
     
  11. Wildside Outdoors

    Wildside Outdoors AH Member

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    Day 7 found us back out after eland again, only this time, with a little more success. We did find a couple groups of cows by following fresh tracks that crossed the road, but still no bulls to be found. We tried multiple areas, but all we managed to turn up was another group of cow eland, some kudu and gemsbok.
    At about 5:00 we finally found a very old bull wildebeest with worn down tips and big bosses. We drove past and out of sight, then proceeded to grab our stuff and make the stalk. Our first approach allowed him to spot us and although it was an easy shot, a tree was blocking our view of his vitals. Jason and I sat motionless as the bull just stared at us. We slowly moved under the brush to the left I found an opening. Slowly I moved up and shot. The old bull went about 60 yards, swayed and then fell to the ground. I think Jason and I were both wondering what made him stand still for our advance, but he had acted quite calm and that's why we had pushed it. As I examined him, I found bad cataracts that had apparently blinded him in one eye and another bad floater in the other eye. I guess its true when they say "blind in one eye and can't see out of the other". Either way, I was tickled with him - a nice old warrior for my first wildebeest.

    Day 8 began in pursuit of impala on our way to where we were to try for my eland again. As we had been unable to see any impala from the blind I decided that if we could find a good one, I would try the old Steyr-Mannlicher .270 out again.
    On our way in, we saw one group of impala with a nice wide ram, but he quickly decided that Botswana wasn't big enough for enough for the both of us, and disappeared. Just down the road was the second group we had seen while driving in on our first day. A short detour put us out of sight and we began our stalk back to where the large group of impala were feeding. Moving into 200 yards revealed the herd and showed one small ram and 2 mature individuals. One ram was wider, but shorter while the other was narrow, with a good heart shape that went well behind his head and was the most massive impala I had seen. A quick setup of the shooting sticks and I dropped him in his tracks. As we walked up, I became well pleased at seeing his mass and length - he was actually better than I thought. A few quick pictures and it was back to the eland game.
    We had decided that rather than trying to find the eland and then stalk, or to look for tracks crossing the road, that we would begin at the water hole and track back into the bush. Before reaching the water hole that had continuously produced fresh sign we spotted a big warthog and Holly had yet to take one. The driving past trick proved to work again as we stalked back to within range and one spine shot later, she had her first warthog.
    Two animals down and we still hadn't made it to the water hole yet, but we were losing time. As we pulled up to the water, Happy and Morlen quickly jumped out and looked at the fresh droppings and sign and Morlen said there was only one bull and a huge herd of cows. We grabbed our gear, I loaded the .270 and out we went. Slowly we tracked so as not to lose the bull sign as we were unsure if he would stay with the cows. The tracks moved off in a relatively straight line for some time, then began to scatter as the eland had milled around and fed. Straight, then right, then left, then a circle........ there was so much sign of different ages that it was difficult to follow.
    Finally, just after midday, we spotted the back end of an eland. Upon closer examination there were several cows about 200 yards out, but they were scattered literally everywhere. Jason finally spotted the bull standing off to the left, by himself in the shade. Happy and Holly stayed back as we crawled into position. We had to be extra careful not to alarm any of the cows and after half an hour, we were finally into position. All we needed was for the bull to move into the open toward the cows. For almost 45 minutes from the time we spotted him he stood still, only moving slightly. Then finally he began moving at a steady walk toward the cows. We quickly put up the sticks and I found a small opening through the brush and fired as he angled away. The shot was good but still required a follow up and he collapsed. I had to give Jason a big hug after that hunt and as we were celebrating Holly and Happy came trotting up to enjoy in the fun.
    The eland's size was tremendous, not just the horns, but the body. He had a great tuft on his forehead and down the bridge of his nose with great color. I honestly wasn't expecting the eland to be my favorite trophy, but it definitely proved to be.
    As we still had time for an afternoon hunt we went back to #1 to try for a wildebeest for Holly. The first animals out were 4 warthogs and we thought "why not?" She pinwheeled the best one and we sat there for a bit longer and heard Jason say "impala". It was the first impala we had seen from the blind and this was a sizable group with one small ram, one decent and one large, wide ram. They quickly moved around in every direction and the large ram never made it to the water, but instead chose a path to the side of the blind. at our left was a small window that was made for viewing only, but it proved to be just large enough for holly to get her shot off and at a sharp quartering angle, she laid the smackdown.
    5 animals in a one day again! Things were really heating up.

    Day 9 we went to a raised blind on the opposite end of the property to try again for Holly's wildebeest. By midday we had only seen 4 kudu bulls (one nice one) and a young boar warthog. With the wind shifting and swirling at this spot, we decided to change locations and found another waterhole a few miles away. As we drove up, a large warthog, 2 young kudu bulls and a ton of cows ran off. But 15 minutes after settling in, the cows returned. After an hour another group of cows came in and this time with a very nice bull. He wasn't as long as the one I had the opportunity at on day 3, nor as long as a couple I had seen from the road, but Jason gave the go ahead and thwack! Finally - I had my kudu - I couldn't have been happier.

    Day 10 found us back at #2 as it always seemed to have wildebeest sign (although they were apparently a lot smarter than we were). The first animal in was at 11 and was a very old and very long Gemsbok cow. This was one specie that I definitely wanted a second individual of and as she came to the salt I drew and made a perfect shot. She jumped and slowly moved off as she had no idea what happened. 60 yards later she was down. In fear of disturbing things, we waited patiently and an hour later, here came 3 wildebeest bulls, with kudu cows. Only one was a shooter, but that's all we needed. The bull faced us for what seemed like forever and then finally turned and went to the salt. Holly made an excellent shot, slightly quartering away into the opposite shoulder and the blood was spraying as he ran out. We opted to give him 30 minutes and then retrieve both of our animals.
    Just before we exited the blind, a boar and sow warthog came in and I thought "why not?" - THWACK and we had 3 animals in one sitting.

    We opted to just relax that afternoon as we had taken all of the animals that we had hoped for and wanted time to get our items together for the next morning's ride back to the airport.

    I can honestly say that I truly hated to leave. My wife and I had a phenomenal time at Kanana and although it may have started out a bit slow, we finished with a bang.

    The food, the presentation and the staff were all first class and I was very impressed with how the lodge was ran. Everyone there worked very hard to ensure we were happy and I can only hope that we were as much fun for them as they were for us.

    Thanks again Jason and Claire!

    I've got a lot more pictures, and some better ones, but as my card is messed up, we had to pull these from facebook taken with Jason's phone. - I'll add some after we get it fixed.
     

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  12. Norwegianwoods

    Norwegianwoods SILVER SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Great report from a great hunt.
    Thank you very much for sharing it with us! :)
    I plan to go to Kanana with my girlfriend and our 3 kids some years from now :)
     
  13. VanderLaan

    VanderLaan AH Senior Member

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    Nice hunt. Did you clean the place out? :)

    Any pics of your kudu?
     
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  14. Wildside Outdoors

    Wildside Outdoors AH Member

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    Thanks guys! No we didn't clean the place out, but I definitely think the animals were appreciative of the fact that we left! LOL I have a ton more pictures but my card is acting wacky and I may not be able to pull any more pics from it - luckily Jason and Claire copied them before we left, so they do still exist.
     

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  15. Wildside Outdoors

    Wildside Outdoors AH Member

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    One more.
     

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  16. Bobpuckett

    Bobpuckett GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Awesome Hunt! congrats to you and your wife for some great animals. thanks for the report.
     
  17. accipiter

    accipiter AH Veteran

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    I was about to write the same thing. Wow, you really took a lot of animals. I may have missed it in earlier posts, but how many animals in total did you and your wife put in the salt?
    They must have a ton of game at Kanana. Congratulations on a great safari.
     
  18. Wildside Outdoors

    Wildside Outdoors AH Member

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    Thanks guys! We shot 21 animals total, but 2 of the jackals didn't go in the salt as they had the mange - a third one did make it to the salt as he was beautiful and I am having a rugshell done on him. We kept the skulls and skins from everything else. If we hadn't capitalized on some hard opportunities, we might not have had near the animals we did. All in all, it was a SUPER hunt and I can honestly say that the best part about it wasn't the hunting, but the lodge/outfitter and services received - FIRST CLASS
     
  19. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    Great hunt report and pictures, congrats!
     
  20. jeffpg

    jeffpg AH Enthusiast

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    It always amazes me just how much reading others accounts of their experience at Kanana takes me back to my own trips there...

    After watching you plan this trip for you and Holly since almost back when I first went there, I'm so glad to know that you guys had such a successful and fun time.

    Everyone always seems to take some great memories home with them from Kanana, especially if it's their virgin African Safari, and it looks like you two have yours.

    Congratulations Jason & Holly!
     

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