NAMIBIA: Immenhof

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports' started by ablebonus, Oct 22, 2013.

  1. ablebonus

    ablebonus AH Member

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    If you travel to Immenhof...

    There are seven gates on the 20km dirt lane into Immenhof. After 16 days in Namibia you are not looking forward to opening and closing each gate on the drive to the airport but after 92 days of not being in Namibia you are missing those gates (except for the second gate to Ouver's farm which you have to awkwardly lift as you open because if you don't it catches on the lane a quarter way through).

    If everything goes perfectly with dual 9 hour flights to Frankfurt and Windhoek you are less than fresh but still smiling upon arrival, even if those flights include your wife, 8 year old son, and 6 year old daughter. If everything doesn't go perfectly because your travel agent makes a few mistakes and your guns do not arrive yet you are still able to smile then you are really looking forward to this trip.

    If Werner your PH is sleeping in because he was leopard hunting last night then Andreas the Austrian Butcher meets you at baggage claim with a smiling face and reassurances your guns will arrive at Immenhof. Stepping out of the airport early morning sun greets late afternoon bodies and a familiar looking Texas hill country landscape produces a baboon. Africa! A 3 1/2 hour drive with breakfast is a perfect opportunity for children to nap and adults to soak up the landscape.

    If your guns don't make the transfer to Immenhof you will quickly find yourself behind one of Werner's rifles, most likely a Winchester Model 70 in .300 Win Mag with a 30mm 1-6x Zeiss on top. The rifle is of course already sighted in but then that is not why Werner is watching you shoot it. Even though your body is not sure what time it is and now it is actually mid-afternoon Werner may wonder if you would like to take a short walk and experience the terrain (this is not a hunting day).

    You try to make a good first impression by walking quietly and keeping up and spotting animals even though you are experiencing for the first time what you've only read about from Roosevelt, Selous, Ruark, and Hemingway or seen on those cable TV channels that you can only get if you subscribe to every channel available even though you never watch any other channels. A few hundred yards quickly turn into a few miles and a group of Oryx bulls appear in the bush. Now the sun is going down and the Oryx bulls are still moving and crossing a clear spot at 370 yards. But that is too far for a non-hunting day with a new rifle and a 6x scope. But wait there is another Oryx bull and a Hartman's zebra in the distance and if you hurry you can still get a closer look before it is too dark. Now the bull is 180 yards away and there is no time to be nervous about your first shot at a live target from hunting sticks even though you nearly break the trigger trying to squeeze it before you remember that the borrowed M70 has a 3 position safety and you have to push it forward one more click before the trigger breaks crisply.

    And now it is dark and there is a new moon and the Oryx is field dressed and propped open with sticks to let in the cool winter air. You are too far from any road to get the Oryx out tonight so you leave a hat on the Oryx to discourage the hyenas and leopards and you pick your way through the wait-a-bits with only the emptied out stomach which is too tasty for one of the skinners to leave behind overnight. As you arrive back at the lodge long after dark on your first day in Africa you might wonder again (and not for the last time) if a hunting safari and a family vacation are compatible.

    If you travel to Immenhof, I hope you will enjoy your trip as much as we did...

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  2. ablebonus

    ablebonus AH Member

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    Day 1

    The few scattered clouds at sunrise are the only clouds we will see for many days.

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    Our day begins near Leopard Mountain, in the area we saw the Hartman's zebra last night. (I have a short list of plains game that I would like to take - oryx, impala, springbok, Hartman's zebra, and kudu. But I'm open to other animals.)

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    After a long walk we spot zebra in the far distance. With a long and careful stalk we move within 200 yards and climb a large pile of rocks for a steady rest. Unfortunately the zebra remain in very thick bush, no shot. They move over the next ridge and we follow. By the time we crest the ridge the zebra have disappeared. After a couple of miles of walking we spot a (or the same?) group of zebra in the distance. As we attempt to work closer to the very alert herd some 500 yards away, Werner spots a Blue Wildebeest bull. As we glass we see another. And another. There are seven old bulls under a large thorn bush in heavy cover, 200 yards away. We are viewing them from a small rock pile which provides an excellent rest. The first bull appears larger than the others we can see, and I have a clear shot through a window in the bush.

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    The truck arrives with Martin the Apprentice and Jared the Skinner. Leopard Mountain is in the distance - not nearly as close as it was when we started. Werner receives a call on the radio from another PH - the leopard has been on the bait and it is a big track. Werner leaves to help with blind construction and the three of us cut out a road and load the wildebeest. I am the only one with elkskin Yellowstone gloves - they are impervious to Acacia thorns and I quickly transition from hunter to A#1 thorn bush mover.

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    It is now lunchtime of Day 1 and I have two animals in the salt and many more days to hunt. This is happening too quickly! My son Theo is after a warthog and it is time to get started. Werner has a ladies/youth model Ruger M77 in 308 that will be perfect for Theo. Theo is 8 but no stranger to shooting and hunting. At the range Theo makes a fine shot but his little body jerks backward with the recoil. Werner and I exchange worried glances but Theo turns around with a smile and is ready to shoot again. Phew! Theo's best chance is at a waterhole, and since the leopard was on the bait last night Werner asks if we don't mind going with Willie, one of his driver/tracker/skinners, as he wants another crack at the leopard he has been waiting on for weeks. No problem, we are off to one of many blinds on the property over water. This part of Namibia is in a drought and we see donkeys, oryx, dik-diks, and only small warthogs. Now it is sunset and we mistakenly think another day is done.

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  3. ablebonus

    ablebonus AH Member

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    Night 1 - Spots

    Back at the lodge we are enjoying Tafel and Windhoek and catching up with family and a few other guests. Immenhof has mostly European visitors and many non-hunters travel around Namibia staying a night or two at different lodges. There are plenty of activities here for non-hunters like my wife and each night is a feast including game meat, fresh baked bread, and local beer and wine.

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    At 7:30pm Freidhelm, Werner's father and one of the first ever PHs in Namibia, receives a call from Werner - a large leopard has been shot and assistance is needed. Big smiles all around! The hunter is a friendly retired General on a real quest for leopard - this is his 2nd or 3rd leopard trip and he has spent a ridiculously large number of days and hours in a blind without bagging a leopard. He was scheduled to leave before my arrival but extended his stay as he *really* wants that leopard.

    Having read more than a few hunting stories I know the reputation of a wounded leopard and am shocked when Freidhelm asks if I would like to go along for the recovery. Yes! - without hesitation - I am thrilled. I would like to think that Freddie has invited me because Werner has told him of my calm demeanor and deadly accuracy but the real reason is probably that I have a Lenser headlamp - the same model Freddie uses - but he has left his in his airplane a couple of miles from the house as he is flying out in the morning on a charter.

    In any case we pile into a truck brimming with excitement and nervous energy. There are 8 of us - three trackers, Freddie, PH Kazoman, Andreas the Austrian Butcher, Martin the Apprentice, and me. Just as we are preparing to leave another call comes in that the leopard may be wounded and we should be carrying rifles. Now we already had a few guns but this time a well worn open sighted Mauser in .375 with the flag safety is thrust into my hands atop the truck. I am excited to be holding this historic rifle and am thankful for all the Roosevelt, Hemingway, Ruark, and Selous books I've read prior to this moment so that I can fully appreciate the adventure. But secretly I'm coveting Freddie's over and under 12 gauge. I'm a shotgun man myself.

    All of the trackers which normally ride on top with me are elbowing each other for spots in the cab of the truck - my first real clue that this may actually be dangerous. We travel dirt roads for ~20 minutes and the truck stops. Normally gregarious Freddie becomes Freddie the dangerous game PH. He tells me I am to cover the left side of the truck. Kazoman the PH has the spotlight and is in the center. Freddie will cover the right side and heavily armed Andreas the Butcher is also on top behind us. Everyone else is sent into the four door cab. I'm feeling less like a tourist and more like a part of the adventure when Freddie directs safeties off.

    We creep along the dry riverbed where the bait was set and the Lenser sees spots...

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    It is a large male, 66 kg, and dead, not wounded. Congratulations all around and lots of smiles. Africa!

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  4. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Great start.
    Thanks.
  5. AfricaHunting.com

    AfricaHunting.com FOUNDER AH Ambassador

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    Thanks for the hunt report and pictures!
  6. Cliffy

    Cliffy AH Elite

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    Holy Smokes! Good story, well written with a nice and different angle to the story.
  7. Jfet

    Jfet AH Veteran

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    ATAWAYTOGO!!!

    Your investment in time, effort, and fortune in taking your kids will pay off many times in the next 10 years. Congratulations!
    :clapping::clapping::clapping:
  8. Tootabi Hunting Safaris

    Tootabi Hunting Safaris AH Enthusiast

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    Immenhof Guest Farm with owner, Freidhelm together with his wife Ria and their Son Werner is indeed a humble family. They carry their guests on their hands and always makes sure that everything runs smoothly. They are one of the best hosts I have come to met in my life. Friendly, spontaneous, immense knowledge of the industry and years and years of experience to give the hunter only the best in the hunting safari arena!
  9. ablebonus

    ablebonus AH Member

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    Day 2 - Wildebeest

    Due to the leopard kill last night, Werner must take measurements and record stats in the morning. So I hunt with another PH, Kazoman. We are after Kudu. The Kudu population in Namibia has been hurt in recent years by rabies. Werner's land immediately around the lodge is a high fenced 12,000 acres. It escaped the rabies problem of the past 10 years or so until 2 years ago, but unfortunately like much of Namibia he lost many mature Kudu to rabies. Today we are hunting a 40,000 acre low fenced cattle ranch (Ouver's) that is 6 gates up the road. At first light we spot a herd of impala with a nice male. We are in the truck driving to our area and Kazoman motions for me to get my rifle ready for a shot. No, I don't want to shoot or hunt from the truck or the road. We continue and then walk along a dry riverbed for a couple of miles, but no kudu. Plenty of Steenbok and dik-dik and other African game.

    We spend the remainder of the morning driving along dirt tracks through thick bush. I can understand that this may be the most effective way to find a kudu bull, but even if we do see one like this the only shot will be quick and from the truck or at best jumping off the truck and then shooting. Either way it is a shot I don't want to take. I am glad when it is time for lunch and we have seen no Kudu worth shooting.

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    It is only day 2 but at lunch I learn from my wife that she has had the kids the entire vacation thus far and it is time for me to do My Fair Share. Claire, my 6 year old, is ready to go hunting with me and we make a plan to visit a blind after lunch to photograph game. Werner will drive us to the blind, leave us for 2 hours, then return to pick us up for an afternoon hunt. The approach to this blind is a dirt track with a final half mile straight-away. As we round the last corner we see a herd of blue wildebeest in the distance.

    Immenhof has a commercial butchery run by (yep, you guessed it) Andreas the Austrian Butcher. Andreas is a passionate hunter and sausage maker and a lot of fun. He also needs a regular supply of meat. And Werner has a problem with the drought - too many grass eaters. This is shaping up to be a win-win and Werner suggests that instead of taking pictures we take a wildebeest cow. Claire looks excited with that idea so we move into the bush and sneak to within 200 yards of the herd. From the prone position I shoot the cow Werner identified. A wildebeest stampede ensues. As we approach the waterhole there is a dead calf where the cow should be. Hmmm. We look around. There is a dead cow also. Apparently the calf was directly behind the cow. The cow was shot perfectly and the bullet traveled into the neck of the calf, which neither of us saw behind the cow. Werner announces that there are now two fewer grass eaters and all is well.

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    Werner and I, sans trackers, load the wildebeest and return to the lodge. Claire is happy and ready for an afternoon nap. That makes my wife happy. My rifle and shotgun have arrived! That makes me happy. Time to hunt. It is like being reunited with an old friend. My Sako in 7mm Rem Magnum has accompanied me on many hunts in many locations over the years and I love it. This past year I sent it to Hill Country Rifles and it now produces .33 inch groups with 160 grain TSX bullets and in celebration of this feat I have transferred the 3-9x Swarovski to my son's 6.5x55 CZ 550 FS and put a 3.5-14x Leica with ballistic reticle on my Sako. A quick trip to the rifle range shows no misplaced confidence.

    Werner, Martin and I head into the wind, moving from koppie to koppie, glassing from each vantage point. We find zebra, eland, dik-dik, and late in the day a herd of red hartebeest. None but one of the hartebeest are shooters, and we follow the hartebeest into darkness without a shot.

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  10. ablebonus

    ablebonus AH Member

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    Day 3 - Erongos

    When we were unable to connect with the zebra earlier in the hunt I was happy, as I really wanted to hunt mountain zebra in the Erongo mountains. One of the great things about Werner is that he will hunt how you want, where you want. He has many concessions around the country. (I met Werner last year in Austin and we discussed hunting preferences. I am usually a bowhunter but I did not want to sit in blinds. I wanted to see different areas, I wanted to walk not drive, and I prefer low fences.)

    Today Werner has arranged for us to pursue mountain zebra and Kudu in the Erongos. We are up at 4am and on the road at 4:45. As we drive to the hunting area, he tells me about the ranch. It has a poaching problem and the owner is in jail for shooting poachers on his property. There are black rhinos on the property and neighboring ranches have created an Erongo conservancy and are in the process of fencing in much of the mountain range.

    We arrive at the hunting area at first light and we are surrounded by zebra. It sounds like Santa Anita. We follow a couple of bands which make it into the mountains unscathed. Along the way we find a snare made of heavy gauge wire across a path - the poachers are still here.

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    (in photo above a band escapes us over a rocky ridge)

    These mountain zebra are tough! They are probably the most elusive animal I will hunt in Africa. Initially I did not want to hunt them as they remind me of horses. However, Claire told me she wanted a zebra skin rug and that was more than enough reason to add them to the short list. I am glad I changed my mind. We hunt koppie to koppie, glassing the bush. The zebra always seem to be atop the next koppie. A band is rapidly exiting our area and I take a shot at nearly 400 yards. Clean miss. Finally we have two zebra in the crosshairs at 200 yards but the bush is thick, no good shot. We follow them through the bush and they rest in the shade. With the soft sand and thick bush I sneak to within 37 meters. There is a large granite boulder between us and I slowly lift my body over the boulder. Surely the zebra can see me. I have a clear shot on the spine but can rise no higher without revealing myself completely. I drop the zebra mare. Claire has a rug.

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    This zebra has a broken off snare around one of its hind legs.

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    We load the zebra and enjoy lunch and a nap in a dry riverbed. After, it is time to look for Kudu. We see black wildebeest and ostrich in the distance, my first sightings. Amazing. We continue to move koppie to koppie and see another herd of zebra at 180 yards. There is a large stallion and Werner decides it will make the perfect shoulder mount. I know Claire concurs. My rest is a giant boulder and my 7mm is accurate. After, Werner lets me know that one of the other zebras had a poacher's snare around its neck and that we need to wait and see if it will return. The zebra returns and Werner decides the zebra should be shot. I offer the rifle to Martin and he makes a perfect shot. The TSX bullet, as many on this website know, works well. All animals shot on this safari were complete pass throughs and one shot kills.

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    The wound on this zebra was septic and the snare had cut several inches into the top and bottom of the neck.

    There is plenty of light left in the day but we have two zebra down in the Erongos and the truck can only travel this roadless area on dry riverbeds. Meanwhile we are in the midst of broken hills. Werner calls for the truck with Willie and Jared. (And my pack which has several headlamps that we will all be thankful for, yet again.) The five of us cape, skin, and quarter the zebras then pack them to the truck. It is well after dark when we leave the Erongos and much later when we pass through the seven gates and reach the lodge at Immenhof. We have walked many miles this day, earned our trophies, and worked hard and well together. We have filled ourselves with a combination of satisfaction, pride, and weariness that perhaps only other hunters understand.
  11. lwaters

    lwaters BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    Excellent report of your hunt. You write a better story then I do. I had a friend who hunted with Immenhof a few years ago and gave them a good report. He also shot excellent trophy's. I like your oryx looks real heavy.
  12. Bobpuckett

    Bobpuckett GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Fantastic start and what an adventure already! I'm right there on the trail with you fantastic write up and awesome photos. keep up the good work.
  13. ablebonus

    ablebonus AH Member

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    Day 4 - Warthog Quest

    Day 4 - Warthog Quest

    Today Theo is ready to hunt all day. Which means we are after warthog. Our leopard hunter from night 1 wants a crack at the mountain zebra today and Werner asks if we are comfortable hunting with Willie so Werner can take him to the Erongos. Willie (aka Billie Ball) is a 30 year veteran here and I am delighted for his company. Up at 6am, out of the lodge at 6:50. We are 4 gates down the road this morning. Martin makes it a foursome and we are carrying the 308 for Theo and my Sako.

    At dawn we walk along a dry riverbed riddled with warthog holes. Martin, bringing up the rear, waves for our attention. Three of us have just walked past a hole with two tusks protruding. A sleeping warthog! A large sleeping warthog! Willie opens the sticks 10 feet in front of the hole and just as Theo looks through the scope the warthog wakes, surrounded by the four of us. He is out of the hole like a shot - legs invisible like a hummingbird's wings - and in the same instant I scoop Theo in my arms and whirl him around. The warthog was not trying to attack us, he was just trying to get away, but that was close! What are the ethical considerations about shooting a sleeping warthog? I have no idea but I will not put Theo in front of one again.

    After quite a bit of walking into the wind we come across a cow Oryx which is quite long and Willie thinks would make a nice match for the bull.

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    We call for the truck and Jared arrives to take the Oryx. Theo subtly reminds us we are hunting warthog today!

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    After walking another mile or so Willie spots a group of 7 or 8 springbok. They are definitely on my list and headed our way. Willie tells me there is a good buck in the bunch and I am doing my best to pick it out but this is the first time I've ever seen a springbok and my trophy judging skills are zero. They are in a close bunch on the trail and one moves off to the side alone and Willie tells me to shoot. I am not one to hesitate and as we approach I realize something is amiss...

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    Werner speaks many languages on a daily basis (Herero, Ovambo, German, Afrikaans, English, Spanish) but I don't and most of the trackers/skinners are fluent in German but not perfect in English. Whatever the reason I have shot a springbok female, arrgh. We take a picture and continue on. While I feel horrible briefly I realize it was an honest mistake and cheer up quickly.

    But I also feel bad because today we are after Theo's warthog. They are plentiful but we are having a surprisingly difficult time finding a large one. Theo is a trooper and he loves to climb so Willie suggests a special treat for him. We head to a koppie on the far side of the cattle ranch (which is New Mexico far) and climb to the top for an amazing view. Theo is fearless and having a great time. The granite domes in this area are amazingly similar to Enchanted Rock near our home in TX.

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    We leave the koppie for Immenhof. The cattle ranch we are on is immense and after a few kilometers we approach a remote windmill fed waterhole. There are cattle in the area but just as get in view we glimpse a lone springbok through the bush. Willie and I are instantly snapping our fingers for the truck to stop and without a word to each other are immediately moving through the fences, brush, and cattle to get a better look. Because of all the cover and a perfect wind we are able to approach to within 60 yards. It is a very old, split-eared springbok male (I am sure about this, ha!) and only now as I write this several months later do I fully appreciate the springbok. I have been reading Kai-Uwe Denker's great book "Along the Hunter's Path" and learned that as springbok age the tips rotate to point behind them rather than at each other. (I will add a book report on Kai-Uwe later - this is the same man that Stan Elephant Trail wrote about in his search for 100 lb elephant and I met him in person a few days after this hunt.)

    At the shot the springbok spins 180 degrees and races into the bush. Willie looks at me doubtfully and asks if I hit it. In any other circumstance I would fill with self-doubt but I saw the massive exit wound when the springbok turned and it was a perfect shot. Just like a whitetail from my home state of Virginia, that springbok sprinted away with a destroyed heart and we find him 60 yards from the shot. As we reach him the white hair on his back is fully erect and we share another special experience.

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    After shooting the wrong springbok this morning I feel like this one was a gift. But we are still on a warthog quest! The warthog will wait another day because Theo, Claire, and I head out for a sunset drive where we encounter giraffe (these two males were slugging it out by wrapping their necks around each other and didn't mind our appearance).

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    Finally a sundowner - the preferred evening activity of non-hunters...

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  14. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH Fanatic

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    Great story and some very nice animals. Good job. Bruce
  15. ablebonus

    ablebonus AH Member

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    Day 5 - Grey Ghost

    Today Werner will be flying us to Swakopmund for a few days of family vacation. We have a few hours in the morning before the coastal fog lifts and Werner, knowing we love to hunt, asked last night if we would like to hunt with Willie first thing. Yes, of course. Our grey ghost is thus far the warthog (not that we've seen any shooter kudus either). After yesterday's embarrassment of riches I will not carry my rifle - Theo's turn.

    Theo is a walker but his mileage is limited so Willie's plan is to park the truck a mile or so from likely spots and walk into the wind. On the third stalk we approach a windmill and Willie is suddenly alert and much more excited than I've ever seen him over a warthog. He is setting up the sticks and urgently motioning me to get ready. Even with my Leica 10x42s it takes a long moment to identify the Kudu at 120 yards.

    A motionless Kudu is nearly invisible when standing in the bush. We have no view of his horns. Willie says it is a very good one. How do you know Willie? The neck, the neck. After yesterday's springbok Incident I am leery but listening (the crosshairs have been on the Kudu throughout our whispers).

    After an eternity the Kudu steps forward without seeming to move, head up, majestic like a high country elk. I see the worn white tips beginning to curl out. Are you sure Willie? Yes, yes. Are you sure it is big enough? Yes, shoot, yes. We both hear the impact of the little 308 but I am not sure about the shot even though Willie is very excited and confident. Speedy the Wonder Dog is in the truck, which arrives about the time we make it to where the Kudu appeared. Speedy is off like a shot and we follow two lanes of blood (high double lung pass through) 80 yards to find Speedy sitting with pride.

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    As we are snapping photos a couple of cattle workers join us and five strong men cannot lift this beast into the back of their truck. We reposition with the hunting truck and use the winch. Dusty, Willie and I cape at Ouver's farmhouse and hurry back to Immenhof. Even though it wasn't the grey ghost we were searching for Theo has loved the morning adventure.

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    Werner and family are ready for the trip and after a few detours around the Namib we make it to our waterfront hotel.

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  16. James.Grage

    James.Grage GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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  17. Bobpuckett

    Bobpuckett GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Wow that sunset alone was worth the trip, what a post card it would make. Nice trophies as well.
  18. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH Legend

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2009
    Messages:
    2,142
    Likes Received:
    32
    My Photos:
    23
    Member of:
    SCI
    Hunted:
    USA, S. Africa
    Great report ablebonus! Love the Hartmann's zebras in particular.
  19. Gooseblitz

    Gooseblitz New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2013
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Great report, Great trophies and great adventure with your family. Very well written and very well done!
  20. Nyati

    Nyati AH Legend

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2011
    Messages:
    2,457
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Madrid, Spain
    My Photos:
    40
    Member of:
    RFEC, RFETO
    Hunted:
    Finland, RSA ( KwaZulu Natal, Limpopo, North West ), Spain
    Congrats for a great trip, and a very good hunt !

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