NAMIBIA: Namibia safari with Kowas -- beginning to end

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports' started by Toby Bradshaw, Sep 8, 2013.

  1. Toby Bradshaw

    Toby Bradshaw GOLD SUPPORTER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Senior Member

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    In 2007, my dad, my wife, my daughter, and I went to Zimbabwe for 3 weeks, including a week of hunting at Chirisa with PH Pierre Van Wyk of HHK Safaris.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Like everyone who has hunted in Africa, I couldn't wait to return. My dad and I planned a safari to South Africa for July 2009, but he was diagnosed with lung cancer (never a smoker -- just bad luck) in May 2009. Even after being diagnosed, my dad actually planned to squeeze in the safari between chemotherapy treatments! This seemed a bit unrealistic to me, and by the time July rolled around he was far too weak to travel. He died in August 2009.

    In July 2013 I began to plan a plainsgame safari, and ultimately decided (thanks in large part to AfricaHunting.com forum posts) to go to Namibia. I will post the details of the planning process in this thread, along with the hunt report a year or so from now. Stay tuned!
     

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  2. Toby Bradshaw

    Toby Bradshaw GOLD SUPPORTER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Senior Member

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    Choosing an outfitter

    When my dad and I hunted in Zimbabwe in 2007, we saw many kudu cows and young bulls, but never a mature bull in a shooting situation. So, kudu is #1 on my list for Namibia 2014. I am also interested in gemsbok, springbok or blesbok, and perhaps a black wildebeest. Time permitting, a management hunt could be part of the mix. I wanted to avoid any high-fenced concessions.

    By reading all of the Namibia safari reports on AfricaHunting.com, and Google searching, I came up with a long list of outfitters to contact. I sent each of them an email describing my trophy list, management hunting interests, planned time frame (a 7-day hunt in July-August 2014), and potential observers (wife and daughter). I also asked about activities for non-hunters, although my wife and daughter are keen naturalists and enjoy being observers of the hunt. Below is the list of outfitters I contacted.

    I will say right up front that EVERY SINGLE ONE of these outfitters responded to my email within 1-3 days, despite the remoteness of their locations, the time zone difference between the US and Namibia, and the extreme workloads that the outfitters have at this time of year. I was very impressed with their professionalism, and my greatest regret is that I had to choose just one from among them!

    I did not choose based on price. I found that all the outfitters were within 20% in cost for my planned hunting. I did notice that there is some variation in what is included in the daily rate. For instance, some include the 15% VAT in the daily rate, while others don't. I have a spreadsheet detailing my research on these outfitters, and would be happy to share the spreadsheet by email upon request.

    In the end I chose Kowas Hunting Safaris. Ansie Strauss is a wonderful email correspondent, and went out of her way to accommodate our party's needs for timing, hunting, and other activities. She patiently provided detailed responses to my many inquiries. I booked a "First African Safari" package, substituting black wildebeest for blue by paying the difference in the trophy fee. I was able to pay my US$800 deposit by credit card, which is a convenience not available with all outfitters.

    I emailed all of the outfitters to thank them for their time, and to let them know that I had chosen Kowas. All were very gracious, asked for feedback on their websites, etc., and several offered to host a visit to their lodge when I was in the area -- truly fabulous people to deal with!

    Kowas Hunting Safaris
    Uhlenhorst Hunting Safaris
    Ozondjahe Hunting Safaris
    Die Keiler
    Neuhof Safaris
    Klawerberg Safaris
    Orpa Hunting Safaris
    Aloegrove Hunting Lodge
    Otjinuke Ranch
    Otjikoko Safaris
    Makalaan Hunting Safaris
    Astra Hunting Safari
    Namibia Hunting Impressions
    Ekuja Hunting Safaris
    Otjandaue Hunting
    African Twilight Safaris
    Van Heerden Safaris
    Otjiruse Safaris
    Uitspan Hunting
     
  3. sestoppelman

    sestoppelman SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    You will have a great time no doubt. Looking forward to hearing about it. Namibia is a great place to visit.
     
  4. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    Wow, you came up with a good outfitter list! Great job on the research for your hunt in Namibia.
     
  5. Toby Bradshaw

    Toby Bradshaw GOLD SUPPORTER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Senior Member

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    Rifle prep, part 1

    In 2006 my dad was planning his first elk hunt, and was told by the outfitter that there could be some fairly long shots to be taken in Utah. He didn't feel that his trusty .270 Remington M700 would be ideal for elk at a distance. Since I'm the rifle crank in the family, I offered to help. :wink:

    I settled on a Remington M700 Sendero in .300 Winchester magnum. It's a bit long (26" barrel) and heavy (11 pounds with scope) for mountain hunting or heavy cover, but it makes a nice open country rifle. I adjusted the trigger, which is always a pleasure on the older M700. It's simple to get a crisp, safe 2.5-3.0 pound pull. The Sendero was equipped with a Leupold 4.5-14x50 VX-L scope suitable for open country and low light conditions, with a varmint hunter reticle. My dad's not a handloader, so it was important that there be a wide range of factory ammunition available. Federal Vital Shok ammo with Barnes 180gr TSX bullets was selected for the elk hunt.

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    I sighted in the rifle for my dad and we met in Wyoming for a "shakedown" pronghorn hunt. My dad shot a pronghorn buck at just over 200 yards. Hit in the top of the heart and lungs, the pronghorn ran about 100 yards, leaving a tremendous blood trail from the gaping exit wound before expiring.

    [​IMG]

    With the Sendero now properly broken in, my dad headed off to Utah, where he took a beautiful 6x6 bull elk at 175 yards, breaking both of the elk's shoulders and killing him with one shot. It isn't often that one recovers a Barnes TSX, but after smashing so much bone the bullet was found just under the skin on the far side of the elk. Two of the four petals on the bullet had been sheared off, but weight retention was still very good and penetration was excellent. The Sendero and Federal ammo proved just as worthy when we went to Zimbabwe in 2007, accounting for 1-shot kills on 2 warthogs and 2 impala, none shot at more than 150 yards, and none of which took a step after being shot. Note the distinctive "X" exit wound on this warthog. We never recovered any of these TSXs.

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    Part of my preparation for Namibia 2014 is to practice with the Sendero (as well as with a .22 to keep the shoulder bruising down!) off shooting sticks. Before beginning load development, I skim-bedded the action with Devcon 10110. This is an easy job with the H-S Precision stock and its aluminum bedding block.

    I prefer to handload for all my centerfire rifles, so I bought 200 Barnes 180gr TSX, 4 pounds of H4831SC, 50 RWS cases, WLRM primers, a Lee collet neck die, and Wilson bullet seater die.

    I ran a pressure test with the bullets 0.050" off the lands, which has always worked well for me when using TSX bullets in a variety of chamberings. H4831SC charges of 71.0, 71.9, 72.8, 73.7, 74.6, 75.5, 76.4, 77.3, and 78.2gr produced no signs of excessive pressure -- no hard bolt lift, no brass flowing in the ejector hole. The 75.5gr charge is considered a max load by Barnes. At 100 yards (benchrest, off a bipod) there were accuracy nodes at 71.0-72.8gr and 75.5-77.3gr (see photos). I loaded up 10 rounds with the 76.4gr charge and will test them at 200 yards ASAP. If they look good, I'll zero the rifle at 200 yards and bring out the sticks!

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     

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  6. Toby Bradshaw

    Toby Bradshaw GOLD SUPPORTER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Senior Member

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    200 yard zero

    With a suitable load developed for my Rem 700 Sendero .300 Win Mag, I went to the range today to get a 200 yard zero. Conditions were ideal -- 62F, calm, and overcast. I was shooting off a very stable bench with a bipod and a rear bunny-ear sandbag.

    The first 2 fouling shots from a clean barrel went a couple of inches left, but the next two shots were touching, about an inch high and a half-inch left (lower right target in the image). I adjusted the Leupold 4.5-14x50 two clicks down and one click right. The next shot was about an inch right of center (upper right target in the image), and the following 2 shots were centered in the 1-inch 10-ring of the 200-yard hunter benchrest target (2 targets on the left in the image).

    I spent another hour or so shooting my .22LR off the sticks, and I plan to practice off the sticks as much as possible now that the big iron is ready to go.

    [​IMG]
     

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  7. Bobpuckett

    Bobpuckett GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    I'd say you pretty much got it zeroed at 200 yds all were kill shots.
     
  8. Toby Bradshaw

    Toby Bradshaw GOLD SUPPORTER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Senior Member

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    It's a lot easier to shoot off the bench at a piece of paper than to steady my nerves after a long stalk with the rifle on the sticks and a trophy in the scope, but at least I won't be blaming the rifle for any problems next July.
     
  9. herve747

    herve747 AH Member

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    I will stay tuned for sure.

    Your preparation is excellent, and with your father soul in your steps, it will be a great sucess !
     
  10. sanderson0203

    sanderson0203 AH Senior Member

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    Great list of quality outfitters, and you are sure to have a fantastic safari with all this preparation. It is very similar to our prep that I did before we went this year in April. We went with Aloegrove and but I can attest to the responsiveness of Ansie and Kowas. She was very helpful even after I told her that we had decided not to hunt with them. I would tell you that you wouldn't have been disappointed had you gone with Johan and Aloegrove. Keep this thread going as things progress. I would offer you some advice on dip and ship establishments to avoid and that would be King's near Otjiwarago. They forgot to ship my warthog skull (did ship my tusks though at least), destroyed the small nasal bones on all skulls that are to be mounted as Euro mounts on the walls even though I expressed to them that I really wanted those fine bones intact. My taxidermist in the States has also told me that he is going to have to redo the bleaching/cleaning on all skulls (additional costs to us).
     
  11. Toby Bradshaw

    Toby Bradshaw GOLD SUPPORTER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Senior Member

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    I will definitely be looking for recommendations on dip/pack/ship, since I am also planning European mounts for my trophies. Thanks for the heads-up.
     
  12. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Do get out and shoot off of the sticks and trees, etc.

    Keep the good prep work up.
     
  13. BigSteve57

    BigSteve57 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Veteran

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    You'll love Namibia! We would go back.

    My wife and I had a great hunt in Namibia this past August. We took a 30-06 and a .375 H&H magnum. We practiced for months to learn how to shoot with shooting sticks which are pretty much a must due to the vegetation. Initially, we found shooting from sticks very foreign and were not very good at it. You're wise to practice now.

    Based on our experience a typical bipod would not be very helpful IMHO and I personally would not want the extra weight. The PH carried the sticks in our case!

    I am planning to hunt in the USA (maybe Wyoming or Utah?) and want to get a 300 Win Mag for longer range shots. Not sure on scope magnification.
     
  14. James.Grage

    James.Grage GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Looks like you have done your home work and now we will await your return in 2014 for your safari report with pictures.

    Looks like you looked at quite a few outfitters to select from. tough decision.
     
  15. Toby Bradshaw

    Toby Bradshaw GOLD SUPPORTER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Senior Member

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    physical conditoning

    I was a competitive rower in high school, so for the past 8 years I have stayed in shape over the winter using the Concept 2 ergometer. Mine is a Model D. I rowed my 9 millionth meter this morning. The erg is convenient -- easy to catch up on the morning news in the comfort of the den while keeping fit. It is a really good aerobic workout for all the major muscle groups and doesn't put any impact stress on joints. It's good for weight control, too.

    I erg 5 times per week, following a version of Mike Caviston's Wolverine Plan. Because the erg performance monitor gives detailed feedback (including heart rate) on every stroke, using a structured training plan can give big fitness improvements over several months without injuries due to overtraining. I do 30-minute pieces MWF before going to work, and longer pieces (up to an hour) on Sa-Su when I have more time. That adds up to about 50km each week, at varying intensities. My resting heart rate goes down to 48 after a month of training.

    Normally I am out hunting with my hawks in the summer, and I appreciate the aerobic fitness gained over the winter. My hawking grounds are at 4500 feet elevation, with many, many miles of walking in Mt. Mazama ash (like soft sand) every day. I see that most of the Namibian hunting is above 5000 feet, so I'm sure that my erg regimen will be time well spent.

    Toby, Vici, and antelope jack by Jenn cropped.JPG
     
  16. Toby Bradshaw

    Toby Bradshaw GOLD SUPPORTER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Senior Member

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  17. BigSteve57

    BigSteve57 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Veteran

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    For transporting the ammo We used Stalwart 75-3789 3-Pc Aluminum Storage Box with Lockable Clasp and Handle: Stalwart 75-3789 3-Pc Aluminum Storage Box with Lockable Clasp and Handle - Amazon.com

    These worked fine and are very light aluminum and quite strong.

    If you are using South Africa Airlines watch out when it comes to boarding with ammo in South Africa.

    We travelled Dulles-Johannesburg-Windhoek with an overnight stay in Johannesburg. We were originally told that ammo had to be in its original factory packaging and then in a lockable secure container in our checked baggage. Since there was an overnight stay we were REQUIRED to receive the rifles in Johannesburg but not the bags with the ammo. We chose to receive our baggage anyway. I wish we had not.

    The problem we had was in boarding the plane to Windhoek the next day. The airline changed its policy and said the ammo not only had to be in a lockable container but IN A SEPARATE BAG OF ITS OWN! The ammo therefore could not be in our checked baggage. We were stuck - we had no extra bag and had no time to get one. The sign at the airline counter even said we were complying by having ammo in our baggage, however we were told the sign was wrong. Sigh.

    A kind person from South Africa Airlines scrounged up a sturdy cardboard box and packing tape. We packed, cut down the box to fit and taped the box right there at the counter and boarded the plane. We were not charged for an extra bag.

    Coming back the same route (Windhoek-Johannesburg-Dulles) the ammo was packed in our baggage and everything, rifles included, arrived back at Dulles no problem. The difference is we had just a layover in Johannesburg (no overnight stay in South Africa) and the bags went through just fine.

    If we had to do it again we I would not have received our bags in Johannesburg for our overnight stay. Instead we would have had the bags with ammo checked all the way through to Windhoek and kept just enough in our carry bags for our hotel stay
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2013
  18. Jfet

    Jfet AH Veteran

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    Hello Toby,

    My family as well will be hunting with Kowas in the summer of 2014. My son and I met Danie and Ansie at the Dallas Safari Club convention in January. They are super people and a great connection was made for us in the time we chatted with them because of the varied path our conversation took that afternoon. Of course it started with hunting and then Danie found out that my son is a history major at Texas A&M and so it became a history discussion. Then I learned that Danie is involved with the Namibian Rugby team. So, as a high school football coach in Texas we had to discuss common tackling drills between football and rugby. Eventually, Ansie got us back to hunting and we were hooked. Looking forward to following this thread.
     
  19. Toby Bradshaw

    Toby Bradshaw GOLD SUPPORTER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Senior Member

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    I'm making a little progress in planning for next July's safari. Thanks to Doug Gray at Gracy Travel (recommended by Ansie), my flight from Seattle to Atlanta to Johannesburg to Windhoek (whew!) is booked, with an overnight stay at the City Lodge in Joburg.

    I took my rifle to US Customs today to get the Form 4457 filled out as required for travel through South Africa and into Namibia. Surprisingly, it was a completely painless process. The nearest Customs office is only about 5 minutes from my house. I called to make an appointment but was told that no appointment was necessary. I brought the form already filled out, and the very helpful agent had me back on the road, signed and stamped form in hand, in less than 10 minutes. I have no idea whether all the Customs offices are this efficient, but if you live in the Seattle area I can definitely recommend the crew at 19339 28th St S, just a few blocks south of SeaTac airport.
     
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  20. sestoppelman

    sestoppelman SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Toby, I had a very good experience a couple of years ago at the Anacortes office as well. I didnt have a pre-filled out form but it was still painless.
     

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