NAMIBIA: Namibia safari with Kowas -- beginning to end

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

  1. charleslabounty

    charleslabounty AH Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    0
    Member of:
    NRA, IDPA, RTBA
    Hi,
    I'm toying with the idea of a Safari hunt. I talked to Ansie on the phone week and she sent me a bunch of info. I talked to Mr. Eulert also as he was listed as a reference. He couldn't have been complimentary about Kowas - he has used them 4 out 12 trips to Africa. I'm starting from scratch - will need a new rifle too. My east coast semi's are not allowed. I've also looked a South Africa, outfitters African Sky and Richard Holmes Safaris. Anyone familiar with these two?
    thanks
    Charlie LaBounty
    Central Florida
  2. Toby Bradshaw

    Toby Bradshaw GOLD SUPPORTER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2013
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    2
    My Photos:
    56
    Hunted:
    Namibia, Zimbabwe, Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Texas, Louisiana, Florida
    I'll be in Namibia in 8 weeks! In addition to my ergometer workouts I have been walking at least 3 miles a day in our hilly (but sea level) terrain, with 6+ mile walks on the weekends. I've been practicing off the shooting sticks by dry firing several times per week, with occasional live firing using my .222 (100yd target below) and .22LR. The .222 is zeroed for 200yd, so it shoots about 1.25" high at 100yd. I've read Kevin Robertson's The Perfect Shot so many times that I can recite most of it from memory. Let's hope that my memory doesn't fail me when there's a kudu bull in the scope!

    Rem700V222sticks.JPG

    In about a week I'll be getting my Hepatitis A, HepB, Tdap, and flu vaccines, adding a couple of hundred dollars and 4 needle sticks to the safari tab.

    I bought a Sony DSC-WX300 pocket camera. I've practiced with it on my local walks, and it will make a nice supplement to my Nikon D70 SLR, which is too bulky to carry when hunting. I want plenty of photos for my hunting report!

    I got my travel pack from Doug at Gracy Travel; SAPS paperwork pre-arranged to spare me from waiting in a long line in Jo'burg after 22 hours of flying from Seattle. My wife and a couple of our friends are going to Vic Falls and Chobe while I'm hunting at Kowas, then we'll meet up at Kowas for the last few days of hunting before heading out to Etosha, Damaraland, Swakopmund, and Sossusvlei for a couple of weeks of sightseeing.

    One of these days I'll drop Ansie a line to find out how the cover looks after all the rains earlier this year.
  3. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    Messages:
    6,937
    Likes Received:
    122
    My Photos:
    396
    Member of:
    KZN Hunters Assoc
    Hunted:
    Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Canada, USA, Mexico
    The game will be fat and sassy after the rain this year.

    It's getting closer.
  4. JGRaider

    JGRaider AH Veteran

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2012
    Messages:
    108
    Likes Received:
    7
    My Photos:
    11
    Member of:
    B&C
    Hunted:
    US, Mexico, S Africa, Namibia
    I was at Kowas for 9 days just a couple of weeks ago. Lot's of game, lots of rocky hills, tall grass.......I miss it already! I also did the Gracy Travel package and IMO I will use it every time I go....SAPS, City Lodge, everything was a breeze. I wound up with a trophy kudu, trophy mtn zebra, and 10 cull/mgt animals. I had a fantastic time, with two world class people, Danie and Ansie, and their fantastic staff. You're in for a great time no doubt.
  5. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    Messages:
    6,937
    Likes Received:
    122
    My Photos:
    396
    Member of:
    KZN Hunters Assoc
    Hunted:
    Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Canada, USA, Mexico
    Got a hunt report in the offing?
  6. JGRaider

    JGRaider AH Veteran

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2012
    Messages:
    108
    Likes Received:
    7
    My Photos:
    11
    Member of:
    B&C
    Hunted:
    US, Mexico, S Africa, Namibia
    Cannot get pics to load properly, so I'm not sure really. I can post report with no pics though.
  7. Jfet

    Jfet AH Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2013
    Messages:
    191
    Likes Received:
    18
    My Photos:
    4
    Member of:
    NRA, DSC
    Hunted:
    Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and now Namibia
    Don't get to excited but I saw your name posted on a shelf in the skinning room. Kowas is getting ready for you. Good luck! It will be fun!(y)
  8. Toby Bradshaw

    Toby Bradshaw GOLD SUPPORTER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2013
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    2
    My Photos:
    56
    Hunted:
    Namibia, Zimbabwe, Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Texas, Louisiana, Florida
    I'm right behind you -- packed and headed for the airport this morning.

    Attached Files:

  9. Jfet

    Jfet AH Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2013
    Messages:
    191
    Likes Received:
    18
    My Photos:
    4
    Member of:
    NRA, DSC
    Hunted:
    Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and now Namibia
    I am unpacking and deciding which piece of equipment does not get that red dust cleaned off. Tell the Kowas people HOWDY! for us and we miss them already. Go Get You Some Memories!
  10. Toby Bradshaw

    Toby Bradshaw GOLD SUPPORTER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2013
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    2
    My Photos:
    56
    Hunted:
    Namibia, Zimbabwe, Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Texas, Louisiana, Florida
    I returned from Namibia a couple of days ago, and I'll be working on my hunting report using the detailed notes that I diligently made each day despite the considerable distractions competing for my attention. The Strauss family, my PH Matheus Theofelus, and the entire staff made the experience at Kowas fantastic for me, my wife, and a couple of friends who joined us. I also shared the safari camp with Miguel and David Delgado from the San Antonio TX area, whose video from their hunt (taken and edited by Morne Strauss) was just posted on YouTube.

    Before I head down to my reloading room to freshen up the 16 empty .300 WM cases I brought home (one is still lying somewhere in the thornveld, lost in the excitement of my kudu hunt), I thought I'd post a photo of the 5 Barnes 180gr TSX bullets recovered from 4 animals -- 2 bullets from a single kudu and 1 bullet each from 3 different oryx. I also shot 2 springbok, a blue wildebeest, and a fourth oryx from which no bullets were recovered. Only the kudu was shot more than once. An unfired bullet is shown for comparison.

    The Barnes TSX bullet performance was impressive. For the recovered bullets, the closest shot was 90 yards and the longest 300 yards. Most broke at least a rib on entrance, and several broke the near-side shoulder. Retained weights were 94%, 94%, 96%, 100%, and 100% (mean = 97%). Of the 8 animals that I shot, the 2 springbok and 2 of the oryx dropped when shot and never moved, all with damage to the spine and lungs (at least). The remaining 4 animals ran 10-300 yards, hit in the lungs (and sometimes the top of the heart). I spent a lot of time at the skinning shed with Matheus, Michael (driver), and Timo (skinner) looking at the wound channels from the animals I had shot, and came away with a real appreciation for the design and function of the TSX.

    [​IMG]
  11. JGRaider

    JGRaider AH Veteran

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2012
    Messages:
    108
    Likes Received:
    7
    My Photos:
    11
    Member of:
    B&C
    Hunted:
    US, Mexico, S Africa, Namibia
    I'm really looking forward to your hunt report Toby. I think about my trip with Kowas, Danie, Ansie, and the crew every single day. A world class experience for me.
  12. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH Fanatic

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2009
    Messages:
    549
    Likes Received:
    12
    My Photos:
    14
    Hunted:
    Namibia, Kyrgyzstan South Africa
    Sounds like you did well. Your preparation was perfect. I'm sure your PH was very happy about that. Impatiently waiting pics and a report.... Bruce
  13. Toby Bradshaw

    Toby Bradshaw GOLD SUPPORTER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2013
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    2
    My Photos:
    56
    Hunted:
    Namibia, Zimbabwe, Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Texas, Louisiana, Florida
    3 July 2014 – Seattle to Atlanta to Johannesburg

    For several days in advance of my long-awaited outbound flight I was nervously tuned to the Weather Channel, following the track of Hurricane Arthur along the east coast of the USA, hoping that it wouldn’t delay or cancel my connection in Atlanta. I had TravelGuard insurance, but fervently wished not to use it! Mercifully, the storm blew harmlessly (for me) north of my flight path, with a day to spare.

    It would take me 45 hours to traverse the 9700 miles, 2 hemispheres, 2 continents, and 8 time zones from my home in Seattle to Danie and Ansie Strauss’s Kowas farm south of Windhoek, but after planning this safari for almost a year, my sense of anticipation made the long journey bearable. I reminded myself that, despite the distance, time, and money involved, Africa has never been more accessible to a person of relatively modest means. We live in a gilded age of global travel – go now! Danie and Ansie (photo below) are rolling out the red carpet for you.

    [​IMG]

    The experiences and advice generously shared by AfricaHunting.com forum members let me avoid all of the potentially serious pitfalls in my travels, so I just now upgraded my membership to Gold Supporter by way of thanks to Jerome and to all of you. Much appreciated!

    My patience was tested at the outset by the clueless Delta gate agent at SeaTac airport, who treated my rifle case as though it contained plutonium. She was completely unfamiliar with the regulations for transporting firearms, and I could practically see her lips moving as she read the rules on her computer monitor. I had printed copies of the relevant regulations, just in case. Fortunately, I was in no particular hurry, having arrived at the airport more than 2 hours before our scheduled departure, but it is always exasperating to be at the mercy of “professionals” who don’t know how to do their own job.

    After some further fumbling around, and consultation with her supervisor, I received the coveted orange tag, locked my rifle case, and delivered my rifle to a genial kid behind the secure baggage desk. I wondered idly whether I would ever see it again.

    Things took a turn for the better when I got a free pass to skip the TSA strip search favored in the USA but ignored everywhere else in the world (except perhaps Israel). I breezed through the security screen with my computer still in my backpack and my boots still on my feet – fabulous! Having reloaded my .300 WM ammo quite a few weeks before, I didn’t even get a raised eyebrow from the explosives detector wipedown. I’m always happy to avoid an impromptu body cavity search by a TSA guy with fat fingers.

    I had asked Doug at Gracy Travel to give me at least a 2-hour layover in Atlanta, to maximize the chance that my rifle and checked bag (with ammo) would accompany me to Namibia. Delta connections in Atlanta are notoriously unreliable, especially in summer when thunderstorms can wreak havoc on schedules, stacking the sky with holding patterns and bursting bladders at the nation’s busiest airport.

    While in the waiting area for my flight from Atlanta to Jo’burg, it became obvious that my rifle wouldn’t be the only one in the baggage compartment. Based upon the prevalence of camouflage clothing, SCI hats, hunting boots, and talk of trophies, I reckoned that there were no fewer than 2 dozen hunters on my ATL to JNB flight! The economic impact of US hunters in southern Africa must be tremendous.

    During the l-o-n-g overnight flight crossing the Atlantic Ocean I became acquainted with some of my neighboring passengers. All of those from South Africa wished me a great safari, a sentiment that I would never expect to hear expressed back home in Seattle. It’s good to know that many South Africans recognize the conservation and economic benefits of sport hunting, and they well know that their much-loved biltong originates from an animal, rather than from a shrink-wrapped package in the supermarket.

    I spent the night watching movies and dozing, but didn’t get much in the way of real sleep. Who can sleep when sunrise over Africa is on the horizon?
  14. JGRaider

    JGRaider AH Veteran

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2012
    Messages:
    108
    Likes Received:
    7
    My Photos:
    11
    Member of:
    B&C
    Hunted:
    US, Mexico, S Africa, Namibia
    Get busy and get us more Toby.........great pic of two fantastic hosts there!
  15. buckcurtin

    buckcurtin AH Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2009
    Messages:
    71
    Likes Received:
    3
    Member of:
    SCI NRA
    Hunted:
    RSA/Zimbabwe
    The one in Jacksonville, Florida has been great. I have been there 3 times and received first class service, even after I set off the radiation warning device the officer waiting on me had on. No panic at all, few basic questions[ had a thallium stress test within a week of the visit] and I was in and out in 10 minutes. Very professional and friendly!
  16. Toby Bradshaw

    Toby Bradshaw GOLD SUPPORTER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2013
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    2
    My Photos:
    56
    Hunted:
    Namibia, Zimbabwe, Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Texas, Louisiana, Florida
    4 July 2014 – Johannesburg

    We touched down in Jo’burg at 1630, a half hour ahead of schedule, after 15 hours in the Boeing 777. Considering the distance traveled, time spent, “quality” of airplane meals, and sleep deprivation, I felt much better than expected. Adrenaline is an effective stimulant.

    Having paid $200 for Gracy Travel’s VIP and SAPS paperwork service at the Jo’burg airport, I was greeted upon arrival by a young woman named Nkele. She whisked me right past the very long line of passengers at passport control to an empty desk staffed by two uniformed immigration officers who looked bored. They perked up considerably when Nkele approached them. Nkele exchanged a few words with the officers. They glanced at my passport and stamped it perfunctorily. Nkele gave the officers a wink and a smile, then we were racing off to baggage claim. I couldn’t help noticing that we had cleared Immigration even before the Delta flight crew, who were at the head of the “regular” queue snaking around the room! When I asked Nkele about that, she said that the officers we had dealt with were friends of hers from her rural hometown. Apparently the universal truth is that it’s not what you know, but who you know, that counts.

    After my small duffel bag – containing only my ammo in a TSA-locked hard case, a soft case for my rifle, one change of clothes (love that daily laundry service on safari!), and spare boots – appeared on the luggage conveyor belt, Nkele bade me farewell and placed me in the capable hands of Chris and Bruce from Gracy Travel (photo below) to negotiate the claiming of my rifle at the SAPS office. Since my flight from Atlanta to Jo’burg arrived in the afternoon, I had to overnight in Jo’burg before flying to Windhoek, making it necessary to clear my rifle in South Africa. Happily, my battle-scarred aluminum rifle case was among the pile in the SAPS office.

    [​IMG]

    My SAPS paperwork had been approved months before as part of the VIP package, which saved some time. Furthermore, Chris and Bruce were doing a lot of the grunt work for SAPS (e.g., fetching rifle cases, attaching luggage tags), and clearly had an excellent working relationship with the officers. So, even though there were literally dozens of rifles waiting to clear at the SAPS office, I was in and out in 10 minutes. In truth, I was to discover that SAPS is infinitely more efficient and capable with firearms than the TSA in the USA. Chris told me that the time needed in SAPS is subject to workload and shift changes among SAPS personnel, but I was very favorably impressed by the whole SAPS operation and Gracy’s role in it.

    Chris escorted me on the 5-minute walk to the City Lodge Hotel conveniently located within the airport, and told me that his Gracy Travel colleague, Lucky, would meet me the following morning to expedite checking my rifle and ammo bag for the morning flight from Jo’burg to Windhoek. I had a light dinner at the hotel, took a hot shower to shed the accumulated grime from a long day and night of flying, and slept like the dead until morning.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 5, 2014
  17. Toby Bradshaw

    Toby Bradshaw GOLD SUPPORTER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2013
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    2
    My Photos:
    56
    Hunted:
    Namibia, Zimbabwe, Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Texas, Louisiana, Florida
    5 July 2014 – Jo’burg to Kowas

    Lucky was in the hotel lobby at 0700 to walk me back to the international terminal in the Jo’burg airport to catch my 0930 flight to Windhoek. He was on a first-name basis with every gate agent and SAPS officer, and I practically had to run to keep up with him as he made the rounds, shaking hands and backslapping like a campaigning politician. Had there been any babies in his path I’m sure he would have kissed them.

    When the SAPS officer saw Lucky, she simply asked for my US Customs form 4457. I never even opened my rifle case, nor did she ask anything about the ammo. She leaned across the desk, smiled, and said, “How about a little something for us?” I signed the SAPS form, laid a couple of R20 notes (US$4) on the counter, and I was on my way. Hats off to Gracy Travel, who have greased the skids (and perhaps some palms) to make the traveling hunter’s life easier.

    Would I use Gracy’s $200 VIP/SAPS paperwork service again? Probably, although the SAPS paperwork is not rocket science, and can easily be handled by an individual. It all depends on how much your time is worth to you, how exhausted you are by the time you get to Jo’burg, and whether you’d like to have a knowledgeable, well-connected local advocate if something goes pear-shaped (TIA – “This Is Africa” ). My Afrikaans is nonexistent, nor can I speak any of the multitude of local tribal languages prevalent across southern Africa. The $200 VIP service was less than half the price of the vaccinations that I got, and was a very small fraction of the ca. US$11K I spent on the safari altogether. The VIP service is just another form of insurance to me.

    At SAPS I met Miguel and David Delgado, a father and son from the San Antonio TX area. Miguel and David would be the other hunting party at Kowas. Miguel hunted at Kowas with his older son, Alex, in 2012. Miguel and David had booked their 2014 safari more than a year ahead of time, and very graciously agreed to let me, my wife, and two of our friends share the Kowas camp with them when my preferred safari dates overlapped with theirs. Kowas will not book more than one hunting party at a time unless each party is comfortable with that arrangement.

    Miguel, David, and I waited at the departure gate to catch our South African Airways flight to Windhoek. I found a seat by myself in the corner near a power outlet and took advantage of the free airport wi-fi to catch up on an a few emails from work before disappearing into the unplugged vastness of the Kalahari. A couple of fellows in uniform, wearing fluorescent vests emblazoned with “RAPS,” approached me, smiling. “Are you a hunter?”, they asked. I nodded and said, “I’m on my way to Namibia.” They briefly spoke to each other in Afrikaans, then one of them turned to me and said, “We have made sure that your firearm was loaded onto the airplane.” He asked, “How about a little something for the boys?”

    I didn’t know (and still don’t know) what “RAPS” stands for, but I was pretty damn sure that there was nothing that these gentlemen could do now to affect whether my rifle was put on my flight to Windhoek. So I replied, “Thanks a lot for taking care of my rifle, but I don’t have anything for you.” They took the polite snub in stride, and then systematically visited every likely-looking prospect in the waiting area, including Miguel and David. I didn’t watch closely, but as far as I know, nobody forked over the “tip.” More on this scam later in the story …

    I doubt that the Hosea Kutako International Airport in Windhoek ever sees more than 3 or 4 large passenger jets on the tarmac at one time. We had the airport to ourselves when we landed an hour and a half after leaving Jo’burg. I filled out the passport control form (bring a pen with you!), and quickly cleared Immigration. I retrieved my duffel bag in baggage claim, but I wasn’t sure where to pick up my rifle. I should have paid a little closer attention – there is an unmistakable rifle logo over the police desk right in the baggage claim area.

    At any rate, I exited baggage claim with my duffel bag but without my rifle, and received a boisterous welcome to Namibia by PH Claude Thornburn from Kowas. Claude did some fast talking in Afrikaans to slip me through security and back into the “rifle section” of the baggage claim area to pick up my rifle and check it through the Namibian police.

    There were only a few rifles on the firearms cart, so it took just a few minutes for the police officer to check my Namibian firearm import/export permit (I had filled it out in advance), my letter of invitation from Kowas, and the serial number on my rifle. I thanked the officer and slid a folded R20 note (US$2) across the counter.

    By the way, I highly recommend packing your rifle in the case so that the serial number faces up when the case is opened, so that you don’t have to remove your rifle from the case for inspection. If all hunters did this, it would save everyone a bunch of time at SAPS, TSA, etc. Also, keep a photocopy of your passport, form 4457, import/export permits, and letter of invitation in your rifle case so that they are always handy.

    With our gear in hand, we stuffed Claude’s Toyota 4-door bakkie like a sausage with Miguel, David, me, and all of our luggage, squeezed between and around the usual spare tires, jack, air pump, and other necessities for bush travel. Anxious to get on the road to Kowas, it was a little disconcerting when Claude turned the ignition key and didn’t get so much as a click. We all said, “solenoid!” more or less in unison. Claude grabbed a hammer (universal repair tool) from under the seat, popped the bonnet, gave the starter solenoid a couple of persuasive taps, and we were off!

    The 1.5 hr drive south on the C23 from the aiport to Kowas took us through dry, rolling, rocky hills of blackhook acacia savannah, with some larger camelthorn acacia growing as emergent trees where sufficient moisture was available. Knee-high dry yellow grasses carpeted all the spaces between the acacias, the result of higher-than-normal rainfall earlier this year. I found the terrain reminiscent of south Texas mesquite scrub, but instead of deer there were springbok and red hartebeest, instead of javelina there were warthogs, and instead of Harris’s hawks there were pale chanting goshawks.

    [​IMG]

    We saw several troops of baboons, with sentinels perched atop fenceposts along the dusty gravel road. Even the road signs were enough to get my pulse pounding!

    [​IMG]

    Ansie Strauss and her sons, Jacques and Morne, welcomed us to Kowas with a warm handshake and a cold cup of juice. Jacques’s dog, a Jack Russell terrier called Bakkies, added a tail wag and a face lick to the ceremony.

    [​IMG]

    Ansie explained that Danie, as the Vice-President of the Namibia Rugby Union, was in Madagascar with the Namibian national team attempting to qualify for next year’s World Cup, so we wouldn’t see him for a few days.

    The greeting was followed by a hearty, delicious lunch of oryx meatballs and pasta prepared by master chef Selma Kalumbu. In retrospect I wish that I had taken photos of all the meals and place settings, because the food was beyond fabulous, and the place settings (something I am not predisposed to notice) were beautiful and clever – for example, napkin rings made from kudu horn, zebra bone sections, or porcupine quills.

    Ansie showed me to my spacious and comfortable room – there’s no way that the food and accommodations would be mistaken for a spike camp!

    [​IMG]

    I unpacked my gear, which didn’t take long since I travel very light. Strolling around the grounds I saw a family of warthogs making their way to the camp waterhole.

    [​IMG]

    I wandered past the skinning shed, and couldn’t help but notice Team Fet’s enviable collection of salt-encrusted kudu skulls and horns drying in the sun. I was hoping to find a kudu for myself that wouldn’t look out of place in that fast company!

    [​IMG]

    The plan for the rest of the afternoon was to check the zero on the rifles, then to go for an evening game drive to acquaint me with the Kowas property. My PH, Matheus Theofelus, dropped by to introduce himself and collect my shooting gear for the short drive to the rifle range. Miguel had Jacques as his PH, and Claude was David’s PH. Even though David was bowhunting (Claude’s specialty), he and Claude accompanied us to the 100-yard rifle range.

    I set up my Remington 700 Sendero with a Harris bipod on the benchtop. I had pre-fouled the barrel with 2 of my carefully made handloads before I left home. Since my rifle was zeroed at 200 yards, I cranked up the Leupold 4.5-14x56 to maximum magnification and held about 1.5 inches low on the 100-yard target. The shot punched neatly through the center of the bull, indicating that my Cabela’s aluminum gun case had done its job of protecting the scope from airline baggage tossers in 3 countries. I was ready to take the obligatory shot off Matheus’s sticks, but Claude jokingly suggested that my first shot “might have been an accident.” Jacques nodded his head for me to take another shot from the bench. The second bullet passed through the target within a half-inch of the first.

    [​IMG]

    I let my confidence get the better of me when shooting off the sticks, especially after all of the practicing I had done over the previous 6 months, and I knew as soon as the trigger broke that I was left of center. I promised myself that I’d try to do better in the field, knowing that the stakes (and heart rate) are a good deal higher on game than on paper. I was also determined to stalk as close as possible before shooting. Stalking is more than half the fun, anyway! Matheus would later prove to be very adept at getting me within rock-throwing distance much of the time.

    In the final hour before sunset, we all climbed into the Indian-made Mahindra Bolero bakkie to see what game Kowas had to offer us. We were not disappointed! During the entire hour there was no more than a 2-minute gap between game sightings. Steenbok sneaking through the tall grass in pairs, coats made redder by the setting sun. Impala, aka “bush doughnuts.”

    [​IMG]

    Kudu cows, offering the promise of bulls for the dedicated hunter. Common duiker, oryx, black wildebeest, springbok, Burchell’s zebra, blue wildebeest, Hartmann’s zebra. Game birds were just as abundant and varied: ostrich, Namaqua and Burchell’s sandgrouse, helmeted guineafowl, Cape turtle doves, red-billed francolin, quail, Namaqua doves. Needless to say, there were grins all around, anticipating the outstanding hunting in the days ahead.

    Dinner was a table-groaning affair of ostrich steaks (which immediately had me considering adding an ostrich to my wish list!), game sausage, lamb ribs and chops from the braai, pap and gravy, potato salad, and a coconut custard/cake dessert. I wasn’t sure whether my belt had enough holes in it to survive a week of this kind of eating.

    The evening’s entertainment was drinks and hunting tales around a camelthorn-fueled fire – the mesmerizing “bush TV.” Bakkies slept on Jacques’s lap, warming himself by the fire, legs twitching and whining softly as he dreamed of wrestling a leopard into submission.

    When I finally tendered my apologies and headed off to bed, the Southern Cross, so easily seen after sunset, was now almost lost in the diffuse glow of the Milky Way. The clear winter skies and high elevation had let the day’s warmth escape very quickly. But the Kowas staff had thought of everything, taking the chill from my bed with a flannel-wrapped hot water bottle. A fellow could rather easily become accustomed to this.
  18. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    Messages:
    6,937
    Likes Received:
    122
    My Photos:
    396
    Member of:
    KZN Hunters Assoc
    Hunted:
    Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Canada, USA, Mexico
    Enjoying the report so far. Good start Toby.
  19. Toby Bradshaw

    Toby Bradshaw GOLD SUPPORTER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2013
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    2
    My Photos:
    56
    Hunted:
    Namibia, Zimbabwe, Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Texas, Louisiana, Florida
    6 July 2014

    I set the alarm on my watch for 0500, but I needn’t have bothered. The red-billed francolin (“bush alarm clock”) were cackling noisily outside my room while it was still black dark.

    [​IMG]

    The hunter’s constellation, Orion – a familiar friend in an unfamiliar night sky – was rising before the sun had pinked the horizon. It was an unusually cold 23F (-5C), so I dressed in all the layers that I had brought with me: a long-sleeved shirt, windproof Duluth fleece, down vest, and gloves. I knew from experience that riding in the back of the bakkie would make the cold even more intense.

    The warmth of Selma’s kitchen was matched by her smile. While I ate a bowl of cereal and a banana, Selma whipped up my made-to-order breakfast of eggs, bacon, and toast. She did her utmost to be sure that I wouldn’t be cold on the inside, at least! A glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice topped me off.

    I went back to my room for my rifle, verifying that my scope was set at its lowest magnification before sliding it into the soft case. Matheus and Michael were waiting for me at the bakkie at 0600, as we had arranged the day before. Matheus wanted to leave before sunrise because we were driving about 45 minutes to a neighboring farm owned by Reini Seifart, so that we wouldn’t disturb the game on Kowas’s 16,000 acres (about 25 square miles) while David and Claude were in one of the bowhunting blinds. Although technically Michael was the driver, Matheus pulled rank on him and did the driving himself, with me riding shotgun, while Michael huddled in the back under a blanket trying to avoid frostbite.

    Our breath condensed and froze on the inside of the windscreen. Apparently the Indian designers of Mahindra bakkies are not aware that subfreezing weather exists, because there was no defroster. Matheus tried in vain to remove the increasingly thick layer of ice with a cloth. In the end he just navigated the winding 2-track by feel and memory, in the dark, with no headlights and no forward visibility. Michael had to abandon his cocoon every so often to open gates, and he looked absolutely miserable. Both Michael and Matheus are Oshiwambo from the northern (and much warmer) part of Namibia, and neither had any love for cold weather. Personally, I like hunting when the mornings are frosty and the afternoons are cool.

    Bumping along the 2-track, trying to avoid the tire-swallowing aardvark holes, Matheus explained that Mr. Seifart was keen to have some oryx shot on his farm. [It took me awhile to realize that Namibian “farms” are ranches. I never saw a farm of row crops in the 3 weeks that I spent in various parts of the country.] Like most Namibian farms, the Seifart’s had a mix of cattle and game. Oryx are considered a nuisance by many farmers because they go under cattle fences, enlarging holes originally made by warthogs. If the hole is large enough to admit an oryx, it is also large enough for a cow’s calf to go through, which leads to the escape of cattle. By the end of the week at Kowas I found myself wondering why farmers bother with fences, since the warthogs and oryx make them completely permeable anyway, even for game that can’t (or won’t) jump. Kudu and eland go over cattle fences with ease.

    The sun had been up for about 15 minutes when we arrived at the Seifart farm gate. The windscreen thawed quickly, and I expect that Michael was the happiest of us all to feel the sun at last. Matheus stopped the bakkie inside the gate and we traded places with Michael. We had a fantastic view of the chest-high blackhook acacia savannah from the back of the bakkie.

    [​IMG]

    It wasn’t long before Matheus demonstrated his supernatural game-spotting ability, using his X-ray vision to penetrate the thick cover, pointing out a herd of kudu cows and young bulls, an oryx cow with a tiny calf the same size and color as a steenbok, and a herd of eland in the distance.

    After a half hour of scouting the perimeter road from the bakkie without seeing any suitable trophy oryx, Matheus suggested that we make a speculative stalk in the direction of a salt block about a mile away. Faces into the gentle breeze, I followed Matheus as he scanned the ground for fresh oryx spoor. The numerous blackhook thorn branches had to be avoided, being both sharp and noisy. Soon he located a promising track, and within 20 minutes we came upon a lone oryx bull 300 yards distant, head down, feeding away from us, up to his belly in sourgrass. Matheus motioned for me to kneel and whispered, “He is a good bull. Follow me.”

    We crept from acacia to acacia, crouch-walking in the direction of the bull only when he had his head down and was facing away from us. Alone, the oryx had no extra sets of eyes watching his back trail. Over the next 15 minutes we stalked closer and closer as the bull zigzagged through the bush, head swinging back and forth like a metronome as he filled his stomach with the abundant sourgrass.

    The longer we stalked, the more excited I became, which I knew wouldn’t help my shooting. The big-bodied oryx, with his beautifully patterned face and coat, and thick, rapier-sharp horns, had been a dream of mine for the past year. I tried to suppress the adrenaline rush, but I might as well have tried to stop the Zambezi River from going over Victoria Falls.

    From the cover of a blackhook acacia, Matheus set up the sticks to give me a shooting lane through the bush, but the oryx was in a shallow swale and I couldn’t see his vitals through the scope. I leaned close to Matheus’s ear and whispered, “I don’t have a clear shot.” Matheus nodded. We waited for the bull to climb up the other side of the swale, his back still to us as he fed, and Matheus gingerly moved the sticks to within 120 yards of the oryx.

    I wouldn’t need ear plugs for this shot, because my heart was making more noise than any rifle. The oryx was still moving very slowly away from us, and clearly was not going to offer a broadside shot. I turned the scope from 4.5x to 8x, tracking him, waiting for a quartering away shot at a reasonable angle. The extra time to think about the shot was not an advantage!

    When the oryx finally turned to the right a bit, I placed the crosshairs far enough back on his ribcage to intercept the opposite shoulder, and high enough to clear the brush and grass under him. The Jewell trigger broke cleanly at 1 pound, and of course I lost sight of the bull when the rifle recoiled. My sight picture had looked perfect. Knowing the reputation that oryx have for toughness, I immediately cycled the action without lifting the rifle from the sticks, and reacquired the oryx in the scope. He hadn’t taken a step from where he was shot. The bull was down but trying weakly to get his front feet back under him. Matheus said, “If he stands up, shoot him again.” Through the scope I could see that the bull was fading fast. “Safe your rifle,” Matheus said, grinning broadly and shaking my hand.

    My knees didn’t seem to be too steady as I walked over to have a close look at my trophy. The oryx’s horns were heavy at the base, long, and icepick-sharp, just beginning to wear down with age and combat. His hair rose, then fell as he died. This magnificent bull, the animal most emblematic of the Kalahari, still had his last meal in his mouth, and had met his end quickly. We should all be so fortunate.

    [​IMG]

    Matheus called Michael on the radio, and eventually the clatter of diesel could be heard approaching through the bush. I could see that my bullet had entered high on the right lung, and must have hit the spine to produce the instantaneous collapse. There was no exit wound.

    [​IMG]

    Michael cleared the grass around the oryx and set the bull up for photos. Both Michael and Matheus always took exceptional care to get the photos done properly, knowing that the pictures are valued as trophies as much as the heads and horns. Matheus has a keen eye for photo composition, as well as for game spotting. I found him to be the consummate professional, and he has the further distinction of being the first black PH in all of Namibia.

    [​IMG]

    By 0830 we had the 550-pound oryx winched into the bakkie. We stopped by Mr. Seifart’s house to let him know that he could pick up the oryx’s carcass at Kowas later that day. Reini isn’t a hunter – his hobby is hotrodding American cars and trucks – but the oryx was a welcome source of meat for his farm workers, and one less competitor for his cattle’s forage (not an issue this year, after the rains!).

    At the Kowas skinning shed, Matheus and Michael pitched in to help Timo (the skinner) butcher the oryx bull. They were a marvel of efficiency and teamwork, using nothing other than a boning knife, a sharpening steel, and a hacksaw to skin, gut, and quarter the oryx in 30 minutes.

    I took the opportunity to examine in greater detail the performance of the Barnes 180gr TSX. The bullet smashed a rib on entry, took out the top of the right lung and the bottom of the spine, and ended up under the left shoulder blade.

    [​IMG]

    The bullet was perfectly mushroomed, with part of 1 petal missing (94% weight retention). My custom is to pay the skinner(s) R20 (US$2) each for every bullet recovered, which provided plenty of incentive for the rest of my hunt!

    [​IMG]

    Selma had lunch waiting for me – game sausage casserole in filo dough. Matheus stuck his head in the door to let me know that we’d be going back to the Seifart farm around 1500 to hunt for springbok, assuming that I would be able to walk after the enormous plate of food that I had consumed.

    The afternoon was a very pleasant, cloudless 65F (18C). Matheus, Michael, and I retraced our morning route to the Seifart farm. Matheus spotted a jackal in the 2-track, but every jackal at Kowas knows what a stopped bakkie means. I flipped down the legs of my bipod to shoot from the roof of the bakkie. The jackal was already moving and I missed him cleanly. The joke at Kowas is that there is no trophy fee for jackals, but if you miss one you have to pay US$100. Matheus promised to keep my embarrassing secret.

    [​IMG]

    On the way to Seifart’s farm, Reini himself was driving his bakkie headed for Kowas to claim the morning’s oryx. He must have some hungry farmhands!

    Unlike Kowas, which has several hills (locally called “mountains”), Seifart’s farm is flat. Matheus climbed a windmill to get a better look over the thornveld. He spotted a herd of springbok, but they were too far away and in too much cover to judge the quality of any trophies. The wind was in our favor, though, so Matheus led a stalk towards them.

    [​IMG]

    Having ascertained that I was interested in all of Namibia’s flora and fauna, Matheus took the time to point out the snakehead bulbs that were especially abundant here. Oryx use their hooves to dig up the bulbs, and chew them to obtain moisture. In this way, oryx can go their whole lives without ever drinking liquid water. Snakehead is toxic to livestock, however.

    [​IMG]

    We walked for close to a mile before getting a good look at the springbok herd. There were about 15 ewes and 1 young ram, but nothing that justified any further effort. As we hiked back to the bakkie we saw a male red-crested korhaan performing his amazing aerial courtship flight – climbing high into the sky and then fluttering down as if wingshot, only to flare and land softly at the last possible moment.

    The sun was setting behind us as we pulled into Kowas, with the bush TV already tuned to Channel 1.

    [​IMG]

    Miguel, David, Jacques, Claude, and Bakkies were sitting around the fire. Ansie brought me a cold Coke to wet my dusty throat. David was in high spirits, having taken his first African trophy with his bow – a springbok ram at a waterhole. Claude captured David’s springbok hunt on video, which can be seen starting at 3:30 on the Delgado Safari.

    Miguel had shot a kudu bull with his Blaser .338 WM very late in the afternoon, and he and Jacques had run out of daylight before the bull could be recovered. Miguel was subdued but optimistic that the kudu would be found the next morning, and worried that jackals might damage the cape.

    Miguel’s appetite may not have been quite up to par, but David and I each had two generous helpings of Selma’s wildebeest tenderloin Stroganoff, potato-stuffed squash, and a crunchy mint custard for dessert.

    Matheus and I will be looking for kudu tomorrow morning …
  20. ROCKET

    ROCKET AH Veteran

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2014
    Messages:
    164
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    Cordoba, Argentina
    Hunted:
    Argentina Bolivia Paraguay South Africa
    I am enjoying so much reading your great hunting report and looking those good pictures my friend.......well done an keep going please......I want to know how Kudu hunting was next morning........(y)

Share This Page