SOUTH AFRICA: A First-Timer's Journey (2012 South Africa, Leopards Valley Safari's)

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports' started by rnovi, Jan 7, 2013.

  1. rnovi

    rnovi AH Veteran

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    A First Timer's Journey.


    For those who want the short synopsis: I went to Africa with my wife and a good Buddy and shot a bunch of stuff and then came home. :p

    For those want juuuuuuust a bit more, read on!


    I've wanted to go to Africa for a long time. I can't say when the seed was planted. I don't come from a hunting family - fact is my dad only came home with one pheasant that I know of and it was the dog jumping a point that got the kill. Funniest part was that dad forgot about that bird and left it in the back of his hunting vest hanging in the hall closet...mom was none too pleased about that one.

    Still, one day the seed was planted and I knew I'd set foot in Africa. It's funny that as a child I always though it was called the "Dark Continent" because it was below the Equator and therefore the sun didn't shine much down there. Imagine the guffaw I had 40-ish years later when I set foot in Jo-Berg and that memory crept back into the forefront of my mind.

    This was Jo-Berg Airport and for the life of me it didn't look at all like the dusty, potholed, thatch roofed dirt floored airports that Capstick and Ruark led me to believe. I looked at all the smiling faces glowing in the florescent radiance of GE's best and realized "I ain't in Kansas anymore".

    No, I was in a magnificent airport that rivaled the finest I've ever been in. I book near 50+ flights a year domestic USA and Jo-Berg was at least as nice as Denver or Phoenix or JFK. I was well and truly shocked.

    Checking firearms was a snap - I had a partial assist from Bruce of Air2000. I have to laugh at this story - my wife and I and my friend Kevin deplaned and started wandering around looking for the luggage carousels. Out of nowhere this security guard walks by and says "Oh, Hunters? Hang on a sec." The three of us look at each other and next thing we know some guy comes running up and says "I got your guns, just wait here."

    Ok...I figure when in Rome ya know. And everyone's smiling. So at least I'm going to feel good about getting fleeced on this one.

    Next thing I know here comes Bruce with a cart that has two firearms cases in it. And the matching luggage. And wha? I didn't hire this guy? How the heck did he know my name?

    He smiles, waves me behind him and next thing I know I'm in the security guard line, paperwork is being filled out and he motions me to come up and sign here...and here...and here...

    And I'm done. And my buddy Kevin is done. And my wife is looking around trying to figure out why I'm laughing my fool head off. And Kevin, the ever maligned hyper anal retentive computer engineer is rather bent out of shape because all of his planning on security processing in South Africa was just derailed in under 20 minutes by a guy we'd never met.

    Yes, We'd been well and truly "Bruce'd"! :first:

    I pulled out a very nice Benjamin and handed it off as a tip. Bruce earned that one and I had to thank him for first hand educating me on exactly how the entire import process worked.

    A short 2 hour flight and next thing I know we are in Port Elizabeth and settling down in the hotel for a night.

    [​IMG]

    Welcome to South Africa.
     

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  2. rnovi

    rnovi AH Veteran

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    This was a trip for three of us and a trip with a whole lot of firsts all around the board. First, it was my first ever 16 hour single-leg flight. Call me "sick and strange" but I loved it. We flew SAA and the folks were absolutely superb on the flight. My wife and I had bulkhead seats - with noone around us. Kevin had an aisle seat and shared much of his left side with a very large man in a three piece suit who refused to use deodorant.

    Needless to say, Trina (Beloved Wife) and I had a lovely flight. They served dinner about two hours into the flight. Several glasses of wine, a Lunesta (followed by 8 straight hours of blissful sleep) and two movies and next thing I know we are in JoBerg and then PE.

    That night we enjoyed a truly wonderful local dinner and settled down for bed. Funny thing is that for all the jet-lag I should have been suffering from I actually felt great.

    The next morning we sat in the hotel lobby waiting for our PH to show up. Craig, Craig Done to be exact of Leopards Valley Safari. And his Tracker, Shane Shane.

    Here's Craig.
    [​IMG]

    Here's Shane.
    [​IMG]

    I later discovered that this is one of the great gifts of 2x1 hunting with friends: Kevin goes out for a stalk, the rest of us take naps. :sleeping:

    And here's Fury. The Wild Karoo Tracking Dachshund.
    [​IMG]

    I gotta tell you, that dog is a keeper and made for some of the absolute BEST stories of the trip.

    We arrived at Leopards Valley and settled in. The rooms were wonderfully appointed, very personal and clean. Laundry was done daily and neatly folded and coffee (hot water anyway!) was ready every morning before we woke up for some fresh and outstanding NesCafe. Of special note was that the beds were "turned on" every night. Yeppers, the electric heating pads were just delightful!

    [​IMG]

    Once we settled in we went out for the range to sight in.

    [​IMG]

    A minor adjustment and we were ready to roll in the morning!




    Snapshot of the Hunt:

    Outfitter: Leopards Valley Safari
    Airline: SAA
    # of Visitors: 2 hunters (Robert and Kevin) and one beloved Observer, my wife Trina.
    Rifles used: Pre-64 M70 in 300H&H, Browning A-Bolt in 30-06.
    Bullets used: 180 gr. Barnes TSX's at 2,950 fps and 2,700 fps respectively.
    Game hunted: Plainsgame including Zebra, Kudu, Wildebeast (black and blue), Blesbok, Impala, Springbok, Warthog, Steenbok and Duiker.
     

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  3. rnovi

    rnovi AH Veteran

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    Allow me to introduce the hunters!

    First we have Kevin.
    [​IMG]

    And then there's me.
    [​IMG]

    And my Beloved Wife who encourages my relative insanity.
    [​IMG]
     

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  4. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Good start. Keep it coming.
     
  5. bluey

    bluey GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    really entertaining start mate keep on typing
     
  6. Bushwack

    Bushwack AH Fanatic

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    rnovi,

    Now who says Africa is so Dark!! :eyebrow:haha, hope you and your wife had a great time in RSA




     
  7. DOC-404

    DOC-404 AH Elite

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    Carry on, Bud, carry on..!
     
  8. Norwegianwoods

    Norwegianwoods SILVER SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    +1 :)
     
  9. spike.t

    spike.t GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    i have a sneaking suspicion you enjoyed yourself right from the start...;)
     
  10. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    That's a first, someone saying they "enjoyed" the flight over! I'm still waiting for the beam me up Scotty!
     
  11. Bobpuckett

    Bobpuckett GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    OK Robert your doing great feed the fire I can see this is gong to be a good one.
     
  12. rnovi

    rnovi AH Veteran

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    There was a soft tapping at the door and a gentle voice on the other side saying "Wake Up! Wake Up!" It's amazing how early Five AM is...especially where there's something like 8 hours or more of time change involved. I didn't do too bad on the sleep - Lunesta again and a few glasses of wine made sure I was in bed early and catching much needed rest. My wife stared at me with one half-opened eye. Yep, it was gonna be a GOOD Day!

    The lodge we were at had three rooms attached to a general living area. The living area was filled with a few couches, a number of trophies, a small corner fireplace (*with lit fire I might add) and the critical pot of boiling water with NesCafe next to it. I prepared a cup of coffee as the "other" door open and Kevin emerged, staring straight through me.

    "Good Morning Sunshine!" I gave him my biggest and broadest smile with my brightest eyes.

    He said nothing. Turned around and walked back into his room.

    Oh yeah, it was gonna be that kind of day. :peace:

    Cup of Joe in hand I wandered outside to be assaulted by a pack of Wild Wiener Dogs!

    [​IMG]

    Ok, so that photo was a bit later in the day. But if you can imagine, It's Dark. My time clock is all wrong. I'm not awake, have a cup of coffee in the hands, it's cold out I'm in a strange land and something is rustling in the bushes. And growling. And then there's something else to the left...and something to the right...and...CHARGE!!!!

    The brush explodes. Fudgie, the heavily pregnant Wiener dog charges me, leaps as high as her legs would let her...bounces off my leg and then vanishes in a flash back into the brush.

    It would pretty much be that way for the next 10 glorious days. :giveusahug:

    Hunger sated and coffee trying to do it's best we loaded into the Backie (A Toyota Hi-Lux 4x4 CrewCab Diesel with 280,000km on the clock) and collected Shane the Tracker and were off to watch the first rays of the sun glinting off the mountains.

    [​IMG]
     

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  13. rnovi

    rnovi AH Veteran

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    We started the long drive to the game preserves, taking just over an hour to get through the various fenced areas. Yep, fenced. High fenced. The first area was something like 50,000 acres of HighFence. The second area was smaller - I think it was around 35,000 acres. Big is Big...

    Ya know, at some point one realizes that the entire USA is similarly high-fenced by the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic. I know a number of folks who have hunted the beaches of SoCal with remarkable success. But I digress...

    Hmmm, interesting warning signs we encountered.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Might just be that the fencing is a GOOD thing? Anyway, I had no problems with it. We never saw the fencing once we crossed the threshold and it was fully ten minutes of driving before we collected our Scout, Michael. Sorry, forgot to get pictures of Michael!

    And so the glassing and the stalking begins!

    [​IMG]
     

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  14. rnovi

    rnovi AH Veteran

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    We drove along slowly, dust kicking up from the tires with Michael and Shane in the back of the truck and the rest of us indoors. This would pretty much last about 45 minutes...that's when Trina and I figured out that we didn't need to stay IN the damn truck! At the next stop we hopped into the back with Michael and Shane and made ourselves comfortable on the seats.

    [​IMG]

    We trundled along with our Scout and Tracker speaking softly, pointing here and there and sometimes tapping the truck. At the tap on the truck Fury would get horribly excited, staring intently in the brush, tasting the air. It was out there!

    Ummm, but looking at what? I couldn't see squat and had no idea that the rocks the guys were looking at 600+ yards away were Impala.

    The backie moved on slowly...apparently there was nothing in that group to pursue. I found out later that the real truth was that there was absolutely no way to sneak up on them in the open like that. Half the eyes out there were staring at us long before we ever saw them.

    Another excited tap and a few words had us bailing out. IMPALA! Shane handed down a Browning rifle...Kevin had the nod for the first stalk. GAME ON!

    Trina and I stayed in the truck...we whispered, watched and peered very carefully in the brush and slowly the forms began to take shape. A bit of white here...a horn there...movement. The Hunters moved off to the right about 100 yards and then began the stalk through the Acacia. I saw the sticks come out! No, wait, Craig was simply glassing the game...he motioned, crouched, moved off.

    I couldn't see them any more. They were down 400 yards now...in a bit of a gully. I knew enough from deer hunting to watch the animals I could see...they knew they were being hunted...they knew the hunters were out there. I could sense where Shane and Craig and Kevin were by how the Impala were moving but I couldn't see...didn't know...this wasn't hunting in a Texas Box Blind...

    BANG!

    A shot! Trina and I jumped with excitement and Fury was a mass of quivering muscle. A call came over the radio...

    [​IMG]

    You know what rocks about Africa?

    [​IMG]

    Yeah, I'm not carrying the damn deer myself! :rockon::rockon::rockon:
     

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  15. GSTONE

    GSTONE AH Veteran

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    Why do I think you will be going back again? :biggrin:
     
  16. Cliffy

    Cliffy AH Elite

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    That is the best START to a story here I've ever read. DON'T STOP!!!!! I'm glued to my seat reading it again.
    As I try to tell folks, when you hunt Africa you shoot the gun, take pictures then repose to the camp for drinks.
    Quite civilized. :)
    You can draw this out for weeks here and have all of us drooling with anticipation.
     
  17. Bobpuckett

    Bobpuckett GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    I'm already drooling, Can't wait for May have to get back there.
     
  18. Grady

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    I am hooked! I need more info! Keep it going!
     
  19. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH Legend

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    Good grief........keep this going already! Nothing like a good hunting story that involves dogs.
     
  20. rnovi

    rnovi AH Veteran

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    With Kevin's Impala down we all took a moment to celebrate a fantastic job well done! My wife and I listened intently as Kevin regaled us with a tale worthy of Capstick himself.

    "So we walked around this bush and this Impala just stood up, looking the other direction. So Craig sets up the sticks and I shot it."

    Yeah!!!???!!! And???

    "Well, it died."

    The End.

    /Sigh, never let an Engineer tell a hunting story. :bonk:

    We dropped Shane at the skinning shed with the Impala and we were back out and at it again. I was up, nervously fingering the spare shells I had in my vest. My wife was giddy with excitement as we drove...and drove...and drove...and drove...It was mid-day and the animals must have been smarter than us!

    So we stopped to have a bit of a walk around to stretch our legs...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Do you ever get the feeling you were being watched?
    [​IMG]

    Ok, how about now?
    [​IMG]

    Game was everywhere we looked and those critters just weren't on the menu! We saw at time as many as a dozen giraffe several miles off. It was like it was right out of Jurassic Park - that scene where the Brontosaurs all lift their heads above the trees and stare at you. Just unreal to see them...and then not see them. So many of the animals had such amazing natural camouflage - the Giraffe, well, it's wild. Naturally I don't really look ABOVE the trees! And when I did, at distance, the Giraffe just looked like leafless poles.

    I remember reading African Game Trails by Teddy Roosevelt. He talks about how he fired many rounds at a giraffe and was aghast at how horrid his shooting was. The reality was that the giraffe was thousands of yards away! The animals size really throws off distances in the mind.

    But eventually we see these guys out in the distance...
    [​IMG]

    It's game time...
     

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