SOUTH AFRICA: Back in Canada fom Kwa Zulu Natal and CT-Safaris

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports' started by Cowtown guy, May 19, 2014.

  1. Cowtown guy

    Cowtown guy AH Member

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    Just returned from Kwa Zulu Natal in South Africa. I went with 3 friends and we had a helluva time.

    Where we hunted in Natal is about 5 hours South East of Johannesburg. The drive was fairly interesting in itself as a lot of the hiway is not maintained real well. There was a fair bit of dodging the nasty holes, kind of like a slalom course.

    Getting the guns into and out of Africa was easy. We used the services of Air 2000 Hunters Support. We were met at the gate as soon as we got off the jet-walk or whatever it is called. The fellow took us thru the VIP/Diplomat line at customs and we were on our way to get the bags in less than 15 minutes after getting off the plane. This in itself was well worth their services as our plane and another BIG airbus landed at the same time. There must have been more than 750 people waiting in line.

    After the passports were stamped, we headed to claim our baggage. There was already a lady there with our guns on a luggage cart waiting for us. 2 of us started doing the signing of the SAPS register with her as 2 others waited for bags to come off the carousel. All in all we were out into the main airport in less than 30 minutes from the time we deplaned.

    We met our Outfitter just outside the doors and finished the SAPS serial number check and away we went.

    The first afternoon was dedicated to catching up on sleep. We were going to go and sight in but I don't think I could have seen thru the scope to do a decent job. So we took a little look around the grounds and just relaxed. The first place we stayed was called Nxala Ranch. Nxala is Zulu for Mountain Reedbuck. The nx is pronounced as a clicking sound. I have been trying to duplicate the sound for 2 weeks now and it is something that I think must be mastered from a young age. I just can't get it right.

    The lodge is a working cattle farm and is stunningly gorgeous.

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    Sunrise from the front porch of the lodge.

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    We had over 12000 acres here to look over and find some game. The terrain went form high steep mountainous areas covered with 8' tall Elephant grass to low lying heavily treed areas of acacia and paperbark and then off to flat grass lands with the grass no more than 18" high with a lazy shallow river running thru it.

    Every day we could see different animals filtering out of the mountains and heading to the water holes along the river from where we would be eating lunch. The place had 4 different Zebra herds, lots of Impala and Springbok, Gemsbok, Eland, Blesbok, Duikers Kudu and Ostrich. There was apparently Nyala there too but they were being elusive. No sightings were reported.

    The first morning everyone went to sight in. My scope was the only one that needed adjustment. I was 1 1/2" right at 50 yards. I had it dialed in with 3 shots and the others followed suit. My Outfitter and PH wanted to ensure his 458 Lott was on also and I got a chance to rip one thru it as well. That thing is a beast!

    We did a little tour to get our bearings and looked over hundreds of Springbok. Nothing really caught our eye so we moved to some treed areas and found a herd of about 25 Impalas. They are rutting and there was a decent ram chasing everything around. Glenn got onto stalking them and we chased them for a while. After finally have them move into an area that we could get a proper stalk on, he closed the distance to a little under 300 yards. He got the jitters and ended up missing. We found them a little while later and there was another miss. To say the least he was utterly disappointed.

    Later in the day he got onto another ram in the mountain area that was roaring like a red stag. After some cat and mouse he redeemed himself with a tough shot thru the bush anchoring the ram.

    On the way back to the lodge that evening we cam across a band of Mountain Reedbuck. There was 4 ewes and a ram. I figure never kick a gift horse off the farm so I anchored him as my first animal with the .375 that I bought for this trip. They are pretty little critters. I have to say, I thought they were bigger than they are though.

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    Day 2 With a cold front blowing in the Nyala hunting was going to be difficult. It was getting very windy and the animals were spooky. We went out looking for Kudu and did a big hike of about 2 1/2 miles along the rocky hillsides. We had a group of 7 or 8 Kudu cows come right thru the bush at us while we were sitting at a vantage spot waiting to see if something would come into a meadow. Well they almost stepped on us. We had them at 20 yards. Nothing else came of that hike so we headed back to look for Gemsbok.

    We found some way up high and made a stalk thru the blasted 8' tall grass that covers the bowling ball sized rocks. If you look at the last picture, we were up at the base of those cliffs you can see in the background. That was crazy trying to walk thru that crap. Long story short, after staking for more than 600 yards thru that stuff they gave us the slip. We turned around to come down and there was a group of 6 Blesbok 200 yards from where we left the truck. They were staring intently at it which gave us a chance to get into shooting range of them. Glenn made a good shot at a nice ram and we headed back for lunch.

    After lunch we looked at a bunch of Springbok again and found a ram we hadn't seen before. They aren't super big like they are in Namibia in this area and he was a respectable ram. I put him in the salt with a 150 yard shot. I was having a tough time waiting for him to be completely broadside as I didn't want to wreck the cape. It took him a while to turn but he did finally. I was surprised that he got up and ran 15 yards or so after being knocked down.

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    Day 3 was dedicated to finding a decent Zebra Stallion that wasn't quite like all the others you see. I wanted to see if there was something a little different. Chris, my PH, found a mature stallion with fainter stripes, almost mottled, on the front shoulder than is normal. We made a stalk and I made the 160 yard shot from the sticks count. It hit maybe 3 inches or so back from where the heart sits and that bugger ran 150 yards or so before piling up. You can see the entry hole in the picture. Some of that is on video. We had a very aggressive ostrich try and stomp the little tracking dog. It got close enough that I actually got the gun off my shoulder and was ready to shoot if I was told to.

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    We were at the skinning shed and got a call from the other PH that he had spotted some Gemsbok from way up on the ridge that he couldn't get to. We headed that way and ended up getting Glenn his Gemsbok. He made a 260 yard uphill shot and it dropped where it stood. It was up on the mountainside and took us almost 30 minutes to hack our way up thru the acacia thorns to get to it. Well it got up! It started taking off downhill and Chris and I said shoot. Glenn shot it again and the tracker Sammy was a little upset with Chris. He said we should have let it run down before killing it. Hindsight is always 20/20. We maneuvered it off the mountain and set it up below for pictures as it was too steep and dangerous to try and set it up there for a picture.

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    Day 4 was supposed to warm up so we were going to another ranch named Emaweni for Nyala and Kudu. The roads at this place are hell. There are so many boulders on the road that Sammy had to walk in front of the truck and clear a path a few times.

    We spotted a Nyala bull and he looked like a monster. We stalked him up the mountain and I may have been able to take a shot but I just wasn't comfortable with the placement of the crosshairs. I wasn't quite sure what part of him I was looking at. We followed him up some steep and thick country. After 250 yards of this stuff we came to a little strip where we could see about 175 yards. There was some ewes there but no bull. We kept going up but Sammy said the tracks showed that he was hurrying now. We decided to turn around and when we got back to the clearing there was a bull there. The sticks were put up and I shot him. He kicked straight up and went about 20 yards before disappearing in the thick stuff. After 10 or 15 seconds there was a tree that was getting tossed around wildly. We figured he was dead.

    Sammy went to see what was up and we stayed behind to direct him if need be because it is so thick. When he got up to the spot he started doing a little jig and giving us the thumbs up. It took us substantially longer to get there than the little tracker did. We got cut up by the thorns pretty good but we found him. I was a little disappointed when I got there though. It wasn't the same bull. He isn't a baby by any means but he definitely wasn't the one we were following. I purposely didn't look at the horns before I shot to avoid getting excited. I guess I should have looked again to be sure.

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    Day 5. Moving day. We were going to a different camp for a change of scenery. I really liked this idea. If you are going that far why not see more of the country?

    We moved camps to a new lodge by the name of Kameelkop. Literally translated it means Camel head. It was about an hours drive away. It lies just outside of the village of Wasbank. The village is very simple. A local market and a gas station with some houses and a school. Cattle roam the streets here and nobody seems to notice.

    The hunting area is a little smaller here. It is only 7500 acres. Most of the ranch is inaccessible by road and the hunting is a little harder because of this. Again the terrain varied greatly. Rolling hills sparsely treed give way to flat grasslands. They also have the dreaded Elephant grass here. The mountainous areas are a little different. There are a couple of roads that get to the tops of them and they can be hunted down instead of up. Here there is also an area that has sheer cliffs that are very hard to get to by man. Not so for the Kudu and Nyala though.

    The camp itself is more rustic. We stay 2 to a chalet and the chalets are spaced apart from the main lodge. There is a decent sized pond out front that is stocked with Black Bass.

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    Our chalet was about 80 yards from the lodge. The other guys was closer to 200 yards away. They had Duiker and Kudu headed by their windows in the dead dark. We were cautioned to shake out our bedding at night before we tuck ourselves in as there are quite a few Mambas and Spitting Cobras that like to curl up in the bedding when the temperatures drop. We also had to tap our boot heels in the morning to ensure that scorpions didn't take up residence. The missus wouldn't have liked this place but I certainly did. 4 star is great but it isn't really me.

    After getting our stuff stowed away we go for a quick trip out to get acquainted with the area. We see hundreds of Blesbok in the flats, as well as Springbok. Kudu cows and a few young bulls coming down off the mountains to a couple of waterholes are spotted as well as literally scads of Impala. We see some Warthogs and a couple of Giraffes also. Not bad for a 1 hour trek.

    The morning was again spent looking for a Kudu bull for Glenn. We see cows and young bulls but nothing "shooter" worthy. We eventually found ourselves heading abck around the other side of the property and we ran into a nice herd of Springbok. We couldn't see a decent ram in the bunch at first. We noticed a lone ram about a mile away that we thought needed a better look. We just started towards him when a few more came out of a dry riverbed. This guy looked ok so we made a plan. Glenn connected with a 200ish yard shot and he never twitched. Back to the skinning shed and then another fabulous lunch.

    The evening was again uneventful for the Kudu. We thought we were gonna get lucky as there was a huge bodied Kudu in the trees down low but we couldn't get a look at his horns. After what felt like hours he finally moved and was probably only 45 inches or so. Not big enough. We headed back to the lodge and it was getting dark. We saw 2 Warthogs run across the road. I tried a running shot in the fading light and it sounded like a solid hit. We looked for blood for close to 20 minutes but didn't find a drop. We decided to give it another go in the morning with good light.

    On the way to investigate the pig incident from the night before, we slipped down into some low lying trees to see if the Kudu were still down at the water there. on the way we ran into a big Grey Duiker. Now big is a relative term here. He may weigh 45 pounds or so and he may be 20" tall at the shoulder. Maybe. Most have horns in the 3 - 3 1/2" range. 4 is considered decent. I asked Chris if I should shoot and he whispered "For Chrissakes if you don't I will!" This little guy measured out at 5 1/2", possibly 5 5/8". He's a stud in the Duiker world.

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    Off we go to investigate what happened with the pork chops. We poke around there for at least half an hour. The dog nor the trackers find any sign of blood or hair. Nothing doing so away we go to look for Kudu again. Only small bulls and cows again. We send the trackers up the mountain to do a little recon work for us. They find sign of big Kudu and spot a couple in the very thick bush. They are here. That's at least encouraging. We decide to go look for a Blesbok in the flats for me before lunch.

    We head over to where they have been spotted a few times and they there are about 600 yards or so away. We then make a plan for a stalk. We start off thru some Elephant grass. That becomes sparse and we need to get low and crawl. Crawling over there isn't pretty. There are young acacias that grow low to the ground and are covered by grass. They unfortunately have thorns up to 2 inches long. We crawl for 150 yards or so and get to where the cover will soon run out. We look the herd of 25 or so over and find a lone ram off by himself 250 yards away. We have to wait as the lead ewe keeps looking over at us and nodding her head like she senses something. After about 10 or 15 minutes the ram makes himself presentable and Chris sets up the sticks. He is a little hesitant to have me shoot 250 yards or so with the .375. I keep assuring him I am fine with the range. I turned on the dot in my VX-R and was feeling very steady. He said "If you are sure of the shot then take him." I'm not sure the words were completely dead in the wind when I squeezed the trigger. I saw the ram crumple like he had been hit with the hammer of Thor. Another one that didn't twitch.

    He is a very nice old ram. Sammy keeps calling him Umdala. He says he is old and past his prime. I'm bloody tickled with the shot still so adding a nice old mature ram to that is outstanding in my books. I am really liking this .375 H&H! The picture with me in it shows the exit side for those of you thinking that the .375 will just blow stuff up. Most of these animals can be eaten to within an inch or so of the hole. Back for lunch again.

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    After lunch we drop the other 2 hunters in our party off in a dry riverbed to see if they can sneak up on some Blesbok. On the way to look for Kudu we spot 4 Eland Bulls. Chris asks Glenn if he wants to switch to Eland since we aren't seeing the Kudu we are hoping for. He says he is confident they are here, we just aren't catching them out in the open. Glenn took about 3 seconds to say yes. Chris was concerned about Glenn using his 7mm Rem Mag on them though. I slid over a couple of rounds and said all is good. We watched them for a little while to see what they were going to do as they weren't in a spot for us to stalk them. They eventually crossed over a ridge and we drove around to get in their path.

    We came around the side of the mountain and spotted them in the distance. We took off to get farther ahead as they were eating up ground at an astounding pace for such a big critter. We parked the truck where the wind was good for them not to spook and started a stalk. we snuck up a ridge and out thru the rock hiding Elephant grass for a few hundred yards. We then topped out and had to use the acacias for cover. We got into position and they moved farther to our left. We had to reposition which was probably good seeing as though Glenn was almost hyperventilating. It's great to see people still getting that rush! We snuck behind another tree and got ready. They again weren't cooperating real well. They kept feeding and walking around. Luckily the big bull had ox-pecker birds on his back so it made it easy to follow him. they eventually fed to the right and Glenn had to switch sides of the tree. Chris braced his arm on the tree for Glenn to take the 175 yard shot from and Glenn got ready. Chris wanted to ensure the bull was perfectly broadside as they can be tough critters if not shot well. The bull turned and Chris gave the green light. The .375 jumped up and the bullet could be heard smashing into him. He jumped and walked a little to the right and faced us. He started to lean a little and Glenn tucked one right under his chin. He fell straight down and never moved again.

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    We recovered the bullet that went thru the broadside shoulder and it weighs 269.5 of a possible 270 grains of pure TSX copper. It is peeled back into 4 perfect cutting petals and was a noticeable lump in the hide on the off side. What more could you ask for?

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    For anyone who think a moose is big, you need to see one of these critters to appreciate how big they truly are. It's easily a moose and a half. They are walking tanks. How they run up and down that steep, thick terrain is a mystery to me. I will return to shoot an Eland.

    It took 3 trackers almost 2 hours to quarter it and haul it off that plateau. These little guys are remarkably tough. They carried the majority of it out by hand as we couldn't get the truck closer than about 400 yards or so. The last bit of stomach and organs and the ribcage was carried out in a tarp.

    The following day, 3 days to hunt left, I went with Graham. I elected to leave my gun in camp as he was having a bit of a time putting animals in the salt. We spent the morning looking for Kudu for him with the same result as before. Small bulls and cows. We headed up the mountain to the very top of the ranch and found a large herd of Blesbok. I satyed behind for this stalk as the cover was a little sparse and 1 more guy would be harder to hide. He made a great stalk and a got himself to within chipping distance of a nice ram. He made the 90ish yard shot and we had a Blesbok to recover. From where I was it sounded like a total and complete miss though. I watched in awe as 400+ Blesbok started forming a conga line and boogied their way out of the area. That was an awesome thing to see.

    The evening was uneventful and dry. Nothing killed by us and not a lot to be seen.

    The second to last day I hunted with Greg. I was to be looking for Nyala while he was looking for a Black Wildebeest and anything he hadn't killed yet. We got on a herd of blacks early as soon as the fog lifted. He made a big long stalk and dropped into an old creek bottom to close the final yards. 2 shots from the 378 WBY from about 150 yards and the bull was dead. Sammy was again saying Umdala over and over. The bulls boss was hard and heavy and had lots of cracks in it. I will return to hunt Black Wildebeest.

    We headed back to the skinning shed to drop it off as it was still very early. We went out to a different area to look for Nyala. We got to the top of a plateau to do some glassing. We had a band of maybe 12 or 15 Mountain Reedbuck with 1 good ram. Greg lined up and took a shot. It was about 150 yards. Somehow something went wrong and it was a clean miss. They trotted thru the rocks and there was another shot opportunity at 255 yards. Greg took a shot as the ram was moving and unfortunately it looked like the shot was too far back. Sammy the tracker went to work and found some blood. They went over with the dog and after about an hour they found the ram and killed it. It was a fine ram and we made a trek around the valley with the truck to get closer to where it died.

    After lunch we went out to a spot where a Waterbuck was known to hang out. We found him straight away and Greg took a shot at 267 yards. The bull jumped hard to the right and we went to have a look. We found blood right away and started tracking. The shot was taken at about 3:30 and we looked until dark, almost 6. I saw them around 5 but couldn't get the gun on him in time to finish him. He was definitely hurt and we thought that he would stiffen up overnight and we would find him.

    The next morning the trackers, Glenn, Greg and Chris walked all over that mountain. They bumped him a few times but couldn't get to him because of the thick cover on the mountain side. For all I know he's still following his cows that were with him. We never did get him. That evening Glenn and I sat in a clearing watching 2 hillsides in case he was bumped to where we could get a shot. We didn't see a single animal that evening while sitting there.

    Just after the sun went behind the mountain Chris showed up and we went for a drive to look for a big Impala we had seen earlier that week. We found him and put a stalk on him. I killed him with a single shot in the boiler room at 140 yards. He feel like rock. While setting him up for pictures we spotted a Red Hartebeest bull standing on the firebreak. We put a quick stalk on him and I knocked him down with a single shot as well. He was kinda in a small copse of trees and the herd of impala that ran in obviously didn't know where the shot came from. Glenn was able to kill the biggest ram in the herd at under 100 yards. 3 animals in less than 20 minutes on the final evening. Again a Umdala. Heavy bases and one horn was worn down substantially. He was an old warrior way past his prime. He was all alone, likely kicked out of the rest of the herd. I am missing the pictures of my Impala but here is the Hartebeest and Glenn's Impala.

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    There was 4 of us hunting and I think we managed to take 28 animals of 13 different species. I have a picture here of the trophies from the final ranch. We forgot to get pictures from the first ranch in the hustle and bustle of moving camps. All in all we killed 5 Impala, 2 Nyala, 2 Gemsbok, 4 Blesbok, 1 Blue Wildebeest, 1 Black Wildebeest, 1 Duiker, 1 Kudu, 2 Red Hartebeest, 2 Eland, 4 Springbok, 2 Mountain Reedbuck and 2 Zebra.

    Here is a picture of the other Nyala that was taken by one of our group. I still don't think he knows how big this thing is. We told him it was a tank and he said ya the body was big. This old warrior was skin and bones. He likely wouldn't have survived another 2 months or so.

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    We saw literally thousands of animals and had an absolute blast. The food was amazing, the scenery was stunning and the weather for the most part was warm and sunny. What more could a guy ask for? I managed to drop 8 animals with 10 shots. I missed a running Warthog in the near dark and a wounded Blue Wildebeest in thick cover that was wounded by a hunter a few days previous to us being there. I killed a very fine Acacia tree while shooting at that Blue Wildebeest.

    I will be back. There is something about the allure of that continent that just gets in your soul. It can't be explained unless you have been there. Thanks again Chris if you are reading this. We had one of the most memorable times of our lives. Someone asked me last night what the best thing about the trip was and I just couldn't answer. It was all so great that I can't pick one thing. Hell I couldn't narrow it down to a top 3.
     
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  2. bellero

    bellero AH Veteran

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    Awesome report, congrats on all these nice trophies!
     
  3. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH Fanatic

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    Looks like you had a great trip. Africa tends to call us back.... Congrats on some fine trophies and good shooting. Thanks for taking the time to write it up. Bruce
     
  4. Johnny7604

    Johnny7604 BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Veteran

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    Great write up, and great trophies. Glad you had an awesome trip.

    Welcome back to Canada.

    John
     
  5. Nyati

    Nyati AH Legend

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    Congrats for a great hunt and some very nice trophies !

    Thanks for sharing.
     
  6. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Lots of luck involved in everyones hunt. You won some and you lost some as a group.

    It certainly is worth while looking around when you go that far around the world. I can not imagine going that far and only going to one property. Glad you had a bit of a look around.

    Glad to see the KZN Hunters Associations work has not been for not at Kameelkop.

    That Duiker is a monster and your buddy better have bought the beer that night after getting that Nyala.

    Thanks for sharing your hunting report. Well worth the read.
     
  7. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH Legend

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    Congrats and I concur, one of the best parts about hunting with Chris is all the awesome places he has to hunt! and a lot are as you said, low fence cattle or sheep ranches.

    The Duiker and Nyala are monsters! well done.
     
  8. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    Thanks for the right up! Nice animals, Chris runs a good operation!
     
  9. Wheels

    Wheels GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Congratulations on a great hunt. Thanks for sharing your story and photos.

    As has been said before, the duiker and nyala are toads!

    All the best.
     
  10. canoetrpr

    canoetrpr New Member

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    Fantastic report! Thank you.
     
  11. James.Grage

    James.Grage GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Great Report.

    Very nice story with pictures to go with it.

    Thank you for sharing.
     
  12. fvh40

    fvh40 AH Veteran

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    Thank you for sharing your report and pics.
    Congratulations to all hunters on some fine trophies.
    Well done Chris
     
  13. jpj3

    jpj3 AH Member

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    Hello Cowtown Guy,

    Sounds like you had a great hunt! The .375 is excellent for plains game in the bush veldt and in wider open country! I'm glad you had a great hunt in great country with good people!

    Best,

    jpj3
     
  14. bluey

    bluey GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    great hunt ,mate
    well done
    some nice trophies and a great time
    love that duiker.
    thanks for sharing your trip with us .
     
  15. adgunner

    adgunner SILVER SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    Thanks for taking the time to write up the report. Congratulations to all of you and welcome to Canada.
     
  16. CT Safaris

    CT Safaris AH Enthusiast

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    South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe Mozambique, USA
    Cowtownguy,

    I've just read this and want to thank you and the group for spending time with us. We had a great time hunting with you and are looking forward to doing so again soon.

    Cheers,

    Chris
     
  17. Cowtown guy

    Cowtown guy AH Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2011
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Calgary Alberta
    My Photos:
    5
    Member of:
    SCI Canada, Delta Waterfowl
    Hunted:
    Canada, United States, South Africa
    The pleasure was all ours Chris. Everything is and was very much appreciated.

    WE WILL BE BACK!
     
  18. Bobpuckett

    Bobpuckett GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2009
    Messages:
    3,975
    Likes Received:
    45
    Location:
    Russellville
    My Photos:
    27
    Member of:
    NAHC Life Member, NRA Life Member,SCI, Buckmasters
    Hunted:
    USA(from Coast to Coast and Alaska), Germany, South Africa, Canada
    Great Report and awesome tophies. Thanks for sharing your hunt and pics with us.
     

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