SOUTH AFRICA: Blaauwkrantz Safaris - "The best kudu hunting in the world"

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports' started by Scott Slough, Jul 19, 2014.

  1. Scott Slough

    Scott Slough AH Enthusiast

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    Hunt Report for a First-time safari July 4-11, 2014 with Blaauwkrantz Safaris -www.blaauwkrantz.com

    Are we there yet?

    After working an 8 hour day, I flew from Houston Intercontinental to London Heathrow for 9 hours, had a 10 hour layover, met my daughter who has been living in Spain for the past 11 months 20 minutes before boarding the flight, flew 11 hours from London to Cape Town SA, had 45 minutes to clear customs and security in Cape Town, 1 hour flight to Port Elizabeth, SA, and finally 1 hour drive to Blaauwkrantz Safaris, just North of Port Elizabeth. I started on Wednesday July 2 and arrived on Friday July 4 with virtually no sleep … so although it was three calendar days, it was really a single, really long day for me. There were only two things that made it bearable. Number one, I was able to meet my daughter, Kylee, in London. She graduated from the University of Texas last year and has been teaching English in Madrid Spain for the past year. Skype has been GREAT …but the hug was better. We booked the British Airways twin seats in the back and spread out to make the best we could of 11 hours with no sleep. The second was that we were actually in South Africa and I would be hunting kudu in the morning!!!!!

    Upon arriving at the lodge, we unloaded our bags, looked at mounts and pictures, tried glassing the ridge out back of the lodge for any African animals … anything to stay awake. Mercifully, Eric Daniell, my PH came by and introduced himself. We were planning to rent a car and drive the Garden Route to Cape Town after the safari, so I decided to hire a rifle. A couple of practice shots and a couple of minutes on the sticks and my PH was happy, so we took the last hour of daylight to drive around the farm where Eric was able to show us some kudu, impala, bushbuck, and duikers. I was amazed at what he was able to see and I am certain that he was amazed at how little I was able to see. We also discussed my expectations for the hunt. I had labored over the decision between a package hunt or the daily rate with a per animal harvested. I decided to do one of the packages and ultimately decided on a spiral horn package consisting of a kudu, nyala, and bushbuck rather than one of the packages with a few more animals. It was actually an easy decision as the kudu and nyala were 1 and 1A on my personal wish list and the bushbuck seemed like the perfect animal to fill out the list. We went back to the lodge, met the other hunters in camp, and had an amazing braai with all of the Rudman family. Somehow, I managed to stay up until 9 pm and crashed … tired but with dreams of Kudu, I slept like a REALLY tired baby!!!!

    Day 1

    Apparently I was tired from the flight and had a little difficulty getting up in the morning, but managed to make grab a quick breakfast, meet our tracker Jumbo, and make it out at first light. We drove a short distance to a large valley just minutes from the lodge. As we drove up the South ridge, we saw a good blue wildebeest in the valley floor in a group of 10 or so mixed blue wildebeest and zebra. Did a short hike to advantage point and glassed a valley for bush buck in a slight rain. No luck. Drove to a second location, impala on the way. Hiked about a half mile down road then cut through the brush to a vantage point for another valley. Saw a young kudu bull, an almost good enough kudu bull broadside a 100 yard, a small bushbuck doe and ram and a small nyala ram with doe. Hiking back to the truck Jumbo spotted a really nice kudu bull on the ridge across the valley. We were in thick brush and the bull was in thicker brush. After Eric and Jumbo were able to finally get me set up on the sticks, I passed on the shot as it was 225 yards and quartering to us. We tried to get close and just as we set up, he took off over the ridge. Jumbo also spotted a nice bushbuck further on toward the truck. We stalked him, lost him, went back toward the road, spotted him again, stalked him again, and decided he wasn’t large enough anyway.

    We spotted a nice herd of blue wildebeast with two good bulls on the hike back to the truck. Drove a couple ridges and glassed with no real luck. Got the call to go help load a 40 inch Cape Buffalo harvested by another hunter in camp, Mike, because Eric had the only truck with a winch. You can watch all of the hunting shows you want and never really get an idea about how big a Cape Buffalalo, but grab hold of a hindquarter with 15 of our new best friends and you will find out how truly MASSIVE they are … I want one!!!!! We dropped the buffalo off at the skinning shed and went back to camp for lunch. Kylee went out with us after lunch. Repeated the hiking roads and ridges with lots of game spotted, impala, duiker, blue wildebeest, zebra, nyala does and one small bull. Went to an overlook where we had 7 kudu bulls, one almost shooter and one shooter who disappeared and 5 or 6 kudu cows.

    No shots fired, but a great first day.

    Day 2

    We started early, and spent the early morning glassing east-facing ridges looking for game and later in the morning started focusing on deeper valleys as the sun reached the bottoms. Every time Eric said this was a good spot for bushbuck we would see nyala or kudu, when it was a good nyala spot, we would see kudu and bushbuck … it looked like they had more in common than just spiral horns. As we drove across the back section of the farm we saw several nice warthogs, spring buck, a group of running meerkats, and a mongoose.

    After lunch, Andrew, the camp manager and back-up guide, joined us and we went to the far back side of the farm. Jumbo spotted a nice bushbuck at over 500 yards and we put a stalk on it. As we worked down the ridge, we saw female nyala, warthogs … but no bush buck ram, even with Andrew and Kylee staying on the ridge serving as spotters from the high rack. We were discussing calling Andrew to bring the truck down when Eric spotted a kudu over a half a mile away. When he saw it, his body dropped a bit and he immediately said nice bull, glanced once in his binoculars and said shooter over his shoulder as he took off. We didn’t necessarily run, but I am certain we would have been eliminated from the Olympic race walking competition by the Russian and Cuban judges for a violation or two that coalesced into a crouched lope. All this time, I hadn’t even seen the kudu. But he was quickly below a ridge and we were able to cross a fairly open area in good time without the need to hide. Once we topped the ridge, I was able to see the kudu for the first time … I immediately understood why some of the marginal kudu we had seen earlier were not up to Blaauwkrantz shooters. We did our best not to skyline ourselves as we crossed ridge, but he saw and he was bluffing to take off, so I was forced to take a long shot or let him go. Eric told me to hold ¾ up on the shoulder – I should have realized how long it was if I needed a holdover, but he was huge and in an open spot, so I steadied myself and took the shot. Fortunately, it was a clean miss. We saw him cross over the ridge through a small opening and Jumbo was able to go to the spot and track him down the next ridge with no blood and was able to spot him crashing up the next ridge. At least it was a clean mix. Only after I shot, Eric told me it was 325 yards off the sticks … he sure had a lot of confidence after seeing me shoot twice from the bench rest to check the rifle.

    I was clearly a little down, but less than an hour later I would get my reprieve. We had three bulls at 200 yards, one who was clearly the dominate bull bossing the other two bulls around. He had a beautiful dark mane, a huge neck, wide horns with excellent mass. One of the younger bulls was probably a little longer, but he was the old, boss bull and EXACTLY what I was looking for. We were able to stalk to 150 yards and I made a perfect first shot, low into the front shoulder. He ran about 30 yards and I shot him perfectly in the opposite shoulder. I would have been happy with any animal, but I was especially happy that my first African animal was a kudu – my kudu. I know there are bigger kudu, but certainly not better kudu!
     

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  2. Scott Slough

    Scott Slough AH Enthusiast

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    Day 3

    Eric, our PH, arrived “wearing everything he owned” on the coldest day of the season so far. There was a heavy frost, with clear skies. Against every instinct that I have as a whitetail hunter, we waiting a bit so the sun would be high enough to shine directly on a specific east-facing slope that Eric told us always held bushbuck. As we pulled up, we could spot warthog, impala, nyala females, and two kudu females. As we eased out of the truck, Jumbo gave a low whistle and started talking to Eric in Africans … always a good sign. Eric glanced at the bushbuck in his binoculars for a few seconds and told me “that is your bushbuck”. We quietly, but quickly hustled down the slope closing the distance to about 200 yards and I got my first chance to look at the bushbuck in my binoculars. He was moving right to left down the slope paralleling the sun/shadow line. As he stepped into a thick patch of bush, we started moving further down and to the left bumping two kudu females. One went on each side of the brush with our bushbuck, so I got on the sticks assuming that he would move out with the kudu. He did not, he simply waited for them to clear and continued on his original path. After clearing another small patch of bush, he stopped slightly quartering to us and I made a 170 shoot into the front portion of his onside shoulder, exiting in the middle of his back shoulder. He still ran about 30 yards and I had to take a frontal finishing shot as he lay on the ground with his head up. It all took less than 10 minutes from the time that we first started getting out of the truck. Clearly, Eric made the right call on waiting a few extra minutes in the warm lodge.

    After taking photos in two spots, Jumbo field dressed the bushbuck and we moved on to look for nyala. We went through three gates and as we were about to go through the fourth, Eric said we would park and walk down the fence line before crossing over to a ridge to look into a small valley that typically had good number of nyala. As we were waiting for Jumbo to open the gate, a mature nyala stepped into the road adjacent to the fence line 400+ yards down. We piled out of the truck and stalked parallel to the road/fence line checking on the nyala as we went. He jumped the fence well before we were in range, but Eric was able to determine that he was a shooter. As we got to where he crossed, we were able to spot him going up the ridge at just less than 200 yards. He crossed into two open spots, but never presented a clear shot … he was either facing away or when he turned, he turned into a bush blocking his vitals.

    We followed him into the valley that we were originally going to check and never located him. We were able to find almost 20 kudu … all highlighted by the morning sun. It was a very good photo opportunity and allowed Kylee to really get to see a larger group of kudu gradually “appear” from the heavy brush.

    After lunch and a break, we headed to the southern part of the property to glass a large river valley for nyala. We spotted 4 nyala and one marginal shooter … about 25 inches but very narrow with no “bell shape”, so we backed out and went about a mile up the valley to a new vantage point. As we approached the overlook, Jumbo whistled and said “big kudu”. He and Eric started talking very excitedly in Africans. Eric showed me the bull at about 600 or 700 yards. Eric glanced through the binoculars and told me that we were going to shoot this bull. I had told him that I would shoot a second kudu after I finished my package or if we saw a really big one … he was really big!

    The kudu bull was headed toward a dry river valley and we discussed trying to get down off the semi-cliff or waiting, but there were a number of animals between us and the kudu and our chances at getting past them seemed less than the bull feeding into range. We waited. Eric was able to confirm that the bull did turn toward us, so he sent Jumbo back to the truck to get a smaller set of sticks for a sitting shot. I set up on the largest opening between us and the bull at about 300 yards … and when I say largest, it was a two kudu bull wide opening. He went past the first opening. I then moved to the larger sticks and set up on the second, one-kudu wide opening. He went past that opening. I moved back to the small sticks for the last, one-kudu wide opening and he disappeared. Not that we was ever really visible, but even Eric and Jumbo lost him. I moved back to the large sticks in case he reappeared. Finally, there was some movement in the brush just 120 yards below us. Eric couldn’t see him but told me that was a favorite bush for the kudu to feed on and to be ready. Finally, we got a glimpse of one of his horns and that of a second bull. After what seemed like an eternity, I had enough of one of the bulls in the scope to shoot, but we couldn’t identify which one it was. He took one more step and somehow found the fourth and finale one-half kudu wide opening and Eric confirmed that it was the right bull and I made a perfect downward shot, hitting him high on the shoulder passing through the heart and exiting just under the front shoulder. Jumbo and Eric started celebrating in Africans … I kept asking “are you sure it was the right one?” All-the-while, a troupe of monkeys who had already bedded down for the evening were screaming and Kylee was asking if I got him because he disappeared and neither one of us understood what Eric and Jumbo were saying. Suddenly Jumbo took off almost straight down the semi-cliff. He was able to get to the bottom with relative ease and immediately found the bull less than 10 feet from where I shot him and confirmed that it was the right one. Eric, Kylee and I celebrated all the way back to the truck and continued as we drove around to the bull. Eric had been happy with all of my other animals, but I could tell that it was a special animal just by his enthusiasm. We had to cut down a cross fence and do some off-road driving to get to about 100 yards of the bull. Jumbo appeared out of the brush and guided us as close to him as we could get. I nearly broke my leg trying to get across the dry river bed to see my kudu. He was huge! We used a special tarp to slide him out to try and get pictures before it turned dark. Ultimately, we got it across the river and to the truck. I did my best to do some walking prior to going to Africa, I should have done some weight lifting … we broke the wench on Eric’s truck loading another hunter’s Cape Buffalo earlier in the week … so we had to drag this massive animal through the woods and then load him into the truck. Once we got him loaded up, we drove him back to the lodge. Normally, we just carried animals to the skinning shed, so when Eric backed in, it was a clue to the other hunters that we had gotten something nice. All of the PHs, clients, and even some family guests came out to admire my kudu and take pictures. We took a few more pictures in the truck and moved set him up just behind the lodge for photos first thing in the morning. The best part of the photo session was we had three extra hands to help load him up afterwards.

    Day 4

    While we were at the skinning shed, we got to check out Mike’s gemsbuck and show off a little more to the skinners and butchers. With the photos done, we checked the area where we had seen the really nice nyala the day before and did not see anything interesting. Right before lunch we did a quick check of the same dry river valley about a half a mile from where I shot my big kudu where we had seen 4 nyala previously. We saw 3 nyala with one, almost shooter.

    In the afternoon, Kylee went on an excursion and we hunted a small valley with a dry water hole. Jumbo stayed on one hill watching both ways along the road/fence line and Eric and I went to the next hill and did the same. We saw numerous kudu male and female, brown duikers, three non-shooter nyala and a host of warthogs … how do warthogs get into their holes? ... they back in …. I have a grainy video on my cell phone to prove it :)!
     

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  3. Royal27

    Royal27 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    I'm so ready to go. Reading stories like this is making it even tougher!
     
  4. Scott Slough

    Scott Slough AH Enthusiast

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    Day 4

    While we were at the skinning shed, we got to check out Mike’s gemsbuck and show off a little more to the skinners and butchers. With the photos done, we checked the area where we had seen the really nice nyala the day before and did not see anything interesting. Right before lunch we did a quick check of the same dry river valley about a half a mile from where I shot my big kudu where we had seen 4 nyala previously. We saw 3 nyala with one, almost shooter. .
    In the afternoon, Kylee went on an excursion and we hunted a small valley with a dry water hole. Jumbo stayed on one hill watching both ways along the road/fence line and Eric and I went to the next hill and did the same. We saw numerous kudu male and female, brown duikers, three non-shooter nyala and a host of warthogs … how do warthogs get into their holes? … they back in …. I have a grainy video on my cell phone to prove it J!
    Day 5
    Started the day glassing our favorite dry river vally. Jumbo had seen a couple of mature nyala on the way into the area but had not seen horns. We spotted the same almost shooter and Eric decided to walk the long way around to look in the general vicinity of where Jumbo had seen the nyala as we came in. As Eric walked around a large bush, I was staring at a mature nyala at about 80 yards. I tried the Jumbo whistle and came up totally dry. Eric rounded the bush, saw the nyala and put the sticks down. I set the rifle on the sticks as Eric was checking the nyala in his binos. He whispered shoot as I was clicking off the safety and took the shot. Kylee was still coming around the bush and didn’t know that we had even seen anything. The hunting part of my safari was done!
     

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  5. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH Legend

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    Yep, you had to shoot that 2nd kudu or you'd have regretted not taking him for a long time!
     
  6. Royal27

    Royal27 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    I really like the Nuala and how cool that you saw him first. :)
     
  7. Scott Slough

    Scott Slough AH Enthusiast

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    Royal27 ... thanks, I really enjoyed seeing the nyala first as well. I never looked at him through the binoculars. In my mind, I was already processing that this was MY nyala and that he was a shooter. I am glad that Eric said "shoot" ... because I was in shooting mode and it would have been tough not to shoot.
     
  8. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Great report.
    I can see why your PH and tracker were a little excited.
    Congratulations on your very successful hunt.
     
  9. Sand Rat

    Sand Rat AH Veteran

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    That second kudu is a Hoss!
     
  10. Royal27

    Royal27 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    That definitely adds a memory that money simply can't buy! :)
     
  11. Scott Slough

    Scott Slough AH Enthusiast

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    Phil,

    I really couldn't believe how well it worked, this was almost perfect to the script. I always had an extra kudu or maybe a blue wildebeest in the budget AFTER I finished up my package. I only had to see the first almost shooter kudu that first morning to know that it was going to be a second kudu. When my PH and I were discussing what kind of kudu I wanted ... my first answer was ginormous ... I told him that I wanted an old, dark-maned wide bull. He laughed and told me that was what every hunter wanted. He then showed me three different bulls in the lodge and asked me which I thought was biggest. I picked the widest, which he knew I would and then he told me that the widest was the smallest of the three and that the two narrower bulls had deeper curls and showed me the classic "hour glass" on the largest and narrowest.

    I told him I appreciated the point, but that I would still shoot the wide one if they all three came out and then he could just find me a second narrow one that I could mount side by side in my den so I could retell the story. We did almost EXACTLY that! There were three bulls in the field and it was clear that my wide, old bull was the dominant bull, even as Eric assured me that the younger narrow bull was slightly larger. It turns out he was exactly right on everything. My bull was so old that when we checked his front teeth, one of them fell out. He measured 47 inches for the longest beam and 114 inches SCI. Two days later another hunter took the narrower bull who measured slightly longer (I didn't get the exact score).

    In the bask of killing the first bull, I uncharacteristically popped off and told Eric that I would gladly shoot the next top 5 kudu that we saw and that if he was a little bigger than the one in the lodge that would be OK! Those kinds of statements ALWAYS come back to bite me in the arse. But not this time!!!! It Eric and Jumbo less than 24 hours to find a 51 inch (121 inches SCI) bull.
     
  12. Nyati

    Nyati AH Legend

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    Congrats Scott, for a great hunt you had the opportunity to share with your daughter, and some very nice trophies !
     
  13. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    Congrats Scott, great report, I've the hunting is great at Blaauwkrantz Safaris!
     
  14. Royal27

    Royal27 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Scott,

    I can see it is going to take you a while to calm down!!! :) The excitement that you are demonstrating is why we are all here, or most of us anyway, and it is contagious for sure!!!

    Kudu is the one animal I can think of that I've never cared about the width of the horns. I've always wanted one just like that second one you got. But, that being said, I think you have the right idea here. TAKE TWO!!!
     
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  15. Scott Slough

    Scott Slough AH Enthusiast

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    Besides just the joy of getting to share the "once-in-a-lifetime" hunt with my daughter ... she was able to catch a number of candid photos that I would have never gotten without her there on a daily basis. I will post in individual replies:

    1) Point of impact for the second shot for my first African animal. It is a little blurry as she was using the burst mode and it autofocused on the bush in front.
     

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  16. Scott Slough

    Scott Slough AH Enthusiast

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    2) I was able to travel half-way around the world and find the one kudu wearing my school colors!! (first African animal!)
     

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  17. Scott Slough

    Scott Slough AH Enthusiast

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    3) I don't know if this happens to you, but in the haste to get set up for photos before it got dark, I wasn't really sure that he was as big as I thought ... so I did a quick peek :)!
     

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  18. Scott Slough

    Scott Slough AH Enthusiast

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    4) Perhaps my favorite picture from the trip ... while we were waiting/hoping for the kudu to reappear in shooting range, my daughter took a picture of a cactus framed by the mountains in the background and captured the spot where we first saw the kudu, his path, and ultimately where he was shot!
     

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  19. Scott Slough

    Scott Slough AH Enthusiast

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    5) As the follow-up to 4 ... we had to drag the biggest animal I had ever shot about 100 yards to cross the dry creek bed with the special tarp to the lower right of the photo (had a special pocket for the head etc. to protect the cape -- really cool!!!). I did a good bit of walking before Africa, but not any weightlifting! As you can see the adrenaline is wearing off and I am sucking wind ... along with another peek to see if he is really as big as I think he is!!!
     

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  20. ArmyGrunt

    ArmyGrunt AH Enthusiast

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    Contagious, indeed! I'm at 59 days now. I hope I can have some stories similar to yous! Well done, sir.

    maybe I should save the zebra I'm adding to my package deal for last, in case we find a behemoth like that.
     

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