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!