OUTFITTER & PH: TREVOR LAKE COMPANY: LAKE SAFARIS Web: www.lakesafaris.co.za E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Location: Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa Rifle: Ruger M77 .338 Win Mag Ammo: Barnes 225gr. Trophy’s Hunted: 1. Blesbuck 2. Southern Reedbuck 3. Waterbuck 4. Red (Cape) Hartebeest 5. Black Wildebeest 6. Cape Bushbuck Weather: Cool night and warm days. Area was very dry for the start of August this year. There was a light rain two evenings. Camp: Varied from homely and comfortable with great home style food and hospitality, to upmarket lodges and 5 star accommodations as my wife would say. We set up in camp #2 and went looking the area over to see what was available for us to have a go at. As much as Blesbuck was not very high on the list as I had one from a previous trip, we spotted a very nice large wide horned Blesbuck. Trevor and I note how good he is and we move on. We go about a half- mile when Trevor turns around to drive back for a better look at the Blesbuck and says this is an exceptional animal. Well you guessed it, the small group of six joined a bigger group of about 100 Blesbuck and they were leaving at a fast pace. Just 30 minutes prior I could have got this animal without any fuss at all! Several hours later the group of Blesbuck that we suspect our big Ram to be part of are out on short grass. We stalk around to a rock ledge and after glassing for a while and we spot the big Ram. It is 380 yards away, using our range finder. Trevor wanted to know if I could make the shot from our vantage point and I indicated that I would like to get closer. A plan is put together and off we hike, leaving the 2 trackers behind with a radio to guide us on our way. As we make a stalk the distance closed to 300 yards than 200 yards and we near 100 yards with no shot due to the scrubby cover that we were using. We work our way to 60 yards and we have to wait on the animals providing an open lane to our target. After about 30 minutes, a lane opens and closes as the herd is starting to move off to our left. Darn you say there is an open hole then it closes again! Then opens, the animals swap, then closes. Well you get the picture, I muff the 60 yard broad side shot and the herd is gone. We try again all afternoon to no avail. Blesbuck hunting which is often pretty easy had suddenly become a real challenge as we both had the imprint of this fine animal on our minds. You know the saying the big one always gets away…. The next morning we have a few hours to hunt before we move to our next camp. Trevor suggests we go back to where we started the previous day as he has a feeling the big Blesbuck Ram will be back there. This time we were better prepared and there was no delay. Trevor spotted the Ram immediately and it was very close to where we had initially found him the previous morning. A quick stalk to 120 yards and I had taken “my nemeses” from the previous day, a truly great Blesbuck trophy in the 17 inch class and very impressively wide. Not the typical Blesbuck Ram by far! Picture of 17 “ Blesbuck. We move to our 3rd base camp on our schedule. Camp is already set up and we place our trackers around the area being our eyes and ears in locating game. We spot Waterbuck but mostly younger Bulls, some nice Blesbuck and Impala, Reedbuck, Zebra and a few young Kudu Bulls. In the afternoon Trevor leaves his trackers to glass for a big Kudu he was after and we head out to various local farmers in search of Reedbuck. They have been eating in the newly planted grain fields within one hour of sunset. There are many fields to look at. Reedbuck can be tough to get as they have similar behavior to Whitetail. They lie up in tall grass and don’t move and generally come out early morning and just before sunset. The high grass (about 4 feet tall) is good cover for these animals. We are early in the afternoon and we are now spotting the odd Ewe and then two black horns in the long grass. But nothing big enough to get serious about. As dusk is approaching the Reedbuck start to pop up all over the place!. Amazing how they appear from nowhere! Now we are parked at vantage point so we can observe more than one field for the last 45 minutes of daylight. Trevor spots a nice Ram and we make a move on it. The Reedbuck’s are not very skittish as Lake is the only PH who hunts these farms which for your information also free range. We are able move within 80 yards of a very nice Reedbuck. I am given the ‘can you make the shot’ and I say I can and am given the thumbs up to take the shot when ready. I shoot the Reedbuck and it goes down as if it was hit with a pole axe. As we approach a large Reedbuck jumps up and runs off. If I was not told to hold off I would have taken him too as I was sure it was mine. Luckily Trevor made a quick call or else I would have had two for sure Picture of 15” + Free Range Reedbuck The next morning we are up early and want to take a look for Waterbuck. We have seen numerous different Bulls in the past days and some of them looked great to me! But I was never given the heads up by Trevor. A local hunter and friend of Trevor recently hunted a broken horn Bull that went 33” on the one horn. We are looking at Waterbuck in three different areas and each area has some good ones to take a second look at. There is a fine line between good and the next level up. The Waterbucks are not running off when they see people on foot and we can move in to have a better look at the Waterbucks requiring a second look, most times. It was clear to me that Lake had not overhunted his area. We found a bachelor group of Bulls, around 20 altogether which is spectacular to see. Trevor points out that mostly in these bachelor groups it will consist of younger Bulls but always worth looking at twice to see if there is something better. As luck would have it we find two old Bulls in the group and after much careful studying Trevor picks one of the two out for me and I can clearly see he is bigger than what I already have. The trackers and Trevor indicate that the left Bull is the better of the 2 old Bulls by about one inch. He has great shape and thick horns and that is the one we go after. We close to about 75 yards and I am given the OK to shoot when the shooting lane opens up that there is no additional animals behind the animal we are looking to shoot. I took my time and had a nice broadside shot. Trevor always warns me to be careful on the easy shots as those are the ones where the most mistakes are made. My shot was true and the Bull went down within 50 yards. A true trophy. 29” on length and really heavy. I was really pleased with this one! Picture of 29” + Waterbuck The next animal on my list was Red Hartebeest. We are looking for something different from my first Red Hartebeest which I hunted in 2012. So we want to try and get a bull that has mass to it horns. I have one on the wall that has long horns, but not real heavy. We are on a huge ranch looking over about 100 or more Red Hartebeest all in scattered groups, and there are many nice bulls to have a second look at. We spot a very long measuring Bull and I decide to pass on it as its horns are similar to the one on my wall. Later in the day we find 5 old Bulls in the open together that have better mass to their horns. As we tried to stalk them a Waterbuck gave us away and then it was a case of “ now where did they go, they were in the open about two hours ago, providing an easy shot at that time. Now we have to go find them, they could be anywhere south of camp, and probably in the thick brush”. As you are probably guessing they played Houdini and just disappeared. The next day we spot these 5 Red Hartebeest bulls and Mr. Magic Trevor lays out a line to close the gap with the Bulls. I am looking at a nice Bull on the left and Trevor is looking at a nice Bull on the right. Both bulls are very nice and after a team discussion we go after the right Red Hartebeest Bull. An 80 yard shot and the Hartebeest goes down. Trevor noted on how big his body was. Normally once dressed out they weigh about 185 pounds. This one weighed 260 pounds Picture of Old Red Hartebeest Bull. The next day we move camps again to hunt for Black Wildebeest. The Black Wildebeest permit is for a specific ranch, the same as for Southern/Common Reedbuck. We are out looking at many herds of Black Wildebeest and have been glassing, single bulls and small herds of bulls looking for an old animal with good solid bosses. This is becoming more difficult than I thought. The silly Blesbuck’s were getting everything moving on the plains as they always do. Once Black Wildebeest run they do not stop for a long while and get harder to get every time you push them. You guessed it, Trevor spots a group on the other side of the moon to make a stalk on as they were settled and grazing and there was a good tree line going up a mountain and a donga (canyon) which would give us cover. Game plan, we leave the vehicle on the road and will walk this finger draw up the mountain to close the gap with 3 different herds of Black Wildebeest. They look like fly specs to me on the hill side. Off we go and about a quarter mile in, Trevor calls the tracker at the vehicle to bring his binoculars to him. Trevor does not normally forget things but I had him on this one Rest time! Off we go again after the tracker shows up and delivers the binoculars. We go into the draw and continue up the draw climbing over dead falls and boulders. We are becoming brilliant in our out of sight approach and closing the gap on the three different herds of Black Wildebeest! Much to Trevor’s delight our stalk ends up into a box canyon. Great for cover but not so good for my ageing body. Anyway he is happy so I am happy too Now we move down the ditch to try and find a way out of it. Trevor finds a rout up the side; I am thinking that I may need a helicopter to get me out of this canyon. I am able to make it part way up and hand my rifle to Trevor and then using six point of contact I am able to climb to the top. We went from the frying pan to the fire on that move. We have Zebra and Blesbuck about 30 yards away and we cannot move until they feed away. That was OK with me as I am able to catch my breath and rest up for our next approach Trevor has planned. Where we exited the box canyon, we had only one herd of Black Wildebeest in sight and there was a great old Bull grazing on the edge of the herd at 210 yards. We had to stay well hidden as we still had the Zebra and Blesbuck close by, and some camo face netting that Trevor had carried came in real handy. We set up for the shot from the edge of our tree line using a tree as a dead rest. Once again Trevor asked me if I was steady and could I make the shot. He also told me to wait for a good broadside as the animals were relaxed and time was on our side. Not long after that the Bull grazed broadside to me and I took him in the heart. He ran back into the herd and went down. The others did not know what had happened and continued to graze. This was a tough stalk but most enjoyable! Picture of Black Wildebeest. The end of my trip was close and we had one more camp to visit to try for Bush Pig and Bushbuck before I had to head home. Trevor is mad about hunting Bush Pigs and has become quite successful at it. Some of these can be seen under the Bush Pig section of his website www.lakesafaris.co.za He had been Baiting the pigs for me for several months and they were coming almost every night. I think by now I had used up all my good luck as the first night we sat with great expectancy until 10pm with no activity. On the second night as we drove to the blind at 5:15pm in broad daylight, we found three large pigs on the bait which is very rare as they normally always show up after dark. They moved off into the bush and we went into our stand convinced they would return shortly. Anyway 10pm again and no luck!! The time spent looking for a nice Bushbuck, was not for the faint hearted. We drove and glassed hill sides and valleys. We would spot a ram and make a stalk to get a better view. This was an ongoing situation. Glassing and moving to get closer for a better view. I asked Trevor about using a spotting scope for a better view. He had used one in the past; however he finds that he can make a better view and judgment with his binoculars being within a reasonable distance. Plus if the animal is determined to be a shooter, the client is in position and can make the shot if it is available. Using the spotting scope the animal could turn and walk off never to be seen again. We drove and glassed for Bushbuck and finally found a decent Ram right at dusk on the last evening. We were out of time and this was my last chance as the next morning it was back to the airport. And with this animal my 2014 Safari came to an end. I am already looking forward to the next one with Lake Safaris! Picture of BushBuck Picture of Skulls …….more to follow on this safari hunt, stay tuned! Did anyone mention a monster Kudu Bull ??