SOUTH AFRICA: My Hunt With Koedoeberg Safaris, SA

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports' started by JGRaider, May 24, 2013.

  1. JGRaider

    JGRaider AH Veteran

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    I've recovered enough to start with telling you good folks about my hunt, an experience I cannot hardly put into words. I'm going to take a page out of dvdgeorge's book and post it a day at a time. My goal is to do great justice to what I've experienced. I have a tough time with that usually, as somewhere between my brain and my fingers on the keyboard, my thoughts tend to get lost. I'll apologize for that up front, but I'll do my best. I felt I was well prepared, due in a large part to the advice I received here. I'm grateful for that still. Even at that, I don't see how a virgin African hunter can be prepared to soak in all that Africa has to offer, and I realize I've only gotten a small glimpse of it. However, what I did see and experience was almost overwhelming. Anyway, enough of that.

    Here is the headquarters for our hunt. A small ranch house accomodation that was right up my alley. The only sounds you could here at night were the sounds of Africa itself.

    P1000300.jpg

    First thing in the morning, we grabbed the usual hot coffee and carried it out into the front yard, accompanied by our binoculars. You can see the hill in back of the house in the pic. It was a crisp 40*, and the sun would rise and shine on this hill. Various game was busy soaking up the warming rays of first light. From the yard we spotted zebra, a couple of oryx, a small band of female and juvenile waterbuck, and a herd of about 20 blue wildebeast. This scenario had me shaking my head already, a full 15 minutes into my hunt. The coffee went down smoothly in spite of the perpetual smile that was on my face. The PH summoned me to the gun vault.......

    I immediately saw a Ruger M77 in the vault. I hoped it was, and it turned out to be, a 30-06. I also spied a box of '06 cartridges topped with 180 gr partitions. I was smiling again and headed the the range in back of the house to check zero. It turned out to be easy, with the first three shots into a 1" cluster, dead on at 100 yds.........still smiling! We walked back around to the front of the house, and looked out across an approximately 30 acre "no hunting zone" located immediately out in front of the house.........

    P1000456.jpg

    We then loaded up into the truck (bakke?), intending to get the lay of the land and see what we could see. During the morning ride I got my first glimpse of a kudu bull, cows and calves, blesbok, and a few more wildebeast. The game was abundant, but in the words of our PH's, "very clever". I agreed, as even if I would have seen something big enough to shoot, I had no chance at any of them. The beauty of a kudu bull blew my mind. We saw two 46" bulls together, and I was in awe of their beauty and ability to hide. I felt I could stare at these animals all day long if they let me........

    P1000323.JPG

    That afternoon was more of the same. Lots of animals, clever ones, and not a real big "anything". We eventually ran into a nice herd of red hartebeest. There was a shooter in the bunch. Yes, I was very excited, like a little kid, I readily admit it. We stalked to within range of a group of 4 rams. Luckily there was a dead branch of an umbrella tree handy so I made my way for it. The PH pointed out what he determined was a very good ram and the '06 barked. The herd took off, all 4 of them! I cycled the bolt, but a follow up was not necessary. The ram fell after a 40 yard sprint. My first African animal was down, headed "to the salt", and I was ecstatic!

    P1000304.jpg

    I'm well aware that this is not the "ram of all rams", or anything like that. However, he was my ram, and I was more than thrilled. In fact, you will see after all my animals are posted that none of them are the "ram of rams".

    A short time later, I was treated to my first African sunset, a beautiful experience in itself. Back under the veranda, a batch of chicken rested on a rack above glowing coals, at that time I was introduced to another one of life's simple pleasures.......Castle beer.

    Obviously I do not know how to make my pics bigger. Any help with this is appreciated. I'll get on with Day 2 when I figure this out.
     
  2. BnC 04

    BnC 04 TITANIUM SUPPORTER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    Outstanding start, keep it coming..:popcorn:
     
  3. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Looking good so far, as bnc04 said.... keep it coming.
     
  4. JGRaider

    JGRaider AH Veteran

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    Day 2

    The question was asked and I forgot to post it up front, but we hunted with Koedoeberg Safaris near the town of Groot Marico in the NW Province of SA. PH's were Reinier and Ricus Swart, and an apprentice named Monet. Great people, very knowledgable, and it turns out that Reinier had guided people all over much of Africa, and has been a PH since 1983. He was phenomenal at judging game, thank goodness, since we had never laid eyes on any of this stuff.

    Day 2 started much the same as the first day, without the range session. Once again we started with coffee on the veranda, and with binoculars viewing the hills behind us and spotting some game. We crawled into the truck and very quickly realized there were lots of blesbok around....

    P1000302.jpg

    I had no real interest for some reason in shooting one, as I was more intrigued by the beautiful impala, but my buddy Zac did. Zac has been one of my best buddy's since 1980, as that's when we became college baseball teammates. By mid morning he pulled the trigger on his first African animal. We're told this is a very good example of a big blesbok ram.....

    P1000352.jpg

    So now that Zac had one in the salt, we again began to make our way slowly around the 10,000 acre Tala Manzi ranch, just soaking it all in.......

    P1000347.jpg

    Zac now had his bow in his hands, and wanted to put a stalk on the blue wildebeest. They were very wild natured, and didn't really ever stick around long, especially when we got on the ground out of the truck and started walking. Zac got within 80 yards a couple of times, but not close enough to do any damage.

    P1000442.JPG

    After returning to the camp for a good brunch, we headed out for the afternoon hunt. Zac decided he wanted to spend the rest of the day around a water hole with his bow, and I really wanted to roam around the mountains a bit, trying to spot and stalk from the ground. I am better suited to this type of hunting, as the flat and low bush veld was a real challenge for this West Texas boy.....out of my comfort zone if you will. I couldn't see more than 50-75 yards lots of the time in that stuff. I did manage to sneak within range of a very nice kudu bull. The PH said it was a very nice one, but it was early and we were seeing a few with cows, so we decided to pass. We also stumbled upon a herd of about 10 zebra, so with great anticipation and my very low patience, we diverted our attention to them. I felt like this was a done deal, as they had no clue we were in the neighborhood. Unfortunately a small band of unseen blesbok spooked, snorted, and fouled up the whole deal. You guys that have hunted there know how loud these spooked blesbok can be. I finished my afternoon hunt with no animals taken, but I also added a duiker, steenbok, and mountain reedbuck to the list of animals seen that afternoon. During the afternoon's pursuits, I had also become aware of a very irritating sound coming from the trees. Every time I approached our quarry, it seemed, this persistent critter squawked and seemed to intentionally alert every freaking thing on the mountain......

    P1000455.JPG

    The "Go Away" bird was a royal PITA, but was still interesting. I still had to smile....I was having the time of my life. Meanwhile at the water hole, Zac had some blue wildebeest cows and a few zebra within 75 yards of his location. His arrow was nocked, and he said he had decided to try and take whichever offered the best shot.....the wind was perfect he said. For some reason the animals were very nervous. He knew they had no idea of his presence, but something was strange. Zac looked to his right, and a large female leopard came stalking into view. She laid up in a small patch of brush not more than 20 yards from him and his PH for about 20 minutes, both nervous as hell. The PH did have a Steyr 30-06 handy just in case, but no permits, so all they could do was watch. The female eventually became interested in one of the numerous flocks of guinea fowl that were ever present, and chased them off into the bush, never to be seen again by our party. They were very nervous about leaving the blind for obvious reasons so they radio'ed us and we drove up to the hide and picked them up. We didn't understand why we had to do that until they told us their story. We then totally understood!

    Upon arrival at camp, we told our stories, watched the stars, listened to the many wild sound that can only be heard after an African sunset. Zac and I just sat there and grinned. Only one animal was taken that day, along with many memories neither of us would ever forget. The PH's then introduced us to another of life's simple pleasures, this time Black Label beer. We were two of the luckiest guys on the planet.
     
  5. Wheels

    Wheels GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    JG, loving your report. Looking forward to the rest.
     
  6. shanecfi

    shanecfi New Member

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    JG,

    Great post, keep them coming. My best friend and I start our hunt next Thursday with Koedeoburg. This is making the wait that much harder! Thanks for taking the time to keep us all informed!

    Shane B.
     
  7. Badger Matt

    Badger Matt AH Member

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    Wonderful report. Keep 'em coming. I'm down to less than a month before my first trip and excited as a little kid awaiting Christmas.
     
  8. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    You sure were getting the whole experience.
    Go Away birds, blown stalks, flighty critters, beer and coffee.
    Not a canned hunt by any stretch.

    Damn I hope he got some pictures of that Leopard.
    You have to have a camera ready at all times.

    No, you don't have to kill the "biggest" to have a great hunt.
    You can sure tell you were having a great time.
     
  9. Bobpuckett

    Bobpuckett GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Castle beer man you've hit the good times. Sorry continue on great start.
     
  10. Bobpuckett

    Bobpuckett GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Great pics JG and that Blesbok is a nice one Congrats to your buddy and thanks for posting this is just what I needed a quik fix til Deb and I fly on Wen. keep it coming.
     
  11. 35bore

    35bore AH Elite

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    Congrats, Koedoeberg is a fine place just like many others here on AH. That was a nice Hartebeest (And I'm not a Hartebeest fan).:p
     
  12. bluey

    bluey GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    great read JG keep it coming
    that leopard experience would've made the trip great by itself .
     
  13. JGRaider

    JGRaider AH Veteran

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    Day 3--The Day We Doubled Down

    By day 3 I had developed a pretty good case of ADD. I still had several animals left that I wanted, and for example every time I'd see a good zebra, start a stalk, etc I'd stumble into a good kudu prospect, or vice versa. What a problem to have! We started the day with the normal routine we'd established, in no real hurry, but giddy to get back into the veld. Zac and I split up. He did have his bow, but was also armed with a Steyr 30-06 topped with a Nikon of some sort, and the 180 partitions. He'd take his chances with his bow if at all possible though. Well, the sight of a big kudu bull made him lose consciousness of where his bow was. Early in the morning he and his PH ran into a few cow kudu in a relatively open area. Since the kudu had started to hang with the cows to some degree, they waited and glassed. Sure enough a bull was spotted in the brush. They worked into an area where Zac had a shot and he made a good one. The bull was quartered toward him, but he had an opening for a chest shot. He ran maybe 30 yards and crashed into a small tree........

    P1000328.jpg

    We made our way over there to join in the festivities. What an unbelievably awesome creature.

    P1000334.jpg

    Zac and his PH then decided to hop in the truck with me and my PH for a while. We thoroughly enjoyed hunting together, as the killing was really a secondary consideration. We stopped at noon'ish to enjoy some biltong of some origin for lunch. It is all it's cracked up to be....it's super good in my book. We then took back to the veld, and it didn't take long to locate some zebra. Now before the hunt got started good a few days earlier, even though I had zebra on my "wanted" list, they weren't much of a priority, that is until I saw a few of them, and saw how wild they were, how beautiful they were, etc. I found myself chasing these things around. Several unsuccessful stalks later that afternoon, my knees barked some. But as I sat on a rock outcropping (koppe?) with more biltong and water....all was right with the world. I decided to glass around from this vantage point with the Gold Ring 8x32 HD binos I brought (by the way these are phenomenal pieces of equipment). We found a herd of kudu at what I'm guessing what was about 1/2 mile. We could see one was a small bull, the other bigger, mixed in with a few cows. One problem was, there were some female eland in the way (only in Africa can so many different animals screw up your the stalk on your target). They slowly fed out of the way, so we headed that way. To make a long story short, we got into position of the herd within 150 yards. Admittedly I wasn't too fond of the shooting sticks. I didn't practice much off of them as I should have though before hand. Anyway, the cows stepped into an opening, now about 120 yards, followed by the young bull. As you guys had advised me, I wasn't using binos, but was on the sticks staring anxiously at the kudu through the scope. I had wriggled underneath a thornless small tree of some sort so I could rest my right elbow in it. It was a dead sold situation ! The big bull was coming, but the small bull and a cow had seen us. All I could see of the big bull was from mid-neck up, but I was very, very steady. Although this is not the same bull, it was very much like this.....

    P1000327.JPG

    When the PH said he was a very good bull and he thought I should shoot, that's what I did, hitting the bull square through the neck, dropping him like a sack of rocks! I could not believe my good fortune, and my buddy Zac was about 30 yards behind me and saw the whole thing..........

    P1000359.jpg

    We had doubled down on one of, if not the most gorgeous animals I'd ever laid eyes on. We were informed that my bull was slightly over 50", and Zac's was bumping 53". I personally never put a tape on them and could have cared less, and still don't. Can it possibly get any better than this? I do not see how.

    P1000377.jpg

    It was now around 3pm or so and the reinforcements were called in. Thank God there were reinforcements around!

    P1000384.jpg

    We pretty much ended the serious hunting for the day at that time, spending the rest of the afternoon riding in the truck, looking for an admittedly easy, exceptional specimen of some sort, and eating more biltong. None were found, we didn't care, and once again all was right with the world.
     
  14. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    Nice kudu, congrats...they are beautiful! Biltong and beer :).
     
  15. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    "...they weren't much of a priority, that is until I saw a few of them, and saw how wild they were, how beautiful they were, etc. "

    Pictures do not do the quarry justice. When you start to stalk the game in its habitat it changes everything.
    This is hunting in Africa.


    "Admittedly I wasn't too fond of the shooting sticks. I didn't practice much off of them as I should have though before hand."

    Most people that don't typically use sticks, me included, are not partial to them. I guess you missed the advice on practice with sticks. :)
    Evidently shooting experience paid off with another double on Kudu. It's a pattern this year.
     
  16. Bruinmaster

    Bruinmaster AH Senior Member

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    Those Kudu are gorgeous. My buddy and I will be at Keodoeberg next week and hopefully score on a kudu like the two of yours. It is all I have been dreaming about for the last two years. Big Kudu and a Waterbuck, plus many other critters should the hunting gods shine down on us as they did you. Keep the posts coming.
     
  17. 35bore

    35bore AH Elite

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    Again, congrats on the Kudu, thus far, an amazing hunt.
     
  18. JGRaider

    JGRaider AH Veteran

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    Day 4

    We spotted a herd of 8-9 oryx in a relatively flat, open area. Upon surveying the situation it couldn't have been better, as the oryx were going to feed within range of a small rocky knob. We made our way to it perfectly and just waited. We could see them slowly feeding our way. In the meantime a herd of black wildebeest came into view. What a strange looking critter these things are!

    P1000406.jpg

    The wildebeest fed off in the general direction the oryx were coming from. The oryx eventually got to within about 150 yards of our location, but the 15mph squirrelly wind created some problems and the oryx became nervous. There were bulls and cows in this bunch, and the PH educated me of the fact that the cows had the longer horns, the bulls generally had shorter, thicker ones. I didn't particularly care, as I just wanted to make a clean shot on a mature animal. The slow feeding movement gave way to a nervous walk, so I fired the '06 at a big female, and whiffed.......a smooth, clean, unmistakeable whiff off the sticks (Primos trigger stick bipod) from a sitting position. Oh well, I've missed stuff before, so we regrouped a bit and casually followed in the direction the herd bolted. It turns out though, it wasn't such a bad thing, as about an hour later, as luck would have it, the oryx settled down to within range of Zac and the PH, and he made it count. Also having the '06 at hand, He said he hit the big cow well the first time, but since it was still standing he finished it off with a second. We got our first look up close at another gorgeous animal.

    P1000417.jpg

    After another mid-day lunch under a large umbrella tree, consisting of cucumber, tomato, and cheese sandwiches (really tasty I might add) impala biltong, fruit, and water, followed by a short siesta, we were off in the truck again. Zac decided to watch over a water hole and try his luck that afternoon with his bow. My PH and I eventually spotted a herd of zebra at what I guessed to be little over 1/2 mile. They were in relatively open and flat ground too, and there were numerous clusters of vegetation that should allow us to get close so we took off. The PH walked in front of me, and I noticed he kept "bobbing and weaving" through these clusters of brush and trees. I evidently didn't bob and weave fast enough, as some medium sized bush reached out and grabbed me by one of my big-azzed ears. Since we were on the prowl I thought I could sort of pull my way through it, but I was way off base. A buffalo thorn bush, with it's small fishhook like thorns, would not let go, so I had to back up and literally pull the hook out so to speak. I felt I now knew exactly how a catfish feels when hooked on a trot line......

    P1000398.jpg

    After a few minutes I got the bleeding stopped, and with zebra in view we were off again. Actually it worked out perfectly, as we got to the edge of the brush the zebra were barely over 100 yards out and totally unaware of us. I sat down, rested the rifle over a low branch, and fired. The 180 partition couldn't have hit the big, broadside standing mare in a more perfect place, about 1/3 of way up, right through the shoulder. The herd bolted at the shot, but the mare only made it about 40 yards and fell kicking in a cloud of red dirt dust! As I said before I had greatly underestimated how beautiful these zebra were. This mare was absolutely spectacular..............

    P1000401.jpg

    Thank goodness there were reinforcements around to help get these animals loaded.

    P1000420.jpg

    Another great day eventually came to an end. More animals were spotted, but none taken. We made our way back to camp. We were greeted with sausage and kudu steaks on the pit. I hate when that happens.

    BBQ.jpg
     
  19. Nyati

    Nyati AH Legend

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    So far, a great hunt, keep it coming :popcorn:
     
  20. BnC 04

    BnC 04 TITANIUM SUPPORTER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    Great story thus far, keep it rollin'! Another member of the "Double Kudu" club, congrads on the on going progress. Have a Black Label for me...
     

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