SOUTH AFRICA: Returned from Limpopo hunt with Spiral Horn Safaris, won on this website

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports' started by Ardent, Oct 14, 2011.

  1. Ardent

    Ardent GOLD SUPPORTER AH Veteran

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    My brother and I have just returned from a hunt generously donated by Spiral Horn Safaris for a hunting photo contest here on AfricaHunting.com. We had an absolutely fantastic time, both in terms of the game available and hunted, and the hospitality. Just last year I hunted buffalo in Zimbabwe, and had the time of my life. I never imagined I'll be back to Africa the following year, and the shock I experienced at a photo taken during my buffalo hunt winning the photo contest I've entered it in at my wife's suggestion didn't wear off until I'll returned from this trip. Well, the shock truly came from initially not being selected to win, and later contacted as the alternate when the winner had a scheduling conflict. You have to love blindside surprises.

    I had initially planned to take my wife, as she had watched the photo contest eagerly with me, and it was her who suggested we enter. However, we have a future hunter who is just six months old at the time of the hunt, and we decided to wait to bring our son on a later hunt. My brother got the nod, and came overseas with me on not only his first African hunt, but his first big game hunt. His first animal would turn out to be an SCI Gold Medal Impala, his first of two Gold Medal animals nonetheless, but more on that later. My brother Luke is not an excitable fellow, it's hard to get many words out of him (until he is lubricated with a splash of spirits, he argue it takes more than a splash and the van Bergen's tested that theory), but I could see the excitement building as we approached departure.

    Luke and I cheers's Heinekens at 36,000 feet on the way to Deutschland, a former home I've always happy to revisit, and once in Frankfurt spent an enjoyable afternoon in the company of bier und wurst. We boarded a Lufthansa A380, the world's largest passenger aircraft, and enjoyed the last leg of our lengthy travels to set foot in Joeburg. As an aside, I totaled my travel time back to Northern Canada from Joeburg on departure, and the trip was 51 hours in total, I'm glad it's over! Louis and Peter, also brothers, our PH's and hosts were both there to meet us. They turned out to be patient fellows, thank goodness, as we had arrived in absolute haphazard fashion in complete contrast to my last trip over where I made my preparations with clinical concern. Life and work before departure was the busiest I've encountered yet. Filling out our SAPs form on arrival, as I wouldn't advise, and after Peter making a jog to the truck for an invitation letter we were on our way.

    Louis drove us from Joeburg to the farm, I didn't time it, but I imagine it was maybe three or three and a half hours, very comfortable. We got to know each other as we drove, turns out Peter was also a bush pilot, and I quizzed them continuously about the area. I write a little for personal enjoyment, and bizarrely enough had written about the Limpopo area in fiction for my son in future years. The fact I was there then, through no planning of mine, was almost hard to absorb. Rivers I'd followed with my fingers in Atlases I was now seeing, and we thoroughly enjoyed the drive. My brother especially seeing as he is a smoker, and RSA is a paradise for him; $30 cartons of Camels. We left the pavement a good ways past Thabazimbi, and had a short ride across red dirt roads to the farm where we unloaded, refreshed, and continued chatting.

    The morning started a little later than usual, kindly given our travel the day before, and we went to the airstrip to sight in- what an airstrip too, BIG. My brother, shivering and not wanting to admit defeat to the cool African mornings and put on a sweater being Canadian, didn't put out his best performance but we shot satisfactorily and it was time to hunt. We were hunting the end of the season, the last group through, a challenging hunting condition and yet still we saw scores of game. My brother was within 15 yards of a large Gemsbok on the first morning, and saw three good shootable Blue Wildebeest bulls within the same hour or so. Trouble was, of course, he was not after any of them- yet. That changed later in the hunt and he ended up taking a VERY nice Wildebeest on the last day. My brother hunted with Peter, and I hunted with Louis. Louis and I were seeing scores of Impala, what my brother was hunting, and they the Gemsbok, what we were hunting. Initially, Warthog and Gemsbok were on my list as they were donated very kindly by the van Bergens, and my brother was seeking Zebra and Impala. This would all change soon enough.

    In the time between hunting- second breakfast/lunch, while riding the truck, and in camp for dinner I worked on my figure, adding to it that is, and my caffeine addiction with coffee and colas. Cootsie? the cook, made AMAZING food- literally gourmet. Carpaccio, phyllo pastry appetizers, good hearty game meat dinners with salad and rice or potatoes. Real food, and damn good. The beer was always cold, the ice always laid out for any other beverage you could hope for around their fire, and my brother enjoyed it to the fullest. So fully he didn't rise until 12:00 noon for good, after earlier attempts, the second to last day following his loss to a challenge from South Africa. The camp where we enjoyed this food and drink is beautiful, a lodge beside the fire alcove is where meals are served, and across a lawn from there are your individuals cabins, kept sharp and proper by the staff with stunning turnaround speed, and a dam where game come to drink. We watched Kudu, Nyala, Waterbuck, and more at the dam sixty yards away cold drink in hand. No shooting occurs near camp, leaving this a safe zone for the animals where they feel comfortable, a nice touch given the pleasure of viewing.

    The farm is large enough for sure- large enough you can lose a Giraffe. Louis remarked upon seeing an old, large bull they had been looking for him for some time with hunters previous that he thought he was dead. But there he was. You'll run into the same challenge when looking for game, as the bushveld allows anything to appear and disappear as fast as they wish. Seeing an animal in an area one day leaves no promises for the next, not even merely half an hour later for that matter. A couple days into the hunt we were riding the truck, and a nice Warthog darted across the road and shortly after came my first kill in the Limpopo. Louis and I jumped off, stalked briefly into the bush, getting an obscured shot, not far, on a very nice pig. I assumed my best hunched forward, bullet-weaving-through-bush offhand stance and let fly at the dark blob with 235 grains of Barnes best to paraphrase a famous writer- I also scored a direct, and instant hit. Straight to the shoulder of a nice treebuck. The pig ran off, unharmed, and the tree stayed put, I'd like to think anchored by the .375. I remarked it was tough picking out that one tree from all those present, left my trophy in the bush, and headed back to the truck with Louis.

    Around this time, my brother also took a shot through bush, scoring his gorgeous Impala after a miss on a long shot on a monster Impala the previous day. Spirits were already high, we were hunting a gorgeous piece of the Limpopo in good company and supplied with great comforts, but they rose further on his well-shot Ram. I apologize, my camera is 1,200kms south of me at my brother's house, I foolishly left it in his carry on bag and we live a good ways apart so this write up with be sadly devoid of pictures. Luke had wetted his appetite for hunting animals larger than wolves and now set his sights on finding a good Wildebeest bull. No mean feat, seeing as we were spending just five days hunting and had already burned up a couple. Louis very generously gave us two extra days, our arrival and departure, at observer rate- a very kind move leaving us with five full hunting days. In the time between Luke's Impala and his Wildebeest, thanks to Louis and Peter I first took my Zebra, a gorgeous stallion with unique markings down the spine and good contrast, and then my Warthog in the same day.

    The Zebra we got up to after a stalk into the bush- if you don't think black and white stripes can hide wait til you fire a shot into your animal in a group of three or four individuals and the bush explodes with thirty or more Zebra that weren't in sight. I came to understand their stripes genuinely are camouflage and excellent camouflage at that. I look forward to the rug after the requisite long wait now, it will be one of my favourite trophies and the most distinct. Two remarkable things also happened during the Zebra hunt, a pair of Honey Badgers, not 15 yards away at times, working brush in search of food- Louis told me never in his life had he seen them like that, that close. Beautiful! Also, a Brown Hyena ran across in front of Louis while he tracked the Zebra, I never saw it but feel good just knowing it was there and I was close! It's amazing what's in the bush, close, that you don't know about. We also saw Cheetah tracks on the road. Later that day, we spotted a Warthog, good enough but no monster and I understood I didn't have to take him, it was my option if we would look for bigger. I was just happy to add the species at my age, as later in life I can chase inches, and took the Warthog in grass happily. My two animals won in the contest were down, and the focus shifted to Luke's pig and Wildebeest hunting. He was very lucky with one, and very unlucky with the other.

    The final day, were we driving not expecting to hunt even- my brother in a red shirt and others in comfort footwear, when a nice big Wildebeest bull showed himself in the bush. My brother dismounted, and went into the bush with Louis to stalk in for a shot. They got one, and the shot rang out from the .300. My respect for the toughness and tenacity of African game grew further, from an already healthy and impressed upon respect, to awe with this Wildebeest. Shortly after tracking began, we found healthy (from our perspective, not from his) signs of a lung hit. My brother had a difficult frontal shot in thick bush, and we were all curious for clues as to the hit, the evidence of lung hit being the first good sign. Tracking continued for a good while, with six of us working a fairly small area, he had not gone far the bush is just so thick where wounded game go- and it was thick enough where that Wildebeest started. We heard one snort from him, but it was impossible to tell where on earth he was. Wandering close with Peter, all of a sudden he showed up, it's amazing how a massive, dark animal can just show up from nowhere a short distance away. Peter and I both fired, I half deafened him being off to his side and slightly back and I still feel bad for subjecting him to that, I was damn worried we wouldn't get another shot and he was good natured about it but I suspect it was louder than he admitted!

    The Wildebeest went on again so again, we were tracking. Again, he didn't go far. Out of cartridges from the .300, I gave Peter my .375 and maybe ten minutes later, now seeing greater blood trail, we came upon him again. The strong, big bull finally went down after two more rounds of .375 carrying Barnes TSXs. My respect Turns out, Luke's frontal shot was 2 inches horizontal from dropping that bull in his place and tore up a lung , I don't want to sully North American game's reputation but no Elk or Moose I致e seen would have taken that shot, like that. Carry a strong rifle, with strong bullets! There was one animal left, Louis had generously given my brother a Warthog in our package after we worked out the math of the now changed situation- I was supposed to take a Gemsbok not a Zebra, but opportunities are opportunities, and you don't pass them up as they're one shot deals. Louis was very kind to change the package for us to fit what we'd taken, in the end they generously donated three of the four animals taken in our whirlwind hunt, my brother choosing to take the Wildebeest on top of the donated hunt. Now, it was a lucky time to be a big Warthog, that week. I shot treebuck while attempting to get my big one, and my brother missed two big Warthogs, 12-13 guys, one at extended range and one close in with my unfamiliar to him .375. It's good to have a nemesis, right? Warthogs beware upon his return, Louis told my brother a Warthog is his no charge on his return, which I suspect he is already planning.

    I have no doubt we'd be seeing Louis and Peter again, my brother before myself as I have to wait for my son to grow a good bit. Two trips to Africa without my wife when she wants to come is pushing my luck! My wife will be there for our next trip, whenever that should be. So, if I can summarize such an experience in a short paragraph, I'd have to stick with a big word; Excellent. Fantastic even. The bar was set high on my first African hunt, and I know I'd never out-do that one it will always be my life's number one hunt I suspect, and an important thanks to my friend and PH Jon Collett for that, not to sidetrack this story. This hunt was more than a little brotherly fun long overdue, and in its own way would be hard to beat. The camp staff is great, laundry is done everyday, on your bed before you return and your bed fresh and tucked in, the food and drink superb, and the hunting serious and excellent. Louis wakes you nice and early, 05:00 or just after, and gets straight to the business of why you're there; good hunting. The game is plentiful, and big, with MASSIVE Impala and Kudu especially. Don't hesitate if these guys, and now friends of mine, are in your options. They are trustworthy, good, hard hunting guys with a tight operation and beyond that damn good people.

    Louis, $&#% the Queen!

    Angus
  2. 35bore

    35bore AH Legend

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    Ardent,
    Congrats on what sound's like an great hunt, Can't wait to see the pics. Sounds like Louis treated you right, love the Wildebeest part of the hunt. Africa is great.
  3. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Congrats on a good hunt. Glad Louis made you work a little.
    Get those pictures up here when you can.
    51 hours Ugh!!! The trip sucks. Even with that in play Africa calls you back.
  4. nsok

    nsok AH Veteran

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    It seems you enjoyed your hunt in that thick bush where I was this august, before you, hunting with a very honest guy and very good outfitter, Louis Van Bergen.

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  5. James.Grage

    James.Grage GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    ardent

    Looks like you had a great time.
  6. Bobpuckett

    Bobpuckett GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Ardent Sounds like you had a great time with your brother, good read can't wait for the pics. Know what you mean tough animals took 5 shots to bring down my Black Wildebeest, and as far as outfits you couldn't have gone out with a better one Louis is on my short list for future hunts.
  7. Nyati

    Nyati AH Legend

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    Thanks for your report, and congartulations for a good hunt.

    Looking forward to see those pics.
  8. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    Congratulations Ardent, I glad you guys had a great hunt!
  9. Spiral Horn Safaris

    Spiral Horn Safaris AH Fanatic

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    Hi Ardent

    Thank you for the report, and especially for the wonderful hunt my friend we had a great time with you and Luke! Remember to get a bow you will love it LOL!

    I have some pictures of trophies but unfortunately only the blue wildebeest and zebra:

    DSC_0013.JPG

    DSC_0016.JPG

    Thanks to all the positive comments, Nsok Hammer is becoming a dad after that zebra hunt LOL.

    LOL the Queen LOL.

    Best Regards
    Louis van Bergen
  10. RickB

    RickB AH Fanatic

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    Congratulations on a great hunt!
  11. AfricaHunting.com

    AfricaHunting.com FOUNDER AH Ambassador

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    Great hunt report Ardent, I'm glad to hear that you had an excellent hunt at Spiral Horn Safaris!

    Thank you to Louis from Spiral Horn Safaris for his generosity and valuable contribution towards our community.
  12. TOM

    TOM AH Elite

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    Good report. Love to see some more pictures when you get the camera back.
  13. Ardent

    Ardent GOLD SUPPORTER AH Veteran

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    Thanks to everyone, Louis you know that bow's on my Christmas list... Jerome, I was very surprised to see my post 'fixed' of odd characters and I have no doubt it's to you I owe thanks. That's a lot of effort, these are the reasons AfricaHunting is the best forum on the net; great people, a great subject, and people like you and Louis going the extra mile.

    Thanks for putting up the pics Louis! Sheesh Luke's Wildebeest looks even better than it did that day a week and a half ago, and it looked good then!
  14. AfricaHunting.com

    AfricaHunting.com FOUNDER AH Ambassador

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    You're welcome Ardent! :biggrin2:

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