SOUTH AFRICA: Sungulwane / Zululand Rhino Reserve with Garry Kelly Safaris!

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports' started by EricM, Jul 27, 2014.

  1. EricM

    EricM New Member

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    I just returned from a fantastic safari in South Africa with Garry Kelly Safaris / PH Murray Clayton in northeastern KwaZulu Natal at Sungulwane/Zululand Rhino Reserve.
    I am a military service member forward deployed in northern Africa, and only had a limited time period to work with. I give HIGH PRAISE to Bob Kern of The Hunting Consortium who gave me great lowdown based on the species I wanted to hunt, and handled all of the logistics, and Garry Kelly Safaris who went all out to make sure I had a safari to remember! My PH Murray Clayton had a great attitude and sense of humor, was rock solid in the field and unbelievably hospitable. You cannot go wrong with Bob Kern, GKS and PH Murray Clayton.
    Day 1:
    15 hour flight: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Jo-burg, and Durban, followed by 3 1/2 hour drive to the Sungulwane controlled hunting area, adjacent to the Mkuze Game Reserve.
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    Arrived at Sungulwane Game Lodge. I love the Zulu architecture and d├ęcor! If I could transplant this back to SoCal...!
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  2. EricM

    EricM New Member

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    Day 2:
    After sighting in with a Parker-Hale 7mm Rem Mag, shooting 160 gr Barnes TSX, we were off in search of Nyala!
    We saw many game animals including Zebra, Giraffe, Blue Wildebeest, Impala, Reedbuck, Red Duiker, a small herd of Cape Buffalo, a Kudu bull (young) and Nyala (no shooters)! The terrain was thick with acacia and lush riverine forests.
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    Leopard faced vultures. They were congregating on a dead tree, feeding on giraffe intestines left over from a recent kill. Creepy buggers!
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    Fever trees are unique to this area, and have a vibrant yellow/green color. It is Zulu legend that if you stand under a fever tree and the yellow/green powder on the bark and leaves falls on you, that you will get a fever.
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    We snacked on homemade crunchies and Eland biltong as we surveyed Sungulwane.
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    We saw less game into the evening as moisture drew in and the animals hunkered down.
    We had a nice braai (BBQ) that evening with impala/warthog borevorst (sausage), steak, chicken wings, chili bites and a peppermint tarte. Unbelieveable food and a real welcome from what we get in Djibouti! lol.
     

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  3. EricM

    EricM New Member

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    Day 3:
    It was a colder, wet morning with less Nyala spotted. I came to understand that Nyala are more sensitive to weather compared to other animals. They like it clear and dry, ideally. In the Zulu language Nyala translates to "The Shifty One" which is very descriptive of its elusive nature.
    As the temperature warmed we were met by a herd of 7 Giraffe including a very young (2 week old?) female.
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    We started to see game moving including gray monkeys, crown and crested guinea fowl, red and gray duiker, zebra, 3 blue wildebeest, cape buffalo, impala and a few Nyala that looked like real shooters.
    We had several stalks through the acacia and long grass, but did not connect. We spotted several bulls that disappeared as quickly as they were spotted, and females with no bulls. We worked through a nasty section of bush full of "pepper ticks".. each about as big as a grain of pepper. I had about 30-40 on my leg but they brush off easily. I also found a nice dog tick working up the leg.
    Late in the day, we spotted a nice Nyala bull behind a cluster of acacia. Murray had a chance to see his head and said he was a nice shooter bull. I could only see a portion of his body between the trees and ground cover, but it was the right area (shoulder area). I took aim and fired. It was a double lung hit (a little high, but good), the bull ran 20-30m, and then collapsed under a spiky acacia.
    He was a beautiful old bull, maybe 6-7 years old. His horns were covered in mud and his bases showed lots of ridges, and character. One horn had a nice chip on the side, perhaps from another bull.
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    I celebrated with a Castle. :)
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    We then got him skinned and salted. It was incredible and humbling to watch the process and how well these animals are skinned. It would have taken me hours!
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    That evening we had Hansa beer, which was great and became my go-to, with an excellent potjie (pronounced "poikee") stew, samosas and a pudding cake with custard.
     

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  4. EricM

    EricM New Member

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    Day 4:
    We traveled to Zululand Rhino Reserve in search of Warthog!
    The Reserve lies within the Msunduzi valley in northern Zululand. It was established in 2004 when 17 landowners dropped their fences to create a big 5, endangered species reserve. It's 22,000 hectares (over 54K square acres), and contained thick bush as well as open savannah.
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    We had a lucky morning and saw a white rhino, two black rhinos, blue wildebeest, impala, kudu ewes, giraffe, ostrich, a small heard of young nyala, monkeys, yellow hornbill, zebras and warthog. Most of the warthogs were young, or female, or bolted so quickly into the grass and out of sight with only their tails showing that it made for quite a challenge!
    And then we found a lone male Warthog sunning himself in a controlled burn area, where he had dug a little burrow into the ash. He was old, and crusty, and lifted his head to see what we were up to. We expected him to bolt, but he stayed and I managed to place a careful shot straight through his heart. He rolled over, kicked his legs, and lay still, not even moving a foot.
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    Murray got a kick out of how long his mane was, which showed his age. It looked just like the grass he inhabited and made for a perfect camouflage. I'm glad I didn't accidentally hit his beautiful tusks.
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    We later recovered the TSX bullet, which as a quartering shot had travelled diagonally across the body after hitting the heart. Its shaft was slightly bent and it had lost a petal. It performed very well!
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    We heard elephants breaking branches in the distance as we loaded the Warthog onto the truck.
    We started to drive off when we noticed a black rhino in the distance, perhaps 500m away. It stood watching us. It casually started walking towards us, picked up a trot, and then charged! Black rhinos are very aggressive as compared to the whites, and command respect. It got within 50m of our truck as Murray yelled to our tracker in Zulu to move out. This is the only shot I was able to take (at a distance) before things got dicey.
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    We saw a ton of impala on the way out.
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    We drove to the skinning shed where we had the skull fleshed and the meat hung up.
    That evening we drove to the Natal midlands to hunt Bushbuck. We saw a brilliant shooting star while driving, with clear skies and 8 C (45 F) reading on the dash. What a day!
     

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  5. EricM

    EricM New Member

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    Day 5:
    The third species I was after was Bushbuck. Like the Nyala, they are also elusive, preferring to show only at first and last light in the bush or transition areas. They are indigenous to the Natal midlands area, which consists of agricultural farmland, and a patchwork of bush/timber.
    It was a cold morning, in the high 40's, and we didn't see much life. We glassed for hours, took a break, and then returned later in the day. It was much better in the evening. We saw Reedbuck, Gray Duiker, and 3 Bushbuck females. We heard their distinctive "bark" in the bush, but did not see any Bushbuck rams.
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    Sunset over Natal:
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    Day 6:
    We returned in the morning, for a last session of glassing before I had to make my way back to Durban for an early morning flight. It was 3 C (37 F), cold and wetter than before with less animal movement. I saw a Gray Duiker and watched him for some time. We also saw 2 free range Eland, leave the bush and climb a mountain. One was a great looking bull, but I was not after Eland. lol.
    Murray's Toyota Hilux Raider 4x4:
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  6. EricM

    EricM New Member

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    Wrap up:
    Late last year I sold several nice rifles (2 NULA's) anticipating that I might have a shot at hunting Africa. This was a short safari but a dream come true for me. I owe a world of thanks to PH Murray Clayton, Garry Kelly Safaris, Bob Kern at The Hunting Consortium, and all the members here who have inspired me with their stories.
    If any of you are thinking about Africa, do it. Sell those safe queens! Go to Africa!!
    Cheers,
    Eric
     
  7. Sable123

    Sable123 AH Senior Member

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    Great report, nice photos and an impressive looking Nyala. Thanks for this EricM
     
  8. Nyati

    Nyati AH Legend

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    Congrats for a great hunt, Eric, and some nice trophies, I specially like the warthog, they grow nicely in this area.
     
  9. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    Nice pictures, great animals and it looked like a fun trip...congrats!
     
  10. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH Fanatic

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    Nice trophies. I guess not getting a bushbuck gives you a good reason to go back. Thanks for the report. Nice pics. Bruce
     
  11. Wheels

    Wheels GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Congratulations on your hunt. Thanks for sharing.

    All the best.
     
  12. adgunner

    adgunner SILVER SUPPORTER AH Veteran

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    EricM, thanks for the report and photos, congrats on the hunt.
     
  13. ROCKET

    ROCKET AH Veteran

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    Very good trophys and pics.....great hunt report......thank you......!!!!!!!
     
  14. ActionBob

    ActionBob AH Enthusiast

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    Thanks a bunch for the great report and pictures!
     
  15. Royal27

    Royal27 BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Your smile in the Nyala pic sez it all. :)
     
  16. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH Legend

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    Congrats on some nice trophies, especially that Nyala. And thank you for your service to the country!
     
  17. EricM

    EricM New Member

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    Thanks for the congrats fellas! I would love to go back. Hunting in Africa is such an experience! I'm still walking on cloud nine! :)

    I thought I would also add a photo of the wonderful Nyala filet that we enjoyed after the meat had hung up for a few days. It was seared in coconut oil, and roasted on a pan for 15 minutes, and served with a brown onion sauce with mashies. Delicious!!
    Eric
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