Outfitter: Kei River Safaris, Andrew Renton Booking Agent: Wade Derby, Crosshair Consulting PH: Greg Hayes Species hunted on this trip: Vaal Rhebok, Blue Duiker, Nyala, Mtn. Reedbuck, Cape Bushbuck, Baboon. Flights: Cape to Cairo Dates: May 8-14th Rifle: Custom .257WBY shooting handloaded 100gr. Barnes TSX bullets. How can I start this other than saying that I had a wonderful hunt with Kei River Safaris. I happened upon a hunt offered that sounded like a teriffic way to introduce a first timer to Africa. It was economical, offered several great trophies, was in a good area, etc.. I had a group of guys looking for such a hunt for their 1st trip to Africa. Once I spoke to Wade last year, I booked the hunt for myself and the others in my group. The year flew by and before we knew it, we were headed to the East Cape to relax, have fun, and take a few trophies in the meantime. The flights all went without any hitches and we flew through Joburg and SAPS within an hour and were off to East London. Kei River was there awaiting our group and it was off to the lodge. We paired off with our respective PHs for the duration of our hunt. I hit it off with my guide, Greg, right away. He was really keen to chase the species I had on my list and was a wealth of knowledge on the flora/fauna in the area as well as just a great guy to be around and hunt with. Jet lag slept off, we all awoke with great anticipation of the week to come. A good breakfast and we were all off to the range to make sure the rifles were still shooting straight. After the range, we all went our separate directions to see what the day would bring. On my day one, we hunted bushbuck but came up empty handed. I was enjoying seeing and hunting in a totally new environment in South Africa than I've ever seen or been in. It was LARGE country filled with deep canyons, STEEP thorn brush choked hills, and THICK canyon bottoms that harboured safe havens for brush loving species such as buchbuck, kudu, and nyala. Really a spectacular area that is totally under-rated, IMO. It is large country that has to be hunted hard to get what you are looking for. That night, several of the guys rolled into camp with grins as big as the canyons. They could now say they were African hunters. Day 2 found myself and Greg headed to a cattle ranch closer to the coast to see if we could come up with a good bushbuck. As afternoon fell, the buckbuck started pouring out from the bottoms and into the desmodium fields. This property was a low fence cattle property and had several fields planted for the cattle. These bushbuck loved it and would pour into these fields as night came near. As the afternoon wore on, Joseph (my skinner/tracker) spied a decent ram slip into the field. I agreed that he was a shooter and after a great stalk that put us inside 160 yards, I had my 1st Eastern Cape trophy. Ernie Ele tagged along for good luck on this trip and was a welcome addition in camp as well as on each and every hunt. He was wed fed and "watered" on this hunt!! My 3yr old daughter Sydney absolutely LOVED seeing pics of her beloved Ernie hunting in Africa! Day 3 found us up at 3AM with a 3hr drive inland to the cold, windswept country in search of the Vaal Rhebok. These special little antelope are found nowhere else on the continent and are probably the most difficult trophy to obtain in the country. They cannot be fenced, are sparce where found, and are a long distant game with no equal. We had set aside 3 days in seach of a shooter ram. When we arrived, the land owner was busy loading sheep. He mentioned an area where he had seen a good ram in weeks past. The 1st thing I noticed was that it was colder than a well digger's butt, windy as Montana in the winter and WIDE open big country set at about 7300 ft above sea level. Couple this with a hunt for an animal that is wilder than anything on this earth, has ZERO curiousity and will run to the horizon upon seeing the truck at a mile distant, I was less than optomistic. At least we had 3 days to try and get a shot off. We headed up the canyon where the landowner had seen the ram previously. One thing in my favor is the fact that my guide Greg was raised in the area, and was a fanatic about chasing Vaalies. He lives for hunting them and knows how to hunt them well. Once in the canyon, we see 10 white tails heading for the horizon 1000 yards up the cut. Since the wind was howling and the fact that we were already busted without even doing a single thing, our only course of action was to just keep driving and hope that once we went out of sight that they would settle down and head back into the general area that they had just vacated. We made a mile long big loop and parked a good half mile above and well out of sight of the last place we had last seen them. We started down and once near the rim of the canyon, we began a long belly crawl to the rim's lip to try and at least see if the herd was back. As we neared, Greg inched his way to the rim to try and get a bead of them. When he shuffled back to me and looked at me, his eyes were as big as saucers! I expected him to say that the herd was either out there at 300 yards and running, or that they hadn't returned at all. He then whispered that we were a mere 55 yards from the herd! We had just snuck into the living room of one of the wildest species on the whole contient and here he was without a care in the world. As I bellied up to the rim, I just couldn't help but take just a moment to take in a good long look at him in the scope. He was quartering to me, bedded down chewing cud, surrounded by his nine ewes. After a moment to say thanks, the .257WBY thumped him at bow range. I can say that this Vaalie is one of my most cherished African trophies. It was a hunt that the hunting Gods smiled upon me. Of course, Ernie was there as well and had a front row sent to the hunt. Since we had just pulled off the hunt within 3 hours, we had plenty of "breathing" room on the hunt now. Since we were scheduled to be in the Vaalie area for three days, we met up with the landowner and received the green light to hunt mountain reedbuck while in the area. The hills held ALOT of these little antelope. It was just a matter of time before we found a shooter ram that made a mistake. Before long, Joseph saw a ram with love on his mind up in a bowl a few hundred yards ubove us. A stalk was made and a 200 yard shot provided me with yet another trophy. This little guy let the fairer sex get the better of him! I can say that this area of South Africa is unique and certainly a place that I will return to. It is like hunting in MT or WY. I loved it. Once back down in the coastal country, we shifted our focus on Blue Duiker and Nyala. These little Blue Duiker are now my nemisis.. The coastal "kloofs" where these tiny little antelope are found are thick with thorns, hooks, vines, and ticks en masse. The hunt was a blast but to say it was "fun" was pushing it!!We tried over and over and over and over (you get the idea) to get a shot at them. When we zigged, they zagged. When we thought we had them figured out, they made fools of us. It was not from a lack of duiker in the area. We saw them on probably 75% of all the drives we did. But when you have a 1/2 second window in which to judge and shoot, it was tough to say the least! I shot and killed several vines on the course of this hunt! We had a blast chasing them up until the last day, but the little guys had my number and I came up empty handed in the end. I suppose it gives me a good excuse to return! In the Puti kloofs in search of a trophy Puti. Here we are trying to call Puti in. We had a FoxPro caller with the recording of a native in Cameroon calling duiker with that distinctive nasal whine. Greg has called in many, but I suppose on my trip these coastal Blues forgot how to speak Pygmy. We got skunked trying to call them in. In between duiker hunting, we made a point to try and find a nice Nyala bull. Andrew's cousin phoned us one night and said that he had been seeing several nice bulls down on the Kei River proper on his property and that the bulls would come down out of the cliffs surrounding his farm fields and feed each evening. This was a low fence property as well. Not that a fence would have made much a difference. I was as steep as any country I've seen. It reminded me of unit 27 here in AZ headed down towards the Blue River. As if on cue, late afternoon had Nyala coming down towards the cabbage fields beside the river. After a bit, I saw this bull and his cows making their way down of the thorn thickets on the side of the cliffs. A 240 yard shot was offered and I took it. I was more than happy when we walked up on the prize, as was Ernie. Back to chasing little Puti.. While in between hunts, we saw a TON of baboons in every area we hunted in near the Kei River and the surrounding canyons and cliffs. Baboons are never easy anywhere and these areas were no different. They are educated! I made them just a little more educated with a moving 200+ yard shot that put one down in a hurry. By the end of the seven days, I was sold on hunting the East Cape area. It was most def. hunting, not just shooting. The areas were big, the game was there and the company was great. Of course there are species that are found behind wire in the area and region, but none of the species I took or hunted were hunted behind any type of fence. I really liked that. This hunt was one of the most enjoyable hunts I've been on. We were all well taken care of by Andrew and his lovely wife Sharon and their staff as well as the guides. The food was great and the beer and drinks were cold. I would HIGHLY recomend a hunt through them, whether you are looking for your 1st African safari or your 100th. I know that I'll be returning to give Mr. Blue duiker another run along with Cape Grysbok and mabye another Vaalie hunt. Thank you Andrew and to all the rest of Kei River Safaris. All of us had a wonderful trip and I know that you have now infected the other guys with the African bug and just made mine that much worse.. Five short months and it's off to Zimbabwe for an old Dagga boy.. I cannot wait to get back on African soil!