BOTSWANA: Hunting With NKWE SAFARIS - The Adventure Begins 2024

Here a few general pictures of the tented camp area
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Day 5:

Today is Friday, it is time to get a kudu bull in the salt! Now I'm starting to wonder if I should have taken that big bull on night 1. We head back over early to the huge cattle ranch next door, this is the property that Kevin shot a 62.5" kudu bull on in 2023 and we know there are lots of big bulls around. But Jaco tries to temper our expectations and keeps telling us that we need to be ready to take any big bull over 55" as they just don't see 60"+ bulls that often which is of course a very true statement and I decide anything over 55" is getting shot! We drive around checking water troughs among the cattle and see quite a few kudu cows and younger bulls. We finally see one nice looking bull with long horns but he has very tight curls and won't score that well, looks almost like a lesser kudu. He is hot on a cow and pays us no attention, would have been an easy shot. Later we finally come across a big bull with a cow at another corral area but they take off into the brush and we get only a quick glimpse thru the binos. We bail off the truck, grab the sticks and .375 and head out to see if we can catch up with the. We only go about 150 yards thru the brush when we see him looking over his shoulder at us and immediately take off with no shot. We decided he was a shooter bull and so we go back to the corral area and there are tons of fresh kudu tracks coming into the water trough mostly from the direction we had seen this bull and cow. So we decide to build a brush blind across the corral where we can see a wide area and we'll come back that evening to sit. As we head back out to camp for lunch we pass a truck with camp staff/trackers headed past us and they tell Quentin that Kevin has shot a bull and they are going to fetch it back to camp. As we head out we get a phone call from Jaco saying we need to come straight to town and meet them. We go into Ghanzi and find them at a local eating place/bar. Today is Quentin's birthday so Jaco is buying lunch for us all and Jaco's wife Irene has joined us for a nice lunch. Kevin got a nice 54-55" inch bull that morning with beautiful shape to his horns as they flare out at the tips. I will let him post his pics and tell of the hunt in his own post. Needless to say I'm getting jealous but know we still have a few days to get a bull down.

Quentin and I go back that evening to sit at the water trough where we had built a blind that morning but never see anything come in other than a female warthog and some young ones.

More to come, have to go out and mow the lawn!
 
Great hunt so far! Eland and Warthog are fantastic. I’ll be following along for the rest!!
 
Great adventure and looking to hear how the kudu hunt turns out!! Would have been hard to pass up a 56/58 wide kudu!
 
OK, more of the story.

Day 6:

It is now Saturday morning and Quentin and I, along with Kenny and Tuma, head back to the cattle ranch we have been hunting for the past 3 days for kudu. At the start of the week the moon was half full, by now it is just a small crescent. My experience in hunting deer and elk especially has been when there is bright moonlight at night the elk tend to feed at night and by daylight have begun moving back into the heavy timber. Quentin says Kudu are somewhat the opposite and that when the moon rises late and is still visible during daylight hours the Kudu tend to be more active in daylight, who knows?? But I will say as the moon waned further each day we were seeing less kudu each morning. On Day 4 we saw at least 60 kudu that morning on the drive, Day 5 we saw maybe half that many kudu in total. This morning on day 6 we are seeing even fewer kudu out and about. Maybe that moon phase is having some kind of effect or else they are getting more wary with truck traffic driving around but this ranch is huge and we are not covering the same piece of small ground over and over, and there are ranch workers driving around all of the time. From the front of the ranch to the back end is something like 25 km they told us and it takes a good 30 minutes or more to drive from one end to the other and I never did see the back end.

Anyway, we are driving around glassing and watching the thick brush and we spot a few younger kudu bulls and cows occasionally. We notice that the kudu have been coming to the water troughs a little later each morning so we are hopeful we will get a shot. Our strategy this morning is to stop the truck a half mile before likely water trough/corral areas, jump off the truck and stalk in quietly to see if we can catch the kudu at water. We check out the water trough we had sit at the evening before and see fresh kudu tracks over our tire tracks from the previous evening but no kudu around. Around 10:30 in the morning we have worked our way farther towards the back end of the property than we had been on previous days and as we come easing down the road and about to stop to stalk in we see a big kudu bull down the road. Tuma stops the truck and we glass the bull and can see he is a really good bull with deep curls. Quentin has Tuma ease forward very slowly, the wind is blowing pretty good this morning and it is blowing from the bull straight towards us so he is unaware of the truck approaching. When we get about 150 yards away Tuma stops the truck and Quentin tells me to grab my .308 instead of the .375. He sets a shooting rest on the top of the truck rack and I sit down to take a shot. I had to put a round into the chamber as we were only keeping the magazine loaded while on the truck and chambering a round when we got off the truck to stalk animals. I chamber a round quietly ans place the gun on the rest. The kudu is still unaware of us with the loud wind blowing our way, as I squeeze off a round I realize I've still got the rifle on half safe and nothing happens. Crap, I flip the safety off and get back on the bull and he has started to walk away from us quartering to the right. As he pauses I shoot and the bull walks away calmly. Quentin says I missed him, he could see the bullet hit a wire or something. The bull doesn't seem alarmed but he is now out of view. We get down from the truck, grab the sticks and with Kenny we decide to stalk in and see if we can find him in the thick brush. We get down to the trough where he was drinking and begin to follow the tracks quietly. The heavy Kalahari sand makes it quiet to stalk, we go about 75 yards, Kenny and Quentin are studying the tracks and as I look to my left I see the bull around on the other side of the corral area. I get Quentin's attention and he puts up the sticks, I get on them and the bull is slowly walking broadside from us. Quentin makes a slight whistle and the bull stops, I shoot and he bucks while we hear a good bullet slap and he takes off at a trot. The shot was about 75-80 yards and I see him stop behind a big clump of thorn bush and he never comes out the other side of the brush. We ease ourselves over and find him down and kicking as he expires, finally a kudu on the ground. He is a beautiful big bull with deep curls. I'm guessing he is around 55" but when we get him back to camp and they measure he is just over 57" on each horn with big heavy bases, I'm thrilled with a nice bull finally down.

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We have lunch at camp and all decide to take the afternoon off and relax around camp. Jaco's 16 year old son Bertie is at camp and this guy loves to hunt and anything to do with game and being outdoors. He wants to become a PH and already has more hunting experience and with DG as well than most of us will ever experience in our lives. That evening Jaco's wife Irene and older son Armond come to camp and join us all for a big dinner and time around the fire pit.

That morning Kevin and Jaco were out on a game drive on the main camp property and Kevin noticed tracks and drag marks going across the road. He asked Jaco to stop and they get down to investigate and the trackers determine that the tracks are from a caracal that has killed a steenbok and is dragging it along. They follow the tracks and drag marks about 100 yards into the brush and come across a den site where the caracal took the steenbok to apparently feed it's kittens as they find lots of small footprints all around. Jaco is excited to see the den area going down under some exposed limestone rock just a 100 yards off the road but they had never seen the area before. That afternoon around camp Jaco gets out his drone and is flying it around and over to the den area they had found. As he is flying it in the other direction from camp he spots an interesting area and brings the drone down to investigate. It is another denning area it seems but this one is much bigger and only about 500 yards from camp in another direction. He makes note of the area and we decide to go check it out the next day as it is getting dark quickly.
 
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Day 7:

The previous evening as we sat around the fire enjoying a beer, discussion turned to what did we want to do on Day 7 (Sunday). Kevin and I have both fulfilled our lists of game we wanted to target on this hunt. Jaco mentions that the guys who did the helicopter game round up on his property are on another property to the west of Ghanzi capturing game and maybe we can go watch if we are interested. He makes a phone call and they say sure we can come over to watch. Jaco has shown us a few video clips from his recent game capture and it looks like a really cool thing to see. So ono Sunday morning we head out around 7 for the drive to the other property as they are starting the capture around 8AM. It is a real Marlin Perkins Mutual of Omaha type opportunity to see something unique in person. It is a nice Botswana sunrise as we make the drive.

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We get over to the other property on time and it is a big ranch that Jaco also hunts from time to time, beautiful property that is more open savannah grass land with acacia and thorn scrub thrown into the mix. We drive to where they have a big boma set up with screen netting to drive the game into the boma using a helicopter. The helicopter would circle out a few miles from the boma until he found game and would drive them back towards the capture site. On this day they were targeting blue wildebeest. As the game enters the boma the helicopter sounds an alarm sound telling the guys to pull a big screen net across the mouth of the boma to keep the animals inside. They keep pushing the game further into the boma and pulling screen netting across to make smaller areas and drive the game into a chute and up into trucks waiting at the end so they can divide groups into different trucks for transport. We were allowed to stand up on the side walls of the chute about 10 feet above ground and watch as they drove the animals down the chute right below us and into the ramp leading up into the trucks. It was a really cool experience to watch overall.

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Well I will have to load the short video clips into You Tube I guess to upload them.

After watching the game capture for a while we left and drove the property watching other game and then headed back to Jaco's camp. After lunch we decided to try and see if we could find the bigger denning site Jaco had seen with the drone the evening before. We had a general idea of the location, but it was a real challenge to find it. Jaco put the drone into the air and flew it around until he found the den site again and as the drone hovered overhead we worked our way to the site watching where the drone was hovering.

What we found was an area with several limestone overhangs and dens up underneath. Lots of bones scattered around the site and animal tracks going in and out. Who knows how long it had been since any human had seen the site, Jaco had no idea it existed. It appeared there was a large mound of dirt/sand that had been excavated out over the years by animals or humans (?). After my find described below Jaco decided that these dens may have been small overhanging caves dug out by bushmen eons ago to sleep under or take shelter from the heat or weather.
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Jaco and Quentin laying down and peering into the dens

As the guys are looking in the dens at the bones and tracks, I'm walking around and look down to see an interesting rock on the ground in the sand. I reach down to pick it up and immediately see that it is an old stone axe head that someone had shaped. It is made out of limestone and has a perfectly shaped edge to it, flat on the back end from the edge to attach to a stick and it appears that whomever was working the stone had begun to drill a hole thru it to use as an attachment point to tie it onto a stick. Jaco was excited to examine it and said that it had to be an axe head being made by bushmen living in the area who knows how long ago. Jaco said farmers first settled in the area in the late 1800's and bushmen were living in the area then so it had be at least 150 years old and laying out there in the sand. The area is so dry with little rainfall that it had not really weathered and worn away. The person forming it probably decided the limestone was too soft for an axe head and abandoned the tool for harder stone but who knows. We had no idea how old it could be, but since it was my story to tell of finding it they said I should say it was at least a 100,000 year old axe head! :cool::cool:. Here are some pics of the axe head:

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If you make it to NKWE to hunt, check out the axe head, I gave it to Jaco to keep and he sat it in the dining tent on one of the tables and gave instructions to the staff to never throw it away!

Since the wind had picked up blowing pretty hard in the afternoon we decided to not go out for an evening game drive as we thought the animals would be hunkered down until after dark anyway so we hung around camp the rest of the day and enjoyed the fire pit and a few beers.
 
Awesome writeup! Makes me miss the Kalahari, man I wanna go back
 
Day 8 (Monday):

There was another group of hunters ( @Malcolm13 ) flying into Maun today to hunt as we were to leave the next day. Quentin needed to do the 2.5 hour drive to Maun to pick them up so Kevin and I were both with Jaco and his trackers for the day. We decided to go out on a game drive onto a neighboring property we hadn't driven this morning to see what we might find. I told Jaco I would like to get a 2nd steenbok if the opportunity came up. I'm going to do a shoulder mount of the steenbok I had gotten earlier and mount it onto a small pedestal that can be set on a desk or shelf like I have seen from some others on AH. A second steenbok could be added or done up in a shoulder mount for the wall. We saw a couple of smaller rams this morning but nothing close to my first so we let them pass into the brush and grass. We saw some nice game as Jaco showed us around the property owned by his cousin and took us to another his uncle used to own. Came back to camp for lunch and a nap. Around 3PM Jaco asked if we wanted to go see if we could find another big kudu bull on a different cattle ranch that bordered his camp property on the other side. We were game to try for one more kudu so off we all went since Quentin and the other hunters wouldn't arrive until about sunset. We saw several kudu cows and a small bull but nothing to try and get a shot. We did see some fresh leopard tracks walking along the sandy road and at one point we met a fellow farmer and his wife driving in from town, they told us they had just had a group of wild dogs cross the road in front of them just a half mile or so up the direction we were headed. Jaco found where the wild dogs had crossed but they were long gone by then. He was concerned because wild dogs in the area was bad news for the cattle farmers who could lose several cattle to the killers overnight.

We got back to camp at sunset empty handed but having had a fun evening game drive. Quentin was back with @Malcolm13 and his son. We sat around the fire all evening telling them stories of our hunt and getting them excited for the next 9 days they had to hunt with NKWE.

I've been exchanging text messages with Malcom for the past week and have seen some of the game they have taken, let me just say if you liked some of our animals wait until you read @Malcolm13's report. It will be a doozy with some fantastic animals they were able to take. Keep an eye out for his report to come of their hunt.

Day 9:

Time to head home from Botswana, Quentin drove Kevin and I to Maun for our mid afternoon flight back to JNB. When we arrive into JNB, Kevin and I part ways as he is headed home to Montana and I'm staying in RSA for another week to do an auction hunt with Numzaan Safaris, I'll do a short separate write up on that hunt.

NKWE Safaris and the Botswana Way are everything you've heard about them. I'm sure hunting with Tholo or Bokomosa is very similar with lots of great plains game to hunt. One thing I didn't really know about NKWE is that they do a lot of leopard hunts in the Kalahari with hounds, Jaco said he has hunted over 300 leopards that way. They also do several elephant hunts each year for some really big bulls / ivory. I would definitely recommend checking them out for leopard and elephant opportunities.

Hope you enjoyed the hunt report.
 
OK, finally back home in Montana with decent internet and time to get a report out since several folks have asked how the hunt went.

Flights made it into JNB fine from Doha and I spent the first night at Afton Lodge since our flight to Maun didn't leave until the next day at noon. Hunting buddy made it in later that evening on Delta as he connected thru Amsterdam since the flights were much cheaper and he wasn't bringing a rifle along. Caught our flights into Maun on Sunday 5/26, I went thru the gun permits and paid my duty fees on my ammo and we were off to Ghanzi. Quentin, one of Jaco's PHs, picked us up for the 3 hour drive to camp and we arrived just at sunset. NKWE has a nice tented safari camp that has a nice "old Africa" feel to it, got settled in, had dinner and called it a night after sitting around the fire for a while. We were there for 8 days of hunting in total.

Hunting Day 1:

My main target animal was to go after a big eland bull followed by kudu. Since I had not shot an eland previously and new they had some big old blue eland bulls on their properties, that was to be my first target animal. I also wanted the experience of a tracking eland hunt. Quentin was to be my PH for the week and my buddy Kevin was hunting with Jaco, although we did a few hunts with all of us together during the trip.

Quentin and I started out that morning shooting both rifles to make sure the scopes were still on target and then headed out with Kenny our tracker and Tuma driving. We were hunting NKWE's main property where the camp is located, not sure of the size but it is quite large and has a perimeter fence only, we never reached the backside of the property all week.

We stopped by a waterhole right away to look for tracks and they said lots of fresh tracks but all cows and young bulls. Down the road we went to soon saw some more tracks but Kenny indicated that it was a single old bull and Quentin wanted to try and find a group of bulls to get on. Soon we found tracks crossing the road, got off to examine them and Kenny said it was a group of bulls that had crossed the road the previous evening and then back across during the night/morning. So we set off following the tracks. I was using my .375HH for the eland hunt and set off following Quentin and Kenny on the tracks. We followed the tracks for about 45 minutes and quite a distance when Quentin said we had come upon a group of Zebra and needed to circle around them and pick up the eland tracks again to keep from spooking the Zebra. We started to move around them in the thick brush when suddenly we saw the Eland. It was a group of 8 Eland bulls hanging with the Zebra. The zebra kind of spooked and set off at a trot and the eland followed along. Kenny and Quentin tracked the group for another 15 minutes and we caught up with them all milling around feeding in the thorn scrub. We were watching the eland in our binos to see what size bulls they were and any good shooters when a couple of Zebra caught our scent and spooked the whole group to take off again. Back onto the tracks we went and soon the Eland bulls split away from the Zebra onto their own. This is what we wanted to get them away from the spooky Zebra. We trailed the eland for another 1.5 - 2 hours getting close and then they would move out agian. I was amazed at the tracking ability of our bushman tracker Kenny to stay on the right tracks. With tracks of numerous animals crossing our path I had no idea if we were on the right trail until every once in a while we would come across fresh dung or urine in the sandy soil indicating to me at least that we were still on the right track. The eland would move for a while and then stop to feed and watch their back trail and either see or hear us moving closer then off they would trot again. Finally after several miles of this we got into a position to see the eland feeding. I was watching one eland we saw in an opening when Quentin set up the sticks and said to get on them for a shot. He indicated which bull and all I could see was the one I had watched which had now moved away. I kept saying I can't see which one you are indicating and strained to pick out the biggest bull in the group. They were only about 60 meters away in the thick thorn brush but it was a struggle to pick them up in the scope. After several seconds of Quentin and I going back and forth on where to look, I finally saw the back of the eland and as I moved left could make out the face of the bull with his big mop staring right at me. Quentin whispered to estimate where his shoulder was in the brush and punch a .375 round thru the brush. I fired and the bull jumped up in the air kicking and eland erupted everywhere! We waited a few minutes, both feeling the shot was a good one. We eased forward and found the bull dead only about 15 meters from where he was standing when I shot. The 300 gr A Frame punched right thru the brush and smacked him right in the shoulder for a perfect shot. I was elated to have a beautiful big eland bull down. We had spent about 3 hours tracking them and according to my iPhone fitness app in my pocket, we had walked about 7 miles, so I was getting pretty tired by the time we got the shot. Quentin called Tuma on the radio to come find us. We took some pictures and loaded him up to head back to camp around noon.

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He measured right at 35" with big heavy bases and mop on his face. He looked like he was starting to lose some weight and was a good older bull.
Nice bull congrats!
 
Great report thanks for sharing, really enjoyed reaading and looking at the photos. Has me really missing Africa.
 
For those who follow NKWE and have future hunts planned with Jaco, look for Malcolm's report, follow @Mac13 , I kept citing his screen name wrong earlier. I know today was the day they are heading home so may be a while before he writes up his report but the animals he and his son got this last week are spectacular from the pics he has been sending to me
 
sounds and looks like an awesome hunt. thanks for taking us along for the ride and congrats!
 
Great write up Pat and it was a pleasure meeting both you and Kevin in camp.

Pleasure to meet you guys, now let's see a report of your hunt with @NKWE SAFARIS. While I saw lots of pics I want to hear the details.
 
Awesome writeup! Makes me miss the Kalahari, man I wanna go back
The Kalahari was an awesome place to hunt, I'm already trying to determine when I can make it back there.
 
Having hunted with Jaco, the bar is set high for future safaris. I can almost hear the echo of “GOOODFREY” by that fire. I need to book another Botswana trip…this thread confirms it. Awesome pics. Great work by all.
 

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