BOTSWANA: Plains Game Hunt Botswana

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by WAB, Aug 21, 2018.

  1. WAB

    WAB AH Elite

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    We have just returned from a great trip to Botswana. This was my 6th safari and the first in which I would not be hunting Cape Buffalo. I love classic tracking hunts for free range game. In my experience this meant buffalo and elephant. On this hunt we would be using the same technique to hunt eland in the Kalahari desert. Our tracker, Benna, is a bushman and the same tracker who proved infallible on a previous hunt for buffalo and elephant. My good friend Frans van der Merwe (Franshunter.com) was my PH. Werner Lombard guided my wife and son.

    Forewarned by others experience, I did use TSA locks on my pelican cases, four per case to fill all the holes, but had a set of standard locks as backup. I appreciate the warning posted on AH but I chose to stick with the TSA locks as TSA had previously jimmied the locks on a very good Americase takedown shotgun case for me. If they will accept them, I prefer to use the TSA locks and avoid a repeat of that debacle! I don't think security is any less with the TSA locks as I suspect that anyone who chooses to steal your guns will simply take the case and cut the locks off at their leisure.

    I avoid airline connections when traveling with firearms like the plague. The only time I connected in Jo'Burg my ammo decided to spend an extra night there as opposed to accompanying me to Lusaka. Since then I overnight in Jo'Burg at Africa Sky guest house. If you have never used Africa Sky I highly recommend them. The wife of another guest best described it as 'a little piece of heaven'. The staff have become friends and I would have a rebellion on my hands if I suggested a safari without stays at Africa Sky on the front and back end!

    Following a fabulous meal and great night at Africa Sky, we were off to Maun, Botswana. Frans and Werner were at the airport to meet us. After a mere hour of calculating, the customs folks determined that I owed them $22 duty for the ammo I had brought along. I was tempted to ask if I would be repaid for the ammo I took home with me, however, I suspect my entertainment would have been jaded by another hour of calculations!

    We drove South about two hours into the Haina Hills just North of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. We were hunting a 66 km2 property owned by good friends. Frans and I were laser focused on eland, while Sue and Ben would hunt with Werner and take what the bush offered.

    The first day we tracked a herd of roughly 15 bulls. Late in the day we got a good look at them. There were two good bulls in the group and we could have harvested either. However, it was the first day and Frans felt we could do better. With some misgivings, we backed out.

    We hunted hard on day two and three. We passed on any number of good trophies encountered while on the trail of old eland bulls. We had opportunities at lesser bulls but that was not what we were there for. In the meantime, Ben and Sue were keeping the skinners busy with zebra, wildebeest, oryx and kudu!

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    On day four we managed a stalk on a large group of eland. There was at least one very good bull in the group. The final stalk involved roughly half a mile bent double at the waist followed by 400 yards or so of crawling and for good measure a final 100 yards of full leopard crawl. Finally in position a wildebeest moved in and pinned us. Frans told me that I would have to move slowly on to the sticks and shoot quickly as the wildebeest was about to out us. The only complication was that it would require a neck shot. I moved slowly up on to the sticks, picked out the bull, and killed him cleanly with a shot through the neck at what I thought was 80 yards. However, the size of the eland totally fooled me as it turned out to be a 160 yard shot. I was pretty confident in an 80 yard neck shot, its probably just as well that I didn't know it was actually 160 when I was making the shot!

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  2. WAB

    WAB AH Elite

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    Jet lag is hitting hard. The hunt was followed by a 4x4 trek and camping through the parks, camping at Khwai, a stop in Savuti and finally a beautiful lodge on the Zambezi in Kasane with a visit to Vic Falls. I will post pics and provide more details when I get some sleep. I will say that I really enjoyed renting and driving my own rig through the parks. If you are comfortable with the left hand drive I highly recommend it.

    We took the cut lines through the hunting concessions from Kasane back to Maun and finished the trip with a Braai at our good friends, the Lombard's, dairy farm on the Thamalakane river.
     
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  3. Ridgewalker

    Ridgewalker AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    Nice! Can’t wait for the next episode!
     

  4. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Congrats on the eland! Sounds like a lot of fun stalking. Look forward to more!
     

  5. stug

    stug AH Fanatic

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    Nice looking eland, well done.
     

  6. Scrumbag

    Scrumbag AH Enthusiast

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    Great stuff! Honeymooned in Botswana last year.

    IF you get a chance and have an OK truck, take the old road through the park from Maun to Kasane via Savuuti
     

  7. BenKK

    BenKK AH Fanatic

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    What a magnificent eland and rifle! What is the rifle?
     

  8. Environ

    Environ AH Veteran

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    nicely done
     

  9. LivingTheDream

    LivingTheDream AH Legend

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    Awesome! What a great bull!
     

  10. WAB

    WAB AH Elite

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    My apologies for the wandering report yesterday, I should have waited for a decent night's sleep before beginning!

    Regarding BenKK's question, the rifle is a Win M-70 in .375 H&H. Metal work by Gary Junk of Arctic Gunworks (Fairbanks) and stock by LeRoy Barry of Canyon Creek Custom Gunstocks. I have its mate in .458 Lott. They both shoot sub 1" groups. I am a bit of a M-70 addict with another custom build in 7x57, a stock featherweight in 7x57 and a Super Grade in .243.

    The eland was interesting to me, in that it was a very old bull but the ruff was not black. Apparently the Livingstone's and Cape eland range overlap in the Kalahari. I am told that the lighter ruff and smaller dewlap can be characteristic of the Cape Eland. We passed on lesser trophies with much larger dewlaps and dark ruffs characteristic of the Livingstone's. I would be interested to know if anyone else has seen this when hunting in the Kalahari.
    DSC_8304.JPG
    Following are some pictures of the hunt:
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    Following the hunt I rented a rig, Frans drove his rig, and we took the back roads through Chobe to Khwai. We camped in Khwai for two nights doing private game drives with Frans' rig with sundowners on the river. I will post some photos as time allows. The elephant damage along the river system has to be seen to be believed. I was last in Khwai five years ago and it seemed to be significantly greater on this trip. Hunting will not solve the problem. Botswana has 220,000+ elephant with carrying capacity for 80,000. At the peak of hunting, 493 elephant tags were issued per year. A major culling operation would be required to put things in balance but in today's world this seems unlikely. It will probably just continue to get worse until there is a large scale die off.

    The photo safari traffic in Khwai and Savuti was significant. It is very evident that photo safaris have much greater environmental impact than hunting safaris produce. Not a story we are likely to see on the six o'clock news anytime soon!

    We spent two days in Kasane at the Marina Lodge on the Zambezi River. We did the normal tourist things on the river and at the falls. The drive back to Maun was down the cut lines through the famous hunting concessions: Rann's, Calitz's, Kgori's. It was great to see the old areas again but sad to see them completely unused.

    I should add that during our trip we did flight-seeing tours of the Okavango and Victoria falls. Both of these are must do's if you are ever in the area.

    We picked up a lot of intel on the progress to re-open elephant and buffalo hunting in Botswana. It sounds likely that tags will be issued in 2019 for communal areas where elephant/human conflict is becoming a serious problem. If all goes well with these hunts, the hunting concessions will follow. Let's keep our fingers crossed. Botswana is a special place. I shot the last buffalo legally harvested before the closure. I would like the privilege of shooting the first buffalo when it re-opens!
     

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  11. BenKK

    BenKK AH Fanatic

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    Hopefully there’s good news around the corner for Botswana’s wildlife and people!

    Thanks for the details about your rifle, too.

    And, nice kudu!
     

  12. BenKK

    BenKK AH Fanatic

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    What bullet did you select for the eland?
     

  13. WAB

    WAB AH Elite

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    300 gr Swift A-Frame. My wife and son were using 7x57's loaded with 175 gr Swift A-Frames. I feel like a Swift commercial!
     
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  14. Nyati

    Nyati AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Congrats on a great hunt !
     

  15. cmnhunt

    cmnhunt AH Veteran

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    Do they charge per arrow if you bow hunt?
     

  16. cmnhunt

    cmnhunt AH Veteran

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    Nice eland by the way.
     

  17. WAB

    WAB AH Elite

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    A few more pics from the Okavango, Khwai and Savuti. DSC_8326.JPG DSC_0509.JPG DSC_0556.JPG DSC_8402.JPG DSC_0838.JPG DSC_0879.JPG
     

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  18. Jeffrey Masters

    Jeffrey Masters AH Veteran

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    What an incredible hunt! That is a beautiful Eland, and the Kudu looks like a real brute. Thanks for sharing!!
     
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  19. stug

    stug AH Fanatic

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    Great pics, the leopard is a classic.
     

  20. 1dirthawker

    1dirthawker AH Enthusiast

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    that was a great eland, heavy. well done!
     

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