BOTSWANA: Tholo Hunt 2018

Neale

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Chance at an Elephant while chasing big Kudu what could be better. Can't wait to hear more @GA Hunter
 

GA Hunter

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You did get to hunt an Elephant. You just didn't get to shoot one.
That adrenaline rush pretty well says it all.

Where the heck are the pictures man!?

Unfortunately the pics came out blurry. I had to stand up in the seat and shoot them off hand. The stabilization function just couldn’t correct enough to wash out my movement combined the zoom I had to use. I was disappointed for sure.
 

GA Hunter

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I really enjoyed sharing my first trip with you. I am still working on putting my into words.

Same here my friend. Hopefully I’ll be seeing you in Atlanta in a couple of months to uncreated the spoils!!
 

GA Hunter

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Damn man you had me going. Neat bumping into him. Did he have one tusk or not. I agree with pictures but I fully approve of passing kudu till the holy shit appears

We never got a look at his left side. Definitely nothing on the right.
 

GA Hunter

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Why do I feel like I just got setup? :sneaky:

Looking forward to seeing a big kudu!

Clive said that a team of game scouts showed up at his farm the day after the call and set up a tent near his runway. Who know what their intentions were?? I haven’t checked back in to see if the helicopter actually showed up.
 

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Congratulations on an exciting hunt.
 

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OK, I’m excited and can’t wait for “the rest of the story”!
 

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Great story, thanks for sharing! Glad to here Clive is still there. He & his staff treated my wife & I very well many years ago on my kudu hunt.
Looking forward to the rest of the story!
 

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Congrats, that is one beautiful blue wildebeest!
 

LivingTheDream

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Was on the edge of my seat for the elephant hunt! Man shame they didn't give you the green light. Can't wait to read the rest!
 

crudeoildude

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fflipping incredible a mini ele hunt cant wait for the rest of the story,
 

GA Hunter

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Day 5

We had been out of camp for about an hour and a half and the cruiser was barely creeping as we approached the near 90 degree turn in the road. All eyes stared intently down the road as our progress revealed more and more. Several hundred yards were in view when I got the first glimpse of movement. A gentle tap on the side of the vehicle brought it to an immediate stop. This acknowledged that I was not the only one who had noticed the brief flicker of black gleaming in the distance. It seemed to take forever before we saw any other sign of life but in reality it was only a minute or two. First came the black and white muzzle followed by the sweeping horns then the tall shoulder and bristled mane. The most beautiful sable bull I had ever laid eyes on finally stepped fully into the road. He was in full sun which brought out the sheen of his jet black coat. No sable I had ever seen struck me like this one. He was gorgeous.

Riaan sensed my fascination and turned to me with a look that asked if I was interested. I gave him an immediate acknowledgement. One more glance down the road confirmed that he seemed completely unaware of our presence. Within seconds we were on the ground checking the wind and discussing the plan. The wind dictated that we circle through the bush several hundred yards to our left and do our best to get close without going past him. Currently he was close to half a mile away and he seemed to have found something of interest on the side of the road. We could only hope he would stay put.

We had no sooner entered the bush when the other animals slowed our progress. First was a small group of wildebeest with their zebra friends close by. We managed to ease by them on the downwind side. Then came a large group of impala and not knowing how many there were we had no real choice other than pause and let them pass on their own. The toughest task was saved for last. We had made our turn back towards the road when we spotted a pair of satellite disks (aka kudu ears) pointing directly at us. Once again we were left with only one choice so we simply froze in our tracks. At least it was only a two or three year old cow. I am convinced that if it had been one of the old matriarchal bitches we never would have gotten past this. The stand-off finally ended when the rest of the group fed far enough away that she gave up on us. We gave them several more very anxious minutes to move away before we started again. My tension factor had been ramping up with every passing moment. I didn’t know how long it had been since we started out but it felt like an eternity.

All senses were at DEFCON 1 as we stalked the last few hundred yards. The road finally came into view and I was sure he had moved on by now. Oupa was the first to get to a spot where he could actually look down the road and he withdrew as if he had been shocked and instantly dropped into a crouch. Afraid to chance being spotted Riaan and I resisted the urge to look until we got a report. Oupa acknowledged the obvious and told us that he was head up facing directly at us at about 150 yards and seemed to know we were there. We remained still until we thought it was safe to chance a look. Peering through a nearby bush I finally got a look at him and he was still looking our way. Even though his head was up his posture really seemed relaxed. Being the novice I kept my mouth shut and let the rest of the team sort things out.

Riaan finally touched me with his elbow to let me know it was time to make a move. I eased out far enough to see that he now had his head down and again seemed to be focused on browsing. Enough time had passed that we were all seated giving our knees and backs a break. He started up with the sticks without standing and I waived him off. Without speaking I conveyed that I would rather try to maneuver into a position where I could shoot from a seated position. I passed him my rifle and ever so carefully made my way over a small dead bush and into a seated position right on the edge of the road. I retrieved the rifle and moved into the most stable position I could with my elbows firmly on my knees. He was facing straight at us as the illuminated dot of the Swaro found his chest. One last glance to make sure everyone was well clear of the impending muzzle blast. As soon as the dot settled on the center of his chest the trigger broke. The recoil disrupted my sight for an instant and I did not hear a thump. Even though the mental picture I had was perfect as the shot went off, the lack of a thump and the fact that he had done a 180 and was now running at full tilt straight away made me panic somewhat. Before I could get the action cycled he went tumbling head over heels in a cloud of dust.

Before I could move Riaan and Oupa were up pounding me on the shoulders, shaking my hand, and congratulating me. Certain that he was done, the walk to my trophy was more of a stroll because I wanted to soak in every moment. Oupa was the first to reach him with Riaan a step or two behind however neither of them touched him until after I had my hands on him. Holding the long sweeping horns in my hands and stroking the shiny satin black coat brought back memories of the first kudu I ever killed. Here I was a simple, Georgia boy, thousands of miles from where my love for hunting started, grasping the horns of a trophy that I once thought would always be thousands of miles away. Other than to say I was on cloud nine I really can’t find words to express my feelings in that moment. Yet another dream come true in Africa.

The photo session was brief and while we were waiting on the guys in the meat wagon to make their way out to retrieve him I went for a walk. As I have gotten older I tend to get a lot more emotional about just how special it is for me to be able enjoy the privilege of hunting. These days it’s no longer something I take for granted. A few moments alone gives me time to really let it all sink in.

The remainder of the morning we defaulted back to the original plan of tracking down my “oh sh%t” kudu. I suppose Riaan and Oupa may have been keeping a keen eye out but as for myself I was still so high from the start of the day that I barely remember what we did or where we went.

Once we got back to camp I wasted no time in getting back to the skinning pole to check on things. The guys were already working at fleshing the hide and the skull and horns were in the boiling vat. I was hoping to see the skin come off. Oh well…………somebody get me a Castle!!

The afternoon yielded only a couple of stalks that ended at a kudu that didn’t make the cut. There was a poor jackal that made the mistake of stopping within site of the truck. He didn’t make it.
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Day 6

Once again Riaan directed the truck in a direction that let me know we were staying on the main property. We were on one of the main roads and it was not uncommon for us to see farm hands walking in the road. We stopped and talked with him for several minutes which was a little strange. Normally we would only pause for a second to say hello and offer a ride. They said their goodbyes and the cruiser started off again. Riaan turned to me with a little smirk and told me the farmhand had told them that he spent the night listening to two elephants breaking branches very near his hut. Are you kidding me??

Soon enough the truck headed back out towards the cattle property where the informant lived. Unfortunately two hours of searching and we didn’t turn up anything to support the claim. Not one track, not one broken branch, nothing. And again, nothing from nothing leaves nothing……………..it was still nice to think that maybe, just maybe, there was a chance.

We headed back towards Tholo and eventually Riaan suggested we go on a walkabout. Just like the day I killed the wildebeest we were headed towards an area where it’s common to find large groups of animals with many species mingling together. We got in close without spooking anything and took up post near a small bush that allowed us to observe without being busted. There were wildebeest, zebra, and gemsbok scattered through the area. Most were either resting in the shade or slowly grazing. One particular wildebeest bull was doing his best to let everybody know he was still the boss bull in the neighborhood. He chased several of his subordinates out of the area, each time returning to find another unlucky youngster to push around. This went on for quite a while and I was just relaxing and enjoying the show content with the circumstances.

Riaan had noticed a one horned gemsbok bull that looked like he was on his last leg. He was old and poor enough that his hip bones were starting to show as was his spine. He turned towards him and maneuvered the sticks in place between me and the old guy. I was already making my move when he leaned in and asked if I was interested. My reply was simply “why not”. He was perfectly broadside only a hundred or so yards away so I was able to take all the time I wanted for the shot. I decided on a high shoulder shot to try and anchor him on the spot. Just as I had hoped he dropped immediately at the sound of the shot. He was moving a bit as we approached and I finally realized that while he was not going anywhere he would continue his struggle for some time if I did not do something. As soon as this hit me I announced a second shot was on the way and put one through the top of the spine that should’ve found the heart. His struggles became more like involuntary quivering which made me feel better. I have taken my fair share of game through the years but I can honestly say I have NEVER knowingly let anything suffer. EVER.

One last note on this is that while we were sorting things with the gemsbok Riaan pointed out a solitary buzzard that looked like he was at least a mile high. He suggested that I keep an eye on the sky until we left. Sure enough more and more buzzards made their way overhead and began circling ever lower with each passing moment. With everything finally in the trucks we loaded up and began to pull away. As we did the tornado of birds began the final decent. Before we got 75 or 80 yards away the first one hit the ground followed by all the others. We stopped to watch for a few minutes and within 5 or 10 minutes they were done. Pretty amazing to watch. The circle of life continues.

As we rolled into camp for lunch we learned that a couple of the other hunters had wounded animals during the morning and had called for tracking assistance. Riaan rounded up every tracker he could find and sent them out to help. At lunch I made the suggestion that I would be willing to hang around camp for the remainder of the afternoon if the trackers were still needed. At our normal 2PM departure time there was not a tracker in site. I acknowledged my content one more time to my host and spent the afternoon watching the activity around the waterhole in camp. It turned out to be a great afternoon filled with kudu rutting activity and a large troop of banded mongoose enjoying the lawn. It was quite a show.

Day 7

There isn’t much to say about my last day other than it was a very relaxing ride through the countryside. Sure we spotted more kudu and made a few stalks but I would have been content to sit in the shade with a cold beer and warm conversation. Riaan would have no loafing from his hunter he wanted to make sure I got my money’s worth. Despite our best efforts we drew a blank for the day.

Reflections

Even though I didn’t get my kudu this turned out to be one of my most memorable trips.

My policy of letting the bush dictate the animals I take payed off in spades. I took two of my best trophies and neither of which were even on my radar when I arrived. Sure it’s possible the distractions may have taken away some measure of possible success on my quest for a giant kudu but I would not change a thing.

The elephant adventures were incredible. As someone stated earlier “I did get to hunt an elephant”. My problem now is that I’ll be hoping for this same chance every time I return…………….

I’ve said this before about Tholo. The best part? Everything. The worst part? Leaving.

B Davis
 

jasyblood

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Sorry you didn't get your kudu, but congats on that beautiful sable!
 

gillettehunter

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Congrats. I think I would trade a sable for a Kudu almost anytime. Gives you a great reason to return.
Bruce
 

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At lunch I made the suggestion that I would be willing to hang around camp for the remainder of the afternoon if the trackers were still needed. At our normal 2PM departure time there was not a tracker in site. I acknowledged my content one more time to my host and spent the afternoon watching the activity around the waterhole in camp. It turned out to be a great afternoon filled with kudu rutting activity and a large troop of banded mongoose enjoying the lawn. It was quite a show.

I very much enjoyed your story. The part above make it a very proper ending. I like it.(y)(y)(y)
 

cpr0312

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Bobby,

Congrats on a nice sable! Thanks for sharing the journey with us!
 

Kowas Adventure Safaris

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Great story! Thanks for the report... Sounds like you had a cracker of a time!

Congratulations on your trophies! (y)

My best,
Jacques
 

Neale

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Great read GA Hunter, Even though you did not get your Kudu he is still there for your return visit.
 

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Great report! What an impressive pair of animals you harvested. That is a monster Wildebeest, and one of the most beautiful sables I have seen.

My policy of letting the bush dictate the animals I take payed off in spades. I took two of my best trophies and neither of which were even on my radar when I arrived. Sure it’s possible the distractions may have taken away some measure of possible success on my quest for a giant kudu but I would not change a thing.
I read your report with much reflection on my mind. I was almost sick when we left Limpopo because I had missed a chance on a very nice Kudu, and that I missed a shot on a nice Eland. Not knowing if we would ever return, had me in a consternation. I have since realized in the last few weeks that the animals that I took, that meant the most to me were the ones that we simply happened upon, and had to stalk diligently to harvest. I enjoyed the planned hunts for planned animals, but not nearly as much as I enjoyed letting the hunt unfold as it would. Your words are wise ones, adn I hope those who read your report take note. Let the hunt come to you. It will increase your enjoyment immensely! Thanks for the report! Excellent trophies as well!!
 

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