BOTSWANA: Two Weeks Hunting In The Kalahari With Kanana Safaris

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by BRICKBURN, Sep 30, 2014.

  1. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    To commemorate a milestone I pushed to finish a promised hunt report.
    Some of you have likely given up on ever seeing this hunt report. It has taken some time and there have been some logistical issues in getting it done.

    Here it is, my 7000th post


    Summary:
    When I arranged this hunt I had seen the new post about a new property opening up to hunting that had not been hunted recently. It is always an incredible opportunity to hunt a property that may have some opportunity for a larger trophy.

    The reality was that some people had jumped on the opportunity to head to Kanana the first season it was open. By the time we are to arrive it was already hunted for part of a season and part of a second. That was a realization about being able to jump on hunting opportunities as soon as they arise. However, the benefit of having some hunters’ head in before you is that you get some hunting reports and you have some idea what you are truly in for. All the reports thus far were glowing.

    This is my first encounter with Botswana and encompassed a 15 day (June 30 to July 15, 2013) hunt with a group reaching the size of 12 people, all but one of whom would be hunting. Fifteen days were booked for the die hard hunters to be able to have a lower pressure trophy hunt and also create an opportunity for the rookies to soak it all in.

    There is a lot of space and plenty of game. (Some species in higher abundance than others. Springbok, Blesbok took a beating from the Cheetah’s attention.) There are Leopards as I discovered, the occasional transient Elephant and more birds than you can imagine.

    Kanana is a tented camp located along side a Kalahari Pan where there is a limestone outcropping in the bush. A new wing of three tents was just being completed as we arrived. (I dubbed it the Brickburn Wing.) The final touches were still being completed for the first days of our arrival.

    The food was basic and certainly well prepared and presented. We ate a buffet breakfast of both hot and cold options and in the evening a three course meal was served with a selection of wines beside the fire in the Boma. There was always an inviting fire started to help get you warm in the morning and evening. Lunches were sandwiches in the cooler to be eaten where we found ourselves when the need arose. My friends and I are not too demanding when it comes to food. The worst part was the meat in some of the sandwiches was tough to chew. (i.e. a chunk of steak in a bun. Nothing a knife slicing it thinner would not cure.) Can you suffer through that? I could.

    Cocktails before dinner were available for anyone to serve themselves. There were a few days when that rum was certainly required!!

    Jason was adaptable and made changes for the group in some trophies in the package. He accommodated picking us all up in Windhoek, Namibia. It is simply much easier and cheaper to travel to Windhoek than JNB/Maun/drive. It was appreciated. Jason is layed back, adaptable and excellent at his job. Given his wife was expecting his new family member in a few days he stayed focused and did what was needed to adapt and do his job. He handled all the Botswana import permits and transfers without a hitch. I never worried.

    This small outfit was stretched to it’s maximum by such a large group coming to hunt. If you have a small group you will experience a well oiled machine with a couple of excellent PH’s. The staff were still learning and with more experience will do nothing but improve and become quite proficient. Skinning, cooking, etc.

    To sum up, Kanana was a small new outfit that was facilitating a huge hunting group and pulled it off with some glitches that have since been worked out. Everyone acquired some high quality trophies while having a good hunting experience and they enjoyed their visit.



    Introduction:


    When this hunt was arranged Jason specifically requested that I write a report that shared “the good and the bad”. I assured him that I would write a hunting report that shared the good, the bad and the ugly. So, here is the detailed product.

    Before I would ever book a hunt I research, as hard as I can. I started researching the property, the Outfit, the owners, hunting associations, PH organizations in Botswana, taxidermists, the Botswana’s laws and Jason himself. I learned about the history as a photo Safari destination, Rhinos and the history of cattle ranching in the area.

    Several reviews on Trip Advisor had me asking some direct and pointed questions. The reviews were about the previous iteration of the Motswiri Lodge and my concerns were assuaged.

    I received the GPS coordinates for the entire property and set them all out on Google Earth and had a pretty good idea of what was being offered.

    At the time Jason commented that if every hunter were as thorough as me there would be no “fly by night” operators in the industry. I took that as a compliment and I agree.

    With the amount of interaction that my research creates I come to know, as well as you can “remotely”, the individuals I am about to go hunting with. Jason was always straight forward, layed back and honest. His goal of developing Kanana into a good operation is realistic and well planned. At no point was anything on offer exaggerated, over blown or over sold. Which to me is the hallmark of a good outfitter. This is what we have, I hope you buy it and come and hunt with us.

    After I concluded that this offer was legitimate, not “too good to be true”. I shared “the offer” with some friends and the group started to grow. I decided to invite a brand new hunter and use the “developing young hunters” side of the offer and the group grew further.

    With it being a “package” there were some trophies, that true to human nature, some people did not want to hunt again. “Can I change this for that?” Jason, being very flexible, said some reasonable exchanges would be accommodated.

    With the size of the group now at an even dozen they were going to have to build new tents to accommodate the group. Thus, the Brickburn wing was created. :)

    After seeing the pictures of the tented camp during my research I made a special request for my personal comfort. Being of diminutive stature I don’t seem to fit so well on those single beds, so I asked that they bring in a queen sized bed for me. Jason was again amenable.

    As I started to write this report it is almost a year to the day that I was in Windhoek Namibia heading toward the next phase of my 2013 African adventure.

    I journaled daily and kept notes and of course all the pictures that were taken to follow my progress and provide an excellent stimulus for my memory as I write this report. I hope you enjoy it.

    RStalking_zps501fb711.jpg
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 9, 2016

  2. James.Grage

    James.Grage AH Legend

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    Now the rest of the story....lets have it...
     

  3. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Be prepared for disappointment, this is coming in segments. :)
     

  4. James.Grage

    James.Grage AH Legend

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    Ok, Just checking.

    i will chat with you later off forum about the group planned trip.
     

  5. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Day 1

    June 30 2013


    It was a treat to fall asleep in my warm seat in the sun while being safely delivered by a professional driver. You don’t realize how hard you have been hunting until you sit down mid afternoon in a warm vehicle. I nodded off several times during the trip, which was quite refreshing.


    As the sun drops on Windhoek I have been safely transported to the Roof of Africa. http://www.roofofafrica.com by the driver provided by Ozondjahe Safaris.


    They have my reservation and the desk staff has a good sense of humour. Which is always a good sign. I have a standard room that is clean and it looks like a decent bar with the local beer cold and ready to go. Dinner will come shortly in the large restaurant.

    I have a courtyard room behind a gate with a guard at the gate entrance.

    As I walk in I immediately and see Jason Bridger at the desk. Hellos to him and also meet JP and we had already SMS’d to meet up for dinner at 19:30 before we bump into each other. Perfect.


    I settle my stuff in my room and watch with some trepidation as I spot a bridal shower, thirty young women with a DJ, winding up in the Boma beside the pool directly across from my room. I tell my driver he should stay and he should be able to find a date by nights end.

    My guess is that I will be tired enough to sleep. Luckily they shut the event down by 2100. I was up having dinner when they dispersed thankfully.

    Meeting Jason Bridger and JP in our first face to face chat over steamed fish and some veg that I had no idea what it was. Always interesting eating in new places.


    We will be rising in the early morning darkness at 0430 and heading to the Windhoek airport to pick up seven friends and making the drive across Namibia into Botswana to the Kanana Safaris property near Ghanzi.

    We were up and loaded and to the airport and manage a coffee and croissant for breakfast, while we wait for my hunting comrades arrival at Windhoek.

    When they arrive I immediately find out that there were “Issues” with the German Police and the Bows. Amazing, they wanted a permit for them! They made a phone call to the outfitter in RSA about the equipment. Another bloody lesson in cross border travel for the hunting public. Never heard of this one before. (It was a similar PIA on the return flight)


    Anyway, we get everyone some coffee and get them in the vehicles for the long cross country ride. I am looking forward to seeing the Kalahari. I have flown over it and have not seen this area from the ground before and am quite sure it will be a little more interesting from the ground level.

    Good to have the buddies here. Some fall asleep quickly and some are talking away while witnessing the new countryside. We see game along the way, with the youngest hunter Jane (13) spotting Gemsbok on the open plain and also some Red Hartebeest. She did an awesome job for someone fresh off the plane onto a new continent.


    We stop along the way and get some water, cool drinks and snacks for the trip. You can see now that everyone is jet lagged and “just wants to get there”. I am on local time and can feel for them as they have been traveling a long time. It is actually quite hot out (shocking for a “desert”) and the AC is on full blast.

    We arrive at the Trans Kalahari Border control post and I have no idea what to expect.

    [​IMG]
    The Border from the air. Not an integrated building. :)

    We go to Passport control Namibia. All forms filled out and Exit stamp provided on the passports. The novelty starts with a trip back into town Buitpos to find the police station to get the gun permits for exit. I guess everyone cannot afford a multi story building housing every government department at each border crossing.

    We arrive at the Police station to find that it is burnt to the ground and they are operating out of a tent. The tent is out back somewhere.

    We crawl through the maze and find the lady officer in charge.
    Out to check the guns. Being first in line I am surprised to discover that the officers at the Windhoek airport did not see my 300 WM in the case and they have documented and allowed me to import only ONE rifle. The 270.
    Hmmmm. Alarm bells are going off in my head and I am waiting for it…… Waiting…….. Nothing. I get the all’s clear with a pleasant; “Have a nice day”. OK. I am relieved and amazed.

    The rest all goes smoothly. “Have a nice day, safe trip.”


    We now drive off to the Mumuno Border Control post on the Botswana side.
    We arrive and create the entire line up at Passport control and wait to have each person fill all the forms and submit them. Now customs for the firearms and they certainly want to see each one. Out to the vehicles and in come the firearms to check serial numbers. Try that at a US border crossing!!
    Lucky us, no tax on ammo. I think the Customs lady just wants us gone.


    On we go and soon we are on the back gravel/dirt road to Kanana.
    The powder on the road is 6 inches deep. It is like Talcum and it gets into anything and everything.
    Having a good seal on your Pelican gun case is imperative. Even though the canopy is closed on the truck that white powder gets in.
    I have been on gravel roads at home in dry hot periods and have seen an inch of clay powder on the roads, NEVER anything like this.
    Amazing stuff.

    We slow and arrive at the gate. Weary heads are up and looking around. Almost there.


    After visiting on Google earth I have an idea of where we are as we enter the property and swing north toward Motswiri Lodge.

    [​IMG]
    The layout of the property on Google Earth.


    Claire and the entire staff greet us at the lodge and we have introductions.
    Mango juice is served. It is pleasantly refreshing after a long ride.


    The fight for rooms is on. Really, everyone just figures it out and we are off with our bags to our tents.

    I am in the brand new “Brickburn wing”. I am in the last tent farthest from the lodge in a new series of raised safari tents that is situated bordering another mostly dry pan. After all, it is the end of June.

    [​IMG]
    My good luck Talisman hanging from my tent. The Brickburn Wing.

    After seeing small beds in photos of the original tents I asked Jason if he might be able to install a larger version for my tent. I discover my bonus when I open my tent. It is a Queen bed that actually fits, can you be happier. Nope. Any issues I am asked to let Wills the newest young PH know and he will fix it. He was the construction manager in charge of the new wing. You have to know that being a PH is just so glamorous.

    [​IMG]
    The view from my tent.


    The three tents in this wing at Motswiri Lodge are brand new and the Hemp from the carpet and the rug smell brand new. There are going to be minor issues and bugs and we find some shortly. The water heaters are instant on and they need water pressure to work properly.

    After the first cold shower, I finally learn how to work it. Another tent takes a little more effort to fix but it resolved that day.
    [​IMG]
    Before sunrise one morning. Brrrrr.

    [​IMG]
    The instant water heater.

    [​IMG]



    Everyone gets a nap and then some stroll around the lodge area and you can see everyone feels much better. That flight is a long one.

    Lunch is served in the Boma. It is interesting to note the different behaviour of the people who have never been to Africa before in comparison to those who have been to Africa before. Some appear a little lost and others are exploring in their jet-lagged haze, but all of them are exploring. (Including me)
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    The famous Guard Warthog



    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    It is winter in Africa. Butterflies and flowers. Just like Canada.

    [​IMG]
    Bush Willow Seeds




    Unconsciously, almost simultaneously they all decide they want to get out and get ready to hunt. We did come here to hunt! So it’s decided to head to the range.

    [​IMG]


    I head to my tent to get my rifle case. As I am walking back toward the lodge, rifle case in hand I watch as everyone is piled into the vehicles and driving away.
    I am standing in the road with my rifle case.
    Hilarious.
    Do you think they are excited? Are they ready to go?!


    One of the trackers, Martin sees my sorry state of affairs and immediately proceeds to grab the third Bakkie and we are off to the range. As I get in the vehicle I decide to load up (cartridges in the magazine), just in case the monster steps out on the way to the range.

    I have no idea which direction the range is from the lodge and thus no idea where my comrades are.

    We cross the pan, turn to the right and head down a dirt track in the low bush and as we crest a small rise, sure as hell a monster Waterbuck, one my dreams are made, is running for his life from the range and the crowd that had invaded his territory with those noisy rifles. I’d run too.

    Safety first. If I had known where my compatriots were actually located this Waterbuck would have been in serious trouble right then and there. I just watch that white ring disappear over the small rise in the landscape.
    I make a mental note and I am sure we’ll meet him later.

    Not being one to keep names straight easily, I decide to work at it and I try and note whom all these new people are. PH’s Jup, JP, Jason Bridger, Wills Armitage.
    Trackers: Martin, Morland, Those.
    Claire and Becky are in charge of everything really.
    True to form I never learned all the names of the staff.

    A typical rifle range with the addition of two covered shooting tables. I let everyone know how close I came to drawing first blood on the way out.
    [​IMG]


    They all saw the Waterbuck. I am now certain John Dillinger did not feel that wanted on his worst day.

    As everyone sights in and gets some practice, a couple of rifles needed minor adjustment but otherwise most were spot on.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]






    Everyone is ready to go and the vehicles scatter to the four corners.

    There is nothing like ending your day with a drive in the bush.

    [​IMG]


    The lounging area at camp: After dark. Party central for those already on Africa time. :)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     

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  6. Wheels

    Wheels AH Legend

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    The business model of soap operas! You have me hooked!

    Looking forward to the rest. You write a good report.

    All the best.
     
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  7. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Glad you enjoyed it thus far.
     

  8. Royal27

    Royal27 AH Ambassador

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    This is going to be good. Almost glad I can't read it all at once! :)
     

  9. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH Legend

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    Loving it so far. Please don't keep us in suspense too long. Thanks for reporting. Bruce
     

  10. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Day 2

    July 1 Canada Day

    The last four friends are being picked up today in Maun. They flew a different route and took in some other sights on their way.


    Up before sunrise and into the Boma for breakfast by the fire.
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
    The path to the Boma is lined with lanterns so you can find your way at night.


    This is the first day and everyone has quickly chosen their PH’s this morning and it takes no time for everyone to head in to different parts of this huge property. 06:52 AM


    I jumped in with JP and my buddy Richard.

    [​IMG]


    I ride along and it’s Richard who’s up first to stalk every last opportunity in the morning. I have already been hunting and have no issues being an observer and quite enjoyed it actually. I’m not really an observer, my rifle is in the rack and JP knows I want a 60 inch Kudu, just like everyone else.

    [​IMG]


    We stopped at the lodge for lunch after multiple unsuccessful stalks during the morning outing. I took some more pictures of flowers and butterflies in the winter. Gorgeous.

    As we lounge at the lodge Jason drives into the pan to get some trophy pictures with T, his rookie hunter who got his first animal. A mid fifties inch Kudu! Holy cow did he set the bar high. Hunting with a group makes it fun and creates a competitive camaraderie.

    [​IMG]


    I noticed an innovation in their Bakkie's/cruisers that was quite interesting. Basket racks over the cab for storing cameras, bags, etc. in a ready to go state of affairs. I did not realize how much I would miss this up and out if the way storage on other hunts. Great idea. There is also a refrigerated cool box right behind the hunters’ seat in which cold water and snacks are always present. Got to love that.


    When we left the lodge after lunch to continue our hunt we saw a fifty plus Kudu and being the first day we are absolute snots and passed on him. We obviously have very high hopes for our opportunities on this large property. We either have confidence or we are nutty as a fruit cake.

    [​IMG]


    I took pictures and after talking and whistling he finally moved off. We continue on our merry way.

    I look at the pictures now and shake my head at what we did.

    [​IMG]

    I never noticed JP shaking his head but I found out later in the hunt, as we got to know him better, he too wondered if we were a little crazy. We were certainly trophy hunting!

    We ran into Waterbuck that were quite willing to hide instead of run. This was not the one.
    [​IMG]

    Unbeknownst to me JP has not told us there is a monster Kudu that has been missed several times in recent hunts.

    I think we are driving near the “cattle area” (not a clue where I am really) and up jumps this monster Kudu and everyone’s reaction is “holy sh*t”. We are all quite literally in shock. My buddy and I just stand there and look at each other.

    This bull jumped from his bed in heavy cover within five yards of the truck. Who would have thought!?

    I recover first and grab my rifle. He certainly looks like what I am after.


    At 250 plus yards the kudu stopped running and entered a line of higher cover. I never took my eye off him. I made certain I was steady and when he slowly stepped out into a thin spot I shot off handed. There are no sticks tall enough for this shot. I heard the bullet strike. There were cheers heard from behind me that the shot is good.

    As he turned and ran and I took another 250 yard off hand shot and hear another strike. He disappeared into the cover over a slight rise.


    We start the follow up after waiting patiently for ten or twelve seconds. You know the required amount of time suggested by all hunting manuals for follow up. Glad this was not a Leopard.


    We catch up quickly and the bull has stopped moving away, but I am not sure he is going down.

    As we get closer he is still standing. The cover is so high it is hard to make him out properly. Yet again, he started to move off, I shot again.

    I quickly walk up and find him to finish him off. Perhaps a few minutes wait might have reduced the bullet count, but excitement obviously took over. My patience was all used up on the Leopard hunt in Namibia I guess.


    It is 15:07 and he is down. He is a monster. His body, neck, bases and length are pretty astounding.
    [​IMG]

    I stood in awe and got the camera out immediately and took plenty of pictures.

    [​IMG]
    It is an amazing trophy that I was fortunate enough to just happen upon. Luck, plain luck.

    It feels like a 60 inch bull, so I thumb measure him out to 64. He cannot be 64.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]




    [​IMG]
    You know it's big when the tracker takes out his own phone to take pictures. :)

    This is an incredible trophy. I am very happy, elated actually. The smiles say it all.
    [​IMG]


    It turns out that my thumb measure is off ; the tape at the shed later says 58.5. That is not ground shrinkage. It takes nothing away from this incredible animal.
    However, it does mean that there is a "Holy Grail" Kudu still out there for me and I can keep hunting Kudu. :)


    After the trophy pictures and loading JP goes to look for a celebratory beer in the cool box. Be damned if there are none! Immediately JP gets on Martin about the lack of beer in the cool box. And we tease Martin mercilessly how “dusty” it is for the rest of the day. Martin is awesome, jumps in to the teasing and deals with it very well and smiles through it all. I can tell you there is not another day without celebratory beer in that cool box!


    You can imagine we are all pretty excited as we continue hunting. Two huge Kudu taken on the first day. This certainly bodes well for everyone.

    We found another excellent Kudu at last light and I took this picture of the stalk. This Kudu was not so accommodating as mine and managed to use the failing light to make his escape.

    [​IMG]


    Happy CANADA DAY!
     

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  11. James.Grage

    James.Grage AH Legend

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    Great story and some nice trophy on the first day... make the hunt more enjoyable.
     

  12. Royal27

    Royal27 AH Ambassador

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    It is interesting. I've always heard, and semi used, sometimes, the 15 minute rule. But in Zimbabwe my PH believed in immediate follow-up. He didn't want to give the animal time to think and did this on Buff too, at least for the initial follow. Leopard though, especially at night, he gets backup.
     

  13. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    When I was in the Leopard blind I was reminded again and again about not leaving that blind unless I could see the Leopard dead at the bottom of the tree. Somehow, the Kudu did not cause the same trepidation.

    In this circumstance having that Bull disappear into cover was too much. There was no way he was going to get away after I finally came out of my initial shock.
     
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  14. Royal27

    Royal27 AH Ambassador

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    And each situation is obviously different. Putting the animal down more quickly is always the goal, and that is what you did.
     
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  15. Nyati

    Nyati AH Ambassador

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    It´s not only a big kudu, but the shape is perfect, at least it´s the way I like it ! Congrats.
     

  16. Wheels

    Wheels AH Legend

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    Superb trophy.

    Love the flair.
     

  17. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    Excellent kudu!!!! That one you passed would make most people drool :).
     

  18. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    Messages:
    18,500
    Video/Photo:
    414
    Likes Received:
    10,191
    Hunted:
    Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Canada, USA, Mexico
    The true sign of an insane trophy hunter!
     

  19. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH Legend

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2009
    Messages:
    2,442
    Video/Photo:
    29
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    1,722
    Hunted:
    Namibia, Kyrgyzstan(2) South Africa(2) New Zealand
    Great bull! Hopefully you didn't show up everybody too badly. Love the shape and mass. Bruce
     

  20. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    Messages:
    18,500
    Video/Photo:
    414
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    10,191
    Hunted:
    Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Canada, USA, Mexico
    You'll just have to wait and see what kind of luck I had. ;)
     

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