Brian & Denise Safari With Rance Safaris

Discussion in 'Hunting Africa' started by RANCE SAFARIS, Nov 14, 2019.

  1. RANCE SAFARIS

    RANCE SAFARIS SPONSOR Since 2019 AH Member

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    Brian & Denise Safari EP1 - with Rance Safaris

    In April I had the pleasure again of guiding Brian and Denise of Texas on their third African Safari with me. This time we were to hunt the Kei River Reserve owned by Rance Safaris in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. We were to spend 7 days of fun and laughter together.

    After catching up around the campfire and reminiscing the two previous trips to Tanzania together over a good few G&T's, our first morning we set off in search of what ever we stumbled across with no real game plan. Brian and Denise have always preferred going out with a happy go lucky mindset. With a favorable breeze in our face, we set off on a walk to finally get to a major vantage point to glass through the undulating valleys and deep gorges. I was still wiping the sleep from my eyes when I spotted strange looking sticks protruding out the waving long green grass not barely 100 yards from us - my Leica's confirmed that it was indeed the ivory tips of a fine bull bedded down enjoying the warmth of the morning rays.

    I have never liked giving the client the option of shooting a bedded animal, and this case was no different. We had all the time in the world so we all sat down and let the kudu make the next move. In such situations seconds feel like minutes, and minutes hours with your heart in your throat praying the wind doesn't change. It didn't take long for the kudu to slowly get up and have a stretch and a poop. By then Denise was already on the shooting sticks with thumb on the safety lever. As he stood there he looked even grander than we could have imagined, a massive heavy body with beautiful flaring ivory tips, an animal that we certainly couldn't pass up . Denise made a great shot and it was high fives all around. On closer inspection he was extremely old with a horn length of 56 1/2", the perfect animal to take.

    It has taken the Rance Family many years of careful management to ensure that such genetics are passed on and kept in the gene pool - premium trophy bulls are only to be harvested once they have past their prime breeding age ensuring the best genetics are passed on. This bull is a great example of that. As the days went by we would see plenty kudu bulls over the 50" mark DAILY, some even close to the magic 60". Throughout all my years of guiding I have never witnessed such a healthy kudu population with such fine genetics! Hats off to Rance Safaris, you guys have created something spectacular!

    Denise Kudu (2).jpg

    Stay tuned for more episodes!

    Happy Hunting,
    Craig
     
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  2. RANCE SAFARIS

    RANCE SAFARIS SPONSOR Since 2019 AH Member

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    Brian & Denise Safari EP2 - with Rance Safaris

    On day two we focussed our hunting to the higher altitude areas where the vegetation of acacia thickets and valley bushveld transforms into large pockets of tall forested thickets and open grasslands – as we slowly climbed our way up the mountains away from the Great Kei River the temperature dropped a considerable amount of 5 to 10 degrees Celsius.

    Again we weren’t too sure of what we’d bump into up there. We’d stop every so often to glass across the vast valleys where we spotted heaps of kudu, zebra, giraffe, waterbuck and warthog, and a few lone sable bulls which may need a closer inspection. As we got close to the top of the mountain we found a herd of 8 mountain reedbuck sheltering down from the cold misty weather. There was a great looking ram in the bunch so we devised a plan and set off on a stalk. Its always tricky coming up from underneath your quarry, we just managed to keep low enough out of their sight. As we skirted around the hill the Ram was just below the skyline above us, Denise slid onto the sticks and made a great 200 yard shot, a lovely old ram!

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    While we were taking photos and enjoying some coffee, we spotted a lone Black Wildebeest bull that looked really good from far, so we repositioned, got the wind in our favour and started a very long stalk that would take us through 2 valleys and up some serious terrain. After much huffing and puffing we finally got up to the bench that we had marked a kilometre away. As we poked our heads up the bull was still there feeding away from us. We had to scramble a number of times until we could get within distance. By this stage the cold breeze had picked up considerably making a steady rest off the sticks extremely difficult for Denise. As the bull finally stopped and turned broadside the shot rang out and the wildebeest took off over the hill at a rate of knots. Judging by the sound and reaction from the animal, it seemed as if he was hit a bit far back. The soft wet ground made for easy tracking which we did for half a kilometre or so, as we tracked around into the next head of a valley we found him lying down and Denise was quick to put another shot into him. He was a magnificent old Black Wildebeest with serious bosses, and he expired in the most perfect place for photos!

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  3. RANCE SAFARIS

    RANCE SAFARIS SPONSOR Since 2019 AH Member

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    Brian & Denise Safari EP3 - with Rance Safaris


    After refuelling on Nomhle’s scrumptious brunch and a siesta, we took it easy and idled down the Cememe River which is one of the large tributaries to the Kei River. As we ambled along we glassed over about 10 different nyala bulls but none of them were of age yet, we also passed up on some impala. We then took a slow walk and got to vantage point that overlooks a bend in the Cememe River. After sitting for while animals started appearing all over the show.

    We were concentrating on another nyala bull 80 yards below us that wouldn’t show his head when a group of kudu bulls walked out. There were 3 under age bulls together with a massive bodied older bull. After a bit of scrutinizing I told Brian that the older bull was never going to grow into anything great and offered it to him as a ‘management kudu’.

    Rance Safaris have a strict management policy where only the big quality animals may be harvested if they are past breeding age, however if we come across a bull that has “inferior” genetics we offer them to clients at reduced rates, by doing so over time you ensure that only the superior genetics are passed on, and this management philosophy is applied to all species.

    Brian has never been one to shy away from any opportunity and this case was no different. He leap frogged Denise in a flash and quickly got onto the sticks and waited for the bull the step out into the open, as it did Brian made a quick shot, probably a bit too quick and pulled the shot a bit back. The bull disappeared as he ran down into the Cememe River gorge. Light was fading so we had to act quickly. We split up just in case the bull made a dash for it. Brian and the Tracker Two Boy stayed on the kudu tracks and I stayed further up overlooking the valley he disappeared into. With a bit of team work the bull was down and we just had enough light for photos.

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    This “management” kudu bull measured 48” and weighed a whopping 233kgs dressed, a beautiful Kudu nevertheless.
     
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  4. RANCE SAFARIS

    RANCE SAFARIS SPONSOR Since 2019 AH Member

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    Brian & Denise Safari EP4 - with Rance Safaris


    On the morning of day 4 we planned on Denise getting a blesbuck so we went to an area where they often are, rolling grasslands with sparse Acacia Karroo thorntrees. We slowly walked up shallow valley with the protection of being seen by pockets of Acacias. On numerous occasions we had to duck and dive away from warthogs that all that their snouts in the ground foraging away. We were in perfect position with a herd of blesbuck feeding their way towards us when Two Boy spotted a Kudu bull off to our right through the thorntrees.


    As the kudu bull turned and looked our way we both noticed it was missing half of its left horn. Brian looked at me wide eyed and I knew that the blesbuck hunt would have to wait for another day. Brian has always had a fetish for old animals with broken horns, and this was no different. We managed to find a shooting lane through all the acacias, and just as Brian got into position the Kudu decided to lie down. After much discussion we started to creep our way closer to the kudu to get a better shot. After about 10 minutes of tedious bum crawling a herd of zebra decided to join the party. With a herd of Zebra now between us and the kudu, all we could do is wait. By this time it was mid morning and the wind started to shift. The zebra were barely 60 yards from us when they caught a whiff and went stampeding off. With all that commotion the dozing kudu jumped to his feet and stepped out from the shade he was lying in trying to figure out which way to run. Brian didn’t have much time and certainly didn’t waste any. The bull only managed to run short distance before crashing over. A grand old boy with one broken horn and the other stretched the tape to 53”. He was old with very few teeth and his condition started to show that. The perfect animal to take.

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    That afternoon we went back in search of blesbuck, it didn’t take us long to find a good looking ram. With the help of some good cover, we made a relatively easy stalk within 100 yards and Denise gave her blesbuck a one way ticket to Texas. We had some time to spare and cold beers in the vehicle, so drove to a nearby lookout and quenched our thirst while watching another dramatic African sunset!

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  5. RANCE SAFARIS

    RANCE SAFARIS SPONSOR Since 2019 AH Member

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    Brian & Denise Safari EP5 - with Rance Safaris


    A crisp clear morning greeted us on the fifth day which was a welcome change. Primarily we were to target a bushbuck by glassing the thicker valley bushveld thickets. We encountered plenty kudu and waterbuck again but there was no sign of bushbuck. We slowly walked from vantage point to vantage point spending considerable time at each glassing away. Just as we were about to move off further down the valley I spotted a buffalo walking out into a clearing – he was a long way off but we decided to take a closer look.

    It must have taken about thirty minutes to get onto the same side of the valley as the buffalo was around and across a deep gorge. We had to guestimate to where the buffalo was heading and would be and we were spot on. We managed to get within about 25 yards of him but the brush was so thick that we could only see his feet. He must have heard our hearts pumping in our chests and with that took off down into the gorge and up the other side to where we had just come from. Brian was carrying his 375 improved, so was confident in taking a longer shot if necessary. As the buffalo came to a screeching halt and spun around to figure out what he smelt, he was a tad over 300m away and Brian let lead fly! Only after the buffalo reared up on his back legs we heard the hit. There was no time for follow up shots as the brush engulfed the wounded bull.

    Because of thick brush and the uncertainty of how well the bull was hit, we brought Gus into mix, an unbelievable English Coon Hound cross Blue tick. Once we climbed up across the valley and found where the bull was initially hit, we were quick to pick up the blood trail and released Gus. Within three minutes Gus had the buffalo bayed, the wounded buffalo didn’t run very far at all, but lay in ambush in the nearest thicket waiting for us. The sound of Gus and bull having a go at each other was something spectacular! With Gus holding the attention of the buffalo, we managed to get in close without provoking a charge. As the bull broke in attempt to get away from Gus, we managed to get a few extra shots in before he disappeared below us. As the buffalo’s death bellow echoed down the valley we knew it was all over. Closer inspection revealed that Brian’s initial shot was a tad low in the shoulder missing the bottom of the heart! Again high fives all round on a successful and exciting bushbuck turned buffalo hunt.

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    That afternoon Brian and I went out in search of nyala. We made a few successful stalks on several nyala bulls but all turned out too immature. Whilst making another stalk on a nyala we stumble upon two beautiful kudu bulls not 80m yards from us, the one was old pushing 58” for sure. I offered him to Brian but he declined as he would rather have Denise have a go, but she was back at the lodge on a conference call, we never did see that bull again.




    After passing up nyala after nyala, at last light we finally found the bull we wanted. Brian had to make a shot a little over 100 yards and made no mistake! He was a beautiful old nyala bull with long ivory tips way past his prime, and stretched the tape to 27”.

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  6. RANCE SAFARIS

    RANCE SAFARIS SPONSOR Since 2019 AH Member

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    Brian & Denise Safari EP6 - with Rance Safaris


    On day six we went back up to the high altitude forested areas looking for the elusive bushbuck, very cold, windy and overcast conditions made life very difficult for us and we failed on the bushbuck miserably. But on our way back down we spotted a lone sable bull off in the hills that was worth another look at.

    The loose rocky ground left Brian cursing behind me, but he soldiered on as always. The way the terrain was and where the sable was feeding, we couldn’t get closer than 260m. The sable was slowly grazing his way towards us so we decided to get into a good position and wait for him to come to us. Almost an hour went by until he appeared where we thought he would. Brian squeezed a shot off but the bull just stood there, and casually walked into a thicket. Not wanting to lose sight of the thicket the sable had entered in case he was wounded, we sent our tracker Two Boy around and above him, even though the wind would then be wrong, it should push the sable closer to us. The plan worked perfectly, as Two Boy got close to that thicket the sable scampered out down the hill towards us on the opposite hill. As he stopped to look back at Two Boy, Brian made a perfect broadside shot! We had to use much man power and the land cruiser winch to get the Sable out the ravine, but it was all worth the effort! A monstrous old bull that measured 44”!!

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    We took the afternoon easy enjoying each other’s company by taking in the Kei Reserve’s vast vistas, glassing here and there. I could tell that Brian and Denise’s 3 week Ugandan Safari just prior to joining up with us was taking its toll. As we were about to stop and enjoy another African sunset and crack open a beer, a warthog appeared amongst a herd of waterbuck. Besides broken horned animals, Brian is also addicted to hunting warthog! I explained to Brian that he was a decent old boar but we could do better, ignoring every word, Brian got up onto the sticks and shot the pig. Smiles don’t lie they say….

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    That evening we surprised Brian and Denise with a “bush braai”, where the lodge staff set up a full on dining table with lanterns and bar above a waterfall in the Cememe River. As we drove down into the Cememe River, we were met by Matt and his staff with warm facecloths and G and T’s in hand. With a massive bonfire going, the Rance family joined in on the festivities and a lovely evening was had by all!

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  7. RANCE SAFARIS

    RANCE SAFARIS SPONSOR Since 2019 AH Member

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    Brian & Denise Safari EP7 - with Rance Safaris

    Our last days hunt turned out to be another cold, misty and rainy morning. The bad weather had no ill effect on our spirits though, and we set off with high hopes of what the day was to present us with. We were on our way to the cliffs of Rapness to look for bushbuck when we spotted a small herd of buffalo off in the distance, about 12 animals in total. They were out in the open grazing and very relaxed so I turned and looked at Denise, she looked at Brian, and Brian’s response was “If you want to hunt a buffalo honey, lets go get em!”. Denise needed no more encouragement, we loaded rifles and set off to get a closer look.


    We used some big boulders and a clump of thicket in an otherwise open grassland as cover and closed the distance relatively easily. It was apparent that 2 old dagga boys had joined up with this small breeding herd for some conversation. Both dagga boys were of similar age, the one slightly wider than the other. Denise slid onto the shooting sticks just like we had practiced and done so many times together before. The buffalo were now only 60 yards away so in a whispered breath I instructed her which animal to shoot. He was slightly quartering towards us so told Denise to aim on the point of his shoulder.

    At the shot the buffalo’s reaction was good. The herd milled around in confusion and moved closer together but now hidden by that clump of thicket we used as cover. I was hoping and expecting that he was down. Our bull was still out of sight behind the herd. Still only 60 yards away and not aware of our presence, we didn’t move a muscle. It took an eternity for the herd to slowly start moving off to our right, by this time I still hadn’t laid eyes on him again since the shot. Finally a bloodied nostril appeared from behind the thicket and I knew that was him. As he took a few more steps forward showing his vitals Denise had another crack and all hell broke loose. The herd stampeded off to our right and down back into the safety of the dense valley bushveld, and our bull ran directly away from us also down into the thick stuff.


    After analysing the tracks, we found a small pool of blood that must have been dripping out the buffalo’s nose when they were all mulling about. There was only the slightest of blood trails, one drop every 10 yards are so. As we tracked to the edge of the thicket common sense prevailed and Gus the legendary English Coon Hound cross Bluetick was called in. We let the buffalo be for about 2 hours before commencing on his tracks.


    Again Gus was immediately quick on the trail and after 100 yards down some steep thick thorny terrain he had the bull bayed with one hell of a commotion. Trees were breaking, the buffalo was growling and Gus was going wild. In order to get Gus and the buffalo within sight we had to literally crawl on all fours through the dense brush. As soon as we could make out where the buffalo was merely 15 yards away, a small war broke out and the buffalo was down. Without the help of Gus, we would have seriously been in a spot of bother!

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    Hunting buffalo in this kind of terrain and vegetation is totally different to what we were used to up in Tanzania. The buffalo here tend to stick to the safety of the thicker vegetation during the day and only come out into the open to graze early morning and late evening. Generally the hunting method is spotting them from a distance out in the open early in the morning, or knowing where they have bedded for the day and ambush them as they start grazing in the evening. Picking up tracks and following is also an option but less successful due to the thick vegetation they bed down in. Makes for exciting close quarter hunting that’s for sure!


    We thoroughly enjoyed our last evening together, recapping the past 7 days as well as years past of our many adventures in Tanzania. It’s always sad to say farewell to Denise and Brian, they have not only become a part of my family now, but also have joined the Rance Safaris family. Brian, I wish you all the best with the rehabilitation of your quadricep operations and can’t wait to go chasing grumpy old buffalo with you and Denise again next year!
     

  8. cagkt3

    cagkt3 AH ENABLER PLATINUM SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Congrats to all involved!
     

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