NAMIBIA: African Dreams Come True At Kowas Adventure Safaris


AH veteran
Apr 5, 2017
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RMEF, Trout Unlimited - LIfe
USA, Namibia

There’s a risk when you build something into a masterpiece in your head that it doesn’t live up to expectations. And for this trip, I’d done a lot of building. Somewhere around my 35th birthday I decided I was going to hunt in Africa when I turned 40. I’m not exactly sure where the interest originated, but it quickly blossomed into full on dark continent fever. I soon found the Africa Hunting Forums and immersed myself in the world of safari hunting. The stories were enthralling, and exotic. I started to stash the funds away as I slowly built a library of information over the next couple years.

My focus narrowed as I started to learn about what each country offered and determined what my priorities were. I wanted to bow hunt, and if I could spot and stalk, that was the preference. I became enthralled with the idea of sneaking up on a kudu in the African bush. I wanted to hunt large tracks of low fence ground. I preferred to visit a stable country where hunting was valued. I wanted to hunt with an outfit that hosted very few guests at a time, if not just one. Given my developing criteria, Namibia started to rise to the top of the list for the destination country.

Once I’d settled on a country, I focused in on hunt reports and outfitter reviews. Hours of evening reading elevated a handful of lodges and professional hunters to the top of the list. For these leading options, reviews were rave and repeat clients were numerous. While I was confident that I had a list of three or four places that would provide a world class experience, I wasn’t completely comfortable with spending the kind of money a safari requires without looking the operator in the eye and doing some in person character evaluations. With that in mind, I booked airfare and a hotel and headed down to the 2020 Dallas Safari Club convention.

The first stop I made on that Friday afternoon was at the @Kowas Adventure Safaris booth. I introduced myself to Jacques Strauss and told him I was interested in a spot and stalk bow hunt, specifically targeting kudu. I’ll never forget his look. His eyes lit up. He said it would be difficult, but if I came in late April or early May during the rut and hunted hard for at least 10 days, he thought we could get a shot at one. At a minimum, he was more than willing to accept the challenge. We talked a little more about their operation, he shared some of his own bowhunting stories, including taking an Oryx on a spot and stalk hunt, and introduced me to his lovely wife Elleni. I left the conversation impressed, and excited.

I spent the next day perusing the show floor and having detailed conversations with several other Namibian outfitters and one bowhunting consultancy. The response to my inquiry was the same everywhere. I was crazy, it would be too difficult, Namibia is too arid and open, I would have to hunt over water, etc. By the end of Saturday, I was back to where I started, asking Jacques for a list of references so I could do a few final checks before locking in dates. I’d found my guy. Kowas it was.

I went home and shared the good news. My wife was becoming more intrigued by the idea of Africa and asked that I hold off booking for a couple months as she pondered whether I should proceed on a solo adventure. By Spring, after a month or so of being locked in the house on quarantine, her mind was made up…she was going, and the kids were coming too. If it was going to be my 40th birthday celebration, they were going to be there for it.

This change in the number of travelers meant other adjustments were necessary. The trip now had to occur during summer break for the kids, and after the travel baseball season. Hunting the rut for kudu and impala was out. While sitting water holes wasn’t my preference, getting to experience it all with my wife and kids was going to more than make up for it. I reached out to Kowas shortly thereafter, and after confirming preferred dates around the new moon, we locked it in…July 28-Aug 11, 2022. I sent the deposit, and we were on the books. I would hunt five days and we’d tour Namibia for seven more. Only a little more than two years to wait!

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July 28/29 – Travel

Two years of life and Covid, which at times felt like 10 years and at others felt like two weeks, eventually passed. The car service pulled up at 10:00 AM sharp and our adventure was underway!
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We checked in curbside at O’Hare and giddily made our way to the gate. The flight to Atlanta was uneventful and we arrived with about four hours to kill before departing on the long-haul Delta 200 flight to Johannesburg. I booked our airfare and our overnight in Joburg with Jennifer at Travel Express. She was great to work with and was spot on with her recommendation to book the flights soon after they came available in September 2021. Airline travel was still depressed, and we would have spent significantly more if we would have postponed booking. As it was, we grabbed Premium Economy seats at a “reasonable” rate and I will be forever grateful for that cabin selection. After a late lunch in Atlanta, we made our way to the international terminal and impatiently waited for our 6:30 boarding and 7:25 departure.
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Eventually, it was time to board. While we’ve travelled a lot with our kids, this was their first trip across the Atlantic. They were simultaneously anxious and excited…along with intrigued by the level of service and amenities provided on the flight. We had two sets of outer seats in the Premium Select cabin in rows 22 and 23, a setup I’d recommend for any foursome making the trek.
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The flight was more manageable than I’d mentally prepared myself for. At 6’3”, I expected anything other than a bed to get uncomfortable after half a day in the air. Following a decent dinner and a movie, I fell asleep around 12:30 and was able to get a total of 5 ½ hours of shut eye over two spurts. Not ideal, but not terrible. Breakfast and a movie later, I strained to catch that first glimpse of coastline. Soon it appeared …Africa!
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While I’ve heard mixed reviews about this Delta route, we found the service to be friendly, the flights to be generally on time, and the food to be above average.

We arrived in Johannesburg around 5:00 PM local time and proceeded through Passport Control with ease. I went to the Delta luggage counter to confirm our bags would be checked straight through to our flight on Airlink the following morning, which they validated. Even so, I’d read enough luggage horror stories from JoBurg that I decided to walk past the luggage carousel for our flight before exiting the airport, and low and behold, two of our five bags were parading around on their own…my bow case and my bag of hunting gear! I quickly located the baggage claim manager who confirmed all bags should have been held down below for the next days flight. She hauled the two bags to the basement, and we met Gilbert for the short ride to Africa Sky House for the overnight. It was dark upon arrival, but it felt wonderful to get boots on the ground on the dark continent.

A shower and meal were much needed, and savored. We managed to stay up for a night cap around the fire before crashing on a real bed for the night.
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July 30 – Final Approach

Unfortunately, my morning started at 1:00 AM. I read for hours but could not get back to sleep. As light crept in from outside, I made a coffee and headed to the patio to greet the day.
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It was hard to tell we were in a foreign land the night before. Darkness hid the landscape, and Africa Sky is very self-enclosed. Sunrise left no doubt. The variety of new and unique bird calls and tropical flora gave the otherwise quiet courtyard an exotic vibe.

Before long the rest of the family arose, and we had a fresh breakfast before the 8:00 AM ride back to O.R. Tambo for the 10:40 Airlink flight to Windhoek. The flight was moderately bumpy on the ascent but smoothed out as we traversed the Kalahari from 37,000 feet.
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At 1:30 PM, nearly 48 hours after leaving the house, we were finally on the ground in Namibia!
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Given the horror stories of summer flying problems, we were relieved to have remarkably hassle-free travel to this point. Then we arrived at Hosea Kutako Airport. At Passport Control, after presenting passports for us and the kids, we were asked for their birth certificates. I didn’t get a smile from the immigration agent when I laughed and said they were in Chicago. Maybe it was my naivety, but we’ve travelled internationally with our kids a couple times without needing anything more than passports, so this was a surprise. There was a communication barrier that made the ensuing conversation unproductive. Eventually an officer came out from behind the box and explained they are trying to crack down on child trafficking in Namibia and have recently started asking for additional identification for children. She was more than reasonable and suggested I might have some other form of ID that showed the kids as my dependents. A medical insurance card did just the trick and our thoughts of having to leave the kids at the airport while we went on safari abated.

We proceeded to baggage claim and quickly located three of our five checked bags. You guessed it, my bow case and clothes bag, the two attempted runaways from the night before, were nowhere to be found. I kept cool during the immigration conversation, but the stress built when we were told all luggage was off the flight and to report to the lost luggage counter to file a claim. The line was a handful deep as we approached, not an encouraging sign. After waiting for a bit with little progress, I left the family in line and made a pass around the airport where I located the smiling face of Jacques Strauss by the exit. It had been 2 ½ years since we first met at the DSC convention, and he was sight for frustrated eyes. After explaining the situation, he suggested the bow case might be in the police office where the firearms are processed. We found an officer, and sure enough, one bag to go!

The clothes bag did indeed miss the flight, so after an ungodly amount of time waiting in line to file a claim, we loaded the luggage we had and were off!
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The 1.5-hour drive to Kowas flew by. My daughter crashed and slept the whole way while the rest of us stared wide eyed out the windows of the Land Cruiser and peppered Jacques with questions.
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July 30 Continued – Arrival

Pulling into Kowas was another one of a thousand surreal moments over the two weeks. I’d spent hours reading reports and looking at photos of their farm over the prior couple of years. It felt like a huge success just to physically pull up to the lodge.
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We were greeted with drinks and warm towels by Jacques’ wife Elleni, their young son Joshua, the intern, John, and a friendly pack of small canines. It felt so good to be “home”. After a quick tour of the facilities, where I did my best to pay attention and not trip and fall as I rubber-necked at the animals out at the distant water hole, we were shown to our lodging and given time to unpack and shower before dinner. The accommodations were immaculate, and “African” in every sense of the way.
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We had some time before dinner, which we passed sitting on the porch and watching the animals in front of the room. Waterbuck, impala, and a colony of meercats were constant companions throughout our stay at Kowas. None of them seemed to mind our presence if we remained around the structures.
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I had packed enough gear in my carry on and bow case to get by for a couple of days. The only thing from the missing bag I didn’t have in two places were broadheads. Thankfully, Jacques has done some bowhunting and had a few laying around for me to borrow. Before dinner we did some shooting and out to 30 yards my setup performed perfectly with the replacement heads. With that said, I only had three sharp ones, so it was imperative that I both shot flawlessly and my own arrived in short order!

Dinner was ground Oryx with a cheese sauce over African rice. I was working on 3 hours sleep, and nearly exhausted beyond appetite at this point. I skipped the after-dinner drinks and fire and made straight for bed. I was asleep before 8:00.
July 31 – The Hunt Begins

I woke up at 1:00 AM…again! At least this time was following 5 hours of sleep. However, I decided after being up for a couple hours that this was a dangerous pattern to fall into, so I took some melatonin and was able to get another couple hours in before waking for good. Up a little before 6:00 for a 7:00 breakfast consisting of omelets, bacon, kudu sausage and some delightful fresh guava juice.

Following breakfast, the entire crew (our four, Jacques, John, and tracker/skinner extraordinaire Humphrey) bundled up for a game drive around the property and for my son to get in some range time with the rented .243. Isaac had worked hard in both school and sports over the last year and met some pre-set requirements to earn the opportunity to hunt a single animal while in Africa. He was targeting a springbok, warthog, oryx, or potentially, an impala. The plan was to sprinkle in a handful of excursions between my blind sits to see if we could put him on a target animal at some point. Before that, everyone needed to see him handle and shoot the rifle with care and precision. He passed the test.
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Following the range, we took a big loop through the roughly 17,000-acre property, where the game became more active as the temperatures increased. Everyone was in awe as we ticked off a menagerie of species over the couple hour drive, including kudu, springbok, steenbok, waterbuck, impala, oryx, giraffe and black wildebeest. Before returning to the lodge, we stopped at the water hole we planned to hunt that afternoon for me to get a feel for shooting out of the blind. After a couple arrows into the target at 30 yards, I was comfortable and confident.
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Upon return from the drive, we geared up and headed back out with John dropping Jacques and me off at the above blind just before noon. I climbed in, knocked an arrow, hung up my bow, arranged the rest of the gear, looked out the front window, and pinched myself. It was real.

Jacques said he didn’t expect much activity until 2:00-3:00 PM, so we both picked up a book and settled in for the afternoon. I hadn’t been reading for 20 minutes when I heard a slight knocking rocks noise in front of the blind. I raised my eyes up to the window and was fairly stunned to see two springbok males at the water, one at 20 yards and the other back at 30. Springbok was on my wish list, along with kudu, oryx and impala, so there was an immediate adrenaline rush. I used the universal hunter silent language to get Jacques’ attention to evaluate the situation. After a half second view, he motioned for me to grab my bow and slowly stand to shoot. I slid over to the vertical window as Jacques whispered to shoot the far one. Springbok, for the uninitiated, are incredibly skittish, and as I drew the target male spun and walked a few yards to the left away from the water. He was now at 35 yards at a tough angle, and not really standing still. Jacques looked at me and said, “shoot the closer one, he’s not as big, but he’s older”. I told him later that was my preference anyway. The front animal was completely calm, drinking on the left side of the water, standing perfectly broadside. I was already at full draw, so lowered the twenty-yard pin to the top of the near side leg and pulled through the release. Jacques had advised me to shoot low on both springbok and impala given their proclivity to “jump the string”, so I did just that on this shot. Of course, he didn’t move until the arrow made impact. The hit was low, but in the heart. Following the clean pass through, the springbok jumped straight sideways to his left, splashed through the water hole, and made a beeline out to our front left. At roughly 150 yards he turned right, disappeared behind a bush, and did not re-appear. Smiles, shoulder slaps, and handshakes ensued. It happened so fast I didn’t even have time to get nervous!

As we watched the death run from my springbok, the other male made a run out to our left where we could now see he was re-joining a group of 20-25 females along with a big old blue wildebeest bull. Jacques immediately told me that even though it wasn’t on my list, I should definitely shoot the bull if he came in and that he’d give me a birthday discount on the trophy fee if the opportunity presented itself. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse, so I re-armed the bow, and we sat back down to see what might transpire. The next two hours were incredibly exciting, and tense, as the springbok herd slowly worked into the water, joined by a crippled zebra at one point, and finally a lone young female oryx. Everything was jittery, between the earlier commotion and my blood covered arrow laying out next to the water hole. Nearly every animal came within bow range, except the wildebeest. He never got closer than 45 yards and eventually spooked for good when a rogue wind swirl sent the oryx on a fast retreat. What a way to spend my first afternoon in the African bush! At 2:30 we climbed down and walked out to my first trophy. Just an incredible feeling.
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John arrived in short order with our ride and we loaded up my springbok and our gear for the quick trip back to the lodge where a small celebration ensued with my family. Everyone was shocked that we had returned in such short order, including us. There was no time to waste however, as daylight remained. Jacques and I had John drive us out to a completely different part of the property for the evening sit. It was mostly uneventful, other than a couple jackals that made a few appearances in and around the water before dark. My wife and kids spent the evening on a game walk with the other PH at Kowas. They saw several different species and were able to take a handful of great photos, including of this impala.
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We returned after dark and gathered around the braai as Jacques cooked oryx steaks for dinner and I enjoyed a Taffel Lager. The steaks were fantastic. I found most of the African game to be better than our venison, which I quite enjoy.
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I was starting to feel like a normal human being again, so I stayed out for a couple drinks and conversation with the Kowas crew around the fire after dinner. Elleni shared some great news; my bag had made that day’s flight to Windhoek and would be picked up and delivered to me the following day. What a relief! This was to be our last night at Kowas, as Jacques had us moving farms the following day to hunt a different property for the next four. Given the lodging at the new farm was empty, he decided it made more sense to just take the crew and stay there versus driving the 30 minutes back and forth each day. It made for a short but sweet stay with the family and staff that would not be joining us. I made it until about 10:00, and then was off to bed.
August 1 – Ibenstein

We were up at 6:30, following my first solid night of sleep, to a cold and cloudy morning, the clouds being a rarity in Namibia this time of year. We packed for the day’s travels and headed to breakfast at 8:00. Following breakfast, while the crew loaded our luggage and other gear in the Land Cruiser, Elleni took us to the small high-fence portion of the farm where they have breeding herds of Nyala, Sable and Red Lechwe. This part of the business is new, started by Jacques and Elleni during Covid as another source of revenue. These animals were fairly domesticated, and the kids got a kick out of driving up close and feeding them. Following this short excursion, we said our goodbyes to Elleni and crew as Jacques, John, Humphrey, and us four loaded up for the 30-minute drive to Farm Ibenstein, just outside the small town of Dordibas.

We arrived at Ibenstein around 10:30, and with the rooms not quite ready for move-in, decided to all go for a game drive. As we left the main house, Jacques said that if we saw a good impala, maybe we could get my son a shot with the whole family in tow. He said there were numerous good rams on the farm, and he didn’t think finding one would be a problem. This sounded like a great plan to me, but in hindsight, it may have been better not to say it out loud. Because, while the rest of us thoroughly enjoyed the variety and quantity of game we saw, my son became increasingly frustrated as we spent the next nearly four hours driving around without seeing a single impala ram! We spotted nearly every other species of game, including springbok, steenbok, black wildebeest, oryx, mountain zebra, kudu, warthogs, baboons and blue wildebeest.
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We stopped for lunch in the early afternoon, while Jacques and Humphrey climbed a mountain to glass for impala. They descended after a bit, having spotted a few, but nothing mature. We started our return trip to the lodge, with one last spot to stop and glass. Jacque and Humphrey once again left the rest of us and made a quick climb. This time, it wasn’t long before John got a message to grab the rifle and bring the rest of us down the road to meet. Isaac’s mood immediately improved as we disembarked from the back of the Cruiser and quietly made our way forward. Jacques met us up ahead and told us they’d spotted two mature rams 500-600 yards down the valley to our right. John was to take my wife and daughter up the hill to the left to sit with Humphrey and watch the action from up above.

The girls were nervous to leave us, and the rifle, given a group of baboons had been noisily making their presence known ever since we stopped. Nevertheless, the instructions were clear, and they each picked up a rock for the hike up as Isaac and I fell in line behind Jacques for the stalk. My first hunt was over too fast to savor, but this felt like true Africa, sneaking through the bush after our wary target.
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After 10-15 minutes, Jacques motioned for us to crouch down as he spotted one of the rams up ahead. From where Isaac and I were, we could not see him, but Jacques said he had picked out our movement and was starting directly at us from 150 yards out. After a couple minutes, a group of kudu cows and calves appeared to our left, and slowly started to work towards us. At this point, we thought the game was up as they moved towards our downwind side. Luck was with us however, as they turned and crossed in front of us, halfway to the impala. After the kudu cleared out, Jacques crawled under and around the bush in front of us to see if he could get a clear line on the ram we could see. He motioned us forward and we climbed in single file the 5 yards to his location. We could now see the impala, though obstructed from our crouching position, up ahead. Jacques slowly raised the shooting sticks, and I handed him the rifle. Once ready, he had Isaac rise and get on the gun. He told Isaac the impala was quartering towards us, so he wanted him to aim for the point of the shoulder. He then asked him if he was steady and if he had a clear view to the shoulder. Isaac confirmed all questions and then took the safety off. Jacques told him to shoot when ready, with the crack coming mere moments later…followed by a nearly as audible “whack”! We watched the ram run to our right 40 yards or so where he disappeared behind a small shrub. He didn’t reappear.

We moved forward quickly towards the last sighting of the ram. It was a short walk, and soon Jacques was pointing up ahead and smiling. Isaac walked up and grabbed a hold of a most beautiful set of horns. He made a perfect shot, just in front of the shoulder. And what a stunning animal. I was so happy and proud for my little man, and still am. He took it all in stride, shaking hands and smiling for the photos.
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Soon the rest of the war party descended from on high, and there were hugs and congratulations all around. It was such a joyous experience for all of us.
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We learned from the girls that from their perch they could see the two impalas, but not us. They waited for what felt like an eternity before they heard the shot, and then the impact. They watched as the ram bolted and fell, a memorable bird’s eye view of the whole affair. We road back to the main lodge feeling so incredibly blessed, and my son beaming from ear to ear, in between re-telling every last detail.

My lost bag was waiting for me upon arrival back to camp. It felt good to finally get into some proper hunting clothes and boots. I switched back to my broadheads and Jacques and I headed out to a water hole for the evening while my wife and kids settled in. Given the unseasonably cold temps, water hole activity was minimal early and late. Even so, I was in Africa, and was going to spend as many hours out in the bush as possible. We saw a couple small springbok rams and one very nice, but young, impala ram early in our sit, and then a jackal and a handful of bat-eared fox before dark. It was a beautiful evening, and I thoroughly enjoyed another African sunset.

We met the owner of Ibenstein and his girlfriend upon returning from our sit that evening and had a fascinating conversation over drinks around the fire, about the history of his family and the property. We all enjoyed another wonderful meal, highlighted by springbok loins from my kill the day before. It was tender and delicious, even though Jacques got distracted and slightly over-cooked it…a sin for which we did not let him forget. Dinner was followed by more drinks around the fire, trying to stay warm, and then bed by 11:00.
August 2 – Cold

It was 29° when we woke up at 7:00! European style breakfast was served at 8:00. My wife and kids had a day tour scheduled in Windhoek, so Jacques and I waited for their tour guide to arrive before heading out to the same blind we sat the night before. We were specifically targeting impala at this location, as Jacques hunted here with a client the week before looking for an Eland and spotted no less than 10-12 mature rams per day! It was cold upon arrival, confirmed by the thin glaze of ice that had formed around the edge of the water overnight. Movement was indeed slow, with only a couple springbok and the same young impala ram from the day before making an appearance in the morning. Just after the lunch hour a group of kudu cows and calves entertained us as they came to water.
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The rest of the day was uneventful with the same few springboks and one impala making a couple return trips. It was enough to keep us occupied, but the day ended with no target specimens making an appearance. It’s interesting in how the weather impacts movement differently around the world. The afternoon high on this day was 63. Here in the Midwest, temperature drops like this are a godsend in the fall deer woods…in Namibia, not so much. The day’s hunt ended with another picturesque sunset.
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More drinks and conversation around the fire before having loin from Isaac’s impala for dinner. It was cooked to perfection by intern John but was still significantly tougher than the springbok from the night before. I’m not sure if it was the age of this particular animal, but impala ended up being the only game meat of the trip that I’d take our venison over. We were off to bed at 11:00 with another full day ahead, and warming temperatures!
August 3 – A Dream

At Ibenstein, my wife and I had our own chalet, while our two kids shared one about 20 yards away. It was a little stressful for all going to bed that first night, but the kids ended up enjoying the freedom. We left one cell phone in the room with them, locked the door and took their key at bedtime so that everyone felt safe. There were no issues the first night, but on this morning, we were suddenly awakened by my daughter knocking at our door at 5:30. We jumped up and let her in to discover she had been up for the last hour with an upset stomach. I went to finish what was left of sleep with my son while she took my spot. A half our later she vomited, putting the kibosh on her and my wife’s scheduled spa day. It turned out to be a case of the tap water causing an upset stomach (the rest of us were mostly drinking only bottled), which thankfully only impacted one day, and was resolved by evening.

The rest of us, sans my daughter, met for breakfast at 8:00. Isaac was already prepared to join me for hunting on this day given the girls planned activities, so he and I, along with Jacques, headed out around 9:00 for a new water hole. We spooked impala, springbok, blue wildebeest, red hartebeest, and ostrich in the area upon approach, already more activity than the day before. John dropped us and our gear off at the pop-up style blind around 9:30, with Isaac and me taking the two chairs and Jacques sitting on the ground in our cramped hide. Here was our view out the front. I ranged the front of the water hole at 30 yards and settled back for the wait.
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We didn’t pack a lunch as Jacques was confident most of the impala had moved to this section of the farm and that we’d have one in the salt by lunch. I liked his confidence but was worried about a famished afternoon following yesterday’s lack of action.

Other than a lone ostrich walking around, the first hour was quiet. At 10:30 a large group of kudu cows started to work in from our back right. Unfortunately, they worked in downwind, and soon started to bark at us before eventually retreating to where they came from. Thirty minutes later, we finally saw a mature impala ram, coming in from the front right with a younger ram. Instead of coming straight to the water, they also worked out to our right…and picked up our wind. They ran a semi-circle behind us and stopped about 100 yards out for the next half hour. Around 11:30, three young impala rams and a couple springbok approached from our left. This brought the two from behind in and all of them gathered 40-50 yards straight to the left of the blind. For the next hour and fifteen minutes, the group kept contemplating coming to water, and then deciding against it and walking further away. It was obvious the first two were still skittish, which was contagious. At some point, two of the smaller rams finally gathered up enough courage to come all the way in and drink. The big guy never made that mistake. At 12:45, they moved off to our front left behind the dam on the left of the above photo.

We briefly caught our breaths after an intense couple hours. The quiet didn’t last long as some springbok soon appeared. As we watched them, we caught movement out in front to the right and the original group of 5 impala rams were making their way back in. They slowly worked towards the water, and then at 50 yards out, swung around to the left and proceeded back to the left side of the blind. In short order, we spotted another small group of impala rams coming in from our right. These guys of course caught our wind, but instead of fleeing the scene, ran around behind the blind and joined the original group out to our left. The whole group spent the next hour working in and out from 20 yards to 60 yards. I had no shot to the left as the blind was setup, and simply spent the time squinting through a slit in the closed window.

Around 2:30 I spotted a larger group of impala, including females and two additional mature rams (one with a broken horn), approaching from the far left. The females came straight to the water, and at that point all hell broke loose. There were now multiple mature rams in the picture and one of the new arrivals was obviously dominant. He rushed into the females at the water, and then back towards the other males, charging and grunting at everything in sight. At one point I started to draw as he appeared to be turning to finally stop for a drink. Alas, it was a fake, as he spun and rushed back towards the group. This insanity went on for a solid 30 minutes. Between the impala and some additional springbok, there had to be 30-40 animals within 50 yards of our position.

Finally, the females started to move out and the dominant ram came into the right side of the water hole, turned broadside, and put his head down to drink. My opportunity had arrived. Then, just as I started to put pressure on the D-loop, like a legit ghost, a kudu bull silently strode into the frame from behind the dam to the left and went straight to the water hole. I now had a big impala ram broadside on the right and a kudu bull, of unknown size to me, broadside on the left. I looked down at Jacques with eyes slightly bulging from my face, silently pleading “what the hell should I do”. Jacques looked up from the binos and said, “he’d be a good one with a bow, take him”.

That was all I needed to hear. This was my dream animal, the driving force for starting this adventure in the first place. I drew, settled the 30-yard pin halfway up the body, tight to the shoulder, and released. The arrow made a slight arc against the grey background, an indelible image. The point of entry was slightly higher than preferred, but there was a solid deflating “thud” on impact. The bull charged away with three quarters of my arrow hanging out the middle of his left side. Bright red blood was visible almost instantaneously as he made a half circle away from us, slowing down roughly 40 yards directly behind the water hole. There, straight out from our view in the blind, he stopped, dropped to his two front knees…and tipped over. It hadn’t been 30 seconds since he first appeared.

Once he hit the ground emotions took over. Everything about this trip was a blessing, but this, this was more than I could grasp. There was muffled elation in the blind as the three of us hugged and high-fived. I pulled myself together after a minute, and even though the rest of the animals hadn’t really spooked far at the shot, we exited the blind to go see our reward. What a walk, and what a sight…
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He was huge. I was in awe, mostly speechless, and eternally grateful.
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Jacques left Isaac and I alone with my kudu as he walked off to meet John at the nearest gate. He’d texted him to bring us lunch hours earlier but held him up halfway as the animals around us kept coming back. He was bored, and we were hungry! Jacques told him we’d finally shot a steenbok, leading to a surprised but excited expression as they pulled up and he saw the bull at my feet. We took a lot of great photos and then got to use the winch in the back of the Land Cruiser for the first time before a jubilant ride back to the skinning shed.
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It was a celebratory mood back at the lodge. Hugs and handshakes all around. Everyone knew this was a dream come true for me. My wife and mostly recovered daughter even made their way down to the shed and were shocked at the size of the kudu in comparison to the first couple trophies we’d shot.

Even though the festive atmosphere was growing, there were still a couple hours of good daylight that we couldn’t let go to waste! I’d told Jacques earlier in the day that I’d be open to going after oryx with a rifle given their apparent lack of watering during daylight in the cool weather we were experiencing. He said evenings and early mornings were best, so we grabbed the .300 Win Mag and took off for a ride.

We spotted a few oryx right out of the gate, way off down a valley, but there wasn’t a mature bull in the group. The rest of the drive included sightings of red hartebeest, springbok, mountain zebra, Burchell’s zebra, a couple kudu bulls, blue wildebeest, an eland and a dozen giraffes…but no oryx. That was fine by me. It was a beautiful evening, and it was just as enjoyable to ride around in back with my son, reliving our hunts from the last couple days. Just a couple American kids, leaving a dream, a world away.
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Dinner that evening was black wildebeest loin with mushroom sauce. If my family and Namibian’s have one thing in common, it’s a love of mushrooms. This sauce was a staple with most of the grilled meats we ate, and it was a hit with our group! There were a couple extra drinks by the fire after dinner as the festivities continued. It was a day I never wanted to end.
August 4 – Hunting Finale

Isaac and I woke at 6:30, skipped breakfast, and headed out with Jacques, John, and Humphrey at 7:15 in search of oryx. Jacques said we’d be back mid-morning for regular breakfast given the number of oryx on this farm. I should have learned to not trust his proclamations of quick hunt success by this point and taken something to eat with us!

Over the first hour and a half we stopped and climbed two different mountains to glass. We spotted springbok, impala, blue wildebeest, ostrich, lots of mountain zebra, kudu cows and bulls, and giraffes…but no oryx.

Mid-morning, we drove over a saddle and across a valley to another mountain that we climbed and found comfortable seats to glass from. From this location, we could see for miles.
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After a good forty-five minutes of glassing, and seeing only a few non-target species, Jacques and Humphrey texted down from their higher position that three oryx had been spotted across the farthest observable part of the valley. We quickly retreated down to the bakkie and drove a couple miles towards their last known location. Four of us then bailed out, leaving John with our ride as we covered the remaining distance on foot. As these animals tend to do, they had moved from the opening they were spotted in by the time we arrived.

Before making our way back to the Cruiser, we made a swing up and around some thicker cover that surrounded the opening. Luck was once again on our side, as we soon spotted a lone oryx bull in some thick cover a couple hundred yards to our right. We first backtracked towards the bakkie and left Isaac with Humphrey to avoid the noise and motion of four people stalking through the thick cover.

This was my only opportunity to see classical African tracking in action, and boy was it impressive. We got on that bull’s spoor and proceeded at a brisk pace as Jacques pointed out his track along the way. At the speed at which we were going, I just had to take his word for it. At one point the bull started to run, according to Jacques, and we picked up our pace. Then it settled into a walk again, before once again running. We had been on the trail for 10-15 minutes and Jacques was losing hope. Given the bull had twice run, we had obviously spooked him at some point, and there was little hope of catching up. Regardless, I suggested we go a bit further before giving up the chase.

Our persistence was rewarded a short time late when Jacques froze and pointed off to our left. There he was, 160 yards out in a small opening between two camelthorn trees, facing away from us. Jacques quickly put up the sticks and I got on the .300. He said the bull would not stand for long, and when he turned, be ready to shoot. He was right, within a couple seconds the oryx turned to his right and Jacques yelled at him to stop. His head and neck were now partially obscured by branches. The shoulder looked clear as I moved the crosshairs over and pulled the trigger. The rifle cracked, and the impact “thwack” echoed back as the oryx dropped in his tracks. Jacques had me quickly chamber another round and stay on the spot as oryx tend to drop and then get back up before fleeing. This one would do no such thing.

After a minute, we rushed forward to ensure he was down for good. As we approached Jacques turned said I was lucky. He was right. I either clipped some brush or pulled the shot badly right in the rushed targeting. Either way, a round to the neck had the desired effect.
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I would have left 100% satisfied after shooting the kudu the day before. This oryx felt like desert. Wholly unnecessary but a welcome treat. I was almost as excited about the experience of stalking him through the bush as I was with taking him home. He was a great bull though, and while it wasn’t originally in the taxidermy plans, I think he’ll make a stunning rug.

As we prepped for photos, Jacques explained the finer points of judging oryx to his two young apprentices.
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It was fitting to take the national animal of Namibia on our last day of hunting.
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We were back to the skinning shed at lunch. We took the opportunity to finally eat and then rest up for a couple hours midday before Jacques, Isaac and I headed back out for one last sit in the blind. We were forced to go back to the first location given the prevailing wind. We saw a bushbuck, some kudu cows, springbok, and our young impala friend throughout the rest of the afternoon. As the sun faded, we had a group of Burchell’s zebra work towards the water. Zebra was not on my list, but Jacques made another sales pitch as they worked their way in. He said getting a crack at a stallion with a bow is not easy, and that I should seriously consider it if he gave me a shot. I told him if they worked inside 30 yards and presented an opportunity, I’d make the call then. I didn’t end up having to decide. The herd stayed on the far side of the water before heading directly back from where they came. It was a cool encounter on the last evening, and a wonderful way to end my hunting adventures with the Kowas team.
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Our last meal at Ibenstein was highlighted by kudu tenderloin from the bull I took the day before. Accentuated by a nice South African merlot, and seared to medium-rare perfection, it was sublime. While we still had more than half our trip to go, it was bitter-sweet to spend our last night around the fire with the hunting crew. We toasted to our success, the new friendships made, and the memories we’ll carry for life. Eventually we tapped out, feeling full of everything, but ready for the next chapter in our grand adventure.

The rest of our trip was no less epic than the first six days. Chauffeured by Ansie Strauss, mom, grandma and guide extraordinaire, we spent two nights at Erindi, seeing nearly every African big-game species up close and personal, followed by three nights on the coast. It made for a diverse and fascinating trip across Namibia. A final relaxing evening in Windhoek with dinner at Joe’s Beerhouse for the encore and we were on our way home.

It is impossible for me to appropriately articulate the amount of gratitude I have for the Strauss family and the entire Kowas team. Their approach to client service, was warm, welcoming, and caring. It’s rare to find such genuine people, and we’re incredibly fortunate that they are now part of our lives.

Africa was everything I dreamed it would be. Every day was exciting, eye-opening, and humbling. My wife and I stood on the beach in Swakopmund on our second to last night and agreed “we’d come back”. To the dark continent, until next time.
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I also owe a huge debt of gratitude to this forum and it's members. You all were an invaluable resource over the last few years as I researched, booked and prepared for this trip. So, thank you!

I'll share a handful of photos from the second part of the trip below.
Congratulations on a fine trip! I was there at Kowas just a week before you and your report and pictures brought back wonderful memories! Glad you could share it with your family.
Great trip and can never have too many kudu and oryx photos! I can't wait to plan a return to the Strauss' farm!
You picked a great family to hunt with.

It is always neat reading a report from the perspective of hunting Africa for the first time. Brings back memories. You did a great job.

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My simple jackal rig , if it work dont mess with it

Badjer wrote on Dunderhead's profile.
Hello, I'm in Pewaukee. By the 5 O'Clock club, if you know where that is.
big Eland spotted on the plains this morning!

Daggaboy spotted this morning at the mud-hole!