NAMIBIA: Caprivi Hunt With KOU KUAS ADVENTURES

WoodFire

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This hunt was my 6th in Africa, 2nd in Namibia, and first for dangerous game. This was also my first time in the Caprivi/Zambezi region. I was hunting with Emile Kirchner of @KOU KUAS ADVENTURES (the new operator in Bwabwata National Park (West) - who I cannot recommend highly enough).

My primary quarry was an own-use/non-export buffalo. However, the experience was absolutely top notch. I don’t know how many buffalo we saw on this trip but it was surely in the hundreds, if not thousands. Elephants easily numbered in the hundreds. Hippos and crocs could be found by the dozen in and along the Okavango river. We saw lions and even spied a leopard early one morning. The wildlife along the river has to be seen to be believed.

The accommodations were great for a tent-style camp. We had on-demand hot running water, en suite facilities etc. The intense Namibian sun provided plenty of solar power for the camp. The camp still felt very wild though and it is right on the river. It seemed like we could hear hippos all night every night - and lions most nights. This seems hard to believe but we actually had lions come into camp one night.

Emile was willing to tailor the buffalo hunt to whatever I wanted, within reason. I wanted an old buffalo and I wanted to hunt by tracking. Other than that, this being my first buff hunt, I was not going to be picky. When my hunt started, we were able to cut a track right outside of camp and we were off. Initially, we were following a single large buffalo track leaving a favorite watering spot, but this was quickly joined by a few others.

A couple of miles in we had our first encounter with the old buffalo bulls. They were bedded but swirling wind warned them of our approach and we were busted.

We cooled our heels a while and decided to continue to track only to run into a group of bull elephants. We gave them a wide berth and picked up the buff tracks again but quickly encountered another group of elephants. This group had cows and some young ones. We spotted them a ways off and were in the process of picking our way safely around them when one of the cows caught our scent (more swirling wind) and went absolutely crazy. Thankfully they did not know where we were, but it was eye opening to hear her trumpeting and breaking branches venting her anger and frustration. This went on for a good 10 minutes or so before they moved off in the opposite direction from us and we started back to where we thought we’d pick up the track again.

We tried to cover some ground on the buff dealing with the continuing swirling wind. When we caught up with the bachelor group again there were 5-6 buff but also kudu and impala nearby. With so many eyes on us Emile had the tracker and other members of our party hang back initially while we tried to stalk in for a closer look at the bulls. Creeping and sneaking around in the brush we finally got some good eyes on them.

Possibly because we were spotted, a younger bull made a mad dash for it and I thought we were busted for good. However, the wind had turned in our favor and even with all the other eyes and noses around everything else pretty much stayed put.

At this point, oddly enough, it seemed like the remaining buff, the kudu, the impala and whatever else was around, actually became less skittish than at any other point in the day. I’m not sure if it was the wind becoming more steady, the time of day (around midday), or the fact that we were further into the bush and away from any road. In any event, now we had picked out an old bull and started the final approach. My hunting partner @Wooster and our tracker were behind us again.

I’ve read lots and lots of stories about hunting buffalo but this was the moment of truth. I am not prone to excessive nerves or “buck fever” but, honestly, it still makes my heart beat a little faster to write about this part (but I guess that’s why we do this, right?). Emile got the shooting sticks ready and made sure he and I were on the same page about which of the several buff we were after. My bull was facing away, into the wind. We got to 100 yards and I thought, “now he’s going to setup the sticks and I will wait for the shot I have practiced so many times.” But no, we kept getting closer.

90 yards, 80 yards… now it felt like we were inside the group. The bulls and other critters were spread out in the brush so that I could not keep them all in sight at once. Surely the tracker or my hunting partner was watching for errant or stampeding bovine? 70 yards… 60 yards. Emile set down the sticks. The buff was quartered away. Emile said, “he is going to turn to the left, when he is broadside, take your shot into the shoulder.” Somehow it seemed like he turned immediately, but also like it took forever.

My rifle is a .375 H&H that will shoot 300 grain Barnes TSX sub moa, if you can do your part. I became thankful that I’ve ended up with a scope with a fine single red dot in the center of the cross hairs. I put the dot on the shoulder of the old buff but I was not steady. I have a Master rating in NRA Highpower across the course shooting but black bull’s eyes are not black bulls!

I took a split second to settle myself, which felt like an hour as my mind played out horrible scenarios of a wounded buffalo in the brush. The red dot in my cross hairs finally settled on the old bull’s shoulder and I squeezed the trigger. Boom! I was ecstatic to see the old bull lurch and start to run forward on three legs.

In Africa, I follow the rule to shoot until the animal is down. As my bull crossed paths with a couple of other buffalo that were running straight away from us, Emile told me not to shoot again yet. When the wounded buff got clear he was well into the brush. He had not fallen yet so both I and my hunting partner tried to give him parting gifts but I am not sure we connected.

Emile told me my initial hit was good but to reload my magazine. We reloaded and I waited patiently for that death bellow you hear so much about… but nothing. We moved a few paces through the brush and there was my buff, only about 50 yards away. I gave him another round in the boiler room and he bolted. I got another one in him as he wheeled away but I am not sure where. He went down in the next patch of brush and we cautiously approached. I gave him a final shot in the top of the spine as he was letting out his final groan.

To me, the death bellow turns out to be kind of a sad sound. But this old guy put up enough of a fight for me to know where they get their reputation. And I like to think the lions can make do with impala rather than this old guy - he goes to feed the anti-poaching unit doing great work in the Bwabwata area.

I would have liked to have seen what my initial shot did, and to know it was genuinely deadly, given time (it certainly seemed to be). But I would not have wanted to extend the old guy’s suffering, nor to risk him getting away and becoming a real danger to anyone. Own-use buff are to be taken out and delivered whole, so we did not get to do a post-mortem.

This was a fantastic hunt… there was a very nice warthog taken, a Chapman’s zebra, and a day spent crossing the hippo and croc-infested Okavango to get to a big old red lechwe. I usually like to bring multiple guns to Africa but I completed this entire hunt with the classic .375 H&H Magnum. I also got to accompany my hunting partner @Wooster on his first buff hunt, which was equally exciting.

All in all we are pretty smitten with Bwabwata - we have already booked a return trip with Emile and @KOU KUAS ADVENTURES for 2025!

Buff.jpg
Ele.jpg
Hunting Party.jpg
Lechwe.jpg
Lion.jpg
Warthog.jpg
Zebra.jpg
 
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Great hunt, thanks for sharing!
 
As mentioned above, I was on the recent hunt in Bwabwata West with @WoodFire. I previously posted the following on a different thread, but it rightly belongs here, so reposting for the convenience of anyone having an interest in hunting this area or hunting with @KOU KUAS ADVENTURES, which I highly recommend.

* * * * *

Bumping this thread, as I just returned from a Cape Buffalo hunt with Emile Kirchner and @KOU KUAS ADVENTURES in his Bwabwata West concession. This was my second safari with Emile.

I am a long-time lurker on AH.com, but have not posted much. Mostly because I didn’t feel like I had much to contribute. But my experiences hunting with Emile have been so fantastic, it leads me to share a review out of my respect for him and his old-school approach to hunting.

I have hunted Africa five times and hunted extensively elsewhere in the world. So I have quite a bit of experience with PH’s and guides. Though “only” 33 years old, Emile is at the top of my list. Still young enough to have eagle eyes, he also has the calm and confident demeanor of an old-timer. And his ability to judge trophies on the hoof is remarkable. But what sets him apart in my view, is his faithfulness in pursuing the crafty, old, mature bulls that are so rewarding to hunt. His are proper tracking hunts, covering miles and leaving you confounded as to how he could possibly be doing it. It’s the stuff you read about in books. His patience and steadiness when the stress is high is reassuring when you’re on the sticks.

And a bit about Bwabwata West. There is nothing like it that I’ve seen before. The amount of game is simply astounding – elephants and buffalo literally by the hundreds. Also very big sable and roan in their native range, and more hippos, crocs and red lechwe than you can count. We also saw lion every day and even leopard. It’s as if you are in the Yellowstone National Park of Africa -- with a hunting permit.

For those of us that enjoy small family operations, where you get to know not only your PH but also his family, it is a bonus that Emile has the most wonderful and supportive wife, Kirstin, who actively participates in organizing and tending to the little details of the trip, including tours and activities for any non-hunting guests. Her hospitality and charm is enduring and you will depart as friends of the family.

I sincerely provide the highest possible recommendation for you to consider Emile and Kou Kuas Adventures should you desire an experience reminiscent of how Africa used to be. And I would be happy to talk with anyone considering a booking about my experiences.

I will try my best to upload some pics in the next few days, although photography is not my forte.

Good hunting to all.

Alan Weeks
 
Nice hunt gents,congratulations!
 
Sounds like a great trip. Some good looking animals. Congrats
Bruce
 
Congrats on your hunt and thanks for sharing!
 
nice trip- thanks for the report.
 
Great hunt, congrats, and thanks for sharing !
 

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