NAMIBIA: Hunt With Uitspan Hunting, Michael & Tienie Duvenhage 2021

gesch

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Hunting report for Africa Hunting
Uitspan Hunting Safaris--Namibia

Dates: August 17, 2021-August 30, 2021
Location: The Kalahari Desert—Namibia (near Aranos)
Outfitter and Professional Hunter: Tienie and Michael Duvenhage
Name of operation: Uitspan Hunting
Rifle and Ammo: Tikka .308 with Leupold 3x-9x Variable Scope/Handloaded ammunition
Travel Arrangements: Travel Express—Jennifer Ginn
Hunters: My friends, Todd and Peter; and my nephew Eric

This hunt was planned originally for April 2020. You all know what happened to that date! We rescheduled for August 2020. You know what happened on that date. We rescheduled with Qatar Air for April 2021. Qatar cancelled their direct flights from Doha to Windhoek, Namibia. We rescheduled for August 17. 2021 with Ethiopian Airlines and succeeded in going to Namibia and having a fantastic hunt.
As I have already mentioned this trip was several years in the making. I have been to Namibia several times—once with my brother in law Keith, and once on my own. They were excellent hunts. I wanted to go back and mentioned it to several of my friends and they said yes let’s go! So, I talked to my brother in law and he was in as well. Keith developed a conflict and so his son Eric took his spot.

Planning the trip in a pandemic without a trusted travel company is unwise. Lori Spears handled the early bookings and rescheduling and then tragically passed away this summer. Her daughter in law and business partner Jennifer Ginn took over and did a magnificent job under very trying circumstances. CONCLUSION: Always use a travel company experienced with hunters.

The COVID testing was an adventure! It is quite difficult to get two people to tell you the same thing twice concerning what is required. I found out that Ethiopian Airlines requires a negative RT-PCR COVID test and that the results be loaded up to the African Union Trusted Travel portal. This was quite stressful for a non-millennial! Thankfully my daughter set her jaw and worked through the uploading, down loading and printing a copy of our negative RT-PCR test to the right place. In the middle of my stressing over this I called Ethiopian Airlines and asked about the uploading details. The person there said that I should just print out a copy and show the check in clerk. I read to her where it said that printed copies were no longer acceptable. She said bring a printed copy. So in an abundance of caution we printed a copy and uploaded a copy. Eric followed the same regimen on our way home and it worked well. Namibia required that the negative test be less than 72 hours old when we set foot in country. Ethiopia had a more generous requirement. On the return trip the US required a negative test 72 hours or less old. CONCLUSION: Spend a good deal of time figuring out what all the players (governments and airlines) require and try to do more than is needed just in case!
Due to all the covid related details we decided to use the PHs rifles. This worked out very well. It was one less travel detail to worry about. I would normally have taken my rifles, but this time I was happy not to have to think about this detail. CONCLUSION: Don’t let this detail scare you. It was a stressful thing, but the hunt went off perfectly and the travel arrangements due to Travel Express and God’s grace to us went perfectly. Go on the hunt!!

After the approximately 4 and ½ hour drive to the Kalahari (the ranch is on the Botswana border) we arrived at UITSPAN. The hunting camp consist of three small buildings for the hunters and a central larger (1000 sq ft) home for the family and our common meals. In the midst of the buildings there is a fire circle. We spent many hours after each days hunt around the fire reliving the day’s events. While this hunting camp is off the grid, solar power provided lights and a dedicated well gave us all the delicious water we could use. This is not a roughing it type of experience. I had a hot shower whenever I needed it and the electricity was always on. The buildings were made of red Kalahari sand bricks and thatch. The facilities were great.
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Each day consisted of being awakened by the rooster (Michael was the rooster—he would walk around the camp at 6:00am and crow!) and devotions and breakfast at 6:30. By 7:00 we were loading the Toyota Land Cruiser and two Toyota Hilux’s and were off. Breakfast was usually light. It was the only light meal of the day! Rusk, yogurt, cereal and coffee was the norm. I liked this approach a lot. When you are going to spend a lot of time walking it is not a good idea to have a super heavy breakfast. After the morning hunt we would go to the farm house at around 11:30am for a great brunch and a nap. Somewhere around 2:00 or so we would begin the afternoon hunt and would typically hunt until dark! Upon returning to the hunting camp we would gather around the fire and chat. Supper would be at 7:30 or 8:00. We typically had some of the game meat that we got the previous day. Tienie (spouse of Michael) is a fantastic chef. In addition to the game meat she makes a variety of her own cheeses and butter. This is “Master Chef” level cuisine in the Kalahari! After such a busy day we had no trouble sleeping.
On day one we went to sight in and have an orientation chat about the rifles we would be using. Michael and the other PHs were very aware of safety and spent a good deal of time on this subject—something I was pleased to see them do! The rifles were all shooting straight and away we went.
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Todd and I would be hunting with Michael as our PH. I will allow Todd, Peter, and Eric to write their own reports so I will just focus on my hunts. After some quick success with the other hunters it was my turn to look for an Impala or Springbok. The package I had selected for myself was a management package that included three trophy type animals and three management or cull animals. I promptly missed a nice Impala and had a bad shot on a springbok. I drew blood but he seemed to be running with little effort. It was about a 200 yard shot off of the sticks. I was disgusted. I think my excitement and nerves got the best of me. It was getting late and so it was decided that we would come back and try and find the springbok in the morning. I had practiced a lot in preparation for this hunt and was surprised at my poor shooting. It was suggested that I change my footing and focus on keeping my head down. So I had to go to sleep thinking about the springbok and my bad shooting. The next day things began to get better. CONCLUSION: Make sure you practice with the exact same type of sticks your PH uses. I had practiced with Jim Shockey type sticks and the ones we used this time were quad type sticks. But bad shooting was bad shooting. It was on me!

Today we went out and got my wounded springbok! I was amazed at the tracking ability of my PH and a San tracker (bushman) who’s help we enlisted—Frederick. To watch Michael and Frederick track in the Kalahari sand was a thing of beauty! Michael and Frederick grew up together and spent many hours hunting and living in the desert. They communicated with glances and an occasional had gesture. Michael is a 6’ 6” Boer and Frederick is a much shorted man. Yet they kept up with each other and located the wounded animal. Michael stayed on the track and Frederick, his nephew, and I posted. Pretty soon the springbok came running and I made a short running shot—30 or so yards. I was relieved. I hate losing an animal with a passion.
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After lunch we went to a different area where there were blesbok. After missing with a longer shot I got a cull female at about 150 yards.
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In the first several days Todd, Michael, and I did a lot of walking. I would guess in the neighborhood of 8-10 miles. We could use a rest. Thank goodness tomorrow was “Sontag”. We did not hunt on Sunday as it is a day of worship and rest. We had a church service in the farm house and a relaxing day. It felt good to catch our breath after all the travel and first several days of hunting.

Monday morning was going to be a time to see if we could find a waterbok for me. After doing a lot of driving looking for animals and tracks we spotted a herd of cows and a huge, wide horned bull! We managed a short stalk and I hit him hard. The 308 did the job if I did mine! This is a unique trophy. I was very happy.
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I next day I was searching for a blue wildebeest cull female. These cull hunts are not easy. We crawled along for quite a way and I got a shot. We heard the “whack” but the cow and the herd took off running. We got some reinforcements, included Frederick the tracker, and found the female. Several more shots and I had my blue wildebeest.
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By the way the taste of a blue wildebeest is second to none. We had one of the other guys blue wildebeest back straps one night and it rivaled the best filet mignon at my favorite steak house in Sheboygan, WI—Rupps! We ate well. Later that afternoon Michael and I went searching for an impala that we had seen nearby. We stalked into the wind and I got a nice mature impala ram. My shooting was improving. After supper nephew Eric and a group went out for a springhare hunt. They got several. It was a wild ride to say the least. Great young people.
In the morning it was my chance to try for a female eland. The family owns an additional property about 20 miles away and there is a good sized herd of eland there. I was going to be allowed to do a cull of one of the older females. We spent a lot of time walking trying to get into range to no avail. At lunch time we drove to a high point and glassed. We had sandwiches and relaxed. A small herd of Burchell Zebras ran right up the hill at our cruiser. A Burchell was not on my wish list. It seems the animals know when you want to shoot them and they stay away. When you are not looking for them they show themselves. We finally found a herd of eland and Michael and I began a stalk. We found the herd and some other zebra in a dry river bottom. We cautiously stalked as close as we could. We could only get to within 280 yards. I crawled the final several yards and Michael set me up with a prone shot using his back pack for a rest. After my early bad shooting I was a bit nervous, but the rest was very solid and I felt good. We located the correct eland and when I was about to shoot a young one stepped in front of the cow! It stayed there perfectly shielding the cow. I was on the scope for what seemed like quite a while, but was probably only 5 or 10 minutes. Finally the young one shifted position and I could see over it to make a spine/neck shot on the cow. Michael said I could shoot and the hit was good—it dropped on the spot. I tried for a neck shot to finish it, but missed. We descended the hill we were on and entered the creek bottom. To my surprise the eland struggled but got up. I looked in my scope but the cloud of dust made seeing the perfectly camouflaged eland hard to see. I tried again and a 30 yard shot finished the job. I was relieved. Eland are just amazing animals.
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After loading the cow onto the cruiser we headed back to our hunting camp and had another great time around the campfire and yet another feast!
The other hunters had filled up with what they wanted to hunt in the Kalahari and so spent a few hours in the morning hunting sand grouse with some of the family of Michael’s sister who had come to visit. They got, I believe, about 39 grouse. Something for me to take in on my next trip (notice the addiction of Namibia is running rampant in our group). I was still looking for a red hartebeest and so went to the next property (owned by Michael’s brother in law) and a young PH Willem would be my guide. He did a nice job explaining how we would drive around a few sections and see if tracks were leaving. If not we would park and stalk the area. We he was viewing tracks on the dirt path he said “oh boy!” I asked what was the problem—leopard tracks coming into the property from Botswana! He called his father in law to follow up and it was determined they went back into Botswana! We continued our search and I got a nice bull after several blown stalks. He was a beautiful specimen.
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The shot was about 150 yards and he ran maybe 30 yards and expired. It turned out to be a nice representative trophy! That night would be our last in the Kalahari as we had to go to get our COVID tests and hunt for a couple days in the Khomas Hochland with a friend of the family that is an outfitter there. Two of the guys had Hartman’s mountain zebra on the agenda and one also wanted a warthog. They were both successful.
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We had a great several days with another fantastic set of PHs. Again the food was great. We had Zebra schnitzel mit spatzle!
On the way to the mountains we stopped in Windhoek to get our COVID tests. Surprisingly, to me, it went very smoothly. Tienie had made the arrangements and we were in and out of the testing facility in less than a half hour. Good news—Dawie—one of our PHs bought the guys a drink at Joe’s Beer Haus which was across the street from the testing lab! Cool place. Highly recommended.
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After Todd and Eric got their zebras and Todd got his warthog the next day we would leave for the airport. On the way we stopped at the taxidermist and made plans for our dip and pack.
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Dawie guided us into the airport and left for his home on the coast.
After “only” 23 hours of flying we were home in Chicago O Hare! The flight was long but uneventful. The COVID testing results were ably up loaded and printed by nephew Eric and all went well.
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We drove home to Wisconsin in about 2 and ½ hours and our fantastic hunt was over.
Thoughts: The COVID cancellations and all the headaches with re scheduling and testing actually made the eventual trip even more rewarding. It was great for me to see my friends and nephew have such a great time. I had a fantastic time! CONCLUSION: Go on the safari you have planned. Put up with the headaches. The joy of the end result is more than worth it. If you have any questions I am happy to answer them.

Your Friend, Brian

P.S. I would like to thank my wonderful wife Kathy for approving of my hunts in Namibia.

Several of you on this site have had an impact on me from your writings: Ridgewalker Red Leg, Johnny Blue, and One Day. I recommend to newcomers to read their posts. They are always worth it. Many others of you are also very helpful. What a great group of people. I am also thankful for my friends Poton Kahn, Kawshik Rahman and their friends for illustrating that hunters from around the world are very much alike! Finally I want to thank Jesus for making this dream hunt come together. It was an answer to prayer!
 
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cls

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Well done, congratulations on a very successful safari. Thanks for the report.
 

375Fox

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Glad you had a good hunt. Thanks for report. Submitting the test results to the trusted traveler site for Ethiopian is stressful for some millennials too. I just finished about 2 hours ago really hoping I did it correctly.
 

cpr0312

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Congrats and thanks for sharing!
 

Hunt anything

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I have a good friend that has hunted Utispan a couple of times and has raved about it. He keeps trying to get up another trip up but don’t think his health will allow it. I will show him your report and maybe he will strengthen his resolve! Great report.
 

Red Leg

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Well done!! And that is one amazing waterbuck.
 
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Drunen

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What a great report! It was such a fun time hunting with you Uncle Brian! Memories made for a lifetime, that is for sure. I will get on writing my report!
 

gillettehunter

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Well done. Looks like a great hunt. Good advice to practice off the type of shooting sticks you'll use there. I have taken my own a couple of time and used them. Congrats
Bruce
 

VertigoBE

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Congratulations on an excellent hunt @gesch ! A very wide waterbuck too! Waidmannsheil!
 

Jörg Krüger

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Congratulations on the hunt. That Hartebeest is stunning.
I am glad that all went well and that you had a good time in Nam.
Thank you for sharing Brian.
 

gesch

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The hartebeest hunt was very enjoyable. The stalk was quite long. We were betrayed by the wind at least once. There was also a lame younger animal that spotted us as we were trying to catch up with the main herd. We were concerned it would scare off the ones we were trying to approach. My PH expertly got us between the lame animal and our quarry so we wouldn’t be exposed. Great stalk. The shot was good. He was down within 30 yards. Thanks for your comments. Your friend, Brian
 

Randy F

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Congratulations! Thanks for sharing your story.
 

Ridgewalker

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I have been anxiously waiting for this report and it was well worth the wait! You write a fine report. Yes that was definitely a unique waterbuck! Springbuck and blesbok have the finest of skins. Blesbok are all unique skins. I was worried about you taking an eland with a 308, but turned out to be plenty rifle for the task.
Thanks for the excellent trip report?
 

buck wild

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very nice= thanks for the report.
 

MAdcox

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Great hunt with family and great write up. Thank you for sharing it.
 

Nyati

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Congrats for a great hunt !
 

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Rick HOlbert wrote on NTH's profile.
NTH, Just found your message. I hunt with Eland Pro Safaris in Namibia. Wide selection of game and great folks. Hell my PH and his family ARE adopted family, LOL! I book people to hunt with them and should you be interested I'd be happy to meet and discuss a trip. Anyway all the best to you and give me a shout sometime. Bye for now.
NTH wrote on Rick HOlbert's profile.
Nice “meeting” you Rick. I made my first trip to S. Africa this year through Kuche Safaris. We had an incredible time. What outfitter do you use? Neal
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