Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by ablebonus, Oct 22, 2013.
Great trip. Thanks for sharing your story.
Day 6 - Swakopmund
Thanks for all the kind comments, I'm having a lot of fun remembering our adventure. Thank goodness I took notes.
When planning this safari I expected to endure rather than enjoy the non-hunting portions but each day was a highlight. Werner's wife and two children accompanied us to Swakopmund and we enjoyed great meals, playtime, and shopping.
This morning we join Tommy of Tommy's Desert Tours. Tommy gives a great sand dune tour and his family friendly clowning hides a tough detective in the Namibian police force - ask him about throwing poachers out of helicopters.
Werner seems to know everyone in town and the best spots for souvenirs. I leave the bookstore with Kai-Uwe Denker's Along the Hunter's Path and Henno Martin's The Sheltering Desert. My wife finds jewelry from Rolf (who tries unsuccessfully to buy my cowboy hat); the kids find bushmen bows and spears; we leave the wood carver's area with enough loot to fill a large duffel.
Day 7 - Swakopmund
Happy Birthday Claire!
Walvis Bay with Captain Hans, another friend of Werner's. Captain Hans has reserved his catamaran and the weather - dead calm - for our two families.
A few orphaned seals grew up around the dock and now spend time visting.
This Gray whale must be lost - wrong hemisphere and none have been here in 20 years.
Walvis Bay's oyster farms make Namibia a top 20 exporter of oysters. They are not native but conditions are ideal for farming.
Captain Hans served a full brunch - sherry, open bar, champagne, and oysters.
Back to the dunes for more adventure. A camel for the ladies and 250cc Hondas for the boys. Werner booked the last trip of the day and we are the only two riders. Our guide looks and drives like an extra from Mad Max and after that tour I am certain there is not a single personal injury lawyer in Namibia.
Dinner is local grilled rock lobster - as good as any I've ever had.
Great experiences for the whole family.
Thanks for sharing your tales and pictures.
Excellent report and glad you enjoyed your vacation. These are good people.
PS..the guy on the jetty, with the fishing rod, is me.. :fishing:
Great story and pics, looks like a great vacation was had by all!!!!:clap:
Thanks for sharing your story, really enjoyed the writing and pictures.
Day 8 - Return to Immenhof
Day 8 - A late breakfast (8am) to let the fog lift. We fly the Skeleton Coast and a pass around Brandenburg on the way back to Immenhof. As always, Leopard Mountain dominates the landscape around Immenhof. I tell Werner we need to climb that before we leave. I am half joking but the idea has been germinating for days and each time I see the mountain it seems more important. I'm a little nervous when Werner agrees it is a fine idea.
Despite the packed itinerary Theo and I are always ready to hunt. We return with time for an afternoon hunt and head to a distant waterhole on a low fenced cattle ranch. Werner, Theo, and I sneak in on foot and sit at the base of a tree about 80 yards from the windmill. The longest and oldest Oryx cow of the entire trip arrives with a few of her elder compadres. The nervous group advances in fits and starts. I try to get Theo to shoot but he is holding out for a warthog. When the Oryx finally leave and pass us at 40 yards I realize that I will return to Africa with my longbow.
gratuitous pelican photo I forgot to upload earlier
My family visited a crocodile farm one of the first days I hunted solo. Plenty of activities for non-hunters.
Day 9 - Jurassic Park
I enjoy large trophies as much as the next person but I am not concerned with scores or measurements. Before our trip I let Werner know I am after mature, representative animals...except I really hope to find an exceptional impala. The antelope species represent Africa to me.
Near Omaruru there is a game ranch that caters primarily to photography safaris but a couple of PHs are allowed to hunt. We arrive to a lush lodge, tourist villas, towering palm trees, flowering bouganvilla, a pond with geese and tame animals. I feel out of place in the full service bar and restaurant as we meet the manager. It turns out we have an all access pass to this place and the backstage view is a little different than HQ.
There is almost no grass on the place. As we head out onto the 8400 acre farm we pass by the large runway and hangar and see a tractor trailer truck with large bales of South African hay being unloaded. Werner explains the lodge has been bought by a Swiss businessman who wants the animals left alone in their "natural" environment. "Natural" in this case means a high fence and introduced elephants. The elephants haven't put every 1,000 year old tree flat on the ground but they are working on it.
Werner explains that grass eaters become tame with tourist interaction and lack of food, but the browsers - impala and kudu - retain their wildness. He will not hunt anything other than impala or kudu here. We walk and spot many zebra and oryx in the bush. The zebra filter away and the oryx bolt but not before providing close shot opportunities. We spot a band of impala on a ridge in thick bush, too far to judge horns. And we never get the chance, they disappear as we spot them.
The place is thick with game and suddenly we see giraffe heads rising above the bush. It is surreal and reminds me of the movie Jurassic Park. They look like peaceful brontosaurus. I am walking along with a rifle, pinch me. We spot a nice Kudu bull under a camelthorn tree. We have seen him first with the wind in our favor. Somehow he becomes aware of our prescense and disappears.
Normally Werner is the first to spot game so I am proud to point out a few impala through thick bush. These are the first we have seen since the initial group. They are 200 yards quartering away, unaware of our presence. Werner immediately perks up - we must get closer. We drop into a ravine. Now we are within 140 yards of where we expect them to pass. We glimpse them filtering through the bush and Werner tells me to be ready. I don't want to shoot the first impala I see - I want to find a good one. I still haven't had a good look at any impala ram this trip and I wonder if Werner has actually had a good look. Now they are moving more quickly as the bush opens slightly. Suddenly I have a quartering away shot at the ram bringing up the rear and Werner tells me urgently to shoot. After the shot Werner explains that the instant he first saw that impala he knew it was exceptional.
On the walk out we find half a dozen dead oryx and zebra. There are still months til the next rains and a lot more animals will be dead before then.
As we are returning to the lodge, we run into the other PH that has permission to hunt this place. He has a couple of American bowhunters in his truck and he and Werner catch up in German. They share a laugh and later when I ask Werner about the conversation he says Nick is tired of sitting on his backside.
After dropping off the impala at the butchery we sip cold beer under the cool shaded veranda in oversized leather armchairs while watching ducks, geese, eland, ostrich, zebra, and springbok enjoy the palm-shaded pond. This place is not where I would want to spend my entire safari but what a morning. Emily and Claire have been on a game drive while we were hunting and we collect them before heading to Omaruru for lunch.
Willie tried to climb into my lap when these two approached the truck
In Omaruru there is a surprisingly modern grocery. In the parking lot Werner runs into a friend. The man is dressed like any local, but is tall and fit with searching eyes. Werner is telling him, in German, that I have just bought his book in Swakopmund. At the time I don't appreciate the significance of meeting Kai-Uwe Denker and I wish now that I had already read his book before meeting him.
Day 9 Continues - Warthog
Werner's sister Charissa handles bookings and logistics for Immenhof. Before our trip we asked if we could bring anything to help locals, and Charissa mentioned an orphanage that she helps support in nearby Kalkfeld. Charissa has volunteered to take us for a visit so we bundle the kids in the car. I jump into the backseat between my kids. My wife thinks I am being generous until we get through a few gates. Ha.
The children are bright eyed and cheerful and the orphanage is clean and sparse but it is heart breaking. After the tour the children sing a few songs for us - every bit as good as a Putamayo CD. We pass out candy and leave art and school supplies from the States. On the way back to Immenhof our kids have a lot of questions about life and I am glad my wife insisted on the visit. We are all jarred with the contrast between our vacation and their life.
We return to Immenhof in time to sit in a blind and await warthog. With the last bit of the day a nice warthog finally arrives. I am more nervous than Theo and help him get behind the Ruger. He is dead calm and waits for a female to clear out behind the male before squeezing the trigger. Werner and I can see the shot is good. Theo takes the lead with the tracking. It is clear from the blood trail(s) that the shot was a pass through but I am nervous as we seem to be tracking the warthog for miles. A very long 80 yards ends when Theo finally reaches the warthog.
Werner and I provide Theo the now routine "Weitzman's Heil" and he is obviously proud to shake hands and reply "Weitzman's Danke". Werner shares the German routine of placing a plant in the mouth of the warthog and also touching a plant to the wound and then putting it in Theo's hat. This is something we have done with each animal and Theo has done with me on the times Werner was not around. He is proud to be the hunter today.
We load the warthog and race the sunset to Sundowner Rock where Mom and the other lodge guests are having cocktails. We arrive just in time.
Later that night Theo participates in another Immenhof ritual. Werner recounts the details of Theo's first African animal to the guests, performs a ritual hiding (spanking), and presents him with an Immenhof cap. I think the adults are as happy as Theo; a German hunting couple have also been successful this day. Schnapps and Jagermeister appear and Andreas the Austrian Butcher provides a thorough translation and discussion of the German words adorning the Jagermeister (Master Hunter) bottle.
This is the hunter's badge of honor, which he protects and wears as his shield, to guard, while in the fine and honorable profession of hunting; which also honors the Creator and his creations.
Translating is thirsty work.
so far this is a fantastic family trip ablebonus
with some very nice trophies mate
thanks for sharing your families memories
look forward to reading about your longbow hunting in the near future .
whatever you take with a longbow will definitely be big game regardless of its stature
young theo is paitent young man, congratulation to the young hunter on his poomba
Day 10 - Mushara Lodge
Today we drive to Etosha Park. We arrive at Mushara Lodge (just outside the park) early afternoon. We are greeted with fluted stemware and a beautiful tourist tent camp. Accommodations are luxurious - mahogany framed canvas tents with concrete floors and tiled bathrooms. We quickly abandon plans to drive through Etosha that afternoon and spend the rest of the day lounging by the pool.
Day 11 - Etosha National Park
Etosha National Park is like the Yellowstone of Namibia. When you enter the park, you may only leave your car at designated spots. We see a variety of plains game, leopard, male and female lion, black rhino, elephant, black faced impala.
That night we stop at a beautiful mountain top lodge on the other side of Etosha. Again a beautiful sunset, great meal, and nice rest.
mate that eighth photo with the springboks duking it out is awesome
Day 12 - Back to Immenhof
Game in Namibia behave differently in the presence of vehicles versus walkers. When a truck approaches they often stand motionless as long as the truck continues moving. Guinea fowl and francolin can seem dumb as chickens when you drive by them at 30 yards. So this afternoon as I uncase my shotgun for the first time I expect a pleasant afternoon collecting a few francolin.
Martin and I take off on foot. Our plan is to walk along a dry riverbed, one on the bank and on in the bottom. We pass dozens of tame guineas around the lodge but these are not for us. Apparently the ones in the bush are not for us either. The difference in their wariness seems exponential when we are on foot. Fifty yards through thick bush is about as close as they will allow us, and once we reach that distance they scurry off through the bush, never flushing.
We finally manage to get on either side of a few francolin and Martin flushes my first.
The rest of the afternoon is a francolin-less march through the bush. Hunting francolin on foot with a shotgun is difficult.
We return to the lodge in time for horses. First a ride for the children and then a brisk gallop for the adults. I would do this daily if it weren't for the hunting.
Day 13 - Eland
This morning we meet for breakfast at 4:30 and are driving by 5 to reach a new cattle ranch at first light. The ranch is immense - something like 60,000 acres, low fenced. It is the most well managed ranch we've seen - cross fenced for cattle, lots of game, and knee high grass everywhere. The ranch is flat except for a central ridge - perfect kudu habitat. On the drive to the ridge we see two bat eared foxes and a caracal. Springbok and oryx are plentiful and we witness two oryx go under a cattle fence at a full gallop. I stop to take a photo of the place they crossed - I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it. The oryx lay their long horns flat on their back and squat low but never slow.
Our plan is to walk the ridge in the early morning looking for kudu. As we climb the ridge we bump a klipspringer at a distance of a few yards and spot a large old kudu bull at 50m near the very top of the ridge. He stands from his bed in thick brush for a few minutes. As we attempt to move closer he moves along the ridge away from us. From the top we can see him and a few cows and immature bulls moving away. He is close enough for a shot but not bigger than the kudu I have already taken.
Theo makes the climb with us and we glass the bush country for eland without success.
Theo joins Willie in the truck and Werner and I walk miles through the bush. We find plenty of warthogs, steenbock, and dik-dik but no larger game.
We began our Namibia hunt with a new moon but last night was a full moon and we are having more trouble spotting game today. After a great lunch of sandwiches on thick sliced home made bread we search for red hartebeest and eland. I've already taken more game than I had planned this trip and am just enjoying seeing new country. But by mid afternoon I am really into the hunt. We see several nice hartebeest through the bush but never more than a fleeting glimpse. The eland, despite their size and proximity, escape our view.
Werner keeps working the bush and toward late afternoon we finally locate eland. We shadow them through the bush - three old bulls. Even without a clear view I see they are different - these are blue-gray Livingston eland and they are beautiful. We have the wind in our favor and follow their nervous movements through the bush. Finally they are a little over 100 yards away. I have a shot at the only one we can judge but they are undisturbed and Werner is waiting to get a look at the other two to see if they are better. We become aware of a warthog moving toward us. He is coming right to us and already too close for us to move. At 15 feet he crosses our wind and clatters away. The eland bolt at the sound. We never see them again. On the drive out we have another opportunity at a red hartebeest. We jump out of the truck and pursue but never see it again either. The eland give me another reason to come back to Namibia.
Day 14 - Birds and More
Today is a birdhunting day. Our wives enjoy a free morning as we have the full crew of children with us.
Having already found a francolin I'm after guinea fowl and sand grouse. There are dozens of tame guineas around the lodge but the ones in the bush are difficult to approach. After a few failed stalks I take Werner's advice and sprint towards a pair, managing a double. While I've been chasing birds the kids have enthusiastically applied camo face paint.
We head to a waterhole for sand grouse. They come in for water every day between 9 and 10. I hunker down under a bush and shoot 3 birds fairly quickly. Luck is with me - each of the 3 species present in this part of Namibia! I can tell by the sounds coming from the truck the kids are bored of bird hunting so we take some photos and climb boulders until lunch.
Andreas the Butcher has an apprentice from Germany, Tobias, helping in the butchery. Tobias is enthusiastic about hunting and shooting but has few opportunities in Germany so we head to the gun range for him to try both rifle and shotgun.
I plan to chase birds the rest of the afternoon and Werner has offered Theo a chance to take a decrepit old female warthog we have seen as a cull. Theo (excited) and Willie head to the blind with a .243.
I find a couple more guinea fowl in the afternoon and then meet Andreas, Tobias, and Werner for a drive. We have shotguns for birds and bring an electronic caller for jackals. Andreas is a very successful francolin hunter. I adopt his technique (it doesn't involve walking) and share in the success. We set up once for jackal but no response and move to another spot just as Werner receives a whispered call from Willie. There is a large hartebeest, can Theo shoot? Of course! We wait anxiously for another call.
The hartebeest was quartering away and Theo aimed for the off shoulder. The hartebeest traveled 70 yards. When we skin it we find the bullet has made it to the heart but did not exit. It is apparently a very good hartebeest. Theo is proud and I am prouder. Pictures all around and back to the house to celebrate.
Day 15 - Leopard Mountain
We have saved Leopard Mountain for the last day and we've all been nervously looking forward to the climb. We awake at 4:45am, a little bleary from the schnapps fueled Hartebeest celebration. 5am breakfast and the truck is out by 5:30am. The morning is windy, the first day like this. We reach the base of the 6,600 foot mountain at 6:30 and park the truck in the flat bush. The climbing party includes Werner, Annelien, Andreas, Theo, Emily, and me. The first couple of hours is a scramble through bush and rock until we reach the base of the granite cliffs. Baboons screech at us for invading their space. A six foot tall black eagle nest towers above and then below us as we continue climbing.
We have a tough scramble over rocks to get to the saddle where we must follow the spine to the peak. The wind is gusting 40-50 up here and my wife and 8 year old have had enough. They hunker down in the lee side completely out of the wind with snacks. The wind is enough to push me around and there is no way I would have let Theo up here even if he wanted to come.
We make it to the top for a few pictures. Unfortunately the wind has picked up the dust and we do not get the clear thousand mile views we were hoping for. I am terrified and make it back down to Theo and Emily.
Back to the house and we have a very early beer. Last night during the hartebeest celebration I somehow promised Andreas I would help in the butchery if he would climb the mountain with us.
We finish our day with a drive and sundowner and have a bittersweet dinner, our last meal at Immenhof.
Day 16 - Wingshooting
Although this is our departure day we are squeezing every bit of joy out of it. I awake at 3:30am, load the truck with my guns and Mystery Ranch pack, and depart with Andreas for Namibia's only feedlot, just outside of Windhoek. This operation is run by Werner's uncle, Helmet. He lived in Kansas for a few years working as a meat inspector and returned to Namibia with a few ideas. At the feedlot we find an embarrassment of riches for wingshooters. There are thousands of Egyptian and white-fronted geese, doves as thick as flies, and a few pigeon.
We begin with geese. Despite the fact that there are thousands everywhere you look, they are smart. Helmet says we will only get one shot at the geese this morning. We set up in an ambush spot and Helmet drives to the feedlot troughs to flush the geese. We are shooting the local shells which are 2 1/2" 1's. As wave after wave of geese fly over we only manage a few down and then they are off to their daytime roost on a local lake.
Next we settle into the pastures in the midst of the feedlot pens to shoot doves. Nerve wracking. Thousands of low flying doves fill the air but cows and workers surround us in every direction. I spend the first 20 minutes afraid to shoot. Andreas apparently has a better spot because his shots are constant. I move a little further away. I take a few tentative shots with a very poor percentage of hits.
I finally find a small, brushy ravine and crouch under a thorn bush with a few cases of shells. I have the perfect ambush shot (being lower means I am shooting up safely into the sky) and the doves are flying over this spot from every direction. My percentage improves as I limit my shots to a couple of safe alleys.
Soon Werner arrives; he has flown up from Immenhof with Tobias and Theo. They bring waters and more shells. Andreas and Werner join me in the ravine. We are laughing and shooting and laughing all morning. Helmet joins the fun. I watch Helmet as I have been concerned all morning about the shots. Low crossers? No problem for Helmet. I bellow like a cow every time he shoots. We laugh and laugh all morning. We produce many, many empty boxes of shells and a few doves.
Workers join us with bags and we all collect doves and empties. The workers are ecstatic; they get to keep the meat. Next we jump in the back of a truck as Helmet wants us to shoot a few warthogs which also raid the troughs. The feedlot has a lot of workers and they are fed lunch as part of the job. We surprise a couple of smaller warthogs and Andreas takes a snapshot. These warthogs don't stand a chance with three of us shooting. Co-located with the feedlot is a tannery with ponds for wastewater. We spy another flock of geese and creep over a dam, then run as fast as we can toward them before unloading. More laughs as all of the geese escape. Tobias takes a shot at a jackal with my 7 mag but doesn't connect.
We have had a perfect morning and my cheeks ache from laughing and smiling non-stop. The ladies await at a nice steakhouse for cold beers and a late lunch. After a shower at Werner's in-laws we head to the airport. The morning shoot turned out to be a highlight of the whole trip and we were so busy we never had time to get sad about leaving. When Werner finally says goodbye as we go through security I look down at Theo who has burst into tears. What's wrong son? I don't want to leave.
What a great total account of your trip! Great photos, perfect memories for your entire family, and excellent trophies to hang on the walls to remember the trip with. Thanks for sharing and super story-telling.
Separate names with a comma.