NAMIBIA: Khomas Highland Hunting Safaris 2017

Eric Zelanko

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As the plane left the tarmac of Hosea Kutako International Airport outside Windhoek last year, my brother and I knew we were leaving behind some unfinished business. We had hoped each of us would take an eland but only I had scored. While we had seen plenty of eland, finding two mature bulls had been difficult. They were there, we just couldn’t find them. Having enjoyed our time with Khomas Highlands Hunting Safaris and PH Philip Hennings, we booked a followup hunt for June 2017. Philip’s hunting style of “boots on the ground” appeals to us as well.

After the long flight from JFK to Jo-Burg to Windhoek, we once again found ourselves loading our gear into Philip’s Land Cruiser for the drive to his hunting concession on the edge of the Kalahari. In less than a couple of hours, we’d made the drive, unpacked our rifles, and were sitting on top for a quick spin to look for some game as darkness settled in.

IMG_0711.JPG


The next morning found us back in the truck in search of our elusive eland. Very quickly, we were exploring areas of the concession we hadn’t seen the previous year. Philip had done a great job learning more about the 40K+ acre concession over the past year. We saw kudu, gemsbok, zebra and a host of other plains game but still no eland. A quick “stop” spoken by tracker Hendrik found us out of the truck. He had seen eland. The stalk was on.

Working our way across the savanna, we came across a few fresh rhino tracks. We knew from the previous year there were rhino on the concession but we hadn’t seen any. Being a little more cautious, we continued on our way. In less than a mile, we found ourselves glassing the eland. As had been the case last year, the herd consisted of mature cows and a few young bulls. But it was worth a look. Back in the truck, we hadn’t gone more than a few hundred yards when we came across a rhino with its calf. Exciting to see for sure. The remainder of that first day we continued to look for eland and a big impala for my brother. Lots of game was sighted but none to our fancy.

2 Rhinos.jpg


The next morning found us in the truck as the first rays of sun came across the mountains. As we were getting in, Philip said he felt positive today would be the day. At dinner the evening before, we had laid out plans to visit three specific locations to glass for eland. Surely one of them would hold the mature bull we were looking for.

Traveling to the first spot, we came across three nice waterbuck bulls. One was very long and thick. Tempting, but not on our list this year so we moved on. Other game sighting were limited as the strong winds seemed to be keeping the animals down. So it was no surprise when we didn’t see a single eland from our first vantage point. On to the second area.

Part way there, we spotted a herd of impala. A close look revealed a decent ram but one of the tips were broken. Not wanting to waste time, we again were back on the truck but to no avail. Like the first, the second area yielded little game. The wind was wrecking havoc on our hunting for sure.

Along the way to the third spot, we came across another group of impala; this one with three very good rams. As we looked and debated, it was easy to sense Philip wasn’t interested in impala that morning. With a quick “we can do better”, we were off.

Our final destination was on top a small escarpment running along the mountain to the savanna below. Looking down from the rock strewn edge, we could glass for game several hundred feet below. The day before, we had seen two female eland feeding about 200 yards from the base of the escarpment. Philip had noted the eland liked to bed in close to the edge of the escarpment to avoid the wind.

philip and shaka.jpg


Making our way to the edge as quietly as we could, we were met with nothing but grass and acacia thorn trees on the savanna below. Moving further along, we still didn’t see anything. Just as we about to head back to the truck, Philip suddenly stopped, looked through his binoculars, and declared he saw eland bulls about 1000 yards away. With that, we turned course to intercept them as quickly as the terrain would allow. Sneaking through the thorns and loose rock, we would occasionally sneak up to the edge to note the location of the bulls. Luck was on our side as one of the bulls laid down. Slowing down and being more cautious than ever, we worked our way closer and closer.

Peering over the edge from a rock outcropping, Philip located the bulls about 170 yards away. My brother carefully moved into place for a potential shot. Using the rocks and bipod on his rifle, he settled in to evaluate the bulls. As they glassed and whispered between themselves, they determined the largest bull was the one which had bedded at a slightly quartering away angle to us. Settling the crosshairs on the spot he knew would reach the vitals of the big bull, the 8mm magnum roared to life.

At the shot, all four bulls took off with that long stride eland trot. Going less than 75 yards, the big bull staggered then fell. To be safe, my brother fired a finishing shot. We’ve had a few bad experiences with “dead” game getting back on their feet. Now the real work of recovery came into play. Loading a ton of eland into the back of a Land Cruiser is quite the experience.

IMG_0567.JPG

With our primary animal in the salt, we were able to really enjoy the remainder of our hunt. My brother took a mature impala ram; I shot a big “smily face” warthog and long female gemsbok. We hunted the edge of the Kalahari and Farm Heusis in the Khomas Highlands. At both, we saw plenty of game including several exceptional kudu and mountain zebra which are indigenous to the Khomas Highlands. We also took time from our hunt to visit the coast, something we had never done before.

Leaving Farm Heusis, we traveled C28 to Swakomund, about a 3-1/2 hour journey. Through the mountains, across the Namib desert, we arrived in town with enough time for an afternoon of riding quads in the dunes. Having never done anything like that before, we both enjoyed ourselves, especially dropping down the back side of those high dunes.

Hill drop.jpg


The next day, Philip had arranged a charter boat for us to try our hand at fishing for kabeljou and blacktails. While not the best time of year, we still managed to catch over 200 fish with plenty of keepers for the grill. With them packed on ice in styrofoam coolers, we headed back to Farm Heusis for our final day of hunting.

Ahoy2.jpg

The highlight of the trip for me was seeing my first wild leopard. Coming down from the mountains one evening, we caught the cat bedded beside some brush. If not for the sharp eyes of Hendrik, our tracker, I’m sure I’d have never spotted it on my own. Philip estimated the cat between 180 - 200 pounds. The entire time we watched, the big cat did likewise. The only movement we saw was the occasional flick of his tail. I’m not sure why I thought the cat would try to flee but he didn’t. It was obvious he wasn’t the least bit afraid of us. It’s something I’ll never forget.

leopard close up.jpg
 
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enysse

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Great leopard photo! I'm glad you guys enjoyed the hunting trip!
 

BRICKBURN

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There is nothing like seeing a relaxed wild Leopard. That is certainly a high point.

A well rounded trip. Congratulations.
 

billc

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wow what a sight to see a leopard like that. Great trip report also and looks like you had a great trip all around.
 

cpr0312

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Congrats and thanks for sharing! What a treat to see a leopard!
 

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Thanks for sharing a great trip! Seeing the leopard was such a highlight! Or was the best highlight the rhino mom and babe? Oh it must have all been great!
 

cagkt3

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Congrats! Awesome experience getting to see a wild leopard
 

KHOMAS HIGHLAND HUNTING SAFARIS

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This hunt was very exiting! Thank you for hunting with us, I hope to see the Zelanko brothers again in the near future for another adventures Safari :)
Kind regards from Namibia
Philip
 

GA Hunter

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Great report and congrats on a great hunt! The leopard was like the cherry on top.
 

DoubleLunger

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As the plane left the tarmac of Hosea Kutako International Airport outside Windhoek last year, my brother and I knew we were leaving behind some unfinished business. We had hoped each of us would take an eland but only I had scored. While we had seen plenty of eland, finding two mature bulls had been difficult. They were there, we just couldn’t find them. Having enjoyed our time with Khomas Highlands Hunting Safaris and PH Philip Hennings, we booked a followup hunt for June 2017. Philip’s hunting style of “boots on the ground” appeals to us as well.

After the long flight from JFK to Jo-Burg to Windhoek, we once again found ourselves loading our gear into Philip’s Land Cruiser for the drive to his hunting concession on the edge of the Kalahari. In less than a couple of hours, we’d made the drive, unpacked our rifles, and were sitting on top for a quick spin to look for some game as darkness settled in.

View attachment 195057

The next morning found us back in the truck in search of our elusive eland. Very quickly, we were exploring areas of the concession we hadn’t seen the previous year. Philip had done a great job learning more about the 40K+ acre concession over the past year. We saw kudu, gemsbok, zebra and a host of other plains game but still no eland. A quick “stop” spoken by tracker Hendrik found us out of the truck. He had seen eland. The stalk was on.

Working our way across the savanna, we came across a few fresh rhino tracks. We knew from the previous year there were rhino on the concession but we hadn’t seen any. Being a little more cautious, we continued on our way. In less than a mile, we found ourselves glassing the eland. As had been the case last year, the herd consisted of mature cows and a few young bulls. But it was worth a look. Back in the truck, we hadn’t gone more than a few hundred yards when we came across a rhino with its calf. Exciting to see for sure. The remainder of that first day we continued to look for eland and a big impala for my brother. Lots of game was sighted but none to our fancy.

View attachment 195055

The next morning found us in the truck as the first rays of sun came across the mountains. As we were getting in, Philip said he felt positive today would be the day. At dinner the evening before, we had laid out plans to visit three specific locations to glass for eland. Surely one of them would hold the mature bull we were looking for.

Traveling to the first spot, we came across three nice waterbuck bulls. One was very long and thick. Tempting, but not on our list this year so we moved on. Other game sighting were limited as the strong winds seemed to be keeping the animals down. So it was no surprise when we didn’t see a single eland from our first vantage point. On to the second area.

Part way there, we spotted a herd of impala. A close look revealed a decent ram but one of the tips were broken. Not wanting to waste time, we again were back on the truck but to no avail. Like the first, the second area yielded little game. The wind was wrecking havoc on our hunting for sure.

Along the way to the third spot, we came across another group of impala; this one with three very good rams. As we looked and debated, it was easy to sense Philip wasn’t interested in impala that morning. With a quick “we can do better”, we were off.

Our final destination was on top a small escarpment running along the mountain to the savanna below. Looking down from the rock strewn edge, we could glass for game several hundred feet below. The day before, we had seen two female eland feeding about 200 yards from the base of the escarpment. Philip had noted the eland liked to bed in close to the edge of the escarpment to avoid the wind.

View attachment 195050

Making our way to the edge as quietly as we could, we were met with nothing but grass and acacia thorn trees on the savanna below. Moving further along, we still didn’t see anything. Just as we about to head back to the truck, Philip suddenly stopped, looked through his binoculars, and declared he saw eland bulls about 1000 yards away. With that, we turned course to intercept them as quickly as the terrain would allow. Sneaking through the thorns and loose rock, we would occasionally sneak up to the edge to note the location of the bulls. Luck was on our side as one of the bulls laid down. Slowing down and being more cautious than ever, we worked our way closer and closer.

Peering over the edge from a rock outcropping, Philip located the bulls about 170 yards away. My brother carefully moved into place for a potential shot. Using the rocks and bipod on his rifle, he settled in to evaluate the bulls. As they glassed and whispered between themselves, they determined the largest bull was the one which had bedded at a slightly quartering away angle to us. Settling the crosshairs on the spot he knew would reach the vitals of the big bull, the 8mm magnum roared to life.

At the shot, all four bulls took off with that long stride eland trot. Going less than 75 yards, the big bull staggered then fell. To be safe, my brother fired a finishing shot. We’ve had a few bad experiences with “dead” game getting back on their feet. Now the real work of recovery came into play. Loading a ton of eland into the back of a Land Cruiser is quite the experience.

View attachment 195047
With our primary animal in the salt, we were able to really enjoy the remainder of our hunt. My brother took a mature impala ram; I shot a big “smily face” warthog and long female gemsbok. We hunted the edge of the Kalahari and Farm Heusis in the Khomas Highlands. At both, we saw plenty of game including several exceptional kudu and mountain zebra which are indigenous to the Khomas Highlands. We also took time from our hunt to visit the coast, something we had never done before.

Leaving Farm Heusis, we traveled C28 to Swakomund, about a 3-1/2 hour journey. Through the mountains, across the Namib desert, we arrived in town with enough time for an afternoon of riding quads in the dunes. Having never done anything like that before, we both enjoyed ourselves, especially dropping down the back side of those high dunes.

View attachment 195054

The next day, Philip had arranged a charter boat for us to try our hand at fishing for kabeljou and blacktails. While not the best time of year, we still managed to catch over 200 fish with plenty of keepers for the grill. With them packed on ice in styrofoam coolers, we headed back to Farm Heusis for our final day of hunting.

View attachment 195048
The highlight of the trip for me was seeing my first wild leopard. Coming down from the mountains one evening, we caught the cat bedded beside some brush. If not for the sharp eyes of Hendrik, our tracker, I’m sure I’d have never spotted it on my own. Philip estimated the cat between 180 - 200 pounds. The entire time we watched, the big cat did likewise. The only movement we saw was the occasional flick of his tail. I’m not sure why I thought the cat would try to flee but he didn’t. It was obvious he wasn’t the least bit afraid of us. It’s something I’ll never forget.

View attachment 195049

Thank you for this report. Velodog and myself are about to embark on a similar journey with Khomas Highland Hunting Safaris and are both very excited. Congrats to you and your brother on such a great and successful harvest
 

kathy

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Quite the adventure, thanks for sharing. Forrest
 

Eric Zelanko

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Thank you for this report. Velodog and myself are about to embark on a similar journey with Khomas Highland Hunting Safaris and are both very excited. Congrats to you and your brother on such a great and successful harvest
If you want a more detailed story of our hunt, we maintain a website for our friends and family which we updated every day of our hunt. It's at www.broadtopbushmen.com. The password is Magnum. It's more like a diary than anything.
 

Eric Zelanko

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Thank you for this report. Velodog and myself are about to embark on a similar journey with Khomas Highland Hunting Safaris and are both very excited. Congrats to you and your brother on such a great and successful harvest
We've also been trying to video our hunts which is harder than it looks on the tv shows. Here's a link to the eland hunt:

Philip has it posted on his Facebook site as well.
 

Eric Zelanko

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This hunt was very exiting! Thank you for hunting with us, I hope to see the Zelanko brothers again in the near future for another adventures Safari :)
Kind regards from Namibia
Philip
Be careful what you say Philip. We're already tossing around the idea of another visit next year.
 

DoubleLunger

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If you want a more detailed story of our hunt, we maintain a website for our friends and family which we updated every day of our hunt. It's at www.broadtopbushmen.com. The password is Magnum. It's more like a diary than anything.

Thank you. I'll look into it
 

DoubleLunger

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We've also been trying to video our hunts which is harder than it looks on the tv shows. Here's a link to the eland hunt:

Philip has it posted on his Facebook site as well.

This is so awesome!
 

Brent in Az

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Very nice Eland. Thank goodness for winches, to help get that beast in the truck.

Rhino, Leopard, fishing.....sounds like an amazing adventure!
 

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