NAMIBIA: Kowas Adventure Safaris 2021- Finally!

MAdcox

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We finally got to meet up with Jacques and Elleni in Africa instead of Dallas!

@BJONES and I booked our Namibian hunt early in January of 2018 at DSC. With the help of advice from this great forum and friends we have made both here and at DSC we settled on @Kowas Adventure Safaris. After meeting Jacques and Elleni in Dallas we felt great about our upcoming hunt. We were booked for May 2019 and already excited.
Then, I won the hunt giveaway here on AH (my luckiest day ever) and needed to schedule that in 2019. Ansie Strauss was extremely understanding and helpful and we rebooked for May 2020. We all know what happened to that hunt but Bobby and I couldn't believe COVID would last more than a few months so we rebooked for September of 2020. Obviously COVID blew that up as well and we got the next dates available- September 2021. Through all of these postponements and rebooking, Ansie as well as Lori and Jennifer @TRAVEL EXPRESS were great to get us new dates and new travel arrangements as needed. I think our flights changed 3 or 4 times due to routes being closed or changed due to COVID. We finally settled on Qatar Air (DFW-DOHA-JoBerg-Windhoek). The time spent on a plane and in an airport was incredibly long to me but Qatar was the best company I have flown.

Finally on Sunday, Sept 26 we landed in Windhoek and met Ansie in person. She helped us get our rifles checked in and headed to camp. After 3 1/2 long years we were in camp at Kowas! We met Danie and baby Joshua at camp and were introduced to Matheus- who would be my PH for the week- and his brother Michael- his driver. We unloaded our gear and headed to the rifle range. I was not real happy with the groups my 300WSM was printing (2-3 inch groups from a rifle and load that always prints 1/2 to 3/4 inch) but wrote it off to being up for 52 straight hours (turns out I should have paid more attention to it). But we finished with a beautiful game drive and the first of Elizabeth's wonderful meals, then hit the sack for some much needed rest to begin hunting in the morning. The view of the waterhole from our bedroom was a big distraction and we watched Waterbuck, Impala, Lechwe and a Bat Eared Fox in the light at the water until we were nodding off in our chairs, then finally turned in and crashed.
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MAdcox

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Mon. Sept 27
Bobby and I did a lot of our hunting together all week and I will try and leave as much of his hunt for him to write up as possible. We were together for a good number of each other's stalks and animals and it was a great way to hunt. It doubled the number of stalks we each participated in and there isn't much better than a buddy's slap on the back at a good shot at the end of a hard stalk.

Jacques knew I had been after a Steenbok for several trips to Africa and told us he knew where a good one had been hanging out, so we all loaded up and headed to the area first thing. We spotted him from the track and drove on past the area and Matheus and I offloaded. I grabbed the rifle from the case in the front of the vehicle and we started our stalk back. We came to the area we had seen the Steenbok, but could not locate him in the knee deep grass. Matheus said they will often just lie down and we didn't want to go stomping through the cover and blow him out of the area, so we eased around and glassed the edges for quite awhile with no luck. As we headed back to the truck, we stopped one more time and glassed behind us. We both saw the little ram stand up at the same time. Matheus squatted down and pointed into a shallow, sandy draw that would take us nearer the ram. After several knee surgeries and finally a full replacement a year ago- I DON'T squat very well. But we made it to the draw and came to within 30 yards. All I could see of the little guy was his head and a faint line of his back. I thought I held low enough but at the shot he jumped sideways about 6 feet and stood a little shaken. I fired again and he was down. My first shot had just creased his back but the second did the job. This little guy was perfect. Very long and just starting to chip off one horn. The bases are incredible. Jacques said he didn't know if he had ever seen any as thick.
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Booby was up next after we loaded the Steenbok and I will just say we had another great stalk and animal before lunch.
Bobby's main target for the week was Kudu and mine was a big old Eland bull. Both of which can be time consuming so we split up after lunch. Bobby and Jacques went to another property looking for Kudu and Matheus and I went to the hills at Kowas looking for the bachelor groups of Eland he expected to find there. We spent several hours in the mountains but found no Eland nor any sign that they had been around. We found very few animals there at all. All the vegetation was dead and brittle and there was starting to be some green growth in the brush down lower. Matheus satisfied himself that the mountains were fairly empty and the valleys were where we needed to be. As we were coming down we jumped one old lone Eland bull from his bed. We never really had a chance as he was already aware of us and traveling, but it got my blood pumping. Matheus said he was old but not long enough. I told him I was more interested in an old shaggy headed bull, but I discovered over the week that Matheus takes a lot of pride in big animals. He always looks for old, past-their-prime bulls, but he doesn't want average either. He said we would find a bigger one.
We hunted through some of the most beautiful country I have ever seen in Africa. We would come out of the thorn and scrub into big, grassy woodlands. Bobby and I started calling them "National Geographic" areas. Hundreds of acres of knee deep grass dotted with big camel thorn acacias. Giraffe and antelope moving through the area. It was wonderful! As we were crossing one of these areas we spotted a herd of Mt Zebra about a mile ahead of us. We immediately killed the truck and grabbed the rifle. It took us an hour or more to come into range of them and we had moved back into heavy thorn. We worked around the edges of the group for a while looking for an old stallion. All of a sudden I saw a head come up and lock onto us. We were busted and in seconds we heard the pounding of hooves and saw nothing but dust in the air. It was late and I assumed we were done, but Matheus just squatted down and said "We'll give them a minute. They didn't smell us and only one of them saw anything, they probably won't be far." Ten minutes later we took up the tracks and followed. Within a few hundred yards, Matheus pointed out that they were walking and in another 15 minutes we were within sight again. The brush was lighter here and Matheus picked out the stallion at a little over 100 yards. He was at the edge of the herd in some brush, so I got on the sticks and waited for a shot. He moved soon but came through the herd at a hard angle then went behind a tree. I could just see his back leg for what seemed like forever. It was long enough that my right arm went to sleep from being bent for so long and I had to support the rifle with my off hand and let my trigger hand dangle down until the blood flow returned- pins and needles! At last he turned and walked back into the clearing. Magically he was broadside and in the clear. My new 375 H&H barked and we heard the solid impact. He went about 30 yards and was done. A great stalk and a great animal to break in the new rifle.
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We returned to camp to a huge welcome and congratulations and just in time to see Bobby and Jacques come in with another successful evening.
That evening around the fire was wonderful. The food and conversation was great. Eventually Danie and I settled in to talking about Eland. He said next to Elephant, they and Buffalo are the hardest animals to close with. In all his time hunting them he could only remember two relatively "easy" Eland hunts. Most require days and miles of walking on the track. I went off to bed that night thinking of the huge gray bulls and tired legs and sore feet.
 

MAdcox

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Tuesday, Sept 28
After a hugely successful day 1, Bobby and I split up again this morning. Bobby and Jacques packed a lunch and headed off to a rough, mountainous area in search of Kudu. Matheus and I were off to look for Eland. He felt he knew where to look based on where they were not yesterday. We headed right back to the area where the brush was starting to green up from the night before. We were back in another of the "national geographic" areas looking at a herd of Giraffe mixed with Mt Zebra when Matheus said "Eland!" It was a small herd on the edge of the grassland and brush. There was a good bull hanging around the edge of the herd but he was a prime breeding age bull and we didn't consider him a animal to try for. As Michael and I were just admiring them in the binoculars, Matheus got out and started walking the road. Less than a quarter mile from where we were sitting he found the tracks of a large group of Eland crossing the road. As we looked at the dimples in the sand, I was amazed he could tell they were Eland. Obviously they were large tracks but in the loose sand they were just marks to me. To make it even better I noticed he would walk past a few tracks, then point at one and count it off on his finger. He did this three times and turned to me and said "Three bulls are following this herd of cows." What???!!!
He told Michael to drive the truck up a little ways to a shade tree where we would start tracking. We actually spotted the tail end of the herd as we drove and they saw us as well. They were about a mile ahead of us but already watching us. We drove on over a little hill and parked and just set and let them settle for about 30 minutes. We then started to stalk towards the direction they had been traveling. After an hour or more we had no sign of them or their tracks. We were out of the savannah area and back in thorn bush. Matheus said he guessed they changed direction after they saw us and headed straight away. We started working our way back that direction and about a half hour later he found their tracks. After only an hour or so we made contact with the tail end of the herd. For the next half hour we worked the edges and tried to stay hidden and keep the wind. We kept seeing the bulls drifting through the herd and it was my first time to be this close to big Eland bulls. The difference between them and the females was awesome. They looked like massive shouldered, gray mountains moving through the herd. All three bulls looked huge to me, but Matheus had locked onto one bull. He said one had the best length but was younger, while the last two were old but one was longer and heavier horned, with a good ruff and beautiful dark face. Just as we were working in to position on him they broke over a slight rise in the ground and disappeared. We quickly and quietly worked our way up to this depression. As we got to the edge there was a bull and two cows about 70 yards ahead browsing. We held up and glassed trying to pick out the rest of the herd when a mountain of a bull came out of cover from our right. It was over before I could get nervous. Matheus set the sticks and said "That's him." The 375 barked again and he was behind a tree, carrying his front leg from a broken shoulder. The others grouped around the tree and we waited several minutes until they moved off. The big bull didn't follow and we suspected he was down but approached ready. He was up and moved off at our approach but couldn't go too well and a finishing shot put him down for good.
This bull has been in my thoughts for several years now after I had settled on Eland as my main goal for this hunt. A little luck and Matheus' great skill and insane ability to read animals saved me the days and miles of tracking, but it was still three or four of the best hours I have spent trailing animals and what a prize at the end of it. Magnificent animals!
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As we were loading him and driving out, Matheus pointed to a familiar looking opening about 50 yards away. He said "this is your lucky spot." It was were I took my Zebra 14 hours earlier!

I was back at camp earlier than expected, but it was already hot and Matheus thought it would be better to wait until after lunch to go back out. I caught Danie getting in his vehicle and he said he was going to help Elleni move some cattle they had in an auction later in October. As I spend most of my days in the US handling cattle and horses, I asked if I could tag along. It's just in my blood. I didn't have my chaps or spurs, but I got to drive cattle and work the sorting gate on my first Namibian ranch.
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We had a great lunch and headed back out that evening to a high, flat plain area to look for Hartebeest. We saw one below-average bull and some Oryx, but it was near sundown when we spotted a decent sized herd of Hartebeest and set up a stalk. About 20 yards form the truck I discovered what a kindred spirit I had found in Matheus. We were just easing off the road into the grass when he yelled and jumped backwards right into me and kept coming, pushing me back. Over his shoulder I saw a very large, grass colored snake coming at us in the tall grass. Now we had already seen the tracks of several cobras where they crossed roads and I just assumed this was one of the several varieties they have there. I was trying to figure out how I could hit a snake with a scoped 300 from 6 feet as Matheus was picking up fist sized rocks and nailing this snake with almost every one of them. In just a few hits he had smashed its head and killed it. I asked if it was a cobra and he calmly replied "Oh no, mouse snake. They can't even bite people, but I HATE snakes." We were brothers from then on!
Surprisingly we had not blown the Hartebeest out of the country. After a short but fun stalk, where I spent most of my time imagining Cobras and Puff Adders behind every blade of grass, we closed on them. To Matheus' annoyance, they were all females and young. 20 plus animals and no bull in sight. We finished the evening driving back to camp into a beautiful sunset and I nailed a jackal just at dark as a bonus.
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375Fox

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Congratulations on your first eland. They are definitely my favorite animal to hunt and eat in Africa.
 

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Sounds like an awesome hunt, congrats on the eland and mtn zebra, thank you for sharing your adventure with us
 

cpr0312

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What a great start! Nice looking trophies congrats!
 

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Good trophies.
 

WFet

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Great report and pictures! Can't wait to bring these in so that we can see them in person.
 

BourbonTrail

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Nice Eland, and I really appreciate the cattle drive micro adventure. Things like that make a trip stick out in your mind forever just as much as the main purpose.
 

gillettehunter

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Some fine trophies. Thats a great Steenbok. Congrats! Very nice looking eland. Your having a great start to your hunt. Nice pics too.
Bruce
 

MAdcox

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Congratulations on your first eland. They are definitely my favorite animal to hunt and eat in Africa.

Yes sir,
The hunt was great and the next day we ate a traditional Goulash made from this bull which was excellent.
But the best thing ever was that evening when Danie put the backstrap on the fire and then sliced it off for us medium rare right there in our camp chairs.
I had always heard Eland would be some of the best game meat I would taste. That steak right off the campfire may have been the best meat I’ve ever had period. And that’s coming from a cattle rancher that eats ribeyes ever chance I get. It was exceptional.
 

Jörg Krüger

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Awesome trophies. Thank you for sharing. Beautiful landscape there.
Where is the photo of your trophy snake :D
 

VertigoBE

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Waidmannsheil @MAdcox ! Very nice start to your safari, thanks a lot for sharing! Waiting anxiously for the rest of the story!
And a very nice Eland bull! Congrats!
 

MAdcox

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Awesome trophies. Thank you for sharing. Beautiful landscape there.
Where is the photo of your trophy snake :D
The snake wouldn’t have cleaned up very well for pictures after Matheus smashed his head with all those rocks! Plus one of us would have needed to touch him and that wasn’t going to happen.:LOL:
 

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Congratulation on your great adventure at @Kowas Adventure Safaris! My wife and I were there in early September and had a great time just like you and Bobby. Those are some really wonderful trophies you guys harvested. Glad you made it there in spite of all the COVID challenges. Hopefully we won't have those same challenges next year. My only question - have you already booked your next trip to Kowas?? Regards, Steve
 

cls

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Congratulations, well done. Thanks for the report.
 

MAdcox

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Wednesday, Sept 29
The third day we headed out together to the property Jacques and Booby had hunted the first evening. We were looking for Hartebeest and Springbok for both of us. This was a neighboring property that was huge. Driving in, it so resembled western New Mexico I had to remind myself we were hunting in Africa and not unloading horses to start a day of gathering and branding cattle. High, flat plains running right up to low mountains. Those feelings got even stronger when we pulled up to an Aeromotor windmill and Jacques climbed it to glass the area. But instead of Hereford and Angus cattle or Pronghorn, he whispered down that there was a really good, lone Hartebeest bull about 800 yards out. Bobby was up first this morning so he fell in behind Matheus and I behind him. We moved low and quiet but cover was slight and the bull made us and was gone. We worked our way deeper into the property and entered the prettiest spot I have ever seen. We pulled the truck up to a low, rocky koppie and climbed up. We were surrounded by miles and miles of the woodland savannah in every direction. As far as you could see in any direction there was nothing but grass and huge camel thorn trees- and animals! For an hour we glassed and I could not number the animals we saw. There were Steenbok, Warthog, Oryx, Hartebeest, Springbok, and Giraffe everywhere! Bobby and I were just grinning like idiots trying to take it all in, but Jacques and Matheus were in serious discussion about a lone Hartebeest bull. I'll skip the details of this stalk as it is Bobby's hunt to tell, but it was a wonderful stalk and a blast to follow from my position. I guess this is a little spoiler, but while we were taking pictures for Bobby, I walked off 50 yards or so to do what you do at the end of a long stalk when you have tanked up on water. As I was unbuckling I noticed a lot of faces looking my way from the edge of the mountains we had stalked up to. I grabbed by binoculars and Bobby says it would have made a hilarious picture of me glassing the hills with my belt hanging open!:eek: There were a ton of Oryx and Hartebeest 150 yards away watching us. We finished Bobby's photos quickly and followed the herds. We caught them on the edge of one of the mountains going around the base of it into the grassy area again. We counted 28 Hartebeest in all and were all shocked to realize they were all bulls! Jacques and Matheus kept getting more and more excited as they kept ticking off more and more huge trophy bulls in the group. The problem was the Oryx. The herd was staying mixed and the Oryx were extremely skittish. Apparently they are the most numerous and best source of meat on many of the ranches and thus hunted often. They would not stop moving. Jacques and Matheus had a quick discussion and decided following them was a waste of time as they were going to stay well ahead of us. So Matheus and I headed around the mountain to try and intercept them. I walked around a mountain in Namibia! We came out the other side just in time to catch the Hartebeest bulls. They had separated a little from the Oryx and we had cover to within 200 yards of them. Just as we started getting close though, the Oryx came around to our side and busted us and started the whole bunch moving again. As much as I have enjoyed hunting them in the past, now that they were not on my list, I really learned to dislike the Oryx. They were everywhere and running most of the time.
That afternoon we went to another huge property that had several valleys 8 to 10 miles long and a couple of miles wide to look for Kudu and Hartebeest. We could drive or walk up close to the summit on one side and glass the valley and mountain across from us then move down and repeat. We saw some smaller Hartebeest bulls and lots of Kudu cows and young bulls, including a bachelor group of 14 young Kudu bulls. Just before sundown, which happens really fast in these mountains, we spotted a pair of Kudu bulls that looked promising in the valley floor a mile or more away. We moved fast with good cover and just before last light we closed on them. Matheus picked them out quickly and brought us to within 80 yards of the bulls as they wee feeding along the edge of the brush. The excitement of shadowing two mature Kudu bulls for 10 minutes or more was incredible. After studying them closely Matheus said the bigger bull had broken off a good amount of horn on one side and the other was just a little too young yet to take. We backed out and left them quietly browsing along and headed back up the hill to the truck in the dark. It was the first day of the trip that I had not taken at least two animals and never even got on the sticks, and it was an a amazing, unforgettable day. I love being in Africa!
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MAdcox

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Congratulation on your great adventure at @Kowas Adventure Safaris! My wife and I were there in early September and had a great time just like you and Bobby. Those are some really wonderful trophies you guys harvested. Glad you made it there in spite of all the COVID challenges. Hopefully we won't have those same challenges next year. My only question - have you already booked your next trip to Kowas?? Regards, Steve
We heard a lot about your hunt from Matheus and Danie. And thank you for answering travel questions for Bobby and I before we left.
And Yes, the discussion has already started about a return to Kowas. We really, really want to go to there northern camp in the Caprivi, but that will take some time and saving.
 

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Hello! Nice rifle! I have IDENTICAL rifle in 375 H&H so i was wondering what gunsmith did the work on it? Appreciate it and if you decide there is anything you are willing to take in partial trade, let me know. I have quite a few pistols, long guns and sxs & o/u shotguns as well.

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