NAMIBIA: Omatako Hunting Trails

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by gebo824, Apr 8, 2018.

  1. gebo824

    gebo824 AH Senior Member

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    This is a very tardy trip report, for a hunt in Namibia in July 2017. I had just recently given a reference for this outfit & realized I should have posted a trip report to share info on them. I had done one hunt in RSA in 2016 & really wanted to go back to Africa. I had drank the water & was addicted! I had read & heard so much about Namibia, much on the AH website, that I was bound to go there next. I began to research Namibian outfitters on the web during the winter of 2016. The trophy fees from Namibian outfitters seemed lower than many from RSA, but the “hunter friendly” & safe reputation of the country was as much or more a factor to wanting to go there. Plus, I like going to new places & wanted to visit another country on my second trip back to Africa. I contacted those on those on my shortlist via email for additional info, then visited with them at the 2017 SCI Convention. That visit sealed the deal with Omatako Hunting Trails, as I really liked & enjoyed visiting with Johan & Geraldine Kotze in person. Visit them at https://omatakohuntingnamibia.com/

    My list comprised plains game, with Sable as the prime candidate. Johan & Geraldine made me an itemized quote right there on the spot at the SCI, & matched the best “show special” price on sable that I had seen there. Johan & Geraldine was the nicest couple! In visiting with another outfitter it felt a bit like talking to a used car salesman, but it was like talking to friends with Johan & Geraldine. My friend on this website, AZDAVE, had told me price is secondary & foremost is signing on with an outfitter that you like & feel completely comfortable with. I had this feeling with the Kotze’s.

    In the next month or so, I set the date & booked my travel with Lori at Travel Express. Lori was great & I highly recommend her! The travel was Denver-Atlanta-Johannesburg-Windhoek. I had done the Delta Atlanta to Johannesburg flight my first trip & had always heard this was the lowest risk flight if traveling with a rifle. I had also learned on the first trip to pay the $ for the comfort plus seats!

    I went by myself. My girlfriend started a new job & couldn’t take off. My friends that hunt either can’t afford an African hunt, or think I’m crazy for spending this much $ for a hunt, or a couple that think any “guided” hunt is not hunting. Well, since splurging for guided hunts over the last 4 years, my success has been 100%, while before I had taken a few “nature hikes” on public ground to only go home for tag soup or brought home a raghorn. In addition, I didn’t grow up hunting (always wanted to, but the old man didn’t), I’m 54 yo now, & don’t know how long the current well paying oil & gas job will last (boom or bust, goes the oil patch), so am on a mission to maximize my hunting adventures while physically & financially able to do so. Or maybe it’s just a mid-life crisis!

    I took my Savage 110 Bear Hunter in 300 WM, which is the one I used in 2016 to take a dozen plains game in RSA. My primary ammo was 180g Federal Premium Trophy Bonded Tip, but also took some FP with Nosler Partitions. The TBT worked very well on prior plains game & the Partition worked very well on my Idaho bear. The Savage shoots either equally well, without adjustment up to 200yd (maybe an inch difference). I did learn, the hard way, that the adjustable compensator could be a problem, as there is a ~6 inch shift between when open & closed.

    I did have an issue on the flight over. We arrived around 40 minutes late in Joburg & had to hustle a little to the gate for the SAA flight to Windhoek. While I didn’t have a problem getting on the flight, I guess ~50min was not sufficient for the baggage handlers to transfer my bag & rifle. I arrived around 8pm & found the office easily to retrieve my rifle, but they didn’t have it. I then went to get my checked bag & it didn’t show. I was directed to another office to file a claim on my baggage. The guy there had already received notice my luggage didn’t make the flight, & said that was a good thing! The good thing was they knew it didn’t get on the flight, so chances were good they would make the morning flight. He gave me a slip with a phone number to call in the morning. Hosea Kutako airport is small, easy to find where you need to be, & people polite. I found the driver & went to the B&B (The Elegant Guesthouse) that Omatako had arranged for me. The guesthouse was nice, had a good breakfast the next morning, & learned on my call to the airport that my luggage did make the morning flight. So, made a trip back to the airport, got my luggage/rifle no problem, & then had lunch at Joe’s Beer House (had to go see Joe’s) before heading to the ranch.

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    I have to say the retrieving of my rifle could not have been any easier. The Namibian Police had a sign taped on the wall to email your form prior to arriving. There is another thread on AH about that, but I haven’t checked that since to see if anyone has actually used the email. They did ask me if I emailed the form, which I did not, but it only took maybe 3 minutes after handing her the hardcopy form I filled out beforehand.

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    The Omatako Ranch is north of Okahandja (map shown). The lodge was awesome & my chalet was incredible. I’ve posted several pictures, a couple borrowed from their website. One of the special treats at the lodge will not be mentioned here on a public forum, since they don’t advertise it, I won’t either. However, I spent hours watching them, especially when the jet lag had me waking up at 2am the first few nights. I had an excellent view of the water hole where I could lay in bed & watch when awake in the middle of the night. It was serene watching springbok & impala sneak up to the water hole in the middle of the night, as well as watching a jackal sniffing & tracking something across the lighted area. You can see the Omatako peaks in the background of one pic below.

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    The meals were 5 star! Johan’s mother Elfie could be a chef at a premier restaurant if she wanted. I recall her saying she if she liked a meal at a fine restaurant, she would go back to ask the chef how it was prepared so she could make it part of her repertoire. The vegetables were fresh from their garden, including some hot peppers that if I recall correctly came from seeds given by a Mexican client. Johan Sr, who owns the ranch & takes care of day to day business, was a pleasure to visit with during the evening meals. The only other hunters there when I arrived were Spanish & spoke little English, except for Pedro their agent/interpreter. There were a couple times at the evening meal when conversations in Afrikaans & Spanish were going on, & I thought to myself I need to learn a second language. The Kotze’s caught themselves very quickly & returned to English with an apology, but to me that was part of the enchantment of being out of my home country. One last neat thing about the lodge, is when reading, or more correctly looking at pictures in a hunting book (in Spanish, from a Mexican client), in there was an old paper from an outfitter in Angola showing trophy fee prices from 1974! Wow, if only I was a big game hunter back then – elephant $260, leopard $392, sable $131, Dik-dik $17… (see pic of this price list).

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    So, this is a hunting report, right? Yep, I did go hunting & hunted harder than my last trip. I had nine animals on the list, with the Namibian species as the most desirable. We made several stalks & got busted several times over the 7 days. The terrain was open grass with patches of thick bush. The springboks must have been the hired sentinels, as they were everywhere & the main ones to bust us when stalking something else. I took a couple of springboks, one was the first of the trip. The first shot, miss! It felt like I shot a blank, had a good rest on a tree, & was dumbfounded. I jacked another round, aimed the same place, & heart shot. I then noticed the camo tape I had wrapped around the barrel (prior PH didn’t like the SS barrel so have been wrapping it) & the compensator, was blown apart at the compensator. While I had made darn sure it was clicked closed, it still obviously vents a lot of pressure, & since that thing makes several inches difference open or closed, I blame the tape that was wrapped on it shifting impact the other direction (that’s my story & sticking to it!).

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    The next day Johan saw a better springbok & I took that one. Then we chased wildebeest. I had the blue on my list, but had a chance at a black wildebeest so took it. It wasn’t a very long shot, but my wimpy knee did not like kneeling & trying to shoot off Johan’s shoulder. I hit it, but not a takedown. It ran & I missed a longer shot on the run. Damn, can’t blame the compensator this time. Luckily, my hero Patrone (“bullet”) took off on its track & stopped it in the next clearing where I made a better shot. Patrone is honored in a couple of pics below & helped me out a couple more times.

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    The Damara Dik-dik was a native species I really wanted to get. Johan has a concession on the other side of the Erindi National Park, which we crossed through to get there. I was surprised to see the guards at Erindi at the gate with AK’s, but it seemed to me that the Namibians are really concerned about the poachers. The concession had been 100% for dik-dik, if I recall Johan correctly. It was a rough rocky hillside, thick with thorny bushes & trees. We had brought a 22 rifle as my 300WM was just a bit too big for this little critter, smaller than jackrabbits where I grew up. We weren’t there but a fairly short time when we saw the first one. Too slow getting him is the scope, as he darted into the bushes. We went just a little ways further down the dirt road & another ran on the road about 85 yd ahead. I hit him, he ran in the bushes. We took off into the thorns with Patrone leading the way. Patrone found him quickly. The dik-dik was a good one, solid SCI silver medal & currently ranked #31. How about that, the tiniest animal I’ve shot & it’s the highest rated trophy I have!

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    The next day was a red hartebeest. Then we had a few more blown stalks. The Hartmann’s Zebra was on the list, & they gave us fits. They were always running or had the hired watchman springboks around to bust us. We even tried a night hunt on the zebra. Johan had a night vision device that attached to the end of a standard scope, that he uses for leopard. So, we sat in a blind where he’s seen zebra before coming in to water. He also had a FLIR that he could see where I was aiming at with the night vision. That was really cool as he could see which animal I was aiming at. Unfortunately, no zebra came in, but it was fun to target waterbuck & anything else that came in after dark.

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    Before going out for the night hunt, we took the afternoon off to go to Okahandja to the wood market. The two Spanish hunters wanted to go & Pedro drove us to town in his Land Cruiser. I’m glad I didn’t take all my cash, but did wish I would have brought more. The market looks pretty rough in the photo but they had some really nice pieces at great prices. The handcarved items were awesome, from small to large. I had noticed some really neat giraffe heads on the dinner table previously, that Elfie said came from the market. I wanted some, but didn’t think I could fit them in my bag. I bought plenty of smaller items, both carved wood & stone. There were several booths & while they tried hard to get us to every booth, they were very polite. When done we crossed the street to a café & was having a beer outside while waiting on the last hunter. The wait seemed to get long, so Pedro headed back to find him. Shortly after, the other hunter sitting with me began to mumble in Spanish & shaking his head. I looked across the street to see 5 guys bringing this large wooden chest! It wouldn’t fit in the Land Cruiser, so was strapped to the roof! It was beautiful.

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    I had a chance at a sable earlier in the hunt. While hiking down a trail, Johan spotted one not 50 yards from us in the brush, just watching us. He set the sticks nice & slow, I then slowly put the rifle on them. Of course he turned to run just when I got him in the crosshairs & only saw butt. I was too slow, but was worried about spooking him, which happened anyway. We also had a blown stalk on eland. We stalked a herd & were creeping in on them. We could see the head of one over a bush & were about to target him, when Johan looked to the right & saw a better one. We had just passed a tree to allow seeing him. Again I tried to slowly turn & get the gun on the sticks, & again all I saw was butt of a running animal.

    I finally got my sable in an almost repeat of the first experience. Hiking down a trail, Johan spotted him about 50 yards away at the edge of the bush. I was much quicker this time & shot before he turned to run. I had another moment being dumbfounded, as I didn’t hear the impact of the bullet (which I had heard every other animal) & he turned to run like nothing had happened. No flinch. We ran & only saw a glimpse in the thicker bush. Johan radioed Jonas come & to bring Patrone. While we went back to the shot location to start tracking, Patrone took off. Sure enough the sable was on the ground not that far away with Patrone nipping at him. I hadn’t realized at the time that at that close of a range, I wouldn’t hear the bullet impact. He was quartering toward us & I shot a little high/right in his chest. I found the bullet under the hide half way back on the opposite side. The sable was all I had hoped for! I had my fingers crossed I’d get one over 40”. He was 42.5”. I have to say that Johan has an exceptional herd of sable & he consistently gets 40+ for his hunters. I saw his “breeder” bull when leaving & he is a monster!

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    The day I got the sable, I also got a blue wildebeest.

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    A few other fun experiences worth mentioning are given here. Two were shooting a jackal & a black mamba! We were driving along when the mamba was seen crossing the road ahead. Johan slammed the brakes & yelled shoot him! I aimed behind the head, but he turned quickly, so shot center mass. We watched it crawl off the road with a huge hole in the midsection, satisfied it would die soon. I sure wanted to skin him like I used to do rattle snakes in WTX. I asked Jonas (my tracker) before we left if he’d run down there & bring me that snake so I could skin it. His eyes got huge & he said NO… NO, NO, NO….!!! I knew Jonas was terrified of snakes, after he had previously jumped off the truck to open a gate & saw a snake on the ground, where he instantly jumped about 4ft in the air! It was dead, but he showed the reflexes of a pro athlete! So, I couldn't resist asking that question. Jonas was great & one of the nicest persons I’ve ever met in my life. He sure loved the pence (sp?), a dish similar to the Mexican menudo, made from the stomach which he saved from almost all my animals. One other day, he also found an ostrich egg, which he spied from the truck & ran to get it. Back on the truck he shook it a bit by his ear, then grinned ear to ear, & said “very fresh”. I asked, & he said that would feed his whole family breakfast. I would have like to have tried that. We also got stuck in a warthog hole & they had to dig out the tire to get a rock under it. “It happens”, they said to me, although my first.

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    Another really awesome event was seeing some old rock carvings or petroglyphs on the ranch. I had wanted to make a trip to Twyfelfontein to see the ancient rock art, but since by myself I didn’t add the time to make that trip. I had inquired about such with Johan & Geraldine, which they said we have some on the ranch! So one day when near those hills, we made the excursion to climb up to see them. It was inspiring to me, even though not so much for the bird that had pooped on one of them!

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    I had a nice gemsbok on the second to last hunt day, shot him facing head on, he spun & fell, but then got up & hauled butt. We tracked & tracked. Even Patrone couldn’t find him. We decided I shot too high in the chest & he’d probably survive it. Later on we had another gemsbok present itself, so Johan said take him. I did, another mostly frontal shot, but this one stayed down after spinning & falling long enough to get a second one in him to make sure.

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    I think it’s now time for a beer….
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    So it was now down to the last day. Blown stalks again on the zebra, so had about given up on them. We were driving along when Johan hits the brakes. A nice eland was staring from the bush. We jumped off quickly, walked a bit, & quickly took a shot. He was facing at me & I again shot too high in the chest. He spun, fell, but got up in the bush to haul butt. Johan tracked him running & they circled around to cross the road. I ran, or rather rambled on gimpy knees, back to the road. Johan yelled “last one to cross”, I sighted & swung, but missed just under the chest. Damn it!!! We tracked for a couple hours. Johan called to get more trackers. We went back to the road & I was amazed how they picked out that eland from a few drops of blood & identified a slightly different hoof print to distinguish it. I went with the trackers for a couple more hours & was simply amazed at their skill of following that specific eland in a herd’s worth of hoof prints. I know they were right, because we eventually found a little more blood. Johan had circled around in the truck to see if he could see them, but finally came back to get me & Jonas, leaving the other two on the trail. We never did find that eland. They said if they find him later, they’d save the skull for me, but they never did. I guess he survived, but he haunts me to this day & probably was why I wasn't inspired to do a trip report when first back.

    When all seemed lost & I was ready to throw in the towel, we spied a lone mare zebra. She was an old fighter based on the scars & one preferred to take out of the herd. I made a good shot & finally had my Hartmann’s zebra. The other trackers caught up to us when hearing the gunshot & thinking it was the eland. We took a group photo with the bit of joy after a previously dismal day. Also, I had always heard the question: is a zebra white with black stripes or black with white stripes? This old gal had some fur missing on a leg & the skin was black, so I guess a zebra is black with white stripes(?). When we brought the zebra in, the first thing Elfie said was “You didn’t ruin the hindquarters, did you”? I learned that Hartmann’s zebra is good eating, while a Burchell’s is not & said to be like eating a donkey.

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    Although disappointed in myself about the gemsbok & eland, I had a great trip & Omatako is highly recommended. Johan was an exceptional PH, getting quality animals for me & not only able to spy an ear in the thickest brush but tell the species, while I still couldn't even see it. Jonas is one of the nicest & sincerest man I’ve ever met, plus an exceptional tracker. Geraldine is a sweetheart, Elfie & Johan Sr were a joy to be with. I can’t forget about Jesse! Jesse is the rescued baby cheetah.

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    Some last minute good news came in an email when on the plane home & was they found my first gemsbok! The vultures had found it first, but at least recovered the skull. So, it must have died fairly quickly, but not after covering a few miles.

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    The processing at Omatako was excellent. They had a tank to soak the skulls to loosen the meat, then did the boiling there. They also had a setup made from a large diameter PVC pipe elbow where they laid the capes & backskins over to flesh them out. Johan is also setup to tan the capes & backskins on site! If doing taxidermy at home, they can do all the processing there to then ship. I had decided to use Kings Taxidermy there in Namibia. Believe it or not, I got all my mounts done & shipped to Denver by early December – 5 months after the hunt, I had them hanging on the wall!!! The Africa Zebra mount is shown below, which when I saw it on their Facebook page & in another post on AH, I had to have one.

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    While the bucket list is long & trying to do many hunts in many different places, I've since decided I definitely want to go back to Omatako. I've started talking to Johan about a leopard in a couple years, which I saw his many bait sites & many trail cam pics when there so feel good about chasing one with them. I also am hoping my son can go by then (recently left the US Marines & now starting the Tucson Police academy) & chase plains game on his first African safari.
     
    MAdcox, RGRCD, AZDAVE and 11 others like this.

  2. CAustin

    CAustin AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

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    Looks like you had a nice hunt sir! Thanks for posting the report.
     

  3. Eventually_Africa_Again

    Eventually_Africa_Again AH Enthusiast

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    Great report and stellar trophies! Thanks for posting it, made for a very nice Sunday read. I have to ask, what is that medal in the last picture?
     

  4. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Belated congratulations.
    Thanks for sharing your hunt.
     

  5. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Great report and some good pics. Congrats Looks like you had a good time.
    Bruce
     

  6. Mekaniks

    Mekaniks GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Thank You for the great report!
     

  7. enysse

    enysse AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Great hunting report! Beautiful lodge! Amazing animal you took on your hunt. Eland are hard to kill for sure!
     

  8. dory

    dory AH Fanatic

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    Awesome !!!
     

  9. 375 Ruger Fan

    375 Ruger Fan AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Excellent report! Looks like you had a great hunt, thanks for sharing.
     

  10. BenKK

    BenKK AH Fanatic

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    Looks like an awesome place to hunt! What an adventure you had! Love that photo of the old warrior duiker!
     

  11. BenKK

    BenKK AH Fanatic

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    Sorry - dik-dik.
     

  12. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Congrats and thanks for sharing!
     

  13. billc

    billc AH ENABLER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Great report on a great trip you had.
     

  14. johnnyblues

    johnnyblues AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Congrats on a great hunt. Namibia is still my favorite place to hunt. So far....;)
     

  15. Ridgewalker

    Ridgewalker AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    Excellent report! Looks and sounds like it was a great place to hunt! I hope you and your son can make a hunt together and tell him thanks for his service.
    Thanks for sharing!
     

  16. cls

    cls AH Elite

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    Thanks for the report, better late than never.
     

  17. gebo824

    gebo824 AH Senior Member

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    Hunted:
    US, Canada, RSA, Namibia, Argentina, New Zealand
    I opted to pay for the medals from the Namibian PH organization (I forget the acronym at the moment). They are based on trophy score. All but one made gold medal with them, although only one made gold with SCI levels with most of the others high silver. I got them to support conservation there & are a nice momento from Namibia.
     

  18. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2009
    Messages:
    8,482
    Video/Photo:
    53
    Likes Received:
    6,228
    Member of:
    SCI
    Hunted:
    USA, S. Africa
    Nice report, love that Zebra!
     

  19. Nevada Wapati

    Nevada Wapati AH Veteran

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2010
    Messages:
    110
    Video/Photo:
    5
    Likes Received:
    8
    Member of:
    NRA, SCI, NAHC, RMEF, NBU, WSF
    Hunted:
    Namibia, RSA
    Nice report & photos. Thanks for sharing. I've never hunted with Omatako but used to store their SCI booth. Johan & Geraldine are both great people.

    Is Erindi a National Park now? It was still a Private Game Reserve, owned by the Joubert family a couple of years ago.
     

  20. Eventually_Africa_Again

    Eventually_Africa_Again AH Enthusiast

    Joined:
    May 3, 2016
    Messages:
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    33
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    501
    Location:
    New Mexico
    Gotcha, I have to say I'd probably have done the same! Thanks for the answer, and again great report!
     

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