NAMIBIA: Schalk Pienaar Safaris Hunting Report October 2019

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by AtlBGhunter, Nov 26, 2019.

  1. AtlBGhunter

    AtlBGhunter New Member

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    Amazing experience with Schalk Pienaar for a first time African Hunter
    Let me start that I had zero interest in an African hunt up to a year ago. I enjoy deer, turkey, and bird hunting in the US. In my mind, African hunts were photo safaris with a gun. I was skeptical of the claims that it helped the continent and looked down on people who enjoyed such pursuits. I now know I was 100% wrong and I will apologize in advance for my long story. I now believe that “The only man I envy is the man who has not yet been to Africa – for he has so much to look forward to.”
    My african awakening began with an offer of a lifetime. I chair the Georgia Natural Resources foundation which is a 501c3 who supports the Georgia DNR. The foundation’s large event occurs annually on the Georgia Coast. We raise over $1 Million each year that go to help support the amazing work of the department. The highlight of the event is a live auction with the inevitable rich man showdown. Long story short, one of my clients fell into all the traps of the auction environment and bought about half the trips, etc. Fast forward a few months and I get a call from the client “I won this auction to hunt in Africa, I can’t go…do you want it?” Typically, I would politely decline because I have a young family. However, call it divine intervention, I answered sure why not?

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    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 26, 2019
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  2. AtlBGhunter

    AtlBGhunter New Member

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    Day 1

    After the drive, we ended up staying at Neuhof Safari’s guest lodges (Schalk is in the process of building guests quarters on his ranch). Hannes and Chrizanne were incredible hosts and their accommodations were 5 star. In particular, her cooking was amazing! After we checked in, we traveled about 30 minutes to Schalks house. His house was beautiful and had a view of a watering hole off the back porch. After meeting his wife and daughter, we went to get rifles sighted in. This was my first experience on shooting sticks and was a particularly bad shot for the first 4 days of the trip. We were shooting a .270 wsm and a .375 h and h Sako85. I had never shot that large of a caliber and was pleasantly surprised at the lack of kick. Regardless, the sun was setting and we wanted to get a couple of hours of hunting in. We began by meeting our trackers Frederick and Carlos. We loaded up on their awesome land cruisers and began our adventure.


    We hunted the front part of his nearly 50,000 acre ranch. On our first trip, we saw young kudu bulls and came upon some shooter oryxs. We jumped off the truck and began to track the three bulls for approximately 500 yards when a zebra spooked and set the oryxs running. We were certain we were not in Georgia anymore! We rode for a few more minutes but the sun was setting. Our first day came up empty but our soul was full of the wonders of this beautiful land.

    Day 2

    We ate a palatial dinner the night before and again loaded up in the morning. We decided to divide and conquer so I ended up heading out with PH Zana for the day. We again hunted on Schalk’s land. We set off and within an hour we spotted a real trophy oryx. We ended up tracking for about a mile before we were in shooting range. The PH did a great job stalking and instructing me on the best approach etc. He had the sticks in a perfect place. My heart was pounding out of my chest and the chance to take this magnificent animal clouded my thoughts. I put the .270 wsm on the sticks and thought I had it aimed perfectly…pulled the trigger and missed by a country mile. The oryx was gone and so was my southern pride. I had no idea about the stalking and mind games involved in this type of hunting. I know buck fever well, but African fever was at a whole other level.

    My PH was disappointed in me but kept a good attitude throughout the day. We had an early lunch. My hunting partner had already bagged a great oryx and I was jealous as could be. The day was blazing hot and, as you will see, I was not used to these types of extreme hunting conditions. The next target was a group of red hartebeest. We got off the truck and began the stalk. We followed the group for a good while, but could never get in shooting range. However, we spotted a huge blue wildebeest about 400 yards away. I was soaked in sweat and we began crawling on hands and knees to get into shooting range. At this time, I’m thinking maybe the catalog hunts with high fences are the way to go…ha. We finally got within 150 yards and the PH again set me up in perfect position. He whispers in my ear, "exhale and shoot. " I pop up, put the gun on the sticks and squeeze the trigger. I miss even worse than the first oryx! I am beyond pissed at myself. I would implore every first-time hunter to spend time on sticks especially with a raised heart rate. I kept missing high!

    We were headed back to the truck which was a long way away when we spotted another wildebeest. He was even bigger than the last bull. He was on the other side of a cattle fence pretty far away. We tracked him for a good three miles until the PH could tell I was whipped. The wind was terrible and we kept pushing him farther away from us. At this point, I felt like death. I was attempting to put on a happy face, but inside I knew I was hurting. I tried to drink a coke and water to hydrate, but my efforts were wildly inadequate. At that time, we hear on the radio that my partner bagged a great sable. We decide to meet up and spend the last couple of hours hunting together.

    I am sick as a dog, but of course, don’t want to let anyone know. After riding for an hour, we see another group of wildebeest and jump off the truck. At this point, I’m getting tunnel vision and inform the PH I’m not tracking these bad boys very far. Luckily they were oblivious to our presence and again I get about a 75 yard shot at a wildebeest bull. I proceed to miss again and crumple to the ground vomiting after the shot. I’m experiencing serious dehydration. Luckily my PH has an electrolyte powder in the car. Side note: drink water when you are hunting in a desert…there was plenty available, but I preferred tafal. That’s the end of my day and definitely the lowest point of my hunting career. Defeated, we take the long trip back to the lodge. Zana is a serious hunter and I could tell he couldn’t believe he had to take me out another day!

    Day 3

    After a ton of water and less crown royal, I’m as good as new in the morning. We paired up with Zana and headed to new a property. I always believe that it is darkest before the dawn and predictably the trip turned around. The property was known for its great plains game. It was even larger than Schalk’s and tested me to my limits. We begin the day with a mission to bag a zebra. Luckily about two hours into the hunt after some false starts, we find a large herd of zebras at a watering hole. We crept to a great overlooking spot and there were at least 25 zebras to choose from. Zana spots a great stallion that is covered up by other zebras. We wait for an excruciating 30 minutes. Finally, the other zebras clear and I pop up for an approximately 250 yard shot at the stallion. The wait had helped tremendously with my excitement level and I finally felt comfortable on the sticks. I had also changed to the .375 sako. The PH’s had been giving me tips to help shoot the last three days and finally, their advice pays off. I squeezed the trigger and heard the unmistakable thump roar across the plains. The Zebra took off up the hill and over a ridge. The trackers were high fiving and we found him down just over the ridge. I finished him off and finally got to experience the thrill of a downed animal in Africa. After the pictures etc, we too headed out to try and find either Kudu or Sable.

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    The next phase of the trip is without question the greatest three days of my life. (All apologies to my two sons and wife.) After the zebra, we were looking for a rumored big sable whom the ranch hands had seen in a certain area. We got some fresh tracks and began on foot after this beast. We tracked him for the next 4 hours and this time I stayed hydrated throughout the track. Our tracker was amazing even when I had lost all hope. After reaching my breaking point, we finally caught a glimpse of him. It was my first sable I’ve ever seen in the wild and I can only describe it as a religious experience. I hastily got on the sticks, but hesitated and he was gone. We attempted to find him that day, but as the sun was setting we decided to try our best the next day.

    Day 4

    I woke up early with thoughts of sable bull running through my head. We split up again and I went with Zana to our previous hunting ranch. My hunting partner was obsessed with getting a bull kudu and went to a great ranch for kudu. Our plan was simple, find the sable bull and take him. I’m sure my PH thought we would be done before lunch and off on our next adventure. However, this old bull gave us the hunt of a lifetime. We tracked him all day. Finally, around 3pm we get within range of him and I attempt a quarter shot through some heavy brush. I missed…The wave of disappointment and despair crept in again. At this point, Zana was like Captain Ahab with his white whale. We were going to get this sable if it was the last thing we did. We tracked for a couple more hours, but finally gave up. We were heading back to the lodge form the back edge of the property when Frederick screamed. There he was running with a huge pack of wildebeest, zebra, oryx, and the rest of the plains game. We took after him off road in the truck. He finally took a rest about 225 yards from us. I jumped off the truck and with the sun setting in my eye pulled the trigger. I knew it was a perfect shot and the thump was again unmistakable. He took off, but everyone was high fiving and knew he was done for. However, we counted our chickens before they hatched. We tracked him until it was pitch black and we were in the thickest part of the property. We finally called it off as it was pitch black. My disappointment was slightly lessened when we heard a symphony of jackals, lions etc as the sun set. The thrill of the hunt almost brought me to tears.

    Day 5

    We got up early knowing that the track was on. We began again at the scene of the shot from the night before. He clearly had dropped a leg and was hurting. However, we quickly realized he had covered some serious ground. My feet/body were hurting but I was resolute in finding this animal. We followed his track all morning and finally sent the tracker ahead to see if he could estimate his path to close some distance. After an hour, we finally got the news we had wanted all morning. The tracker had finally found where he bedded that night. There was fresh blood and a trail up a hill. I knew that it was on…we followed the trail for approximately 500 yards when we saw him pop up. Zana through the sticks up and I hit him again as he was about to take off. It is hard to describe to nonhunters the complete ecstasy which takes over when you bag the one that got away. I nearly wept as the old bull had finally fallen. Side note: the first shot was a perfect shot. In a 1/million shot, the bullet hit the shoulder bone and stopped. It was an unfortunate turn of events, but I will never forget the thrill of that hunt. When it was all said and done we had walked over twenty miles in all tracking that bull. We all enjoyed a celebratory beer and then decided to go after a monster eland that we had seen early in the day. We ran out of daylight, but the day was a total success.
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    Day 6

    I woke up with deep regret that this was our last day hunting in this amazing country. We went to Schalk’s uncle’s ranch. My hunting partner still hadn’t got the trophy Kudu he was after. I had at least 5 animals left that I wanted to take. By this point, I was researching good divorce lawyers and change fees for international trips. To say I was hooked would be an understatement. Regardless, we started the day with a gift from god. About 10 minutes away from the ranch we run upon a massive eland bull. We jump out and I take a shot and drop him. After missing so many shots, it was an amazing feeling to be successful. I had no idea, but the PH’s were very impressed with him. I had never taken an animal that size and my friends couldn’t believe it when I showed pictures back home. We got him loaded up and it was my friends turn for a kudu. We tracked a group for almost all morning but could never get in range. After lunch, we spotted a great waterbuck and I decided to stalk and take him. We crawled into position and popped up. I squeezed the trigger and down he went. I was finally getting the hang of it. We loaded him up and I honestly thought my African adventure was over. Alas, with about 30 minutes left of hunting, we saw a big oryx by a watering hole. We jumped off the truck and went the opposite direction hoping to catch him on a path away from the watering hole. Schalk put me in perfect position and I took him as the sun was setting. Again one shot and he was down. I was on cloud nine and I had finished with 5 animals. My hunting partner saw and never got a shot on a massive kudu bull. He is totally obsessed with getting back to the dark continent to finish his hunt.
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    Overall, Schalk and Zana were everything a professional hunter should be and more. I can’t thank them enough for introducing me to the ways of great stalk and kill hunters. Their ethos of fair chase and ethical hunting should be emulated around the world. I know my recap was overly long, but I felt like I needed to try and capture one of the most impactful trips of my life. Now, all I do is read on this forum and other sites about the next adventures that I must go on. Thank you for letting me post here and I am planning on attending DSC this year. Hopefully, we can meet in person soon.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2019

  3. Bullthrower338

    Bullthrower338 AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Welcome aboard and glad you had a great trip, look like some fine animals.
    Look for the AH get together thread and join us for dinner(plenty of crown to be had also).
     

  4. AfricaHunting.com

    AfricaHunting.com AH ENABLER FOUNDER AH Ambassador

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  5. Ridgewalker

    Ridgewalker AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    AtlBGhunter, excellent first Africa adventure report! I hope to read many more!
    Obviously you are now addicted!
    I’ll bet you practice off sticks now before you return. We never seem to get enough practice.
     
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  6. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    There is a trick to shooting off the sticks. When you get used to it things click. When your not used to them and have a touch of buck fever you can easily miss. Glad you had such a great hunt. Congrats on some fine trophies.
    Bruce
     

  7. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Glad you got the report posted.
    Congratulations on both counts.

    Welcome to AH.
     

  8. flatwater bill

    flatwater bill AH Elite

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    "I won this hunt at auction. I can't go. Do you want it?"
    No partial credit for answering this wrong.
    You gave the right answer, AtlBGHtr.
    Great trophies...great report........................FWB
     
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  9. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Sounds and looks like a great time! Congrats and thanks for sharing!
     

  10. Philip Glass

    Philip Glass AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    What a great hunt with Schalk and Zana! I was with Zana in June.

    My question for you is how do we further educate the ignorant and prejudiced hunters here in the US as it relates to African hunting?
    My theory is that it is 95% jealousy of not having the $$$ to go on safari thus making it easy to criticize something a person knows nothing about. Maybe the other 5% is rumors or maybe legitimate bad hunting stories that circulate in our world?
    Since you were “that guy” maybe you could shed some valuable light on an important subject to us all?
    Again great hunt and great report!
    Regards,
    Philip
     
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  11. cls

    cls AH Elite

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    Great report, congrats on some fine trophies. Welcome to the African hunting addiction...
     

  12. Nyati

    Nyati AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Congrats on your hunt, you got some very nice trophies !
     

  13. AZDAVE

    AZDAVE AH Elite

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    Congratz on a great safari, and welcome to the African fever group, your next couple safaris will be planned and look forward to future reports.

    Schalk is just a great guy and true gentelman.
     

  14. meigsbucks

    meigsbucks AH Fanatic

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    Welcome to AH. Congratulations on such a great hunt. You got off to a rocky start but recouped very well. Great trophies.
    So when are you headed back to Africa?
     

  15. johnnyblues

    johnnyblues AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Welcome and well done. Very nice trophies. If your ever in the Acworth area let me know we can share a drink and talk hunting.
     

  16. GA Hunter

    GA Hunter AH Fanatic

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    Welcome aboard and congrats on your first African adventure.
     

  17. Pheroze

    Pheroze AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Great report, and way to stick to it!
     

  18. AtlBGhunter

    AtlBGhunter New Member

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    Thanks for the kind words and warm welcome. To answer Philip, it would helpful for more exposure to African hunting. I’d suggest partnering with large us hunting brands and do crossover shows. I’d love to see a MeatEater season focus on African plains game. I am doing my part to spread my stories to all my hunting buddies. To answer when I’ll be back, I want to go back next year. I’m trying to convince the mrs. to accompany me...any tips on making that sell would be most appreciated.
     

  19. Rick Cox

    Rick Cox SILVER SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    Start by explaining how grand and memorable it would be share a big adventure at this stage of your lives, two people, in love, half way around the world in an exotic location. Show her photos of the accommodation and food. Check out side trips you may both find interesting such as game drives in a park, or visiting archaeological sites or some of the villages of natives that live the old ways such as the Himba, depending on where you are. Of course if she likes to shop there is no end to handicrafts and art.
    You will have to sort the logistics ahead of time, such as who is going to look after the kids, mow the lawn etc. Be ready with your counters to resistance.
    If that doesn't work try bargaining. Next holiday, she picks...
     

  20. James Cook

    James Cook AH Veteran

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    Schalk is a fine young man and PH - hunted with him a couple of days, a few years ago. But he's a tall one. When he walks you better be ready to keep a brisk pace.
     

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