NAMIBIA: SOUTH AFRICA: Otavi & Leeukop Safaris KZN (the whole tale)

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by BRICKBURN, Aug 23, 2011.

  1. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Here are a couple of pictures to whet the appetite while I get prepared to give "the big picture."


    This Buffalo I affectionately called "Helmet Head". I did not even see them hiding the the brush. I was so focused on the Kudu we were chasing. I was "just walking behind the PH" and looking up the slope. There is trust for you. Snuck back later and got to within thirty yards to take this shot.

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    This Nyala Bull picture was taken by my wife while out on a game drive. The Non hunters "got tired" of seeing Nyala females and young bulls. If you can believe that!!! What does that tell you about the game management at Leeukop?!

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    This was a trail cam picture that was taken after Niel ( PH @ Leeukop Safaris), who was PH for my young friend Nathan, spotted a fresh leopard kill of an Impala. So, the camera was set up and here is one of the pictures of the female Leopard. Determined after many hours of Leopard hunting with what was later dubbed "the Big White Gun"

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    Another nice Buffalo bull we ran into while out hunting Kudu. A completely different herd of Buffalo.

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    This Rhino cow showed off an impressive horn while she was protecting her young calf. Incredible animals that I encountered many, many times during my hunting experience at Leeukop.


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    The "Hunting Chariot" crossing the Pongola River. These trucks are so tough and they take such a beating in the rough terrain, just getting you there. I do not fit very well in the front cab (just like those damn planes, no leg room) so I stayed outside in the back with Moosa.



    Here is yet another Buffalo Bull.

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  2. messmate

    messmate AH Veteran

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    Great pics. Those buff look fantastic. Look forward to the whole report.
     
  3. Bobpuckett

    Bobpuckett GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Ok enough teasing lets hear and see the rest of the Report. Fantastic Pics.
     
  4. AfricaHunting.com

    AfricaHunting.com FOUNDER AH Ambassador

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    Exceptional pictures... can't wait to see more!
     
  5. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Day 1 and Day 2 Leeukop Safaris

    Yeah, like everyone says the flight over sucks and might only be slightly better if you booked yourself into business class.
    We arrived at Leeukop, as a group of 10, in the evening after taking a ground transfer from Joburg.

    I discovered during my flight in that the Highveld's number one sport is Arson. Botswana was burning and there were enough veld fires to light the way to Joburg without electricity. They like to burn grass, really they burn anything. With Asthma that is not the best greeting you can have. The airport pharmacy was a busy place.

    Well, it made for a haze that stretched to Natal. Near Pongola they burn the Sugarcane fields as well.
    It detracted a bit from the view from the lodge, but as you can see it was still spectacular.

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    We got up early the next morning. Jet lag has its benefits. This was the sunrise that greeted us at the lodge. The Aloes in a sunrise made it worth while to be up.

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    This was to be our day to go Tiger Fishing and get the cob webs out. We set out on Kemp's boat and were off down the Jozini to the special hiding hole for the big ones. Since it was winter time and the water temperature was 18 degrees we did not expect anything. It was great to be out on the water and to just head down the lake with a breeze in our hair. I got three hits and never managed to get one into the boat. Just another reason to head back.

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    A view up the lake

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    A view toward the Gorge.

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    Some company we encountered on the way to our fishing spot. Quite impressive to see a free ranging herd strolling down the lake side.

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    When we came back we decided to have a look upstream of the lodge a little bit and encountered this fellow along with a bunch of his friends.

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    Amazing how close you can get when something is not afraid of you! They are also not hunted here. It made the thought of a stroll along the river a little more interesting though.

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    The second day was the beginning of the real hunt.

    The trip to the range and the introduction to the team.

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    This is "Nala", Niel's trusty fox terrier. It was interesting to see how excited she got when the guns went off at the range. He sure wanted to go track something down. It would happen, just not today.

    The proverbial range for checking if we could hit a barn door. We all could.
    The part that made it interesting was my buddy brought my gun for me and packed my bullets. I ended up with a selection of my reloads which I had to sort through before sighting in. Well, it was done and at the typical ranges they hunt at either the 150 grains or the 130 grains would be fine. It just shakes the confidence momentarily.
    It got done. Next time, more knowledge of international firearms rules will make the decisions for the flights.

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  6. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    After reviewing the various threads I have started it is time to go back and look at some old journals and complete this report and perhaps some others.
    As time permits.....
     
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  7. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    I can't wait to hear about it, those Cape buffalo pictures are amazing!
     
  8. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Do take note of the delay between the first post and this one.

    My initial wish list that I had written down before this trip was:
    Nyala, Kudu, Bushbuck, Eland, Cape Buffalo, Impala and Springbok.

    The reason to come to KwaZulu Natal (KZN) was that most of the species were endemic. The most significant were the Nyala.
    Springbok used to migrate through the area is large herds ages ago. That of course does not happen any longer.
    Eland and Springbok are not found on the Pongola reserve. You have to go to another concession some few hours away to hunt them.

    I have to stop and back up the story here just a little bit. I had already been in Southern Africa for more than three weeks before this part of the Safari started. I just finished passing/qualifying the Professional hunting certification in RSA and learned a lot, to say the least. Just prior to attending PH school for a couple of weeks I hunted for a week in Namibia near Otavi on a small farm with low fences. The PH/Outfitter was the farm owner and also accessed conservancy land in the neighbourhood. This farm is part of the largest conservancy with the largest free ranging Eland herd in Namibia. As a further aside, the World Record Eland, I later discovered, was taken just down the road a few miles this same year. If only....

    I had studied Kudu pictures and done quite a bit of reading so that I would have a clue about trophy size, etc. My primary target was a Kudu, with Gemsbok, Eland, Warthog being secondary.
    This was not a game spotting encounter. It was an open cattle farm that is either covered in bush or seed crop, where the critters come and go at will. Suffice to say the game numbers are not huge.

    I hunted from blinds and did some walk and stalk where it was possible.
    It turned out that I would pass on two Kudu bulls that were encountered. The first because of size and the other very nice trophy because I was not sure of the shot, although he was certainly big enough I was not going to risk wounding this incredible beast shooting through that very thick bush.


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    My first Kudu bull sighting in Africa. He just melted into sight. What great camouflage.



    During the walk and stalk I came around a corner on a trail I spotted three Eland bulls.
    I immediately started backed down the trail from whence I had just come and made my return to the Bakkie to get a camera. Yes in the middle of a stalk I went and got a camera, because I HAD to have a picture.
    Can you imagine the look on the PH's face? Incredulity would describe it well.
    The Eland had not seen us and the wind was right so why not.
    I made my way back very slowly stalking back down the trail and got this picture.

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    Impressive picture hey! It impressed me because I saw the Eland before the PH. I was struck by the Elands size and colour and even more so, by the fact we had managed to get so close in the thick bush to this band of bachelors after not seeing much.



    The PH did not think we were hunting Eland and just followed me in no real panic.

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    This was the corner in the trail where I spotted my "sticks". I was going to make my way to the tree and get a good rest and have a better look.

    When we arrived at the tree I got to see the PH's next incredulous look when I asked, "Is it Gold Medal?" (Size did matter to me.) I truly had zero idea what a big Eland looked like. They were monstrous. There was a long pause, this obviously to comprehend the fact that I was thinking about taking an Eland.
    It does take a significant mental shift when a client moves from passing up a good specimen of the primary species that morning (Kudu) to actually being interested in taking a totally different animal. The next pause came while he looked through the binoculars and sized up the Eland. To also help preface the mood of this situation a little better, my PH, Wolfgang, was feeling so bad after the first day of us not seeing anything but Warthogs that he was going to have me shoot one for camp meat to feed his workers. Apparently "Rations" were 3kg per week. This was the mood we were stalking under at this point. We were on a Warthog hunt in his mind.


    We had been checking trail cam pictures each day at the various watering points and this bachelor group had been immortalized doing a typical skirmish at a waterhole/salt, so I knew that little bit about them. I had seen their tracks, dung and other sign the day before.

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    I finally heard the word yes.



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    You know those shot placement pictures? The ones you should study before you go to Africa! The ones I did not study for an Eland.
    It might have helped but I don't think it would have helped me because my excitement had taken hold and I had reverted to age old habit. Half way up the body, just behind the crease in the shoulder. Works on every Mule Deer, Whitetail and Elk I have ever taken.

    For those interested in Caliber I was using a rented "The rifle is a 8x68S fitted with a Schmit& Bender telescope. The bullets we
    are using Are from Sako and are Hammerheads with 200 grains. I do my reloading myself and at the moment i use 71 grain of medium burning powder from Sonchem ( S365). The rifle is fitted with a heavi 8quare barrel with 70cm length
    "


    We were at about 100 meters and I had the perfect rest aiming at an animal that had not really registered what we were. He was finally looking at us and had moved near the edge of the thick bush and was standing broadside facing to my left. I noticed the low bush he was standing in and I think that had me holding my shot a little higher. I did not want a deflection. This wounding thing really was in my mind. The rules are pretty simple: It bleeds, you bought it.
    I slowly squeezed the trigger and almost immediately don't hear the wallop of the hit. There is no real reaction from the Eland. Now, I'm nervous.
    We move up and now I am using two metals sticks to rest on. this should be interesting. I have practiced to no end on sticks at home, with quick (under three seconds) accurate shots out to two hundred yards.

    The Eland has trotted off about eighty plus meters and stops facing to my right looking back at us. No way an animal that is hit can be stopping like that! Right?
    I steady myself and take the second shot at about 180 meters. This time the Eland left like he was shot out of a cannon. He is in the bush and gone.
    We very slowly walk up to the area of the first shot to search for any sign. We can't find anything in the low knee high scrub bush. Wolfgang circles left into the higher bush and I slowly make my way along edge in the direction where the second shot was taken.

    At this point Wolfgang and I have a conflab and I find out that indeed Wolfgang had heard both shots hit. That's a relief. However, I still don't see an Eland on the ground. (Why I'm expecting this large animal to expire instantaneously is beyond my comprehension as I write this)
    He agreed after the second hit, we both heard the wallop of that shot that if we saw him again and he was not down to let loose and get him down. I had no qualms about getting the animals on the ground as soon as possible.

    Wolfgang to the left myself to the right and we are slowly moving in the direction of the bulls egress. . I have the GPS on so I have zero worry about being lost but I have not studied the property boundaries and and not totally sure where I am, legally speaking.
    I bump the Eland within 50 meters of starting to follow him.
    #$%^&*(! No shot.
    He clears a fence and I am not following him without knowing it is legal.

    I call Wolfgang and we immediately cross the fence and I am tracking the blood trail now. It is obvious, even to me. I'll tell you though, that red soil sure is a game changer. White snow is a lot easier.



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    Apparently that second shot is leaking on the right side for sure.



    I catch up quickly again and have a shot. I lay down prone and he is walking away slowly down this trail. I can't shoot him in the ass. It's a simple shot but I can't make myself waste the meat. This family eats everything that is hunted on this farm. Ruining some of the best meat is something I can't make myself do.

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    More tracking. I caught up again and took an offhand shot and hit him in the shoulder again. He moves off into the thick stuff.
    This cover is so thick it is amazing we can get a shot at all.
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    I come up again and he starts to trot at fifty meters and I swing with him and watch a tree explode half way between me and the Eland and he is hit again by an almost ricochet. Bloody hell.

    I finally come up on him and he is down but not done. I shoot him again, through the chest, without the result I am hoping for; the end.
    I am now so shaken by the lack of performance from these hits I ask the PH to finish him as I am feeling totally lost.
    The PH shot him in then heart and he still took time to die.

    I wrote in my notes at the time: These are the toughest animals on the planet.

    1200 Grains plus the PH's shot. Five into the boiler room.
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    This whole experience took place over a 250 meter track that was perhaps 350 meters in total from the very first shot.



    Wolfgang presented me a German tradition of a blooded branch that was placed in the hole where it was first hit. It is special to me.
    I now know it is called Weidmannsheil. Then it was a ritual that was brand new and just another part of this incredible experience in Africa.

    I was left alone with this magnificent Eland and just sat in wonder. I have an immense respect for this incredible animal that the San hold in such reverence. I am so thrilled that the Eland is my first Namibian trophy. Not a bush meat Warthog.

    Eventually, I slowly walked back to the Bakkie following my GPS as Wolfgang had gone ahead. Slowly wandering through this bushveld in northern Namibia. It is so different to home.



    Fires are everywhere. Huge fires jumping roads. The one we saw today south of here made the smoke look like huge thunderheads
    Absolutely amazing.
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    With these huge fires burning in the area you have to be on the constant lookout in this bush. You have to follow fences and roads there is no cross country here. You can be caught and occasionally entire herds of cattle are killed when trapped by a bush fire. It gives you pause when you see the size of these wild fires.

    When we arrived at the Bakkie Wolfgang climbed onto the Bakkie's roof to get some mobile reception and call the farm staff to come and do the extraction.
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    I grabbed my headlamp to assist, it would be dark before we were done.

    The fence was taken down to facilitate crossing into the field where the Eland lay. The strands are just wired to metals posts. You unwrap the wire and drop the fence. Wooden posts here are boiled in oil to try to stop termites
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    I then followed the blood trail and took pictures all the way back to the Eland and then took the obligatory trophy pictures.


    Four in the boiler room and one ricochet up in the loins.
    (Today, I wonder about the bullet performance. I did not do the forensics. (Later Eland I have taken with TTSx, shot in the same spot were down in one shot)
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    The recovery team building a road into the Eland. Literally chopping it out of the bush. I have never seen that one before. I chop things up and or drag them out myself. Africa must be different! :) IMG_1166.jpg


    They were swinging axe, pangas and hoes in the dark. How the hell no one got a foot chopped off I'll never know.
    I used my headlamp to try and assist.

    It took the electric winch and the whole team to get this big bull into the Bakkie.

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    Loaded.
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    Holding the fence strands down to allow the Bakkie over.
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    The first shot was at about 15:30 and we were finally out here at the camp at 19:33.

    Hanging in the yard.
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    It is the next evening at dinner time that I get to try Eland for the first time. For context you have to understand a few things: This is a family meal time and I am joining people at the table in their home. My momma taught me to be polite when you are in someone else's home and you eat what is put in front of you. I am served Eland liver.
    I HATE LIVER. I was tortured with over cooked dry ratty tasty garbage as a child. Imagine my face! Can you?
    Juanita has cooked this for me and the family has also been served. I tucked in and I took this picture because another miracle happened, I liked it.
    It was not over cooked and tasteless, it was a magnificent meal.

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    On reflection, I had ended up with exactly the kind of experience I was looking for. It was a pleasure to do the tracking work in concert with my PH, not behind him and also to spot the game and participate in scat id, track id and generally, actually to hunt the animal.
    I was really hunting in Africa. It can't get better.


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  9. reedy0312

    reedy0312 AH Legend

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    Cool, thanks for sharing!

    :ROFLMAO:
     
  10. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH Elite

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    Nice eland! Good to see you picking this up. Bruce
     
  11. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    Congrats on the eland. They blend into the brush so well when you are eye level that they are super hard to see. You have to look for shaking of the tree or color from the light getting through the brush to make their outline in Africa.
    I think I fired 4 shots at the eland I last eland I took. I told the PH afterwards, "well we hunted that one five different times, damn exciting but I feel bad for taking so long to kill it!"
     
  12. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    The Eland Cape was taken to the taxidermist the next morning. It was getting up to 32C in the day time so there was no way this critter would not be processed immediately.

    The cape was put into a saturated salt bath over night. I had never seen this one before. When in Africa, do as the African do.
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    The obligatory sight in and orientation to the rifle.
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    Those fence lines through the bush.
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    The hunting chariot complete with guard dogs.
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    This is "Fippsi". The dog was nuts, in a good way. It bit branches that were going by the Bakkie. Anything that moved he wanted to hunt.

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    Some of those Eland tracks.
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    Some days we parked ourselves in a blind on the ground waiting on the edge of a clearing for animals to file by. It was a great opportunity for picture taking.

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    and I also got an introduction to "High Seats". Holy crap. See those skinny little legs. It was interesting to say the least.

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    Being on the ground on the edge of the bush was much more intimate with encounters with the local wildlife except for one occasion, "Coleman"
    Coleman was special because he was one of two Barn Owl chicks that were just about ready to fledge and we got to share there nesting home over several different sittings.
    Coleman got his name by his hissing at us to show his displeasure. It sounds precisely like a White gas Coleman stove in operation.
    Coleman was placed in the warm sheet and left in the corner and accompanied us waiting to see what came by. A most beautiful bird.

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    The day Colemans, brother fledged I was introduced the to "Go Away" bird. They act precisely like a crow chasing and menacing a hawk/Raptor. Just as loud and annoying. Wonder what that does for game animals coming anywhere close. If I had a .22 there would have been a populations reduction in progress.

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    This was from less that 8 yards while I was sitting on the ground outside the blind.
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    Guinea Fowl that walked out of the bush to go into the crops and eat any left over corn.

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    Guinea Fowl hunting grounds.
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  13. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    This was my accommodation on the farm. The Bunk House inside the farms fenced off family quarters.
    Plain simple and comfortable.
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    I had not intended to hunt a Warthog here in Otavi. I was here for a Kudu and that is what I was holding out for.
    The Kudu bulls were not jumping out of the every bush to be shot, that's for sure.
    After long days of not seeing the quarry I was after I had watched a procession of very good Warthogs coming by. Several I could have taken with a spear and a others with a bow. Alas, my bow was still stuck with SAA somewhere enroute. #$%^&*(

    After watching this .....

    These are four different Boars that I saw. I was also mistaken in my memory about the trophy fee costs at this farm and that was also holding me back.

    Can you imagine what this guy measures. I was not hunting Warthog yet.
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    Finally, I could take it no more. After sitting in silence taking pictures for 6 hours this one came in and I decided to make an offer. I just blurted out a dollar figure. That familiar pause occurred and I waited for a reply.

    This pig was coming toward us and I had several minutes before he would leave our sight and be gone back into the bush.
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    I got an affirmative response very shortly. I waited for the large Boar to get some distance from the blind and the water before I would shoot. I noticed later that I was right to wait to shoot him.
    When another Warthog came in later in the day and was about to crawl under the fence in the same spot where my Boar had died, he smelled the blood and took off back into the bush instantly. A suspicion confirmed by observation.

    He was just going back under the fence when I shot a quartering shot. He did not move an inch.
    The bullets are apparently more than enough for Warthogs.

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    My Rowland Ward Warthog. Another "take what Africa presents you" trophy.
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  14. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH Elite

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    Good looking pig. You never know what is going to show up when your hunting Africa. The whole lemonade from lemons thing. Good shooting Brickburn. Bruce
     
  15. reedy0312

    reedy0312 AH Legend

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    What a pig!! Congrats
     
  16. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    I was very tempted to add another Warthog, but I needed to stay a little focused on the Kudu.

    Pretty amazing collection of Monster Warthogs strolling by. I certainly would have hunted another if my Bow would have made it along on the trip.

    At this point SAA had not emailed or called me to follow up at all and it was 6 days out from landing in Joburg.
    Customer service?
    I recall starting to get twisted in then Airport and then remembered the advice I garnered here on AH and also just having some decent manners. I decided to wait and see and make the best of it.
    There was another fella at the lost luggage desk making a claim that had not learned he was in Africa. You should have seen the service he got. Blank stare and "There is nothing I can do. It will be on the next plane." He just kept at it until he was finally worn out.

    You fill out the form and wait. It does not matter how high you jump up and down, nothing will move faster.

    More on this part of the adventure later in the tale.
     
  17. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Day 6

    We decided last night that since nothing had moved the day before until almost ten AM that we would get a slightly later start.

    Wolfgang would change the glow plugs in the Bakkie and I would go off and hunt with Stefan his second oldest boy. Our quarry would be the lowly Guinea Fowl. It appeared that the farm have tons of them walking from the bush into the fields every day. had heard that they run and flush and make very good sport.

    Usually shot from the back of trucks on the farm, which was not my idea of how I was going to proceed this morning. I decided I would like to try to get a pass shoot in. This was going to take some doing as these birds are not stupid.

    I tried to circle the “bush island” and made my way around, but Stefan and co had not really understood the plan and spooked the birds by driving up to the island. The large flocks of birds made their way into the large expanse of heavy grass cover behind the island.

    6073044671_c775b1edc4_o.jpg IMG_1091.jpg IMG_1090.jpg IMG_1048.jpg

    I decided it was time for a stroll for some walked up birds at this point. On this nice cool +3C morning with my borrowed Browning 12 gauge with “game loads #3" whatever those were.

    I began my bird hunt through the knee to thigh high grass field and steadily walked toward the larger groups location. I soon stepped into the path of an unbeknownst group and most of the birds spooked off to the bush veld two hundred yards away, not a simple job to collect Guinea Fowl.

    Well one last one got up and I hit him two times with out apparent effect. I watched to make sure he was not coming down and sure enough he did come down. 175 yards away. Off I go to find my downed bird without a dog. This should be interesting.

    Now the great part of this story was the fact that “Beana” is a Guinea fowl dog of great repute. He will find the downed bird chomp it a little to make sure it is dead and then leave it right there in the cover. Not quite what I am used to being a dog man myself. Bringing the bird to hand does not enter this dogs reality. So you have to catch on to this “pointed retrieve method” quickly or you lose your birds, I lost two birds until I caught on to the fact the birds were not coming back to me. So the effective method I found was to shoot the bird then run after the dog in thick cover, leaving your cloths, skin, etc behind on the famous thorns, wait a bit bushes, etc. When Beana points the dead bird you pick it up. Easy.

    I was well out into the field when I would get my special retrievers unintended company. I did not know that he was so enthusiastic about this game and had apparently jumped out of the truck four hundred yards away to come and help.

    Well, not to disappoint the poor dog I had to continue with a few more birds. It just would not be right to fail to reward such and super canine effort.

    So, Beana ran ahead into the cover flushed the fowl up into the trees where they thought they were safe. At least they were from Beana.

    Well up in the tree they were a little easier to spot and approach. Right. Approach, kind of, well they took flight and the last shot of the day took two down at forty five yards.

    I could not catch up to Beana, on this one, so I am glad I had a decent mark on the falls. I found one right away and since the other was immediately beside it, it should have been there too. Evidently Beana decided the second one was not quite dead enough for him so he had picked it up chomped it and moved it about five yards.

    At this point it was over. I was out of the ammunition required to carry this excursion on any further and had no clue about limits and I felt I had taken enough birds anyway.

    Stefan tried to help me locate the lost birds and we searched for some time. I ended up with six in the bag and had an absolute blast working with this colourful dog.

    Now we’ll see how Guinea Fowl Rague tastes.

    I was a little concerned with Stefan's mood during this adventure. he seemed a little off when I was shooting "so many" birds. Apparently they do not like the taste in the main farm house so I thought the birds were destined for “rations” for the workers.

    IMG_1555.jpg
    Schlufi, Beana and Fippsi with the bag of the morning.

    Rations were not the destination. The kids were not pleased. Apparently their experience of GUinea fowl is that they "taste horrible". Payback for the liver surprise!!
    They were all pleasantly surprised at dinner when the Guinea Fowl Rague ended up being excellent.

    We went off to Colemans hide and found him outside sitting on the last step of the blind. He flew away and Wolfgang tracked him down and brought him in.

    His mom and pop and dropped off a nice mouse breakfast for him. Today Coleman did not make any noise at all. Woflgang figures he was happy to be warmer and I figured he was used to us and knew we were no longer a threat.

    Watched the Guineas come in first, then the Francolins, then a few Warthogs. One good male and the others females and young.

    Nice to see wildlife but we are here for BIG Kudu.

    After Wolfgang told me the day before when I asked about Gemsbok, I had not seen ONE yet. I have seen old tracks in the dried mud, fresh tracks in the dust, fresh scat and old trail cam pictures but nothing in person. Wolfgang replies they don’t really get big Gemsbok up his way, they are mostly down in the southern Kalahari. He knows what I am after too. So, I could only expect a reasonable Gemsbok not a monster. So, I had basically written it off at this point. Maybe I would , maybe I wouldn’t, we’ll see.

    I have seen trail cam pictures of Kudu on this farm and I wanted one, a Namibian Gold Medal Kudu.

    IMG_1566.jpg

    The glow plugs are fixed and the Bakkie is ready to go now. This morning Stefan is able to come out with us and we drop him off on the property at another blind with his cell phone to SMS if he sees anything. He is close enough that we will be able to do a walk and stalk and run into the critter in the area if we get the call.

    Four hours in we have all seen Warthhogs, and each blind has seen a band of Kudu all females and fawns and small males.
    IMG_1592.jpg
    So, we wait for the big boys to move in, and we wait and we wait.

    Finally W decides to go check another corner of the property for tracks and I wait in the hide. I think he is really having a smoke break.

    More warthogs come in.

    About 12:45 Stefan SMS his dad that he has a “Gemsbok moving in and it is a big one”. Well dad asks back “Is it a Bull?” Since he has already said it is long horned. Wolfgang does not want to shoot cows and I am fine with that. (When I find out)

    Exasperated, if you can see that in an SMS, Stefan replies “yes, he is sure it is a Bull.” Nothing like a teenager being asked "stupid question" by an adult. It is universal.

    Now dad asks me the question, “Am I ready for the hike?”. We will have to move very quickly and then stalk in very slowly as we get closer. Am I going to say no?

    Now 28 degree heat for someone who lives in Namibia is no big deal, for me it is a big deal. Well, as we walk, very quickly I am stripping cloths off and I leave my fleece shirt behind on the fence and then I make sure my GOPRO is on for this hunt. It is.
    Who knows if I got anything worthwhile on the tape though.

    We hustle as fast as we can on the edge of running following along a fence line road across the property. There is no shortcut through the bush, or none that you would wish to take.

    We make the distance in a less than ten minutes and I am quite glad I have water along. We slow down and start glassing the clearing and bush in the surrounding area where Stefan says this bull has been spotted.

    We look and look and finally I see it in the Binos. It looks pretty darn good, but it does not look huge. I am not practiced yet.
    I later discover that when you see a Gemsbok facing head on it is very hard to tell how big they really are through bush or in the open. You need to see them in profile to see how far back the horns extend.

    I say what the heck it looks like it should make 36 in my estimation. Wolfgang has the sticks out and we start to move into the bush away and off the cut line to get into a position for a good shot.

    As we begin to slowly circle and close the distance we keep watching through the binos. Well, as the cover starts to thin, actually becomes nonexistent, Wolfgang decides to stay back and wait while I move up on my own and pick a tree that works for me. My absolute favorite shooting sticks.

    Gemsbok Cover.jpg

    Now after the Eland shots seemed to be a little high and in the lungs I was determined to shoot in the heart as the Africans do. I never do this at home, but I do not want to shoot and have another tracking job to do this afternoon.

    I stalk up closer, while keeping the Gemsbok in behind a bush to cover me as I move up closer again. Just as I start to move forward to my objective tree the Bull starts to walk in earnest for the edge of the clearing and back into the bush veld. He will be gone for good if he makes it before I am ready. I quickly back up to the last tree I pass and get rested. Standing and leaning into the tree. I line up on the next hole in the bush in front of him and he steps in and stops momentarily. I find the elbow and just behind it send 200 grains on its way.

    Well he jumps like I missed. I know from the sound I pounded him but the physical reaction of jumping and running panics me a bit. He jumped right and then ran back to the left quartering away and I let him have another one. This one hit him quartering away a little too far back, but at least I had two in him and hoped that would stop this tough animal.

    Woflgang was not sure I hit him well at all, but Stefan had seen the blood right behind the shoulder while watching from his hidden vantage point. I saw nothing but a Gemsbok moving and shot him the second time, I was making sure I was going to shorten the tracking session if I could.

    Wolfgang decided we should wait at least ten minutes before we would follow up, still a little uncertain of the shot and wanting to "give the bullets time to work".

    I was shaking. I held my left hand out to share the evidence of the experience with my PH’s. It took a few minutes to calm down. This was so great to have pulled off this stalk on one of my sought after species.

    We jabbered for ten minutes about the shots and got reassurances of all impressions of the first shot. I now knew for certain I had a good first shot.

    IMG_1601.jpg

    Well, the Gemsbok made it 50 yards into the bushveld out of sight and collapsed dead.
    IMG_1602.jpg

    As we walked up I saw how small his body looked. Woflgang even said “we grow them small bodied here”. Well, it turned out it was not a small body it was big horns.

    I took a preliminary measurement, as I had been told that they “only had reasonable Gemsbok here”. My first measure had him at 40 inches. Wolfgang says “No way!”. I say “No way”, even though it is my measurement. I do it again, it is 40 inches with large bases.

    IMG_1606.jpg

    Holy crap, I have a Rowland Ward Gemsbok that will also claim a NAPHA Gold Medal.

    It is the ONLY Gemsbok I have physically seen. I have to tell my wife to buy a lottery ticket when I call her. I have to be the luckiest guy on the planet. This is a low fence wild Gemsbok in Bushveld, not a high fence.
    Incredible.

    NO one believed me when I told them, as in other PH's along the way. Until I showed them the video tape of the tape measurement. Then the jaws drop and they relent. I was posing my trophy shots North American style at this point. No pointing the horns forward, tilting the head, getting behind the beast, etc etc. Just and honest picture of my trophy without any camera tricks.

    IMG_1610.jpg

    One of the first things I noticed about Gemsbok is that their hair is exactly like our Pronghorn Antelope and the next, they smelled the same. It was really odd to smell something familiar in this foreign place.

    Back at the skinning rack.

    IMG_1645.jpg

    I was shocked by the thickness of the hide. That hide was over 3/4 of an inch thick. No bloody wonder with all those thorns out there.
    IMG_1646.jpg

    No Kudu bulls seen.

    I did get to stalk a Hartebeest in the bush. It is just as tough as walk and stalk Whitetail hunting at home.
    IMG_1666.jpg

    Now, after passing up a 52 inch Kudu I am wondering. It is the only Bull I have seen, now I have one more day to pull the Kudu feat off. Here’s hoping!!!

    I did get to see my first Duiker though.

    IMG_1661.jpg
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 20, 2016
  18. reedy0312

    reedy0312 AH Legend

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    Nice gemsbok! Look forward to more :A Popcorn:
     
  19. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Thanks.
     
  20. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    Those were some really nice warthogs!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOW!
     

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