Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by BRICKBURN, Aug 23, 2011.
Beautiful cape buffalo and nyala!
Been waiting patiently for the rest of the story and you didn't disappoint! I would like to hunt buffalo but never considered archery.......hmmmm, now you have me thinking.
Thanks for sharing your hunt with us.
Glad you have enjoyed it. Buffalo with a pointy stick is interesting for sure.
The other hunters in my group were away from home having a sleep over at another concession chasing Gemsbok and Springbok in the Highveld.
I was “done” my list, so today was a sleep-in day and I also needed the morning off as I had realized how much self-imposed pressure there had been yesterday. You do not realize until you get through it.
We finally had brunch and I had recovered some energy and there was no way that I could sit around anymore. I decided to take the extended family for a game walk on the property to see what we could encounter.
Over to the offices, and by the staff quarters
down the road to the ferry and across.
We saw many Nyala, Giraffe, Wildebeest, and no Elephant up close thankfully.
It was nice to get out with the family for a walking tour and take a few pictures. They felt like they had escaped the electric enclosure. You know that prominently placed high tensile wire ten feet above the ground that dissuades pachyderms from entering your room.
It was quite interesting to go for an unarmed stroll and be on the lookout for Elephants, not bears.
Nothing too eventful, just a nice walk and ferry ride across the Pongola River to look at the critters in the reed beds and look back up stream to the lodge.
Kemp has shown up at the Lodge and then called me on my cell phone. I told him where we were and he came down and grabbed us to return for lunch and then we would do a road trip and head over to the taxidermist to see the work.
While I was waiting for our ride, my wife commented on my pacing around the lodge like a caged tiger. Apparently, I had had enough “time off” and was not done hunting. I told Kemp we needed to head out again in the morning and hunt. Of course, he would oblige.
The road trip through the hills of Zululand was absolutely beautiful and worth the time. It is worth the drive, even in the winter time. I can only imagine these hills in full spring bloom.
We saw Ghost Mountain for the first time from a distance. In my mind, it should have been called “Shaka’s Step”, as apparently, for many of his enemies it was their last!
In the end the taxidermist shop was another taxidermists shop. I have seen many at home and in Africa. Interesting to see the creativity of many of the mounts and pedestals, but it was just a distraction. I had previously seen pictures of the product and this trip just allowed me to see this shop in person. I would determine later if they would be a possible destination for my work.
We arrived back at the reserve just before sunset and did a bush route game drive on the way back through the reserve and crossed the river and made it in to the lodge.
Elephants, Giraffe, Kudu, Impala, Nyala. By now, the usual culprits on a drive. Amazing that this had become usual, not common place and boring, just the usual.
I took a couple of pictures of “Kudu Mountain” (not the real name) for the album and we headed in for dinner.
It seems so much quieter without your hunting buddies around. We would see what tomorrow would bring.
After one day off I could not take two. My buddies were still off chasing Gemsbok and Springbok in the Highveld and I was not sitting by the pool today.
I had come up with a plan. I thought about it last night and came up with “list number 2”. Smart idea to come up with a list on your last day of hunting! It had to be done.
The list: 1. Common Reedbuck and 2. Steenbok
I had the entire east side of the property to myself save for a few local bow hunters that would be placed in hides that I would never go near, beyond picking them up at the end of the day.
This meant we would head across the river where my buddies had been hunting. The area had been at rest for two days.
Up early and ready to go we played taxi and dropped and Bow hunter off at a blind on the way to the ferry. We made a quick crossing the slow flowing Pongola.
Kemp knew the list and the order and we were on it.
This morning my wife came along for the ride and provided some new company and another set of eyes.
Now, I must say I did not study these animals hard enough to know what a good trophy would be, which was a distinct disadvantage for assessment and decision making on my part. Oh, well, that is what a PH is for right?
Since we were after Reedbuck we head along the edge of the river and under the train bridge following the water course. It did not take long, in fact almost immediately, we saw a small group of Reedbuck and the one ram looked reasonable but Kemp said it was not big enough. “You’ll know when it is big.” I was still excited to see my quarry in any size.
After seeing these animals standing still, hiding and ducking into cover for a week I had some idea of the size range that was running around but that was on the other side of the river. Over here it was all new.
On we went and soon Kemp pulled over and parked. I had not seen anything and was grabbing for the rifle and frantically searching for his motive. I got told to “bring the big white gun” and down we got for a stroll. This was an essential part of hunting at Leeukop. All the PH’s understood that it was about the whole experience, not just shooting, and opportunities to see other animals and take memories away. You never regretted pulling over and parking here.
Moosa had the .375 in tow walking in the background as we went forward following Kemp. Black Rhino are over here, somewhere, along with a much larger herd of Elephants.
We headed toward the water and it took me a minute to catch on that what he was wanting to show us was in the water. Kemp led the way and we worked our way closer to the water’s edge where the pod of Hippo’s were laying partially exposed in the shallow bay with Snowy Egrets and Egyptian Geese in attendance.
With the sun, just having risen and providing a great lighting for some pictures we proceeded to try to get closer with the BWG. Short grass and mud do not make great stalking cover and the quarry only stood so much interruption before they hit the deeper water. I was able to get some shots of these massive beasts partially exposed as they watched us. A nice surprise for sure.
On the return trip to the Bakkie I got to see some heavy dew on the Funnel Webs in the holes in the ground. Great refraction with the sun rising.
Continuing along the reed beds we repeatedly see small bucks and females that are evading us by dropping to the ground and hiding. A typical Reedbuck strategy.
As we approach some heavier cover Kemp pulls up again, this time I know it is for a picture.
I can smell it from yards away and I let Kemp take my wife through the discovery.
A midden not very large but very fresh, smelly and covered with flies and we now have proof that the Black Rhino are here. I get a picture of a track and jump back in.
We are now getting closer to the fishing camp and at this point I see a pretty darn good Reedbuck attacking us in some heavier grass cover. I was dissuaded from this animal as not being large enough, but I am pretty certain, after the fact, that it was not its size, but being in proximity to the small fishing launch.; Out of bounds. No problem, it’s the only way they are going to get big.
We swing up to Nkwazi Lodge and have a coffee with the Manager.
The lodge is empty this time of year. The lodge is huge and well designed and focused on fishing and large events. We have the short tour and see how they can easily handle large weddings and fishing tournaments here.
We had great views of the river bend and the game across the way in the Pongola Nature Reserve. We watched Zebra, Impala, Nyala bulls all hiding in the safe zone around the lodge, along with rare flora in the garden. It is very pretty spot to have coffee.
After coffee and cookies, we headed out to continue our hunt, with Vervet monkeys posing during another stop and Warthogs tearing off through the grass.
I finally saw a Common Duiker, but it was leaving too quickly and was not willing to stay for pictures, sadly.
We spot some Reedbuck and Warthogs along the reservoir in the deeper reeds. I glassed them and thought one might be worthwhile getting a closer look at. After seeing so many of them just lay down and hide I also hoped that we might jump one.
I head out with my wife and Moosa for the walk. Moosa is not enthusiastic and it shows. Kemp stayed back and made some calls.
We spooked some warthogs from their day beds right at our feet and we did get close to the Reedbuck and determined he was not large enough. Moosa fighting the whole way. By fighting I mean the subtle resistance that is present in any tracker that does not want to do something. I followed Moosa back to the truck and the pace and mood were better and we just followed the path of least resistance through the grass.
A Red Duiker taking off like a rocket through the brush as we walked along surprised me. I thought it was a small Warthog piglet. But the image did not quite fit. With the red clay on all the pigs I was confused. The way it ran was all wrong. It finally dawned on me what it was and Kemp confirmed it.
We went past the area where the other guys had been seeing Steenbok and nothing huntable jumped out.
Another stop at the drainage that was full of Fever trees. We walked through this forest and got some great pictures of the grove and the incredible bark. Wonder what would scar the bark like that?
On the return trip for lunch we saw a herd of Zebra, and some Wildebeest scattering. They are quite spooky today and we did not attempt to get closer.
As we are cruising past Nkwazi lodge I looked out forty yards and saw an absolute monster Steenbok ram bedded with his girl. The proximity to the lodge saved his bacon. I tried to get a picture but he did not get that large by hanging around watching people watch him.
On the road back we ran into the Black Rhino with her three-week-old baby and the older calf with her. We got some good pictures and she wanted to avoid us and was not aggressive like the young male I had encountered on another day.
Conservation at work.
As we headed through some thicker rolling cover we saw a dandy Impala and we debated his size and he would have been a good trophy.
Shortly after the Impala encounter it became apparent that the area had rested for a couple of days as Kudu bulls were coming out all along the trail.
We ran into one bachelor group that had a fellow that will be a monster if he can manage to run fast enough for the next three years or so.
We crested the path into the drainage going down to the river and I spotted some vultures circling and I jumped out and took the BWG to get some pictures of whatever was feeding.
As I approached the vultures, storks etc. demonstrated they we’re not tame. They were leaving in hoards and I got a few shots of them lifting. I did not realize you had to stalk them to get a picture. Another lesson learned.
It turned out to be an Impala kill, most likely another leopard. A young ram and it was pretty well gone. No tracks present with the rain and all the bird tracks. It would have been nice to get a picture of a spotted kitty track.
Across the great Pongola ferry and in for lunch and a break until the afternoon hunt started.
The afternoon hunt had me back alone with the boys and we would be a little more serious. We headed down the same trail to see who had come out to feed and we had not gone three hundred yards from where we had seen Reedbuck this morning when I saw a decent ram and then Moosa noticed a bigger one.
I snapped a picture of him looking at us as we drove by and we started formulating our plan for the stalk back after we found a place to start.
I kept looking to that side and I was very disheartened to see a herd of Kudu within 80 yards of the Reedbuck. Damn!
My thought immediately was, this was not going to work. We drove further south half a kilometer and parked and started the “train track” stalk. I thought we were being quiet on those rocks. It became apparent every hunter that has ever been here thinks the same thing and the Kudu learn quickly. As we started our approach toward the waypoint mark, the inevitable bark and grey apparitions running off into the heavy cover down the hill and in tow a herd of Reedbuck. Busted!
Back to the truck to regroup.
We passed the Kudu on our left as they continued toward the water and heavy bush and they finally managed to separate themselves from the Reedbuck herd.
We passed them and marked the spot, I noted the exact tall tree they were hiding below in the thicker cover.
Moosa and I kept our eye on it as we drove away. Another stalk was on and it was Moosa who spotted them as we approached along a game path. All of us were on the ground immediately and we started glassing and hopefully determining which was the big guy. That finally determined, Kemp and I got up close and personal with ground and crawled through the grass and bush on our hands and knees making our way toward the tense herd.
They were twitching and that had Kemp twitching and as this point I took my eye off the ram, just for a moment or two.
We got well within 80 yards and we finally sat up. I quickly had the one I thought was “the one” in my sight. Kemp said go and I replied that I had a tree in front of the vitals. At which point Kemp looked surprised. We looked at each other and started to chat about which one it was. We had to make sure.
Kemp had missed the one I was looking at and I had missed the one he was locked on. Two good rams and we took some time and finally figured out which was the larger and I then worked on the shot possibilities.
I looked for a way to lay down. NO, too much grass. The “tree” in front of me was a small willowy switch, Not that one.
Kemp was beside me and suggested his shoulder again. I was still not comfortable discharging my rifle so close to someone’s ears and thus made my mistake. I took the shot from a high kneeling position. It was really a standing position, on both knees, as sitting would not have worked in the cover.
I missed! No way, but not surprising given the wobble.
I reloaded at light speed with I heard the hissing “shoot”. He knew I missed and this time I decided to work with the wobble and time the shot. I squeezed the trigger with the reticle moving in a slow elliptically orbit over the chest. I heard the hit, Moosa thought not. I know I heard this one though. The herd moved off and I kept an eye on the spot where the ram had been and burned it into my mind.
We waited as usual. Kemp asked what the sight picture and I said I probably hit a little off from a perfect shot, but I was not certain.
We started the follow up and I walked directly to the spot I had marked while Kemp and Moosa headed off to my left in the direction the herd fled.
I whistled when I found blood and started tracking it.
I looked up and saw the ram about 60 yards away.
Kemp headed back for the Bakkie and Moosa and I waited a moment. I could not stand it anymore and had to finish the animal off.
We were slowly approaching from behind and he was not aware we were there yet. We slowly shifted to the left to get a better shot at the vitals. I noticed now that he was hit in the chest, a little lower than you would like. I was trying to get that last few feet for the finishing shot when I spooked him. With a quick off hand shot he was down for good.
The ram had moved close enough to a trail that it was not a long haul. Pictures taken, we were off for one last crack at a Steenbok.
I saw one little ram with two inch horns at about 180 yards and got a long-range picture of him and he did not stand around for better pictures. We got close to one female and I got one picture of her as she departed quickly through the grass. No rams.
One last possibility to go. We moved to another area with a huge expanse of wide open space where Moosa and I went for one last walk before the sun went down on this leg of my African hunting adventure.
We stalked slowly through this likely spot and we saw a sun slowly setting.
It was nice to be out walking on that red soil as the sun sank through the Aloe on the Natal hills.
We drove back in the dark and everyone else returned from the Highveld and their successful hunt. Gemsbok, Springbok and Hartebeest in the salt.
We would leave tomorrow for Hluhluwe National Park.
Kemp warned me that I would see some Nyala that would make me cry. I did not know how right he was.
I wanted to wait a reasonable amount of time to write this report. ( I am certain I have done that now 5 years) Hunters writing reports immediately after their return or during the hunt are usually either euphoric and some quite angry. Most of the glowing reports are always written while the euphoria is still rolling. I did not want that for this report. I wanted a more sober description of the events and my impressions and my later impressions as I reflected upon what had happened.
This was an incredible destination that provided opportunities for close encounters with many of the large fauna that a smaller reserve could not. I hunted endemic species on a large property while the observers were well taken care of.
Every member of the hunting party ended up having unique experiences with the local fauna. Hyena inserting themselves into Impala hunts after being called in. Leopard inserting themselves into hunts on repeated days with multiple groups. Elephants up close and personal, which made one persons entire trip.
Good food was served and we got to get used to the Rusks, then Brunch and Dinner meal schedule. A little bit of South Africa in that offering for certain. We got to try the game meat from multiple species. I ate Biltong that is produced at the onsite butchery daily. In fact, any time I went by the shop near the entrances we stopped in for a refill.
Seeing both Black and White Rhino, Hippo, Crocodile and Elephant almost daily was surely what ensures you know you are in Africa. This property is a conservation success story and well worth seeing.
Initially I wondered why some of the references had been here up to six times. Now I knew.
Leeukop is a amazing place and one of the best hunting destinations in SA.
Enjoyed reading your story very much.
Glad you enjoyed the tale.
Beautiful Reedbuck. Glad you got him! Sounds like a wonderful trip. I for one don't buy the suitable waiting period before writing this up. I think you have just been busy and maybe a bit lazy too....... I enjoy your reports. The pics are always first rate. Nice to see the everyday things around a camp. Just a bit of Africa. Thanks Bruce
It was my original intent to wait to write the report.
I just left that fact in the report.
In other instances, I have tried the "write as you go" method and the internet in Africa failed me.
Keeping a good journal, taking plenty of pictures and sharing the hunt is always a great way to go through the memories, whenever you manage to do it.
Thanks for the compliment Bruce. It was a great trip.
The next day we were off to explore other parts of South Africa.
We hired a transfer to get us to Hluhluwe-Umfolozi park for a couple of days while some of the group would immediately head into the Drakensberg Mtns. I was about to get my first try at driving on that side of the road in a rental out of Durban.
Our self-catering accommodation in the park. Nice and quiet.
Timing is everything in travel and it took me all day to make the trip to Pongola to Hluhluwe to King Shaka so we just stayed in Umhlanga. I was not driving at night on that side of the road. It was time to go with the flow.
City lodge provided the base for us to go test out some South African Curry and have some rest in the city before we would head back to the park in the morning.
My turn to terrorize the Taxi's!
Glad you enjoyed it Edward.
Truly magnificent tales of sport, dining, hospitality and nature. I thoroughly loved all of it!!!
Good to hear!
I have to get the time to finish this report.....
Separate names with a comma.