SOUTH AFRICA: 10 Day Northern Cape Safari

Rider717

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I'm on day 9 of a 10 day safari and after 8 days of sunny 78 degree temperatures we got a morning of heavy wind and rain rolling through so I thought I'd take a moment and give a quick report.

Travel:
DAl 200 ATL-JNB. 14.5 hours. No drama.
JNB: I have a large wheeled duffel bag that made it just fine through JNB to Kimberley airport. No issues. Saw lots of duffels including the ones they said not use going on the conveyors. Will see how it goes on return flights.

I was supposed to fly to Bloemfontein but there is no security there to handle firearms at the moment. This occurred about 3-4 weeks ago. I found outat as I was checking in for my flight. Luckily I was able to contact my PH and coordinate for a Kimberley pick up and SAA express was great at handling the ticket changes. Check ahead if you are going through Bloemfontein.

The Safari:
I am hunting for the 3rd time with Ashley Hobson of Eastcape and Karoo Safaris. We are at their Karoo Lodge in the Northern Cape. Primary targets: Buffalo, Roan, Nyala, Waterbuck, Steenbuck, Warthog.

Firearms: Blaser R8 Proffessional Success Monza w/ .375 H&H and .300 WSM barrels. Custom .375 ammo and Federal Fusion 180 Grain .300 WSM.

Animal taken so far as of day 8:

Day 2: Steenbuck
Day3: Buffalo
Day4: Black Springbuck
Day5: Nyala and Hartmanns Mountain Zebra
Day6: Waterbuck and Roan
Day7: Copper Springbuck and Common Springbuck
Day8: White Springbuck, Warthog, and Blue Wildebeest
Day9: waiting for rain to end
Day10: Heading to Easern Cape to try for Bushpig and fly out of PE to JNB

More detailed report to come with photos soon!

Horns in the salt.JPG
 
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375 Ruger Fan

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Wow! Sounds like a great hunt. Looking forward to hearing more of the details.
 

gesch

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Congratulations. I am excited to hear the detailed report. Lots of good information already. Thanks.
 

cagkt3

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You are going to have a long report to write with all those animals in the salt!
 

cls

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Looks like you've had a heck of a hunt. Will be watching for the rest of the hunt report and maybe some pictures.
 

Ridgewalker

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Can’t wait for the details! Sounds like a fine time! Safe travels home!
 

MAdcox

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I land in Kimberely in 2 weeks. Looking forward to reading your report to keep stoking the excitement.
 

GA Hunter

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Ok you have my attention!! Anxiously awaiting the detailed report.
 

Rider717

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OK. Back from the hunt.

One quick note: In Kimberley there is a guy contracted to do firearm security. He charges 200 Rand per rifle so be ready to pay if you go through there. Bloemfontein is working on getting a temporary handler setup. The word is there will be a 450 rand charge per gun case. As always, cash is king (I don't think there is a way to pay with plastic).

I will try to be brief as I get long winded when I talk about hunting!

Day -1 Arrival: The concession was 3.5 hours south of Kimberley. So after a long drive and sighting in we headed out for a quick afternoon drive. Spotted a Nyala along a river and stalked from a high cliff but after a brief glimpse he disappeared. Lots of animals out that evening.

Day 1: Out early looking for Nyala along the river. Spotted some females and small bulls and lots of young kudu but no shooters. Headed out to find buffalo and spotted a lone Roan bull standing on a ridge. Stalked him for 30 minutes but he saw or winded us and took off. This was to be repeated many times with Roan bulls. Driving around our tracker spotted fresh buffalo tracks so I got to hear one of my favorite phrases "Let's walk." Followed tracks along the road for a couple hours and bumped a nice Warthog boar. Stalked him and got a shot at 160 yards. Overestimated bullet drop and pig size and went over his shoulder for a clean miss at least. 2 running shots were late behind him and he lived to see another day. Gave up on the pig and went to find a cool place for lunch. Driving through a nice thick brushy area our tracker thumped the roof. Stopped and backed up and there was a buffalo 10 yards into the trees! We had not even seen her. Drove out of the trees and tracked back to what looked like 10-15 buffalo 75 yards ahead of us only to spook some that were immediately to our left. A heard of about 30 ran out. No big bulls so we went off to have lunch. Tracked more Buffalo several times that day but couldn't catch up. Headed back to lodge with no animals but a great day of tracking and stalking.


Day 2: After Nyala again in the morning but nothing around so straight out for Buffalo again. Spent several hours tracking a herd by a river and finally found them on the opposite bank in trees. Got situated in some cover on some rocks and glassed them for another hour. PH and tracker could make out a couple of mud covered bulls in the thick but couldn't assess them. Suddenly we hear a noise like a freight train and 4 or 5 big buff come running up from our left side on our side of the river. They run 40 ft behind us and then charge about 50 ft to our right down into the river through the reeds on the other side and take the herd with them! Wind was blowing right to left. We had no idea they were there. Glassed the herd as it disappeared over a ridge and saw a few young but large bulls and a few stragglers older but soft bulls. No mud covered boys though. We went downwind and crossed the river at a shallows and started stalking through the trees to find the big boys. 10 minutes or so later we hear a loud crash behind us and 20 or so buff go running up the ridge after the others. We haul a** after them and just catch 2 mud covered bulls as they disappear into thick stuff down on the river. The others headed up into the rocky hills away from them. Lunch, then back after the buff. Went up the hills to where the PH and tracker thought the buff might be and after a long trek and some exciting rock climbing spotted them in a meadow across a small valley. Glassed for a couple of hours but no shooter bulls with them. Headed back to lodge for the night. Saw lots of Steenbok during the day but no shooters. Ashley said we would borrow a .223 the next day so I wouldn't have to shoot one with the .375. So of course 10 minutes later I spot one and we stop. Ashley glasses him and immediately gets out of the truck. I'm right behind and with a quick setup and 95 yard shot into a setting sun with the Steenbok standing straight on I nail him square through the chest with the .375. The taxidermist will need to be creative but it will make a fine full mount!

Steenbuck.JPG


Day 3: After buff again first thing. Spot a herd going up a ridge. Drive around to opposite side in hopes of getting into a position to intercept but they beat us to the top and spot us and run off. We head off after them and our amazing tracker Mbulelo gets us to a high plateau only to see them a mile away. We glass them and see 2 big mud covered bulls with them and watch them go over a ridge into a river valley. Decide to drive around and up the river to see if we can get closer. This begins our longest walking and stalking day. We walk up the river, up a steep kopje, down the other side and into an area with numerous small kopjes. Mbulelo tracks them to a sheltered area where we set up on anothe kopje for a 3.5 hour wait. The wind has picked up as we tracked and they sat behind some bushes chewing there cud and sleeping. Occasionaly a gust of wind would catch our scent and spook a couple but they would quiet back down quickly. This started abot 11:15 in the am. No water or food with us. 80 degrees, sunny and really windy. Mbulelo says he thinks they will move at 3:00. At 2:45 the entire herd stands up and the big bull we had been watching moves in to a good shooting position. As I get ready to pull the trigger he turns towards us and stops and my shot hits him in the left front shoulder a little low but he looks hurt. I can't get any immediate follow up shot because of our postion. The main herd runs off and the hit bull runs off with another big bull trailing him. To make the next 3 hour tracking story short: Mbulelo tracks the bull with the help of 2 other trackers we called in (as well as to get some food and water). Across soft sand, rocky, gravelly flat area, hard rock riverbed and up and down kopjes he gets me to within 40 yards of the bull. His head is down looking at tracks when I spot the bull and I quietly tried to get his attention as we were walking straight at the bull while he stared back at us. Mbulelo finally heard me and stood up straight and the bull took off. Ashley had moved down the river valley to a hillside to try to stop the bull from reaching the thick river area. The 2 bulls crossed in front of him and he was able to get 2 shots into him and stop the bull. A third shot into the bull scared off his buddy and we came up on him a minute later and I put a final shot into his chest. Not how I wanted to get him but he is a fine hard bossed bull. And I am now hooked on buffalo hunting!

Buffalo with Ashley.jpeg


Day 4: Out after breakfast for Nyala along the rivers again. None to be seen so we head to another area but again no shooters. Spot a roan on a ridge that looks promising and decide to come back later into the wind. After a while driving I get "Let's walk". We go up a hill and Ashley spots Springbuck on a plain below us. We have a nice long stalk to within 255 yards and run out of cover. The wind is about 10-15 mph crosswind but I get off a good shot that drops this nice Black Springbuck.

Black Springbuck.jpeg


After the pics back to driving and stalking but not much moving in the heat and wind. As we head back we find the Roan again and stalk to about 200 yards and he is smaller than Ashley thought, so we leave him to grow bigger and hed back to the rivers to look for Nyala. Spot a good one and set up a stalk only to be bumped by a rather large but stupid Kudu bull. Instead of running away from us he runs straight to the Nyala and stops 75 yards away from him. We wait and wait and finally the Kudu moves but so does the Nyala. We head to the riverbed to track him and bump a Buffalo and a tiny buffalo calf about 50 yards from us. This is why the Kudu stopped! We beat a brave retreat from the calf and move back up the river and spot the Nyala on the opposite side only to discover he is not that big. Back to the lodge for drinks and dinner.

Day 5: We pack and head to the north side lodge of the 115,000 acre property. I am the only one hunting it. As we head out we start the day as always looking for Nyala. Somehow Ashley spots one 400 yards away in thick brush and then gets out of the truck to glass him. I then hear another of my favorite phrases "Mooi!" We stalk him for the next 2 hours and I finally get a shot on him but he steps and I hit him and a little low back and he diasppears into the reeds. Ashley spots the Nyala just standing and not moving. There is a female with him and we move to better position until she finally moves off. I can just see his shoulder through some Acacia trees and reeds and make a good shot at 200 yards and he drops. This is the bull we had spotted on our arrival day. I think he will be a full mount too!

Nyala.jpeg


Start heading back to the north lodge. Spot some Warthogs in the mountains and while glassing them a herd of 8 Hartmann's Zebras runs behind us. Ashley grabs the sticks and sets them up. They are all stallions and the last one is big. I make a hasty uphill 200 yard shot as the stallion makes a move and I get him low quartering away. They disappear over a hill and we see 7 moving off to the east. Ashley goes down the hill while I track with Mbulelo on top. We pick up the blood trail and just as we are getting close we hear a shot. Ashley had spotted the Zebra under a tree looking ill and shot him. My shot had been a good hit but we might have been tracking a wounded zebra for a while if Ashley hadn't shot him. He is a gorgeous old stallion with lots of scars and bite marks.

Zebra.jpeg


On to the lodge for the night with 2 in the salt that day.

Day 6: Right out we are looking for Roan and Waterbuck. Hot with high winds all day. We have one long stalk up a fly ridden riverbed on a big Roan. He makes us after 2 hours and is gone. From on top of a ridge Ashley spots what looks like a huge waterbuck under a tree 250 yards away. We stalk to within 150 yards and set up for the shot. Finally the buck starts to get up and turns out be a Lesser Red Waterbuck! Otherwise known as a Lechwe. At least we had a good stalk to get into position. Spend the rest of the day driving and walking but nothing is moving in the wind. As the golden hour hits Ashley spots Waterbuck several hundred yards away. We find a good one and stalk to 230 yards. With a great setup and some luck the bull moves into position and I shoot, with a good hit and he wobbles away into a gulley and looks like he drops. But no, he gets up and I shoot again but hit a bunch of brush that I can't see through the scope. My third shot hits him and he drops. The first one turns out to have been perfect in the vital triangle but with all I've heard about Waterbuck I'm glad I hit him a second time.
Waterbuck.jpeg


It's now about 5PM with an hour of daylight left. The property has recovery crews that come out and get the animals for us so that we don't have to field dress and take them in ourselves. A very nice service that allows us to keep hunting! This is important because we head to another area to look for Roan with the fading light. We find a small herd with a nice Bull against a ridgeline. As we drive in a Springbuck ewe keeps pace and then runs slam into a fence to our left. Stunned for a few seconds she gets up and trots off. We stop the truck and stalk to about 190 yards of the Roan. The stupid springbuck walks between us and the roan several times and finally wanders away after alerting them to our position. The cows move off but the bull stays around and watches us and gives me a great shot with about 10 minutes of shooting light left. I hit him well and I hear another favorite phrase "He looks ill after that shot. Don't shoot again". The bull staggers about 40 yards and falls dead. Hasty photos are taken in the fading light.

Roan.jpeg

Ashley took these pictures with his cell phone. It has great low light capability. It was actually quite dark when this was taken.

Day 7: Pack up and head back to the south lodge looking for warthog and other stuff. Don't see much until a lone Copper Springbuck runs in front of us and goes into a valley. Not one I had planned on but Ashley says it looks like a great opportunity. As with the Zebra I adopt the "Take what Africa gives you" philosophy and we make a successful stalk to about 250 yards on this nice Copper.

Copper Springbuck.jpeg


Continuing south we spot some Hogs and while glassing them a nice Commom Springbuck walks into my view. Even I can tell it has nice horns and I mention it to Ashley. His reply is "It's only 255 yards away" I look at him somewhat skeptically and he says "It's not an expensive trophy". Challenge accepted and We set up an I knock him down from 255 yards. No regrets on this nice Common Springbuck!

Common Springbuck.jpeg


Very successful first week of hunting.

Day 8: After warthog today. Have been told of seeing a large boar near where we got the buffalo. Spot some when we get there but get winded and lose them in the brush. Decide to go looking for White Springbuck (one of my original extra trophies). After quite a long time of tracking and sitting I get another long 260 yard chance and drop this nice White.

WhatsApp Image 2019-05-07 at 3.00.38 PM - Copy.jpeg


Later we finally get a chance on a warthog. Better lucky than good. I get a last minute shot in his hips as he runs between rocks. We stalk up and I am able to drop him with a close shoulder shot. Not the biggest we saw but I am him with this gnarly old broken tooth boar!
Warthog with Ashley and Mbulelo.jpeg


Now my wish list is filled and I have 2 days left. An Eland was one of my "if I have time and we find a nice one" animals as well as a Blue Wildebeest. Ashley had told me early in the hunt about a Wildebeest he had seen that might have been the biggest one in his career. We headed to the area where he was most seen and stalked some nice pigs but luckily missed them. An hour before last light as we are driving I spot a blue running behind some trees. We stop and before I can ask, Ashley says "That's him, let's go!" We hop out and stalk him through the trees until he runs into a flat area. He spots us and runs off but stops several hundred yards away. We creep up to the last cover we have, a small acacia tree with a small opening in the middle. Ashley gets the sticks up and gives me the yardage. 230 yards... I set up and the wildebeest starts turning this way and that looking for us. Ashley says to keep waiting until he stops and I get a nice broadside shot on him. It sounds like a good hit and he drops. A couple of seconds later he is up and about to run. I shoot, a bit rushed and miss but he drops again anyway and doesn't move. We head out to find this enormous Blue!
Blue Wildebeest with Ashley.jpeg



A great 8th day finished. That's 12 in the salt on an original wish list of 6!

Day 9: After 8 days of sunny hot weather a system rolls through with wind and rain and cooler temps. Finally head out late in the afternoon but get caught in heavy rain and hail and thunderstorms. Only the main road are passable and some of them are even in bad shape. Did catch this nice rainbow after storm passage.

Rainbow.JPG


I'm sure there was a 60 inch Kudu and a 40 inch Eland under it but we couldn't get there because of the roads! Next time.

Day 10: Ashley lives in PE so we decided to head to the coast for the last day and I would fly out of there instead of Kimberly. 5.5 hour drive down. Late afternoon we get to the lodge 45 minutes from Grahamstown. I had wanted a bushpig on this hunt but they weren't on the menu in the Northern Cape. Ashkey asked if I wanted to hunt one so he set it up with a friend for our last night there. After getting settled we headed out for a quick look for Kudu and Bushbuck. Not seing any we went to the farm with the bushpig. They have nice redneck style setup there. The bait under a motion sensor light. The pigs are accustomed to it and usually are not frightened by it. The night was cooler than expected and after about an hour and a half of standing and starting to shiver not to mention the night of day 10 of the hunt I whispered to Ashley "I'm just about done". Now, like any good PH he ignored me and merely checked out his watch. Not a minute later the light turns on. We are 650 yard away up a steep hilltop on a cattle farm. We begin a slow stalk down the hill to about 100-140 yards from the light. Ashley glasses and ranges them and sets me up on the sticks. "The big one is on the left. Make it a good shot". I line up the one that is twice the size of the others and drill him in the heart. The others squeal and run off. The big one drops dead! Maybe my best shot of the trip.

Bushpig.jpg



That's 13 trophies including a Springbuck slam I hadn't even considered. Here are the horns in the salt in the Northern Cape. With a bonus kudu horn pick up for 14 trophies!

Horns in the salt.JPG



So that is the quick story of the hunt. I cannot say enough about Eastcape and Karoo Safaris. Ashley Hobson is an amazing PH as well as just a great guy to hang around with. Mbulelo made me a true believer in the abilities of a tracker. I won't ever doubt the knowledge, skill or judgement of either one. This was my 3rd but not final safari with Ashley. Hope I wasn't to long winded.
 
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Edge

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Very nice trophies and enjoyed the report! That Blue is something else!

What model ZEISS is that on your 375?
 
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Rider717

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Edge,

It's a Zeiss Victory V8 1-8X30 illuminated reticle 60.

The blue was unofficially measured at 31".
 

Nyati

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Congrats, that was a great hunt !

Hopefully I will be hunting near Kimberley in September.
 

gillettehunter

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I'd say you had a fantastic hunt. Congrats.
Bruce
 

Ragman

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Wow!!!
 

flatwater bill

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Great report, and nice trophies...............especially love that huge blue....................well done............FWB
 

Matt_WY

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superdutch

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I enjoyed your report! Great hunt and great trophies!
 

cpr0312

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Congrats on your hunt and thanks for sharing!
 

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