SOUTH AFRICA: 21 Days With Umlilo Safaris


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Dec 6, 2011
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BC Canada
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Zimbabwe, SA, Namibia, BC, AB, Ont
Hello All

I have been home sometime now, time sure goes fast, now its time for a hunt report and the story of my latest safari. (My first report!) I am no writer or author and am in the company of some amazing story tellers on this site. I must warn all that I have been accused of rambling a few times and this is long but I have 21 days and 22 species to story tell. I have read many reports on here, the ones that tell off your hunts in a story format are what hold my attention the most, so I figure I should give some back in return. As I have time and I absolutely enjoy reading anything Africa, especially current hunt reports, I will give details, a journal story/report of this epic to us safari. I will try my best, most important I will tell it as it was, the good, the bad and as it unfolded.

I do hope in these crazy times all who read get some knowledge and more importantly some enjoyment from the read, as I have from reading others reports on this fabulous site.

First the background details.

Me the hunter, mid 50s, somewhat out of shape and a sufferer of obstructed apnea. Thanks to @Mort Hill I acquired a resmed air mini for this safari and it worked perfectly, thus allowing me to skip the afternoon zombie modes. I am sure our PH suffered the same, although he would not admit or get diagnosed. For this safari I will be accompanied with both my non hunting sisters, Jane and Jo (J&J). I am from British Columbia, and them from Ont, Canada. My 4th safari (Zim x2, Namibia) and their second, after inviting them for an 18 day Namibian leopard and PG hunt I am now not allowed to Safari without them. They are not ones to stay in camp, be pampered or left behind, they also want to immerse in safari. Safari’s are the longest time we spend together in our fast paced busy lives, awesome sibling bonding time.

3 Canadians.JPG

Us 3 Canadians

I retired from 33 years military service in 2017 and got the desire to return to Africa. On every safari I have included at least 1 of the big 5, I have never had a safari shorter than 16 days, but they do tend to have longer duration's between them. I always add a few days before and a few days after to allow for the what ifs, playing tourist and acclimatizing. I originally hoped for and started planning for a croc/hippo hunt with some PG I have never hunted (mainly attainable in SA) along with all the night critters that have teased me previously.

All previous safaris have been in huge, wild non fenced areas. This will be my first fenced and SA experience. I am a hunter, want to stalk not snipe game, don’t really worry about horn size, shoot best and oldest male property offers, not into any sliding horn size fees. I do want to feel, live, and immerse in all aspects of Safari while in Africa. Don’t care about fancy camp, want camp for our party only, prefer not to share camp, like to hear wild Africa over bar noise, and will eat anything, prefer what we shoot as menu items.

I will never use a booking agent again, with time on hands planning safaris becomes a fun adventure adding to experience. After a ton of research, I began to realize getting all species would be a tall order. Then slapped me good, the deals and offers had CB lion, and PG hunts that were too good to pass on. It is my belief that CB lions will be closed and unavailable before hippo will, this along with convincing from a friend who had just returned from a double CBLion/lioness hunt, so hunt became lion/croc/pg and night critters. Cherry picking AH deals became the plan, with the 3 of us renting a car and driving from camp to camp sightseeing along the way.

With new primary species, my wants, wishes, must haves and would like to haves, research became more difficult. With spreadsheet assistance, offers, deals, quotes and answers to questions, outfitters were narrowed down. Francois and @Umlilo Safaris provided/offered a plan that allowed for all species in multiple areas of SA with him responsible for all travel, lodging and food for a full 21 day safari, and all for what I consider a reasonable cost. We booked and deposit was sent for a June-July 2020 hunt. Must state that responses to questions did slow down considerably after deposit was sent, not sure why maybe due to hunting season/covid/other bookings. Then the Covid shit storm and plandemic hit. Hunt was postponed till 2021, then delayed again due to Covid till 2022. The early 2021 SA Gov announcement concerning closure of CB lion and many other species forced a safari year reversal back to 2021. Umlilo came thru, set dates and safariing we were doing. Time goes by fast and soon we were actually going on Safari, during Plandemic and new civil unrest in SA.

Francois emailed me an itinerary before we left Canada and again as we arrived in SA. Over the months this changed a few times, places and camps, for unknown to me reasons. We expected to hunt in Limpopo and Douglas areas but did not. Last change was a call one week before departing Canada, Francois was worried about their own property in Kirkwood as they had suffered a severe drought for years and animals were thinning fast despite feeding program. He had us changed to a ranch in Douglas and Graaff Reinet and said how big and plentiful the game was, then we would hunt a new place on route to his place but not suffering from the drought. We agreed on his plan not to hunt Kirkwood and stay further north for same species on other watered properties.

After this safari we had a 14 day tourist trip booked, car rental with us driving all over SA, included shark diving in Gaansbai, Table mnt, cape of good hope, boulders beach, Addo and lastly 4 nights in Kruger staying inside park at campground in huts.

Firearm Permits

Retired with available time and somewhat capable, all firearm import permits to SA and Canadian export permits were completed by myself. Must say this was an easy task, detailed directions are on line along with permits. Never used any permit company and probably never will. Even when stuff happens like this trip (extra month in SA after permit expiration) SAP’s was very helpful.

As Military used to say, “for ease of instruction/comprehension this lesson/report will be broken down into squads”. I will write report not by day as other reports are but but by camps, farms and hunting spots, with travel/road days in-between. I will not use camp names as these were contracted/ hired by Umlilo for my safari and not owned by Umlilo but I will provide report on food, accommodations, staff and of course how hunt proceeded because they represent Umlilo. I cannot guarantee spelling of peoples names also. Here we go.

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Hunt Details

Outfitter: @Umlilo Safaris
PH: Francois Dorfling, along with other PH’s at camps.
Areas Hunted: All over SA,
Hunt Dates: 1-21 Aug 2021

Rifle #1: Rem 700 BDL SS, 375 H&H, camo’d by me.
Scope: Leupold 3x9x33 ultralight
Ammo: 20-Nosler Accubond 260 gr, handloads.

Rifle #2: Rem 700 BDL SS DM 308 Win, shortened and lightened, camo’d by me.
Scope: Leupold 3x9x33 ultralight.
Ammo: 100-Nosler Accubond 165 gr, handloads, 20- Barnes (old brass) 165 gr solids, handloaded.


As a Veteran I paid for extra insurance with Sun Life, they use Allianz as their international company. I was out of my home Province longer than the max 42 days so paid the extra and included Covid insurance. Accommodations, flight interruption, food and lock down hotels if positive results are received are all reimbursed with this add on. Total cost was under $300 cnd all in, my second time purchasing insurance and glad we did.

Game Hunted

CB Lion Cat #1 male, croc, sable, waterbuck, nyala, kudu, gemsbuck, black wilderbeast, blue wilderbeast, red lechwe, blesbuck, mnt reedbuck, duiker, small and large spotted genet, serval, honey badger (HB), civet, monkey, hyrax, porcupine, along with a few culls.

Getting There

Getting from as far west in Canada to SA return was a challenge with Covid and Trudopes rules. Ethiopian Air from Toronto to SA with the layover in Addis Ababa was basically only flight option. Cattle class round trip leaves more trophy fee (TF) money in budget, but we suffered severely on Ethiopian Air as they do NOT have individual seat air vents on plane. OMG hot aircraft interior, and me coming from the record 42 degree temps in BC. Plane was not full so we had extra stretch out seats each. I left Vancouver for Toronto a week early, spent time with family in Ont, got SA entry Covid tests and hit Airport at 0630 for an 11 AM departure. Only to be informed that flight was delayed due to storm in Ethiopia. We finally departed at midnight, 13 hrs delayed, connecting flights were also missed but Ethiopian had Addis exit airport Visa’s covered, buss and hotel rooms all organized. Guns and my baggage stayed in Airport. Bus returned us to airport for leg to SA some 14 hrs later.

Upon arrival to Joberg Jane’s and my luggage, guns and ammo bags were missing. After discussions with Ethiopian they informed us baggage was indeed left in Addis and would be on next flight. We were then introduced to the African cluster “mess”, after calling our booked hotel we were told there was no power due to damaged lines from “unrest” and we had been booked in a new sister hotel a short distance away, after repeated attempted calls to new hotel provided no response, adapt and overcome stepped in with a call to Umlilo. 30 mins later Gilbert from African Sky opened the van door and whisked us of to hotel. We then “suffered” two days of African Sky treatment. OMG, food, drink, lodge, accommodations, staff and Gilbert's performance was all over the top outstanding. J&J and myself waited at the airport collection gates for inbound guests while Gilbert hunted and found guns/ammo baggage. He then sneaked out at 0300 for airport to retrieve last bags. What a surprise to see your luggage in front of your room door when you get up. Dam good job Africa Sky and Gilbert especially. Another reason 2 days in Africa before start of a safari is a bonus. Francois arrived and the Canadians safari road trip #1 started.


Awesome African Sky

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Camp #1,

A fast 2-3 hr drive east to night critter property, in fact a very fast drive, we immediately find out that Francois was Mario Andretti in his mind. We arrive at Steph’s place near Ermelo, a working sheep ranch, not sure how big other than huge, he does have a fenced portion that contains some PG species, some we will be pursuing. With a quick intro to staff, including Stephs PH Gerry who has lived in area for whole life and hunted with Steph while growing up. We get a fast tour of place and shown accommodations. Its exactly what we expect, ranch house with separate guest house, all 3 of us have separate room with en-suites and a shared deck with views of lake, sunsets and the many species of animals. One particular black wildebeest held my particular attention, more to follow on him. As the hunter I got the honeymoon suite, bigger room with heart shaped tub big enough for a groom and harem. Before Covid Steph booked weddings, (has a chapel beside the lake) parties and catering events. A separate building contained a pool, bar, sitting area and huge table for serving of meals. This whole building contained a plethora of mounted species, just what we like and wanted. Africa at last.

Stephs ranch.JPG

Stephs Ranch

After a quick hr to settle in we head of to range to confirm guns, plan is to use my 308 with both accubonds and solids, along with one of Stephs 223’s with can. Guns are still as they left Canada and on. Then its back to ranch for supper, the first served sit down meals (at home its on couch in front of TV), J&J, Francois myself and normally Gerry or Steph dine with us. I will state right now that every meal at Stephs was home cooked and outstanding, game the normal meat choice, as I hope for on safari. Along with potato or melee meal and vegetables. Non of us suffer from any food issues and I consider myself a carnivore so food was perfect. Let me not forget the desserts, to die for and all you could eat.

After an awesome meal no time to rest/relax we load up truck, organize lights, gear, warm cloths, go over a dry run with all assuming their positions and we’re off pit- lamping. Being from Canada this practice being strictly illegal I totally love these night hunts. After 10 km of highway we turn off to drive the tractor trails beside the agricultural fields, the nut plantations, river thickets and grass fallow fields all total wild areas without game fences. Steph the driver, and Gerry light man/director for me. (Needed) Francois, and J&J stand behind on back of truck. No front seat time for Canucks. One can immediately notice that Steph and Gerry have this dialed in, both a team of one, even the corn is harvested with strips of standing rows left for cover. We use the 223, this my first experience with a canned weapon. I find out how unwieldy they are compared to my shortened 39” 308. Primary species is serval but HB, civet and either of the 2 genet species are “on the list”. Francois has warned me that HB are scarce, skittish and the hardest on the list to acquire in this area, also the one he states success is lowest, they currently have none on camera at any bait station. Jackals are hated and free if shot and killed, if missed and scared, pay up. Object is not to educate jackals on a massive sheep ranch. Its hard to believe but I do not remember many times when eyes were not shinning in spotlight. Average nights had us seeing over 100 duiker, and 100 common reed buck, yes those were real numbers and some very nice specimens, so many we stopped counting them, along with some huge bushbuck then normal kudu, steenbok, porcupine, aardvark x3, among others, new species for me were water mongoose (x2), skunks and bat eared fox (x4).

After a couple hours you gain knowledge real fast, realizing what size and color eyes are none shooter species, this goes on till around 11 when we drive along a high embankment with some wet looking rough ground in bottom of valley. On opposite hillside we see eyes about 120 yds out, “the right kind”, Gerry starts the coaching, gets me comfortable on gun and more importantly on correct eyes and spot. Wow I see a nice serval in scope, aim and bang. Holly crap I missed, just over, serval runs 10 ft stops and turns broadside, off course I cant see it??? Gerry tells me to look thru scope at bright light circle and I do, immediately I see the serval broadside, aim and bang, serval runs into long grass but all say good hit. Francois has spot serval stood pegged while Gerry, Steph and I walk down and up other side. Not more than 10 ft away lies a beautiful serval, my first.

We collect serval and walk back to truck and entourage who are eagerly waiting. Its clear that pics are an important part of every safari and Francois ensures time is taken to clean, pose and get the right shots, demonstrating respect for every animal taken and even willing to get in the dirt for lower angle shots. Gerry cleans up serval and sets up for a plethora of picks. This takes some time after every species as there are many cameras and phones that need pics.

Team with serval.JPG

Team with serval.

With all loaded back on truck we continue search for next species. After a couple more hrs its decided to head back to ranch. Wow what a first night hunt.

As a taxidermist who does my own work both my sisters have “assigned” safari tasks, Jane is in charge of pics, detailed closeups of eyes, nose, face, mouth, feet, wounds, bullet holes and anything that will or could effect pose and mount. Jo’s task is recording measurements in “the book”. With tape I take and give all measurements required for taxidermy, eye to nose, head, chest, body and others that will be required for form and mounting, Jo records this along with any special details, (like a third horn growing on a species head?). This takes time at skinning shed after every drop off but is time well spent, we do enjoy time in shed with Skinner's and probably “freaked” them out a little as blood and guts do not concern us, we are hands on Canucks. We do not have skinners at home and kills still get removed from bush and processed. Steph has a well organized and secure skinning and butchering facility with Skinner's, coolers and salt room.

With breakfast at 7 we get up leisurely, eat and I drink coffee x6, load up truck and head out for next species= blesbuck. This is Stephs fenced area, lake in center surrounded by grassland and whole area a few square km, but these critters have every part of their area memorized. They know where to go when chased and how to evade hunters. After a couple hrs and a few we go right when they go left we have running blesbuck again, but this time a group has gone into some bush scrub on the hillside. This provides a new opportunity that we take full advantage of, we head to the treed hill to hide our stalk. The blesbuck are walking thru a patchwork of opening and treed cover on the side hill, as we are prowling along a herd of zebra make us, luckily they run the other way not spooking our primary prey. Francois leads me on the stalk while J&J stay back 100 yds and sit on the hillside with a view of the unfolding pursuit. As we zig and the prey zag we close the distance and notice our primary target male goes over a hill and out of sight. We take this as our chance, get in the thick thorns and quickly close the distance. As the herd slowly walks left to right and passes a couple of shooting lanes Francois puts up the stix, 308 on, feels good, now to wait for correct one to cross. After a couple minutes we realize he is on our left and already crossed below and out of our sight, quick reposition and I am on stix again. This time he presents broadside, 308 barks and accubonds gives us the smack sound, but blesbuck runs left. We pursue, a short 50 yds further and he stands badly hurt head down, I give him one more for insurance and we have a nice blesbuck down. Set up for the pic ritual for the second time in 2 days. Then load up and a short drive back to camp. Canadians love Africa, normal for BC is one pic ritual per 30 days solid hunting, if lucky. We now have 2 nice animals in the salt.


Canadians and blesbok

Its only 1 pm so we have the rest of the day to relax, walk and look around. In response to my requests, I did say I will eat anything, so we had hors d’oeuvres early, sautéed serval with dipping sauce’s. OMG delicious, must say all 3 PH’s were “scared” and did not even try. J&J, staff, and myself made short work of the platter. From experience, cats taste great, dogs not so much. How can one say they do not like something if they have never tried??? After snack another great meal is served then its pack up, load and prepare for another night outing.

Francois and I discussed budget, plan and specific species wants after arrival in SA. We understood packaged animals and plan and that I did not plan to go over budget on TF but after looking at so many common reedbuck and no reedbuck in my memory room, plus the reasoning from Francois that I should shoot one as these are great quality totally wild, plus the odds were low on HB due to none on baits and waiting, low odds at chance encounter and finally a very good TF offer. It did not take long to agree that common reedbuck are now on the “list”.

More coming.

Great start to your hunt report. Congrats on on your animals so far. Looking forward to the rest of the hunt report.
Great so far, keep it up :A Popcorn:
Back to report.

On truck and rolling at dark we start in same area as night before, routes depend on wind direction as dust from truck sometimes creates a visibility issue over best spots. Tonight is a repeat for duiker, reedbuck, bushbuck, and other game, they are every where, same team on truck so its game on, somewhat a routine. Contrary to normal now that reedbuck are a target we still see them almost constantly, but we need to see the right one, not only a big one but one willing to stay still and be close enough. Maybe 1 hr later with the constant movement of the mesmerizing light Gerry pans across the corner of a field and says “reedbuck”, a small male followed by a female followed by a very nice male. He freezes and stands broadside at around 100 yds, its becoming routine so gun is on rest, cross-hairs on leg and wait for shoot command. Gerry and Francois from back say “shoot” bang, smack and flop and my common reedbuck is down in field. My first reed buck, I get a few minutes alone to marvel at him. As I said I am not an inch hunter, he is another amazing trophy with memory banked. Set up and pic routine commences and we load him in back of truck.


An added bonus, reedbuck

Later maybe around 10 (time is difficult to judge during so much excitement and fun) the light scans the treeline 100 yds ahead and there are the eyes we are looking for shinning, crouched in the crotch of a tree he sits. I swing left on truck roof top, get in scope and wait….. after a few seconds of silence I say to Gerry “can I shoot” his immediate reply is YES SHOOT. Bang and he falls out of tree, immediately from truck I hear ‘wholly sh!t he got it”. Gerry concentrates and does tight circles with light, pitlamper code to mark spot and guide vehicle in. Laying under tree is another beautiful nigh predator. Large spotted genet. Clean up and we search for “perfect” branch, setup genet and pic routine commences.

Lauphing Genet.JPG

Francois and I busting a gut, with genet.

Its still early so positions are resumed and were off again. We are having a blast, Gerry is not only a great PH but he talks to me, saying what we are seeing and keeping me informed, I pay attention to light, direction, vehicle bumps and side hills while there is a constant “quiet laughter” coming from peanut gallery behind us. Couple hrs later while traveling alongside a cut maize field Gerry pans the light crosses and an OMG moment commences, out 120+ yds is a HB slowly ambling its way along minding its own business. Ooh oh Gerry says not shooting HB with 223 so fast switch to 308 and solid, it is now far to my right, I swing gun around but there is no roof for support, getting the shoot command I place cross hairs on and shoot. He lifts of dirt and does the badger shuffle off the field with a second off hand shot hurrying him along. All are unsure of a hit/miss, I say a 308 solid would stop him but PH’s who are expert state that they can take a ton of lead, hence switch of gun. We bail of truck and go for a dedicated, delicate, non ground disturbing look. Nothing in dark on his trail, and nobody is willing to enter thicket to follow so plan will be return at first light. As this is wearing on me and its already past midnight we head back to camp and I suffer a sleepless night.

Early rise next day, quick breakfast/coffees and we are off to HB spot, upon arrival we meet the land owner with one of his trackers. After some time with detailed track, ground and trail inspections the outcome is I missed, we think my bullet hit just under it lifting it up with the dirt impact. No blood was found along the track to weed/bushline. At this time I realized how lucky/unlucky I was, owner has lived on this property for life and has only seen 2 HB incidentally and not on bait in past 35+ years. What should have been an easy shot turned into life haunting experience. Even today I go over how things panned out and cringe. I say wrong side of truck, no rest, light over shoulder and no time to calm as my miss reason or excuse. Crowd in back says I was “way too excited” never calmed down for shot. This may come back and happen again in report? At least with a miss and no trophy fee (TF) due we can continue to pursue HB, but for now we head back to camp for coffee, I lick my wounds and then I get my head in game for our other PG in this area.


Francois organizes us and we make a plan to get that male black wildebeest (BW) we have been seeing and teased by daily. He is the boss in a herd of 12, and knows his territory better than the blesbuck we learn. These are not only weird creatures (clowns) but they seam to only like plains where they can see miles around them. This is not good for a Canadian who likes to get and shoot close, think inside 150 yds. After a few hrs of walking round and around while playing cat and mouse with the herd making fools of us we think we have them figured out. When disturbed from the huge vast unapproachable open grassland they take a route around the lake that we think we have pegged. So our group (J&J, Francois and I) go down to end of lake and take a position in bush, then we have a “scout” walk around the open area to move the BW on their escape trail and hopefully past us. This works well except they all stop and mingle at end of lake, some even have the nerve to lie down. So we wait in position under a burned out tree stump. After some time we come to realize they could/will stay there for the day, Francois has the scout walk towards the herd to try and bump them past us. After watching scout walk towards them for 40 mins the herd gets up, but they do not come our way slowly. They spook and run like hell towards us, with me on sticks Francois is calling the animals as they pass, cow, cow, calf, small bull OMG that's him at 40 yds running and leaping like the wind. I do my best, wish scope was still at 3x not 6x and I was not on non swinging stix but I do as best as I can and get the shot off. We all hear bullet thump and all say hit. Bull runs over hill with rest of herd, we sit and wait 20 mins, then slowly stalk over hill, we fully expect to see him down on other side but reaching the crest we clearly count 12 BW way out in the open. WTH Now we play the cat and mouse game except this time we clearly see he is hurt, blood shows on his on side but too far back. Looks like I did not lead him enough. Plans are made, stalks are foiled, this goes on for 30-45 mins then we see he is visibly getting weaker and his herd has left him, we sneak in and as he faces us his head comes up, Francois ranges at 175 yds, good rest and I shoot, smack and he drops at impact. I hate to see any animal suffer and I should have known better on lead. I did not realize how fast they were running. I will state there are a few animals in this report that due to one thing or the other my poor shooing caused unneeded suffering. Now that we have another species we set up for pics, complete ritual and load for return to skinning shed with measurements in book.

Black Wildebeast.JPG

The always running black wildebeest.

We now have a couple hrs to relax before another fine meal was served and with malva pudding dessert. After supper we mount up on truck, assume positions and off we go for another night hunt. We head to a different property as civet are primary species, with HB and small spotted genet still on list. New property is better for civet I am told, still a wild area, thick with game and still provides eyes every where, but agriculture is pecan orchards, with more grassy openings and thick ravines. Big bushbuck are now very common. One hr in hunt we drive around a large bulldozed brush pile and bam there in the light is a civet, not a big one and on the move, we circle the pile but it has magically disappeared. Steph memorizes the spot and states we will complete loop and circle back to this spot later. Shortly after we round a corner and another civet crosses the road in front of us, again only for a second and it slips into some thick stuff never to be seen again. Seams if I am to shoot a civet while lighting I better shoot super fast. We drive and light for another couple hrs with no more civet sittings, we do see more serval and same genet species but the small spotted eludes us so far. Steph makes a plan to go to a new property for the last few hrs of the night. We drive to a new farm go thru the gate and pick up the land owner as a guide. After 30 mins of sorting the constant glow of eyes we round a corner and not 20 ft on my side and in truck headlights is a nice looking civet making a fast move into some really thick stuff, without really thinking I snap up with 308 and solid and hear “shoot” in my ears as Gerry gives me a firing order, trigger breaks and civet slumps down. We all jump of truck, ensure he is gone and look at the fine trophy we have gotten. 308 solid traveled length of him for an instant kill. He is bigger and prettier than I ever imagined. We find the appropriate rock/hump for the pic ritual. Then the hunt continues, the constant eyes in the light keeps me attentive but HB and genet are all that's left on list and we see serval, aardvark, porcupines, fox, mongoose, a plethora of antelope species and even a wildcat. Its like National Geographic TV show but live and at night. Us Canadians are in awe. With the HB being so rare incidentally and none currently on bait we start to wonder about success. We drive back to the wooded area and find our self in a nut orchard, around a corner and headlights pic up another porcupine, I wanted a porcupine, this was added as a freebie. Francois assured me they would be easily attainable on his place in Kirkwood so we passed on all so far. But this critter was in the orchard on the inside of the 2 ft high wire that keeps them out and the landowner up front was yelling shoot it, shoot it. Up with 308, solid in spout and looking thru scope, then Gerry says in a stern voice DON'T SHOOT followed by a conversation in Africans. He then explains that the big black thing behind the porcupine is the 24” steel water pipe that feeds the orchard. Quick disaster was averted in all that excitement. The hunt continues until midnight with no more target species seen, then its back to camp just after 1 AM and a good resmed sleep.

With 5 of the 7 species in the salt and no badgers on bait the next morning we decide to leave a day early and make it a rd day and head for the next camp. This means we must spend one night along the way at a B&B before reaching next camp. We get up somewhat late and have breakfast, then pack up, truck, trailer hitched and bags loaded. All followed by a sad time as we say good bye to Steph, Gerry and the whole team. We are on the rd with Mario Andretti (Francois) who is multi tasking, on phone and racing again. Francois has also developed a tooth pain problem, we joke its cause is Canadians? We drive a few hrs and arrive at a B&B in town of Lydenburg, check in to private rooms and enjoy Africa, drinks, sights and sounds. One first on this hunt is that our PH Francois spends 58 mins of every waking hr either receiving or sending a text or phone call. This is a first for me, even first with cell service on safari but with other PH’s to entertain us its not really a problem so far. It is clear that Covid and lock downs have had a huge negative affect on SA. B&B, restaurants, and most tourist facilities or businesses that depend on them have closed. Our B&B has had very few tourist bookings and it shows with lack of maintenance, staff and items. This along with some ongoing electrical, hydro issues within the town means lights and power are spotty. For supper Francois takes us “downtown” to a restaurant and orders a massive seafood spread. J&J and Francois pick over what they like and I devour the rest. Did I say I love any/all seafood? After a good rest, late morning and breakfast we speed /rocket along to our croc destination in Komatiport. This section of road is like no other, mine trucks are bumper to bumper heading for the Mozambique border a few KM ahead, the rd if full of 18” deep potholes, bone jarring when hit at 120KM, what an experience, cant imagine how the trucks handle this abuse.


Amazing tree on route, Francois told us name but I forgot.

Just like home.JPG

On rd to Komatiport, scary how that looks just like the logging and country here at home in BC.

Camp #2

Early afternoon puts us at the game gate to our next camp, thank goodness the pothole rd is behind us. This camp is a designated hunting camp with DG fence, always a good sign. The on site PH and “boss” is Hannes, (spelling?) he shows us the accommodations and gives the tour of grounds. Not like Stephs place but certainly in accordance with our wishes of “wild” Africa. Our rooms are separate rondoval’s with, thatched roofs, high ceilings, massive en suite bathrooms, big beds, sitting areas, coffee bar/fridges and all old Africa décor. The grounds are manicured with huge rocks situated around pathways to our huts and dinning, gathering facility. There is another inner DG fence around camp and tons of game including buffalo on other side of fence. Property has a feeding plan with wagons of bananas placed 50 yds outside of viewing arch from dinning area 10 ft high due to sloping ground, perfect for watching wildlife. This building has a bar, lounge and entertainment areas plus a 16 ft life-size crocodile and many trophy mounts on display. We then settle in and make ourselves at home, this is not hard as all 3 of us are immediately impressed. We head to range to check 375 as this will be croc gun, Hannes wants gun to hit bullseye so we lower 2” and all is good. Then back to camp, relax, have a drink and watch the parade of animals at the bananas.

Croc camp.JPG

My sitting area in my room, never used this space.

Francois had me a little worried at croc camp for a couple reasons, there were a ton of small lizards in camp, on the rocks, in our rooms and on foliage. I asked Francois what kind they were? His answer “I don’t know, lets google it” and he did they were 3 lined skinks, most common lizard in SA? My PH did not know= worrying.

Second scare was upon entry to the bar/gathering room. I am no GQ guy and am unsure of dress code for anyone in Africa but when I return to bar area Francois has his “I did not bring those cloths on, or hell I don't own such cloths on” this is a little shocking as I have never had any PH dress in anything other than PH cloths. Francois is in salmon or peach or pink shorts, whatever that color is, T-Shirt and flip flops with his hair “gelled”.

As usual don't get down wind as he smells funny, not fowl but smothered in odor de whore juice. Girls and I joke about this smell when we follow him for the whole trip. My first for a PH smell and dress attire. Of course I must say something as does another local (not saying who in report) from camp.


Our nice smelling funny dressed PH.

Supper is a repeat of our last place, home cooked wild game meat with all you can eat starch and veggies. Always a dessert, we have become addicted to malva pudding and peppermint crisp desserts, our favorites for sure. After supper we sit around telling stories and getting to know each other, something we have not done much of so far on safari but was always the nightly plan on all others I have been on. For me its a great part of safari. Hannes is a great PH, engaging in detailed conversations, he explains the area, history of the camp along with some issues upcoming from SA Gov, along with some great past croc stories. These are always welcome knowledge points for Safari fireside, he also tells me the camp Genet is out of bounds and a small spotted, the one we still need. With no night hunting we sit a little later and then retire to bed. I must add that Jo does not like spiders and gets me to get rid of one in her rondo-val. Well after a few minutes of trying I can say I have never seen a faster spider, it ran under the bed never to be seen again. Don’t think she slept much that night, not knowing?

Next up. croc.

Very nice trophies so far— congrats, shake off the badger and move on. Something tells me u might get another chance

Did forget a pic from Stephs place. My civet beauty. Really looking forward to mounting him life size for memory room.

Back to croc camp.

A late breakfast while the crocs come out to bathe. We go over shot placement and I state a neck shot is best as I want head “intact” for a table euro mount if possible. Property has many ponds, small lakes and dams with crocs. We sneak up on lake and after 45 mins Hannes spots a croc beside a large bush and parallel to the shore and just on the bank. A plan is made and the stalk begins. Because he is so close to bank I am instructed to sneak the last few feet in, look up over bank, line up croc and shoot it. About 6 feet before crocs position and in some thick bushes something jumps up and runs into lake. I thought it was a monitor lizard? With heart in throat I slowly sneak forward, after covering the 6 ft I peak over bank. OMG not 8ft away is my big green dream lizard, I take a minute to breath, stand erect and bring gun to shoulder. Well all hell breaks loose, the dam beast leaps like I never knew they could and dives into the lake. I stand there bewildered or dumbfounded. The entourage joins me, all say that I was way to fast bringing the gun up and he saw me. I am also told that my “monitor” lizard was a small croc who actually ran over a part of my target one, therefore putting him on immediate alert. It was probably better for all as I would prefer some calming and set up time for a shot on a croc.

After a regroup we get back to vehicle and drive a short way to another pond/lake and look for another. Again after a few minutes we find one completely out of water 250 yds down lake on other side. Francois takes me down our side of lake for a closer look and stalk. Short while later we are directly across from target, croc is a yellow color, not the color I would expect so I pass on this animal and we head back to Hannes, J&J and truck. On this walk back he is unarmed and jumps telling me there is a lioness right there, not sure what he expected me to do but cant be as bad as many 2 legged animals I hunted so my response was I stepped forward and asked where with gun at arms. Not what he wanted or expected. We both had a laugh, I am sure its a normal trick.

yellow croc.JPG

Yellow croc I did not like as much as a "greener" one.

What's the plan now he asks? We head back to the first lake hoping “my” croc has now climbed back up on bank in a better spot. After arrival we slowly stalk around the lake, he is out on bank on far end of pond, but laying with tail in water and head up steeper bank. The stalk is on, Francois and I get low and behind cover and approach directly across from him. We make shoreline undetected and I am on the sticks. I need a few minutes to calm the nerves, relax and prepare to take the hardest most precise expensive shot. The lizard does not move and gives me the time I need, get on gun, breath, aim, squeeze and feel the recoil, crocs tail is wagging and I see where bullet hit spine behind head. Francois states hit it again, same drill and second 260 accubond hits mark but with this impact his tail wag gets stronger and slower, slowly before our eyes he some how turns and slides back into lake, now some weird hunched up movements allow him to slowly move forward, reload and place a shot into lungs as he is steeply quartering away. Then he slowly sinks in lake. My stomach tightens, what happened? Hannes and his tracker jumps into action, grab me and we run around lake to exact spot he sank. Out comes the rope with hook bigger than the 12/0 I use for hali. First throw equals nothing but a “bump”, second throw and he hooks my now dead croc and pulls to shore. Ooh what a relief, I now have my croc I waited for a long time. Set up for this one includes a washing, Hannes team has it done shortly and the picture parade completes. A team mysteriously appears and croc is loaded up, we head back to camp and skinning shed.


My greener croc that gave us a scare.

During our croc hunt Francois receives word from Steph that 2 HB are on his bait, what are the odds, its Wednesday and Steph has weekend plans so we can only hunt starting Monday night if we choose to come back for HB. We are booked into Hannes croc camp until Friday and cannot stay longer. We need an O-Group to make a plan. Things are going well and somewhat ahead of schedule so we will stay “somewhere” back towards Stephs place and hunt HB Monday night. As its still early afternoon Francois takes the time to go into town and organize the plan, and try to get his now bigger tooth issue looked at, we take the time to relax in camp and watch the animal parade at window platform.

Feed pile.JPG

Banana feed pile parade. Oh what fun for Canadians.

Early evening with Francois back we discuss adding Limpopo bush buck to the list, I have taken a chobe in Zim, could it have been the constant barrage we saw on Stephs place that started the desire, another sub species would be nice. Hannes states he has seen 2 shooters on his property but they are skittish, wary and hard to find. What a challenge, we mount up and Hannes drives to their territory/area, we hardly get to where Hannes states they are when on my right I see a bush buck stand up, I am not an inch hunter but I assess him as a shooter. Francois over there is the bush buck, bang slap and a flop. That was so fast, but I have learned that you take what Africa provides. Set up, photo op then its of to skinning shed for second time today.

Bushbuck, notice white dot in center of head, that's a 3rd horn.

After washing up the nightly meal starts with croc tail nuggets as appetizers, then Francois takes over the braai and we have done to perfection (rare for me) antelope steaks with all fixings, plus dessert. Shortly after dark while we are enjoying the nightly banana feast show we hear a noise on the dinning table behind us, a spin around and there sitting is the camps small spotted genet eating a kitkat bar. Sneaky bugger gives me a good look at what I am looking for. One can never tire of the nightly animal show but at some point sleep becomes a must so off to bed we go.

KitKat genet.JPG

Camps kitkat thief.

We have taken the primary species and added an extra bush buck at this camp yet we still have a full day. What to do? Hannes provides some options, he starts with some tourist things, Kruger and sights then adds that he has a boat, fishing gear and the lake very close has tiger fish in it. OMG after hunting fishing is my next obsession/passion so we plan for tomorrow to be on the lake as long as possible. Up “early” normal so far for this trip at 7 we have breakfast, get a cooler box lunch with drinks and load up in the truck with Francois driving. At the launch we wait for the boat, I have had 4 coffee and need to get rid of some, Francois where is the heads? Right behind the truck, so I proceed, mid stream Francois moves truck forward, ha ha funny guy as the lady on the front lawn 15ft away now has frontal view, but being a Navy guy and not shy again Francois does not get the reaction he wanted. Funny guy our PH is. Boat in water, all gear and us, well we beat the lake with every thing in the tackle box and on the boat, Jo nearly had her rod pulled from her hand and line left the real but no hooked fish to show. Late afternoon we head in, load boat and return to camp. What an awesome day, no fish but scenery, animals and something new always add to safaris.
Fishing day.JPG

Nothing like a day on the water in Africa.

As a final overall statement for the croc hunt it was not quite as I expected, I had asked about the specifics and understood we would be hunting crocs on a river, lake, dam or water course of some sort like I see on TV, videos or from friends who have hunted them. I was surprised that the crocs were in smallish ponds inside a game proof fence with no river or connecting water. This leads me to believe the crocs are released into these ponds/lakes to be taken by hunters. I have no confirmation of this theory but I did see a stack of croc skins in the skinning shed salt, this did answer a few questions, how do we know the size of croc for listed TF price? I cannot figure how one could purchase a 12’ 4” croc and release and still make profit on my TF? But I am willing to bet crocs were released on property. It was a fun hunt and this knowledge was unknown when I hunted, it was after that one puts things together for a hypothesis. Added questions and confirmations go on the safari spreadsheet for future trips. I assumed free range, my mistake. Anyone else encounter this?

Francois and I have decided that we will return to Stephs Mon for the HB on bait, this is the last permit area we will be in so another try is decided. We must leave croc camp tomorrow so Francois finds us a place to stay from Friday till Sun night. His dental issue has become bad so he has also organized a new PH to meet us at our booked B&B, then hunt with us until Francois returns.

More later.

3 Days as Tourist.

Next morning we have breakfast and get on the race track to our B&B in a small town on route called Mbombela. We check in early, stay 10 mins and Francois is dropping us off at the Sudwala caves, butterfly gardens and baby animal rescue place. Then he will drive to Joberg, fly home to dentist and meet us later in safari. Our relief PH will meet us sometime today, at caves or B&B later.

Glad people are enjoying. Here is some more.

I have visited over 50 countries so feel capable on my own anywhere, Francois does a slow role while we bail out and he’s gone. Its a hunt report so no long details on caves, I will say they are worth every bit of the $10 entry fee, if your claustrophobic do not do the section of wedging, crawling to the back caverns. As for butterfly gardens and rescue place we were looked at like fools. As hunt is in winter there are NO butterflies and NO babies. Tour manager asked why our PH did not know this?? We were wondering why it was all free, we quickly figured out why. A quick 3 KM hike down mnt to parking lot and wait, wait, one begins to wonder how will we get back then a car pulls up and asks “you the Canadians”. Pile in and a normal ride back to the B&B. There we meet our new young PH, Ian who works for Umlilo.

The B&B is a multi task facility, they do funerals, Ian and my rooms are next to the dining room that doubles as the open casket viewing area. They have a plethora of animals, even dead ones that die in the night?? They feed the baboons and monkeys, so keep watch, there are more rats running around than the fancy chickens, ducks, and ostrich. Lets not forget the place (outside and inside) is filled with very large and very small hidden angel statues and prayer posters. Accommodations are OK but the food. Lets say we drove to town to eat after we had supper there. Cooked at 3pm, placed in oven and served at 7pm. Can you say charcoal, the sudza was dust. We had a day at the big mall in town, and another at the Goodall rescue Chimpanzee Eden. Both were OK but not what I was in Africa for. We suffered thru while we waited for Stephs place to become available. Daily reports on badgers on bait cameras nightly from 8 pm to 2 am, kept us eager.

Camp #1 again I mean #3

Finally Mon AM came and we are on the road to Stephs. A few hrs later its like we are “home” again. Same place, same staff, same rooms, same animals in front of camp. Quick O-group and we will sit the HB bait tonight, a small blind so J&J will stay on truck with Ian until called in or shot fired. We are so glad to be eating again, food is even better now that we have suffered the funeral home stuff. We get organized with gear and head to HB bait blind. I must say I have never seen such a small blind, a big plastic water tank with Steph, Jerry and I jammed in. It was 8.15 when we entered blind, it took longer than expected for PH’s to organize their stuff at camp. Then the long awaited for sit starts, someone has a noisy jacket that sounds like thunder cornflakes when they move, I look and frown in the blackness. We sit till 2 AM without a single thing coming to the bait. On way out we pull camera card and find out batteries died yesterday, so we have no current info on badgers. WTH Back to camp for some sleep.

Next morning we have breakfast, Steph wants to “show” us some new area. Drive to a new farm and access some country that amazes me, hills, ravines, bush covered hills and steep cliffs. Its all free range and like National Geographic again, animals every where. Driving along a knife ridge the truck comes to a fast stop. On the next ridge are 2 kudu that are lifetime animals. Steph will not say 60” but both are monsters. A little further a warthog of dreams runs up the hill. Gun remains in rack as HB are my only species. Around noon we head back to camp.

Quick lunch and Jerry, tracker and I need to freshen bait, change camera and get prepared for tonight sit. We drag/carry too very big, very bloated dead many days sheep to the bait, right before leaving tracker opens them up. I bust a gut as both Gerry and tracker have worst case of dry heaves as we all run to truck. Then we check the predator cage traps on way back out, low and behold there is a massive porcupine in one, Gerry says “do you want to shoot or we bonk it”. Out comes 308 and I dispatch the skinners and trackers supper. Back to camp, quick rest, amazing supper and we are off. Gerry and I will sit tonight, Steph, Ian and J&J stay on truck. I do notice pillow, blankets and foamy in truck? They plan on sleeping? Yes, so soundly that they did not even hear the radio from Gerry saying come get us, it was a nice evening walk out.

We drive from camp not even 1km when Steph sees eyes in a tree close to rd, spotlight on and its a small spotted genet crouched. I only have 308 and accubond with me, plus Francois has stated that they are available at other place and he ALWAYS sees them. So we continue past. Tonight Gerry and I are in blind sitting quiet before 7.30, no noise, no rustling, at 1.30 am we are still sitting silent and not a single thing has come to bait. It has gotten very cold, Gerry calls it off. Sad time as I realize I missed my only Op at a HB, then the questioning starts, why were badgers feeding 6 days straight then stop our first sit? Did we spook being late? Did they move on? Now I have a #1 on my next safari species list. Just as a tease and add salt in my wound during tour after hunt we saw one at noon and at 60 yds while in Kruger Park.

Camp #4

Up very early with 3 hrs sleep we need to be 1000km away at the Kalahari and lion camp before dark tonight. With Francois having teeth done we get to see Africa with eyes open, Ian drives normal. We make camp just before dark, meet staff, get rooms and settle in rooms are almost a repeat of Stephs facility with 3 rooms in a row, huge en-suites, mounted animals galore all with a shared veranda. Camp is also in the breeding pen, so the wandering around animals are huge and off limits but a wow to see.

Lion Camp.JPG

Awesome Kalahari lion camp.

There is lots of noise in the boma area and when we arrive we are introduced to 4 repeat US hunters booked with Umlilo plus their PH’s. We are shocked when we find out that they will be hunting same property as us for same days and same PG species. One of my requests at the start was not to share a camp, Francois stated that that would be the case, on occasion there may be other groups leaving the day we arrive or groups arriving the day we depart. This is OK and expected, maybe our delayed HB hunt has changed things?

Supper is announced and we all proceed into the dining area for an awesome meal. Camp has a proper chef, he clearly takes pride in his job and it shows with every food item he prepares. Later we all gather in the boma for sun downers.

I am not anti alcohol, I very rarely drink and always in moderation as I hate how it makes me feel the next day. After 34 yrs in the Navy I think I have a good grasp on its “normal” outcome. That is the reason I do not expect to share a camp, a couple of the US hunters demonstrated this immediately. We all have our reason to safari and I begrudge nobody of their reason, some let their hair down away from spouses, some must have alcohol. I safari to see, feel, hear and immerse in wild Africa. If I want to hear and see drunks I can stay home and visit any bar, street corner or alley. For me safari nights spent around a fire with a beverage listening to Africa are the memories I desire. Conversing with your PH, gaining some of his knowledge/wisdom, of course story telling and becoming friends. For me this becomes impossible with too much alcohol and a group of people who have different expectations.

One issue came forth and started as a story from one PH concerning a hunter who was told on safari that lion skull and claws were not his, immediately I asked the question concerning my hunt tomorrow, PH states my hunt is same, skull and claws are not mine. I converse with Ian and am visibly pissed as this was never stated in contract, emails, phone calls, so one would assume I would get. A call to Francois and I am informed I would have to pay $1000 extra for these parts, he states its on contract. I have contract in SA in hand and its not listed. I am not agreeing to that so no lion will be shot by me. Francois states he will call back, shortly after he calls with issue cleared up, skull, skin with claws intact are mine, lion hunt is on. These sort of issues are totally avoidable and should be cleared, organized, and known long before any hunt starts. These surprises are not welcome on safari.

Its off to bed early, up for breakfast and the lion hunt commences. It takes some time to organize all 3 trucks, PH’s, gear and all 5 hunters but we are out looking for tracks.

We have a new lead PH from camp driving, Harvey, Ian on back with us and 2 trackers currently in back with us. We start driving rds where they know lion has been, there are plenty of tracks, most antelope but we do find lion. There are a few lion on the property so we must find the right track. After a couple hrs we have the “right” track, we start driving the rds slowly grid and box it in to a block. When we have the block with tracks in and non out the stalk begins for all 7 of us. We follow the tracks as quietly as possible with a squad, after a 4 km hike it crosses a rd. and goes into next block. So its back to truck and grid blocking starts all over. We drive the rds, I have a very good compass in my brain, don’t get lost and have the ability to just know where I am. So after awhile I recognize this junction, that water hole, tree and become aware that we are on the same maybe 10 km square. At one junction stop a tracker jumps of the truck and talks in African to Harvey. We then drive away, up a rd and turn left on another. After a km we stop and unload off truck and begin another stalk. In a short while we pick up lion tracks and start to follow. We track for about 2km then come to a big tree, Harvey jumps up and says look there, your lions in that tree. Pucker factor at 8+ we slowly maneuver 180 degrees around tree and approach to about 40 yds into a shooting position. Lion calmly lays on branch not worried and totally covered by thorn branches. Stix come out, rifle on ready and I am now breathing again, Harvey gets on my shoulder and instructs me on the small yellow “part” of the lion visible that he wants me to hit. Take my time, sight picture, breath, squeeze and boom, lion erupts off branch, screams a blood curdling pissed off roar then is hit again with a 260 accubond. Then in slow motion he drops from tree thru a blizzard of leaves and branches. When he hits the ground he stumbles, rolls and crawls to back of and around tree, I give him another accubond, then he moves to left side of trunk and falls over still. I do say this Canuck was totally excited. Before we move in Harvey hands me his 470 NE double, takes my 375 and we approach, his chest is slowly rising so I give him a last one with the 470. I have shot doubles but never at game, what an awesome finish. After we confirm he is gone I have a moment with him alone and then all rush in to see, feel and replay what just happened. Immediately I am impressed with the shear size of him and how great to me his mane and belly hair is. This is far beyond what I expected a category #1 lion to be. We move for pics, set up big mound of Kalahari sand for him to be posed regally on, clean up blood, and picture parade commences. Then its a noisy ride back to camp.

Lion with us..JPG


He has a large 7” deep gash on his left shoulder, not sure where it came from, PH states when he fell from tree, but after home here in Canada and a review of video it is clearly there before my first shot. I have no idea what caused or where its from but I can repair with some fine sewing.

Lion with whole team (1).JPG

As its mid afternoon day one we have a quick drink and snack then load back up for evening hunt. In Namibia I shot a few extra “little pretty's”- spring bucks so sisters could have rugs/throws, before we left Canada Jane stated she would like a “big pretty” gemsbuck shoulder mount, this is the place Francois stated they are plentiful so they are on the list.

As we drive along we get to an intersection, coming toward us is the US hunters, I laugh as they lounge on truck, beer in one hand and gun in other. Decked out in flip flops, shorts and t-shirts. There is some talking between trucks in Africans and then I see our PH Ian jump of our truck run to their truck, climb aboard and off they go. Now what's going on, no goodbye just poof, J&J and myself are on back with a tracker and Harvey is driving. We all agree that was dam weird. Ian states many times that the US hunters are his drinking buddies and he got “stuck” with us due to Francois dental issue. Anyone had a PH bail without even talking about it before he’s gone? A feeling of second class seeds itself.

Back looking and not many km later we find a nice male gemsbuck in a herd, all bail of truck and stalk commences, left, right, this way then that, after a long 8 km and a few hrs we are all ready for a wash, camp and supper. Today gemsbuck have eluded us. So we head back, looking in the skinning shed we see that the US hunters have open wallets and are pilling up available species. Skinner's are extremely busy, we do the lion measurements and get time to touch and see him again. Then supper is served, guess what a main choice option is? Lion Loin, grilled well and absolutely amazing, tender, tasty and grilled to perfection. I say again cats are delicious.

Will do some more later.

I'm enjoying the honesty of your report. Some nice animals, but seems that some parts of this safari are less than ideal. Thanks for sharing the bad with the good.
I'm enjoying the honesty of your report. Some nice animals, but seems that some parts of this safari are less than ideal. Thanks for sharing the bad with the good.
Thanks, I am glad you are enjoying.

I have read many hunt reports and most are all unicorns, fairies and how every thing was outstanding. I dream of a safari where every detail, event, and trip worked exactly as planned. Maybe those forget or choose not to include the not as advertised or fully true parts, I wanted my report to include the whole truth, good, bad and things that happened. I like reports that take those who read on the journey but also inform all on how we can make safariing better.

I have never had a safaris without a hiccup, most out of anyone's control, its the things that are under control that should never cause issues while on a hunt. More importantly outfitters need to be honest during the investigative part, don't promise what cannot be delivered even if it means loss of client $. My safaris are long and involved, and I am certainly in the minority of normal when it comes to safari. We want real Africa or as close to it as an outfitter can get.

Enjoying your report, thank you for giving great details of the good and the bad!!
Mark, thanks for telling it like it really is, which is not always like it should be.
Great report so far. Really enjoying it. We hunted with Havie and Francois for our lion back in 2016. Luckily, we were the only hunters in camp.

Looking forward to hear how the rest if the hunt goes!
Back to more story and report.

Another great rest followed by a breakfast and we are loaded up and off, Harvey driving and Ian on back with us. Wow he is back? This is our last full day in Kalahari, we have gemsbuck and sable to find. After a few hrs of seeing a constant barrage of non target species we round a corner and tracker spots a few gemsbuck in thicket slowly walking parallel to rd but staying in the thick thorns. Stop and we all bail off, squad takes up positions and we follow, this is a great stalking spot as the thorn thickets provide perfect approach cover, after 30 mins 100 yds ahead there is a shooting lane opening that they are slowly feeding thru. Stix are up, 308 readied and Harvey on my shoulder, female, young one, small male, female, OK next one is target male, he enters the opening broadside, stops and gives us a look and gets the accubond bang, smack on the shoulder. then he is gone. We approach spot slowly and not 20 yds we find him laying down and gone. We have an added moment as Jane also has time with him, she will see him in her living room as a life long memory. Then the drill starts, clean, pose and pics. Load in truck and back for lunch, camp is silent. We are shocked to see the US hunters gone? No details, goodbye, not even told they were leaving? Sort of puzzling.

Jane and gemsbuck.JPG

Jane with her long waited for "big pretty" gemsbuck.

After another great lunch we head out early in the afternoon, sable on the hunt list. We don’t drive very far when on the left is a heard of sable, a look over and they are assessed as to young and small, Jo states that there are some more to the far left almost behind us, we turn rear wards and sure enough one is the sable of my dreams, over 40”, jet black and perfectly shaped. Harvey casually states “he is over your TF pay schedule” then drives forward. Well pissed off me #2 happens, hear we go again. Stop the truck, what do you mean over my allowable size, he explains about the sliding TF scale, I am fully aware of this practice and specifically asked Umlilo and received confirmation in writing this practice will not be used on my hunt. I ask Harvey to call Francois and ask specifics, then let me speak with him. Harvey calls Francois and all is “sorted” out, no sliding scale but sable have departed. Not sure what is happening on this safari but I do know things like lion skull and sliding scale prices are NOT supposed to happen while on a hunt. They add unwanted stress and cause "distance" between PH and client.

We continue looking, going only a km before we see another sable, this one also over 40". Tracker, Harvey and I bail of truck and start stalk, we only tracked for maybe 400 meters when stix come out. There 150 meters ahead is my second dream sable in a hr. On stix, I see his vitals are covered with some thorn bushes but I think not enough to worry about, breath, and cross hairs on, bang, he runs off. We are unsure of a hit as we did not hear the slap. Over to the site he stood we see no blood, and no down sable. We track for about one km and still have no trace of a hit. How could I have missed at that range on a broadside animal?

Trying not to get rattled we load up and off we go again. A couple km later and there again are the target species mingling in thorns just of to the left. Ian and I slide of and allow Harvey to drive ahead slowly. The stalk is not long and soon we are sorting thru a sable herd to find a shooter, just about to give up two more appear further left, the largest has great shape, is jet black, and is all I am looking for. We sneak a little closer, stix are set, gun ready and bang, slap and off he runs. A very short tracking job and we have another beautiful animal. Harvey and J&J arrive, set up for pics and load in truck. Off to skinning shed and salt. Then its measurements and our last time with skinners at shed.

My sable.JPG

All ended well with a grand sable, perfect shape and jet black. I am sure he will look great as a pedestal mount.

With last day here and all species in salt perfectly we relax for the last night in the Kalahari. One last great supper and we will rd trip to next camp in morning. Just before super Francois emails another itinerary, seams we are not going to Douglas place, (the change he raved about before we left Canada) but a new name and place.

Up early and on rd to next camp. Long hrs on rd at normal speeds with Ian as driver, as we enter the big hill/small mnt section, I am from BC so all but me in vehicle call them mountains, we get a what's going on, its actually snowing and sticking to ground. Ian is most excited as he has not seen snow in many years. We stop for some Rocomamas burgers for lunch and make new camp before dark.


A dusting of snow in SA.

Camp #5

Camp is much the same as Stephs, typical old SA homestead but also makes the grade as a hunting camp. We meet the owner and PH Neil who then gives us a tour and shows us around, property had been his family for generations and is currently a massive sheep ranch. Accommodations were great, separate rooms with en-suites, big dinning room with a bar and sitting room, all decorated with many mounted trophy's. Meals were as I like, game and served at table. Fantastic. We settle in for sun-downers with Neil, Francois who has arrived and Ian. Wow 3 PH’s. Plan for tomorrow is early breakfast and then after the mnt reedbuck. Its early bed and needed sleep.

AM we head out, Francois driving and Ian on back with us. This terrain is nothing like we have seen so far, high steep hills/mnts with lush valleys and a couple big lakes, and game every where, property is fenced but huge. Fallow deer by the 100’s run all over, with some big shooters, they are not on my menu (this trip).
Neils property.JPG

Not typical when we think Africa, Niels place is huge, where is the fence, with big hills, valleys and packed with game. Stunning.

We drive to end of valley we see and make note of a good red lechwe all alone on way in, then start the grind up the hill in 4 low. We see lots of reed buck but they are too far away, too young or outsmart us. Around noon we head back to camp and there is that lechwe again, we got the drill, Ian and I do the slow role of truck and Francois drives away. A short duck and weave stalk and stix go down, one shot and lechwe is down, with a second to keep him down. Truck joins us and we do the routine, set up and pics. Back to skinning shed, then lunch.


Canadians with Lechwe, I had never seen one live prior to this safari.

Early afternoon Neil tells us where a shooter water buck has taken up residence. We drive to another valley and start glassing. After short time we see a nice male, stalk in close, stix down and bang, thump and run. Wait a few minutes and we walk over to find. On way there we spot a waterbuck up and looking?? Not sure if its him we get closer, then he runs like the wind, clearly we see its him but I have no shot, radio crackles and Francois states he ran clear around the mnt and is in the other valley and gone almost a km. They drive around and Ian and I follow around on track, then set up on a hill ambush waiting for him to come back or word they have found him. Radio states he is running back our way, he does not pass us in ambush spot and we loose him. Where is he? Back on truck we drive the km to where he was last seen, nothing so we turn back and head to original valley and his spot, on way we see him standing off in thorns. Off truck on stix and bang smack on a frontal shot, he turns and runs again. WTH We mount up and drive around so we can see hillside from better angle. Ian thinks he sees him laying down a ways up the hill, we make a stalk and climb up after him. Closing to about 50 meters he gets up, OMG bang smack and flop. Wait a few minutes and approach, he is still moving so I shoot him again. When we get up to him we can see he is still not gone, Ian hands me the 9 mm, I walk up, place behind shoulder and shoot him. Well that nearly cost me, his back leg actually kicked up and knocked my hat off. Ian was “surprised” to say the least. He figured I would shoot from a distance, not put barrel that close. I am not sure what went wrong, first 2 shots were frontal and did not get heart, he absorbed 4 accubond, 2 passed thru, seams like they are made tough. As he was on a hillside this took some dragging, and crawling the truck up closer. Off course, pic routine, back to camp for dinner.

One tough waterbuck.

More to come soon.

I really like Lechwe. Nice mass on the horns on yours. The mess with your sable pricing would get me a bit ..... well shall we say aggravated. Nice animals.
I really like Lechwe. Nice mass on the horns on yours. The mess with your sable pricing would get me a bit ..... well shall we say aggravated. Nice animals.
Yes I did get some awesome animals. The skull, and TF scale thing did upset me, but there is still one upcoming item that fully pissed me off, but in the end worked out perfect. Stay tuned.

Back to report.

After supper we gather in the bar for drinks, stories and conversation. A short time later I hear Jane say “is that a onezee”? I turn to look as does Neil, Jo and Francois, imagine my surprise when I see Ian with a one piece pajama batman suit, complete with hood and glow bat signal on the chest. Well its seams that Umlilo or SA has a dress code that I have never seen before. Off course Ian takes a serious ribbing on how he owns such an outfit. Even Neil gets in on the ribbing. Fun was had at Ian's expense.

Has anyone had his PH come to sun-downers in a Batman onezee?
Is it only me that thinks that is weird, and not only while on Safari?

Tomorrow is last day here and we still have a mnt reed buck on the list. Normal wake up for breakfast and on the trail, we head to a new area where Neil states the reedbuck may not be as spooky as they have not been hunted in awhile, we drive the main rd to another access and head up the mnts, the trail goes far up a valley then winds up into steeper ground. After a couple hrs with no reedbuck spotted its time for another change. We head out and back to camp. A quick info session with Neil and its decided to head up another drainage on Neil's place. Off we go to another trail to the back country, after driving to the end of the trail we do see some spooky little buggers than run at first sight or sound of the truck. Wow these little buggers seam difficult, Francois did warn me that they were difficult, especially with an entourage. We are slowly winding our way back when there they are, a good ram and some females, all standing a couple hundred meters up the hill. Ian and I do the rolling bail off and let the truck drive away. A short climb up the hill and the small little antelope is half screened with bush but I can see him. Ask Ian for a range, 160 meters but he looks 400 away and way above us. I am on stix, breath and squeeze, bang, Ian says over, bang again and Ian says over so I lower crosshairs on leg and bang smack and flop. He dropped at the shot, we wait, Francois brings truck back and Ian and I start the climb, when we get to where we think he went down we hear a noise and he gets up and bails out the other side of the bush, providing no shot opportunity. Dam. We are stunned, I am already worried after the poor waterbuck episode. Ian and I head down the hill to Francois and J&J, a plan is made, Ian and I will slowly walk along the trail, Francois will take the truck and drive to other mnt for a better look at the face of our mnt. After 45 mins and not seeing him Francois returns. J&J seen the buck cross the whole mnt valley and climb up to the tip top of the next mnt, he was following 6 females. How can he drop and then run 1.5 km? We all get on truck and drive around the mnt to where they saw him. Out bino’s and spotter, Ian can see his head up at about 800 meters and some females bedded in a thick patch just below the rim.

Francois makes a plan, we have no idea what is over that mnt, no idea about rds or how to get up there so he posts Ian on rd as a look out and to make sure he watches if reedbuck goes over the top. Francois, J&J and I head back to camp for a late lunch. We enjoy a sit down served lunch while poor Ian roasts on the rd watching my screwed up shot reedbuck. Not a good feeling. We explain the situation to Neil and he decides it best if he comes to the scene. Loaded up with fluids for Ian we head back to last sitting spot. Ian states all females got up and headed over rim but he remains laying down in same spot although his head comes up quite often.

Neil knows this land like the back of his hand, states that the mnt is real bad on the back down side and under no circumstance do we want to push him over and into that. We need to climb up the backside of a ridge out of sight, then creep along on back side of top, poke over at proper spot and shoot him, all while having the wind perfect So who’s climbing? Silence? Good thing as Neil wants it as fast and quiet as possible. Looks like its Neil and I, we walk up rd a km getting wind right and start up back of ridge. I have taken sheep and goats in BC and will say its no mnt as those, but it is a very big hill and something I never really new existed in SA, this fat guy was a huffing and puffing but Neil took the time to stop so my breathing returned to normal. He could sprint it despite his 10 years on my. A short 1 hr later we crest the hill, sneak over to backside and start our approach back to where we think reedbuck is. We proceed for some time and take another breather for me, Neil states that our quarry should be right below us. I stay put he takes a peak then comes back, reedbuck is 40 yds below us in some thick thorns but has his head up looking down at truck. Problem is with the shot the truck will be to close in ark of fire. Quick call on radio waking Francois up, (needs an afternoon nap daily) he then drives to left a couple hundred meters. Now we both sneak over edge ensuring that a thorn bush hides our silhouette, I get a good rest on a rock, see poor guy in scope and wait, after what seams like a long time he is not getting up. Neil wants to whistle to make him stand up, a whistle from Neil and reedbuck stands up. Immediately bang, smack and he runs but we see blood squirting out both sides as he goes out of site. Neil wants to take the opportunity to let his dog do a track so releases it to work. Within seconds its barking and we arrive to find my reedbuck. My first shot was low, bullet passed thru on side leg smashing leg bone, then passed thru brisket to low for heart then thru off leg muscle and out. How did he get over 1 km around mnt keeping up to his harem? Tough little things. I figured we would carry him down but Neil had his tracker bring up a stretcher, this was a stress relief and re-hydration time for me. Tracker was there fast and he and Neil carried reedbuck down mnt while I fumbled behind, still they were at truck 10 mins and waiting for me. A round of congrats then photos ensued.

Reedbuck Hill.JPG

Hill the wounded reedbuck climbed, then Neil and I went up.

Mnt reedbuck.JPG

Mnt Reedbuck.

This was most definitely a team effort. Without Ian sitting abandoned on rd on post and Neil's intimate knowledge of his land we most likely have spooked reedbuck over top and not recovered him.

With final species at Neil's in salt and still time we decide to leave and head to next camp early, Francois (Mario) will dive home and meet us at next camp later. Saying goodbye to Neil and his team, he was an excellent PH, much like others I have hunted with before.

More next.


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hunt 65 wrote on neckdeep's profile.
Hey neckdeep.
looking for a new stock for my Husk 8x 57, any ideas on exiting or custom stocks to purchase? Thanks for your feedback if available. Neil
hunt 65 wrote on flyfishdoc's profile.
Hey Flyfish-
Have interest in the Chapuis. Would like to see more assembled pics if possible, i know its a beautiful firearm!
Also, could you use other ammo such as Barnes etc...
Thanks, Neil
hunt 65 wrote on DonPablo's profile.
Also, more pics of female #2(black ticked). Thanks, Neil
hunt 65 wrote on DonPablo's profile.
Could you send me some more pics of the Dam(weight?) and Sire, front rear and side pics., looking for a smaller female, with ticking. thanks Don
hunt 65 wrote on 500jeffery's profile.
Please let me know the status of the Sako 500J, thanks again