SOUTH AFRICA: 2nd Time With Lategan Safaris, 1st Time With Dad

FB1416

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This is a belated report from our trip last June (2023) with Bennie, Carien, and Eben Lategan. My friend Darrell once again accompanied me as well as my father (80 years old). It was my dream since we went in 2021 to take my dad to Africa. This time we would be flying in to Cape Town for three nights of sightseeing before on to Bloemfontein and the Bushman River Lodge. Cape Town and especially the Cape of Good Hope was beautiful, and we had a great time other than the fact Darrell and I both got food poisoning on our last day there, which kind of dampened the festivities. I am attaching photos in case anyone is interested in visiting.
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NOW TO THE GOOD STUFF!
Carien picked us up at airport and we were off on the 2 1/2 drive to the ranch. After welcome drinks and snacks, it was off to sight in rifles. I did not bring my own this time due to some contractual dispute that temporarily banned bringing firearms into Bloemfontein Airport. Bennie told his son Eben who was to be mine and Dad's PH to let me shoot the 300. Turned out to be a 300 H & H that was made in the 40's and shot wonderfully even though it did have quite a bit of drop at further distances. That night's dinner of Wildebeest hind leg and desert of Malva pudding set the stage for a great week. Darrell and I usually return to the fire for a couple of night caps and a cigar, but since just 24 hours earlier we were puking our guts out decided to turn in early the first night.

DAY #1:
After a light breakfast we were off to a different ranch in search of Lechwe and possibly Waterbuck. Darrell stayed at the home ranch to look for Wildebeest with his PH Keagan. He and I hunted separately this hunt and while I understood why, I did miss getting to see him take his trophies. We arrived at the ranch to the site of a nice Nyala bull chasing a doe around a pond at the front. Eben said we would be hunting the back valley and mountain. As we arrived there was a gorgeous small chalet sitting on a granite slab that overlooked both the valley and mountain. The following pictures were taken from the chalet as no one was staying there and we used it to have lunch that day.
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We started a drive down the valley and it wasn't long before we spotted a herd of lechwe. We drove past and around, dropped our tracker T'bong off and then parked to circle back and attempt a stalk. Something went amiss and the lechwe spooked. As we contemplated our next move, we looked up and right below the top spotted two nice and one monster waterbuck. Eben was visibly excited and around the backside of the hill and up we went. IT WAS THICK, AND STEEP! Luckily, T'bong took my coat and what ensued was about a three hour game of cat and mouse. At one point on top I was prone and wrapped around a small bush as the waterbuck worked their way up the opposite valley. Eben thought it a little far on the shot so we decided to go partially back down and circle them. At one point we saw the original herd of lechwe grazing, but Eben was intent on continuing after the big waterbuck. Soon however, a lechwe bull grazed out in front of us at about 40 yards and cut off our pursuit. Eben thought the waterbuck were about to bed down so we broke off our pursuit and refocused on the lechwe. Eben had earlier asked if I preferred to shoot standing or sitting. I stated I could do both, but given the choice, I preferred to sit. A perfect stalk in (Eben was very good at this) and I was nestled in under a small tree as a nice, dark horned bull harassed a doe. He finally cleared and one shot later I had my trophy lechwe. We decided to break for a late lunch and then take back up the pursuit of the big waterbuck.
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As we ate delicious meat pies with an unparalleled view, I asked Eben what happened to an easy break in day, he just shrugged and said "I knew you could make it". Thanks, that made one of us. After lunch it was back up the mountain and we dropped in perfectly on the waterbuck. We got settled in and could see the two other bulls, but not big boy. Finally we spotted him as he stood up and walked out from behind a bush. My first shot felt good, but the bull did not fall. Eben said again and I snapped off a too quick second to which Eben exclaimed "Miss", W**? As the bull turned and quartered to us I made myself pause and squeeze and down he went. Eben said he would have been borderline record book if we measured him (did not care in the least). We then went to pick up T'bong who was working on my lechwe and he and Eben skinned and quartered and retrieved the bull in an incredible 45 minutes as we stayed at the truck and listened to the baboons as the sun set on the best day of hunting in my life!
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DAY #2/3:

Spent the entire day trying to get Dad a blue Wildebeest. He missed once and was not having a good day moving around. That night over drinks I worried about him as he lives alone. The next morning we adopted a drive by tactic where we would pile out behind some brush and Mbuela would continue driving. We finally got Dad on the sticks at about 140 yards and he made a perfect heart shot. Afterwards he definitely had regained a pep in his step. Amazing what adrenaline can do. That afternoon Eben, and my lady Kelli, talked me into what turned out to a very difficult stalk on an old zebra stallion. Darrell had struck out on the third day searching for Kudu after scoring on Wildebeest and Blesbok the first two days.
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DAY #4:
We were off again to a different ranch in search of black springbok and white blesbok. The ranch was open and rolling which very much reminded me of parts of west Texas, but held a lot of game. We snuck over a small hill and spotted a nice springbok ram grazing about 180 yards out. My shot was just a little low, but completely breaking the front leg. He finally stopped a good ways out when Eben said aim about 8 inches over his back. How far was he? I did as I was told and was mildly surprised when the sprinbok dropped at my second shot. Eben quipped "sniper" to which we all had a good laugh. We later ranged it at 293. Next we took after white blesbok. We spotted two old bedded rams. We crawled into some rocks and zi got set up prone at about 220 yards.we then played a waiting game until the blesbok stood up. He was quartering to me and I should have waited for him to turn broadside. My shot hit just a little far back. The blesbok was obviously feeling the effects of the 200 grain bullet as we walked about a 100 yards and bedded back down. A quick sprint and follow up shot and I had my second trophy in about two hours. We then set about getting my dad a springbok. We sat him up against an old concrete dam and waited. Sure enough after about an hour a group so springbok came over the rise and an old ram made the mistake of crossing only about 60 yards from us. Day finished at around one. We ate our sandwiches and headed back to lodge and enjoyed sunset with drinks on an outlook Bennie has with an incredible. Day turned even better when Darrell returned and he had scored on both a fallow deer and a really nice kudu.
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DAY #5
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DAY #5:
WORST day of safari. Spent the morning futily still hunting River for Nyala. Then went up mountain to glass at lunch and I slipped on some loose rocks and severely wrenched my knee which immediately swelled up. We glassed the res of day and saw one young nyala bull. Darrell also got shut out! From 5 animals the previous day to none. That is why it is hunting!

DAY #6:
Off to a new ranch still in search of nyala. I had serious reservations about how much I could walk, but Kelli had a knee sleeve and some arthritis gel (she has had three knee surgeries) so off we went. The trackers spotted a nyala with a group of kudu (weird) and we were off upand around another mountain. Knee shockingly held up well. One of the ranches trackers accompanied us. We dropped in again perfect and as I settled in one leg of the shooting sticks slipped off a rock. Eben said "take your time they have no idea we are here". About two seconds later the entire group took flight. The guest tracker had come up late and silhouetted himself on the skyline. We gave chase for the rest of morning without success. As Eben and I made our way back to truck we stopped to glass the front of ranch just under the ranch house. As we did I calmly exclaimed "Nyala bull" Eben sounded skeptical until I pointed the bull out in thick brush not far from the house but on a finger that led down to a thickly brushed dry gully than ran the length of the front pasture. We tried to enter the brush and stalk, but Eben said it was too thick and we backed out. As we were discussing our options, I happened to look up and saw the nyala sneaking out the far end of the thicket. I did not think he would stop, but he paused just before he was out of site. I snapped a shot off and heard Eben say "hit". The bull then ran down the ridge and stopped facing away from us. I decided to take a chance and concentrated with all my resolve and put a shot right into his a**! He lurched down and did a couple of circles and I thought he was going down, but instead ran the length of the ridge towards the dry Gulley. I sent a hail Mary shot after him to no avail. This was my 13th african animal and the first one we really had to track. We found good blood, and set up an ambush as the trackers went to drive him. The bull was too sick as he got up but went straight back down. We circled around and he was no more than 10 yards away but in super thick brush, Eben said "Take him" to which I replied "I can't see him" as we were too close. Eben said to shoot again and as I did I saw the bull turn his backwards and sure enough, the bullet hit him in the jaw. He did roll down though and I was finally able to finish him. Not my best display of marksmanship,but Eben did say without the second shot we would have had a lengthy track. Anyway, I had my nayala which was #1 on my list.

LAST DAY:
My list was done so the last morning we wnet out for steenbuck. Eben was on top of things and brought a 22-250 instead of the 300. A good buck popped up and actually made a difficult frontal shot at a very small target to end my hunt. That evening we did a final game drive, and Eben set us up on a beautiful plateau for drinks and snacks as the sun set on our safari. To make thing better, my friend Darrell FINALLY scored on a brute, body size wise, of a wart hog in the last hournof daylight. He has hunted five days over two different safaris to get one. Being from East Texas (pig hunter) it was important to him.

I can't say enough about the operation Bennie runs. It is family oriented and they go out of their way to make sure every detail is taken care of and you enjoy as they say "Your Vacation". I am attaching some final photos. Can't wait to go back!
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Nice write up. Some good animals. I'm sure you have some great memories. Congrats
Bruce
 
Congrats on some nice trophies, love that big waterbuck
 
Great report, awesome photos. Looked like a great trip!
 
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Great trophy Photo.

Congratulations on your hunt.
 
Loving the kudu !!
 
Wonderful safari, and priceless memories with your dad there. The Waterbuck is a stud, congrats. Beautiful Kudu as well.

BTW, did you figure out what got you guys sick?
 
Great story and hunt
Great memories with your father and friends etc
 
Nice report, congratulations. Thanks for sharing.
 
Congrats and thanks for sharing!
 
Thank you for the write-up! These hunting reports do a good job of holding me over until I can go back, haha. Congratulations on all of your trophies!
 
Great report and amazing photos. I'm so glad your father had the chance to enjoy the safari with you. What wonderful memories! Thanks so much for sharing!
 
Congrats for a great hunt you enjoyed with your family and friend :D Cheers:

I also see some very good trophies
 
great report and hunt. congrats! thanks for sharing.
 
We think so. We ate at a place called Gold in Cape Town. It was traditional African cuisine. One of the appetizers was a smoked mussel dip and pretty sure Darrell and I were the only ones who ate it.
 
Great report, wish I could write as well. How many days were you in Capetown, was it enough? Bennie runs a quality lodge, glad you guys were successful.
 
We were in Cape Town for three nights and no, probably not enough. Would have been better if we had not lost the last evening and night due to food poisoning as I mentioned earlier. Also, I think in the future, we will do sightseeing after the safari as opposed to the beginning. Thanks for the kind words.
 

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