SOUTH AFRICA: 50 With GAME 4 AFRICA SAFARIS In 2022

Firebird

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Firebird

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When I booked this trip I knew I wanted to spend at least one day at a game park with my camera and also for my non hunting wife. Wk watched prices during covid who chi became extremely affordable. He contacted me with an offer from Pumba, where I had been once before and I accepted it immediately. Wik set the whole thing up for us before we arrived. We were able to do an afternoon game drive with them, spend the night and the. Do a morning game drive with them. The chalet we stayed in there was, according to my wife “the nicest place we have ever stayed in.” We are not experienced travelers but not rednecks either. We both preferred the food at game4africa. Me
Y biggest problem with pumba was that they spent most our time showing us the cheetah in a cage-a new addition and part of the breeding hopefuls for the future. They also love their white lions. I think white lions are dumb and was not happy to follow them around on the road. We did see rhinos and watched two you bull giraffe fighting. There are impala everywhere and all the other plains species. They are not spooked by the cars and provide lots of easy photographs. The ones I’ll post here are from my phone. We encountered one young single tusk bull ele that came to the car then around it to my side and cery
Literally tried to touch my face with its trunk. That’s close enough to make a believer out of a guy. We had other good animals encounters and met some friendly other folks. I got some hard to achieve photos and checked off numerous bird sightings. My wife loves giraffes and zebras and we had them in spades. It was a nice trip that ended with her having a king morning in the spa which she will recommend to everyone. The room was really over the top-money well spent.
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Firebird

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When we arrived back at the home property, I had a an afternoon with no plans it Wik had some ideas for me. My wife and I set up chairs on top of a cliff overlooking a huge chunk of the property. Wik has a bait down there that was refreshed with oranges and Lucerne. We saw lots of animals come in, including my favorites, the eland. And who knew that kudu loves oranges so much. Porcupine also love them and when Wik picked us up and we told him we had seen them, he drove us down to the bait and we picked up porky quills. Got to make arrangements to get them home. . . A herd of ten giraffe with an old bull might have been my favorite but they just passed through, not feeding just moving along at the speed of grace. This was so much fun I asked if I could do it again. Wik anticipated this and baited up a bow blind for me and my camera to Sri in the next day. The next day was very warm with no wind. My wife opted to stay by the pool at the lodge-I had some animals and birds come hang out but not the bull kudu I hoped for and while there was eland sign everywhere, they had come in early that day and I missed them.
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Hunt anything

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I think your wife and my wife would get along very well, we could be stalking the next world record of anything and if a giraffe or zebra was spotted the stalk would be off and the cameras would come out for as long as they stood around!
 

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Great hunting report!!! The amount of great kudu they harvest is unreal!!! I hope to get mine in 51 short days!!! Hope there are some beauties like that left!!
 

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We saw a bull yesterday that would be my bulls brother. Good width, deep curls, lots of mass. One of his tips grew backward and the other forward. He was a lovey bull and there are lots of them.
we started our day a bit late. Wik suggested we take a public road through a private game park-a bit longer but maybe some more animals to view. This proved a great success as we saw rhino, ele and Buffalo. Other game two of course and as we sat at the gate to leave I got a miracle photo of a bat eared fox. the Buffalo were on the reserve and gave us time to evaluate heads, talk shot placement and age and inches-and of course which we each preferred if we had been hunting.
Later in t shirt weather with only a trace of breeze we saw a bushbuck ram that stood still just long enough for me to get a photo of his back half before he dived into the deep scrub and shadow. I always need just two more seconds for a good picture. . .
The buhbuck ram and kudu were on the mtn property but you would have been busy getting a scope on the ram! I think we both knew the black wildebeest I sought would not be a hard hunt so we wound around the rutted and rock jumbled trails of mountain top in the land cruiser. We saw a half dozen bushbuck ewes and lots of kudu cows. Wik offered me a cow kudu that was showing hers years but as we got the shot set up she bolted. -just two more seconds. . .
Found an old jackal or caracal trap in the bottom and checked on the solar powered water pumps. Wik showed me the tracks of various animals-lots of animals. When we got to the top of the hill Wik kicked some dust and started glassing the ridge tops. Saw wildebeest in more than one spot. I knew we should go into the wind after a single animal-so far away I could tell it was out quarry but not bull or cow. The others were in a mixed group of beests including a golden one. During our stalk we bumped a single golden and a herd of impala. We managed to sneak around the sow warthog and he half growns-aware of us but lazy in the sun.
my wife joined us for this stalk and her pace is slower giving me time to photo flowers and birds along the way with my phone. The big camera stays on the seat of the truck.
At two hundred yards we called it a bull and Wik called it a big bull, with lots of years in the rear view. He showed me how the tips come up high above the boss and I liked the symmetry, spread and mass in his headgear. The next 100 were east walking with scattered trees for cover and the breeze only occasionally letting its presence be felt-right in our faces. The bull had turned and his wiry white tail was directly at us. Wik set up the sticks, told me to wait a second and for sure until the bull turned. Wik was taking pics and my wife was taking pix and the bull suddenly spun, his sixth sense had told him something foul was behind him. It’s interesting that many African species when they sense things gone wrong will turn to face them. He started te side step and I put the crosshairs on the point of his should. The bullet exited just behind the off shoulder after breaking the front one and blowing his heart very literally into a top part and a bottom part. He ran maybe thirty yards, spun two tight circles and collapsed. Wik was happy, I was happy and my wife even seemed to enjoy the stalking part.
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The German hunter got his bushbuck after a couole days effort. He also took a good nyala bull on the home property. Then today he found a stud mtn reedbuck-he told me this was his favorite stalk of his trip. This in my opinion is an underrated trophy. I think I would try a reedbuck slam next trip and include a Vaalie and klipspringer in the mix. I think I forgot to mention the duiker I took while looking for wildebeest.
 

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The first time I came to Africa, the first animal I should have taken but did not was a duiker. I’ve written about it here somewhere. Yesterday while low crawling up a jumbled mountain road heading to the top to look for wildebeest, Wik spotted a duiker. At least part of one. A male had stepped out, seen or heard us and frozen in place. We could see the front half of him only, slightly angled, betrayed by the warm sun on his back. We got out slow, cat footed to the tracker handing me down my .375 and then joining Wik in front of the cruiser. The little guy held those precious two seconds too long and I sent the projectile spinning for a half a small target at 120 yards.
I thought I had made a bad hit-too high or maybe even a clean miss-over his back would be my guess. We heard no report of the bullet and the duiker had for sure races into the murk. Wik said he thought it was a hit, the tracker agreed and we brought Leica off the rack, still in a leash but now more in her element. Took her to the vicinity and it was immediately clear from the blood spoor that this duiker was dead. But little Leica trailed him excitedly and at full jack russell speed. The little buck duiker hit through his heart and the bullet had hit bone on the exit. He would fo farther than the wildebeest would but I have no idea how he did it.
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Before we made our 11am appt with Pumba, I insisted we spend a minute in the butchery the Coetzee family own and operate. I had seen it before and warned my wife that there were things for sale her she had never seen before. I was right and she is still telling our kids how fortunate they are, we are, to not have to eat organs and chicken feet to survive. That said she also asked if we could eat something weird just so she could say she has tried it-tripe?
At the polar opposite end of the counter was the kudu and eland and beef. It’s a short tour, but very interesting just to see how another continent operates.
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One of the nights Wik offered to take us all on a night drive. The girls opted to stay home but myself, Sebastian (the German) and ph Don got up top of the rack in back of the truck. This was fun, flashing the spotlight around and meandering the property in the dark. There is not much moon but scores of animals were still out feeding. Had not seen springhares before and while I have gathered up a pile of porcupine quills, I had not actually seen a live one until tonight. The highlight were the Buffalo. Not because Buffalo are just plain cool or because there were big bulls, but because there was an entire herd. Cows, calves in various ages and at least five monster bulls. The thing is-you never see them while you are out carefully hunting and it’s easy to believe there is only a bull here or there brought in for hunters. In this thinking I was dead wrong-there are big numbers here, but you don’t see them often and take for granted just how cunning a big buffalo or hers could be. I was afraid to flash them with my camera but Wik took some good ones with his phone-maybe posted on his Instagram or Facebook. When he says farming for wildlife, they are doing exactly that-harvest the old or ost prime, let the rest mature and make more. Having a ph in back we discussed width and boss and mass and age but what I wanted to know was “which is your favorite.” We all were fairly in agreement on one muddy, nose held high black pig eyed denizen of the dark. But there was a much wider bull that was impossible to ignore. Guess what I want to do “next time.”
 

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@Firebird, great report and pictures. Enjoyed reading this very much. Wife and I are 15 days out from first safari. Seeing the great animals you shot only adds to our excitement. Thanks again for the brass a while back too. Safe travels.
 

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While in Grahamstown we toured the potholes streets, being aimlessly wandered by donkeys and random cattle-and I mean that literally, right in the heart of the town. Did a drive by of Wiks schools. There were kids up to teenage playing rugby and soccer with no shoes or socks. Since I am a firefighter and paramedic I wanted to see the fire starion. I guess you could call it that-very very old building, a lonely run down fire engine and a couple of what we would call a “brush truck-“ clearly meant for grass and brush not structures. And while most of the trucks are unstoppable Toyotas, the fire truck is a fire ranger. . . Certainly not the same career path there that it is in the states. Probably a bigger deal in a bigger city but it was an eye opener to me for sure. I have a lot to be grateful for.
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August 2, 2022-today I turned 50 years old on South African soil. This was the inevitable final goal for this trip. I literally planned the hunt to end on my birthday. I was able to “collect” all the animals I had hoped for, and a couple bonuses as we went. We saw lots of game and some birds and flowers and little things I hoped to photograph while I was here. My expectations were exceeded and some fun surprises along the way.
started today with eggs and bacon and springbok sausage. Visited the taxidermist who would handle our dip and pack-completed paperwork with Wik. Touched base with my importer so they would expect a warthog in my shipment.
I had requested lasagne which we started the trip with and ended with for lunch.
Then I asked Wik to leave me in a bow blind which he has baited with oranges and Lucerne/alfalfa. Just me and my camera. Had a herd of eland come in-monster bull with a thick ruff and massive horns and a knees that clicked loud enough my deaf ears got to hear them-we were that close to each other. A younger bull in there-the up and comer. Monkeys, guinee hens, and a single boar warthog came. He would suck up a whole orange then squish out all the pulp and swallow it, then spit out the rind. Just at 5:23 the first kudu showed up. Group of two bulls and a cow. Then five bulls then a herd of 8 cows and calves. Then at six Don drive in with the truck to get me. He and the German had taken a great springbok, almost toothless from too many birthdays.
Dinner was springbok kabobs, backstrap and some sort of tripe, which has fascinated my wife all week-watching how carefully the trackers care for the stomachs of the beasts we kill. Tripe was chewy but very edible, the rest outstanding once again. Then as a surprise Wik and Brittany had gotten me a “face” cake-complete with eland and happy hunter. I was and am still overwhelmed. Such a nice day, but I miss my kids and my own yard (despite lacking wild animals) and I am ready to start the long flight home.
 

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John, that was a wonderful write up. I really enjoyed reminiscing about the places my wife my hunting buddy joe and I walked together back in 2018. I felt as if we were along with you on your hunt. One day I’m going to make it back to G4A and have it out with one of those massive buff, and an eland. Safe travels
 

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Going Home-PH Don took us home. Made a couple stops on the way to pick up things we had left undone. It was a good drive talking about animals we saw on the way and things to do “next time.” Kind of melancholy since all the fun has ended. Sebastian headed on a long journey back to Germany. He took some very good trophies-I was especially envious of his mtn reedbuck.
Port Elizabeth was smooth and easy. I was the only one checking in guns and the lady looked at my form, both signed the ledger book and in her words “now your babies are my babies.”
Flight on airlink was pleasant and short in comparison to what lay ahead. Got off the at Joburg and gathered our bags. Mine were first off this time. Walked through the glass doors and no Bruce. Asked a worker if he had seen Bruce and another old man jumped in and asked if I was Mr. John. I said I was and he said in broken English to follow him to the restaurant. This seemed wrong to me and I told him I would wait for Bruce. He then Called Bruce on his own cell phone and Bruce said he was stuck with someone else for a minute and please follow the nice old man to a restaurant-he would meet us there at 440. Fair enough. He had tried to call but I was on a plane-bla bla bla. Not very good food at the airport and the pigeon begging for crumbs was amusing. Vey slow service TIA. Bruce arrived early and whisked us through the gates and the rifle check in and on to the Checkpoint where he could no longer go. Bruce was worth his weight in gold, he is the strongest reason I would use gracy travel again. We spent lots of time and money at the tourist traps on the way to our gate. I love the tourist traps and we found some good ideas for our kids and close friends at home.
My wife has a new fascination with cricket and bought a cricket ball for herself to add to her baseball collection. I found a new Wilbur Smith book and a game and jag magazine which I bought in africa and that makes them way more cool. I can’t read most of the magazine (Afrikaans?) but it’s still a cool souvenir. Also some other carvings etc for the game room.
Premium seating on the way home. I will never fly economy again and would balk at comfort plus unless it was the only option! My wife had a movie screen but the headset Jack would not work, completely broken. They goofed with it awhile then surrendered. They offered her another seat with a working system which was a dumb idea. Then they offered her some sky miles which we aren’t set up for. Finally they told us they would reimburse us $150 for the problem. They got our e mail etc and we were good. This was silly since my wife slept or I gave her my seat and I took hers and read books. So it was a problem but easy to work around. The bane on all our flights were the other weirdos and inconsiderate people. Finished reading “where the crawdads sing” on this flight so I can see the movie when I get home with my daughters.
For all the horror stories I’ve heard about Atlanta, it was smooth. Through customs with no problems, stand there for a photo then move on. Get your checked on bag off the carousel and by then the rifles and bows showed up. Have 4447, passport and the key to your case ready and you will be in and out in as long as it takes to look at serial numbers. I had two rifles and was less than five minutes. They did ask to dip all the hunters boots. My wife laughed at this-they didn’t ask for her boots and she went everywhere I went. I didn’t care, dip em while you check my serial numbers, they bag em and on with my day. Tsa was VERY thorough re checking guns. I guess if you are importing a pet monkey, they will find it here! Our regular bags were checked through to slc, so while we had to collected them, a nice man takes them at the next counter and just reloads them, no re weighing them or computer paper, just put it here or there depending on where you were going next. The tsa people have you unlock but not open your case. Then You step out of the way while they check the entire case. There were three teams checking weapons and they double
Checked each other’s work. Then You lock it up again and they load them to the plane for you. Comfort plus to slc was fine. Airplane food was never good. They had to reset all the film screens at one point but that is a small, short inconvenience. The sunrise flying into Atlanta was indescribably beautiful. Salt Lake City is just hot and crowded but no problem to manage -at least for delta customers. It’s good to be back home.
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Firebird

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Here are some pictures from Pumba park-the last three are two young bull giraffes in a long, slow, graceful fight for supremecy and domination
 

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