SOUTH AFRICA: A Fab Time With Easi Africa Safaris In The Eastern Cape South Africa

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Easi Africa Safaris, a Fab time in the Eastern Cape South Africa, Lady hunters more than welcome!

Easi Africa Safaris, a Fab time in the Eastern Cape South Africa

Lady Hunters more than welcome

I wanted to put together a review of my husband and my last trip to SA, we were very lucky to go in 2014, which was literally a last minute 5 day cull hunt, then straight back to the UK. We enjoyed the trip and experience and decided if we were ever lucky to go back to SA we would like to spend a little more time and perhaps try a different outfitter. Well in July 2015, we had another chance and this time we went with a smaller Outfitter called Easi Africa Safaris, near Port Elizabeth and wow, did they provide a big service and fab time,. So a quick bullet point overview first then a little more detail!

Summary:


Country: South Africa, Eastern Cape, Near Fort Beaufort, Kat River Conservancy.
Outfitter: www.easiafricasafaris.com, Proprietors Werner Starbuck & Abrie Pretorius

PH: Abrie Pretorius.
Dates: Last week in July 2015.
Type of Hunt: Walk and stalk, Plains Game - Cull Management.
Rifle, Blaser R8 in 308 win using GECO 170g TM’s. Also Ruger 375 used.
Locations Hunted: Free range and farm combination approx. 100,000 acres.
Species Hunted and Harvested: Blesbuck, Impala, Mountain Reedbuck, Kudu, Springbok and Warthog, however we had two additional surprises - Kudu Bull and Zebra.
Trophy Quality: I am a novice, but the Kudu bulls we saw were spectacular as was the Nyala you would be proud if you could have harvested it!
Species Seen, Population and Quality of Game Observed: Aardwolf, Blesbuck, Bushbuck, Eland, Gemsbuck, Impala, Mountain Reedbuck, Nyala, Porcupine, Sable, Tortoise, Waterbuck, Warthog, Wildebeest, Vervet Monkey, Zebra. We saw more varied game this trip than last and what we ate was very tasty!
Lodging: Thatched chalet type, bedroom with ensuite, was very comfortable, very clean and maintained to high standard.
Food: Great standard, cooked lunches and evening meals, using the game we harvested, you wouldn’t starve and with South African red wine, what can I say!
Activities: Bird World, Monkey World and Tsitsikamma Zipline rope adventure, all of this definitely added to the whole Africa experience.
Travel Methods: Swiss Air, Lufthansa and SAA internal flights. Port Elizabeth to concession and around the concession was via a relatively new Toyota Hilux.
Extra Services: we used Air2000/ www.hunterssupport used for meet and greet and to process our SAPs forms, they did a very good job. Hunters and Collectors Taxidermy CC.
High Points: Werner and Abrie did a great job at providing a personal and professional service, as I am a female new to rifle shooting I can get spoken down to, at no point were these guys like that, I said I was a novice and they made sure I was coached, encouraged and enthused in what we were doing, no question they want their cliental to return!
Low Points: Not much fun if you’re a vegetarian! The trip is over to quick, you can never take enough video. You need to be match fit.
Things to Improve: Take more video.
Overall Rating: I’ve got to say Fab.
Would you recommend to a Friend? Wholeheartedly and with no question, it is a cliché often used, but I class these guys as friends, contact them and discuss your next trip.

A little more detail

I am new to the sport of rifle hunting having been encouraged to participate by my husband. We had enjoyed a trip in 2014, but it was all over too quickly, so we decided that if we were ever to go back we would like to stay a little longer and see a little more of SA, needless to say we did contact a couple of outfitters to get an indication of price, they all responded promptly with various quotes and ideas but unfortunately the time and circumstance were not quite right for us. Then in June 2015 we were lucky enough to see an advert for a cancellation on a hunt cull/management package for late July, could this work for us? The outfitter was Easi Africa Safaris and the point of contact was Werner Starbuck, so after some polite, professional and concise, emails, combined with customer testimonials and a good few phone calls we decided to take the plunge and I have to say I am very pleased we did.

The package was a management hunt, walk and stalk, its location is near Fort Beaufort in the Eastern Cape, it included all internal air transfers, so all we had to sort out was the long haul from the UK to Johannesburg. We chose Swiss Air to fly out and Lufthansa for our return journey. I have to say both air carriers provided no problems and we made sure they knew a week in advance of our travelling arrangements with a firearm! We used Air2000 Hunters support facilitating the SAPS 520 paperwork, liaising with a lovely lady called Anne via email, she was extremely efficient. We used their meet and greet service for our arrival at Oliver Tambo airport on a late Saturday afternoon. We were promptly meet by “Rodney” a very smartly dressed gentleman who in no time got us through immigration and into the SAPS office. The paperwork and checks were soon done, we had excellent customer service from Rodney and could not have asked for more. As we passed through immigration we were also met by Werner with his partner Dee, he was wearing a big hearty smile and he gave us a warm welcome, our adventure was beginning! Werner was collecting another female UK client on Monday and then he would be joining us for the rest of the week.

We had opted to spend the afternoon in Johannesburg and travel to Port Elizabeth (PE) on Sunday morning, so Werner drove us to our accommodation for that night and arranged to collect us for the next morning for the onward part of our journey.

Sunday and first animal

The flight to PE went very smoothly, we got through arrivals, where we were met by co-owner Abrie Pretorius with an even greater hearty smile of welcome who was to be our PH for the week ahead. We soon picked up our luggage and firearm and then off into the pick up or “Bakkie” as they call it with a logo “Genetically Engineered To Hunt” across the back, you just know we’re going to have a fun week! We soon got driving, it took approx. 1hr 45mins, which gave us ample time to get to know one another and after squeezing in some off road driving, Abrie soon started to spot and point out so many animals to us. I was amazed at how he was spotting them it almost became a competition as I so wanted to spot one before he did. But alas he was just too good, I did not stand a chance.

We got to the camp about midday to be greeted by Jakob our camp manager, we were then introduced to Abrie’s tracker Frindre.

While driving into the camp Abrie made the comment about how fresh we looked from our journey all the way from UK, so he decided we were going to go out “now” and to get my rifle off to the test range, the baggage was picked up by the camp staff and taken to our chalet. We put the R8 together and two test shots on the target confirmed zero was good, and before you knew it we were off on our first hunt. Our first quarry would be some Impala Ewes.

Just before we set off, Jakob had informed Abrie that an old Impala Ram with a broken hind leg had been spotted nearby, Abrie asked if we were ok with seeing if we could locate this animal even though it was not part of the cull package, we are very much ethical hunters, so to spot an animal that was injured and put it out of its misery was not a problem for us.

We were not far into our first stalk when Frindre spotted the Ram in some cover overlooked by a huge steep rock face, Arbrie explained how he wanted me to get in front of where the Ram may appear, into a good position shooting away from the camp and with Abrie’s sticks. I was guided to take a frontal shot and using 170g Geco TM ammunition I was able to take a clean 75m shot, I rapidly reloaded however, it dropped like a stone. On inspection the bullet had broken its neck and entered the lung area and exited hitting the spine just above its shoulder and this all happened within 45 minute from leaving the test range. I forgot to mention that during this stalk we spotted an Aardwolf and impala ewes. What a great start. The only thing I can think of to myself was who had the biggest smile, me, the PH or the Tracker!

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Shortly after placing the Ram up into the Bakkie we took a short drive to another part of the camp to see if Richard could get a chance on an Impala Ewe. We got walking through a bit of decent cover and shortly we came across a group of Impala, but they had other ideas and soon put some cover and distance between us.

Not to be put off we tracked a bit further and sure enough, we came across another group but this time using the sticks wouldn’t be easy, so Abrie said use Frindre’s shoulder! All Richard had to do is be patient but one of the Impala decided to stroll in the way of the one that was selected, we had to be quick then Abrie said go for it! The shot rang out, the animal went over and kicked and it was all over! Two animals just before evening twilight, great! What a start to our hunting trip. With the Bakkie packed, we were soon back at camp and set off to view our rooms and change for our first evening meal.

We were in one of four spacious two bed thatched chalets with on-suite bathroom. Clean, tidy and very presentable and always well cleaned on our return each day.

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The main camp had a down stairs bar with lounge, upstairs was the dining area with a terrace with a fabulous view.

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Outside was the large camp fire with a Brai, this is where we would have breakfast each morning, with rakes of fresh percolated coffee!

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Monday

On Monday I was not feeling too special and decided to stay in camp for the morning while Richard went off with Abrie. The camp staff looked after me very well, providing a lovely light breakfast and copious amount of fresh percolated coffee. Richard managed to get a Warthog and unbeknown to him his late birthday surprise a Zebra! I had spoken to Abrie and Werner to arrange a surprise for my husband, little did I know that another surprise was being arranged for me too. More about that later.


The guys arrived back in camp, with huge big grins and feeling very elated from a successful hunt. They even spotted a nice Gemsbuck but no shot was taken.


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1st Shot- Male Warthog 2nd Shot – Female Zebra

So after a light lunch we all set off to see what the afternoon was going to bring us. Richard and I were off on our first proper hunt together but this time it was my turn and the plan was to locate another Warthog, so after Abrie had chatted to Frindre on where they had last had seen them, we piled onto the bakkie and drove for about 45 minutes and parked and got walking and stalking. We were making our way through some relatively flat ground with open space and low tree cover, with the sun to our right and some breeze in our faces, when we moved past some sheep and a bit further out Abrie spotted a group of Warthog. So we crept along so as to get the right angle on the unsuspecting quarry, who were still partially shielded by some trees when we paused and Abrie set the sticks up and guided me on to his selected animal.

The Warthog was slightly quartering towards me and as Abrie said ok I took the shot, the animal dropped, but then got up and ran a short distance to our left then paused, I got ready again and as the animal looked in our direction I shot again, this time the warthog dropped and stayed still. We went over to the animal, where I saw I had pulled my first shot to the rear of the lung, the second one was smack between the eyes. Abrie told us the animal was a sow roughly 75kgs in weight.
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Once we had taken a couple photos and got the animal loaded in the Bakkie, Abrie checked on how fit I was feeling and said shall we try and get something different. Let’s do it was my reply!

We drove to a different spot, parked and got ourselves prepared. The ground again was similar, plenty of scrub including some lethal thorns and low lying trees and our quarry is to be a Mountain Reedbuck? We got walking and I kept my eyes peeled and you have to hand it to the trackers and PH’s with what they spot in the far distance.
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After about an hour the guys had got us to a small group of animals that were on a slightly raising incline on our left. Once Abrie had selected the reedbuck, he got the sticks prepared it was just with a little bit of patience and just as the animal decided to turn its back to us, it turned again and I took the shot, straight through the neck and spine and the animal dropped.
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We had all had a great Monday, four fine animals, none lost and I was feeling much better and I have to say after the afternoon of much walking and stalking we were looking forward to our evening meal.

We parked up at the farm where our animals were off loaded, to be prepared and stored in the chiller, then back to our camp for a chill out night. When we arrived at camp, Werner was there with fellow UK client Deborah, she too would be on a similar management package as we were. We got ourselves in the bar and had a quick catch up on the day’s events, before going back to our little hut to freshen up for the evening meal.

It was very apparent that the camp set up was a well-oiled machine, everyone were going about their tasks, we had rakes of percolated coffee from the camp fire, what is it about coffee that is made like that? We had a very enjoyable meal combined with great quality SA Red wine, then to the bar where both Abrie and Werner were great hosts. Jakob the camp manager had told us the week before we arrived, the PE area had suffered a lot of rainfall with resultant floods, so the camp had a little bit of work to be done to repair the water supply before we arrived. The concession we were on was that large that during the entire week it was only the three of us hunting here and our paths did not cross at any time, and it was only during meals and in the evening did we all meet up which was different to our first trip to SA.

Tuesday, the first Kudu attempt
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Tuesday would end up a strange sort of day for us and it was a great reminder that hunting is not always about getting your quarry! As some more experienced people would say there are no guarantees! We set off in the morning and got parked in the bottom of a shallow valley, we then set off to walk and stalk through the left hand side of a gradual incline and then up a steadily increasing incline, which had plenty of cover throughout.

After a fair amount of walking we got lucky, Frindre and Abrie spotted a mixed group of Kudu Cows and Bulls. So a plan was put together to get closer for a chance of a shot. Obviously the Kudu group didn’t share the same plan and as we gained ground on them they soon moved on and kept putting cover between us!! Finally we got a little closer and through a break in some of the cover we spotted a likely couple of animals, slightly above us approximately 175m away, Abrie told me to focus on one Bull in particular, I was slightly confused at this point as I was still under the impression that I was looking for a Kudu cow, I alluded earlier on that a surprise was being arranged, well unbeknown to me my husband had asked Werner and Abrie to upgrade my Kudu cow to a Kudu bull, both the PH’s must have had a laugh at having to keep two secrets from both of us! My heart was almost in my mouth and the excitement starts to build! Unfortunately though one of the cows kept walking in between us and the Bull who then decided to turn so that only his back was facing us and before I knew it they all turned and went into some thick cover and were gone, the chance had passed.
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Abrie said fine we will try later. Let’s walk our way back to the Bakkie and see if we spot any Warthogs for Richard. Well the guys knew their stuff and after some quiet walking back we spotted a group of Warthogs, Abrie set the sticks, Richard got ready, listened to ensure which animal to select, Abrie then gave the signal toward a large male, Richard fired and shot just over the top of the animal, the whole group turned and showed us all a clean set of departing tails!!! The first miss for the day!

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We drove up to the top of the valley parked and tried our luck again, to see if we could spot some Kudu. It gave us a great opportunity to look around the concession and get an idea on how large these areas are. As we walked along we spotted a group of Eland and as we got closer you truly start to appreciate how large these animals are. As we walked and looked about we crossed towards another valley and then walked along the upper edge and here I would get another chance.
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Our luck was in Abrie and Frindre pointed out some Kudu below us, Abrie checked with the rangefinder and we decided to set up a shot. He discussed which animal, the Kudu was facing directly at us, but below us. Abrie explained where to place the shot right on its nose, I took it and as I did, I knew I had pulled the shot. Yes I missed, we could see the dirt fly up just between its front legs. Swiftly they were gone and yet another opportunity gone. We decided to call it a day and head back but it was still an exhilarating day and I was enjoying every moment of it. However, on the way back Abrie decided to take a short cut which meant crossing a small riverbank which had a few well-hidden warthog burrows. It may have been the recent floods that weakened the burrows because before you knew it the warthog’s got their own back on us as one of the wheels crashed through its roof. Luckily no harm was done.
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Wednesday: Springbuck Cull

This day we would leave the concession we were based at and travel to a different farm in the two Bakkies and hunt some Springbuck. This was the only time all of us were together, though on different parts of the farm. This area lends itself to plains of short grass and had very little isolated areas of cover.

The species for today would be Springbuck. This would be a little different to the walk and stalk we had done in the terrain full of valleys and shrub land, the Springbuck groups could see us clearly so we had to get into position with the Bakkie, quickly dismount and get into position to shoot. We were both lucky and managed to get a young animal each. We were also lucky enough to spot some more Eland and were entertained by a group of Blue Wildebeest that were actually racing around us a couple of times.

On hunting the Springbuck the PH’s told us that we had to quickly get to the culled animal, as when dead they raised the fur on their backs in a magnificent display and if you get close and place your nose in the fur you would detect an essence of caramel.

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Thursday another try at the Kudu

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This was to be a very memorable day for me. We set off in the Bakkie and I was full of trepidation on what the day will bring. We got parked at the start of a wide shallow valley and we started to quietly walk down through the middle. Both Abrie and Frindre were concentrating on what was on the left hand side of us, plenty of cover and gradually forming into a steady incline above us. We were lucky to spot a Sable and after about an hour both PH and Tracker had spotted some likely animals. Abrie had ranged them about 280m away, so we started to slowly walk towards them, as they came down the slope. The group was slowly feeding and crossing through various bits of cover I was amazed at how large an animal can seamlessly disappear into cover and your expectation on where they may emerge was not always as you expected. Finally we got to about 230m away from two potentially suitable kudu bulls, they were slightly above us but stood with a little cover between us. Abrie got the sticks ready, slowly I positioned the rifle he gave me some words of settling encouragement. One of the kudu took a few steps forward and was now clear of cover, slightly quartering towards us Abrie whispered on where to place the shot, I took the shot, the Bull jumped in the air and you could hear the “thwok” of the bullet hitting its mark. I reloaded, the animal had gone into cover! Abrie looked at me and said it was a good shot! Let’s get up there and check it out. Frindre stayed back and as we walked up to the area he guided us via the radio, after a 25 minute walk, Abrie got me close to him and said get ready if you need a second shot. I turned the magnification down on the scope. As we moved a bit more Abrie kept saying to me do you see it, I kept looking frantically around but I could not see anything, there was no discerning sound to give it way, once again Abrie asked if I could see it, then told me to move back and be careful about a snake, whoa, heart racing I quickly looked behind me, needless to say no snake in sight but 6 inches away the huge body of a kudu bull that I could not see. Clearly the joke was on me, but what a relief a really good and clean shot.
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During the trek to find the elusive bull!! We spotted a tortoise and had to go back for a photo shot. We have seen so many different animals on this trip even the shy porcupine made a very quick but brief appearance but alas had scooted down a burrow before we could get the camera out. We even spotted a beautiful Sable on one of our days.
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Whilst preparing my Kudu for a photograph Findre looked at the right hand chest side of the animal and with a big smile said “heart shot, no doubt about it” and shook my hand with great gusto as did Abrie. The Geco TM had passed right through the Bull!
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Another bakkie arrived with the farm manager and some extra help to load up the Kudu Bull for them to take it back to the game farm to complete the dressing out process. Abrie asked them to keep the heart for us to look at when we got over to the farm after lunch. After a great lunch chatting about the morning’s adventure we went back to the game farm and sure enough Frindre had saved the heart, I had been lucky enough to shoot through the heart and both lungs, so I was really pleased with my shot, it pays to listen to the PH! Unknown to me at the time they also harvested the liver for a breakfast treat and some Kudu loin for our evening meal and very tasty it was too. Our hats go off to the ladies who did a wide range of traditional African meals for us.
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We had a great afternoon with Richard looking to see if he could harvest another Warthog with Abrie’s open sighted Ruger 375, well he was very lucky and managed to get a fine specimen.
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We were not the only ones who had a successful day, Werner’s client Deborah also returned to camp after a successful hunt for a Kudu cow and additional kudu loin for evening dinner. It was a great day all round for everyone and what a great evening again sharing our experiences with good old fashioned whisky without water for Deborah and Black Russians for the rest of us.

Abrie, Carol and Frindre
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Nxakwe Camp Team

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Saturday our last morning at camp

Well we had a final hearty breakfast and set off to PE, our first stop was to be at the Hunters and Collectors taxidermy specialist, who would sort out our skins. We chose to have our Zebra and Kudu Skin and a Kudu Skull mount, it would have been so easy to have chosen more though.

What a fascinating place it was to see. I particularly liked the springbok rugs, they were so cleverly put together. The problem is we will need a bigger house if we wanted to purchase any additional skins to display other than the pieces we decided to keep from our own hunting experience, plus the few we already have from a previous hunt in 2014.

Hunters and Collectors Taxidermy

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We were then taken onto our B&B near the beach front, which would be our accommodation for our last few days in SA. Would you believe it the owners were from Birmingham. We were minutes from the boardwalk full of wonderful restaurants and bars. Werner even found out about a wine festival that was being held at the boardwalk, needless to say we went along and tasted quite a few nice SA wines.

Easi Africa hospitality was outstanding, we were even invited to join Abrie and his family with Werner and Dee at a local ribs and king prawn eating house within a stone’s throw of the Nelson Mandel stadium, and we had a great laugh and piled on the calories, the best ribs in SA.

On Monday we had arranged a daytrip to Bird and Monkey World followed by an afternoon at Tsitsikamma Zipline adventure, near Storms River, what fun we had flying through the tree canopy a fabulous end to our Easi Africa adventure.

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Abrie collected us and took us to the airport for our onward travel to Oliver Tambo international, so the final goodbyes were said. It was a smooth enough flight to OT Airport, collecting the rifle was straight forward enough. We went and checked in at the Lufthansa desk just a security check with small admin fee, then through to departures to wait our flight.

Final summary and last thoughts

I’ll say these guys did a great job at making a female hunter feeling pretty special and welcome, Werner’s client had travelled on her own and felt more than happy with how she was treated, at no time did the guys use any patronising little lady talk to us. We had spent some time in the UK getting some practice on sticks which was invaluable. For everyone wondering about the technical side, I know we can all spend a rake of time discussing the calibre and rifle, but my 308 win worked perfectly well on the quarry we hunted. The Blaser R8 is a great tool, it was broken down into sections and held zero no problem when re-assembled. The scope was a 3-12x56 4A Docter which was more than sufficient. The Geco 170g TM did a great job, all animals that were shot cleanly, went down in a short distance. As the PH’s said if you concentrate on shot placement any animal hit through both lungs won’t go far. I will add it is essential especially as a novice to listen to the PH, they know the animals and what works and what doesn’t. Enjoy your trip and don’t get hung up on what the bushveld may provide. Anyone, especially the ladies wanting any other info feel free to PM me.
 

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Great report!

Thanks for sharing your adeventure and your excitement!
 

Nyati

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Welcome to AH, Carol, and congratulations for your hunt. It seems like you really enjoyed it.
 

kathy

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Awesome journey, glad you got to make a second trip, now when are you going on your 3rd. Forrest
 

BRICKBURN

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gillettehunter

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Nice write up. Thanks for sharing. Bruce
 

cpr0312

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Congrats! Thanks for sharing the report!
 

Clayton

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WOW! Lady, you had an awesome hunt and have posted a terrific report. (y)
 

enysse

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Great pictures and stories!
 

rinehart0050

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Great report! Thanks for sharing your adventure!
 

Novice Huntress

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Awesome journey, glad you got to make a second trip, now when are you going on your 3rd. Forrest
Just to let you know I am four months away from my next hunting trip so keep a look out for my next report probably sometime at the end of July early August.
 

Novice Huntress

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WOW! Lady, you had an awesome hunt and have posted a terrific report. (y)
Just to let you know I am off for my next SA trip at the end of June so keep a look out for my next report end of July early August 2017. Ps they even have one or two places left if you would like to join my husband and I.
 

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