SOUTH AFRICA: A Return To Huntershill Safaris - Even Better Than Last Year!

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by One Day..., Aug 10, 2019.

  1. TheoR8

    TheoR8 AH Senior Member

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    Great stuff. (y)
     

  2. Hogpatrol

    Hogpatrol AH ENABLER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    First rate writeup. The .257 worked beautifully. All that practice paid off.
     

  3. One Day...

    One Day... AH Fanatic

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    The day of the wire... and Bushbuck...

    So, by now, any sane reader - that does not place the bar very high on AfricaHunting.com, as everyone knows that we are all completely demented by the African bug, and generally certifiable for the loony bin on account of gun buying madness - will have concluded that I am either incredibly lucky with the rifle, or abusing the Hennessy VSOP and telling tall tales of shooting that only happened in my fertile imagination.

    It is time to reassure the inmates. I miss too... With a twist...

    Take the day of the Bushbuck for example.

    It was sometime during the second week. Yes, I could check the date the picture was taken, go back to the calendar, take my shoes off to have enough fingers and toes to count on, and laboriously calculate which day it actually was, but what would it matter? So, as I said, it was sometime during the second week, we had passed the 10 for 10 mark: 10 animals in the salt for 10 shots fired. And I mean 10 shots fired in Africa, not one more, just 10, because on the first morning, Jason asked: "So, do you want to check the rifles at the range?" I looked at him with a faked deeply-hurt expression. "You know better than I do that 'checking the rifle at the range' has nothing to do with the rifle, and everything to do with the client," I said. "The client is not checking the rifle; the PH is checking the client, right?" I continued. "Right, right" replied Jason with a smile, and in that inimitable South African English accent. "The rifle is fine," I continued, "none of the witness paint marks on the various screws has cracked, I checked. It traveled in its padded soft case, inside the Pelican hard case. The rifle is fine, if I miss, it will not be the rifle."

    IMG_3127.jpg
    "None of the witness paint spots on the various screws has cracked, I checked..." This also applies to the four scope's base screws, and to the two action screws.

    "Right, right," Jason replied again, "let's go hunting."

    You see, enough time in the military as an officer, in the hunting fields for 40 years, and on the competitive shooting circuit for 10 years, gave me a few unwelcome opportunities to witness actual accidental discharges. Thankfully nobody got hurt, but these were scary. So, now I have a few very simple rules. I do not load a cartridge in the chamber until I am getting on the sticks (following wounded dangerous game is the only exception), and as soon as the animal is down, I perform the safety check: I unload the chamber, ask the PH to witness the empty chamber, and ask the PH to listen to the dry fire "click" on an empty chamber. No exception. Period. Jason liked it last year, and by the end of our first two weeks together he confided in me that it had surprised him first, but he subsequently realized that it made him immensely comfortable. Me too...

    So, we had fired 10 shots for 10 animals in the salt, and we were both becoming insufferable - a good PH takes ownership of his client's shooting - and that day we were after free range Bushbuck in the riparian lush habitat of the Groot-Visrivier (the Great Fish River) about midway between Fort Beaufort and Grahamstown. The plan was to get there early, enjoy a relaxed lunch of steak & kidney pie in the field, maybe have a little siesta, and prowl silently the river banks in the late afternoon.

    SUPB4019.JPG
    The reward of a perfectly planned Bushbuck hunt. Get there early, enjoy lunch, take a nap before the action...

    The plan worked perfectly. By 4:00 pm we were slowly haunting the river banks, as silent as ghosts in the fresh green grass, slowly moving, glassing; slowly moving, glassing; slowly moving, glassing. We had seen a few groups of Bushbuck in the alfalfa fields, the 'Green Gold' as Afrikaans farmers call it, and a few more nosing in and out of the river banks thick lush brush, but nothing we wanted. Although one had us hesitate for a while.

    And then, coming around a bush clump, I saw him. "There!" "Where?" replied Jason. Now, THAT was a rare occasion. Always, Jason sees them first. Always. But that day I did. "He will pop from behind the bush, behind the fence, in the middle of the gap," I said. Jason glassed intently. "He is good," he said. By then it was closing onto 6 o' clock, the bush was taking this beautiful rich orangish color that was lighting a flashing bulb on our internal dashboards, like the 'low fuel' light on the dashboard of the Toyota. 'Time is short' was blinking the little mental light, 'time is short.' "Is he good enough?" I asked. Jason took a few seconds to answer. "We couuuuld see a better one... mayyyybe... if we had more time... maybe..." "I reckon we should take him," I said, "I like him." "Yes," Jason said. "325" added the Leica range finder in its own digital language...

    The soft, graceful, silent ballet unfolded once more. A bright yellow cartridge found its way almost completely silently into the chamber, the bolt mounted firing pin-blocking safety seemed to move itself to the rear of its own volition, the rifle came to rest solidly on the sticks, the crosshair stabilized on his shoulder, a little voice in my head said "325, just a touch high," the crosshair moved up imperceptibly. The delicate dance continued: breathing control, rifle control, crosshair control, trigger control; the little song started "squeeeeeze, squeeeeze, squeeee..." and the little .257 Wby snarled in the soft ambient noises of the river bank. Booom!

    No "whonk!" came back !?!?!?!? As the rifle imperceptibly lowered back from its gentle recoil, the bushbuck was still there, alerted for a second, then back to his busy feeding. "What the...!" muffled Jason and I simultaneously. Already an empty case was twirling in mid air, a new round was already in the chamber, I was already repeating the dance, a lot less confidently this time, fighting to refuse any mental questioning. No I would not change the hold, no I would not question the scope, the rifle, the load, the angle of the moon, the price of the stock market, the weather for December in Timbuktu, or whatever else. No time at this stage. All I needed to do, was to make a simple shot. Booom! again, all in less time than it takes me to write it.

    "Whonk!" replied the bullet. "Oh shit!" blurted Jason. "F!@#$%^!!!" flashed through my mind and crossed my lips. The Bushbuck rear quarter almost collapsed, but he then sprung forward, covered in one bound the 5 yards that separated him from the cover of the dense riverine bush, and he was gone. Silence. "Gut shot" said Jason sternly, "this is bad." "I am so sorry," I said. The sun was now setting. "Wounded Bushbuck, in the thick in the dark. Bad," said Jason. "They kill dogs and people," he added...

    Sadly, I topped off the magazine, three rounds, inserted one directly in the chamber over the magazine, four rounds, and I engaged the safety. Muzzle high. And we gloomily crossed the field to where the Bushbuck had disappeared. "Don't shoot unless I..." started Jason, "shoot him!" he added in the next breath. The Bushbuck was there, on the floor, not 10 feet into the bush. No time for discussion, he was turning his back to me. While we crossed the field, I had lowered the Zeiss scope magnification from 10 down to 2 1/2, the minimum. I put the crosshair on his backbone, managed to remember that the scope is 1 3/4 inch above the bore, moved the crosshair up just over the backbone, fired, and cut his spine in half. No reaction whatsoever. Not even a twitch. "Did you miss?" questioned Jason incredulously. We were 10 yards away from the Bushbuck. "No," I said. We carefully approached, I touched his eyeball with the outstretched tip of the barrel. No reaction. He was stone dead already from the previous shot...

    The light was falling fast. "Pictures!" said Jason. The moon was already shining in the waning light.

    Bushbuck.JPG
    A great Huntershill Bushbuck... that had us quite perplexed for a while...

    "What happened?" said Jason. "You shot like 20 yards left and behind him. I saw the shot in my binocs." "I dunno" I replied sheepishly, "everything felt good." "And then you shot him in the guts" he added pointedly. Jason and I know and respect each other well enough that we do not lie to each other. "I dunno," I replied again, feeling quite miserable, "the shot felt good too." We looked at the Bushbuck carefully. "I did not gut-shoot him," I said, "look," I pointed. The bullet entry hole was indeed a bit back and a bit high, but autopsy confirmed that the buck had been double lunged, although not by much. "Woah!" said Jason, "ooooh" approved Henry... "He DID react like he was gut shot," continued Jason, "my apology." "Yes he did," I agreed...

    We walked back to the scene of the first shot, not even 10 yards away. Jason was there first and burst in laughter. "Henry!" he called, "look!" he roared, howling, "TahTah (Old Man, Elder) cut the wire!" "Are you kidding?" I asked, hurrying up to where he stood. And there it was, the top strand of the low field fence was coiling back on each side, a brilliant, fresh, silvery jagged cut mark almost right in the middle... We now knew what happened to that first shot... And of course, we did not recover any bullet...

    The day of the Bushbuck, and the wire... will long remain in my memory...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 14, 2019

  4. TragicLogic

    TragicLogic New Member

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    Pascal, my friend, you are making life so difficult for those of us who have to wait until next year.
     
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  5. Chago

    Chago AH Veteran

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    The gift idea was awesome. Last year when I went to HH it was my first time in Africa. I wasn't sure about the tipping process, and I actually found this forum when I googled it. It brought me to the tipping guide, which then got me sucked into the Africa hunting.com rabbit hole.

    I did a huge clothing drive at work and brought 3 full hockey bags full of clothing. I distributed amongst all the staff. I actually handed out like 40 camo hats with the brand Amico written on them. I wonder if you noticed anyone wearing them. My company makes these as gifts for trade shows etc. So they donated a bunch. I asked Greg before hand would this be considered insulting. And he told me absolutely not people will be very appreciative. And my god were they ever.

    Smiley (I imagine you met him while at HH) was my tracker. This guy worked like a dog. He spotted animals literally kms away with a pair of Bino's from the 70s. Incredible. And literally was always smiling lol hence the name. I remember from the clothes he found a pair of running shoes that fit him. And some sweaters. He literally wore them everyday I was there. Which to me showed his appreciation and his need of these items. When I tipped them. I literally doubled what the tipping guide suggested. Listen the PH is tipped healthy. The trackers to me could use some more help. And they are the work horses of the trip. So I was so happy with them I literally doubled there tip per day.

    Huntershill is a phenomenal outfit and deserve nothing but a top rating.
     
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  6. Cam Moon

    Cam Moon AH Veteran

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    Pascal, you have taken your writing to a whole new level! I enjoyed it before, but wow! I could feel myself there, and I am presently missing @HUNTERSHILL safaris with Jason, Henry, and Stroulie! And, of course, Rhonda and Mack!
    It sounds like you had another truly wonderful time and certainly harvested some beautiful trophy's. But the real beauty is in the hunt itself, and the memories you made, and you captured that very well in your report! Thank you.
    It makes me feel bad that I haven't completed mine, and may need to put some other projects on hold to do so!
     

  7. mark-hunter

    mark-hunter AH Fanatic

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    This is excellent writing, and great adventure! Congrats!

    O, btw, I hope its not yet finished!
     

  8. One Day...

    One Day... AH Fanatic

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    Thank you so much for the kind words.
    It took me a little while to find my marks on AH...
    Last year, I was unsure that anyone would be interested in 'the story,' so I just focused on posting pics, but I felt that it lessened the hunt. To me too, as many of you observed, the hunt itself, 'the story,' is more important than 'the trophy'...
    Also, most of my posts during that last year were technical in nature, so the writing is a little dryer, more analytical, when it comes to just presenting and discussing data...
    Thank you for the feedback, it comforts me in the feeling that there might be folks out there who enjoy 'the story'...
    Thx
    P
     
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  9. Ridgewalker

    Ridgewalker AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    Now you’ve got me wanting a 257 Bee! Excellent report! I’ve enjoyed every minute of it!

    Personally I’ll take luck any day vs skill! Great shot!
     

  10. Bill116

    Bill116 AH Member

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    Thank you for a GREAT report. Very well written, a really nice read. Congrats on some fine animals and your gracious generosity displayed. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
     

  11. mark-hunter

    mark-hunter AH Fanatic

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    I have identical attitude.
    Moreover, when looking of the photos, I came to conclusion that I tend to prefer all other type of photos, rather then the posed ones with final trophy.
    Landscapes, animals in their habitat, micro-details of equipment, packing, informal socializing in the camp, bbq, etc... that kind of photos.
     

  12. One Day...

    One Day... AH Fanatic

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    The Prince of the Bush

    I have long lusted for a Sable.

    It did not have to be a 'record book' Sable, I truly do not care, I do not measure my animals, I just wanted an old, representative Sable. I had told so to Jason. We had that discussion along the way. "You know," Jason had said, "more PH and client great relationships have been destroyed by a tape measure, than by anything else," he paused thoughtfully, "this is the bane of African hunting." I encouraged him to go forward. "You see," he continued, "a client who is perfectly happy with his Kudu, a great Kudu, and who had an unforgettable hunt for it, and made great memories, and could keep those memories for ever..." he paused again, melancholic, "...can have his entire experience ruined by a tape measure." "I hate tape measures!" he added, now genuinely upset. Oh, how I understood him! I have seen along the way the happy client, the triumphal client, coming back from a hunt of a lifetime, with a great trophy ... turn into a dejected, angry, reproachful inquisitor because the dang tape measure came 1/2 inch short. Gone the wonderful experience, forgotten the hunt of a lifetime, erased the immense achievement, destroyed the friendship with the PH, the darn horns are 1/2 inch short! Curse it! "Thank you," I told Jason, "thank you for reminding me that." He was apologetic now: "Oh, I did not mean...", "I know," I interrupted, "but thank you for saying this anyway, it helps me too keep things in focus." You see, everyone can become contaminated by continual talk of "really good head," "great trophy," "monster!" and I knew, deep down in myself, that I was not necessarily immune to developing an overly exalted sense of myself, just because the Gods of Africa have been really generous to me these last two years, and it is a slippery slope toward the blasted tape measure and its inevitable, sooner or later, bitter disappointment. "Thank you," I said again...

    So our hearts were light and our mood joyous that morning, during the first week, when Jason said: "I am going to show you Pacet, today." "Pacet?"(pronounced Pachet, like 'hatchet') I asked. "This the old farm on the other side of the mountain," Jason replied, "it is part of Huntershill, but on the other side." "Few people go there, he added. "I think you will like it," he concluded.

    DSC01519.JPG
    Pacet, the old farm on the other side of the mountain. "It is part of Huntershill, but on the other side. Few people go there," Jason said, "I think you will like it..."

    I loved Pacet! Just as we started crawling up the first foothill, with the Toyota in low gear, we immediately faced a dilemma. Jason was negotiating a track that even a D6 Caterpillar dozer, fresh from a full rebuild, would have had second thoughts about, when I blurted "there!" Across the Canyon, maybe 200 or 300 yards away, a Waterbuck was sunning himself, comfortably bedded at the foot of a beautiful Aloe Vera tree in full bloom, vibrant with rich red color in the glory of the raising sun. The Toyota hiked up on top of rocks that would have indicated the end of the trail for about any other wheeled contraption, and Jason killed the engine. Henry and Strahli were already glued to their new Vortex binoculars. I heard a soft "ooooh." I smiled: Henry liked him. A short burst of murmured Khoisan dialect confirmed that Strahli had a pretty good opinion of the Waterbuck too. Jason was silent, peering through his Leica. "Hmmm?" I tentatively asked, having learned a prodigious amount of vocabulary over the last few days. "I don't know," replied Jason, "the one you got last year is better, I think." "You know, I have been wondering myself," I said, '"I think you are right." We glassed again for several minutes. "Not often I will pass one like that," Jason concluded, restarting the Land Cruiser's engine and giving briefly his verdict in Afrikaans to Henry and Strahli who sat on the high bench on the back of the truck.

    Waterbuck.JPG
    "The one you got last year is better, I think," said Jason...

    Soon we were on an idyllic flat, perched between foothills and mountains. "I would not mind camping here," I said. "I would not mind it myself," approved Jason, and we dove hood first into a strange little forest of Aloe Vera tree, interspersed with rich meadows claimed by several family groups of Giraffe.

    There the game started. It was hide and seek. A black form dashing to the left revealed the Sable. Jason made a sharp turn to the right and we drove in a back half circle to get ahead of them. This, we did quite nicely. But there were no Sable there. A Khoisan burst came from the back. Hah! Now they were on our right, streaming through the trees 200 or 300 yards away. A young bull. Promising, but nowhere near its potential. Female. Female. Young. Young. Young bull again. Another young bull, older but still young. Papa. A few lesser ones. Grand Pa? A wide semi circle to the left this time. Surely, we would reach the ridge before them and catch them for a better look. We got to the small ridge, killed the engine and watched. And waited. And waited. And waited, glassing below us. No Sable. Another burst of Khoisan. Hah! They went the other side! But why? And now a group of Springbok appeared behind them, almost sheep dogging them in front of them. OK, new strategy. Let's go to the ridge on the other side. Jason drove a wide detour and as we were about to climb the other ridge a sharp wrap resonated on the truck cabin roof. Jason lifted his eyes to the outdoor rear view mirror - that always gets angled just so when we are hunting, so that he can see Henry on one side and Strahli on the other side - and I saw in the corner of Jason's right side mirror I could barely see from my seat on the left, a black finger pointing. A group of Kudu already occupied our ridge, and started to show nervousness. Hah! And now our Sable were half a mile away still at a full trot, not really fleeing, but clearly concerned. No way we could catch up to them on foot. And the game went on, and on, with occasional interludes provided by Giraffe that would not let us sneak through a meadow without starting their strange slow motion gallop, scaring everything in front of them; a group of Impala rocketing in panic ahead of us; another Waterbuck crashing through the thickest bush as if it was an English green; and a threesome of Ostrich having apparently decided to herald our every move in their frantic flight always precisely in the direction we wanted to go. Two hours later we recognized that we were beaten...

    DSC01521.JPG
    A strange little forest of Aloe Vera tree, on a flat on top of the foothills, interspersed with rich meadows claimed by several family groups of Giraffe...

    Sable may be the "Prince of the Bush," and many a camera tourist or a Blesbok hunter may be easily excused to think that they are placid to a fault, looking contemptuously at trucks driving past at 200 yards or so, but the instant they realize they are the center of interest, things change...

    So, by mid morning it was clear we were loosing 'hide & seek,' each time by a wider margin, and we called it quit. And as sometimes happen, by the time we were back down in the plain, cruising back without really hunting anymore, here he was, placidly walking in the complete open, not 300 yards away. Jason slammed on the brake - I have no idea how Henry and Strahli managed to not take flight and land on the hood - and we quickly glassed. Oh yes, it was him alright. I got out, Strahli jumped on my side with the sticks, Jason laboriously extracted himself on my side too - our Sable was placid alright, but there was no point insulting its intelligence and provoking him - and as he kept walking, we started walking too, keeping the truck between us. He walked in a semi circle to the left, about 250 yards away, we walked in a semi circle to the right, both turning around the Toyota like the short and long handles of a clock, and he stopped. Jason quickly spread the tripod of the spotting scope we had with us that morning, I quickly spread the tripod sticks, and got on them.

    As mentioned earlier, this was during the first week. Jason and I had not developed yet the trust we built by the end of the two weeks in the little .257 Wby, so I had without a second thought grabbed the .340 Wby as I got off the truck. I know this rifle well. We have an interesting relationship. This is not a casual relationship. It is intense, highly competitive, it has been bloody once when we shot the Kudu together last year, and in the end it is ferociously simple: one of us is going to control and impose his (or its) will on the other. If I brace the big .340 right, if I control it tightly, if I remember that it will bark at me and try to bite me, it will do exactly what I want it to do, group its big 225 gr TTSX slugs within a inch at 100 yards, and kill whatever walks this earth out to 300 yard without a second thought. If I forget what furry I am about to unleash, and if I let the big .340 get in charge of the situation, I will miss a barn from the inside...

    But that day I remembered that even though the .257 and the .340 look like twins in their matched pair, twins they are not. The big rifle went on the sticks, I shoved my banded earplugs deep in my ears, I grabbed it firmly as it likes to be grabbed, a big cartridge eased itself into the chamber, I took a deep breath, pulled the rifle deep and tight into my shoulder pocket, and "Hammir" (the hammer, as Strahli had nicknamed it last year) unleashed its furry on the creation.


    When I do things right with the .340 Wby does things right too. No matter upon what, no matter how far (within reason of course, 300 to 350 yards being a good reasonable maximum distance in my judgment), no matter when or where, the big .33 slugs deliver incredible killing power. I used to shoot the .250 gr Nosler Partition exclusively (I did last year https://www.africahunting.com/threa...faris-august-2018-plains-game-paradise.45017/) but I have changed for the 225 gr TTSX. It flies flatter, it recoils 20% less, and it kills just as well, even though, just as with the .257, I do not have a nice petaled 225 gr .340 TTSX to show you. It is still flying in the Huntershill plain...

    I had my beautiful Huntershill Sable...

    Sable.JPG
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2019

  13. BeeMaa

    BeeMaa AH Elite

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    Beautiful Sable Pascal...regardless of what the tape says.
    Like the video as well, that's some power in the 340WBY.
    Nice shooting.

    I'm with you on the "tape" issue as well.
    Something old, grizzled, lots of character and past its prime is what I consider a trophy.
     
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  14. Art Lambart II

    Art Lambart II AH Fanatic

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    great report, love the Waterbuck
     

  15. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Wow you were able to connect on lots of nice animals! Congrats on the long awaited sable!
     

  16. mark-hunter

    mark-hunter AH Fanatic

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    Sable is beautiful!
     

  17. Shootist43

    Shootist43 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    I enjoyed your report immensely, after reading it I'm going to have to give the 257 Weatherby a second look. Seems like most of your shots were over 300 yds. Those years of training and competition paid off in spades.
     

  18. One Day...

    One Day... AH Fanatic

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    Huntershill clients Chalets and Cottages

    The return to Huntershill was joyous. We dropped the .340 Wby at my chalet, as we did not plan to use it again until the Roan. Little did we know then that we would not use it again this year.

    Huntershill offers a total of 15 client accommodations: four en-suite rooms housed in one lodge with bathrooms and a lounge for families; a luxury thatched stone cottage which sleeps six people, facing the poplar plantation, with en-suite shower and inter-leading lounges for groups, and five spacious free-standing chalets with en-suite bathroom.

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    Chalet #1

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    Chalet #2

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    Chalet #3

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    The Thomas Baines Lodge


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    Chalet #4

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    The Poplars Lodge

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    Chalet #5, my chalet...

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    Daily housekeeping, daily laundry, spotless accommodation.

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    Four star service, always with a smile.

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    Flushing toilets and running hot shower in every room.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019
    accipiter and BeeMaa like this.

  19. One Day...

    One Day... AH Fanatic

    Joined:
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    Wanting a Lechwe

    I had been struck last year by the beauty of the Lechwe that decorates the Huntershill Lodge dining room. Its graceful elegance and its splendid horns had me mesmerized.

    DSC01765b.JPG

    Already last year I knew that I wanted one, but budget considerations had made it impossible on that trip. I was not worried, I already knew that I would be coming back, and that the following year a Lechwe would be high on the priority list.

    Originally from the wetlands of Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and Zambia, the Red lechwe is not native to South Africa. Its availability at Huntershill speaks of the success of the South African conservation model.

    In fact, few people realize that wild game had been literally wiped out of South Africa by World War II in order to clear the land for agriculture and cattle ranching, and that anyone hunting in South Africa today can be pretty certain that whether the species hunted is a historically native species or not, the animals on the land today (aside from the Kruger National Park or equivalent) have been re-introduced or introduced over the last 20 to 50 years. Actually, South Africa is one of the great conservation success stories of wild game re-introduction and preservation, not only in Africa, but in the entire world.

    Wetlands do not abound in Huntershill, but the Heuningkliprivier flows in the plain at the foot of the Huntershill mountain, and on the old South African 1:50,000 scale map of the Stormberg Mountains, the area next to the Wildschutsberg area (the old Afrikaans name for modern Huntershill), is called Waterval. Water there is, and where water is, Lechwe can be.

    IMG_3059 b.JPG
    The old original Wildschutsberg sign, on the wall of the Huntershill Lodge.

    So, our quest for a Lechwe would take place in the Huntershill plain, toward the Sterling Park and in the Quarrelbrook areas, through which meanders lazily the Heuningkliprivier. We would be careful to avoid the Hippo that favor the same area, especially since, Jason said, "A cow Hippo just had a baby there, and she is very protective." Understand: she will gleefully disembowel a Toyota Land Cruiser and all its passengers, stomping them into unsightly reddish stains in the ground, at the first hint of discomfort.

    Dully noted.

    There was also loose talk about minding Crocodile, but I thought this was a joke. That is until I later saw pictures of a pretty large Croc collected at Huntershill... But water is too cold at Huntershill, so Crocs do not really flourish there.

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    A cow Hippo just had a baby there, and she is very protective...

    Because the light wind this morning came from the South, we started North, toward Sterkfontein. We drove slowly in the plain, following loosely the river, attentive to not damage the riparian habitat under heavy duty all-terrain tires, stopping occasionally to walk to a few secluded places, but also keeping a sharp eye on the plain itself as Lechwe will not hesitate to leave the wetter area to feed on plains grass. It was not really early in the morning, but still before 9 o'clock, so chances were about even that Lechwe could still be in the plain, or already back toward the water. We saw a few groups, including females and young, and some males, but none of them were fully mature yet.

    Like Impala, Lechwe exhibit strong sexual dimorphism. Males and females look different. Lechwe, like Impala are easy to differentiate at a glance: females do not have horns. In other antelopes species, small or large, like Springbok, Blue Wildebeest, Black Wildebeest, Red Hartebeest, Blesbok, etc, both males and females are horned. Females generally have shorter and thinner horns, and they often have distinctly feminine shapes, such as thinner necks and less powerful shoulders, but in other species, such as Gemsbok, females' horns are often longer than males', although generally thinner.

    So, female Lechwe having no horn, and the type of horns we were looking for tending to be not overly common, the hunt was focused, but also relaxed, as we did not spend a lot of time on the binoculars evaluating herds that we could usually classify within a few seconds of glassing.

    As the hours started to pass, I was getting anxious to see a good Lechwe. I really wanted one. "Have you seen good ones here recently?" I could not resist asking. Jason smiled indulgently and now spoke to me as he would to a small child: "Yes, there are good ones here, you need to be patient," he said gently. I recognized the tone and I knew I had asked a naive question. "Hmmmm," I confirmed, meaning the proper intonation for 'sober approval', and demonstrating once more my extensive learning of his hunting vocabulary.

    When we crossed over to Quarrelbrook, the landscape changed rapidly. There, the plain ends and the foothills start, and the small river gets trapped in a succession of ravines, pools and small canyons. This would get more complicated.

    But just as we were going to reach the first narrowing, the long expected tap on the cabin roof came. I did not understand the Khoisan short tongue clicking burst - the Khoisan people speak the same dialect as the San bushmen of the Kalahari Desert - but I knew exactly what it meant. Something like: "There. Good." Strahli is a man of few words. And 'there' indeed, on the front and to the left, disappeared in the riverbank brush what looked like a good Lechwe.

    We dismounted. Attempting to follow with the hunting truck a good Lechwe who knows exactly what he is wearing on his head, is the height of folly. He will not run across the plains, like a Springbok or a Gemsbok, unless you catch him in the open at feeding time, but he will just vanish in a half acre plot that could not hide a rabbit. We walked where he had disappeared. I set the scope magnification ring on 3. This would be a fairly close range affair. Certainly less than 150 yards.

    It could have lasted for hours, it often does, but not today. We did not push him too hard. We were not trying to catch up to him, a futile attempt I intuitively knew. This was my first time hunting Lechwe, but I instantly recognized the hunt: he was not escaping, yet, he was just not allowing us in his zone of privacy. He knew we were there, and he knew we were following him. We would not be able to approach him. What we could do, though, was catch a sight of him briefly in an opening of vegetation, as he moved, on the alert, but not on the flight, 100 yards or so in front of our slow progression. If I was on the ready, there would be a short window of opportunity for an off hand shot at hopefully fairly close range. I loaded a cartridge in the chamber and put the safety on.

    And this is exactly what happened, after 15 minutes or so of silently following him, he appeared in a tiny clearing, on the other side of the river, and briefly stopped to look over his shoulder. This was a mistake. Already Jason's binocs were on him, already I had dropped to my favorite kneeling position, the rifle was coming to my shoulder while the safety lever was pushed to the 'Fire' position, the crosshair reached the soft sport behind his shoulder, and the squeeze was imminent, when Jason confirmed. "Take him," he said softly. The fluid motion that had not started more than a second ago culminated in the sharp bark of the little Weatherby, and the Lechwe was struck by the small copper TTSX lighting bolt and collapsed. It was over.

    We carried him a short distance to the plain to take the traditional pictures.

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    A beautiful Huntershill Lechwe. When yours is bigger than the one in the Lodge, you know you are onto something...

    No bullet was recovered...
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019

  20. Shootist43

    Shootist43 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

    Joined:
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    This no bullet recovered, is getting to be a thing with you!!
     

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