SOUTH AFRICA: A Return To The Eastern Cape

Tintin

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So, with final loading done, an almost all Australian affair, with ADI powder and brass and Woodleigh projectiles, and a final day at the 300m range (mostly) hitting 10” gongs at 300m off the sticks the weekend prior at WBB24 with @Kiwifire111 and @458JCE, I was all set, with a full Saturday up my sleeve to fine tune, do final prep and complete packing, before flying to Sydney the next day. Or so I thought.

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Those plans lasted until 1000 when a mate called to wish me well and mentioned one of our mates had just pulled out of a partridge shoot that afternoon. The rational me was too slow to act as he heard the hunting me say "So you’re a gun short? What time should I be there?". :rolleyes:

The birds had beckoned, the overdue haircut and final prep could wait. A perfect afternoon out and a few birds in the bag.

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The day had finally dawned, I was underway, headed back to the Eastern Cape for another @KMG Hunting Safaris adventure with my mate Rick, on his first visit to Africa, the small Rigby and the 'big' camera in tow.

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The normal dose of airport nonsense, where everything takes longer than it should, and offtimes feels like routine tasks are being attempted by work experience interns for the first time, but we muddled through the first of our 3 flights, a short hop to Sydney. Anxiety levels dropped once on board, with the words all AirTag users eagerly await ... "With You" finally apperaed. Rick used Samsung tags and they seemed to work as well as my Apple ones throughout our travels.

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We overnighted at the Airport Holiday Inn Express this time - which was more than adequate, apart from the 0630 breakfast start, making it a bit of scramble for our 0930 flight to JNB. We had to talk our Uber driver down from instigating a road rage incident on a (deserving) cabbie on the way back to Sydney airport - he could maintina his honour and mete out justice next time they crossed paths, but we had a flight to catch.

I’d selected Ruark’s Horn of the Hunter as my reading for this expedition, and had for better or worse, also decided to take the big camera, cognisant that Ruark had wisely opined the challenges of foolishly attempting to hunt and photograph concurrently, nevertheless, here I was, hoping to be more Rob, the hunter, than Jinny the photographer - time would tell. In any event this yarn will be necessarily image heavy, in my attempts to justify my decision. So readers won’t need to rely on my clumsy writing to get a visual sense of characters along the way such as chicken toddler, the cabbage lady and the amazing spaces we hunted.

ruark.jpg


It's a great read, that seemed a perfect fit for this trip the more the trip unfolded.

Flight to JNB was straightforward, if long at 14 hours. A very southerly route saw us over icebergs and almost above Antartica.

We opted to do our own SAPS permits this year, that was all pretty seamless … until the SAPS printer broke down. I was fighting the urge to ask if they tried turning it off and back on again - but decided it was neither the time, nor place to be that guy - at least not until we had our permits. They managed to resuscitate Percy the printer and we were on our way in about 15 minutes.

As one does, we bumped into Bruce from Gracy Travel and Marius from RiflePermits, who had greeted me previously, and was greeting a father and son duo from USA. Turns out they were also hunting with KMG and would be in camp with us. Their travel and not been as successful as ours - they had landed sans rifles and suitcases (took 2 and a half days to get their gear to camp). It transpired the problem was a missed connection the USA, not at the African end.

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We overnighted in JNB at City Lodge and enjoyed a pleasant dinner there with friends from Jo’Burg who have a property in Namibia that is high on the 'must visit' list to hunt Sable.

The trip to East London is a good one - I love asking for a window AND aisle seat on the little Embraer 135 ;)

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Still not convinced about the cheese hot cross bun - but when in Rome ...

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The Royal welcome from the King.

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And a warm welcome from our PH, Riley. Only 26 years old, but proved to be excellent company and an outstanding hunter. Two thoughts came to mind at our first meeting, Harry Selby had his 27th birthday while guiding the Ruarks in Horn of the Hunter and 1 Tim 4:12, 'Let no man despise thy youth'. ;)


An hour or so to camp from East London in the bakkie for getting to know Riley, tracker Merri, dogs Gracie and Scout and for Rick to take in his first sights of Africa, including;

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^ Bespoke bicylces ... Is there an Eastern Cape Customs workshop?

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^ Fresh fruit

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^ and local architecture

Finally at camp, zeroes checked, dinner enjoyed and attempts at sleep made.

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More to follow.
 

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Day 1

We were on the way early for our first day of hunting. The weather was appalling, rain and strong winds lashed us as we made most of the 90 minute drive in the dark. We got stuck behind this chap for a bit and were pretty confident someone along his route would be picking up a free rainwater tank, courtesy of the apparently haphazard tie down effort. In fairness, it was an ugly day to be carting this particularly load.

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The rain eventually broke, but not the wind.

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We were headed for the Cathcart area. I had a great experience hunting there previously and was excited Rick was going to have his first day hunting in Africa in such a spot, offering a diversity of both terrain and game.

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Within minutes of entering the property, the others were tiring of having a would be Martin Johnson along. :rolleyes:

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Many excellent opportunities for photos, not all of which the camera operator managed to capitalise on - so I'll get the photograhers blame game and excused out of the way upfront - it was a bumpy track, the light was bad, the vehicle was moving too fast, the animnals didn't co-operate et etc etc etc :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:

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The nitty-gritty of Rick’s hunts are his to tell in detail, if he so chooses … he’ll no doubt end up here on AH, as he was already talking about subsequent trips to Africa by breakfast time on our first hunting day. :ROFLMAO:

But, after a few attempts, and various cunning plans, he had one of these Black Wildebeest on the deck, despite the tough conditions with the wind still blowing a gale.

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^ Where's Wally the Wildebeest?

Lots of other game seen, only some captured on 'film'

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I'm not sure the trackers ever got their heads around why some idiot would come all this way and take photos of buildings, or, even worse, ruins of old buildings :ROFLMAO:

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Plenty more game spotted, and some taken. Rick ended the day with Impala and Springbok also in the bag. I had a memory card that was filling up. :rolleyes:

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More to follow.
 

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Beautiful pictures, and details, keep it coming.
 
Congratulation to the hunter, shooting in high winds is always challenging.

The loose nut behind the shutter release seems to be doing OK. (y)
 
Congratulation to the hunter, shooting in high winds is always challenging.

The loose nut behind the shutter release seems to be doing OK.
^ Yep - he did real well - I've only experienced hunting in winds that bad chasing Tahr in New Zealand. The camera loose nut - I'm not so sure he did that well.


------



Often, it all starts a few taps from the trackers on the roof of the bakkie.

Taps that could be loaded with potential and promise - or could just mean the PH took a wrong turn :ROFLMAO:

But these particular taps sounded like the spotting scope was about to see some action.

It did, focused on a ripper Kudu bull, with incredibly deep curls and full of character. He was about 1km away, relaxed and we had the wind.

A short, careful drive got us close enough for another look and confirmed initial impressions were spot on.

Rick turned to me and said 'must be your turn mate - go for it'.

Not that I'm a picture of fitness, but Rick's health is not what it once was, and I reckoned the soon-to-start stalk might well be a relatively straightforward one, so my self interest me listened in astonishment as I whispered 'go get him mate - he's all yours'. A short stalk and the sticks were up.

lining up.jpg


A matter of minutes later, I was looking at a 51", beautiful old bull, a Chesire Cat grinning mate, a beaming PH and what youngsters would describe as a pair of 'super stoked' trackers. (A better photographer would have conveyed their excitement more effectively :rolleyes: )

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It was only 0815!

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The bamboo recovery poles, SWL rated for monster Kudu, and associated hernias wouldn’t even come into play. Rick, ever the epitome of the ‘hunt smart, not hard’ bloke had dropped him 5m from a track!

What had I been thinking - was jet lag impairing my decision making!!! :unsure:

Was I going to be now referring to Rick as ‘my former mate’. :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:

I tried to reconcile myself with thoughts of how good the genetics must be in the area to get one this good, this early and that this chap’s bigger brother must surely be nearby, all we had to do was look hard.

So we did.

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It was all eyes on deck.

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We drove, and looked,

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and drove to some more looking spots and looked some more.

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Our looking was not entirely fruitless.

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But we hadn't found Mr 51's big brother ... yet.

Hunger prevailed and a meal beckoned.

At least I had got a nice photo of a pretty flower to email the bride.:rolleyes:

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More to follow.
 
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I had unfinnished business with a Warthog from my previous trip, so the Kudu quest was sidelined for a bit.

We eventually spotted a very decent boar.

Ali, the local tracker, made the universal signal, that transcends all langauge ...

both palms down, hands flicked horiztainally back and forth

that means - 'no - not that one' :ROFLMAO:

Turns out he'd seen one in the area that he knew was bigger, so the search was on.

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Saw a few, but nothing to get Ali excited.

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So it was back to camp for lunch.

No sooner had the napkins been folded, and cuttlery settled, than we get a call.

It's Ali.

Now he's excited.

He has eyes on our guy.

With the speed of a thousand startled gazelles, the QRF was rolling, an RV point was arranged en route.

A quick brief from Ali and the stalk was underway.

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'He's distracted' Riley whispers, 'he's mounting a sow'.

The stalk worked, the shot was fine, he had died happy, in a romantic moment, by a river on a sunny afternoon.

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The lads at the local service station on the way back to camp were impressed and all got pictures. Maybe my warthog was the talk of local social media for all of 2 minutes. :unsure:

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He certainly got more attention than the resident Shell Petroleum car park pig, that no one seemed too fussed about.

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There would be plenty of cheese kranskys from my warthog.

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The Woodleigh 165 gn PP was recovered and had done well, retained weight was 157 gn.

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To cap off a great day, a fine dinner was served ... warthog lasagna. Excellent.

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More to follow.
 
Gotta love those "Bespoke bicycles"
 
So, with final loading done, an almost all Australian affair, with ADI powder and brass and Woodleigh projectiles, and a final day at the 300m range (mostly) hitting 10” gongs at 300m off the sticks the weekend prior at WBB24 with @Kiwifire111 and @458JCE, I was all set, with a full Saturday up my sleeve to fine tune, do final prep and complete packing, before flying to Sydney the next day. Or so I thought.

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Those plans lasted until 1000 when a mate called to wish me well and mentioned one of our mates had just pulled out of a partridge shoot that afternoon. The rational me was too slow to act as he heard the hunting me say "So you’re a gun short? What time should I be there?". :rolleyes:

The birds had beckoned, the overdue haircut and final prep could wait. A perfect afternoon out and a few birds in the bag.

View attachment 613549

The day had finally dawned, I was underway, headed back to the Eastern Cape for another @KMG Hunting Safaris adventure with my mate Rick, on his first visit to Africa, the small Rigby and the 'big' camera in tow.

View attachment 613553

The normal dose of airport nonsense, where everything takes longer than it should, and offtimes feels like routine tasks are being attempted by work experience interns for the first time, but we muddled through the first of our 3 flights, a short hop to Sydney. Anxiety levels dropped once on board, with the words all AirTag users eagerly await ... "With You" finally apperaed. Rick used Samsung tags and they seemed to work as well as my Apple ones throughout our travels.

View attachment 613554

We overnighted at the Airport Holiday Inn Express this time - which was more than adequate, apart from the 0630 breakfast start, making it a bit of scramble for our 0930 flight to JNB. We had to talk our Uber driver down from instigating a road rage incident on a (deserving) cabbie on the way back to Sydney airport - he could maintina his honour and mete out justice next time they crossed paths, but we had a flight to catch.

I’d selected Ruark’s Horn of the Hunter as my reading for this expedition, and had for better or worse, also decided to take the big camera, cognisant that Ruark had wisely opined the challenges of foolishly attempting to hunt and photograph concurrently, nevertheless, here I was, hoping to be more Rob, the hunter, than Jinny the photographer - time would tell. In any event this yarn will be necessarily image heavy, in my attempts to justify my decision. So readers won’t need to rely on my clumsy writing to get a visual sense of characters along the way such as chicken toddler, the cabbage lady and the amazing spaces we hunted.

View attachment 613555

It's a great read, that seemed a perfect fit for this trip the more the trip unfolded.

Flight to JNB was straightforward, if long at 14 hours. A very southerly route saw us over icebergs and almost above Antartica.

We opted to do our own SAPS permits this year, that was all pretty seamless … until the SAPS printer broke down. I was fighting the urge to ask if they tried turning it off and back on again - but decided it was neither the time, nor place to be that guy - at least not until we had our permits. They managed to resuscitate Percy the printer and we were on our way in about 15 minutes.

As one does, we bumped into Bruce from Gracy Travel and Marius from RiflePermits, who had greeted me previously, and was greeting a father and son duo from USA. Turns out they were also hunting with KMG and would be in camp with us. Their travel and not been as successful as ours - they had landed sans rifles and suitcases (took 2 and a half days to get their gear to camp). It transpired the problem was a missed connection the USA, not at the African end.

View attachment 613572

We overnighted in JNB at City Lodge and enjoyed a pleasant dinner there with friends from Jo’Burg who have a property in Namibia that is high on the 'must visit' list to hunt Sable.

The trip to East London is a good one - I love asking for a window AND aisle seat on the little Embraer 135 ;)

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Still not convinced about the cheese hot cross bun - but when in Rome ...

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The Royal welcome from the King.

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And a warm welcome from our PH, Riley. Only 26 years old, but proved to be excellent company and an outstanding hunter. Two thoughts came to mind at our first meeting, Harry Selby had his 27th birthday while guiding the Ruarks in Horn of the Hunter and 1 Tim 4:12, 'Let no man despise thy youth'. ;)


An hour or so to camp from East London in the bakkie for getting to know Riley, tracker Merri, dogs Gracie and Scout and for Rick to take in his first sights of Africa, including;

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^ Bespoke bicylces ... Is there an Eastern Cape Customs workshop?

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^ Fresh fruit

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^ and local architecture

Finally at camp, zeroes checked, dinner enjoyed and attempts at sleep made.

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More to follow.
is the city lodge pretty easy to find? we are overnighting there on our way to kmg next week
 
Very easy. Just cross the road when you exit the Airport. Head to the Parkade. Signs and arrows pointing the direction. About 4 minute walk.
 
Good read and plenty of excellent photos. Well done on a superb adventure .
 
is the city lodge pretty easy to find? we are overnighting there on our way to kmg next week
Yes @kevin masters , as @Graham Hunter said, fairly well signed - the walkway to the carpark takes you there, then up one level in a lift (also well signed).


If you get really stuck - there will be plenty of orange vest wearing 'Porters' accosting you to offer directions and help with bags, for a tip, most places at JNB :ROFLMAO:
 
Yes @kevin masters , as @Graham Hunter said, fairly well signed - the walkway to the carpark takes you there, then up one level in a lift (also well signed).


If you get really stuck - there will be plenty of orange vest wearing 'Porters' accosting you to offer directions and help with bags, for a tip, most places at JNB :ROFLMAO:
yes the last time I was through tambo a gentleman came up to me and said I took your gun to the police station. I said thank you very much and he stuck his hand out. at that moment I looked over and a porter was pulling my gun case through the terminal. I motioned to the guy with his hand out and he cracked up laughing! lesson learned:ROFLMAO:
 
The days had become a blur by now - a sure sign of a good trip.

But we'd finally had the opportunity to arise at a gentlemanly enough hour to catch a sunrise at camp.

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Today, as they used to say on Sesame Street, was to be bought to us by the letter 'B'.

B is for Blesbok. After a good stalk up to aboput 100m, in fairly open country, it was Blesbok day for Rick.

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He (the Blesbok, not Rick) had a overgrown hoof.

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Rick had taken his Blesbok with an entirely scenic backdrop, including giraffe in the distance.

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That we managed to get a closer look at.

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B is for the Baboon I had a crack at once Rick had taken care of business. A long shot (for me) at 450 m, didn't quite allow enough for wind and it was a near miss. Maybe the B is for Buffoon.

I'm convinced that PH training includes a healthy does of 'How to encourage clients when they miss' :ROFLMAO:

'Your elevation was perfect'. 'He was only small, if he were a big one, you would have nailed him' etc etc :ROFLMAO:

At least I got a lead on some bloody good braai wood,

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and a Kingfisher photo.

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and a Sable schnitzel for dinner.

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More to follow.
 

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yes the last time I was through tambo a gentleman came up to me and said I took your gun to the police station. I said thank you very much and he stuck his hand out. at that moment I looked over and a porter was pulling my gun case through the terminal. I motioned to the guy with his hand out and he cracked up laughing! lesson learned:ROFLMAO:
I don’t tip any of those guys anymore. It’s a racket! I’ve had them ask for $300!
 
The days had become a blur by now - a sure sign of a good trip.

But we'd finally had the opportunity to arise at a gentlemanly enough hour to catch a sunrise at camp.

View attachment 614970

Today, as they used to say on Sesame Street, was to be bought to us by the letter 'B'.

B is for Blesbok. After a good stalk up to aboput 100m, in fairly open country, it was Blesbok day for Rick.

View attachment 614965

He (the Blesbok, not Rick) had a overgrown hoof.

View attachment 614966

Rick had taken his Blesbok with an entirely scenic backdrop, including giraffe in the distance.

View attachment 614967

That we managed to get a closer look at.

View attachment 614968

B is for the Baboon I had a crack at once Rick had taken care of business. A long shot (for me) at 450 m, didn't quite allow enough for wind and it was a near miss. Maybe the B is for Buffoon.

I'm convinced that PH training includes a healthy does of 'How to encourage clients when they miss' :ROFLMAO:

'Your elevation was perfect'. 'He was only small, if he were a big one, you would have nailed him' etc etc :ROFLMAO:

At least I got a lead on some bloody good braai wood,

View attachment 614969

and a Kingfisher photo.

View attachment 614971

and a Sable schnitzel for dinner.

View attachment 614972

More to follow.
Witty! I am liking this.
 
The days had become a blur by now - a sure sign of a good trip.

But we'd finally had the opportunity to arise at a gentlemanly enough hour to catch a sunrise at camp.

View attachment 614970

Today, as they used to say on Sesame Street, was to be bought to us by the letter 'B'.

B is for Blesbok. After a good stalk up to aboput 100m, in fairly open country, it was Blesbok day for Rick.

View attachment 614965

He (the Blesbok, not Rick) had a overgrown hoof.

View attachment 614966

Rick had taken his Blesbok with an entirely scenic backdrop, including giraffe in the distance.

View attachment 614967

That we managed to get a closer look at.

View attachment 614968

B is for the Baboon I had a crack at once Rick had taken care of business. A long shot (for me) at 450 m, didn't quite allow enough for wind and it was a near miss. Maybe the B is for Buffoon.

I'm convinced that PH training includes a healthy does of 'How to encourage clients when they miss' :ROFLMAO:

'Your elevation was perfect'. 'He was only small, if he were a big one, you would have nailed him' etc etc :ROFLMAO:

At least I got a lead on some bloody good braai wood,

View attachment 614969

and a Kingfisher photo.

View attachment 614971

and a Sable schnitzel for dinner.

View attachment 614972

More to follow.
love the report! will be there in 10 days! sightseeing in botswana,zambia and zimbabwe after!!
 
Another day, another first for me. Kudu burgers with a bacon and egg breakfast. TIA.

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It was good omen for today being Kudu day.

I had Ruark's, at times frustrating, quest for a good Kudu bull rattling around my skull.

But today would be the day, I was sure it was Kudu day - the breakfast omen couldn't be wrong.

We were off to hunt a new spot. A spot said to be teeming with Kudu. Or was that another PH Jedi mind trick to keep a client's spirits up after a few quiet days, during which Rick 'Harriet Maytag' had been the one taking all the good heads. :unsure:

But what a spot it was, very easy on the eye as we entered the first valley. Those hills might prove to be easier on the eye than on the feet.

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Merri the tracker, by now, knew what new country meant, some fool, who had barely shot any game so far, would be stopping the bakkie every few minutes to take pictures of dilapidated old buildings :rolleyes:

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Our new local tracker, Budae was still trying to wrap his head around it. :ROFLMAO:

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He was good sort, if only his leather jacket could talk, it would have some stories to tell. A man who apparently did not buy into the marketing hype sprouted by the purveyours of this new fandangled camouflage clothing - the blue pants had no doubt been on many more successful Kudu hunts than I had. :ROFLMAO:

Then, in what seemed the middle of nowhere, miles from any roads of substance, we bumped into the cabbage lady and her crew, another TIA moment. We gave them a lift to some place even more remote, making the most of the bakkie space before it was filled to the gunwhales with a monster Kudu bull.

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BTW Mods - why don't we have a TIA emoji? :unsure:

The locals are out in force today, we next meet the goat guy.

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Whose charges, impede our progress for a bit.

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Finally, we spot a good bull, he's fair way off, but can see the stationery bakkie, and probably knows what a spotting scope means, and doesn't like it. They did get old by being stupid. There's nothing for it but to put in a long stalk, across the valley floor up the foothills.

The intel updates are coming through in hushed tones over the radio from the spotting elelment at the bakkie, we are making good progress. The bull is settling down somewhat, intermittently feeding.

This was it - this was going to be the Kudu taking stalk.

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Baboons, bloody baboons, noisy bloody baboons.

They had clocked us, from afar, we got to within almost 500 m our bull before he had had enough of the baboons and the bakkie and had left the postcode.

But the day was still young, and plenty of hills remained.

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Plenty of Kudu hills, and another stalk or two, for a closer look at what may have been a good bull.

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My bull remained elusive for another day. But what a privilege it was to be just sitting, thinking about chasing Kudu, in this place.

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More to follow.
 
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That is my new favorite breakfast!
Good luck with that kudu bull
 
Another early start. We were headed back to Kudu country.

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There were a fews locals up and there to greet us. They were safe today given the singular focus on a good Kudu bull.

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By mid morning, we'd seen some good bulls, catching some warmth on the hills, but Riley was sure we could do better. It was a nice day for a walk, so we followed tracks along valley floors for about 3 km on foot.

It had paid off, there he was, on a steep hill, about 800m dead ahead of us, but feeding up the hill, toward thick cover. The final stalk was on in earnest, along a dry creek bed.

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Our decent cover ran out, so we set up for a shot, waiting for him to enter a small opening. He did, but with another bull right behind him. It was a narrow window, and it slammed shut without be able to get a shot off as he dissolved into the thick cover. We watched for some time, and only caught one more glimpse of him as he crested the hill on his way to safety. He was a great old bull, hopefully someone will catch up with him some day.

Another empty handed walk of shame back to the bakkie. But it was a nice day for a walk.

And a nice day for lunch, atop cliffs, watching warthog feed on the flats across the river and fish jumping.

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Got a picture later in the day looking back toward our lunch spot.

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Driving from lunch, through an avenue of thick bush, a huge Kudu bull ran across the track, not 10m in front of the vehicle ... the things you see when you havn't got a gun (or even a camera handy). :( At least I got a picture of the track. :rolleyes:

track.jpg


We'd seen some cows earlier in the day, so thought it worth checking out the hill they had been on. As we stalked through the bush, climbing toward cow rocks, we bumped into the cows half way up the hill, sending them crashing off - no bulls with them.

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We got to the top, affording good views into the next valley - it was empty.

A bit more driving, lots more looking, lots more country. I'm hoping the greying skies are not a portent for the remains of the day.

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With the day ebbing away, we make another looking stop. A good looking stop. We've seen him, the stalk is on to get to a firing position where we would be able to get him in a window as he moves through the bush with a cow. When he materialises, he's cosy with the cow, some anxious moements later, a shot presents, at 270 m, crack, thwack and he's down. We can't see his body, but we can see he is on his side and his legs thrashing in the little opening in the trees.

After some quick post shot conferring, Merri goes down on foot to guide us in with the vehicle for the simple task of collecting him.

post shot.jpg


En route, we get a most unwelcome radio call 'he's up and is on the move, sick, but still mobile'. He was headed toward the river, high and impassable by vehicle from recent rains, and the thick stuff that lay beyond. The snakes and ladders game was back on. On reaching the spot where he'd been hit, there was hair, but no blood.:(

A former Australian Prime Minister had once infamously proclaimed 'Life wasn't meant to be easy' - here I was, many Prime Ministers later, getting my own (over)dose of Malcolm Fraser's 'wisdom'.

The dogs are quickly collared and we're off, not 100% sure of direction, dogs struggling to pick the right Kudu scent to trail, of the many that had been through the area during the day from the prints we saw.

collared.jpg


We eventually catch him, he's made it to the river. Not only to the river, but across the river - and he's looking to move toward impossible-to-follow-up thick cover :(

river 1.jpg


A couple of quick shots and he's finally down and out, nerves doing their final thrashing throes on the muddy bank. Then in one of those surreal, in-an-instant but concurrently seemingly slow motion moments .... slip, slide, kerplunk, splash.

river 2.jpg


He's in the river, the flowing hard river, and we can't see him. Sunk? Downstream?

Cameraman Rick had captured the 'what next' moment.

A plan was needed, fast. PH looks at tracker, tracker gives that unmistakable look back ... that 'no way boss' look.:ROFLMAO:

PH Riley doesn't even ask about the client's swiming ability (or inclination) and jumps into action, finding an island of sorts upstream (henceforth and forever more known as Riley Island) to make the crossing two short swims rather than one longer one.

trunks.jpg


Once he's across and finds the bull, spirits soar. He used an orange tie down strap from the bakkie to secured the bull to a river bank tree. What a legend. (y)

Maybe he did, but I've never heard of Harry Selby pulling off such a feat to recover a trophy. :unsure:

I finally had my Kudu bull. Well, not entirely true. The river had my Kudu bull.

As they say - ‘if there’s no photo - it didn’t happen’.

Recovery would have to be tomorrow.

Would the tree hold? Would local predators chew on my trophy overnight? Had Riley been paying attention in knot tying classes during his PH training? :ROFLMAO:

More to follow.
 

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Another early start. We were headed back to Kudu country.

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There were a fews locals up and there to greet us. They were safe today given the singular focus on a good Kudu bull.

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By mid morning, we'd seen some good bulls, catching some warmth on the hills, but Riley was sure we could do better. It was a nice day for a walk, so we followed tracks along valley floors for about 3 km on foot.

It had paid off, there he was, on a steep hill, about 800m dead ahead of us, but feeding up the hill, toward thick cover. The final stalk was on in earnest, along a dry creek bed.

View attachment 615243

Our decent cover ran out, so we set up for a shot, waiting for him to enter a small opening. He did, but with another bull right behind him. It was a narrow window, and it slammed shut without be able to get a shot off as he dissolved into the thick cover. We watched for some time, and only caught one more glimpse of him as he crested the hill on his way to safety. He was a great old bull, hopefully someone will catch up with him some day.

Another empty handed walk of shame back to the bakkie. But it was a nice day for a walk.

And a nice day for lunch, atop cliffs, watching warthog feed on the flats across the river and fish jumping.

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Got a picture later in the day looking back toward our lunch spot.

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Driving from lunch, through an avenue of thick bush, a huge Kudu bull ran across the track, not 10m in front of the vehicle ... the things you see when you havn't got a gun (or even a camera handy). :( At least I got a picture of the track. :rolleyes:

View attachment 615251

We'd seen some cows earlier in the day, so thought it worth checking out the hill they had been on. As we stalked through the bush, climbing toward cow rocks, we bumped into the cows half way up the hill, sending them crashing off - no bulls with them.

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We got to the top, affording good views into the next valley - it was empty.

A bit more driving, lots more looking, lots more country. I'm hoping the greying skies are not a portent for the remains of the day.

View attachment 615255

With the day ebbing away, we make another looking stop. A good looking stop. We've seen him, the stalk is on to get to a firing position where we would be able to get him in a window as he moves through the bush with a cow. When he materialises, he's cosy with the cow, some anxious moements later, a shot presents, at 270 m, crack, thwack and he's down. We can't see his body, but we can see he is on his side and his legs thrashing in the little opening in the trees.

After some quick post shot conferring, Merri goes down on foot to guide us in with the vehicle for the simple task of collecting him.

View attachment 615256

En route, we get a most unwelcome radio call 'he's up and is on the move, sick, but still mobile'. He was headed toward the river, high and impassable by vehicle from recent rains, and the thick stuff that lay beyond. The snakes and ladders game was back on. On reaching the spot where he'd been hit, there was hair, but no blood.:(

A former Australian Prime Minister had once infamously proclaimed 'Life wasn't meant to be easy' - here I was, many Prime Ministers later, getting my own (over)dose of Malcolm Fraser's 'wisdom'.

The dogs are quickly collared and we're off, not 100% sure of direction, dogs struggling to pick the right Kudu scent to trail, of the many that had been through the area during the day from the prints we saw.

View attachment 615270

We eventually catch him, he's made it to the river. Not only to the river, but across the river - and he's looking to move toward impossible-to-follow-up thick cover :(

View attachment 615262

A couple of quick shots and he's finally down and out, nerves doing their final thrashing throes on the muddy bank. Then in one of those surreal, in-an-instant but concurrently seemingly slow motion moments .... slip, slide, kerplunk, splash.

View attachment 615274

He's in the river, the flowing hard river, and we can't see him. Sunk? Downstream?

Cameraman Rick had captured the 'what next' moment.

A plan was needed, fast. PH looks at tracker, tracker gives that unmistakable look back ... that 'no way boss' look.:ROFLMAO:

PH Riley doesn't even ask about the client's swiming ability (or inclination) and jumps into action, finding an island of sorts upstream (henceforth and forever more known as Riley Island) to make the crossing two short swims rather than one longer one.

View attachment 615276

Once he's across and finds the bull, spirits soar. He used an orange tie down strap from the bakkie to secured the bull to a river bank tree. What a legend. (y)

Maybe he did, but I've never heard of Harry Selby pulling off such a feat to recover a trophy. :unsure:

I finally had my Kudu bull. Well, not entirely true. The river had my Kudu bull.

As they say - ‘if there’s no photo - it didn’t happen’.

Recovery would have to be tomorrow.

Would the tree hold? Would local predators chew on my trophy overnight? Had Riley been paying attention in knot tying classes during his PH training? :ROFLMAO:

More to follow.
That is a great story! I have a crazy kudu story as well but dang I enjoyed reading yours,lol
 

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