SOUTH AFRICA: A Thanksgiving Safari

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by jasyblood, Nov 28, 2017.

  1. jasyblood

    jasyblood BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    Hello guys,

    I’ve just returned from a trip to SA that I set up last minute and what an awesome trip it turned out to be…..

    A little info on how this hunt came about:

    I was originally supposed to go to Namibia on this trip. It then got changed to Zim (my decision) and then that fell apart and I was stuck with a ticket to Johannesburg and nowhere to hunt.

    I had also hired a buddy of mine in South Africa to video the hunt in Zim. When I contacted him to let him know that that deal had fallen through and that I had a plane ticket and nowhere to hunt, we decided to “make a plan” to hunt some animals in SA that I had not been able to get yet.

    After much discussion, I had come up with a short list of 3 animals (all plainsgame) that I really wanted and then anything else on top of that would be a bonus.

    My list would be:

    1) Bontebok

    2) Limpopo Bushbuck(3rd attempt)

    3) Waterbuck(2nd attempt)


    He made some suggestions on who to contact for the animals I wanted and I also contacted a few other outfitters I knew and after about a week, I had my hunt booked. Also, he was nice enough to offer to haul my butt all over South Africa to get said animals.

    About 3 weeks before departure….all set and ready to go, right? Not so fast…..

    I’m on the mailing list of several booking agents and outfitters(as I’m sure a lot of you guys are) and I got an email from a US booking agent on an animal that I really hadn’t given a lot of thought too…mainly because I couldn’t afford or import them…..Lion. Hmmmm this looks like a really good deal! I had always been of the opinion that if I couldn’t bring it home, I really didn’t want to hunt it. Well, after listening to a few of you guys over the last few years, I have changed my opinion on this subject.

    I had never used this booking agent before so I called and quizzed him, discussed the hunt and time frame it would take and after about a week, I decided to do it.

    I also discussed it with my buddy (videographer/chauffeur) and he was more than happy to haul me to the NW Province too.

    So, now I have 3 outfitters (NW Province (lion), Northern Cape (bontebok) and Limpopo (bushbuck/waterbuck)) and 9 hunting/travel days…this should be exhausting but fun!


    Less than 2 weeks to go…all set and ready to go, right? You guessed it…nope!

    I’m inside two weeks and I get an email from outfitter #3(Limpopo) and has he got a deal for me! He asked if I was interested in a exportable crocodile?? My response was “well yes…yes I am but that’s not really in my budget”. Well, after a little discussion, we settled on a price that we could both live with and it was all set!

    Now, I’m at the limit of what my wallet can stand and hopefully no one else offers me anything else at a ridiculous price! Hahaha.

    One last thing I’d like to mention before I get on to the “hunting” portion of this hunt report…..I have another good friend in SA that was my PH on my first safari. He and I have kept up with each other since then and have visited each time I get back there. He is no longer in the “business” and is currently working in Tanzania at one of the mines there.

    Since this trip was planned so last minute, I had not mentioned to him that I was coming back. Well, he is also good friends with the videographer and they set it up (without me knowing) to where he could fly home and tag along with us for the Limpopo portion of the trip. That was a nice surprise and I thought it was pretty cool that he was willing to come hang out with us and to get to hunt with him again.


    Now, on to the trip!


    I flew out on the evening of Nov 14th and was flying Qatar Airways from DFW/DOH/JNB. I opted not to bring my own guns this time so I didn’t have to deal with any potential problems in Doha. All the travel went well and the only thing that would keep me from choosing Qatar again was the 9 hour layover in Doha. Other than that, the planes were nice and the crew was very accommodating and attentive.


    I arrive in Johannesburg at 10:00am on Nov 16th and since I was sitting in the front portion of the plane (as close as you can get without sitting in business class) I was off the plane and through passport control in about 30 minutes. My luggage was sitting on the carrousel when I walked up and I was completely out of the airport in about 40 minutes from landing.

    My buddy was right outside waiting and after a handshake and quick hello; we were out the door and on the road for the NW Province.

    The trip to the NW was about 7 hours but actually flew by. With a few phone calls to verify that we were on the right track, we arrived in camp just as the sun was setting.



    IMG_2568.JPG


    We were greeted by the owner (Brenden) and I was introduced to my PH (Harry) and I was also introduced to another couple that was already in camp. We grabbed a few beers and got to know everyone and had a late dinner. After dinner, we all met back up at the fire pit and discussed the next day’s activities over a few more drinks then off to bed. After being awake for almost 48 hours straight, sleep came quickly.

    Friday Nov 17th –

    I was up at 6:00am and was dressed and at the breakfast table by 6:30. Harry met me for breakfast at 6:45 and we discussed our plans for the day in more detail. Brenden and his crew had been out driving the roads since 5:00am looking for tracks and said they would radio when the found a fresh set. The plans were to go to the range to sight the rifle and hopefully by then, Brenden had found some tracks.

    We left the lodge at about 7:15 and headed for the range. I was given a choice of a Sako .375 H&H or a CZ .416 Rigby. After fondling both for about 5 minutes, I chose the old, well-worn Sako over the pretty CZ…not sure why, I just like the look and feel of the old rifle. It looked like it had been on many, many safaris, with most of the blue missing from the barrel and the action was as slick as butter. It had a fixed 4x power scope on it which was also well-worn. I got set up on the bench and dry fired the rifle to feel the trigger. It had a little creep (expected for an old rifle) but had a light trigger (just how I like ‘em). I then chambered a round, got steady and let one fly and the old rifle hit dead center. I fired once more just to make sure the first was not an anomaly and it was touching the first. I knew I liked this old rifle for some reason!

    We packed everything up and were heading back to camp when Brenden called on the radio. He had found a set of tracks. They were older but it was the best that he had seen all morning. He gave us his coordinates and we headed his direction to meet up. After a 30 minute drive, we met Brenden on the road and he showed us the tracks. The plan was for us to follow them and Brenden would continue to drive to see if he could find where the cat moved from one block to the next.

    So, here we go. We follow the lone set of tracks for about a half mile or so and then all the sudden, there are tracks everywhere and I’m a bit confused. The tracker tells me that all the tracks are from a heard of gemsbok and that our lion is following them. Up until this point, it really hadn’t hit me that I was really hunting a lion but it just got real…at least to me. We continued to follow but it was really hard to pick the lions track out of the tracks from the herd so tracking was slow and tedious at times.

    About an hour into the stalk, Brenden radios to tell us that he’s found the spot where the gemsbok and cat crossed another road. It’s quite a ways from where we are and he comes back to get us and runs us to the spot and we continue the stalk. This same scenario happens twice more over the next few hours and it’s getting close to 11:30 and starting to get very warm. Harry expects that that cat will head for cover soon to get out of the heat and hopefully we can gain some ground on him.

    Shortly after 11:30, Brenden radios us again and says he’s spotted the cat in a thicket. He’s about 600 yards from our current location, so he comes to fetch us again and drops us off about 200 yards from where he had seen it. We start easing our way up the two-track road and I can feel my heart starting to pound. All the brush on the right side of the road was extremely thick and twisted and with each step I was straining my eyes to see a cat. All of the sudden, Harry throws on the brakes and points into the brush and says “there he is”. I’m not going to lie…I did not see anything but a bunch of thick brush. I tell him that I can’t see him and ask how far ahead he is and he said about 30 yards! I think to myself that I can’t believe there is a big cat 30 yards from me and I can’t see him…pretty scary! After a few seconds I ask Harry to try to give me a bearing on where the cat is so hopefully I can find him. As he is describing where it is, the cat flicks his tail a little and I spot it. My heart is really pounding now….We back up about 30 yards and make a plan.

    The new plan is to move completely around the cat and come in from the backside and hopefully get a clear shot. We ease through the thicket, never getting more than 50-60 yards away from where had seen the cat. I would take a step and then look into the thicket in the direction the cat should be just to make sure he wasn’t coming before I would take the next step. It seemed like time had slowed to a crawl and took us forever to get all the way around.

    We finally made it to the other side and had to get down on our knees to see under the brush to find the cat. I finally had a relatively clear view of him. He was now sitting up with his rear end facing us and looking over his left shoulder at us. I could clearly see his yellow eyes and he seemed to be looking directly at me. Again, I won’t lie, I was trembling……Harry asks me if I have a clear shot. I’m on the sticks but there is a mass of twisted tree limbs right over the vitals. I tell him that I don’t feel comfortable with the shot and that we should try to move a little to try to get a better angle. Harry agrees and as we get up from our knees, the cat moves away from us about 10 yards and deeper into the thick stuff.

    We make a new plan. We will now retrace our steps and go back to the spot where we had first spotted the lion and hopefully get a clear shot from there. We eased our way back around and like before, we had our eyes locked onto the thicket waiting for a charge.

    We finally get back around and the tracker sees it first. He points into the brush and Harry grabs my left shirt sleeve and pulls me to a gap in the trees and points out the cat. I can clearly see him now. He is laying perfectly broad side to us and behind some small bushes. I get on the sticks and I see a clear gap right in the vitals. Harry asks if I have I shot and I tell him yes. I can see him raise his rifle from my left side. He asks me again if I’m sure if the shot is clear and again I tell him yes. He then says, “When you’re ready, take the shot…..”

    As I squeeze the trigger, everything goes into slow motion. I barely hear the shot but I clearly see the bullet hit exactly where I was aiming. The cat lets out a load growl and jumps straight up in the air and flips a little. We he hits the ground he runs parallel to our right and hits a tree about 20 yards away and falls. I can’t see him now but can hear him growling.

    We circle around with guns ready and finally see him lying under a tree. He is clearly not going to make it much longer but I ease in behind him and put in a finishing shot between his shoulders. After the second shot, he goes limp and he is done. We slowly walk up to him to verify that he is done and it’s over.

    Shortly after, Harry and the rest of the crew left me alone with the cat. As the adrenaline wore off and reality set in, it’s hard to describe the emotions I felt and maybe it can only be understood by those who have hunted one of these animals. I was honestly a little confused at how I felt and as I’m typing this, I find myself still trying to process these emotions. Like a lot of us who grow up dreaming of hunting Africa, lion is usually at the top of the list and in my mind at least(before the hunt), it should be the most satisfying hunt I’ve ever done, but that was not how I felt. It was more a feeling if sadness at what I had done and maybe a little regret. With that said, please don’t misunderstand me, I’m still happy I was able to do it and would do it all over again tomorrow if I had the chance.

    Anyway, everyone gave me about 10 minutes alone and then asked if I was ready for pics. We got everything set up and took pics for about a half hour and then loaded up and headed back to camp.

    IMG_2532.JPG IMG_2535.JPG Lion.JPG

    It was about 1:00 when we arrived and my buddy and I headed straight for the bar while lunch was being prepared. Then after lunch, it was back to the bar where we hung out for the balance of the day and visited with the other couple in camp along with all the PH’s. Somewhere during the evening, I thought it would be a good idea to switch from beer to scotch (not my best decision) and after a late dinner, I found myself a little over-served and looking for my bed.

    I awoke the next morning about 5:30am with the sun shining in my face and my head pounding from the whiskey the night before. I forced myself to get up and get a shower and then packed up as we would be moving to the Northern Cape today for bontebok. After a quick breakfast, we said our goodbyes to the crew there and then hit the road…….

    To be continued……
     

  2. Shootist43

    Shootist43 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    WOW!!! What a way to start a hunt.
     
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  3. Riksa

    Riksa AH Veteran

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    Great start! Looking forward to more
     
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  4. KMG Hunting Safaris

    KMG Hunting Safaris AH ENABLER SPONSOR Since 2013 AH Legend

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  5. jasyblood

    jasyblood BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    Thanks Marius!
     

  6. MAdcox

    MAdcox GOLD SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    Beautiful cat. Sounds like an exciting report to come. Can’t wait.
     
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  7. 375 Ruger Fan

    375 Ruger Fan AH Legend

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    awesome!
     
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  8. cls

    cls AH Fanatic

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    congrats on a beautiful cat, can't wait for the rest of the report.
     
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  9. MMAL

    MMAL GOLD SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    That was awesome. Nice write-up and keep it coming.
     
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  10. reedy0312

    reedy0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Holy cow!! Congrats on a great cat!!! Look forward to more
     
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  11. Nyati

    Nyati AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    @jasyblood , that camp picture, Brenden, Harry...were you hunting at Sans Souci farm ?
     
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  12. jasyblood

    jasyblood BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    Thanks buddy!
     

  13. jasyblood

    jasyblood BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    Yes sir! The hunt was originally booked through White Lion but subbed out to them.
     
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  14. Nyati

    Nyati AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    I was there last Sept. 30, tagging along with a friend who also hunted a lion.

    I tried to shoot a very large baboon, but the rascal got away :ROFLMAO:
     
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  15. jasyblood

    jasyblood BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    Nice! As they say, it really is a small world!
     

  16. LivingTheDream

    LivingTheDream AH Elite

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    @jasyblood I know what you mean about the lion. It is a weird emotion. Such an amazing animal. Really enjoying the story so far.
     
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  17. jasyblood

    jasyblood BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    Thanks! Glad someone else knows how I feel!(y)
     

  18. JakeH

    JakeH AH Veteran

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    Fantastic lion! Can’t wait to read the rest.
     
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  19. Ridgewalker

    Ridgewalker LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    Great, quick hunt! That’s one handsome lion! Congratulations!
     
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  20. jasyblood

    jasyblood BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    After we leave the lion property, we stop for fuel and snacks and settle in for the long drive….little did I know how long of a day this would turn out to be.

    Our plan today is to drive down to just north of Kimberley and start hunting right after we arrive at the new property and hopefully get the bontebok on the ground before dark. We also planned on spending the night there and if the hunt was completed as we hoped, we could get on the road first thing tomorrow morning for the long drive to pick up buddy #2 and then up to the Limpopo.

    We arrive about 1:30 and are greeted at the gate by the landowner. After we introduce ourselves we ask him what the plan is. He said it just so happens that when he was driving across the property to meet us at the gate, he had seen two really nice rams hanging together about a mile from the gate. He said we could either go check them out or start driving the rest of the property. Me and my buddy discussed it and decided to go check out the two that he spotted.

    We followed the landowner a short distance and parked and got everything ready, discussed our plan and off we went. We didn’t go 200 yards before we spotted the two rams grazing in a clearing. We all three checked both of them out thoroughly and both had identical length horns but one was wider than the other. Since I’m no bontebok expert, I asked the owner his opinion and he said that we’d be hard pressed to find a better ram and he guessed this one to be a little over 14” (which apparently is pretty good). I discussed it with my buddy and we decided to go for the wide one.

    We moved to the right to get the wind and eased our way towards the rams. We would move from tree to tree each time they put their head down to graze. It didn’t take long before we were about 80 yards and was on the sticks. The wide one stepped out from behind a bush and stopped. I squeezed the trigger on the .308 and down he went. Pretty easy hunt but I really didn’t expect it to be too hard anyways.

    When we got up to him, even I could tell he was longer than 14”. The landowner pulled out his tape and it measured 14-5/8” on both horns.

    Bontebok 2.JPG Bontebok.JPG

    It was a beautiful animal. You can clearly see the difference between them and blesbok. It’s amazing to me how much whiter the white parts are versus blesbok which always seems to be stained a yellow-orange color. Not sure how they stay so clean??

    After we loaded him up in the truck, the owner wanted to drive us around and show us his place on the way to the skinning shed. This is a beautiful part of Africa that I had never seen before and he had several nice herds of sable, roan and more bontebok.

    When we arrived at the skinning shed, we discovered that since it was Saturday afternoon, all the help had gone for the day so we’d have to skin the animal ourselves. No worries though….that just adds to the story….not that I had to do much of it though. My buddy jumped in and took over and before I knew it, we had the hide salted and in a crate.

    Now, since we had gotten everything done so early, my buddy and I decided that instead of staying the night here, we’d go ahead and start heading towards the Limpopo and spend the night at buddy #2’s house (who had just arrived from Tanzania) who lives about an hour south of Johannesburg. So, we packed the hide, horns and meat in the truck and said our goodbyes.

    What we didn’t know was there was road construction at several places along our route which slowed us down considerably. We arrive about 9:30PM and have a late dinner and few drinks before going to bed around midnight. Long, hard day of driving(or riding in my case) a bunch of kilometers, but still a lot fun and having a great time!

    That's all for today...I continue writing more tomorrow.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2017

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