SOUTH AFRICA: Adventure Of A Lifetime With Umlilo Safaris & Limcroma Safaris

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by rinehart0050, Jul 10, 2016.

  1. rinehart0050

    rinehart0050 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Synopsis:

    Just got back from South Africa, where my wife and I, along with my parents, just finished the most amazing adventure (vacation doesn't do it credit) of our lives. We hunted with two different outfitters- @Umlilo Safaris and @Limcroma Safaris. Both absolutely exceeded our every expectation and we plan to hunt with both again in the future (that's right, already thinking about the next trip before the first one ended!). I can't begin to thank Francois from Umlilo and Hannes and Dan @firehuntfish from Limcroma for making this dream a reality and a memory my family will never forget! And of course, thanks to everyone on this site for your advise, recommendations, etc.

    More in-depth report to follow!
    [​IMG]
    Outfitter: Umlilo Safaris
    Owner/PH: Francois Dorfling
    Hunted: Lion, Sable
    Region: NWP (Kalahari)

    [​IMG]
    Outfitter: Limcroma Safaris
    Owner/PH: Hannes Els
    PH: Riaan Jacobs
    Video: Henk Jacobs
    Hunted: Kudu, Gemsbok, Waterbuck, Wildebeest, Zebra, Impala, Warthog
    Region: Limpopo
     
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  2. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    Congrats on the great animals!
     
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  3. rinehart0050

    rinehart0050 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Prep/Equipment/Packing:

    Rifle Importation:
    I went through the whole EIN nonsense. Total waste of time. All I needed was the 4457, which I completed and got stamped at my local CBP office. I let @riflepermits.com handle all my paperwork in SA. Also, I paid the $80 for VIP meet and greet at the gate- this got us into an expedited immigration line in Joburg, only took about 5 min to get through. We were first in line for my rifle too. Another 5 min there. Henry and the team at riflepermits.com did an outstanding job and the peace of mind was well worth their nominal fee.

    Rifle: Fierce Edge 7mm Rem Mag (performed great)
    Scope: Nightforce 4-14x56 w/illuminated reticle (which proved useful... more on this later)
    Suppressor: Silencerco Omega ***This was the one item I was concerned about taking out of the states. Lots of conflicting information on whether or not I'd be able to get it back in. No issues at all! Thank goodness! I noted it on my 4457 just in case, but they never even mentioned it at customs. My PHs were surprised and told me I was the first American to bring a suppressor along. It was great not needing to wear ear protection the whole time!
    Ammo: Barnes 160 grain Factory Ammo
    Binos: Vortex Talon 10x42 (worked great, no complaints)
    [​IMG]
    Case: Pelican (I put all kinds of stuff in here on the various levels, more than in the pictures).
    [​IMG]
    ***Of note: Stuff I didn't use at all:
    -my own shooting sticks (Primos Gen 2 Tripod). I actually liked my PH's 2-stick set up better. It was easier to adjust the height on the fly.
    -Vortex Rangefinder (All the PHs seemed to have Leica Geovids with built-in range finders)
    -my knife

    Camera Equipment:
    -Nikon D5300 w/ 18-55mm and 55-300mm stabilized lenses. Worked great, I primarily kept the 55-300 lens on, except for trophy photos.
    -PNY 256 GB SD Card (you read that right, GB! I took thousands of photos and didn't even scratch the surface of this thing's capacity!)
    -Also lots of 64 and 32 GB micro SD cards for the GoPros
    -GoPro Hero 4 Black
    -GoPro Sessions (smaller, cheaper version of a regular GoPro)
    -Feiyu Tech G4-QD 3-Axis Gimbal for the GoPro (this thing stabilizes all of your video by minimizing any vibrations across 3 axises. Its awesome. Our videographer, Henk, was blown away by how stable the videos were and plans on getting one for himself immediately. I'll post some video samples later)
    [​IMG]

    Clothes:
    1x Kryptek light jacket
    1x black jacket (note: it was cold in the mornings! 40 degrees on the back of a truck with the wind blowing is cold. I recommend a few extra layers that you can shed as the day warms up)
    3x sets of hunting clothes (pants/shirts)
    5x socks
    3x polos for in the evenings/traveling
    1x Rocky SV2 desert tan boots (left these for our skinner, which allowed me to skip the boot spray station when coming back through customs in the US)
    1x flip flops

    Other:
    Gifts for PHs and Skinners
    Copies of all of my documents- 4457, copy of tax stamp and trust docs for suppressor (ended up not needing, but had them along just in case), SAP temp import forms, outfitter invoices, hotel confirmations, etc. etc. etc.
    -I put a copies of relevant documents into each piece of luggage- ammo box, gun case, regular suitcase, etc.
    -Also, I just put my ammo box in my regular checked bag, not separate. Was not an issue, but I didn't fly anywhere from JoBurg.

    I'm actually starting to feel tired now... jetlag. I'll continue this later.
     
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  4. billc

    billc SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    great start of a report that looks like it is going to be great one. That is a beast of lion you took. I am very glad you had such a great time and welcome to the I want to return club. After the second trip it does not even take being there to start planning the 3rd and 4th. LOL your hooked now.
     
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  5. reedy0312

    reedy0312 AH Legend

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    Congrats!!! Great report so far, look forward to the updates! Awesome trophies
     
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  6. rinehart0050

    rinehart0050 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Travel:

    We flew to Atlanta, then on Delta 200 direct to Johannesburg. Flight was long, but not bad. Stretching, squats, and the like at regular intervals helped make it less painful.

    After making our way through customs and getting our rifle case, we head to the hotel shuttle area. This is where we had to only negative experience of the trip: a bunch of people standing around, "helping" load luggage, then demanding tips. More annoying than anything else, it did cause me to have my wife carry all the cash so that I could just tell people I didn't have any.

    Stayed the first night at the Peermont Metcourt Suites, a hotel connected to Emperor's Palace. Room was nice. We walked over through the casino to the food court, lots of choices. We chose Indian food, then to bed. A full, hot, breakfast buffet the next morning was included in the price of the room. This is a good hotel to stay at if you're looking for convenience. They're located at the south end of the airport, so short drive. Lots of food options. Gambling if that's your thing.

    Francois Dorfling, PH and owner (along with his brother Johan) of @Umlilo Safaris picked us up in the morning for the 6.5 hour drive out to the Kalahari! Surprisingly enough, the drive was very enjoyable, talking, taking in the sites, looking for game, etc. We stopped in Vryburg for lunch at... the Ocean Basket restaurant! Nothing like sushi in the Kalahari! Actually, it was very good. They're as good at westernized sushi as any place in the states.

    The final hour or so of driving takes us off the paved roads, onto the dirt. Its actually suprising how smooth they are, not many rocks in this area. We blast down the road, finally arriving at the lodge just after sunset.

    We have the whole camp to ourselves (they actually have three separate camps in the area, each hosting just one party at a time, nice for privacy). They have two buildings with three suites each and then a main building for meals and socializing. We get ourselves situated in our room, enjoy a drink by the fire, dinner, and then to bed. We hunt lion tomorrow!

    [​IMG]
     
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  7. rinehart0050

    rinehart0050 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Lion Hunt:

    Here's the team:
    [​IMG]
    Gawie (resident PH), Patrick (lead tracker), Francois (Outfitter, PH), Simon (asst. tracker)

    Here's our trusty chariot:
    [​IMG]

    Rifle:
    I'm borrowing Gawie's CZ 550 in 416 Rigby, open sites (I don't want a scope if I'm shooting at something huge at less than 50 yds...). He's got it set up in a synthetic stock with a mercury recoil reducer in the stock. It works great, kick reminds me of my SCAR 17S in 7.62, but less sharp- more of a push.

    The hunt:

    After a light breakfast of coffee and a slice of toast, we head out. Our tracker Patrick is sitting on the front of the truck, looking for lion tracks in the fine Kalahari sand. Gawie is driving and the rest of us are on the back, looking, looking...

    Its surprisingly cold on the back of the truck. Enough so that I put on my beanie and gloves. After driving the blocks for a while, we stop. Patrick has spotted some lion tracks!
    [​IMG]
    The tracks aren't too old, probably from earlier this morning. You can tell the age of a print by how smooth they are. If the print is still rough, has sharp edges, etc, its fresh. As time goes on, the wind smooths out the tracks, making it into more of a blob. Interestingly, on this first set of tracks, there are jackal tracks on top. A jackal has been following the lion, hoping for an easy meal!

    We get back on the truck, and start driving the block again. Along the way, we spot a herd of wildebeest... they better be careful- predators are in the vicinity! About an hour later, more tracks. These are old, maybe from the night before, maybe even older. Its crazy how big the tracks are, easily spotted even from the seats in the back of the truck!

    The driving continues, I'm thinking mostly about how I'm cold. All of a sudden, the truck stops. There's a bit more excitement in the expressions and moves of the usually cool, almost nonchalant Gawie and Patrick. Fresh track. Very fresh!

    Get the gun! I chamber a round, rifle on safe- my thumb was on that safety, ready to flick it off at a second's notice, for the rest of the stalk! The PHs check their doubles- both use Sabatti 500s (pretty good endorsement if a guy that has hunted hundreds of lions uses one!). My wife gets off the truck- she'll be accompanying us on this stalk. She's got more courage than the rest of us combined... going after a lion with only a gopro camera in hand!

    We head into the bush. Watching Patrick and Gavie work as a team is impressive. When one is looking down at the tracks, the other is always looking ahead, scanning. These guys are true professionals! By far the most nerve-racking times for me where when they'd loose the track for a minute or two. They would start to walk around the last clear track, trying to figure out which way the lion went. During that time, we would stand still so as to not damage any track. Standing there, unsure of which direction the lion has gone... it reminded me of Iraq, not sure where the ambush would be coming from.... that bush? that tree? where is that lion?? Back on the trail.

    "There. There he is! RIGHT THERE!"

    While we were all looking left, in the direction of the tracks, my wife spotted the lion of to our front right, about 50 yds away. I caught a glimpse of him just as he blended into the high grass, disappearing from sight. Holy Sh*t... that is a huge cat. Adrenaline is at the max, heart pounding out of my chest.

    Patrick and Gawie lead us on, continuing to track the lion. A while later (time doesn't really have any meaning anymore- seconds seem to last hours, while minutes flash by in seconds), Patrick spots him in a bush, and then he's gone. I couldn't see him that time. We continue the hunt... he's zigzagging back and forth, definitely not running from us. Not scared of us. Just annoyed with us.

    And then I spot him.

    He's standing broadside at maybe 80 yds, next to a tree, looking right at us. His mane is huge, black, extending well past the shoulders onto his back. At this range I can see his muscles, he looks like pure power and fury. A true apex predator. I point him out to Gawie. The lion casually walks off. Gawie takes off after the lion, the pace much faster. We're not tracking him anymore. Now we're following him.

    All of a sudden the sticks come up.

    Gawie points him out to me. Laying down behind a bush, not more than 15 yds to our right. There's no shot. We move the sticks to the left, then again. I can see the lion looking at us, but can't make out his body. Then I see the tail flick.

    Ok.
    Body is to the left of the head.
    I get on the sticks.
    "Do you see the Y in the branches? Shot thru there, the left side." Gawie instructs.
    I see the spot.
    Bang.
    Hit.
    The lion is moving, starting to get up, but he's hit hard.
    I'm trying to reload, struggling. Slow down. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.
    I get another round chambered as we move around to the left.
    The lion is up, turning around to his right. He's so close, maybe 10 yds.
    I take another shot, free hand.
    Hit.
    The lion lets loose a deep, angry, rumbling growl.
    He goes down, slumping onto his left side.
    I take one more safety shot into his spine at about 5 yds.
    He goes stiff, then limp.
    Its over.

    Patrick checks to make sure that he's down with the shooting sticks. Hand shakes all around. I walked up to this magnificent creature, reach down and touch his paw first, then his face, then his mane. He is absolutely massive, with a majestic gold and black mane that extends halfway down his back. He has small scars on his face, and a black mark above his nose.

    I am overwhelmed. There's no way to adequately describe the emotion of what has just happened. I look to my wife. She looks to almost be in shock. We hug, holding each other close. To experience something like this, together, stalking a lion on foot, nothing will ever compare.

    [​IMG]

    And this is only our first day hunting in Africa!

    After photos, we head back to the lodge for lunch and a nap. That afternoon, we head out for a game drive to scout the area that we will hunt tomorrow. There is game everywhere! We spot eland, hartebeest, some young kudu and sable, steenbock, etc.

    Also spotted the very rare, and very expensive to hunt Kalahari Marco Polo:
    [​IMG]

    Here's a nyala we spotted and the sunset on the drive back to camp:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 1, 2016
  8. Scott Slough

    Scott Slough AH Fanatic

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    Great report so far! You married a bad ass ... my wife wouldn't trust me to protect her from a lion.
     
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  9. reedy0312

    reedy0312 AH Legend

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    Great lion! Nice update, looking forward to more!
     
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  10. flatwater bill

    flatwater bill AH Enthusiast

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    Rinehart.................this is a great report. I appreciate the detail of the equipment and locations, logistics. I like your warthog, and the foto of your warthog very much. Many times they are a pig in the dirt...........your foto is framed niced, great contrast, and I love the broken tusk....some character. Too bad you didnt get a very good lion................(LOL............what a mane on that bruiser)......................FWB
     
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  11. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH Legend

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    That lion has one heck of a mane. Congrats on a great start to your trip. Good shooting. Bruce
     
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  12. rinehart0050

    rinehart0050 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Sable Hunt:

    I'd discussed with Francois the possibility of hunting sable if we had time after the lion. As the lion only took a day, we could try for a sable. This time, it would be my wife hunting. This was her first time ever hunting big game (up to now, she's only hunted pheasant).

    We set out early on the truck, it was cold again!
    [​IMG]

    Soon after entering the hunting area, we spotted a herd of roan. These guys will show up again later in the story!
    [​IMG]

    Along the way, also got some good photos of hornbills:
    [​IMG]

    As we had seen the day before, the area was packed with game. We drove around looking, but no sable yet. After conducting a loop in one corner of the property, having seen eland, nyala, hartebeest, and more along the way, we drove up a small hill and turned the corner around some trees. In front of us stood the herd of roan we'd seen earlier in the day, and behind them, a group of about 6-7 sable!
    [​IMG]

    We casually continued to drive, so as to not spook the group, glassing for a suitable bull as we drove by. In the group, Francois spotted on bull that looked good! We drove down the hill and stopped the truck in the flats, about 800m from where we spotted the sable. Everyone jumped off the truck and we discussed our plan. Francois, Patrick, my wife, and I will stalk back towards the group to see if we can get in close enough for a shot.

    Back up the hill, this time on foot, sticking to the shade as we move. We get within about 250m of the group when we see that the roan herd is standing between us and the sable. We can just make out the sable, milling about feeding, but can't get close enough to judge them and find the buck we're after. Before we can back out, some of the roan begin to casually feed in our direction. Nothing to do but sit still rather than get busted- luckily we're all crouched under a tree and behind some bushes. For the time being, the wind is in our favor.

    After about 30-40 minutes, the herd of roan begin to pass by on our right, some coming within 50m of our position! Finally, they've moved on and we can back out. We move to the left and try to stalk in again. Again, no luck. Some of the roan have laid down, essentially forming a protective perimeter around the sables! We back out again, heading once more to the left.

    This time it looks like we may be able to get in close enough for a shot. As we come up on a bush, Francois signals everyone to freeze. Directly in front of us in another Roan, laying down. He's noticed something... maybe he can't specifically tell its us or where we are, but he knows that something is up. He keeps looking in our direction, not spooked enough to get up, but definitely interested.

    And so we sit. Motionless. Waiting for the roan to loose interest. After about 30 minutes of this, another roan- jeez! these guys are everywhere!!- comes within 35m on our left. He catches a wiff of our scent, causing him to jump back. Luckily he can't see us. He nervously paces around, stopping, smelling, snorting. I think for sure we're busted. After about 5 minutes, he's moved out of range. Phew! At the same time, the roan in front of us finally looses interest, gets up, and walks away. Thank goodness- both my legs are cramping from squatting behind a bush for an hour! This is our chance!

    My wife and Francois stalk forward to the next bush while Patrick and I hang back... the area is still crowded with animals! I see the sticks go up and a shot... hit! She hit him a little high, breaking his shoulder and hitting the lungs, but missing the heart. He moves off a little ways and stands shakily. The other sable smell the blood on him and move off. He is unable to follow. We circle around to the left more and then my wife takes another shot, breaking his other leg and knocking him down. As we move up, he's still alive, showing the true toughness of these animals! She puts him out of his misery and we are able to admire this impressive animal. The long curving horns, beautiful black fur. My wife gently picks some ticks and brushes some dirt off the sable's neck. She shows great respect and reverence for this fine animal she has just taken, her first big game. I'm very proud to share this moment with her.
    [​IMG]

    Here we are with Francois and Patrick:
    [​IMG]

    After the photos, my wife checks her watch. We'd been stalking this guy for almost four hours, somehow not getting busted once! What an experience.

    After the sable is loaded, we head back to the camp for a late lunch. The plan for the afternoon is to head out to a watering hole around dusk to see what shows up. We get dropped off around 1630 and then begin to wait. After about an hour, just when we're starting to wonder if anything is planning on showing up, a young kudu bull walks in. Shortly thereafter, some waterbuck cows.
    [​IMG]

    Later on, some young cape buffalo come in. Our last visitors before dusk are two jackals. One only has three legs!
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And so ends our time in the kalahari with Francois and @Umlilo Safaris. What an experience! Stalking a lion on foot and hunting the majestic sable! Tomorrow, we drive back to Johannesburg. My parents are arriving on Delta 200 in the evening to begin part 2 of our safari!
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 1, 2016
  13. rinehart0050

    rinehart0050 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Once we get back to Joburg, we check in at Africa Sky Guest House. What a place! The lush gardens, fountains, and swimming pool make this place into an oasis in the midst of the city's hustle and bustle. The rooms are wonderfully appointed too. I can't say enough good things about this place.

    After a couple of hours to relax, we catch a ride to the airport to greet my parents. After waiting about two hours after the flight landed, we're getting a bit worried. Finally, they make it through. Apparently, they got stuck in the regular customs/immigration line. Good to know that the VIP meet at the gate service we got via riflepermits.com helped us avoid that pain!

    We head back to Africa Sky for a wonderful dinner, then sit around the fire talking until way too late! Tomorrow, we head north into Limpopo with @Limcroma Safaris!

    Here are some photos from Africa Sky:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  14. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    Congrats to your wife, excellent sable!!!
     
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  15. 375 Ruger Fan

    375 Ruger Fan AH Elite

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    First shot at 15 yards on the lion, then a follow up at 10 yards and a final one to be sure at 5 yards. Heck, my hands are shaking just typing this! Great stuff!
     
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  16. rinehart0050

    rinehart0050 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    1 July 16 - Travel to Limcroma Safaris, Limpopo

    Limcroma uses a bus service to get their clients to Thabazimbi, the closest major town. Of interest, Thabazimbi means mountain of iron, as the town's main industry is iron mining. Francois, owner of the bus service, picks us up at Africa Sky after a great breakfast. He's got a nice big van- one of those big 18 pax vans with the high ceiling. We load up and hit the road. Francois shares all kinds of interesting anecdotes and stories along the way- very entertaining.

    In Thabazimbi, we are picked up by Henk, our videographer and brother of our PH. He takes us the rest of the way to Limcroma's new camp. It is very very nice! We are greeted with a refreshing cocktail by Thespina, our hostess. She will spoil us with delicious meals for the rest of our stay!

    Here's some photos of our room:
    [​IMG]

    Hannes (owner) meets us that afternoon to take us out on one of the properties. We put in a stalk on some impala and a warthog, but no luck. It ends up just being an enjoyable game drive. We see lots of animals, to include an impressive old (and very dark) giraffe and some golden wildebeest!
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And another beautiful sunset, our first in Limpopo:
    [​IMG]
     
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  17. rinehart0050

    rinehart0050 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    2-3 July- Time to start hunting!

    Here's the team:
    [​IMG]
    Henk Jacobs (videographer, PH), me, Riaan Jacobs (PH). Riaan proved to be an outstanding PH for us and having Henk along essentially gave us a second PH/set of eyes. It was great.

    ***I highly recommend getting your hunt filmed. Henk did an outstanding job and actually had the video ready for us on the final morning. His video editing skills are exceptional and he even integrated some of my gopro footage. I coordinated the videographer directly with Limcroma and Hannes gave me a great deal. Getting the hunt taped is worth it at double the price!

    Here's our great tracker, Joshua, and our truck.
    [​IMG]

    We set out that morning to a newer property. The brush is quite thick, making it difficult to spot game from the truck. We decide to get out and go for a walk, see what we see... the whole party came- Riaan, Henk, Me, my wife, my parents... quite the crew we had sneaking through the bush! Surprisingly enough, we were pretty quiet!

    After a while, we came across a big herd of impala, maybe 20+. There were even some young bucks fighting, pushing each other around by their horns. Very cool. Riaan and I tried to stalk in closer, but no shots presented themselves. The impala were just running around too much, the cover too thick. After a while the impala moved on.

    We walked to the nearby road and called in the truck. While waiting, Riaan looks left. There he is, impala buck, perfect broadside at around 200 yds! Sticks up. I take a shot and immediately know that I pulled it. Sh*t!... No- Hit! I got him in the spine. Riaan and I run down to where he is. Luckily, he doesn't get up and we finish it. A great looking impala and a great way to start our hunt with Limcroma!
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    That afternoon, we go looking for my wife's gemsbok. Shortly before sunset, we find a herd. Riaan takes my wife and Henk for the stalk, while the rest of us drive a ways down the road to wait. There are giraffe everywhere!
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    We hear a shot. And then we wait. The radio call comes in, calling the truck back. They ask the tracker to bring the dogs. This can't be good. They track until well after dark, before marking the road and calling it a night. We will be back tomorrow.

    Once everyone gets back to the truck, it sounds like the gemsbok was quartering hard and the shot may have missed some vitals. Time will tell. The good news is that even after a tough day, the dogs are always waiting to great you when you get back to the camp:
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    We head out the next morning and track for hours. Eventually, we reach a point where we loose his track. Not enough blood, too many tracks going in all directions. We continue to drive the property all day, but without luck. It shows how tough these animals are. A tough day for all. That's hunting.

    Riaan and Henk promise that tomorrow will make up for today. We are headed to a very special property in the Waterberg mountains, hunting for kudu!
     
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  18. rinehart0050

    rinehart0050 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    4 July, Waterberg Mountains

    We head out early, its about a two hour drive to today's property. Once we get there, we are blown away. Its a cattle farm that's over 20,000 acres big, located on top of the Waterbergs. Beautiful fields, mountains, trees, rivers, etc. stretch in every direction. The place almost reminds me more of Germany than South Africa! No game has been introduced here, it has all just been living here naturally. Riaan and Henk's father used to hunt leopards on this property and they point out his favorite bait trees as we drive along. I can't say enough good things about this place, and it just stretches on forever. Lovin it!
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    We stop by the farmer's house to check in, then head out. As we're driving along a pasture, not 500m from the farmer's house, we spot a nice old bull impala grazing in the field. As the truck continues to move, Riaan, Henk, and my wife slide off the truck and take up a prone position in the high grass next to the road. The truck continues on down the straight road, and we're able to see the whole thing unfold. My wife takes the shot from the prone and the impala goes down almost immediately. We come back to find her with a wonderful, old old impala bull. His tips are very worn down and he probably wouldn't have lived more than another year or two. It looks like our luck is turning!
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    Shortly thereafter, we spot a warthog and try to stalk him. We loose him in the high grass, but do manage to spot a few reedbucks, to include one exceptional male. Very cool!
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    We continue on, when we spot a nice warthog in the rocks of a hillside about 75m on our right. I try to line up a shot, but he's racing through the rocks. He turns left and I loose him. Then he turns back right, presenting a perfect shot. Down he goes!

    As we run up the hill to check him out, there's blood everywhere. That Barnes bullet really did its job! We find the warthog with a broken tusk- he actually broke it shortly after the shot. Riaan manages to recover the tusk segment, but I'm not worried. That's a pretty cool story!
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    Two animals down and its not even 1030 yet!

    As we continue to drive the property, we start spotting kudu cows! No bucks yet, but this is a good sign!
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    Around 1100, we all get out and go for a hike to do some glassing. The property is located on top of the Waterbergs, so you can walk to the edge of the mountains and then hike around or down them to the plains below. We walk around a mountain, glass for a while, soak in the beautiful scenery and the warm midday sun. I love this place! After the hike, we break for lunch. Delicious toasted bread pockets stuffed with meat.
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    After lunch, I take a short siesta for about 10 minutes... no time to waste on sleeping!
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    After that, we make our game plan. Joshua will take my parents and skin the two animals we have so far. Riaan, Henk, my wife, and I will hike down the side of one of the steeper mountains to see what we see. We will all link up at the bottom in a while.

    As we hike, we periodically stop to glass. There's a river running in the ravine below us. The whole scene could not be more picturesque. We start to spot fairly fresh, and quite large/deep kudu tracks. They are definitely in the area! And then Riaan spots some. There are three bulls, on the plain below us, about 1.5 miles away... 1.5 miles after about 200 more feet of steep decent. They are too far to accurately judge. Do we want to try and get down to them, see if they are old enough? Heck yes! Lets do this!

    We pick up the pace, descending quickly, stepping from boulder to boulder. Along the way, I trip and drop my rifle. Luckily, no injuries and a cursory inspection of the rifle reveals some dents, but nothing major. Back on the track. Once we get down to the flats, we pick up the pace more- we've got some distance to cover! There are lots of cows in the area. The kudus and cows graze in the same area and don't seem bothered by one another.

    As we get close, we slow the pace. Unfortunately, by the time we get to the spot, the kudus have moved on and a herd of cows have moved in, warily circling around us. The cows must have pushed the kudus away. I wonder if they're still near by? We stalk into the smallish hill on our left.

    And then I see one! A young bull, not more than 20 yds in front of us. He immediately spooks and the group is off, with no hope of pursuit. Man, but that was a fun stalk!

    We walk towards the rally point, a corral near a pond, not far from our current location. And then we spot him. A leopard! He'd been drinking from the pond and promptly disappeared into the rocks next to the pond. Wow! a leopard, in the daylight! Amazing! Riaan guesses it was probably a female or young male based on its size. We walk over to a tree near by and find where the leopard has marked it, deep claw marks gashing the base. So cool.

    Joshua and my parents show up in the truck. We pile in and head up the very steep road, back to the top of the plateau. Along the way, we spot another young kudu on the roadside. He seems unimpressed with us and continues to feed.
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    As we drive along the rolling hills that characterize the top of the mountains, we spot a kudu walking through a field, along with a herd of cows. He's another young guy! I snap a photo. The photo could easily be of Europe, just replace the kudu with a red stag! A great day of hunting. We'll get that kudu soon enough!
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  19. rinehart0050

    rinehart0050 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    5 July

    Today, we hunt a property closer to the camp. This is good news as noone likes getting up at 0430. On the way to the property, we see some golden gemsbok! Don't shoot one of those by mistake!
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    As we're driving around, we spot a herd of kudu cows. And then we see him, a nice big kudu bull. We hop off the truck and stack a short ways in on him. The sticks go up. He's facing me, head on, not 50 yards away. I pull the trigger. Miss. What?? My mind can't even comprehend it, but there's no time. The herd hasn't moved far, so we try to get another shot. No luck. We follow them for about an hour, before giving up the chase.

    While we wait for the truck, Riaan asks if my zero might be off after dropping the rifle the day before. No idea. Lets test it. I line up on an ant hill about 5 feet tall, 20 yds away. I pull the trigger. Miss. I'm instantly filled with both dread and relief. Relief that its not my shooting, dread because we don't know what's wrong with the rifle yet. We pack onto the truck and head straight back to camp.

    Riaan, along with Art (another Limcroma PH and a bit of a gun aficionado), help me as we tinker with the rifle. Its definitely the scope. As we inspect it closer, we see that I dropped it so hard, it shifted maybe 2mm back in the rings and that the scope is clearly not level anymore. We boresite it, then zero it. Thank goodness. We've got the rifle back to shooting an inch high at 100. We fire a few more test shots to be sure. Then Art fires some more because... well because its a fun rifle to shoot!

    I am feeling way better. We've figured out and fixed the problem. Luckily, I didn't hit any animals before getting everything fixed. Lets get back out there!

    As we drive around this property, we've seen some exceptional waterbucks. However, there are three bulls we're not allowed to shoot. They have particularly broad horns and were recently brought in to introduce some more genetic diversity. About an hour into the afternoon drive, we spot a great looking waterbuck with a couple of cows. Riaan initially dismisses it as one of the breeding bulls. I start looking for the next animal. Riaan takes a second look and changes his mind. Lets go for this one!

    We get off the truck and make a short stalk. The waterbuck is grazing about 85 yds ahead of us. He's extremely hard to make out in the thick brush, his gray fur blending in perfectly. Riaan puts the sticks up, but I can't see the buck. I catch a glimpse of his horns, then loose him again. I find that tree in my scope, but still can't make out the waterbuck. Then he moves his head again and what was a gray blob of bushes now makes sense. I take the shot.

    Hit!

    Riaan says it was a good hit! Sure enough, we find the dead waterbuck not 25 yds from where we shot him! I'm elated! After the frustration and stress of the rifle this morning, nothing could have been better than getting this great animal!
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    We get the waterbuck loaded and start to drive again. Shortly thereafter we spot some kudus in the brush! We get off the truck and sit still by the side of the road. The kudus are very close! They are grunting at each other, far louder than I expected. And then they're off. Its getting dark, so no hope of stalking them now. We start walking towards the truck when we hear a jackal calling.

    Riaan perks up and says he has just the thing for that! We call the truck back to a road intersection and Riaan sets up a Foxpro predator call in the clearing. We head over to a tree and turn the call on. Initially its the sound of a distressed animal. We stand quietly by the tree, listening, as the Foxpro continues to screech. This goes for about 5 min when Henk whispers to Riaan that he should try the jackal call now. He switches it over and immediately we hear jackals call back from all around us, especially right behind us!

    Riaan slowly looks behind us and spots two jackals in the road. He slowly has my wife turn around. She puts the rifle on my shoulder and takes a shot. Hit! The shot rips the jackal open, finishing him off quickly. That could not have gone more perfectly! We were surprised by how soft the jackal's fur is. A great way to end the day!
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  20. rinehart0050

    rinehart0050 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

    Joined:
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    6 July

    We discuss the plan with Riaan. We're heading back to the Waterbergs. We'll start the morning at a different property than last time. Its another great property with lots of game and it will give Riaan a chance to check some bushpig baits. Then, if I haven't gotten my kudu by lunch, we will head back to the cattle farm property. My wife and I will stay and hunt while my parents will head to Marakele National Park for a game drive.

    At the first property, we check in with the farmer, where my wife and mom promptly fall in love with the brand new farm house. Its very modern, while maintaining traditional lines. Also, the farmer has about a dozen dogs, which never hurts.

    We set off onto his property... quite hilly, almost no flat areas. Probably no more than 15 minutes into the drive, we spot a group of blue wildebeest with at least one shooter in the bunch. My wife, Riaan, and Henk jump off and we drive off. About 5 min later, we hear the shot and get the call- wildebeest down! Awesome! We come back and find that my wife has shot a great trophy! An excellent start to the day!
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    We continue to drive up the mountain. Spot some kudu, but no shooters. At the bait, we check the game cam. Bushpig and others have been hitting the spot. Looking good for a lucky hunter!

    One the way back down the hill, we spot another group of wildebeest. This time its my Dad's turn! He came to Africa with the intention of not shooting anything and has since changed his mind over the last week! Riaan and my father jump off and stalk into the woods. Shortly thereafter we hear the shot and now we have two wildebeest in less than an hour!
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    Looking at the time,we decide to head back to the farm. We need to skin these wildebeest quickly, grab a quick bit of lunch in town, and then head to the next property. In the skinning shed, my wife decides to help out! Yeah... she's awesome!
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    Skinning takes a little longer than we'd hoped. We're going to be a bit rushed at lunch in order to get my parents to their game drive on time, but we should be able to make it. Lunch is at a pizza joint in the town of Vaalwater. Its actually really nice and the pizza is great! We do a quick truck swap, with my parents and Joshua heading out for the game drive while my wife and I, Riaan, Henk, Henk's son, and their father all get in another truck to hunt with.
     
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