First off, Teresa and I were invited by our good friends, Mark and Dianne, to stay a week in the mountains of Colorado in my Dad's favorite town, Pegosa Springs. Having just traded correspondence with my half-brother Thomas Audetat, also of Pegosa Springs, it seemed the perfect opportunity to catch up with friends and relatives in the clear clean mountain air. And so it was. Once we settled in to the beautiful condo on the lake, hosted by Mark and Di, we called Thomas and were invited over for dinner. Sister Donna was as gracious as ever and cooked up a wonderful feast for the whole tribe and a good time had by all. While touring their quaint log home--Teresa wants one--Thomas showed us the African trophies he and Donna had taken on their 2010 safari. You know one things leads to another and a year later Thomas and I are on an airplane to Africa. Wild! Since Thomas had already been, it was a great opportunity to go with an old hand arranging hunting dates with the professional hunter (PH), clothes, flights, customs, cartridges and a whole lot more. 10 days was just perfect-plan 10 days was just perfect-plan on spending 2 weeks with shooting, packing, travel, jet-lag etc. Then there is the list of animals we could to harvest. It is daunting. They run from small-hard to see and hit, to huge-easy to see and harder to kill. The diversity of habitat in the East Cape of South Africa is astonishing, from low, dark, river bottom to high baldy mountain tops within an hour's drive. Our host, Nick Bowker, and his brother Rob, rugged 5th generation South African "farmers" of English decent, were most gracious and met us at the "Tumbo" Airport in Port Elizabeth on the East Cape. This is a small airport on the order of Colorado Springs or Corpus Christi. Guns, ammo, luggage all right there and a great relief after a nearly 24 hours of flight from Minneapolis, Houston, Atlanta, Johannesburg and finally Port Elizabeth. A couple hours to the home place on good roads in a new Toyota Land Cruiser. The main road was under construction so we went through a more residential area. The government shanty town was peculiar with the one room shacks and hydro-solar water heaters atop nearly everyone. The garbage along the road exiting the Port Elizabeth area was everywhere, but the further from town we went, the cleaner the road and surrounding area. Finally we approached the farmstead over a seemingly endless series of "speed bumps" engineered to divert the seldom, but intense, rain away from the unpaved gravel road. Up and down we went each day about a mile or so until Thomas noted there were 20 in all! The very pleasant old single story farm house could have been in Wisconsin. After we got everything sorted out and had a light lunch we went off to find a warthog. As we drove down around the farm the trackers, riding in the bed of the land cruiser noticed some kudu cows but no shooters and then a nice warthog showed up on a distant hillside. Would you like a warthog? "Would you like a warthog?" the PH, Nick asked. Yes, said I. We pulled off the gravel road and through a gate on to a service trail working our way closer to the hog. Finally pulling over and the shooting sticks went up. "215yds" he says. BOOM, the reassuring thud and a good shot called out. But wait. Where did that pig go with my tusks? Up the steep hill we went looking for blood. We were just following a good blood trail as the trusty Mr. Russell, Jack in fact, was on the trail. Seems he has a real affinity for pork. It took a while for Jack to find my pig but not long to get our attention with a sharp bark. One of our trackers said something in his soft native Zhosa; "fumena igazi" interpreted by our PH as "he's got blood". As we quickly followed the barking, the dog and boar came into view. The dog slowed down the pig with remarkable courage and technique... something about nipping off the family jewels gets them all kinds of excited. As I followed the dog looking for a second shot--busting brush like only a properly raised bramble-busting hillbilly can do-I heard the PH behind me; don't shoot the dog! Never considered it, but it was our first hunt together and as he said; I was in a zone. I suppose the way I walked through thorns must have given him an impression. Finally the boar turns to fight and then to run: SHOOT, SHOOT, SHOOT, the PH yells from behind, BANG another round into the boar's left flank quartering away. Two solid hits from the 280 and that son-of-a-pork-rind trotted off again, but Jack was on him like he owed him money! 20 yards farther and down he went with the Jack on top. My first pig ever, and hunting over that fearless terrier reminded me why people hunt with dogs! Fantastic. Tune in later for the next addition of "A Plumber in Africa". As I told our professionalhunter Nicholas Bowker (PH) and his brother Rob, when asked why we Americans are so keen on Taxidermy; well you know it is fun to share your adventures with your family and make your friends jealous. Ok, two friends...well, one is related, ya, well, my one friend jealous. You know who you are... I hope. We were very fortunate to see many exotic animals including a puff adder -on the road- Giraffe, Impala, spring buck, tortoise Zebra, wildebeest, baboons and mongoose. By the way no malaria, Dengue, or tsetse flies to fight, so inoculation is unnecessary. TB and HIV do run rampant in certain native communities, but that is a whole other matter. I should like to point out that seeing these animals "in the wild" was much more interesting than any zoo, and was certainly better for the animals as well, since our "trophies" were prime and past prime a.k.a. jackal food, big predators being long gone from most of E. Africa. The animals were in fact residents of the "farms" we hunted. Some transients and some more permanent depending on the particular traits of the animals in question. Naturally they compete with the farmers livestock but are tolerated and protected for the value the hunters store in them. In fact, it is more likely a tasty sheep is poached than any exotic plains game animal living in the East Cape. Nearly everything is privately held so most of the fences were quite familiar, 4 string barbed wire, with some for cattle and others for the many Merino sheep on the place. Few were over 4 feet tall and none could keep any of the wild animals we saw. Going over barbed wire took me back... Reminded me of any high-mountain plain and made me homesick for New Mexico but for the seemingly endless termite mounds on a good part of the dry rolling plains. Think of an ant hill 2 feet tall and hard as baseball. At least half have been dug out by the nocturnal visit of the local aardvark (Afrikaans for ant eater.) A termite hill can make a great rifle rest, though I missed the first shot at my water buck with a perfect rest on such a construct. The closer you get to the ground the more likely you will hit twigs, grass and such. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Speaking of sticks. You will need to practice using them. I had great difficulty and frankly might have shot better off-hand, free hand in Africa, following many years of shooting silhouette. Now the ranch/farm next door did have the 10' electrified monster fence you always hear about and over-grazed fields from lack of proper management. Seems it is owned by a Texan. Go figure. African plains game in the area is abundant and most are available to any hunter willing to pay for the privilege. Each animal has a price according to supply and demand. Generally they bigger they are the more they cost. You will see the amount of work involved as we go along. Guns and ammo There is much speculation about the firearms one needs for a plains game african safari. I am amazed at the difference of opinion. Naturally you can take mine to the bank. First lets start with getting them to Africa and back. Next, we spotted and stalked a beautiful Impala just a couple miles from the farm. Many watchful eyes in his harem, but still got close enough for a good clean miss, on two different stalks! Took the rock wall rest instead of the sticks. I had shot off the sticks at home but hard to practice moving game. I complained that the animals should be tied AND hobbled!. It did seem to get better after that. Next morning; stop at the range and check the zero on the 280AI...maybe a bit high. Before I left for Africa I read a lot about what to expect. Many insisted special "quiet" boots only made in South Africa. After checking price and availability I opted for a pair of low Clarks, all leather, cool and comfortable. Good to have an extra pair so I took a boot I used when shooting down at the Whittington Center in Raton, NM. Could have gotten by with any non-insulated boots with some ankle protection. The PH? I found him wearing a low Danner made in the USA! And of course the trademark gators I could only find at Midway. Perfect for keeping sharp flora out of the foot wear. Much is made of the thorns, burrs and such, but I found the combination of low boot and gators quite comfortable. April being their fall, it made for perfect weather sunny 72 and 60 at night for a good hike and good sleep. Hunting in a T-shirt and shorts was an odd experience. Next on down the road to stalk the beautiful Nyala. It wasn't long before our trusty trackers spotted an old bull half way up a dark hillside. Fortunately the male is quite distinct from the female and another 200 yard shot off the sticks. A solid hit high center, not taking any chances after the Impala fiasco. A quick followup shot offhand (freehand in SA) in the vitals and all was good. Good for the farmer and the hunter to harvest old animal fed for years and saving from the ravages of old age. We left off in the East Cape of South Africa, a place with a long history... From the early colonization by the Dutch in 1652, the British takeover in 1806 and their defeat of the Dutch Boers 1902, to the end of Apartheid Africa in 1994, South Africa has never been a dull place. When an American thinks of Africa, especially one of my generation, he can't help but imagine Tarzan's Africa with friendly elephants, silly chimpanzees and ferocious, but manageable, lions at every turn. Then of course there is the jungle with handy vine-to-vine transportation and liberal dress code. Then there is the UNICEF Africa with starving children, enormous heaps of trash and malaria everywhere. Wanting to be fully prepared I read quite a lot of Africa and decided malaria would be a good place to start. But alas, malaria has been all but eradicated from the Cape. No worries there but for the environmentalist trying the save the planet (ban DDT), human cost be damned. The South Africans (S.A) do have a nasty tick, but who doesn't? At any rate, spending most of our time on the lake or down by the river on the farm, ticks and mosquitoes-Spanish for "little fly"-are everywhere. I likely have Deet in my blood and no Lyme disease yet. In fact we suffered from no bugs to speak of, but we were there in the dry season. Which leads me to another idea I had about Gin and Tonic. Being one of my standby cocktails and part of my English heritage-on my mother's side coming from Adams, Smiths, Lightfoots and the like--wouldn't it be great if a "medicinal" G&T would stop all threat from these various tiny marauders? No such luck. It seems the FDA finds quinine too dangerous for 21st Century man so the allowed dose in any one, or ten, G&T's is just too low to inoculate even a properly imbibed individual. As for drinking while hunting. Yes. That is, after each hunt, we started with wine and local beer--both great--served in the old power house, which used to house a LIster diesel generator, converted when electricity was wired in. Even though there are miles of wind driven generators starting at the farm and strung out across the windy planes stretching out to the northern hills, power can be unreliable so a small Honda keeps the lights on when necessary. The old powerhouse is quaint, seating 4 comfortably at the bar with a great veranda and outdoor fireplace. A zebra rug underfoot. After a couple of nights I thought gin and tonic would be nice, even if it offered no protection. When I ordered one before dinner, our host, Nick Bowker, seemed quite surprised volunteering that it is a popular local drink, he and his tribe being English, but few visitors requested it. I have to say it is tonic that makes a great G&T. Dinner was the back-strap from a Mountain Spring Buck. Excellent. And what is any meal without a sweet desert? Never disappointed. Oh yes, and the hunting. The Kudu was on my list. He likes heavy cover and the first afternoon out we drove up a trail and stopped for a moment in heavy brush. As I looked out the window of the Land Cruiser and the "Grey Ghost" was looking back at me, not 20 yards away. That didn't last, but after a long day hunting Nick found another down by the river in heavy brush. We stalked afoot for a mile or two until within 200 yards or so. I through up the 280 Ackley stoked with 160 grain Nosler Accubonds at 2800 fps. I had a hard time getting the rifle to settle down and he decided he couldn't wait. Another quarter mile hike and he was curious again. This time standing dead still and looking right at us. In an instant Nick had the tripod shooting sticks set up, perfect height and direction. Through up again and waited for him to turn for a nice broadside shot. No luck. I swear, Kudo must play a lot of poker. Finally, with some anxiety, I decided to drop one under his chin. Not ideal, but at 230 yds or so, it should've worked. Well, you could hear the solid "thud" and all seemed happy. I thanked God, prematurely, at about a half-a-squeeze, but wouldn't you know it, that damned Kudu didn't know he was supposed to roll over. Instead he turned in to that "Grey Ghost" they were talking about and alluded our PH, two savvy trackers and Mr. Russell to spite a good blood trail for a couple miles. Perhaps the tried-and-true Nosler Partition would have done the job? It getting dark, we retired and started again the next morning. A day spent tracking over hill-and-dale with the trail running out and reality setting in. I had shot and lost my first big game animal. It is the ultimate dishonor for a hunter to lose such a fine beast to poor judgement. My impatience cost me the biggest and most beautiful antelope and a real two-turn beauty at that. Of course the "you shoot'em, you bought'em p olicy" was in effect so the we all pay for our mistakes, as it should. Even the dog wasn't talking to me The next morning we went after the Nyala, last reported, and I felt better about life in general and hunting in particular. Thank you Thomas for helping me get the order right. Brother Thomas had come to fill out his previous 10-animal Safari and wanted an Eland in the worst way. I hadn't decided on an Eland, but pulled out the old 358 Norma Mag. This old bolt action was sporterized back in the 60's on a 1903-A3 Springfield action, sitting in very nice walnut furniture with a custom, deep-blued barrel and express sights. I added a vintage 2 3/4 power "post and wire" scope, anticipating some heavy brush hunting. After our morning hunt, followed by a light lunch and requisite afternoon nap, under the watchful eye of a very nice Blesbok, we proceeded to a friend's sizable farm in the mountains about an hour away going north east, past Adelaide. After much driving up the steep, rocky roads-much like Colorado-we arrived at a high country farm at the base an enormous box-canyon. Then up an even rougher road, every rock enhanced by the durable but unforgiving straight axles on our indestructable Land Cruiser, we gained a commanding view of most of the canyon and cultivated farm at its base . After some serious glassing, my ancient Leica 8×35 binoculars were of little use in such big country, so the smart guys used their 10×50 binoculars built by Zeiss and Swarovski; all laser rangefinder equipped of course. Finding animals several miles off is an acquired skill and prairie dog hunting doesn't count. A bit like elk hunting without the snow. I did see many animals including black wildebeest, baboons and zebra, but few before the others had already dismissed them. Finally, we were ready to have a stalk on these enormous beasts. There was a herd of more than a dozen bulls and a good number of cows separated by a few dozen yards opposite the hillside we were glassing from a couple of miles away. The plan was to go back down to the valley bottom, have a leisurely lunch and then send the two trackers, with Mr. Russell, to drive the bulls back to us on the opposite side. We dropped the trackers off to the east side of the canyon and drove over the west for a half-mile hike setting up a hundred yards or so above the canyon floor. Then we waited and glassed watching the trackers deftly cut the cows from the bulls pushing them down and away while the bulls came round the bottom rim of the box canyon as at a leisurely pace, as if it were their own idea. After a hour or so, we noticed the sizable herd of wildebeest milling around several hundred yards to the north and between us and the eland being driven our way. They seem to be always moving and when the eland approached they began to get all excited moving our way and then reversing back to the north. It wasn't long before the comical honking, jumping and general hysteria brought both wildebeest and eland running right at us, then splitting this way and that. One wildebeest, then one eland then three wildebeest and so on going up and down around us until I couldn't tell where they had all gone. Our PH signaled silence and for us to stay put while he gingerly walked 10 yards north of our stand and stopped cold. After a minute he back up slowly indicating the eland were just in from of him a few yards away. The wind was right and we set up just behind our position as the bulls worked there way below us and began to run back up the hill. Nick had his sticks up and Thomas was in position with his new Model 700 Remington in the traditional .375 H&H at he ready. Just then several bulls came pounding up the hill trying to get around us and back up the hill to heavy cover. They were less than 50 yards from us and made quite and impression as they pounded away. No time for sticks, as I watched Thomas smoothly follow and touch off a .375 at what looked like a Brahma bull. As the huge bull rolled over at the crack of thunder from Thomas's compensated 375, the PH turned to me saying: Do you want one? Sure. I stepped up. Which one? The second. As the first bull cleared, up came the second and my vintage Norma Mag. Finally a running shot in hill country, just like home. The 2 3/4 power Lyman with post and cross-wire couldn't have been better as I shot the beast quartering away up hill. The 250 grain Nosler partition drove though his year hip and stuck in his hide opposite his lungs as he instantly rolled over feet kicking in the air. The two bulls shot about 20 seconds, and as many feet apart were both DRT, dead right there. Incredible! My brother John saw the picture of the 4 wire fence we traversed on our way out and joked that they almost made it. Fact is they say a 1-ton eland can jump a ten foot fence. I don't know if our animal weighed a ton but it did take 8 locals, a PH and a less than average sized plumber to get one on the back of the Land Cruiser! Both animals were typical in size with the PH pointing out Thomas's likely older with a large "brush" and wide base for horns a bit shorter than mine. Diplomatic all the time that Nick. More fun than any human should be allowed to have! I ran into a few of these on a hunt for a second Kudu and sat on another with barbs that are still with me... It is particularly annoying running into such an unpleasant plant that doesn't even belong there. This little number, the size and shape of pigeon egg, have nasty thorns and reach out for you as you go by. Gators save the day when you are wearing straight vision glasses for hunting and left the bifocals home. Thomas was stalking his Worthog on the other side of the ridge we were hunting. When the Kudu bulls took off we hiked over to help. The trackers had the animal spotted but couldn't see where he went, exactly. Finally, Thomas and our PM Nick, decided to go kick the bushes and see if the pig would move. Finally, with all eyes on the spot, they had to nearly step on him in the middle of his favorite afternoon napping place. We all watched as Thomas swung his 257 Weatherby dropping the running hog between us with one clean shot. Perfect follow through. Jack was very happy claiming the pig as he always does. Buy the way, I know few of you are card-carrying members of Sierra Club, but here's some real-world information on hunting for the bleeding heart relatives we all suffer with. Night before Nick asked if I would like another crack at that big Waterbuck, adding that it is getting kind of personal. I agreed and next morning off we went betting he would still be with his cows. After glassing a bit from a far hillside we saw them just where we left them a couple days earlier. The stalk would be a long one, down into the valley below and up the other side. Nick, one our trackers and Mr. Russell left the others to keep and eye out and give a call on the radio if anything came up. We were following a sheep fence on the way up the other side when sow and piglet ran up along the other side. I was sure they would alert our bull but just as they got up the hill, a hundred yards or so ahead of us, down came a Waterbuck with the bigger of the two right on his heals. As Nick said; "I don't know who's eyes were bigger?" as the first buck saw us and veered off to the left leaving the bigger of the two crashing down within 20 yards of us and then following the first one. As I raised my gun both PH and tracker ducked as the 280 swung over the fence. I could see what I thought was the buck's front shoulder but with my 4-12x set at 8x, I could only see a scope full of hair. ln another second both Water bucks disappeared along with my second chance for a really nice trophy. All the same, it was an exciting hunt and on the way back Thomas spotted a native of Indonesia standing under a tall acacia. We we were able to flank that old Fallow Deer and Thomas took a cameo shot through the bush, facilitated by a monster Leupold scope mounted on the 257...DRT. I lost one of my oldest friends to prostate/bone cancer last year. It had a profound effect on me and reminded me of my father's recurrent warning to go hunting, fishing, trapping while I was still young? Ignoring my father's good advice for most of my life I have passed up many opportunities to hunt and fish over the years, pursuing instead various carreers until I found myself no longer young. So I felt more than fortunate to be able to go to Africa and lucky that the hunting did not included much mountain climbing, fording of rivers or deep jungle excursions. In fact on the last day of our 10-day hunt cloudy weather turned into a light steady rain. Since we were south of the equator in the month of April, the weather was cool, dry and calm. Brother Thomas lamented that the forcast did not bode well for our last day as he was still short one Cape Bushbuck, having given up an earlier chance, which I took for him . But next morning, after a good sleep and quick breakfast, we all loaded into the truck for a short trip around the farm. It wasn't long before we heard a tap on the roof and a soft voice telling Nick my Mountain Reedbuck was waiting for me right up the hill. Sure enough Nick, with his laser vision, spotted the small herd of Reedbuck just north of the road and high up on the hill. It took a minute more for him to find the buck lying down in the perfect cover of rock and veldt. "Reedbuck", Nick says, while sliding out of the drivers seat. Binoculars in hand he whispers, "Nice one", my cue to get armed and ready. In another second the dreaded "sticks" were up. As I mounted the 280 Ackley asking out of the corner of my mouth "how far", Nick relayed "190". In the two minutes it took us to set up, the nice little, 50lb. buck had gotten up from his "comfortable" bed and slowly walked up the hill just cresting it for a perfect silhouette in the overcast drizzle, and then it happened. Without my usual pause and seemingly endless "aiming" I found the relatively small shoulder and squeezed that trigger like Adam finally touched God. I knew when the buck's head reared up and his hind legs slipped out from under him that the 160 grain Nosler Accubond hand worked as advertised. Nick could not hide his surprise, but he did smile. Back to the farm for a nice lunch, requisite nap and on to the afternoon hunt! Perfect start to a great day! And, keep your powder dry. Since it had been very dry, we couldn't begrudge them the little moisture we were getting on our last hunting day. As the cool drizzle kept the dust, and the animals down I found some clouds and rain made for a great little nap. After a perfect lunch Nick asked if I would like to take a shot at the White Blesbok I commented on earlier in the week. Having slept under the nice shoulder-mount in my my room for a week, I found him one of the ugliest animals I ever saw. Bles, (Afrikaans for blaze) referring to the white patch typical of the standard animal, or the white patch commonly found on a pony. I think the only antelope hit by an uglier stick is the Hartebeest. But I did note that the blesbok looks better in all-white, which seemed to entertain the typically stoic PH. Off we went then, up and down, the gravel road almost to the rock fence denoting entrance to the farm, and a hard left through fields covered with sheep, finally to a large bowl about a mile round filled with Springbok and Blesbok in several hurds with singles interspersed. We had driven past these herds several times on various hunts and Nick's brother Rob had culled a lame Springbok not far from our current stalk. But this was the first serious look at a Blesbok trophy. Nick seemed relieved to find a very nice "white" blesbok laying comfortably in his bed. Like us, these plains game animals like to lounge around when it is raining. We jumped out the LandCruiser at half-mile or so. As had been my habit I followed Nick lock-step about a yard behind, reading somewhere that two appear as one animal when so configured. He likely thought me gay at first, but did note that I loaded my gun, before the stalk, instead of racking one in behind him, as he recalled one of his clients doing. As we slowly, but deliberated, walked straight at the Blesbok, Nick reading his mood, stopping every 100 yards or so to glass the beast. Ever closer, I wondered just how close we would get in this now gently rolling terrain in plain sight of our targe. After 20 minutes or so the buck reluctantly got up from his wet bed to take a closer look at this 4-legged man. This is when Nick turned to me and asked if I wanted to shoot from the sticks or the ground? Ha! I went for the ground without answering, wet or not. We had discussed the stategy the night before and Nick agreed to lend me his suppressed Remington 700 in 7mm magnum for what would surely be a long shot. Asked if I would like the Swarski reticle illuminated or straight. "Straight" I said straight, thinking I wouldn't know what to do with an illuminated crosshair. As I nestled in behind the familar furniture of his Remington 700 7mag--indentical to 280AI, but for a bit more powder behind a 162grain Hornady SST, the suppressor and handy little bypod--the whole thing felt like home. Now prone with the familiar rifle and spectacular glass I was cool as the rain gently covering everything. Fortunately I have used a bypod and had only to find my target, still curious about the now dismembered 4-legged farmer. As I settled in and pulled the rifle gently back into my shoulder take the slack out of the bypod. How far? "425 yards"; says Nick. Knowing the 7 mag shoots a bit faster than my old 280 I held just at the top the shoulder and let the gas out of that 7mag. A second and half later the blesbok took the same attitude as the reedbuck earlier that day. As he went down, Nick started trotting toward him. I didn't need to ask as I already had a fresh round in the chamber and followed him toward the badly hurt, but still moving animal. As we approached at a 150 yards or so the buck notice our approach-from a different angle--and tried to get up. Nick said; "Shoot him again". Something about adreniline seems to make my offhand better than my rested shooting and the second round was straight in the boiler room, lights out for a nice white blesbok. Naturally I was elated, but Nick was really excited--since he obviously had his prayers answered--and made a gesture to give me a high-5, which I mostly missed...but just the same, I was happy for both of us. As W.S. once said; "All's well that ends well". And so did our adventure in Africa. Not the grand safari I read about in my youth, conducted by the intrepid, if murderous, hunters like Karamoja at the turn of the century. Still, most of the animals taken back then are still available and sustainable through the mutual interest of avid hunters and capable animal husbandry practiced by my new friends in the East Cape. I want to thank my gracious host, his brother Rob and their crew. Not forgetting my brother John who recommended the guns I took-note the similarty of my Mauser 358NM and Bell's 257Rigby-- and Dan who gave much insight from his time working in the new Medupi power station northwest of Johannesburg, Joburg to the locals. And of course brother Thomas who started the whole thing by wistfully recounting the trip he and the lovely Donna first made in 2010, while I admired the wonderful mounts hanging on the walls of his study. Finally I would like to thank my fans without which I none of this would have been possible. OK, my fan. OK, Teresa, my one and only. It was a great time, and yes I would go back in a heartbeat, plus 24 hours of air time, figure two days travel, little sleep and a serious backache. Thank you all for tuning in. I hope you all enjoyed this short apistle and will endeaver to bring you a new and exciting hunting adventure soon.