SOUTH AFRICA: An Aussie, Welshman & Texan In Camp With KMG Hunting Safaris

Markvm

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Having just returned from our first hunting trip to the East Cape, I thought I would join Dudders and Sandrat in reporting on our experiences.

The Beginning – For the last couple of years I had been discussing the idea of a hunting trip to Africa with my young hunting mate from NSW who I‘d hunted New Zealand with previously. I gave him a call early in 2015, unfortunately James had already made plans and initial booking for 2016. James was helpful in providing me with all the planning and research he had done to save me some leg work, and also suggested I join the AH forum. I gathered quotes for East Cape and Namibia hunts and did lots of research on AH. Sharyn and I discussed the idea of a hunting trip to the Dark Continent and she was more than supportive of the idea. Although not a hunter, Sharyn loves the bush and always shares my hunting trips with me. In May 2015 we finalised dates and a deposit for a 10 day hunt with KMG hunting in late April / May 2016. My list included, Kudu, Gemsbok, Hartebeest, Impala, Warthog, Springbok and Bushpig. International flights were booked six months out and domestic flights were booked 3 months out, and the mountain of paperwork commenced for the rifle permits 3 months prior to the trip. Further discussions continued with Marius on the final animal list which now took the form of parts “a” “b” and “c”, and possibly to include a Bushbuck and maybe swap the Gemsbok for a Black Wildebeest? and then there was the Blue Wildebeest?, umm too many lollies in the candy shop! To ensure we were prepared for the post hunt tipping requirements an amount of Rand was pre-ordered to ensure we could reward all well received good work.

My Expectations – In addition to local pig and goat hunting I had done an number of guided deer hunts at home and abroad, but definitely a newby to hunting in Africa. Not concerned about hunting with a tape measure, the most important thing was for myself and Sharyn to enjoy an amazing hunting experience, see and smell the variable East Cape environments and hunt for matured trophy animals with the guidance of a quality PH; and eventually get to take home some memorable trophy shoulder mounts.

The Travel – 23rd of April’16, time to leave with a 1.5 hour flight Mackay to Brisbane followed by a couple hours later by a 1.5 hour flight to Sydney including an overnight stay. 24th April’16, flight Sydney to J’Burg 13 long hours but made comfortable by an enthusiastic Aussie hostie who kept feeding us a constant supply of wine including a couple bottles for the road. Charles from Rifle Permits met us at Tambo to ensure the rifle permit process went smoothly, definitely highly recommended. 25th April’16, woken at 12:30 in the morning to the sounds of Sharyn in the shower, asked her what the bloody hell she was having a shower at that time of the night for. She yelled back to say she was getting ready for our 6:00 am flight, umm she had got the time zone wrong and was soon cuddled up back in bed. We got up a little bit starry eyed and met up again with Charles to ensure the rifle went with us, then on our way to Port Elizabeth.


Day One – 25th April’16 arrived a day early (additional wet weather contingency and because we were mad keen), thanks Marius. Met Marius, and Martin our PH for the next 11 days, and also Lloyd Marius’s tracker, Martin’s tracker Oli was serving pennants for going on a bender after he got paid for the last hunt. Umm, Martin was younger than I expected, (27yo I found out later), glad I bought lots of anti-inflammatories for the knees, might be lots of enthusiastic youthful walking and stalking coming up. Pleasantries were exchanged in the PE airport carpark on what was a magnificent weather day with high expectations rising for a memorable experienced. Okay all loaded up and ready to go, Marius then asks Sharyn and I if we would like to go to the lodge for a rest, or stop at a nearby concession on the way back to lodge and begin hunting. Umm, Sharyn and I looked at each other with a smile and I replied well that’s what we are here for, let’s go hunting! I was going to have to use Martin’s rifle until I could get a chance to check mine, it was a Tikka in 300WSM, same cal. as mine but with a moderator fitted, I was more than happy to use for starters. On arrival at the property and while Martin made contact with the properties foreman, Sharyn and I changed into some more appropriate hunting attire. It was plain from the first view of the block that there were a some good numbers of Warthog and it was not long before we spotted a monster boar, Martin said it was the best he had seen for some years, which was now heading off into some lightly wooded grassed area. So the first stalk began, after about 30 minutes it was obvious he had given us the slip, a change of direction had us close to a group of Impala with a few likely Rams. Martin spotted a good Ram with great shape and forward curling horns so up went the sticks. The time had come, heart pounding and a little travel weary I made the shot but it was a little back and I required another couple to finish, not a miss but a little messy for my liking. I don’t show a lot of outward emotion but it was massive smiles inside and some controlled emotions on show. It had been a long and hard worked journey to this point, it was a great first trophy, a very pretty shaped set of horns on a mature ram. After dropping the Impala off for caping and processing we went to a high point to do some further glassing, a dark shape was spotted in the distance scrimmaging around the ground in an unusual manner. Martin identified it as a bushpig and only the second one he had ever seen in the day time. We decide to take a closer look but after a careful walk to the location of the pig we could not find it. While returning to the truck the pig suddenly crossed ahead of us in the low brush. Martin identified the pig as a big old sow and although not a boar still a unique animal. The sticks went up and a shot to the shoulder saw the big sow drop on the spot, a much need confidence booster. On inspection we were both very happy to have made the decision to take this fine trophy, full of colour and character. A quick trip for some gourmet pies for lunch and we were back to the property for more glassing from the high spot. On the road down Sharyn spotted a large warthog off to the side of the road, Martin reversed the truck and sure enough there was an old boar with wide but worn down tusks looking up at us from the entrance to his den. Martin suggested rather than scare him off we can come back and check on him later. We spent most of the afternoon walking through some coastal sand hills and vegetation, spooking one potential shooter boar. Lots of animals spotted, Giraffe, Zebra, Water Buck, Hartebeest to name a few. The day was getting late so we returned to the high ground for one final glass of the area, the wind had picked up, it was cold for us Queenslanders, needing three layers to stop shivering. Martin went for a walk to the right and was gone for about twenty minutes before he came rushing back excitedly to explain the older warthog we had seen earlier had come out and was enjoying a feed on the fringe of some heavy cover. Time to finish this already big day off with a bang. The chilled wind was pushing strongly into our faces so we could safely stalk close to the boar as we approached from a higher vantage point. I had a steady rest on the sticks and was able to take my time until the boar fed broadside, it was great to be so close to, in my view, what is an African hunting icon, and more importantly Sharyn’s trophy for the kitchen wall? Lol. I took the time to enjoy the moment before pulling the trigger, a perfect shot to the shoulder ensure he dropped on the spot and avoided an escape to the thick thorny scrub. After Lloyd completed the caping of the Warthog it was time to head to camp for a much needed beer and wine to celebrate an amazing first day. On arrival at Mpunzi Lodge we were met by the camp manager, Graham and a lovely lady from an a joining property who had cooked a wonderful meal of venison lasagne. With Bellies full and some celebratory ales downed we were off for some much needed rest in our very comfortable well appointed lodgings. The summary of the first day, intense best describes it for me, for a young PH Martin had already demonstrated professionalism, hunting skill and knowledge more than satisfactory for us, and I think the early results showed.

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billc

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very nice start to your hunt. Marius and crew always seem to get the job done.
 

CAustin

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Great looking pigs! Thanks for sharing.
 

kgesch

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If "your" Martin and Oli are "our" Martin and Oli, you are in for a treat. I used his .300 WSM as well. Don't let him get too camera shy! Get him in a picture or two.
 

Scott Slough

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two trophy pigs and an impala the day before your hunt was even supposed to start ... nice start!
 

Neale

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Mark, What a ripper start to your safari. Looking forward to the rest of your report.
 

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Very cool and congrats. With the title I thought it was a joke not hunt report. I was pleasantly surprised.
 

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Nice, thanks for sharing
 

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Started with a BANG!
 

gillettehunter

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Boy did you ever start off fast! My African hunts always seem to start slow. I'm lucky to have 2 animals in the salt in the first 3 days. Congrats. Bruce
 

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Day Two – 26th April’16, A cool crisp morning it looks like another cracker of a day in the East Cape as we took on the view from Mpunzi Lodge. Sharyn and I slept restlessly no doubt from the effects of the different time zones, but we were keen to keep the pace up. After a quick breakfast and coffee we were off early to another concession, umm bloody road works and stop goes along the way, reminds me of home. Enjoying the scenery, lots of mountains and rocky escarpments covered in unusual trees and scrub. We meet the property manager and foreman, also Tikka a playful Jack Russel (who would prove handi on another day), then we head off looking for Kudu. The terrain is very different than the first block we hunted, hills and valleys heavily covered in medium to low trees and bushes all running down to a large river in the distance. There was lots of Jade trees as we call them in Australia, a small leafed succulent which Martin said was a favourite Kudu food. We drove up one of the outer boundary roads stopping to glass across the adjacent valleys looking for a nice Kudu bull, we spotted some Nyala, Kudu cows and young bulls. On the third stop Martin quickly spotted a Kudu worthy of a closer look, with the wind in our favour we carefully climb partway down the first valley to put us about equal height with the bull. Martin confirmed he was a good mature bull, he looked the goods through my eyes. We were standing on a rocky slop surrounded by scrub, the sticks were set up through a gap in two branches. The Kudu was just under 200m away, we waited for him to move broadside. I lined up the shoulder and took the shot, Martin confirmed it was a got hit, handshakes and congrats all round although I did not see the bull drop as he took off after the shot so was hoping Martin was right. Lloyd worked his way across the valley to try to find the Kudu while we directed him to the spot he was last seen, after an eternity we heard the muffle cry to say he had found the Kudu. We jump into the ute and drove around to the next ridge to get closer to the location for the eventual carryout which no doubt would be interesting. The Kudu looked a majestic animal in the position as he had fallen, a spreading dolly Parton set of horns and his cape in great shape, looked to be a heart shot, very happy hunter. Martin gives a call to Henrick and his crew and we had the Kudu out after about an hour of sweating and grunting. Pics taking we dropped the Kudu off for skinning and prep, while we headed off to the range for some sighting in and play. We picked Lloyd up and went to a beautiful lodge overlooking the lower river country, had lunch and a quick afternoon nap on the lounges. We were woken with Lloyd informing us he had spotted three bush buck feeding in the river fringe area below us, we had the binos out in no time but only caught the occasional view in the thick scrub. Martin came up with a plan of coasting the ute down the hill and climbing a close ridge adjacent to the area the Bushbuck were spotted. After almost crawling up the sloped gravelly hillside we had good sightings of the three bucks working through the scrub below us at about 200m. Martin pick out the shooter in the three and the sticks came up. Not the most idea shotting situation, lose gravel sloped ground in amongst the thorn bushes but you make the best of it. We waited while the Bushbuck worked his way through the low spreading scrub, once broadside I took the shot. I could tell I had pull a little to the left we found out later the shot took him across the throat but only a glancing blow. I put a second shot into him while he was standing daze and that dropped him to the ground. I took a long time for Lloyd to locate the Bushbuck in the dense foliage, a fine old boy, with some aged character. Oli must of been keen to make amends for his late start to the hunt as he had caught a taxi to the property and met us at the skinning shed to help cape the Bushbuck. On the way home we took a short cup which proved amazing, heaps of Kudu cows and bulls passed on the roadside as they came out to feed, followed by some fancy donkey dodging with a couple of close calls. Another late finish, back at camp about 7:30 for a couple more castle lagers and tall horse cab sav. The Texans had arrived in camp but Robert was straight into the blind with Marius for Bushpig, good to see another mad keen hunter in camp.

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Markvm

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Day Three – 27th April, early start again, it’s cold enough to freeze the jewels off a blue balled monkey, definitely 4 layers for us non locals. We pick up Oli from his lodgings then off in another direction with Gemsbok the target for today. It is a different landscape again from the previous two concessions, hills and valleys, and areas of thick bush but there were high tablelands as well. We checked in at the main homestead where you could make out a good variety of animals in the distance including Zebra, Blue Wildebeest, Eland and Hartebeest. We drove slowly up to the higher tablelands with plenty of open grassed areas, stopping and glassing as we went, soon locating a couple of herds of Gemsbok but they contained mostly cows and some younger bulls. We worked our way to the highest point of the block by mid morning with no clear signs of the big bull we were chasing. Martin’s very keen eyes caught sight of three bulls about 1klm away in the direction we were yet to move into. He thought there was at least one good one in them so we drove the ute to the top of the track, killed the motor and rolled silently down to the bottom of the valley. The stalk commences as we quickly negotiated some deep gullies and drop offs to close the gap with our quarry, after carefully stopping and glassing a number of times it looked like the three bulls had faded into the heavy line of cover they were feeding near. We continued walking for the next hour, looking and glassing the opened higher areas for any signs of another herd. Another hour past, we bumped many variety of game, a Blue Wildebeest burst into a small clearing we were walking through, stood in shock and stared, than took off after an exuberant snort at us. We stopped to overlook a water hole and watched as Zebra, Blesbok and Hartebeest came in for a drink. After about twenty minutes a small herd of Gemsbok were making their way to the water hole. This was our chance, Martin spotted a good mature bull in the tree line which looked to be heading to a clearing where I could make the shot, the sticks went up with instructions to wait until Martin identified the bull, three cows walk through my line of fire, nervous trigger finger, but the bull never re-appeared from the bush line. It was decided we would wait for the herd to move on a little and we would follow them but a crazy couple of Zebra carrying on spooked them and they took off. We worked our way clear of some thick scrub onto an open area where we could make out another heard which Martin thought would be worth further inspection although we were now heading back in the direction we came in a large circle so we would need to be mindful of the gentle wind which was now in our back. We manage to negotiate the herd and get side wind of them which was the best we could do working with the cover we had. The herd was edgy and it was clear they had got wind of us, the sticks went up but by then the target bull and the herd were out of there pronto. It had been an exciting morning, a couple of opportunities and lots of game spotted, it was time to head back to the truck and have some lunch. We trudged back, Martin head down clearly a little disappointed, about half way back behind a small tree line I spotted a group of Gemsbok heading our way, Martin whispered that was the original three bulls we had been stalking and they had hooked up with a few cows we had also watched earlier. At the tree line they stopped, Martin had the sticks up and made the call the big bull was on the left just coming out of the loose tree cover. He stopped broadside trying to get a look at us, a perfect setup at about 150m I pulled the trigger, the shot felt good from my 300wsm. The Bull took off at top speed only to run a semi circle as he lent closer to the ground, he dropped and was still. I could not wait and ran up to the bull where he lay, I gave him a respectful rub on the flank, he looked a monster in my eyes. Martin walked up and reached for his horns, he was also impressed guessing he was about 39 to 40”. Oli had heard the shot and drove the ute close to the bull so thankfully no repeat of the Kudu carryout. After the required photos the four of us somehow manouvered the bull onto the truck. On the way back to the skinny shed we came across a herd of buffalo, mainly young bulls with a couple of mature ones hiding in the background, good opportunity for some more pics. An early afternoon was appreciated by all after the hectic pace of the last few days, late lunch and some early beers while glassing animals from the deck of Mpunzi, what a great day!




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adgunner

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Looks like you had a good time at KMG. Seriously who gets to see a bushpig on their first day in broad daylight, thanks for writing it up and keep it coming!
 

sierraone

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Very cool and congrats. With the title I thought it was a joke not hunt report. I was pleasantly surprised.
I thought so too!
 

Markvm

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Day Four – 28th April, Not so early a start today, we ate breakfast at 06:30 ready to go by 07:00. We would be hunting for a Springbok today travelling to a property close by only about 15 minutes up the road. We picked up Oli and headed to the property where we again also picked up the local tracker. The landscape was much more open than experienced so far. It was not long before we saw some small groups of Springbok in the distance but most were on the move. Martin thought the majority of animals would be feeding higher during the morning so we drove to a high point and parked the car. We walk for about an hour with a couple of sightings of Kudu and some Springbok in the distance but not much else. We reached what looked like one of the higher opened areas of the concession, and while glassing the area a few, then many Springbok began wondering in our direction, happy to graze away in ignorance of our presence. Martin and I filtered through the group with no standout rams, we let then move slowly away to our right as they moved through to the next open feed area. We continued in the same direction heading into the gentle breeze, hoping the next herd will have the trophy ram we were after. Through a lightly wooded valley we climb to the next open grassed area, the jumping cactus giving us a constant reminder to watch our step. Martin’s keen eyes soon picked up a lone ram, he had a good hook on one side and a well worn one on the other side, Martin confirmed he was an old buck and a good trophy. The sticks went up but before I could get a good bead on him he was gone. Not keen to let this one go we back tracked and did a wide arc hoping he had settled down, as luck would have it the ram was again spotted walking along a tree line within 200m of us. The sticks went up but on queue the ram jumped to a trot over the ridge, Martin showing his frustration at the ram getting away again or my slowness getting to the sticks, probably both. We decided to give the ram some more time to settle while will looked over another herd on the next ridge, there were a lot of animals but again no stand outs, as they move off to our right and down to lower grounds. We agreed not to give up on the old Ram that had already given us the slip a couple of times, so Martin plotted the best course to find him. After about 20 mins we came to the edge of a deeper gully overlooking the next hill which was a little heavier wooded so we sat for a rest and glassed the next rise. At the same time we spotted some movement of a single animal hiding amongst some cacti and thorn bushes. We watch for another 20 minutes with no sign of him moving from cover. With the few glances we had Martin was almost certain he was the ram, we backed away from our position and walk a very wide arc to have us come behind him. Confidence was high as we made the long trek around behind the ram’s position. Unfortunately the clever old bugger had again got wind of us and was nowhere to be seen. We had been walking for nearly three hours, Martin sent Oli back to take the ute down the hill while we continued to walk from the high to the lower grass flats. Sharyn took the option to go with the ute, as the temperature was warming up. Over the next couple of hours we saw numerous Springbok, the sticks went up on a likely ram but it was spooked without a chance of a shot. Martin really had his work cut out for him, there were a lot of shooter rams but he was after something better for us. We headed down to the ute where Oli and Sharyn were waiting. Although frustrating it was a very exciting morning of hunting, beautiful scenery and we had been close to large numbers of Springbok, can’t ask for much more. Back we headed to Mpunzi for a late lunch and rest some sore feet before more of the same this afternoon. We headed back about 3:30pm, Martin was thinking with the wind up a bit the Springbok may be feeding on the lower areas. We began glassing from the lower road at some scattered groups working their way down from the hillsides. After driving through some dry gullies one of the large rocky outcrops punctured the sidewall of one of the right side back tyre. Oli and co began to change the tyre, Martin indicated we would walk from here and see what we turn up. About 400m up the road from the car, Martin froze in front of us, glassing intently up a side shallow gully. I could not see from where I was, Martin eased back to us and whispered the old ram we were chasing in the morning is feeding up there. We both edged forward, with Sharyn waiting behind with camera ready. When the sticks went up it was realised one of the legs had fallen off, a muffled swear word in African was uttered. Time to improvise, Martin crouched down and supported the half missing leg, while I lined up the shot. The rest felt steady, 180m away the ram fed unawares, a shot to the shoulder and he was down on the spot. Lots of laughing and chuckles at the events leading up to taking this beautiful animal, expect the unexpected when hunting the East Cape.
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billc

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Great oryx and springbuck to add to the rest of the game you took already. Really like how that springbuck hooks back.Very nice
 

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"We must make a plan!" The true South African motto. Improvise and adapt.

Great job, nothing better than when a plan comes together.
 

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A "Dolly Parton set of horns"??? Lol...that's the best description I've ever heard!!! I'm really enjoying your report. In a few days you've collected the top 3 animals on my wish list for my next trip...kudu, bushbuck and springbok. And once again, KMG is really jumping out at me as the place to go!
 

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