SOUTH AFRICA: Another Great Hunt with CT Safaris

Diamondhitch

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Well, I am back from another great safari With Chris Troskie of CT Safaris. This year we started off in the Free State hunting along the Orange River then moved south into the Steynsburg area of the Eastern Cape to finish things off. Once again Sabinas cooking was wonderful and I hunted 12 days and killed 14 animals, most of them on purpose. LOL I could, of course, have killed many more including Lechwe, Audad, White Blesbok, Fallow and others. Most trophies taken made SCI gold or silver and several made Roland & Ward. We hunted selectively for large trophies on foot.

In the Free State we stayed at a beautiful lodge and got to enjoy both Bushman cave art

Bushman Art.jpg


And being sung to sleep by roaring lions right behind the lodge. The closest Lion is 1.5 years old and was hand raised until recently when he was placed in with the other Lions. He is still affectionate and likes to be petted through the fence (as long as no ther Lions are close enough to have a go at you that is). Sorry for the poor pics, never assume you will have plenty of opportunity for pics. I missed out on some great pics of petting him and also of the young cubs in with mom and pop this time when our plans changed unexpectedly.

Lions.jpg

We got down to business on the 1st hunting day chasing Zebra. Long story (and walk) short, we spent the day tracking the herd up and down a couple mountains finally catching up to them below us in the cliffs. The shot was short and after a few yards the Zebra piled up wedged in a narrow wash and took what was rest of the afternoon to retrieve. This spot is much steeper than the pictures show.

Zebra hole.jpg

At any rate the .338 Lapua curse was broken and we were off to a great start.

Zebra.jpg

Next we chased Black Wildebeest between rain squalls and managed to get poured on quite badly. We gave up and headed back to the truck when the lightning started and got there just in time to miss a small hail storm. After the hail we set back out and although the rain prevented any videoing we were able to kill a R&W Black Wildebeest.

Black Wildebeest.jpg

After dropping the Black wildebeest off for skinning we headed back out for Blue Wildebeest and once again got back in the truck just in time for the hail. This time it was a big storm but it didn't last long.

Hail.jpg

With all the hail behind up was pressed on and found a herd of Wildebeest. Long story short we got up to them but the detected us and Both Chris and Lashlay, out tracker, determined the best bull was on the right facing away from us. I got on the sticks and waited for him to turn. When he turned I did not look at anything but the chest and with Chris OK I shot. He bucked like a Stampede bronk and went down. Neither Chris, who was watching through the video camera, or I had noticed when he turned that he was actually a young bull. Despite being young he still had a good set of horns.

Blue Wildebeest.jpg

Next was the real test for the Lapua. We hunted on another property which encompassed a large mountain and could not find any eland where a sane person would shoot one. After considering shooting one far from the road in formidable country we were fortunate enough to run into a couple farm hands on horseback who volunteered to push a huge canyon for us. The Eland had other ideas and headed over the top however instead of down to our position.

We continued glassing from up top and found several herds down low. We descended about 1500 to get to them and after navigating 2 big herds of cows and numerous other species we get in on a herd of 9 bulls who managed to stay in thick cover and join up with another big herd of cows. With light failing fast we paralleled them for 500yds finally catching a break at the foot of a large steppe. I passed on the 2 biggest bulls for aesthetic reasons and could not get a shot at my #1 choice. This bull finally gave me a 5 window and a 283yd walking shot off of the sticks. At the shot he jumped and fell dead in his tracks.

Eland.jpg

We then went out in pursuit of a Black Springbok that was reputed to be large enough to score in the top 20, Chris disagreed with these predictions but felt he was plenty big to chase. We got lucky and found him in a position for a good stalk. While he is not top 20 material he is a beautiful animal.

Black Springbok.jpg

While dropping the Springbok off to be skinned we spotted a herd of Hartebeest and circled way around with the truck to get in position for a stalk. After a short stalk we were in position and hammered this bull from the cliffs above him. He went down hard then got back up and tried to make a break for it, a quick shot and he skidded to a stop.

Hartebeest.jpg

We headed to the winter wheat fields to search for Steinbok. After looking several rams over we spotted this 5 1/16 ram and made a great stalk up a dry wash.

Steinbok.jpg

With plenty of time left in the hunt and a growing body count we headed to the Eastern Cape to hunt my primary obsessions Cape Kudu and Vaal Rhebok.

Acommodations were nice but a bit chilly even with the electric heaters going, next year there will be wood stoves in each room.

Shortly after arriving, ranch owner Jannie VanWyn asked if I wanted Blesbok. He had an old breeding ram that was being kicked out of the herd by a younger rival and felt it was best to kill him before the young ram did. He offered that if I did not want the ram I could shoot it for free but of course I wanted the ram. In steady 30mph winds plus gusts the closest we could get to the herd was by climbing a long ridge and then having them driven from the plaind to the foot of the ridge. It worked but the herd held up at 315yds and my 1st shot overcompensated for the wind. #2 undercompensated and struck him in the guts, on shot #3 I held my crosshairs right on the sweet spot of the ram now trotting with the wind, this shot was carried a bit forward by the wind which was blowing much faster than he was moving. He went down and a carefully and meticulously calculated finishing shot also managed to hit him in the guts. Now completely weighed down with bullets he could not get up and I was able to radio the truck for more bullets and finished him off at 25yds (with no compensation for wind!) He is a huge bodied old bull.

Blesbok.jpg

We took a drive up into the Northern Cape to find a Copper Springbok.

While driving in to the area where the Coppers were at I caught movement to my left, a Black Wildebeest bull was running and bucking right beside the truck! My 1st thought was someone must be feeding him but after talking with the landowner he explained that the bull was known for attacking vehicles and had dented and smashed lights out of several, why he hasn't eaten a bullet yet is beyond me.

Crazy Wildebeest.jpg

We spotted a group of Common Springbok and stalked them around a koppie. When we got within range of the rams I saw that none had the hooked in tips I was hoping for so I passed on the group. Chris said he would love to hang one in his lodge and I offered him my gun. The 300yd shot was right on the money and Chris had given himself a birthday gift a day early.

Chris' Springbok.jpg
 

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Diamondhitch

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We continued on after Coppers and drove several herds past our hide out seeing nothing but females and young ones. We spent the afternoon looking for a good one but could not find one. With only 1 day to hunt them I elected to kill the best one from a bachelor group to complete a lifesize group mount I am planning. Although we saw some nice common and black rams we did not see any coppers better than the one I killed, maybe another day would have helped to find the big ones.

Copper Springbok.jpg

Mornings and evenings had been spent hunting free range Cape Kudu on foot in the mountains with Jannie who we joked was an Eagle eyed Mountain goat with Baboon blood. He cut his teeth hunting Mountain Reedbuck in these mountains as a kid and loves to hunt hard on foot and since I am the only client that has ever been able to keep up with him (no easy task) he took me to places that no foreigner has ever hunted before which are also too rugged for the biltong hunters to bother. I guess he took a liking to me and offered a free Mountain Reedbuck which I gladly accepted.

Reedbuck hunting.jpg

Yet another free range trophy in the bag. Chris got some great video of this hunt.

Mountain Reedbuck.jpg

And Jannie got some good exercise packing it out!

Packing Reedbuck.jpg

Next we undertook the arduous task of finding a good Vaal Rhebok, the toughest both practically and physically on my list.

At first light from the pickup we spotted a 7 ram on a Lucern field with his ewes and Hennie, head of a group of landowners banded together for proper management of Vaal rhebok, quickly vetoed the ram and we continued on our way to our intended drop off point.

15 minutes after leaving the truck we were looking at a herd of ewes and a ram who was busy chasing a ewe as hard as any rutting whitetail. He wes too far to judge horns and they were not moving any closer so we planned a stalk. An hour later we had belly crawled into position and could see that the ram was well above his ears, clearly a shooter.

At a heavy 8 ï½¾ there was no reason to look any further and we could drive right to the edge of the Lucerne where the battle scarred old ram fell. Like the 1st time sheep hunter that kills a big ram, I still cant even conceive how truly fortunate I was.

Vaal Rhebok.jpg

Chris and Hennie with my ram. Hennie manages a large area of incredible Vaal Rhebok habitat but only allows 5-6 rams to be taken each season. Chris has done 2 hunts with Hennie now and has harvested 2 rams wit a total of about 2 hours invested. He also has yet to climb a mountain, his time will come!

Chris and Hennie.jpg

I almost forgot about my oops. Shooting down steeply and at over 250yds I had failed to compensate for the downhill angle and consequently my 1st shot had creased him between the shoulder blades causing no permanent damage but stoving him up enough that he did not want to jump the fence to follow the ewes.

I was laying prone shooting through the grass with the koppie rising to my left. After the first shot the ram disappeared from view then I saw an animal appear from where he had vanished. At first glance I noticed the horns were even with the ears and held my shot. It proceeded to the fence and took one look back just as Chris said he is at the far left shoot him again. I looked again and said it was a different ram. Chris said éhere is only 1 ram, shoot him, he is turning broadside?

The animal I was watching turned broadside and I again looked and thought it was a Mountain Reedbuck. Chris said 哲o that is your ram, shoot him again. If he jumps that fence you will never see him again. I fired and Chris said 添ou hit him but he is still standing there shoot him again? I didn't think he needed another but complied and he dropped. Chris said 的 heard that one hit too but he is still standing there? Bewildred I rolled to the side to fish another round out of my pocket and immediately saw the ram standing just as he had been all along just slightly to the left of my previous view. I chambered the round and dropped the ram.

Chris said 塗e is down and I replied 土a, they are both down? Chris hesitated then picked up the body of the dead Mountain Reedbuck in his binoculars as he sat up above the grass.

Oops, at least oopses require far less explaining in Africa than they do back home.

Oops.jpg

I managed to miss a 400yd shot at a truly giant Cape Kudu bull that both Chris and Jannie estimated to be easily over 55 and very heavy. The pursuit of this bull from that point on consumed all of my time and Calling Caracal at night took a backseat to getting up early enough to drive then climb hafway up the mountain to await 1st light to catch the Kudu returning from the crops. As a result Charl, Jannies soon to be son-in-law, called in and killed the Caracal that was killing his sheep and I missed out. We only hunted 1 night with no wind and 1 night with some wind, we did see a Caracal but he would not come to the call. We also saw Wildcat, Aardwolf, Genet, Black footed cats and plenty that I cant even remember.

This 6 month old kitten that was born while her mother was caught in Hennies trap was the closest I came to getting a Caracal. It is not sedated but simply wanted down too badly to look at the camera for a nice picture.

Caracal Kitten.jpg

On the last afternoon we found some time to chase free range Springbok and I managed to kill an old battle scarred ram with heavy broken horns. We also finally managed to remember the AH hat that I promised Jerome some pictures in, sorry Jerome.

Springbok.JPG

After 2 safaris, countless miles hiked, mountains climbed (I lost 14lb on this trip) and passing on many fine bulls, including this one earlier in the hunt, on the last morning I broke my Kudu jinx. We spent 4 days in pursuit of a giant bull forsaking all others but when we headed out that last morning I knew if I happened to see this bull I would take him. Well I guess sometimes lightning does strike twice. We spotted this ancient old bull with his cows leaving a Lucerne field early in the morning and killed him at the foot of the mountain in a spot where we could drive the truck. In a heroic attempt to make us work for him he sucked up 210gr of Barnes X at 3150fps, like no animal including the Eland had, and sprinted 250yds and staggered into a deep wash before succumbing to the well placed shot.

This bull, a trophy by any definition, an easy 100yd shot had been passed over early on in our pursuit of a 50+ inch wild free range Cape Kudu. Both Chris and Jannie felt he was not heavy enough to measure more than 48? but then again they are a tough animal to judge. When we approached him we found he was absolutely ancient with teeth worn near the gumline, a thick luxurious mane both atop and below his neck, heavily worn horns with nearly 14 of ivory tips!

Kudu.jpg

A great bull and a great way to end my Kudu quest and my spiral horn slam, Thanks Chris.
 

Wolverine67

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Amazing hunt! Thanks for the report. That rehbuck are a monster! Love your steenbuck and kudu as well.
 
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Lovely trophies, great report thanks.
 

daggaboyblog

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Diamondhitch, what a great hunt!

Some lovely animals but what I really liked was the rugged country you were hunting. Beautiful country. Have bookmarked CT Safaris - looks like a great operation Chris.
 

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D, Well you walked your a** off. Good for you.
When you get the farmers respect you know you did well.

That Zebra looks like a stupid place a sheep would fall just to make things interesting.
Kudu did the same thing. One last chance to get back at you and make you appreciate it.

Very nice Black Wildebeest. Whoa!
Like that Steenbok..

I just about had the exact same thing happen on my Common Reedbuck as with your Vaal.. PH is looking at one and I am looking at another. Two Rams. The only thing that saved me was my refusal to shoot because there was a tree in the way.
We got sorted. Sounds like you did too...

Congrats on the Spiral Slam!!
Welcome to the most elite of clubs! (HaHa)

Thanks for the pictures and the report.
 

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Diamondhitch,

What an adventure! Good for you. On top of all the fun you even managed to partake in an African diet.
 

RickB

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Thanks for the report, and Congrats on some great trophies!
 

arizona

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Great report, congrats on the great trophies and a great experience
 

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Thanks guys, I really had a great time.
 

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D, Well you walked your a** off. Good for you.
When you get the farmers respect you know you did well.

That Zebra looks like a stupid place a sheep would fall just to make things interesting.
Kudu did the same thing. One last chance to get back at you and make you appreciate it.

Very nice Black Wildebeest. Whoa!
Like that Steenbok..

I just about had the exact same thing happen on my Common Reedbuck as with your Vaal.. PH is looking at one and I am looking at another. Two Rams. The only thing that saved me was my refusal to shoot because there was a tree in the way.
We got sorted. Sounds like you did too...

Congrats on the Spiral Slam!!
Welcome to the most elite of clubs! (HaHa)

Thanks for the pictures and the report.

Ha ha, Im not really a slam guy either but I do love my spiral horns. :D

As ironic as it was to shoot that Bull on level ground and have him fall in a hole it was far easier to get out than most of the areas we hunted. We would have had to cut up and pack out a bull in much of that country, the spot that I could have shot him on day 2 was at the very top with no roads within 1/2 mile. Well technically Jannies staff would have had to pack him out but I would have helped anyway.
 

Diamondhitch

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Diamondhitch,

What an adventure! Good for you. On top of all the fun you even managed to partake in an African diet.

No diet involved, I ate like a horse! It was the African work out following Jannie around. He has a ground gobbling gait that doesnt slow down a bit no matter how steep it gets. I found myself looking at the ground alot of the time just to keep from stumbling but he had his head up and was spotting game very well.

This is not the normal pace for Chris' hunts and its not for everyone but I ate it up and really had the time of my life.
 

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Thanks for the report and congratulations for a fantastic hunt !
 

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Thanks for the hunting report. A lot of great animals taken...the kudu, the black wildebeest, steenbok, vaal rhebok...look awesome!!! You finally got that red hartebeest too! That zebra is HUGE! I thought the black springbok was super long! Looks like a terrific hunt! Even chasing the eland around, brought back memories for me!
 

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Thanks E.
I see you remembered my issues with Hartebeest from last year. He hit the ground 1st shot and looked to be out then got up and stretched out in a full run before the Lapua laid him out a secod time. I certainly had flashbacks to last year! LOL Chris managed to get it all on video too.
 

35bore

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Excellent hunting report. Congrats to you D and to CT as well, some very nice animals were taken.
 

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Thanks for the report Derek, it was a privilege hosting you again!
 

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Super cool story and love the hilly country, sounds like a mule deer hunt Africa style. Congrats on those fine animals.
 

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