Love all the photos! Congrats to you and your daughters! As an adult, I can safely say that I'm so happy my dad raised me hunting long before it was "cool" for girls to do. They will have memories to last a lifetime, and it will have taught them life skills that aren't realized yet.
31 May 2016 (Wednesday)
Bush buck or two at Port Arthur
Up for an early breakfast and Annie and I departed with Lammie and Atti at 0730 for Port Arthur with the hopes of at least one bushbuck. Annie slept the whole two hours ... I'm glad she was relaxed. After the drive, we arrived at an Old Family Farm on the coast with access to a beach and the Indian Ocean. The farm was one of the original English settlements in the area and had been in the family ever since the late 1800's. After talking with Andreas, the owner, we entered the farm and started the search for an older bush buck that had recently been seen. While looking we saw many Blue Duiker and we also spotted two Oribi. With nothing moving in the area, we decided to park on a hill overlooking a valley and the Indian Ocean in the background to glass the area. After about 10 minutes, we spotted two female bush buck. We continued to watch them for about another 30 minute but the buck never came out. We loaded up the bakkie and went for a drive. While driving, Lammie spotted a bushbuck across the road in another area that was worth a look.
We went back to the main house to talk to Andreas who told us to look at the old quarry for a bushbuck before heading across the road. We arrived at the quarry at around 11:30 and parked at the top, then walked to the edge for a look. We immediately spotted a few females, but no bucks. About 10 minutes later a nice buck stepped out. He was on the edge of being a shooter, but we decided to cross over the main road to take a look on the other side and try to find the one Lammie saw earlier. Once we crossed the road, we picked up a farm hand who was familiar with the area and would act as our guide.
The vegetation was very dense on the other side of the road. We immediately spotted some more females feeding, but continued looking for a nice buck. After driving around for another 30 minutes, Lammie spotted something feeding at the edge of some trees that was worth another look. It turned out, it was a nice shooter bushbuck and we got out of the truck, put Annie on the sticks and got ready for the shot. The bushbuck did not know we were looking at him. She was not able to see him right away in the scope, but after turning down the magnification, she was able to get a good sight picture.
By this time, the buck looked over and was starting to get ancy about us looking at him. We moved Annie for a better shot and she located him in the scope again at 116 yards, settled down and took the shot ... BOOM!... Nothing! ... High and left. Both Lammie and I saw the shot hit. By the time Annie was able to load another round in the chamber, the buck had disappeared into the trees, a clean miss. We were all a little disappointed, but again, sometimes sh** happens. We loaded-up and started the search once again, not really looking hard, because we figured the last shot must have spooked everything in the immediate area. After about 10 min, I caught a glint out the window and asked Lammie to back up. We stopped to take a look and there was another shooter bushbuck. Annie decided to pass after her last shot, so the shot was mine. On the sticks, I found the buck, started the squeeze, BOOM! ... SILENCE!... A clean miss! What's going on??? He ran off into the trees. Lammie and Atti looked at me with the questions in their eyes.... I had nothing, I missed. Back to the main area to eat some lunch. After enjoying a light lunch and some more scouting in the area, we headed back to the quarry.
We arrived at the top of the quarry, parked the bakkie and started the search. Once again, we spotted more females and watched them for a little while hoping a buck would step out. Shortly, we spotted the original buck from the first visit to the quarry and watched him for a while. Soon Lammie tapped me on my shoulder and a nice buck had stepped out, down the hill at 350 yards and started moving around checking out all of the females. We looked and he was definitely a shooter. But we needed to close the distance. I grabbed the .308 and got ready to move closer. We started to move closer, but spotted a duiker heading out way and hopped that he would not bust us and spook the bushbucks. We continued our move and made it down to 247 yards and waited for the good shot. I tried a standing position with the sticks, but settled for a more stable sitting position. Now it was time to wait for a clear shot. The bushbuck then started feeding from our right to the left following one of the females. The buck continued to move around a clump of bushing, checking out the females while feeding and I was in the scope waiting for a clean shot. The female he was primarily following stepped out from behind a set of bushes. A few more steps and the buck would be clear. All of the sudden, she spooked for some reason and ran off to the right. We got a brief look at the buck as he followed her. Now it became a waiting game. Five minutes later, he still hadn't moved. When he finally showed himself, I only had an iffy shot into a small window that I was not comfortable with. The wait continued. Then he moved off to the right and stopped between two bushes that gave me a better window to squeeze the shot thru.
I took a breath, started the squeeze ... BOOM ... SMACK ... HIT! A definite hit, but he ran off to the right and into the dense trees. We talked about the shot and I let them know that it was maybe a little far back but still a good shot. We went downhill and found good blood and bone fragments. It was a good shot, but definitely a little too far back. Now we had to follow a wounded bushbuck into the woods, what could go wrong with that? Time to switch guns for the tracking. I grabbed the 375 and followed Atti. We climbed over and crawled under branches worked our way through dense brush trying to stay on fresh sign. How a bush buck could effortlessly move through this stuff was beyond comprehension.
Meanwhile, Lammie and Annie headed back to the farmhouse to get Andreas and his dogs. Atti and I ended up bumping the bushbuck at least four times. Each time, we would get close, we heard him snot at us before moving away and found a blood spot where the buck tried to rest. This went on for about an hour. Finally the buck started working his way out to the meadow where Lammie was looking for sign. The trail went cold for Atti and I, but all of the sudden, we heard a shot. Lammie spotted the buck and took a shot with the .308 but missed. Back into the brush on some new sign.
The only thing I was thinking at this point was about all the stories I read about bush buck getting cornered and taking the offensive. Once the dogs arrived, Andreas and the handler joined the search. The dogs bumped him two more times, and finally Lammie actually saw the buck and was ready to shoot again when he gave us the slip. Now we had 5 people and two dogs chasing a wounded bushbuck in the thick brush ... again, what could go wrong? After the last sighting, we decide to backtrack a little because we lost the sign. Then it all happened in a flash, one of the dogs alerted and both Lammie and I spotted the buck at the same time staring at us. We both shot.... BOOM, BOOM ... SMACK, SMACK ... HIT, HIT... the buck and a tree were down.
When we finally saw him for the last time, he looked like he was tired of running and ready for a fight.... not a good thing with a wounded bushbuck that was cornered. Either way, he was now down for the count and the hunt was over. Neither Lammie nor I will confess to who shot the tree, and we will never know for sure who hit what, but I think it was Lammie that hit the tree...... That is my story and I will stick to it! I am sure Lammie will tell you different.
It was now around 4:30 in the afternoon and time for some water, pictures, and a break before we headed to the farmhouse to skin the buck. It turned out my original shot was in the right rear haunch. Andreas kept the meat from this one. While Atti was skinning the buck for a shoulder mount, Annie and I met Andrea's youngest daughter. She and Annie had a great conversation as they were both interested in horses and wanted to learn from each other. Another great reason to take the kids with you. While Atti worked and the girls talked, the sun started to set and offered some amazing views. There were by far the only one that I would say rivaled the sunset is the desert Southwest. Once all the work was completed, it was time to load up and head back to the lodge. Two hours later, and a good nap for Annie we arrived in time for dinner.
Really, really cool. Cannot emphasize how happy I am for you and your daughters.
Since my trip, and conversation with you, I am now a grandfather by the oldest daughter. I'm finding myself looking forward to taking all the grand kids hunting and fishing. This stuff (life) goes very quick.
Seems like yesterday.... but it was 2013... this trip was with Marius Goosen. A subsequent trip with the youngest was taken with Tootabi.
Thanks, I'm glad I took them and am looking forward to some more trips. Time does definitely fly. Now that my oldest is in school, she is planning a "Graduation" trip for me to take here on......And my youngest is planning a non-hunting trip for us. Might have to sneak in a little hunting if I can.
1 June 2016 (Thursday)
Black Wildebeest... The Last Day of Hunting
This was to be the last day of hunting. Since the earlier decision to pass on the gemsbok and yesterday's miss on a bush buck for Annie, I would be hunting the Crazy Black Wildebeest today. Carl, Loodt's father, had seen a few wildebeests for the last two days at the old dairy farm, so that was going to be our plan of attack. We drove over and like my luck for the past few days, we saw nothing. No fresh tracks, no scat, nothing. So now we had a choice, continue looking in this area or get in the bakkie and head over to Rubin's concession where I shot the springbuck and we knew there were wildebeest. The decision was easy and it was time to return to the "Springbuck" concession to take a hard look at the black wildebeest we had seen the first time. So we loaded up the bakkie and took off, Annie decided not to go on this trip.
After arriving on the property we started the search. It was obvious from the condition of some of the animals that the drought was taking it toil on the local population. We spotted a female waterbuck and a few blue wildebeests that were not doing too well. But this hunt was for a black wildebeest. As we continued the search, Atti spotted a few female wildebeests in the distance. It turned out to be four cows and a few calves at one of the few remaining waterholes. We decided to take a closer look to see if the bulls might also be in the area. Once we arrived, the bulls were not to be found. As we were heading back to the bakkie, I spotted movement to the right ... It was five more wildebeest in the distance at approximately 300 yards. Again, time to take a closer look. As we got closer, we spotted two bulls in the mix. In the binoculars, one was boarder line and the other was a possible shooter. Time to get an even closer look. We moved into about 150 yards and confirmed that the possible shooter was in fact a shooter. We were partially hidden by some arcadia bushes so they did not know we were in the area.
Did I mention how much arcadia hurt? While he looked good to me, Lammie wanted a little more time to confirm he was a shooter. After a few more minute and some discussion, the sticks came out. The target bull was now at 142 yards, up a small raise and quartering away. I was steady on the sticks, but the bull kept looking away and moving around. So I stayed locked on him waiting for him to stop moving. He stopped once or twice, and then then continued to look around, up the hill, towards us, and over to the other group of wildebeest. We wanted to wait until he was looking away because it offered the best shot placement. So the waiting game continued.
The wind was in our favor and they still didn't know we were there. He looked away, I got back into the scope just in time to see him look back. I came out of the scope and he looked away ... back into the scope only for him to look our way again. The bull moved forward and little and we had to reposition the sticks. Steady again and back in the scope, crosshairs positioned on his shoulder waiting for the shot. He was looking away, I start the squeeze and he turned towards us again. This time instead of coming out of the scope, I stay locked on as Lammie whispered to wait. He looked away and as Lammie started to tell me to take the shot, the 375 erupted.... BOOM!... the 250 grain Hornady GMX is on the way... SMACK!... HIT! The slug hit just behind his left shoulder with a load THUD! He jumped and started running away with the rest of the heard with a very pronounced limp. But like Lammie warned me on the road, if you don't drop them in their tracks with the first shot, it will be a chase because they are notoriously strong animals. His words were something to the effect of, "Feeding them lead and copper is like giving them crack or LSD." We were off to the races. He was in the back of the group and we were following trying to get a good shot. While the herd was not running, they were definitely walking faster than we were.
When they stopped, the sticks came out again but they were 200 yards away and there were some giraffe behind them. We could not get a clean shot but we could see that my bull was definitely hit. The herd moved off again to our left with my bull trailing. He stopped, looked back at us and I took an off-hand 197 yard shot ... Clean miss low. The herd continued to move off and now my bull and a calf were trailing the main group. We continued to follow. The main group turned left, but for some reason, my bull split off and continued straight away for us.
We sent Atti back to get the bakkie while Lammie and I continued of foot. The chase continued. At one point he was at 300 plus yards, but my bull was slowing. I told Lammie once we got into 250 yards or less I was going to take the shot again. He starting moving to the left, so we took a hard left to take a cut off course. He went behind some scrub brush and we expected him to come out the other side, but nothing happened. We continued to move forward and then all the sudden Lammie stopped and put out the sticks. Instinctively, I but the rifle on them and started searching for the bull. Where is he?
Then Lammie pointed him out to me, 157 yards away, board side. The crosshair were set on his shoulder, trigger squeeze, BOOM!... SMACK!... HIT!... Another good hit, but he started to move away.
Reload, crosshairs set, trigger squeeze, and he disappeared from the scope. I didn't shoot, what happened? He went down! Less than 15 yards from the last shot. We moved in and he was still breathing, so I added one more shot to end it. Holy crap! It took two good shots to put him down, and a third to finish him. We looked back to the hill where this all started and it is well over two miles away. These are some tough animals. Time for pictures, load him on the bakkie and head back to the lodge.
The hunting phase of my second safari is over. Or is it? I still have two more animals on my African plains game wish list ... a gemsbuck and a nyala of my own ... since Annie shot mine from this trip. And if I shoot an eland with the nyala, that would complete my spiral slam. Does this mean there is one more trip in my future?
Today was the final day. Time to settle up the bill and relax before we start the 22 hour trek back to the states. While everyone started packing, Lammie and I snuck off to the skinning shed to make sure all of the animals were tagged and marked for the taxidermy shop. We also measured some of them just for my curiosity. While there were no world records, we had taken some very nice animals.
After settling the bill, and passing out tips, Loodt had one more surprise for us. Another family had arrived late the night prior and they were also in camp, so Loodt arranged for a local troop to come to the concession and preform some of their traditional ceremonies, dances and songs. Our last meal was under the stars. Prior to the dinner and the ceremony, we were treated to our last game drive.
We found the water buffalo that were released when we first arrived, a small group of waterbucks and a kudu. As we continued, all of the sudden, Lammie slammed on the breaks, BABOOMS! There was an entire troop of baboons that were about 150 yards away. So after 11 days of looking for an opportune shot, there they were, 150 yards ways and we did not have a gun anywhere close.
Back to the dinner area where we enjoyed our final dinner with an amazing show. Haley was chosen to try and speak some of the local dialect, which she was actually pretty good at.
Everyone loved the show and it was time to head back to the lodge and off to bed. The next day promised to be a long one.
2 June 2016 (Saturday)
The Loooooong Trip Home
So after breakfast and good byes in the morning, it was time to load up the van for the trip to Port Elizabeth and the first stage of the trip back to the states. Jock, one of the junior professional hunters and a budding tour guide, would act as our driver. On the way into town, Jock provided a brief history lesson of the area. Once we arrived in Port Elizabeth, our first stop was back to the beach front shopping area for a few last minute items, then over to the ice cream shop.
Finally it was time to head to the airport. Once the bags were unloaded, Jock helped me check in the guns and we were done. Time to wait for the flight to J'Berg. We decided to grab a light lunch in the airport before we went through security. The first leg of the return was very uneventful.
Time for the next leg of the trip. Once we arrived at J'berg, recheck the guns and got a little more shopping in the Duty free area before we headed to the gate to load on South African Airways for the second leg of the trip. After the final passport check, we discovered the flight would be delays about an hour. This would make the connecting at JFK a little tighter that I would have liked, but it would still work. Once loaded, we finally took off heading west for an uneventful flight back to the states, or so I thought. About four hours into the flight (1.5 movies), the lady (from India) in the seats in front of us started screaming and shaking her husband who had apparently passed out.
The flight attendants responded to the seat and requested my assistance getting him out of the seat and on the floor. After the attendants provided some oxygen and he responded favorably, I guess the pilots decide to keep heading west. Never to find out why he passed out, but he left the plane at JFK under his own power.
Now that we were back in the states, immigration was not issue, but I wish I could say the same thing for clearing the rifles at customs and getting them rechecked of the final leg home. The gun cases showed up at the luggage claim as advertised and I headed over to customs with them as required. In customs, the supervisor decided his trainee needed painful instruction on clearing firearms back into the states and I would be the training tool. So something that took less than 10 minutes in Atlanta on my first trip took between 30 and 45 minutes here. Now we were starting to eye the departure time for the flight to LAX. We still had time to recheck the guns at the counter and make it to the gate, but not much room for more delays.
This is where I learned a valuable lesson, NEVER travel through JFK with guns! Because New York City does not like guns, they like to make this process much more difficult that it was necessary. I had to be escorted by New York’s finest, who had to log my contact information – name, address, phone number, reason for traveling with firearms and about every other pointless question she could ask before I was “allowed” to recheck my guns at the ticket counter…on the outside of security! So, once back through security, and back with the family, we bid farewell to Auntie , who was returning home on a different flight, and rushed to the gate just in time for boarding to LAX. Once at LAX, we grabbed something to eat and headed home to Tucson and the 100 plus degrees of heat.
So after 11 Days in South Africa with travel days on either side, on the family trip the final tally was:
- 4 Game Drives with 2 personal drives for Haley and Auntie
- Trips to Addo National Park, Addo Elephant National park, Schotia Safari Private Game Reserve, Shamwari Game Reserve (Born Free Big Cat Sanctuary) and Daniell Cheetah Reserve
- Elephants Rides for Annie and Haley at Addo Elephant Back Safaris
- A Special Birthday for Haley that included two cakes
- 1 Buffalo Release
- 1 and a half shopping day that included gifts for Nana in South Africa
- A visit to a local school with donations and a huge education for Annie and Haley
- 1 Spa Day for the Girls (Petties, Manny's, massages and a nice lunch)
- 5 Animals for Annie - Red Hartebeest, Warthog, Impala, Blesbok and a Nyala
- 6 Animals for Dad - Warthog, Springbuck, Caracal, Impala, Bushbuck and a Black Wildebeest and two still remaining on my wish list … And I get to keep bragging rights over Annie. That was until she shot a nice Mule deer in 2017…..
Would I do this again? Of course, and I will defiantly offer to take both the girls again. And I can't say enough about hunting with Lammie and Atti. They definitely made the trip enjoyable for everyone. The girls still both fondly talk about both of them. And I would recommend them to anyone looking for a good PH on their Safari.
Now all the taxidermy is all state side, and with Dennis (The Artistry of Wildlife) waiting on the final mounts. The plan is for Dennis to mount the Hartebeest and Nyala together, them my warthog, impala and Black Wildebeest and Bushbuck will be shoulder mounts. We have already received Annie's Warthog skull and all the skins that we had tanned. We will also have the other impala, the blesbok and springbok as European mounts along with the caracal skull.
Hopefully Dennis will post some pictures of the mounts soon.
Hello Milan, I just watched your video on disassembling/reassembling the CZ 550. I have spent days looking for something like this. I now have no reservations taking apart my rifle. I like to do this with all my guns so I understand them "inside and out". Thank you very much for the information. It is greatly appreciated.