SOUTH AFRICA: BOWHUNT: African Arrow Safaris Review

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by Dane, Feb 21, 2017.

  1. Dane

    Dane New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2017
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Hunted:
    South Africa
    If you don't want to read the whole story, here is the short video.



    South Africa June 2016

    African Arrow Safaris

    Like a lot of avid outdoorsmen, my dream hunting destination has always been Africa. I grew up reading the thrilling tales of Peter Capstick, Bob Ruark and J.A. Hunter among others, and had always dreamed of stalking the wild plains of Africa hunting buffalo, rhino, lion, leopard and elephant. Unfortunately, the opportunity to do this type of hunting is all but gone due to misguided politics and poaching, particularly in the case of the elephant and rhino which have highly sought after tusks and horns sold on the black market for millions of dollars annually. In places where hunting is made illegal, there is no monetary incentive for landowners or local natives to keep these animals alive. A lion or leopard is no longer an asset that can bring tens of thousands of dollars, but something that may kill their livestock or even their family. Plains game is killed indiscriminately for meat or sold for pennies on the dollar. Money from legal hunting that goes towards anti-poaching units is no longer available and poaching runs rampant. But enough of that, I’m likely preaching to the choir.

    For the last 15 years, I have hunted almost exclusively with a bow. With that in mind, I was very intent on finding an outfitter who caters specifically to bowhunters and who is a bowhunter himself. Through the power of the internet, I found many recommendations for African Arrow Safaris and Harry Nel, who has access to more than 110,000 acres in the Limpopo River Valley of South Africa. After reaching out via email, speaking with him on the phone and meeting at the Dallas Safari Club convention, I put a deposit down for my wife and me with two of our great friends, a couple from Oklahoma Spencer and Alison Grogan. We get along incredibly well with the Grogans and they are passionate bowhunters, so we felt good about a group trip.

    My wife Erin and I had this trip in mind when we married 5 years ago. It was actually on our honeymoon that she suggested we begin to save for a 5 year anniversary trip to Africa. I married well! 3 years passed when we really began to get serious about booking, and everything came together nicely. We decided on a list of our desired animals, Erin’s main target being a sable while I was after the “spiral slam”, which consists of a kudu, nyala, eland and bushbuck.

    November 9th, 2015 our first son was born, Brooks Michael Webb. Although Africa weighed heavy on our minds, we had a new treasure to keep us occupied. When the last few months before Africa started counting down, we rushed to gather all the necessary equipment. We both shot our bows nearly every day leading up to the trip, and I was practicing out to 60 yards in anticipation of some spot and stalk opportunities.

    I had arrows built specifically for the larger animals we would be hunting on this trip by a gentleman named Chris at Valhalla Bow Works. He is a proponent of heavy front of center arrow design, meaning the balance point on an arrow is more towards the business end than the middle. This results in higher momentum and better penetration, something I struggle with because of a 26” draw length. With a 90 grain brass insert, he was able to build a 450 grain arrow with 19.4% FOC for me and a 410 grain arrow with 20.2% FOC for Erin. For broadheads, I took both Slick Trick Magnums and the new Rage Hypodermic +P, which are designed for lower kinetic energy bows and have a 1.5” cutting diameter rather than the standard 2”. I was looking forward to the opportunity to field test both of these setups.

    We arrived at OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg, South Africa mid-morning on June 11th, 2016. The Grogans were scheduled to arrive later that evening, so we settled in to the Intercontinental Hotel across the street and got some much needed R&R after a long day and a half of travel. Watching the sun set from the hotel balcony, I couldn’t wait to begin my lifelong dream of hunting Africa.

    Later that evening, our friends arrived and Garry Pretorius, who is Harry Nel’s right hand man, retrieved us from the hotel lobby. The four of us were giddy with excitement for what was to come. We arrived past midnight, checked out the fantastic lodge and after a quick cocktail, settled in for a short night’s sleep. I was astonished to see the very unique designs of the lodge, including what I later learned was an ironwood tree coming out of the wall of our bedroom. This is very similar to the mesquite tree which is so prevalent in Texas. There was even an outdoor shower which was incredibly enjoyable in the brisk fall mornings of South Africa.

    The next morning I shot out of bed at the sound of my alarm, showered, dressed and walked outside to see Harry, Garry, Mechiel and Johan, our four P.H.’s. I would be hunting with Harry, and we got caught up over a light continental breakfast. I decided on a small cup of tea, I didn’t need any coffee this morning. We got our fill and went out to the range to make sure our sights hadn’t shifted on the flight. I’m not sure there is anything more nerve racking than four professional hunters watching you shoot, but those same nerves have a habit of creeping up on you when you’re drawing back on the animal of a lifetime, so it’s good practice.

    From the lodge, we split into two trucks and went to one of Harry’s properties to spot and stalk. A cold front had blown in, and although this Texas deer hunter thought the conditions were perfect, I was quickly informed that cold, overcast and windy weather was TERRIBLE for hunting South Africa! I noticed Harry was walking with a limp, which I asked him about. He had been gored by a gemsbok the previous Wednesday(four days prior), missing his femoral artery by fractions of an inch. I would have understood completely if he was unable to hunt with me, but as I came to understand about Harry, that would have been out of character for him.

    We saw lots of game driving, including 2 kudu bulls. As would happen again and again on this trip, I was very impressed with the trophy quality and when I would prod Harry to confirm, he just smiled and said “they’re okay.” We began our walk, quartering into the wind. Harry asked how far I was comfortable shooting, which is 50 yards on larger game. The wind and cloud cover made for good spot and stalk conditions, and we quickly came upon a small group of young sable. We glassed them for a few minutes and worked around them, going by unnoticed. A few minutes later we spotted a nice nyala bull at 100 yards. In my opinion, the nyala is the most handsome trophy in South Africa and it was my number one target. We stalked closer and came to within 55 yards of what turned out to be a group of 3 nyala bulls. I was incredibly excited, we were closing the distance on my top animal the first morning of our hunt and it was looking like it may happen via spot and stalk!

    Unfortunately, a group of 20 blesbok were between us and the bulls so we either had to wait and see what they would do and risk getting busted, or backtrack and work around the blesbok to get to the nyala. Of course, I suggested we work around and after getting by the blesbok we quickly learned that the nyala had fed to within 10 yards of where we originally sat in ambush. So it goes!

    We continued walking and busted a really big sable bull bedded down behind a fallen tree. I learned about various plants and animals we ran across, including the “go away bird” which warns animals of impending danger. As Harry said, the go away bird has saved millions of animals in Africa.

    The afternoon saw us on the same property as we settled into a sunken blind close to where we saw the nyala and blesbok that morning. These blinds were very well designed with one vertical shooting window, a small camera port and reflective windows at eye level. The floors are carpeted and the ceilings high, which reduce and dissipate noise and keeps the blind from getting too hot in the afternoons. It was still very windy, and Harry mentioned that it could reduce activity near the waterholes.

    It didn’t take long before we had a herd of impala, including a decent ram, come in from downwind. They were nervous and stayed well out of range. As they began to move off, Harry and I passed the time quietly talking, reading, or messing around on our phones. I asked at least ten thousand questions over the course of our eleven day hunt, but Harry enthusiastically answered each of them and I am truly grateful for that. Suddenly, I looked up and we had a nyala bull feeding in front of us. He had come in from our blind spot, so I was completely caught off-guard. Harry said he was a good bull, about a 7/10, so we watched him. 10 minutes later, the blesbok herd from earlier started making their way towards our blind, and behind them was another nyala bull. As he made his way closer, Harry was glassing him and said “shoot the first bull.” I was confused, but in that situation there wasn’t much room for discussion and I trusted my P.H. I grabbed my bow which was hanging from a nail in the back of the blind and hooked my release on the draw loop. At 23 yards, he opened up his front leg exposing the vitals and Harry said “okay”. I drew, squeezed the trigger on my release and the arrow was on its way. The rage head hit a little low from where I was aiming, but the bull stumbled 20 yards and died in sight, hit in the heart. I was in disbelief!



    We got out of the blind and retrieved my first African animal, an old nyala bull. I was surprised how big they are compared to a South Texas whitetail. Harry congratulated me and then took the time to let me know why he changed his mind. He originally judged my bull as a “7”, but when the other bull made his way in and Harry compared the two, he realized the first nyala was more like an 8.5-9. He has a unique horn shape which also made it difficult to judge, with his right side belled out and his left more straight up.

    That night, Sunday, Harry’s parents Coen and Henriette came to dinner and we ate a traditional South African meal, which like every meal they prepared, was delicious! The best comparison for Americans is a sloppy joe, but in this case the meat was eland. Biscuits were handmade, deep fried and delicious, made similarly to a doughnut. The tradition is such that each family member brings a different ingredient, and they cook enough for everyone to not only eat, but take home with them that evening. We did this twice while we were there, and everyone really enjoyed the tradition.

    Campfires and the company you are with are as important to a hunting experience as anything else, this holds true for South Texas and South Africa both. In this case, both were exceptional.

    Day two was cold and rainy, and I could tell the PH’s were discouraged by the weather. Harry and I went to an enclosed, elevated blind called Knoppiesdoring. We drove up to several nyala bulls which were posing and fighting, as well as kudu and waterbuck which scattered as we got out of the truck. With lots of water on the ground, the activity was pretty slow and we called it quits without seeing a shooter.

    After a quick lunch back at the lodge, we went out for the afternoon hunt. The plan was to spot and stalk again, and with the wet and windy conditions we had a slight advantage. It didn’t take long for us to find a group of kudu bulls slowly feeding through the trees. There was a young bull closest to us, with two or three other mature bulls behind him but hidden by thick brush. We walked alongside this young bull, losing track of his big brothers, but assuming they were still together and that they had moved further upwind. The young bull started moving in a direction that would eventually put him downwind of us, so we picked up the pace to try to get around him. We had been within 40 yards multiple times, still searching for the shooter bulls we had seen earlier. Suddenly, the wind shifted just enough and he winded us, our hunt was over. The rest of the bulls somehow ended up behind us, having backtracked and switching positions with the young bull. We continued walking and ran across some bushpigs, a mostly nocturnal animal that is rarely seen. The sun set on another amazing African day, and I was excited by what was to come.

    The next day we awoke to clear skies, although it was fairly windy. Our blind was a very tall platform overlooking a large waterhole, and you could see for hundreds of yards in all directions. We had several waterbuck cows and a mature bull show up, not quite a shooter. Suddenly a really nice bull approached from a different direction, and the mature bull in front of us took off running straight for this newcomer. The bigger horned bull immediately retreated, apparently not interested in a fight that day.

    As we listened to the doves, sand grouse and Egyptian geese feeding and watering below us, Harry got my attention and said to quickly grab my bow. I moved as quietly as possible, taking it off the hook and moving into position with as much pace as possible. As I peered over the edge of the blind, I saw a huge warthog coming to water below us. He was directly downwind, but perhaps our scent was blowing over the top of him. As I moved to draw, he either caught movement or our scent, but took off like a bolt of lightning. I was really disappointed as I knew I could have moved more slowly, and I know better than to make sudden movements when you’re in close proximity to animals. Harry explained that these big warthogs don’t wait around very long, and when you get an opportunity you have to act swiftly.

    We came in for lunch around 2PM, and I was happy to learn that Erin had killed a big kudu. Spencer also took a huge waterbuck, so our luck was starting to turn with the improved weather. That afternoon, we were back in Knoppiesdoring. As we drove in, we saw a dozen or more eland cows and young bulls leaving the water hole, as well as a couple zebra. I was optimistic as we climbed into the stand. I nocked an arrow, this time a Slick Trick Mag with the anticipation of an eland bull coming in. Slowly, the animals started to filter back in and feed on the alfalfa we’d scattered in front of the blind. The herd of eland, a nice waterbuck and a pair of wildebeest all made themselves at home. A family of warthogs came in and I laughed as two piglets that couldn’t have weighed more than 10 lbs pushed a 1,000 lb eland off a bushel of alfalfa.

    From the north, I heard a noise that sounded like horses walking on concrete. I looked at Harry and he quietly said “bull eland”. I later learned that bull eland have overlapping hooves, which click together as they walk. They eventually made their way into the area and both were incredible animals. Harry asked if I preferred a larger tuft and shorter horns or shorter tuft and longer horns. I said longer horns but quickly changed my mind as I studied the two bulls. One was obviously more mature than the other, and although he had shorter horns his blue coat, long tuft and massive dewlap made the decision easy. I had an easy broadside shot at 15 yards, drew and was waiting for Harry to give me the okay. He was having trouble getting the video camera to focus, and the bull began to move off. I let down, and he ran some cows around at 30-40 yards. I had a quartering to shot at 35-40, but wasn’t comfortable with the angle. Then he was gone! They don’t get that big by being stupid.

    I was discouraged but hoped they would eventually make their way back in. A few minutes later, I saw stripes. ZEBRA! Four stallions were standing at 75 yards, watching and waiting. All week long we’d been told that the zebra is probably the most difficult species to hunt in South Africa. They’re incredibly smart and will generally get downwind of the water holes before coming in.

    Having completely forgotten about the eland, my heart began to pound. The lead stallion was a stud in every sense. He would move 5 yards at a time, his 3 companions moving only when he did. It took him 30 minutes to move 10 yards, but eventually he started making his way into shooting range. At 27 yards, he gave me a good opportunity. I drew, lined up my pin and realized my top cam was hitting a crossbeam in the blind. I spread my legs apart and moved slightly forward, and now the bottom cam was hitting my chair! The stallion eventually got pushed out by an eland cow, which gave me the opportunity to let down and allow the intense pounding of my heart to settle somewhat. The zebra circled around and was roughly broadside at 35 yards. I had two eland to shoot over, one of which had horns moving back and forth over the zebra’s vitals. Once I was comfortable, I drew and bracketed my 30 and 40 yard pins on the little black and white triangle on his shoulder. I squeezed and the arrow was on its way, seemingly in slow motion. The slick trick entered about two inches behind my target, burying in the shoulder crease up to the fletching. Harry and I liked the shot, but we watched the video a few times to be sure.



    We got down from the stand, and I was excited to watch Harry track. African Arrows is one of the only outfitters in South Africa who doesn’t use native trackers. I later learned that Harry has won multiple tracking contests and a local author even wrote an article about him, giving him the moniker “White Bushman”.

    If there was any, the blood was minimal but Harry was walking along like he was late for an engagement. We did a 100 yard half circle and came back to the road, where we saw a zebra walking 50 yards from us. Behind him was another, and another. I was desperately hoping not to see a fourth zebra, and he never came. Soon after, we heard the sound of hooves kicking dirt and knew he was down for the count. I was amazed at Harry’s ability to track, especially in a case where there is no blood and a herd of animals. Later, he would tell me that it’s more important to follow tracks than blood because the blood will eventually stop or you may not have much to work with in the first place.

    We walked up to this gorgeous stallion and I was again surprised at how big they are. We could hardly move him for pictures! My arrow went completely through the body cavity, the broadhead lodged in his skin on the other side. With one of the most beautiful trophies in Africa in hand, I was really proud of him and my ability to make that shot under pressure. It seemed to give me the confidence I needed throughout the rest of the hunt to execute my shot regardless of the situation, and as it turns out, I would need it!

    We woke up on June 15th to another windy morning, and to make matters worse the wind was shifting, predominantly in a direction that is bad for 95% of the blinds. After a slow morning, Harry was racking his brain trying to come up with an idea that was outside the box. He said that he had a blind that hasn’t been hunted in a long time, but the inside had been torn up by baboons. To me it sounded perfect, I’m a sucker for unconventional thinking.

    Driving up to this stand, I was really excited by the look of the area. With bigger trees, thicker brush and tall grass it just seemed like the kind of honeyhole that would produce a mature animal. We sat all afternoon, but with the wind continuing to blow in every direction we saw little more than a steenbok and some doves. A few minutes before dark, we heard a herd of wildebeest making their way to the water. One by one they filtered in, and Harry told me to grab my bow and once I’ve drawn, get close to the window to allow for as much light as possible. As each second passed, I was worrying that it was getting too late, but finally the last wildebeest showed himself and as is most always the case, he was the biggest of the bunch. I turned on my rheostat sight light and drew my bow, easing closer to the window. I could see both front legs were parallel so he was broadside, went straight up the leg to the midway point and squeezed the release for a 20 yard shot. The lighted nock streaked through the purple light of dusk and my arrow struck home.

    We got down from the stand and I watched as Harry began tracking. There was very little blood, but Harry seemed to find this particular animal’s track easily, regardless of the fact that there were a dozen other wildebeest in the herd. He began walking along like there was some kind of marker on the ground that I couldn’t see, occasionally pointing to indicate we were on the right track. We eased through the darkness for about 70 yards and there he laid, shot through the heart. The wildebeest was not an animal I particularly desired when coming to the Dark Continent, but he is one of my favorite trophies of the trip. Their brindled hides are one of the most unique.

    Blue Wildebeest.JPG

    The next day, Harry had to go to the doctor to get his oryx wound treated and the stitches removed. I hunted with my wife and Mechiel, and although we saw several waterbuck, oryx, and a nice 51-52” kudu bull among others, no arrows were loosed. I love my wife, but after sitting with her for the day I was ready to get back to hunting without loud candy bars, sniffles, frequent catnaps on the floor of the blind, etc. I know she felt the same way!

    Harry and I sat all day on June 17. It was windy again but the wind was more constant and seemed to die down as the day wore on. The morning was fairly slow, but we passed the time talking and learning more about each other. The blind we were sitting in that day had a broadhead hole in the door, and I asked Harry if he knew what happened. He didn’t know about that particular instance, but told me a story of another hunter who came close to shooting him. The way these blinds are set up, your P.H. is likely to be in front of you, to the right or left of the shot window, when you shoot. Harry was looking out the window of a sunken blind, giving his hunter instructions on when to draw and eventually shoot while keeping an eye on the animal. This gentleman was apparently having some trouble getting his bow drawn, and when Harry heard a struggle behind him he turned and saw the guy pointing his bow up, down, left and right trying to get it to full draw. Suddenly he tripped the release and his arrow buried in the concrete wall a few inches from Harry. He said that’s when he learned to watch his clients shoot on the range before going out to hunt!

    We had lunch delivered to us by Garry and Spencer, a big plate of kudu spaghetti, salad and rolls. We inhaled that in quick order, and put our plates on the steps of the sunken blind just behind the door. With these blinds, from a seated position your eyes are a little higher than ground level. I looked out the window to my left and was surprised to see a mongoose, not 8 inches from my face, looking in the reflective glass window. His troop of 16 followed behind, each of them stopping to check out the blind. One even had the audacity to jump a couple feet off the ground and peek over the shooting window, as he no doubt smelled the remnants of my kudu spaghetti. Harry swatted at him and he scampered off with a disgruntled chitter.

    As the afternoon wore on, we had a really nice young kudu bull come to water. He was tight spiraled, very wide, with tips pointed outward. An impressive looking bull that will be a real trophy in a couple years. A nice sable approached the area and began to feed, all the kudu cows giving him wide berth. Minutes later a really big roan came in, pushing everyone around. Things were starting to get good. Suddenly, there was a high pitched whistle and everything took off. I looked at Harry who said it was another sable, which promptly strutted in the way sable do. This guy was the king! He had come in downwind of us and was really nervous, so Harry made the decision to scare him off and try to salvage the last 30 minutes of daylight. A quick tap on the window and he was off.

    At last light, 2 nyala bulls came in followed by 9 kudu bulls. Harry was studying each of them with binoculars as I took my bow off the hook and readied for a possible shot. Just as the wildebeest did, the shooter bull hung back in the brush for 15 minutes while the younger kudu fed and watered without caution. Unfortunately, this time we ran out of light and had to call it a day.

    The next morning we got off to a late start, it was cloudy and didn’t look like the kind of weather we were hoping for. We drove into a blind, Sekelbos, which is on the same property as Knoppiesdoring. After setting out feed and getting settled, the sun broke through the clouds and the animals started to pour out of the brush. We had 7 nyala bulls and a few ewes, 9 kudu, several waterbuck cows and a small bull, plus a troop of vervet monkeys.

    Harry turned quickly and said “get your bow”, so I got out of my chair and prepared to shoot. It was the most excited I’ve seen Harry about an animal in the several days we’ve been hunting together, so I was a little more nervous than normal. I saw through the small window in front of Harry an impala coming to the water. Fortunately, Harry was on the video camera and the impala I was looking at was not the one he was filming, so when the first ram entered the shot window I knew not to draw. My target eventually made his way to the water, but had his rear-end facing the blind and I didn’t have a shot. He finished drinking and began to walk from right to left across the face of the blind at 10 yards, but wouldn’t stop. At that point, I had started on the far left side of the blind and worked my way to the far right side following this ram. Just before he got to a position where I wouldn’t be able to shoot, he faced off with a nyala bull and stopped, but it was a hard quartering angle. I whispered to Harry that I thought I could make the shot, and he gave me the go-ahead.

    The elevated blind and shot angle made it to where I had to aim a little high behind his last rib, and try to exit his chest between his front legs. I drew and settled the pin, and at the last second he turned a couple degrees to give me the extra margin for error. The Rage cut through him perfectly, just as I imagined it in my mind’s eye. Harry and I bumped fists and watched the video again and again, feeling very sure that the shot was true. We got out of the stand and found my impala 40 yards away. After pictures, we moved him under a shade tree and got back into the stand. It was early and we had more hunting to do.



    A few hours later, the animals began to saunter back in. I looked through Harry’s window to the right and saw a big waterbuck bull coming in. A mature bull waterbuck is one of the most regal animals in Africa, in my opinion. He came to the feed and ate for 10 minutes, facing us the entire time. As he went to water, one of his cows joined him and blocked my shot.

    Harry had been filming the entire time, and suddenly the battery died. Fortunately, he pulled out his smartphone and with the miracle of modern technology, the situation was salvaged. The bull stood broadside at 20 yards and gave me the shot I was looking for. The Rage broadhead hit him perfectly, lodging in his offside shoulder. He crashed through a downed tree and stumbled out of the area. The video replay confirmed it was a good shot, so we began to pack up and start the track. 100 yards later, he was mine! Of all the animals that surprised me with their size, the waterbuck was the greatest. Harry actually had to pull him out with a tractor, which incidentally had trouble turning right. What made the situation even funnier is that he didn’t know about this malady and the ranchhand didn’t tell him until we were in the middle of the brush. One giant left turn later, we had him on a clear road for pictures.



    By the time we got the waterbuck loaded, it was too late to sit so we did some spot and stalk hunting, to no avail. That evening back in camp, Spencer and Garry had quite a story. They were sitting in a sunken blind when a really big sable came in to water. Sable was not on Spencer’s list of targets, but early in the trip he decided that if he had the opportunity at a big bull he was not going to pass it up. As Garry tells the story, Spencer asked how big the sable was and Garry replied “really big”. Spencer pondered for at least a half second and said “I’m gonna shoot him!” So he did, made a perfect shot, set his bow back on the hook and stood with his hands on his knees in the back of the blind in disbelief. Garry heard what he described as the sound of bass frequencies, like a distant vehicle playing music loudly but all you can hear is the bass. He looked back at Spencer whose mouth was open, and said “Is that your heart?!” Spencer immediately closed his mouth and said “no”.

    Spence Sable.jpg

    June 19th, I woke up with some sadness and a sense of panic from the fact that we only had 4 days left on the trip of a lifetime. It wasn’t that we hadn’t collected every trophy we wanted, I didn’t want the hunt to end. I didn’t want to go back to Houston, drive downtown every morning and sit at a desk all day. Africa felt like a place I belong, the place I want to raise a family. Listening to Harry talk about his childhood, hunting warthogs and springbok with his brother, is something that I’m afraid my son won’t be able to experience. Sure, there will be trips to deer leases and elk hunts in the mountains of Colorado, but it’s just not the same.

    We sat that morning, saw 3 tsessebe and a bunch of wildebeest but it was windy and slow. On our way in, we saw a big kudu bull with some cows several hundred yards away. They weren’t far from the water hole we were sitting at, but for whatever reason didn’t come to water while we were there. For the evening sit, the wind died down and the temperature started to rise, something we had been anticipating for a week! A nice young kudu bull arrived but was unsure about the alfalfa we had put out. He skirted the area and browsed on the trees. We saw two or three other bulls making their way towards the stand, and they seemed to be chasing a cow. Unfortunately, we had a big herd of wildebeest show up at dusk when I figured the kudu would finally make their way in.

    It was in that blind that Harry told me the story of how African Arrows got started in 2005. His father Coen owned the 17,000 acres on which the lodge was to be built, and 21 year old Harry told his dad he wanted to start a hunting operation but would need a lodge. Coen told his son that if he could find 10 hunters to come in the first year, he would build a lodge. Harry agreed, and off to the U.S. he went in search of his hunters. There was a hunting show in Reno, NV so Harry called the organizer and asked if he could attend one of the dinners. After initially turning him down saying he needed to buy a booth, Harry convinced the man that he needed a break. It worked, and Harry found his way into a dinner full of hunters who had the desire and money to book a hunt in South Africa. Suddenly he found himself standing in the corner of a room alone, not knowing a soul.

    He eventually met a local couple who, as Harry put it, “fell in love with this lost South African boy”. They invited him to a dinner later that week with friends who were also interested in going on a safari. Harry gave his presentation with no brochures, no pictures of successful safaris. He had a sheet of paper with pricing on it, the gift of eloquence and his very apparent passion for hunting. He promised these people that he would build a comfortable lodge and all the necessary bow blinds by the time they arrived. After hearing reluctance from one of the wives, Harry agreed to send status updates and pictures and left that dinner with 4 couples, 8 hunters giving their word that they would come hunt with him. After finding another two hunters later that week, Harry headed home and informed his dad that he had his 10 hunters. Coen asked him where the deposits were, and Harry said he hadn’t taken any deposits but the people shook his hand and gave him their word. Good enough!

    Harry and his brother Brandt immediately got to work designing and building the lodge around a small stone house built by the previous landowner in 1972. He brought every stone in that house from a mountain 13 miles away by mule and cart! They built 4 bedrooms around this structure and incorporated some unique designs I mentioned earlier, including ironwood trees coming out of the walls, thatch rooftops over the bathroom, recessed baths and outdoor showers. The campfire and bar area are exactly how you would dream it up, it is unlike any hunting camp I’ve ever been to.

    Harry built hides around waterholes throughout the ranch, and by the time the hunters arrived 3 months later, the paint was still drying in the bedrooms. They had a fantastic safari that went off without a hitch, but as soon as they left a pipe burst in one of the rooms and flooded the whole thing. It didn’t bother Harry, he had the start he needed.

    The next morning Spencer and I woke up earlier than usual at our PH’s request. We were going to a property Harry has leased, but it’s an hour and a half from the lodge. The targets for both of us were kudu and eland. After dropping Spencer and Garry off at an incredible elevated stand which had indoor plumbing, a bed and was arguably nicer than my first apartment, we made our way to a stucco ground blind next to a water hole. A few minutes after getting set up, a kudu cow stalked into the area but she was very nervous. She slowly made her way downwind of the blind, and behind her was a stud kudu bull in prime condition. Harry guessed him at 52”. This cow paced back and forth for an hour behind us, finally deciding it was okay to come in. Two other bulls joined the group, along with a lone eland bull with a beautiful black face. Unfortunately he was a couple years away from his prime. A pair of giraffes came in to water, quite a sight. When they left, a herd of zebra came in to water. I couldn’t believe my luck, having seen zebra twice in 7 days.

    Shortly afterward, I heard the familiar clicking of eland hooves. Two huge bulls cautiously approached, and we studied both. Harry told me to shoot the bull with the bigger tuft and longer horns, so I prepared for the shot. At 30 yards, this 1500 pound giant turned broadside and Harry gave me the okay. The Slick Trick zipped through him like a hot knife through butter, and as he trotted off I saw blood building where I settled the pin. 20 yards from where I shot him, he stopped to look back towards the blind, unsure of what happened. Then it was lights out, he was mine. There is a certain degree of awe when you are able to take a 1,500 pound animal with a bow, not to mention getting a complete pass-through and watching him fall in sight.



    It was quite a production loading a bull eland into the back of Harry’s Landcruiser, let alone what we must have looked like driving home. I believe a few calls to the police would have been made had we been home in Houston.

    June 21st was one of the strangest days of the hunt. Driving out that morning, we had a caracal walk across the road in front of us at 100 yards, something I didn’t think I would get to see, especially during the day. That morning, the plan was to try for the bushbuck, an animal that doesn’t typically come to water or feed. Harry’s property backs up to the Limpopo River, and the area nearest the river typically holds good numbers of bushbuck which are best hunted via spot and stalk. On the way there, we drove past a shooter kudu bull standing in a fairly open area about 50 yards off the main road. We rolled slowly past a couple hundred yards, and as is the case with most of the animals at African Arrows, he didn’t pay much mind to the truck. Because these properties are bow only, they don’t associate the trucks with danger. We parked and began our stalk with a favorable wind. The plan was to walk down the soft sand road which would make our approach as silent as possible. The grass was about waist high, so once we got closer we could get on hands and knees to close the final distance. The disadvantage we had was that the sun was up and there wasn’t enough wind to disguise our movement.

    Creeping along, we got to 100 yards when the big kudu bull let out a bark and was gone. We never saw him before he took off, and I think it would have been tough to get him even with the advantage of a rifle. The old gray ghost had our number!

    Once we got down to the river area, we skirted along some 20 foot high cane and reeds. There were small game trails throughout, and it looked promising. As we topped a rise and looked out over an open flat, we saw two warthog boars milling around and fighting. We followed slowly behind them for a couple hundred yards when they entered some thicker brush, where we were then able to close the distance. I was walking closely behind Harry, arrow knocked, when the smaller boar circled back and walked across our left through the brush. Expecting the other boar to follow behind, we stood on a little trail and waited for a potential shot opportunity. Suddenly, he appeared to our right making his way down the trail we were on. As he walked behind a bush, I drew and Harry leaned to his left, giving me room to shoot. He stopped at 10 yards and saw us, staring curiously. The only shot I had was in the point of the shoulder, as he was basically facing us. I touched off the arrow and it hit where I wanted it, although the penetration with the Rage head was poor. He took off in a fury, and we slowly tracked him following spotty blood.

    As we worked along, I spotted a bushbuck in the grass ahead, so we got down and waited. Unfortunately it was a ewe but she got to within 20 yards, an easy shot. There was no ram with her, so we kept tracking the warthog. He eventually made his way under a fence and into an overgrown field, where Harry tracked in some very difficult conditions until we found him. His tusks weren’t anything to speak of, but any animal on the ground is a trophy in my book.

    We circled back and again began our pursuit of the secretive bushbuck. Walking along the river, a really big ram jumped out of his bed 40 yards in front of us. As luck would have it, Harry guessed that he had just bedded down and if we’d been there a little earlier he would have been ours. Continuing our hunt, we ran across a lot of hippo dung and fresh tracks. I couldn’t believe how big they were and was relieved we were looking at tracks rather than the real thing. We eventually stalked our way through the area and after being satisfied that there were no other bushbuck, we began our retreat. On our walk back, we came to a spot in the game fence that this hippo had run completely through. It was a testament to the damage these massive animals could do, and I now understand how they are one of the most dangerous and feared animals in Africa. We ended up seeing four kudu bulls driving home, the stalkable bulls being too small and the big boys were on the downwind side, as luck would have it.

    The final morning, I woke up optimistic and ready to give it all we had. I had my mind on one thing, a big mature kudu bull. We had seen dozens all week but they had eluded us time and time again, which only added fuel to the fire. That is, at its essence, what hunting is all about. If it were easy, a true hunter would eventually lose interest because the chase is what we desire. The kill is the crescendo and there is unquestionably a sense of finality that comes when the animal is down. At the heart of the matter, none of us wants the pursuit to be over.

    We started our drive to the stand and saw a big kudu a thousand yards away, so we attempted a stalk. Again, with the conditions in our favor he still managed to disappear like the gray ghost that he is. We didn’t see or hear him, he just vanished.

    The setting for the final day’s hunt was a blind we had seen kudu near all week. Harry and I loaded all our gear in the stand and he parked the truck downwind several hundred yards away, walking back in silence. We settled in for the long day, but a few minutes after sitting down Harry said “Dane, I don’t have a good feeling about this stand. Let’s pack up and go to a different blind.” I laughed and said “whatever you think!”

    We drove to a property I had yet to hunt; Harry said he had hunted there since he was a kid and the same gentleman has owned it for 50 years. We drove up to a windmill with a concrete water tank and five roads which led to the water like spokes of a wheel. Harry apologized in advance for the state of the blind and said that they don’t typically hunt this property until August so it may not be in the best shape.

    I got out of the truck and began piling all our gear inside, clearing the dead vegetation from the dirt floor of the blind to avoid any noisy missteps at a critical time. Harry eventually made it back and noted that the wind was perfect. I was optimistic, but four hours passed and the only wildlife we had seen was one warthog sow, marking one of the slowest hunts we’d had in 11 days of hunting. I was getting a little restless and Harry noticed, but assured me that if we were going to see anything, it should be a big kudu. It was getting close to lunchtime so Harry texted Garry asking for him to drop lunch off when they could.

    I was thinking about the past 10 days and how much fun we’d had. As a child, I would bass fish or hunt birds and squirrels in the summertime with my best friend. We had virtually no responsibility, no worries, and the hunt was seemingly never over. Around every corner was something we could catch or hunt. Africa is the adult version of that, limited only by time and money. Harry had become someone that I would truly call a friend, which is not a word I throw around lightly. With as many incredible animals as we had seen and taken, some of my favorite times were walking through the brush with him and learning about different things. You spend a lot of time in the blind with your PH, so it’s important to find one that you get along with. We were like long lost brothers.

    Some of the most memorable aspects of the safari were stories of other hunters who had been through African Arrows. Two of the funnier anecdotes involved confusion because of the PH’s South African accent. Harry was hunting with a husband and wife a few years prior, and the woman was not a hunter but sat in the blinds with her husband to watch. Halfway through the trip, she decided that she wanted to take something with a crossbow Harry has in camp. They were on hands and knees in a fairly open field stalking a gemsbok with Harry leading the way, the wife directly behind and the husband bringing up the rear. Suddenly a duiker appeared and Harry stopped to avoid spooking the tiny animal and blowing their stalk. He turned back to his clients and said in his heavy South African accent, “There’s a duiker just ahead, let’s wait for him to leave before continuing on.” He turned back towards the duiker and was glassing ahead when he heard his clients bickering behind him, eventually making quite a commotion. He turned and saw that the man was having to physically restrain his wife, who was intent on getting the hell out of there as she had no interest in being anywhere near a TIGER.

    The other incident involved one of Garry’s hunters. They were in a ground blind when one of the client’s most prized targets made its way into the water, a zebra. When the stallion was close enough, the client drew his bow. Garry turned and said “Let down” because he didn’t like the angle, then noticed the client start to crouch, still in full draw. He repeated “Let down!” as the client crouched further and further, eventually going to his knees in the blind, still at full draw. When Gary realized the client was hearing “Get down” instead of “Let down”, he whispered “Let your bow down, I don’t like the angle.” The client let down and exasperatedly said “Who cares about the ankle, I’m doing a shoulder mount!”

    At 1:30, some warthogs made their way into the water and a good boar hopped up on the water tank to drink. Harry said he was a shooter, but I didn’t want to jeopardize my last chance at a kudu so I stayed seated. Suddenly, a huge old tusker ran up to the water and Harry excitedly motioned for me to get my bow. This was the kind of pig that made me forget all about a kudu. I grabbed my bow as Harry got the camera rolling and drew back knowing that the shot would have to be quick. Of the half dozen warthogs that had come to water with this big boar, each of them had run off immediately after drinking. The shot angle was the toughest I’d faced to date, with the boar facing almost directly away from the blind.

    With little choice I anchored my pin behind his last rib and squeezed my release for the 22 yard shot. The Rage hit him where I intended, but when he spun to leave it looked a little low. We replayed the video again frame by frame and decided it was a good shot, so we got out of the hide to take a look. 40 yards from the water we found a spot where he had stopped, and after finding similar sign again at 60 yards we decided to back out and give him some time. I was really anxious about this warthog, as I knew that a boar of this caliber was arguably my best trophy of the safari. Also hanging in the balance was my eighth animal with eight arrows, which would be a record for Harry and his African Arrows clients.



    We settled back in the blind and watched the video a few more times, which gave me more confidence about finding him. Garry arrived at 2:30 with lunch, so we relaxed for a few minutes to eat eland steak sandwiches and refuel. I was on my second sandwich when I looked down one of the roads to see a huge kudu bull walking our way at 400 yards. With my mouth full, I told Harry there was a big kudu bull coming from a distance. He leaned over to have a look through binoculars, set them down and said “There is your kudu my friend.” Earlier that week, Harry said that he believes there are some animals which are destined for certain people, and it’s the first thing I thought of when those words came out of his mouth. This was my kudu, I had complete confidence that he was going to eventually make his way in.

    I hurriedly put the rest of my sandwich back in the Tupperware, moved chairs and drinks out of the way and began to get ready for the shot, as Harry took some incredible pictures of this bull walking down the road. As he walked into the brush, Harry turned and said “When he comes in, let him feed or water for a minute, and whatever you do don’t look at his horns.” The trouble was, Harry was filming and taking pictures of this magnificent animal, and although I couldn’t see him through the shot window I couldn’t take my eyes off the LED screen of my camera. I knew this was a big kudu, but what happened next put things in a whole different light. Harry hadn’t uttered one curse word in the eleven days we had been hunting together, when he turned to me and said without a hint of a smile, “Don’t fuck this up.”

    As the kudu entered the brush from the road he was walking down, Harry shut the camera off and for 20 minutes, we didn’t see him. He was careening his neck left and right trying to locate this bull, but it had seemingly disappeared! Harry turned and looked at me with a shrug of his shoulders, as if to say he doesn’t know where the bull went. The doubt was starting to creep into my mind when I saw Harry turn the camera on and zoom in on this old bull, standing completely still 100 yards from the blind, his natural camouflage allowing him to virtually disappear while assessing the situation. Mature animals do not approach food or water without incredible precaution.

    More than an hour had passed since I first spotted the big bull when another very nice kudu made his way into the alfalfa, finally giving my bull enough confidence to leave his cover. I watched as Harry continued to film this monarch, whom I still hadn’t physically laid eyes on. He circled around the younger bull who was busy feeding, hunched his back and tilted his head sideways posturing for a fight.

    There was no question about who the boss was in this situation, the young bull immediately bowed down and gave him space. I looked up from the camera screen and there he was, broadside at 30 yards.

    I let him feed for a minute while Harry filmed and eventually got the thumbs up to draw. There was no hope for my nerves to settle, I was as nervous and anxious as I’ve ever been in preparation for a shot. I drew my bow, settled the 30 yard pin on his shoulder crease and did my best to squeeze the release.

    Incredibly, this 600 pound bull heard the sound of my bow at the release of the arrow and “jumped the string”, or crouched to run. The Slick Trick tipped arrow hit him slightly high but I knew at impact that it was fatal. He bounded off 30 yards and we saw his massive curling horns stop in the brush. Seconds later, those horns started to tilt forward and I knew we had our bull. The look on Harry’s face when we walked up to this kudu said it all. He is an amazing specimen and the most special animal I’ve ever taken. It truly is the kudu of a lifetime and the perfect ending to a perfect safari.



    After taking a few pictures, we sent word to Garry and Spencer to come help us get him loaded, as
    Spencer had taken a big eland bull earlier in the day and they were done hunting. As much as I didn’t want to leave my kudu, we had a big warthog to find and it was getting late. Harry picked his way through the brush back to the spot where we last saw sign and picked up the track again. 20 yards later, he was mine. Nine arrows and nine animals in eleven days, what a safari.
     
    enysse, TOM, Ross Reamy and 2 others like this.

  2. Dane

    Dane New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2017
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Hunted:
    South Africa
    Erin Kudu.JPG Erin Sable.jpg Erin's kudu and sable
     
    enysse, Desperatezulu and jeff like this.

  3. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    Messages:
    22,518
    Video/Photo:
    412
    Likes Received:
    15,425
    Location:
    Canada
    Hunted:
    Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Canada, USA, Mexico, England
    Great report.
    Thanks for an incredible effort to share the details of your hunting story.
     
    DoubleLunger and Dane like this.

  4. billc

    billc AH ENABLER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    Messages:
    3,683
    Video/Photo:
    97
    Likes Received:
    3,168
    Location:
    Pa.
    Hunted:
    united state- Co Nm Mt Wy Pa , canada ,mexico ,south africa- Northwest, Limpopo, freestste.Northern cape,East cape, namibia
    Great report and videos. You made some great shots on all of those animals. That was one heck of a trip.
     
    Dane likes this.

  5. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2011
    Messages:
    8,590
    Video/Photo:
    327
    Likes Received:
    7,501
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Member of:
    NRA Life Member
    Hunted:
    US (All over), New Zealand, South Africa(Northern Cape, Northwest), Zimbabwe
    Nice report, thank you for sharing! Congrats!
     
    Dane likes this.

  6. mrpoindexter

    mrpoindexter AH Fanatic

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2016
    Messages:
    604
    Video/Photo:
    75
    Likes Received:
    911
    Member of:
    SCI, NFAA
    Hunted:
    Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, UAE, California
    Wow, what a hunt. Amazing warthog and kudu!! Now I am all anxious to go back to Africa again...
     
    Dane likes this.

  7. Neale

    Neale AH Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2015
    Messages:
    479
    Video/Photo:
    102
    Likes Received:
    489
    Location:
    Cape York, Queensland Australia
    Member of:
    SSAA
    Hunted:
    Australia, South Africa ( Eastern Cape, Free State, Limpopo,KwaZulu Natal )
    Great story Dane and trophies you will remember for a lifetime.
    The Kudu was a hooter. How long?
     
    Dane likes this.

  8. Dane

    Dane New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2017
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Hunted:
    South Africa
    Thank you! He was 57", incredible animal.
     
    Neale likes this.

  9. jeff

    jeff AH ENABLER AH Legend

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,329
    Video/Photo:
    36
    Likes Received:
    1,764
    Location:
    Salmon Idaho
    Member of:
    sci P&Y
    Hunted:
    Namibia, South Africa in Kwazu Natal, Limpopo, Eastern Cape , Northwest Province, USA Ariz, Nev, Mont, Ida, Ore, Cal, Mich,Wash, AlasKa
    Thanks for sharing your awesome hunt, a bowhunting only outfitter can make a huge difference!
     
    Dane likes this.

  10. Desperatezulu

    Desperatezulu AH Veteran

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2015
    Messages:
    128
    Likes Received:
    112
    Location:
    South Africa
    Hunted:
    South Africa, Zimbabwe, UK
    Fantastic report and great hunting! Congrats on an excellent trip!
     
    Dane likes this.

  11. MMAL

    MMAL GOLD SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2016
    Messages:
    475
    Video/Photo:
    21
    Likes Received:
    596
    Hunted:
    New Jersey, New York, Wyoming, Colorado, Mexico, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Northwest Territories, Newfoundland, Namibia
    Thanks for the write up, well done and congrats on some awesome trophies. How did everyone else in you crew do? I see the Kudu and Sable your wife(?) shot. what about the other couple?
     
    Dane likes this.

  12. Dane

    Dane New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2017
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Hunted:
    South Africa
    Thank you. I think we ended up with 24 animals between the 4 of us, the trophy quality is second to none.
     

  13. Tally-Ho Hunting Safaris

    Tally-Ho Hunting Safaris SPONSOR Since 2015 AH Fanatic

    Joined:
    May 14, 2013
    Messages:
    704
    Video/Photo:
    555
    Likes Received:
    714
    Member of:
    SCI, PHASA, SA Wingshooters
    Just have to say one thing.............. your shot placement is excellent!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     

  14. Dane

    Dane New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2017
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Hunted:
    South Africa
    Thank you! I practiced daily but there was definitely an element of luck there. If you look at the kudu shot, if he doesn't duck into the arrow I MIGHT have hit him in the heart, but could have just as easily lost him.
     

  15. Tally-Ho Hunting Safaris

    Tally-Ho Hunting Safaris SPONSOR Since 2015 AH Fanatic

    Joined:
    May 14, 2013
    Messages:
    704
    Video/Photo:
    555
    Likes Received:
    714
    Member of:
    SCI, PHASA, SA Wingshooters
    Kudu have big lungs
    You can always hit a kudu hi and a bit back
    Definitely better than low and bit back
     
    jeff and Dane like this.

  16. Ross Reamy

    Ross Reamy AH Veteran

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2015
    Messages:
    107
    Video/Photo:
    39
    Likes Received:
    284
    Location:
    Corsicana, Tx
    Member of:
    NRA - Life, DU - Committee Chairman
    Hunted:
    U.S, Mexico, Argentina, South Africa - Limpopo, North West
    Awesome write up! Really like all the details. Congrats on some great trophies.

    Has me even more excited for my first safari in May.. Didn't know that was even possible haha
     
    Dane likes this.

  17. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH ENABLER AH Legend

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2009
    Messages:
    3,282
    Video/Photo:
    82
    Likes Received:
    2,828
    Hunted:
    Namibia, Kyrgyzstan(2) South Africa(2) New Zealand
    Well done sir. Excellant shooting. You have some very fine trophies. Looks like you were all very successful. Congrats. Bruce
     
    Dane likes this.

  18. lpace

    lpace AH Veteran

    Joined:
    May 16, 2013
    Messages:
    212
    Video/Photo:
    17
    Likes Received:
    199
    Hunted:
    Namibia, South Africa, USA, Canada
    NICE! Some outstanding animals, but your kudu - yowza!

    I'm a bow hunter as well and also found African Arrow via the powers of the internet. However, my requests for information yielded nothing, zero, zip, nada.... :(
     

  19. Dane

    Dane New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2017
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Hunted:
    South Africa
    Let me know if I can help you get in touch with Harry. He's best with WhatsApp, very easy to text back and forth on there. Email is spotty. Send me an email with your phone number and I'll put you in touch. Dane.webb1 at gmail
     

  20. Hunter101

    Hunter101 AH Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2017
    Messages:
    241
    Likes Received:
    99
    Member of:
    RMEF,MDF
    Hunted:
    Nambia, South africa, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Pennsylvania, British Columbia, KY,IL, Oklahoma
    A great bow report
     

Share This Page

 
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice