SOUTH AFRICA: BOWHUNT: Matswani Safaris Aug/Sept 2016

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by 50by50, Oct 11, 2016.

  1. 50by50

    50by50 AH Veteran

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    Hey guys,

    Got home mid-September from an 11-day bow hunt to Matswani Safaris. I had a great hunt. It was booked through hunt broker John Martins of **MENTIONING**LINKING**NOT**PERMITTED**. My PH was KP Van Dyk, who is a game warden in South Africa and had tremendous connections on properties with little to no hunting pressure. That and the facts he was a stud to hang out with a great hunter, made this the best guided hunt I've been on. Fantastic experience.

    Here's the story:

    This hunt came together very quickly. I struck out on 20+ applications in multiple western states so with only a general elk tag in Wyoming, I knew I needed to come up with something quick or my hunting season was going to be as slow as my 8-year old climbing the stairs to bed.

    A friend and neighbor of mine had just returned from a hunt in the KwaZulu Natal and hearing all his stories and looking at all his pictures inspired me to get back to Africa. So sometime in the latter half of July, and after getting the mandatory green light from wifey wife, I got serious about finding an outfitter.

    I knew I wanted to hunt with a bow and I knew I wanted to hunt the Limpopo. I just needed to find a good bow hunting property. I found a great options on this site but we just couldn't figure out logistics, so I went back to the web.

    When I found John Martin's website, discountafricahunts, I read up on a few of the hunts he had available and gave him a call to see what could be worked out on such short notice. Immediately I was impressed by his knowledge and rigorous research he does on behalf of his clients.

    I had never used a booking agent before but after this experience, I will likely never hunt outside the U.S. without one.

    John gave me a couple options of outfitter's he's hunted with before and then as we got to know each other, he mentioned he was going to be in S. Africa the end of August, beginning of September, to check out some new outfits he was considering representing. He told me one, in particular, was very promising for big kudu as well as the rest of the spiral horns, and said I was welcome to come at the same time as him if I didn't mind taking a little bit of a chance, considering he had not checked it out yet.

    Normally I would be skeptical but after our conversations, taking the chance sounded good, and I booked the hunt thinking he wouldn't have thrown that out there if he wasn't pretty dang sure I would have a good experience. My focus this trip was going to be the spiral horn slam and monster warthogs. And if opportunity presented, a zebra, giraffe, blesbok, and steenbok. And of course baboons, jackals and vervet monkeys!

    Matswani Safaris is located outside of Vaalwater in the Limpopo and hunt multiple concessions throughout the province. They have three lodges, two for photo safari groups (their main business), and one for their hunting clients. The main lodge is easily 5 stars. I have never visited such a nice lodge in S. Africa. The second lodge was being renovated and supposedly will be nicer than the main lodge. Hunters stay in the third lodge, called the elephant lodge, and it's nice as well with a heated pool, big deck with a hot tub on it, a bar, full time bar tender, full time chef (with the white hat and everything!), etc.

    The lodges sit on 5 or 10,000 acres (never did figure out if they were talking hectares or acres) and is strictly no hunting. The animals were quite used to humans as the majority of visitors were there to walk the paths through the preserve to snap pictures and it was fun watching big kudu bulls, giraffes, zebra and other plains game come in to water while I soaked my tired bones in the hot tub.

    I wish I would have brought my wife. She's been before and had a great time but didn't feel like she could leave our one-year-old, so stayed home. She would have enjoyed the additional activities a photo safari operation could have offered her while I was out hunting. Next time....

    Until now Matswani has catered to European clientele, exclusively, and are just now breaking into the American market. In fact, John is one of only two American brokers that book hunts for them. It's so new to the U.S., their website isn't even in English yet.

    After confirming dates and getting feedback that Matswani was prepared for this American with rather high expectations of trophy quality, I sent over my deposit.

    Here's what I told them I wanted with the question of whether they could make it happen:

    Kudu: 59 7/8" but I will "settle" for anything over 55"
    Nyala: 28"
    bushbuck: 16"
    Eland: 35"
    Warthogs: 2 over 12"
    Blesbok: 17"

    They responded that my list was very aggressive but they would do their best and at least felt confident on the kudu and nyala. Wow. I'm in!

    After booking the plane tickets and having nothing left to do but make sure I was flinging arrows straight, I settled down for a very short wait....
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 12, 2016

  2. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Great way to start your story. Will be interested in how it unfolds for you. Bruce
     
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  3. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Looking forward to more!
     
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  4. edward

    edward AH Legend

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    waiting for the rest of the story.
     
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  5. thriller

    thriller AH Fanatic

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    Looking forward to more
     
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  6. thi9elsp

    thi9elsp GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    Exciting can't wait to hear the rest of the story
     
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  7. rinehart0050

    rinehart0050 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Great start. Looking forward to hearing how it goes.
     
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  8. CAustin

    CAustin AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

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    I like it so far! Keep the story coming.
     
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  9. 50by50

    50by50 AH Veteran

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    Thanks guys! Well, the day quickly arrived and my wife dropped me off at the airport. I flew with Delta and arrived in the evening. It was a good flight. As a father of 4 young sons (ages 8, 7, 4, 1) and the busy-ness that entails, I kind of like those long flights where it's all about me and I can just relax and watch movies or sleep and unwind. Perfect start to a vacation at this point in my life.

    Matswani had a guy waiting for me and we got off without a hitch. The only complaint I had is the airport sends the bow cases out with the rifles so we spent a long time in the police station waiting for my bow to arrive.

    After a 3 1/2 hour drive, where we had a little excitement when a leopard crossed the road in front of us, we got to camp.

    I met John Martins, my PH KP, and the other PH's and staff. KP was really excited about a 15,000 acre concession he'd gotten access to that hadn't been hunted in at least 5 years. Because of the drought, the manager wanted to take some animals off so allowed KP to bring me on there. He'd been feeding for two weeks and showed me trail camera pictures of some awesome animals and we made plans to head there in the morning.

    I went to bed super excited and very eager for morning to come.

    DAY 1

    The morning came very quickly. By 2:30am I was wide awake. I'm sure all of you have experienced the same jet lag. I lay in bed playing with my phone for a couple hours and then got up, showered, packed everything I would need for the day and put broad heads on my arrows. 5:30am was breakfast, after which it was light enough for me to shoot my bow so I flung a few arrows, concentrating on the mid ranges: 25, 35, 45 yards.

    By 6:30am the truck was packed and loaded and we took off for the 30 minute drive to the concession.

    This particular property had a river running along one boundary and a single water hole, fed by a well, on the other side (roughly 5 kilometers from the river). When we rolled up, the first thing we noticed was the trough only had about 3 inches of water in it.

    A blind had been set up 25 yards from the water and we spent the day there. A lot of animals came in to water, including a great kudu KP estimated would go 54 inches conservatively. It was a really good kudu with a wide V and deep curls but he didn't flare out and I'd set my sights on a bigger bull that flared, so this early in the hunt, I passed.

    I could tell KP was a little surprised. Later I found out I was his first American hunter and he joked he would have to adjust his hunting if all American hunters wanted such big trophies. He said his Danish clients are happy to shoot any adult representative. I guess to each his own but I want BIG ones!

    Later in the day, we had a great impala come in. I took some pictures, not really considering shooting him until KP whispered he was quite good and would go 24 inches. That would be my biggest impala and his shape was big and open, so I pulled my bow off the hook while KP got the video camera rolling.

    I ranged the ram at 25 yards and pulled back. I was surprisingly calm as I centered the 30 yard pin at the bottom of his brisket and released. The arrow zipped through him and he jumped and only ran 50 yards before piling up within sight.

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    The picture above is just before I shot him. I think these animals are beautiful with their shiny 3-tone coat and elegant face and horns. One of my favorites for sure and since my previous two hunts started with me taking an impala, it seemed only fitting.

    Here he is on the ground:

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    I measured him in the skinning shed and he was just shy of 24 inches. 'm really happy with him. He's close to being my biggest impala and his wide, open frame makes him definitely the best looking.

    That night we discussed the lack of water in the trough and decided to hunt a different place in the morning so they could get someone out to see if the pump on the well was broken.

    It turned out the pump was working great but the water in the ground had dried up. On day 3 we tried hunting a salt lick KP had put down by the river but it didn't work well so sadly we didn't go back.

    Had I been willing to pull out a rifle, there were some truly huge animals on the land. It's bush veld and really thick so other than the trail camera pictures, nobody knew exactly what was there (the land was managed by a guy that hardly ever set foot there) but the terrain was perfect for kudu with a beautiful mountain range going right through the middle of the property, and great habitat for nyala, bushbuck, and we saw the largest impala I've ever seen while driving to the salt lick. He was easily 26"

    I was disappointed, to say the least, but KP assured me he had a great concession to go to in the morning. He had seen a monster warthog and what he figured was a 28" nyala bull on a trail camera he'd set up on some water. So with a plan set for Day 2, I went to bed.
     
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  10. Patrick R

    Patrick R AH Fanatic

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    luckily your not a tape measure hunter... :ROFLMAO: :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO: Very Nice Impala congrats.
     
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  11. Khomas Highland Hunting Safaris

    Khomas Highland Hunting Safaris SPONSOR Since 2016 AH Enthusiast

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    Hi Matt,
    great reading your Safari experience! Thank you for sharing...

    We will see you soon here in Namibia, looking forward meeting you!

    Philip
     
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  12. Roan

    Roan AH Enthusiast

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    Nice report.

    I don't think I would have been able to shoot the Impala with that big monkey sitting there staring at me!

    Mr Baboon would have had a nice arrow shaped hole through him.
     
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  13. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Nice Impala!
     
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  14. 50by50

    50by50 AH Veteran

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    Hey Roan- that was VERY hard not wacking baboons this trip. The wind was horrible the entire hunt so animals wouldn't come in very well until the baboons camped out on the pellets and hay. It made me hesitant to shoot them. Last time I shot 3 or 4 and KP told me I could shoot as many baboons as I wanted for free, which made it hard!
     
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  15. 50by50

    50by50 AH Veteran

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    DAY 2

    The next morning we went to the different concession I mentioned yesterday and, after putting pellets and hay out, climbed into the blind.

    I could tell this water had not been sat on for a while as the blind had lots of droppings on the floor and thousands of these little flies that kept going in my mouth if I happened to open it when I breathed.

    We got settled in but the wind was swirling so few animals were coming in and the few that did, either didn't drink or took a sip and faded back into the brush.

    Around 10am KP snaked some zebra manure to him using one of my arrows and started burning it. I'd heard of this before and KP assured me the smoke would erase our scent and not bother the game. I didn't know about that but it sure helped with the flies! Within half an hour a HUGE troop of baboons came in and, after finding the pellets, settled in for the long haul.

    I was a little annoyed they were going to eat everything but quickly realized it made all the other animals feel comfortable and it wasn't long before we were visited by impala, some youngish nyala bulls (big one wasn't with them), warthog, blue wildebeest (one MONSTER bull but I held off hoping the nyala would make an appearance), and some kudu cows and young bulls.

    During a lull around 1pm, I saw a flash go by the side of the blind and then a huge warthog appeared 7 feet in front of my shooting window! My brain momentarily stopped working and I started to stand up. The movement spooked the warthog who ran to the right and out of sight. I looked at KP in horror who made soothing gestures and mouthed "he'll come back".

    Sure enough, about 10 seconds later, the warthog came trotting back in and, after walking around a bit, settled down on his knees and started eating pellets 20 yards broadside. It was the big boar from the trail camera pictures!

    My heart was just about beating out of my chest as I took my bow off the hook, drew back, and lined my top pin on his boiler room. I just about shanked the shot, but managed to keep my finger from the release. After taking a few calming breathes, I lined it up again and released the arrow. The shot went perfect, blowing right through the old boar.

    He turned and took off on a dead sprint. We called in the tracker and found a great blood trail right off. Within 100 yards we found him expired. His body was gaunt and his teeth were worn down to nothing. He was very old. His tusks were worn quite a bit- especially on one side, but he still blew my hope of a 12" warthog out of the water.

    DSC00050.jpg

    I threw a tape on him (yes, Patrick R, I DID have one with me. Haha) and his long tusk measured 12 inches. With the 2 inches hidden inside his gums, this was a 14 inch warthog! I was pumped!

    After we took some pictures and got him in the truck, it was about 2pm and my PH suggested we get back in the blind and see if the big Nyala would come in.

    We collected more zebra manure and climbed into the fly hole. By 3pm the baboons were back. It was incredibly entertaining watching the baboons interact. There's definitely a hierarchy with boundaries constantly being tested and enforced, so there was lots of bickering, chasing, screaming, and fighting going on around us. The added incentive of pellets to protect only made it more chaotic and at one point a fight between 3 juvenile's erupted point blank in front of our blind maybe 5 feet away!

    There was one huge male that had plopped himself right in the middle of the bin of pellets that all the other baboons were giving a wide berth to and every now and then he would jump up and break up a fight or chase a particularly annoying baboon out of the waterhole.

    At one point I watched him jump up and grab a big female, with a baby clinging to her belly, by the tail so the immature baboon she was beating on could make an escape. After he hauled her back, I was expecting the cranky mom to turn on papa bear but she just calmly walked back to her spot and resumed eating pellets.

    Just like before, when the baboons came in, all the other animals assumed it was safe and started filtering in and out of the water. Most didn't stick around but a few kudu spent some time at the mineral lick, and some warthogs came in to the pellets. Then more warthogs came in. Then more. It was getting pretty busy out there and I was sitting, trying not to move, with a very limited view of what was going on, so didn't see the big warthog come in.

    He was already on the feed when KP tapped my shoulder and mouthed "warthog". I took a peek, experienced the same revving in my chest, gave KP the video camera, and got down my bow. I attached my realist, and waited for the big boar to turn broadside. He easily had 10 inches of tusk showing so this was another great warthog.

    There was a lot going on in front of us with baboons and warthogs all over the feed and 6 or 7 kudu cows and calves at the water, but I had tunnel vision. I was lasered in on the boar when suddenly he turned his head and then jumped forward and trotted off. In his place stepped another boar that was even bigger!!

    I immediately drew my bow. KP whispered he wasn't on him as I lined up the pins. I tried to wait but after only a couple seconds I couldn't stand it and zipped the arrow through him. (KP did get the whole thing on video but the shot was kind of fuzzy).

    It was 3 seconds of pandemonium and then the clearing was strangely quiet and empty, but for the big baboon who was standing, very alert, and looking around but completely unwilling to leave his lunch.

    We radio'd our tracker, Daniel, and baboon took off at the sound of the truck. I couldn't believe how much I was shaking. Adrenaline was coursing through me and I was a bit surprised how much my fingertips were tingling.

    The boar had gone a lot further than the last one. It was actually making me a bit nervous even though I was pretty sure I'd taken out both lungs. After maybe 200 yards we found him expired. Upon inspection, I confirmed both lungs had been punctured. I don't know how he went that far. His body was big and in much better condition than the other boar and his tusks stuck out like bananas. We put the (ever present [Patrick R]) tape measure on him and his longer tusk was 12.5 inches. Another 14 inch (plus) warthog!

    IMG_4928.jpg

    The shot was right at 25 yards and my G5 T3 expandable broad head performed perfectly with a great pass-through shot.

    What a great second day! I couldn't believe my good fortune on that second warthog who had never been seen on the trail camera.
     

  16. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Now those are some big Hogs. Congrats and well done! I still haven't gotten one in 3 trips to Africa. To be fair they were only on the menu on the last trip. Maybe in 4 weeks.... Bruce
     

  17. LivingTheDream

    LivingTheDream AH Legend

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    Awesome story so far! Those are great warthogs! I can understand why you were pumped! Keep it coming!
     
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  18. kathy

    kathy AH Fanatic

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    Awesome Trophies , Love big warthogs. Forrest
     
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  19. Kenny Hudson

    Kenny Hudson New Member

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    Really nice hogs. Any issues with the Danish/English translation? Do most of the staff speak English?
     
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  20. 50by50

    50by50 AH Veteran

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    Thanks Kenny! The staff were all South African so everyone spoke English. In fact, they have to hire translators sometimes if their Dutch hunters don't speak English.
     

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