SOUTH AFRICA: Buffalo, Plains Game & Friends With Somerby Safaris

booker

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If you ask me the Dark Continent just isn’t that dark, at least it’s not from where I am sitting. Now where is that you might say? The answer my friends is the Limpopo Providence of South Africa.

Much like many of you, my hunting buddy’s and I had a trip planned for early 2021. Yet to our dismay the Covid Fairy sprinkled her magic dust and as with our freedom to go get ice cream from town, so did our ability to travel to Africa.

Skip forward to July 2022. We now have no travel restrictions, no mask mandates and no one saying we can not enter South Africa. Well, that’s all we needed to hear. Brad, Caden, Skrocki and myself loaded up and got down to business preparing for our trip.

Now I would love to tell you with 4 guys coming from 3 different states that our travel adventure was harrowing and tragic. That would have made for a better story for sure. Well sorry to disappoint but the flights went off without a hitch. Our crew first met up at Atlanta International to jump on the trans-Atlantic flight to Johannesburg on Delta. This time across the pond we decided to upgrade to the Premium Select seats. This turned out to be a fabulous idea, I have horrible knees and this trip although me being a few years older was by far my best trip to date. That and the use of the Delta Sky Club at Atlanta did not hurt the smoothness and comfort of the trip. Surprisingly with all the luggage and current airline issues, we experienced zero problems… shocking I know! Once all our gear was collected, we met up with Andre and Hellie to get our guns cleared, which was a breeze.

The first stop on our odyssey was Sherwood Lodge just outside Joburg. A very nice place to rest up, get fed top notch groceries and to plan the next 10 days of adventure. For those of you who stay a night before and after the hunt in Joburg I would highly recommend Sherwood Lodge. This is the second trip I have used them and WOW they know how to treat you right.

Now after a good night’s sleep, a belly full of sustenance and a shower we decided on an early start and 4ish hours of road time to our first stop Shelanti Game Reserve, which is located in the Northern corner of the country. Once we finally left the city, and with every mile traveled and every turn of the wheels I am ambushed by the beauty of this country and I quickly start to remember that this is one of my happy places. Isn’t it brilliant how once we are placed in a different environment our mind, body and soul starts to change and mine is defiantly changing for the better. The way you feel all the way to your core and how you look at the day ahead of you. Some of these places can of course be detrimental to your mental and physical health. But for me Africa clears out all the spider webs in my brain and reboots my soul each and every time I come back.

The trip was quick as we spent the time catching back up with Andre sharing our new stories and reminiscing the old. After a couple hundred miles and 1,000,000 or so pot holes, we made it to Shelanti. Shelanti and her staff proved to be better than could have been expected. Comfortable rooms, great food and best of all phenomenal hunting across the 50,000-acre concession. So, for the next 6 days Andre and Hellie put to work getting the four of us on the beast on our safari list. One of these beasts was in fact a Cape Buffalo for myself. An animal I have wanted to go after from the very first time I decided to head to Africa back in 2013.

MORE TO COME....

All Packed.jpg
First Eyes On The Prize.jpg
Room at Shelanti.jpg
Room at Sherwood.jpg
Springbok Carpaccio.jpg
Yard at Sherwood.jpg
 
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BeeMaa

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Excellent! I hunted with Somerby in 2019 and they are a great bunch guys. Keep the posts coming.
 

booker

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Excellent! I hunted with Somerby in 2019 and they are a great bunch guys. Keep the posts coming.
I like the crew there this is my 3rd trip with them in 9 years and each trip has been different and great.
 

booker

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For those who have not hunted these big black weaponized creatures. It is a test of your stamina, your persistence, your wits and of course your courage. So to not waste any of our time we set out that afternoon to test those very principles. Over the next 4 days we tried a little bit of everything in the attempt to punch a .375 H&H sized hole into the boiler room of a Buffalo. We hit water holes; drug roads even took to the vantage points to locate these beasts. It took us every bit of 4 days of busted stalks and not to mention many miles on foot to finally get a shot opportunity on a bull that hit all my qualification. We spent the morning of day 4 driving checking water holes for tracks in an area we had not visited before. As we drove around the corner to the second tank boom, we had a group of 3 boys hanging by the water cooler and one of them definitely required a second look. Of course, they busted and headed for the hills. We dismounted the truck gathered the gear and went off in hopes of closing the deal. We did in fact get a second look and even a third but these guys were so flighty, we were just pushing them so we decided to pull out before we lost them for good. We headed back to the lodge for some lunch and to discuss picking up the track from the last point we seen them before disappearing into the brush. With lunch complete we headed back to the very spot we lost the 3 boys.

That afternoon Andre put on a tracking seminar that left us in awe. Andre kept us moving forward and sometimes back with the rest of us diligently glassing and watching in hopes of seeing the boys we lost during the mornings hunt. They had covered a couple miles in the hours we spent back at the lodge and seemed to be heading back to the water we busted them off of earlier that day. With the sun quickly heading for the other side of the planet Skrocki and Madelene started talking about maybe it was getting a little late to be trapsing through the bush in an area with well Buffalo! As if the fates were listening in Andre stopped us and motioned for us to hit the dirt. Just to the left of us a tree began to shake and beneath that tree was the Buffalo we were after. As these types of hunts typically go. You spend hours and sometimes days of mind numbing nothing, then BOOM!! A few quick minutes of adrenal pumping excitement and fun. Wouldn’t you know it, this very hunt was quickly turning out to be one of those very hunts. We worked carefully yet quickly up to a small bit of scrub brush, Andre waved me up to glass the guys and to verify that this was the bull I wanted to take a shot at. I told him with a shaky voice “you bet your ass it is”. Right about that time whether it was the wind or they just caught sight of us they all turned to face our group. So, there we were four hunters staring down over three tons of bad attitude that could ruin our good day really quickly. With no time to set up sticks Andre directed me to shoot off his shoulder. Without a moment of hesitation, I set the rifle over onto his right shoulder and zeroed in on the Buffalos chest. This shot only being 80 yards, the stability of the sticks was not needed. Now with a gentle pull of the trigger 300 grains of Buffalo medicine headed for his pump station. As it turned out the dose was the correct one. The Buffalo buckled to his knees, after a short recovery he headed towards a small bunch of trees looking for cover. Although his idea was sound it was fruitless, he stumbled only after about 40 yards of sprinting and wadded up just in front of his target. With the collapse and the following plume of dust we took off to get a better look at the situation. After a quick reload we snuck within sight of the downed Buffalo he was down but was still breathing. Two more insurance shots followed and the quest was complete. My hunt team consisting of Andre, Madelene and Skrocki all playing their parts beautifully helped me successfully fill my tag and my desire to hunt the Hooved Horror.

MORE TO COME....

Biltong and Whiskey.jpg
BOSS.jpg
Divot.jpg
End of a Long Walk.jpg
I Did a Thing.jpg
Looking for Buff Tracks.jpg
Start to a Long Walk.jpg
The Team.jpg
Who You Lookin At.jpg
Buff From On High.jpg
First Eyes On The Prize.jpg
 
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Nyati

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Congrats, good bull !
 

buck wild

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Nice report so far !

Haven't you read, we don't call it the Dark Continent anymore :LOL:
 

7mmFan

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awesome bull and report! thanks for sharing.
 

Uncle Sauce

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Great bull - Congrats!
 

gillettehunter

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Nice bull. Good job and nicely written
Bruce
 

cls

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Well done, nice bull. Thanks for posting.
 

Angelo_orygun

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Good start! The picture of the Springbok carpaccio has my memory and taste buds in overdrive!
 

booker

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Good start! The picture of the Springbok carpaccio has my memory and taste buds in overdrive!
It was pretty damn good, much like everything that trip. Not to mention the 20 pounds of Biltong and 20 pounds of Roadtong consumed.
 

booker

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Video of the Buffalo final stalk and Finally.
 

Kevin Peacocke

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Very nice bull, well done. Those accommodations look great too.
 

booker

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Now of course other creatures were taken during our 6 days at Shelanti, 12 extra to be exact were taken by the four of us. Although my primary animal for the trip was back at the skinning shack in the salt my trip was far from done. I will untangle the tale of two of our most memorable moments while at Shelanti.

The first story starts with the youngest of our hunting group but most likely the most mature. This was Caden’s first trip to Africa and at only 16 this had to be an almost overwhelming experience. Caden’s hunt list was very thin to start off with. He originally was there for the experience of the trip but it did not take long and he was looking to get behind the sights. One of the first beast he wanted was a Sable I mean who doesn’t want a Sable. I was not there for the initial portion of this hunt but was there for the climax and conclusion. As per Caden, he made a shot that was slightly back and low of its mark. With a bit of a wait and a phenomenal track job by Hellie they covered almost 2 miles by following a spotty blood trail and tracks in the sand in pursuit of the wounded Sable. While the guys were taking a break they did a bit of brainstorming on the best way to proceed. Do they keep pushing, maybe pull back and watch for birds or go get the helicopter… Well, I don’t know about you but I would want the helicopter. Forget hog hunting in Texas out of a helicopter lets go after a Sable in South Africa. With a quick call to the lodge the pilot got to the business of bring Caden’s soon to be ride to our location. With more than a few Predator “Get to the Chappa” jokes Caden with Hellie took to the air in pursuit of the wounded Sable. Now let’s take a quick look back at Caden’s hunting history. This history includes hunting birds with his dad and me and one Aoudad hunt. That’s about it, the flatlanding pursuit of tasty flying things. So now he is hanging out of a “Chappa” in South Africa and holding high hopes of finding the wounded Sable. That’s a substantial hunting upgrade for anyone. The Helicopter portion of his Sable hunt was not long lived as the pilot and Hellie found the Sable downed just a few hundred yards from where they pulled back during the earlier tracking job. Now that the pilot and Hellie have done their job its now Caden’s turn to work. Caden as if a pro put another round into the Sable to finish him off. After his helicopter ride around the property, hey you pay for and hour you take the hour. We went in for the recovery this included cutting a road into the thick stuff. In the end Caden was introduced to his outstanding trophy Sable, one that had a nice story and happy ending to go along with it.

The second yarn I want to spin is one that everyone in the group got to partake in. The four of us have shared outdoor adventures together for quite a few years now. No matter if it’s almost dying in West Texas Aoudad hunting, Noodling Catfish in Oklahoma, chasing birds wherever we can find them or just taking camping trips to get out of the city we make an amazing team. At this point Brad had spent 5 days in pursuit of a Kudu with nothing to show but a ton of steps counted on his Apple watch and a nice tan. Late one afternoon Skrocki and myself headed for a glassing point looking for Blue Wildebeest. This turned out to be a great decision not for me but for Brad. I glassed a great looking Kudu bull under a tree in search of beating the afternoon heat. Andre was able to get Hellie on the phone because the sun was working its way down and we did not know how long this bull was going to stick around. That and there was a group of photo safari takers about to come out to that very vantage point for a sunset champagne toast. Yeah, I know just our luck we finally find a great Kudu bull but it may be a moot point due to our timeline and the non-hunters. Hellie decided to pull from the ether a set of Baja driving skills that more than made Brad and Caden become water tight. We could see the dust trail from miles away as they crossed the concession at mach 1. With our window of time closing quickly Skrocki, Andre and I got to work finding the best vantage point to take the shot. We found a perfect location and with the Kudu now on the move I set up my 300 PRC for Brad to shoot once they arrived. Sliding in with style Hellie somehow got the guys to us just in time. As the guys got to where we were Skrocki pitched Caden the range finder I was already in position glassing keeping a close eye on the bull. I directed Caden and Brad to the bull’s location they both found him quickly. With no time to spare Brad agreed this was the Kudu he was going to take. As if on que Caden called out the yardage, “dad its 400 yards” I reached down and dialed the scope to match the yardage. With what seemed like well over a minute but was closer to 5 seconds Brad waited for a favorable shot on the moving Kudu. Boom! the 300 PRC barked its excitement to be doing what it was made for. The bull buckled and went down for just a moment only to pop back up and move to our right. I could see that the shot was just a bit low but a good shot. Caden without missing a beat called “370”. Brad taking the que and not needing to dial the scope sent another round into the chest to put the Kudu down for good. Now as if the Kudu was going to shoot back, we gathered our gear and ran to the trucks. Andre stayed at the vantage point and the rest of us headed down to make sure the Kudu had expired before we had to be out of there before the tour group arrived. As I mentioned before Hellie has some recessive Baja driving skills genetics which I got to experience first-hand. A quick trip into the brush shown that the Kudu was not going to get up again but was still with us. With one more shot to close the deal we then made our way out of the valley with post-haste. As we cleared out, we passed the tour group as they headed to the view point. Now that was close. Just as with my Buffalo hunt Brads Kudu was a test of patients and the ability to turn the dial to 10 and get the job done.

Brad and His Kudu.jpg
Brads Kudu.jpg
Caden Airborn.jpg
Caden Post Flight.jpg
I can See My House.jpg
Lookout.jpg
More Road Time.jpg
Road Time.jpg
Skrocki Making Friends.jpg
Through ythe Looking Glass.jpg
Well You Know.jpg
Work Horse.jpg
 

booker

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Video of final stalk and Shot.
 

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