Houston Bill

Gold supporter
AH veteran
Jun 1, 2014
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Houston, Texas
Hunting reports
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NRA Life Benefactor, DSC Life Member
Uganda, Namibia, Zambia, South Africa, USA, Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand
Hello, this is my first hunt report that I am writing for AH. Hopefully you find it informative and interesting to read

Earlier this summer my wife, my eldest son, who is now 24, and I traveled to South Africa with our good friends Scott and Kelly and their 2 boys ages 10 & 12 for a hunt with Jacques Spamer and @JKO HUNTING SAFARIS. This was going to be my 8th African safari, the 7th for my wife and the 3rd for my son. This was Scott and Kelly’s first trip to Africa. While I have hunted several times, both in the U.S. and internationally, with Scott, I had finally convinced him to come to the dark continent.

Given this is my first hunt report, I was not sure of the best way to present the report. I have decided that I will provide an overview of the basics at the beginning and follow that with a description of the hunts that I participated in, either as a hunter or an observer. In addition, I’ll provide a bit of information on the non-hunting activities we participated in.

The basics:

Travel: Thankfully our trip did not have any disruptions due to the airlines. We flew United Airlines out of Houston and met our friends, who flew in from Florida, at Newark airport. About 3 weeks prior to our departure I had decided that with all the delays occurring with the airlines it would be prudent if both parties took an earlier flight to Newark. As a result we ended up with a 6 hour layover in EWR. I normally like to minimize the amount of layover time but having our friends with us in the lounge helped pass the time quickly.

In South Africa we were met, as we exited the airplane, by a representative from Air2000 who helped us with our luggage, had our completed rifles permits and got us in and out of the South African Police office very quickly. I know there are other fine companies that provide this service but I have been using Air2000 for many years and they have always come through. Money well spent I think. Our plane touched down at 5:45PM and by 6:40PM we were loaded up and on our way.

Another decision we made that I think worked out well in the end was we hired a shuttle service (owned be Wessel Fourie, cousin to the land owner) to transport us from JNB to our hunting lodge in the Free State that evening. It was about a 6 hour drive accounting for a stop to get a bite to eat and use the restroom. While we pulled in a bit before 1:00 AM, our host, Rykie, was waiting up for us and we spent the next hour or so getting to know each other and drinking a few glasses of wine. This was a good option for us for 3 reasons, 1) for the 7 of us this option was quite a bit cheaper and less hassle than spending the night at a hotel near JNB and flying to Bloemfontein the next morning, 2) the total drive time of 6 hours was not that much longer, if at all, than the total time for the hotel/morning flight option given the lodge is about 1-1/2 hours by car from the Bloemfontein airport, 3) it was nice to get to the lodge that evening/early morning and have a very leisurely day the next day where all we really had to do was sight in the rifles.

Another decision I made that worked out very well I learned from a comment made by @rookhawk on AH. @rookhawk stated that all his scopes are mounted in quick detachable rings so he can carry them in carry-on luggage. Over the years I have actually had 2 hard side guns cases replaced by the airlines because of excessive damage. Thankfully in each instance the cases did their job and my guns and scopes were not damaged. So before the trip I changed out the fixed Talley rings I had on my 375 RUM to the Talley quick detachable rings and transported my Zeiss scope in my carry-on luggage. Talley claims that when you remount your scope it will return to zero. I can now vouch for that claim. In the past I have occasionally had my scopes knocked off zero by the airline baggage folks so this was a great solution to avoid that from happening.

Who we hunted with: Our PH was Jacques Spamer who owns JKO Safaris. I have personally done several hunts with Jacques (including 4 of the Big 5). The qualities I like about Jacques are: he is honest, hardworking and an excellent judge of trophy quality. Jacques will always give you an honest assessment of the animal you are potentially looking to harvest and never pressure you to shoot. And with cape buffalo in particular, Jacques is a stickler about harvesting only fully hard bossed bulls, which I appreciate. Helping Jacques on our hunt was another fine PH named Nicus van Rensburg. Both Nicus and Jacques were a pleasure to hunt with and they both did a particularly good job with helping Scott’s boys get their trophies.

Where did we hunt - Our hunt took place primarily at SandyMount Park. SandyMount is located in the Free State and is owned and run by Rykie Fourie. It is 40,000 acres of beautiful African scenery. The property has a mixture of grassy plains with high ridges and rocky outcroppings and vegetation covered valleys and ravines. The lodge was very comfortable and Rykie and her staff are excellent hosts. Last year my wife and my son and I spent a couple of days at SandyMount on our way to Johannesburg from our safari in the Eastern Cape so we had an idea of what SandyMount was like. Although due to its size, we had only seen a small portion of the property. Of course every experience for our friends was new and particularly exciting. This year Rykie had a surprise for everyone. She had recently hired an award winning chef named Michiel Bekker. During our short stopover last year, Rykie was the chef and while she is a fine cook, Michiel is a truly outstanding chef. He is also a great guy and we thoroughly enjoyed spending time with him in the evenings around the camp fire discussing the day’s hunts and what wines he was going to pair with his meals. To put it simply….we ate like royalty! Some of the dishes that were “to die for good” were: Springbok spaghetti Bolognese, warthog sausage pizza, springbok carpaccio pizza, mac and cheese with warthog and springbok sausage, impala meat pie, eland burgers and double crispy fries (best French Fries I ever had), kudu backstrap and bone marrow, chicken and lamb shish kebabs with pumpkin fritters, chicken curry with naan. And perhaps the best meal - eland tenderloins!

The last 2 days of our hunt was spent at Ghkui Ghkui River Lodge which sits on the Orange River which is the longest river in South Africa. Ghkui Ghkui has a beautiful lodge overlooking the Orange River and is about 48,000 acres in size. We went there primarily to do some long distance culling of Springbok and Warthog.

What did we hunt with: For the buffalo I brought my Heym 88B double in 450/400 NE which I bought last year from AH member @APS. @APS had never used the rifle and sold it to me for a very fair price. Thanks @APS! As it turned out, I needed a longer length of pull so I consulted Cal Pappas (God rest his soul) and he suggested the cheapest way to get the extra inch I needed was to put on a thicker recoil pad. In fact, he had done the same thing for one of his fine English doubles. Cal told me specifically which recoil pad to buy and I sent the pad and rifle to JJ Perodeau. JJ put on the new recoil pad, adjusted the trigger pulls and installed a Trijicon RMR red dot sight for me. Finally, according to Heym USA the rifle was originally regulated to Hornady ammo and the good folks at Safari Arms developed a very accurate load with Hornady DGX/DGS bullets. The rifle shoots consistently 1" to 1.25” at 50 yards off Viper-Flex shooting sticks. I also brought my Remington ABG rifle in 375 RUM mounted with a Zeiss Diavari V 1.5-6x42 for the plains game. I originally purchased this gun from the Remington Custom Shop about 20 years ago but a few months prior to the hunt I had Pitchford Custom Gunworks replace the stock and re-barrel it with a Lilja barrel. The gun was reasonably accurate before but I cannot believe how accurate the rifle is now. Before leaving for this trip I went to the range and shot 3, 3 shot groups from 100 yards with Barnes LRX factory ammo and each time all three holes were touching each other, outstanding accuracy for a big caliber.

My friend Scott brought his Browning X-Bolt in 300 WSM mounted with a Zeiss Conquest 4.5 – 14 x 44 and his boys were shooting a Tikka T3 in 308 WIN mounted with a 3.5-10 Vortex Crossfire 4-12 x 44 scope and equipped with a SilencerCo silencer. For both of these rifles I was able to develop sub ¾ MOA hand loads with 180 grain Nosler Accubonds. Over the years I have learned a lot about helping kids learn to shoot and hunt; primarily through the trial and error learnings I acquired by teaching my 3 kids and along the way helping friends with their kids. One of the key things for helping kids shoot well is to have a stock length that fits them, and often even “youth” length stocks are too long. So I had given Scott the cut down wood stock that my kids had used on their Tikka T3 so his kids had a gun that fit them.

The hunt: Because my son could only hunt for 5 days before he needed to return to work he was first up on his quest for cape buffalo. The first day we ran across a couple of small herds of buffalo, mostly cows and very young bulls. We did see a couple of older bulls that day but they were still not fully mature, hard bossed bulls. So while the first day was exciting, we did not find any shootable bulls. Early in the morning of the second day, Jacques spotted 2 bulls high up on one of the ridges that are scattered on the property. The bulls were quite a distance from the 2 track we were on and it was impossible to tell through our binoculars if either bull was fully mature. We did not see any other bulls with them but there was always a chance others were there that we could not see. We made the decision to go and take a closer look. Jacques, my son, the tracker, me and my wife got out of the Land Cruiser and started the long hike up one ridge, down a valley and up another ridge. For more than a couple of hours we played cat and mouse with these 2 bulls, often being so close that we could hear them in the bushes, not 30 yards from us, but we could not see them. Thankfully the wind was constant and in our favor and the bulls, focused on filling their bellies, did not know we were there. At one point an approaching Waterbuck bull who was walking right towards us finally noticed we were there; he spooked and ran off crashing through the brush. I was sure the buffalo would react to that and run off too but thankfully they did not. Moments later, the 2 bulls slowly wandered into an opening about 50 yards below where Jacques and my son were set up on the shooting sticks. Jacques said “take the one to the left when he turns broadside”. Of course, in these situations it seems like the animal takes ages to turn for you but it was probably only a couple of minutes before the bull finally turned fully broadside and my son fired the right barrel of the 450/400 and the bull dropped in it tracks due to a high shoulder shot. As we approached the buffalo, it was unable to get up but was still breathing so Jacques had him put in a couple of insurance shots to end it. It was a very old bull and a wonderful trophy.


Day 3 we spent much of the day hunting for my buffalo and in the morning we saw a very nice bull that was a potential shooter, however we could never get a clear shot at him. He and 4 or 5 other bulls were hiding in the think stuff and each time we got in close to get a look at his bosses and make sure he was a mature hard bossed bull they would see us or scent us and high tail it out of there. As we were heading back to the lodge that evening and with only about 45 minutes of shooting light left, the tracker spotted 4 or 5 blue wildebeest bulls and one of them looked very good. On his previous 2 African safaris my son had taken several of the popular plans game species but not a blue wildebeest. So we took a few minutes to plan the stalk and jumped out of the Land Cruiser and headed in their direction. With only about 15 minutes of shooting light left my son shot the wildebeest at 225 yards as he was facing him but quartering a bit to the right. I heard the smack of the bullet and watched as all the wildebeest run off over a rise with my son’s bull clearly dragging behind. Thankfully the bull stopped at 380 yards and turned broadside and my son shot him at the top of the shoulder which other than the neck and head was all he could see over the rise. The bull dropped in his tracks.


My wife has been on many hunting adventures in the U.S. and around the world but she will not pull a trigger. She comes for the adventure, hiking and spending time outdoors, meeting new people, experiencing different cultures and seeing the tremendous variety of wildlife this planet has to offer. She is also a very good amateur photographer and she especially likes the “golden hour” for taking photos of animals and trophy pictures.

Day 4 was spent trying to find a suitable buffalo for me. In the morning we ran into a small group of bulls that had at least 1 promising bull but by mid-day they had eluded us a couple of times so we decided not to push them too much and we went back to the lodge for lunch. By around 4:00 pm that afternoon we had located them again. They were bedded down at the top of a ridge in the bush. We were able to get with 20 yards of them while they lay under the trees and at this point we could only see 3 of them. It wasn’t until they got up and started milling around at 5:30 pm that we noticed there was another bull that we had not previously seen. During the 1-1/2 hours we watched them Jacques was trying to determine which one was the biggest one and if it was fully mature. I was a bit disappointed when he finally said the “biggest one” was not fully mature. As the sun was beginning to set on the horizon and the bulls were now up and moving around and feeding, one of them spotted us and they began to slowly head in the other direction. It was at this moment that a 5th bull appeared that we had not seen up to this point and it turned out that he was actually “the biggest one”! When Jacques had a good look at his bosses he declared “he has solid bosses shoot him before he disappears” so I threw the 450/400 on the shooting sticks and asked Jacques “how far is he” and he replied “51 yards” the bull was quartering away and I put the red dot a bit behind the shoulder and pulled the front trigger. At the shot the bull ran off and disappeared before I could put another one in him. I was pretty sure of my shot and Jacques said “you hit him good”. As we ran after the bull I reloaded the right barrel while I was running and as we got down the hill and around the corner there he was lying on the ground with a hole in his exposed side and frothy red blood oozing out of the wound. I had double lunged him and the bullet had exited. He had gone about 150 yards or so. Jacques asked me to shoot him one more time for safety.



Day 5 was spent searching for a big waterbuck for my son. Scott and Kelly had decided to take the morning off and sleep in so we had the pleasure of having Scott’s 2 boys with us for the hunt. After several hours of driving around in the land cruiser and glassing various ridges and valleys we decided to make a long hike up a steep ridge near an area where Nicus had seen a nice waterbuck a few days earlier. Near the summit we made our way to the edge of the ridge overlooking the valley and spent the next half hour glassing the entire area. Finally we spotted a couple of waterbucks that looked promising. They were still a long way off and far below us in the valley but were slowly feeding in our direction. Jacques declared they were likely both shooters and a plan was made. It was decided that just Jacques and my son would make the stalk down the mountain towards the waterbuck. That left me, my wife and the 2 boys on the ridge to watch the hunt through our binoculars. At some point we lost visual contact of them as they made their way through the bush towards the 2 waterbuck. After what seemed like hours but in reality was probably 40 minutes or so, I heard a shot and thankfully I had the larger of the 2 waterbucks in my binoculars at that time and saw him buck up from the shot and run 100 yards or so and stop and then I saw him drop at the sound of the second shot. It was a bit of a challenge for my wife and me to make it down the steep rocky mountain side to arrive at the downed waterbuck. Of course it was no problem for the young boys and actually at the steepest parts they would go down ahead of us and tell us the best route to take. As we prepared to take the trophy pictures my wife and I sat back and enjoyed watching the 3 boys share the excitement of this hunt and reminisce about experiences of whitetail hunts in Texas.



Day 6: My son went to the airport to fly home and Kelly and my wife decided to go shopping. Scott went hunting buffalo with Nicus. Before they left, Scott agreed to let his 2 boys hunt with me and Jacques. As it turned out, this ended up being quite special for me as it brought back fond memories of the 1st time I brought my children on an African safari. Back then my daughter was 14 and my sons were 9 and 10; similar in age to Scott’s boys. The excitement and joy I witnessed that day reminded me of similar experiences I had had many years earlier with my own children on their 1st trip to Africa. These memories were enhanced by the fact that they were wearing hand me downs hunting. The boys shot a wildebeest and a gemsbok earlier in the hunt with their dad and Nicus but they were happy to be hunting with “Uncle Bill”. Needless to say the boys had a great day in the field and they were able to harvest 2 impalas, a blue wildebeest and a black springbok. I made sure to thank Scott that evening for letting me hunt with his sons as it was a day I will never forget!



Day 7: Scott had been successful during the first week of the hunt and had shot a sable, waterbuck, eland and red lechwe but so far buffalo had eluded him. Jacques and Nicus had decided the night before that we would explore a part of the property we had not been to yet and that we would be in the land cruisers before dawn so we could be up near the top of the mountains at first light. As we arrived near the top of the mountain we had the privilege of seeing one of those spectacular African sun rises! We got out of the cruisers and started hiking and glassing. After about 45 minutes Nicus spotted 2 dagga boys slowly feeding and heading in our direction. So now we had to position ourselves properly to have the wind right and hopefully intercept the bulls as they continued to feed and wonder up the mountain. About 15 minutes later the 2 bulls were passing us at about 40 yards. The Heym 450/400 barked; Scott had placed a perfect shot on the 2nd bull and after an insurance shot we had our 3rd buffalo of the hunt!

As we prepared for photos, Rykie and a few of her staff arrived and surprised us with a Champaign breakfast toast!




Day 8: Over the course of the hunt I had been looking for a big roan. The roan antelope was one of the few more common antelope that I had not previously had the pleasure to hunt. We had been driving around and glassing some of the large valleys that sometimes have roan antelope hiding out in the vegetation. All morning we had been unsuccessful in spotting a roan and we were driving up one of the hills on our way back to the lodge for lunch when I just happened to look out my window and back a bit and caught a glimpse of what looked like a roan hidden in the bush. We continued to drive and stopped about 1/3 mile further up the road and got out of the Land Cruiser. Thankfully, the wind was in our favor and Jacques and I made a nice stalk to within 150 yards. Jacques set up the sticks and I shot the roan slightly behind the shoulder as he was quartering away. He went 30 yards and fell over. I did not realize what a beautiful antelope the roan really is until I got up close and had a chance to get a good look at him. I was very happy with my trophy and he ended up measuring right at 29”


Day 9 and 10 – As I previously mentioned we spent the last couple of days doing some long distance culling of springbok and warthog at the beautiful Ghkui Ghkui River Lodge which overlooks the Orange River.

Other activities: For the last several safaris my wife and I have brought school supplies, sports equipment and some clothing items for a local school. Along with Scott and Kelly, we did that on this safari too and had a great time playing in the school yard with the children.

We also had the opportunity to go to a cat sanctuary where we directly interacted with lion and leopard cubs and a full grown female cheetah. We also got to see full grown lions, leopards and tigers. This was truly a blast.




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Congrats for a great hunt and very good trophies.

Nice to see those boys hunting !
Sounds like a great hunt. Congrats to all involved. Nice looking trophies.
What a grand adventure with family and friends! Excellent detailed report!
Thanks for sharing with us!
Wonderful writing and great pictures! Thanx for taking the time. Nice animals too !
What a great read! Looks like an awesome trip with family and friends!
Fantastic and congratulations!!!! Jacques and his team are the best!!!
Thanks for a great report. I really liked the format and detail. Nicely done. I’ve been thinking about s cow buffalo hunt. Do these folks do that sort of thing? What are your thoughts on that sort of hunt? Thanks, Your friend,Brian
Hi Brian,

You would have to confirm with Jacques but I believe he also offers cow buffalo hunts. I think hunting buffalo is an adrenaline rush and if you are not interested in the trophy a cow hunt can be a good option.

Congrats and thanks for sharing!
Thanks for the report @Houston Bill, glad you had another great hunt with Jacques! As for what’s next…….talk to you soon.
very nice report!!! Congrats on all the great animals and thanks for sharing!!!
Great trip !
Congratulations on a great hunt.
Curious about any paperwork or process that Scott went through to take the SilencerCo suppressor with him. That cause any hiccups along the way for travel?
Hi @xbr897, Scott had zero issues or hiccups. He traveled with the suppressor detached and in the manufactures box in the gun case and also had it called out on his 4457 form and he also had his trust paperwork with him. But nobody in customs inquired about the suppressor in South Africa or the U.S. Suppressors are quite common in South Africa so we did not expect any questions there, but thought maybe he would get asked about it coming back into the U.S., but that did not happen.
Here in Bozeman Mt the customs officer would not issue me a 4457 because he says they are not importable or exportable. So I leave Saturday for SA without my suppressor. Too much F&$#ing government control over law abiding citizens and NO control over the crooks.


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