Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by Johnny7604, Dec 31, 2017.
Very nice report. Looking forward to more!!!
Well done! Chris runs a top notch outfit.
Johnny7604, this report and photos could almost serve as a "poster board" for a family hunt. Where did you learn your long distance shooting skills? Do you live out West where you can practice them? Just curious.
It was great to share it with my family thanks.
I first started learning precision distance shootinga very long time ago as a teenager in the army cadets. I fell in love with it and wanted to learn different aspects so I joined a local competition shooting club and received alot of guidance from some of the local competitive shooters. It has been a big part of my life ever since. We have lots of opportunity to practice where I live.
Great read, thanks for sharing and congratulations on a great hunt with family.
Really enjoying the report. It's nice to read one based in KwaZulu Natal...an area I don't get to hear much about!
Part 4 - Hunting Day 4
Today was the day; we had learned that the old bull Giraffe we had spotted was indeed on quota. He was easy to pick out of the herd being the biggest and darkest of the lot. We were going to start searching where we had seen them last and make our way up the valley until we located them.
It was overcast, misty and cold and the area we were searching was heavily forested becoming almost jungle like the higher up the valley walls one went. It made for a bit of an intimidating scenario. The birds and monkeys were ramped up to 100 adding to the creepy feel of the valley.
I don’t often get nervous during a hunt, but I admit I had a few goosebumps on this one. The sheer size of the animal is what was doing it. I was using my .338 Lapua with a 225 grain Barnes TTSX moving just short of light speed. I knew it had the energy and the Barnes bullets are legendary for their penetration and unfailing expansion but let’s face it a Giraffe is a bloody big animal.
After speaking with Chris at length he assured me the .338 would be sufficient but to keep in mind this animal had a massive circulatory system and anything other than a head shot would not likely result in a one shot drop. Keep shooting until it is on the ground was the mantra I kept repeating to myself.
We finally managed to find the herd of Giraffe tucked away in the valley fairly high up on the slopes of the valley wall. It was not a good position. The bush was thick and there was no way to get any kind of motorized vehicle anywhere near to them to get the meat out. We decided we would try to push them down lower and closer to the valley mouth. Sammie and the other tracker went high and we put ourselves in a position to discourage them from going deeper into the valley. The plan worked well and they were soon putting distance between us on their way towards more open territory. We followed as quickly as possible trying to keep pace and find a position to ambush them on their way out.
The herd reached the valley floor and we moved into a position where we thought they might present a shot and set up. The herd emerged from the mist like dinosaurs lumbering through the trees.
No shot, they knew where we were before we did and kept themselves safely tucked behind the trees as they continued to move toward the open grassland.
We continued to follow on foot. Again we set up and they would not provide a shot so again we followed. The herd stopped just on the edge of the trees and the big bull separated himself from the rest of the herd presenting a shot. This was it, I was on the sticks. I was trying to overlay a mental image of the “Perfect Shot” page on the Giraffe as I settled the crosshair in for a heart shot. The trigger broke clean and the shot felt good. The impact sounded like a clap of thunder and Chris called the hit. You really know when you hit one of these animals. I racked the bolt for a second shot but the rest of the herd went left as he bolted right. No shot….
We took off at a dead run, the priority at this point was getting another round in him. After a short sprint I was back on the sticks and let a shot go as he was quartering away heading for the hills. Another hit. The big bull kept going so off we went. Even mortally wounded he was putting a lot of distance between us. The herd dropped down through a washout and out into the grasslands, the bull was pulling up the rear and slowing down. The rest of the herd disappeared over a hill and he was about to follow when he turned head on to us and stopped. I asked Chris for the sticks, it was 400 yards but I knew I could make the shot and he had a really big vital zone. I settled onto the sticks put the crosshair on his chest and let a third shot go. Another hit and still standing. The next round was in the chamber and I let it go center chest. Apparently four was the magic number; the big bull teetered and went over like a redwood at the base of the hill. I have never been so relieved in my life. Images of a Giraffe suffering a slow painful death were beginning to take over my thoughts.
We made our way over to the Giraffe. They are truly enormous to a guy who was used to whitetail deer and moose. It took a while to sink in as we sat on the rocks waiting for Chris and Sammie to find a way to get the bakkie through the rocky grassland.
The people started to show up a little while later, word had spread quickly and a work crew showed up to help with the field dressing and skinning. It took quite the crew of us and the winch on Chris’ truck to right the animal and get him “photo ready”.
The lodge manager and his family all showed up shortly after. Everyone took turns getting pictures with the big fella. I guess Giraffe didn’t often get taken in this area. It turned into quite the event.
Sammie and his crew managed to get the Giraffe broken down and it was around 4 hours later when we loaded the last quarter into the truck.
Since we still had time in the day we made our way over to the North side of the mountain where there was some old San rock art. It was incredible to stand where they stood under the rocky ledge looking out over the grasslands and even after all these years their drawings were clear as day on the rocks.
The rest of the evening was spent taking pictures of the area as the sun set. It was a magnificent end to a magnificent day.
Somebody in your family has big talent with a camera! Great old bull...Congrats!
Congrats on getting the Giraffe. They are incredible to hunt on foot.
(Nice work on the photos. Comp and post work.)
Photos are excellent, can you give us some details, camera, lens, setup, after work etc.
Thanks. The camera is a Panasonic GH5 with a 12-60mm and 100-300mm lens. The settings you would have to talk to my wife or daughter about. Post editing and touch ups were done by myself with Lightroom and I experimented a little with some of the Photoshop presets. You can do some really neat stuff if you use Lightroom on a picture that has a Photoshop preset on it. I will post some of those in later updates.
Some great pics there, congrats on the giraffe!
Part 5 – Scouting and Battlefields visits
Well we had gone through our list for the area we were in at a blistering pace. We weren’t really sure what to do with the time we had left. We were not scheduled to move to our next hunting area in the Midlands for a few days. I wanted to see the nearby battlefields of Isandhlwana and Rorke’s Drift. My daughter had expressed a desire to hunt Kudu and there were a few nice ones around so we decided the first day we would see the battlefields and the next we would we would head off and explore the region. If we happened across an impressive specimen of any species we would make a decision from there.
The first battlefield we visited was Isandhlwana. This was the first engagement the British had with the Zulu. A field encampment just inside Zulu territory that the Zulu over ran and wiped out. The nearby Rorke’s Drift was a fort that was assaulted by the Zulu however the British managed to repel the attack. The movies “Zulu Dawn” (1979) and “Zulu” (1964) detail the events pretty closely and are worth a watch if you like that kind of thing. They should be watched Zulu Dawn first and Zulu second if you want to stick to historical timeline accuracy.
Both battlefields have museums and memorial sites set up and there is plenty of information that details what happened. If you are in the area I recommend taking the time to stop by and take a look.
The next morning we hiked into the far end of one of the valleys and set up for some scouting. We saw a nice Kudu bull off in the distance but he wasn’t quite what we were looking for. A herd of Blesbok, Waterbuck cows, some Zebra and some small horned Eland also made an appearance but by time lunch had rolled around we hadn’t seen anything we wanted to put a stalk on.
Early in the afternoon we went to the other side of the area into a new valley. We hiked up to the top of one of the peaks and settled in. There were plenty of Kudu cows, Impala and a handful of Gemsbok but again nothing that we were interested in going after at the time.
Part 6 – Midlands Hunting day 1
We departed the Rorke’s Drift area and headed into the Midlands near Pietermaritzburg. Chris had arranged for us to hunt with another outfitter Evan Couzens of Umziki Hunting Safaris. We were looking for Vaal Rhebok, Black Wildebeest, Common Reedbuck and Bushbuck and Chris was convinced that the concessions Evan hunted were the places to be. This would be completely free range hunting down here. There were no high fences and the animals could come and go as they please.
Most people are lucky to have one professional hunter guiding their hunt. It is quite the experience having two professional hunters guiding you. I felt very privileged to have this opportunity not once but twice now.
The area was impressive, forest of huge gum trees covered the foothills and the Drakensberg Mountains were ever present in the distance.
Our first day of hunting we would be heading out to an area in the foothills after Common Reedbuck. After a short ride through the winding roads and we were at the concession. We could already see several Reedbuck feeding in fields in the valley bottoms. Nothing really stood out but it was re-assuring to see so many right off the starting line. We started heading deeper into the concession when there was some tapping on the roof of the bakkie and calls to stop. Chris snapped his binos up and informed me that they had just spotted a Vaal Rhebok ram and some ewes. Apparently this was pretty rare to have them down this low.
After a quick assessment it was determined this was a shooter and we quickly disembarked and made a move on him. I am not one to pass up an unexpected opportunity, especially for an animal that is notorious for giving hunters the slip. We moved into a position for a shot but the little fella was pretty spooked, he had moved his ewes up into the rocks of the next hill and was not presenting much for a shot. It wasn’t long before they had slipped over the hill and out of sight. We decided to try and get up around him and “cut him off at the pass” so to speak.
Without wasting any time we moved up and around the hill then mad our way to the rocks they were perched on previously hoping to be in a position above them. Just as we were creeping in for a shot some movement in the corner of my eye caught my attention, they knew we were here and were already on the next hill over again making their way up to the top post haste. There was a flat rock just next to us so I dropped the bipod and got prone. It was just over 200 yards and if he would only stop moving I could make the shot. I quickly found him in the reticle and tracked him as he made his way up the opposite slope. I was just losing hope he would stop when just like a whitetail deer he stopped, and turned to give us one last look over his shoulder before making the run over the top. Kaboom, it was a bit of a quartering shot but at this distance that’s all I needed. The bullet struck him just behind the shoulder and pushed forward through the heart. He jerked, turned 180 degrees and dropped in the grass. Chris couldn’t have been happier (or so I thought). Our first day and we had the Vaallie in the salt. Chris informed me after he typically slates 3-5 days for a Vaallie hunt. I wasn’t complaining at the luck.
Only one problem with a hunter that can shoot well and has some luck.
Now what! Go for another one, I did!
I had zero interest in these little guys until I found out where they lived and how tough they can be to hunt.
Fortune and skill came together for you. Congratulations.
Really enjoying your report. Great photos! Thanks for sharing your tips.
Lol thanks. I was of the same oponion as you until I was actually eyes on with it and saw where they lived. Now I want nothing more than to go after another. I was amazed at how soft the fur is on those little guys. Must be a high altitude adaptation. Deceptively beautiful.
Thanks for sharing some history as well!
Great report so far, Did Sammie wind up with your hunting boots
Longhorn cotton tails!
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