SOUTH AFRICA: Cruiser Safaris Hunt 2016

Husker-in-WA

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Cruiser Safaris 2016, September 04 - 14.

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Hunting Cruiser Safaris was a unique experience for this old hunter. Hunting in Limpopo province of South Africa on lowland bushveld was challenging. Desert like conditions with thick bush reminds one of parts of the southwest United States. It's hard to imagine how wildlife can make a living there, but they do in great numbers. Most waterholes are man made which with the growth spurt of forage during the rainy season, allows all manner of wild critters to thrive. The quality of animals is good as most all my trophies were mature old specimens. The following is an account of my daily hunting experiences.

Day 1. Shot a beautiful 34" bull gemsbok. Spent all day chasing these elusive antelope through thick cover. Had over a half dozen close encounters but cover was too thick for a clear shot. Late in the afternoon about an hour before dark this gemsbok seemed more interested in eating than being wary. His shoulder passed through a small opening and I took him from a sitting position shooting under the brush at about 50 yards. Tough hunt in 90 degree weather on the Rose Valley property. Hot tub to soothe tired muscles and kudu steaks for supper. Gemsbok steaks tomorrow. Delicious. Sunny and dry for next ten days. Beautiful country for hunting plains game. Saw over ten species today.
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Nice 51" kudu to start day 2 at Cruiser Safaris. Very interesting hunt on the Eldorado property as the heavy cover hides the animals body very well but the cover is short revealing the kudu's horns as he travels through. Spot a nice set of horns from the bakkie and stalk close enough for a shot is how we took this guy. He had bedded down by the time we found him with only horns visibile in the brush. At about 75 yards Hans and I rose from our knees simultaneously, rifle resting on Hans' shoulder. Kudu was unaware until Hans whistled. He rose to his feet facing us. Crosshairs on his chest and a quiet trigger pull drove the 180 grain Nosler Partition into his heart. He reared back on his hind legs with his horns seemingly 20 feet off the ground before crashing down to earth. Impressive sight.
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Day 2 afternoon. It just keeps getting better. Professional Hunter (PH) Hans keeps getting it done when he found an old 26" bull Waterbuck with his harem of a dozen cows. One of the easiest 125 yard shots as they were in the open after hitting a nearby waterhole. Another hot tub nite for this sweaty old Hunter. Spending lots of time on my knees getting close to these animals.
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Day 3 was on the slow side, hot and dry. Trying for bushbuck along the Matlabas river on Eldorado property but happened upon this old 12.5" warthog. A beautiful trophy don't you think? (see photo page) Hunting Africa is a matter of opportunity. Take what's presented. Four to go with seven days left. The tough ones are to come.
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Days 4 and 5. Two very similar days hunting. Very hot 95+. Chased eland both days with the same results. Eland 10 Hunters 0. Each close opportunity was thwarted be heavy cover, Impala and/or Blesbok in the way, and bulls that would not be found. Very much like hunting whitetail on foot but when spooked the eland run like elk for a long distance before slowing and finding another thick bush to hide in. They are the size of domestic cattle having the nature of whitetail.

Will try again tomorrow. Encounters with Nyala, Impala and Bushbuck still need settling.
Day 6 Started hunting Eland again today. Took a nice 24" Impala just to break the discouragement of more failed Eland opportunities. Hundreds of them around. Spooky critters. Guardians of the eland. Our revenge for messing up multiple eland stalks.
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Day 7. The usual 6:15 start ended abruptly when a very nice Nyala ram got in the way of a 180 grain Nosler Partition from my 3006. We pushed him off the river bottom at first light. He headed for higher elevations inland where we lost sight of him. After working the property further upriver we came back to where we had originally seen him and wouldn't you know it there he was. He apparently circled back thinking he gave us the slip but didn't quite make it to his hidey hole. We're back in camp for coffee at 8:30. Still living the good life. Six down two to go.
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Day 8. The most difficult trophy to date on this safari. Finally caught up with this guy at last light where he was feeding with his younger brother and mistress. Put the first round from 250 yards a bit back of his vitals. He spun around facing the opposite direction while his fellow graziers deserted him. My 2nd shot looked like it spined him as he dropped immediately. Hans was saying "he's down, he's down" while shaking my hand and giving me a big bear hug. As we were celebrating we looked back to find him on his feet walking away. Joy turned to worry as we formed a plan. Hans would take his rifle on foot following the spoor while Frekkie and I took the bakkie around the brush pile to intercept him. About 200 yards distance in the bakkie with me in the back unaware that Hans and Freckkie were in communication, we came to a stop. We turned around and drove back to Hans location. Hans had taken a Texas heart shot at the Eland some 200 yards distant but only managed to break the back left leg. The Eland stopped forward movement. Frekkie with the sticks and I circled around to our right to find an opening hoping to end this hunt. It was obvious the Eland wasn't going anywhere as he watched us move closer to his location. At 100 yards I found an opening and put the rifle on the sticks. First shot just behind the shoulder---nothing. No reaction whatsoever. Second shot the same--nothing. I was thinking, what do I have to do to put him on the ground. Third shot was a try for the spine, but it hit a little high on the shoulder. The previous two chest shots must have done the job as you could hear the labored breathing and gurgling and in a moment it was over. We spent the last 4 1/2 days trying for this magnificent 34" Eland. He represents the 3rd leg of the spiral slam. Kudu, Nyala and Eland are on the salt with the elusive and secretive Bushbuck remaining. Two more hunting days and one tour day remains for our most excellent African Safari.
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Completion of the spiral slam and the hunt was achieved this morning of day 9 when I shot an old 12.5" bushbuck. Shot him on a return trip through an earlier hunted area. We had just been through a tall grassy area not 30 minutes previous, walked another 1/2 hour to the end of the property and returned on our original path. He poked his head up through the tall grass just long enough for the '06 to bark. Another old mature animal. All 8 animals we came for are harvested and waiting for the taxidermist. All qualify for SCI record book for those counting. Sitting by the pool waiting for eland burgers to arrive for lunch. Tomorrow we travel two hours to Pilanesburg wildlife park to view more animals.
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Day 10. Driving tour of Pilanesberg Wildlife Park. Enjoyed seeing elephant, white rhinos, hippos, crocs and all manner of plains game antelope.
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Day 11. Well, after saying No Mas after the previous 8, I had a change of mind regarding the hunting on our final full day here in SA. The call of the wildebeest was working on me after awakening to a cooler windy day on the bush veld. Knowing the beest would be hunkered down in the bush my PH Hans and driver/tracker/skinner Freckie made the 30 minute run at first light to my favorite area, RoseValley. After driving the bakkie through the bush looking for tracks we grabbed the rifle and shooting sticks and tracked the herd of wildebeest about 2 miles before jumping a couple of old bulls from their beds. With the wind in our favor we had them wondering what had awoken them. The oldest and best bull to our left made the mistake of walking into an opening just large enough for my hand loaded 180 grain Nosler partition to find a path into his vitals. After a 200 yard trail of frothy bright blood laden spoor that even I could follow, the expired bull was found. It was game over at 0715 hrs and after pictures and loading the bakkie with blue wildebeest fillets in their original packaging we were back in camp before the early morning coffee got cold.
Eight for nine one shot kills with one 5 shot lead laden Eland bull is not a bad testimony to all that time at the rifle range.
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What more can I say. My dream Safari is now complete and I am looking forward to getting back home.
Thanks to Pieter and Lizelle for providing the opportunity to experience a most enjoyable plains game hunt. PH Hans did an amazing job of finding good animals to hunt and along with driver/tracker/skinner Frekkie made the daily hunting experiences memorable. It's entertaining listening to them prattering on in Afrikaans. It's such a lyrical language. We kept our cook Amy busy by consuming all her wonderful creations. Don't know how she does it, getting up before 0430 to fix breakfast and staying up past 2100 hours cleaning up after dinner. The maids and grounds crew kept the place neat and tidy for our enjoyment. Overall a great place to be in the African Bush.
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billc

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Very well done report and you took some very nice animals.
 

cpr0312

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Congrats on your safari, thanks for sharing!
 

Husker-in-WA

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Thanks all. I see it's taking some time to load all the pics. Maybe just my slow computer. Hope it's not too distracting.
 

kathy

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Glad you had a great adventure.
Beautiful Trophies, congratulations on your slam. Forrest
 

ChrisPy

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Congratulations on a great hunt. My family and I where there last July, Hans was my PH. Just got the taxidermy back last week
 

BRICKBURN

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Thanks for sharing your hunt with us.

Congratulations.
 

Husker-in-WA

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Congratulations on a great hunt. My family and I where there last July, Hans was my PH. Just got the taxidermy back last week
Thanks Chris. looked up your hunt on cruiser newsletter. I can see why it took so long to get trophies back. You must be starting a museum. Your kids must of had a blast. You're raising a couple of great hunters. Hans and Frekkie are quite a pair. Always fun to be around.
Will be up your way next year on a moose hunt. Love hunting BC.
 

Husker-in-WA

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Thanks for sharing your hunt with us.

Congratulations.
Glad to share. Thank you for all the sharing you do on AH. It has helped me immensely in preparation for this hunt.
 

Nyati

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Congrats on a great hunt, nice animals !

I hunted the Rosevalley farm back in 2008.
 

rinehart0050

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Congrats on your hunt! some great looking trophies- I like your eland.

Thanks for sharing
 

Badger Matt

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I'll be there with a friend in 2018!
 

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Congratulations on a great hunt. I've hunted at Cruiser with Hans and he is an amazing PH.
 

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Congratulations on your hunt

Thanks for the report.
 

Husker-in-WA

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Amazing how many people come out of the woodwork that have hunted with Cruiser. Although I had a very successful hunt it seemed too easy. I'm not used to having all the grunt work done for me. No gutting, skinning, packing and butchering the harvest. No long sweaty hikes back to camp at days end. No building a cook fire, prepping and cooking the evening and morning meals. No sore aching muscles and tired feet. Boy I miss that.
WHAT AM I THINKING!!! I'm sounding like one of those "snowflakes " after the Trump election. GOD help me.
 

cls

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Congrats on a successful Safari, my wife and I had our first Safari with Cruiser in 2012. Had a great time
 

CAustin

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Looks like you did very well on your hunt. Thank you for sharing the pictures and the report.
 

Desert Dog

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Awesome report!

Rose Valley is my favorite property to hunt with Cruiser. Excellent place to park the Bakkie and spend a day on foot with Hans to see what you can find.

All this talk of Kudu and Gemsbok steaks is making me hungry!
 

Shootist43

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Some nice animals. Hans was my PH last August. Although I have no basis for comparison since Hans was the first and only PH I've ever hunted with, the man is simply awesome. He saw/spotted game when all I saw was bush. I thought the whole Cruiser Safaris "thing" was top drawer. I'm glad that I'm not the only client that enjoyed hunting with them.
 

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