SOUTH AFRICA: Early Season Hunt With Lalamanzi Safaris Limpopo South Africa Feb 2020


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Feb 5, 2020
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Namibia, Canada BC, US-Alabama, New Mexico, WY, CO and TX, Limpopo SA x 2
Purchased this hunt on AH and the whole thing came together in just a couple of weeks and this quick action is out of the norm for me but it really worked out the best I could imagine. I will be adding in pics and accounts of the day but to get started and work this off over a few nights here are the early highlights.
Hunt dates Feb 21-27, 2020
Lalamanzi Safaris in Dwaalboom / Silent Valley Limpopo S.A.
Abri Pistorius owner
Justin Kemp PH
Rifle hunt
Animals taken:
nyala 29"
sable 41.5"
eland 30"
impala 23.5"
big zebra mare

All in this was great trip and hunt, and we really hunted and worked hard for what we were able to take over the 7 days hunt as the grass was knee to waist high and green, trees all green and thick and daytime highs in the low 90's F made the conditions tough and a nice 2" rain one night to add more water to the ground. The only animal that avoided us was the bushbuck and we hunted three different ranches for a good ram but it was not meant to be but all the other animals taken have great stories, stalks and some just good luck.

Arrive in in JB at 430am on Feb 20 and Justin meets me at the airport, load up for the 4 hour drive to almost the Botswana border. Arrive at the ranch meet Abri get a quick bite for lunch, unpack and go the range and shoot the 375 and 270. These were Justin's rifles he was allowing me to use on the trip and after a few shots we got them dialed in with some new hand loads and we were ready to get going in the late afternoon. Head out about 4 pm for a drive to see what we can find in the thick green landscape and get a look at the following:
Blue Wildebeest
No shots fired on this drive but great to get back in the bush and can't wait to see how the week plays out.
Back to camp for a great dinner, conversation a beer or two and off to bed and try to sleep.

Feb. 21 first day out, early up nice breakfast and on the hunt for what presents itself. First animal is a nice waterbuck but looking for eland, zebra, impala, warthog, steenbuck. Next spot some impala and wildebeest and keep driving trying to find some animals for a stalk in the thick grass. Mid morning spot a nice group of zebra and leave the truck for the first go at it in SA. After catching up to the zebra, Justin and I bump some wildebeest and impala at a waterhole, survey the animals and decide to keep up with the zebra. All the grass and thick vegetation make the track difficult but find some fresh sign and keep moving. A short distance we bump a small impala and looking at him a big warthog pops up from the grass, Justin drops the sticks and tells me to take him, warthog is facing dead on and I get the cross hairs right under the chin and let the 375 bark, the pig turns left and bolts. We wait a few minutes and walk to the spot about 50 yards away to look for sign and don't find anything but the hole the pig may have come from, start to walk to direction and find some blood on the grass and a short 20 yard track and there lays the warthog, thick tusked and large body. Now the work starts to drag him back to a road. Abri shows with the the stretcher and we put the pig on that for the drag out and everyone had a nice sweat and workout that morning. Congrats all around and pictures and the warthog is loaded up for a trip to the skinning shed. Great first morning in the books.
Keep it coming.
A great first morning indeed! Watching...
Looking forward to the rest of the report.
Great start, will be watching for the rest of the report.
Great start. Nice pig. Good shooting.
Still on day one, drop the pig off get a bite and decide to head to the other property on the river to look for nyala, sable and bushbuck. Rain may be coming and this property turns to mud since it is on the river and not sand as is the main ranch property so we want to hunt this before the rain sets in. Short 45 minute ride and we arrive, pull in the gate on the far end of the property, load up in the truck, rack a round and start on the drive in the heat of the day and will be searching the water holes. First half hour spot some warthogs and a few giraffe. Another 30 minutes drive by the first water hole and spot some nyala cows and bulls and then the bachelor group with 3 good bulls all the horns covered with mud from the water and they are on the move. No shot presents it self, we we continue to drive slowly around the roads and head in the direction the bulls were going hoping to run into them along the way and to get the wind right. We spot two bulls standing under an Acacia tree looking back at us but perfectly still hoping we may drive by, I grab the 375 to keep a good thing going, after about a 10 minute stand off the bull we want finally starts to ease off and presents a quarter facing shot. Put the cross hairs on the front shoulder about 125 yards out and squeeze off the 375 and the bull bucks hard and turns and runs out of sight. The shot felt good but as always the doubt start to come in as we approach the last location of the bull, find some small blood on some grass and Justin points and the bull made it maybe 50 yards but in the high grass the bull was hard to spot laying under a tree. The congrats start as I take it all in of the beauty of this animal and the mud caked horns. Clear some grass for pics and let that activity wrap up, load the bull and with the high temps decide to run back to the main property to get the bull skinned and in the salt so there is not any hair slippage and I am in full agreement with the type of quality animal the coat it has with all the spots and stripes. Rather be lucky than good as always. The ride back only seemed like 10 minutes with all the talk and retelling of the story and parts of it, wow, what a start. Make it to camp, drop off the bull at the skinning shed, head to the main lodge get a bite to eat and take a short nap of and hour in the heat of the day and up around 4 to make an evening drive. Put the tape on the bull and 29" rolls out and hand shakes and high fives again. Feeling good driving to the main lodge a nice steenbuck crosses the road from the high grass and stops, I grab the 270 get out try a free hand 100 yard shot on the small antelope but miss just low, but at least we know where one appears to hang out and will look for him again.
Nap time over and up to overcast and cooler weather front is coming in and animals out early. Short time on the truck and zebra again, start the stalk and get within a hundred yards but to many close together on the sticks for 5 minutes the group moves off and will find another group. Bush so thick and green no chance to follow up, walking back to the truck the zebra double back and run 25 yards behind us to mocks us and show off a little but it was fun. Back on the evening ride and see some gemsbok, impala, a small steenbuck. Drive till dark and back to camp for a great dinner and a beer to celebrate the day.
Heck of a first day! Look forward to more!
Day 2. Early to rise, power off the rolling black outs are one and the AC is off and getting warm so time to get up, out the door and a small duiker right by camp. Get some breakfast and will be going back to the river property for sable and bushbuck. No clouds this am and looks to be warm. Long drive out of the main camp to the road see some impala, blue wildebeest, hartebeest and zebra but no eland so pedal down for the drive. Get to the gate about 730 and get out to load up and start the drive and hear a tire hissing so Abri and Justin make quick work of that, spare on and hunting by 800. Long drives along the river bank, very quiet almost spooky quiet and very dark and shady, grass waist high and I really don't want to know what is in all that grass at this time so the truck is a good place to be. Spot a few bushbuck females, nyala cows and a couple impala and a waterbuck bull but no bushbuck rams. Spot some croc slides on the river and see some hippo tracks along the muddy river, the river has some current and is moving. Hunt all morning till about noon and have not seen much and strange how quiet it is even the birds are keeping to themselves. Decide to make a short drive out of the property and make a run to a local store for a cold drink and give the animals some time to move and provide us a break to refocus as the heat builds up. Back to the property and a few minutes in and spot some giraffe where there were none an hour earlier so the animals are back up and moving. Finally about 2 pm we spot a group of sable, appears to be about 12-15 in the group and strange to me how they like to stay in mixed herds of bulls and cows. Leave the truck grab the 375, starting to like Justin's rifle and feel the price is going up..., get the sticks and it is on. Follow the sable for a while, the wind is right and the cover is perfect, bump some giraffe and they don't spook to bad and walk off but encourage the sable to pick up the pace. We stay on the track, get on the sticks and off the sticks several times waiting for the bull to clear the group. After several times on the sticks the bull we want finally starts to separate from the group and man the sweat is coming down my face and I can feel my pulse rising as Justin says shoot him now. The 375 sounds off and the bull drops, I turn to Justin in amazement and he says bull up and the big bull is up and walking off, he is hit hard but trying to catch up to the herd. The bull lays down head up and we watch for about 10 minutes from a distance but he does not appear to be fading, stalk in till about 75 yards and put the final shot on the magnificent bull. I can't believe I finally got a sable and what a great stalk. Congrats and handshakes all around and can't wait to get my hands on the bull. Clear some grass and get the bull set up for pics and everyone gets in on the pics, still can't believe the trip is going this well. After pics the 3 of us struggle to load the bull in the truck to get back to the skinning shed at the main property. Clouds building back and and looks like rain is back in the forecast but the the cloudy sky is welcome to keep the sun off for a while and off the bull on the way back, arrive at the main ranch, unload the bull and he tapes to 41.5" and more congrats and high fives and just want to feel those horns one more time before he goes in the salt. Short drive to the main lodge for a shower, dinner and a beer or two to soak in the day and wonder what will be in store on day 3.

Congrats on a nice sable!
Day 3, early am rise some great food for breakfast and in the truck on the drive looking for animals and track. Finally find some fresh eland tracks and off load with the new favorite 375 and go for a walk in the bush to find the eland the hard way. Great walk, fresh eland sign but no eland seen on this stalk for a few hours. Bumped some gemsbok, impala, blue wildebeest and zebra. Truck comes around and we load up for a drive to see what is out but getting really hot and still early afternoon. Spot a nice steenbuck but no shot opportunity and he is off in the deep grass but we know where another one seems to hanging out. Spot some hartebeest and giraffe and some impala rams but just a little young so we stay on the truck and continue searching. Drive by a water hole and some zebra bust out and make a short run into the bush, we can just see them so we drive by and unload down the road, get the wind and 375 and make the stalk. Justin picks up the track and we are on it and following up the fresh tracks and sign, it is getting thicker quick so it will happen fast when it does. After 6 to 700 yards in we spot the zebra milling around and staying in the shade but a look to the left a blue wildebeest is standing and may blow the whole stalk, we drop and crawl on all fours for about 75 yards to get some brush between us and him, the sand is hot and burns my hands on the crawl and glad I wore long pants today. Zebra about 80-90 yards out, Justin puts up the sticks and will shoot from my knees under the limbs of the short trees and thread the needle in this thick stuff. A zebra presents itself in the clear and Justin tells me that is the one. I anchor the 375 on the sgt. stripes and touch off the 375 and about 10 zebra blow up and all I see is dust and tails. Justin asks how I felt and I reply good on the spot, I think....Walk to the area the zebra were at and heavy hoof prints but no blood, stay on the prints and after about 50 yards find one small drop already brown from the sand and a couple of red drops on some grass. I start to doubt my shot but we continue walking, find more blood but not much, cannot believe the zebra took the 375 and packed the mail and ran. About 100 more yards in and find more sign but not a lot and then more and some more I keep walking and Justin calls me as I walk right by the big mare laying in the grass about 200 yards from the shot. The 375 did not exit and the blood was from the mouth and nose and why it was spread in the fashion it was, the weight was lifted that my shot was good and the mare was down and man was she big. First zebra for me, congrats in order and hand shake and Justin goes to get help to get the mare out since we are a ways in, some of the ranch workers show up and hack a narrow trail to get a small truck in to load the zebra. Pictures and a water and the zebra is off to the salt, time to get some lunch a shower and a short nap in the heat of the day and up for the evening hunt. Up for the evening drive but rain has moved in finally and dumps about 2" across the area, go for short look but roads all covered and not much out so call it a day and back to camp for an early dinner and will be up early to see what the new day brings on day 4. Hunt is really going well and the cool rain should help with the hot temps and give us some fresh tracks in the am and maybe we can cut and eland track and get lucky.
Nice trophies. Love the sable!
Congrats, nice trophies so far (y)
Day 4. Wake up to an early rise and the rain is still misting coming down but the good thing is it has cooled off and will provide fresh tracks. Justin wants to make some quick drives to cut a track of an eland and start walking to track him up. Get some breakfast and off on the truck looking for tracks for eland. Finally cut a good track and more than one eland about 7:45, unload and Justin and I start on the walk. The grass is high but quiet with rain misting down, not much wind, it will be a tough track but Justin feels he is up to the task. Justin follows up and we walk all over the block and almost in circles at times bumping waterbuck, impala and blue wildebeest but stay on the track to find the eland. After about 3.5 hours in the mist and biting flies, glad I had two shirts on, we stop to take a break and glass on the more open side of the property, start to walk down a road looking ahead and I catch a glimpse an eland cutting across our path, I grab Justin and he says bull coming get ready and on the sticks and it is a blue wildebeest and he sees us, stops, snorts and starts to run, the eland break must be a group of 10 to 12. Well fresh hard tracks now, we follow for a while but the eland appear not to be slowing down and the tracks are still deep in the wet ground. Justin calls for the truck as he thinks he knows where they are heading. Truck comes and we head straight to a heavy trail to a really thick block and within 15 minutes we see eland horns and hear hooves coming, cows and young bulls break 100 yards in front of us and hearing more turn around and the bull breaks behind us and no shot, but wow, finally saw one of these slippery animals. That block is to thick to hunt trough as the eland will out pace us all day. Being fairly close to the lodge we go back change socks and shoes to get the wet ones off, grab a bite to eat and back to the trail. This area of the ranch has really straight long roads so the plan is to drop Abri in to walk the track slow and push and Justin and I will take the truck and find the most likely trail the eland may use to cross. We set up on the first road and Abri walks out, no eland seen so they must be in-front of us, block 2 Abri back in we race around find the trail crossing and set up, a few minutes hooves coming but zebra no eland and Abri walks out, eland still ahead of us, block 3 Abri back in, we race around and get set up, 10 minutes later we hear hooves again, a few cows and young bulls break in front but not the big bull but more hooves coming and the bull breaks about 75 yards behind the truck from the thick brush but no shot. Justin says lets run, unload and run down a side road and can hear the bull coming to catch up with the cows, get on the sticks and the bull appears with a hard frontal shot, the 375 echos off and the bull drops, Justin and I look at each other in disbelief we high five, hug and I chamber another round to run up and make sure the bull is down. What a site of the grand ol'bull. I am not sure what to think of the day trying to soak it all in, cut the track at 7:45 am and shot fired at 4pm, what a day and group effort. Justin and Abri were relentless in the pursuit and track. Pictures, lots of pics and congrats all around and a beer tonight for sure. Bull is huge, has it all, nice ruff, big dewlap, worn horns, 30", missing teeth and the ones left to the gum and lots of character. What an all day event and hunt of a lifetime. Back to the camp, relive the day, have a couple beers and nice dinner and I think we will all sleep good tonight.
Looks like the trip of a lifetime!! Congrats!!
Day 5 Early rise, nice and cool need a pull over, seasons just starting to change and get the first push of cool air but will be hot by noon. Great breakfast and take a drive to see what is out and all the usual suspects zebra, impala, wildebeest, hartebeest and some female warthogs but a nice ram impala has been hard to find in the green bush. By the time you see them the rams are in and so nervous a stalk is hard to complete and to many eyes as well. Still early and even though lots of rain the day before decide to sit a water hole just to see since it is an open area and hopefully some will come in to socialize. Only sitting for about and hour and 3 young rams come in to the area and mill around and enjoy watching them undisturbed, the wind is good and it is a beautiful day on the horizon. Another half hour and another couple of rams come into the area and one is quite larger and bigger bodied than the others, after some glassing and sizing up I decide to take the ram as it is the best chance I have had at a mature ram so far on the hunt. Nice short shot of about 50 yards and a precise shot and the impala is down in a blink. Justin congratulates me on the shot and we get down for pics. Get some great early morning photos and off to the skinning shed and tape out a 23.5" ram and I am really pleased with the impala ram. The impala remind me so much of the whitetail at home in size and demeanor it is a great animal. Discussing what is next on the day and will drive for a bit till lunch and see what we see but plans are being made to hunt another property for bushbuck since all the rain has the river property still impassible on the river. Driving back to camp for lunch see a steenbuck in the area I missed the one early on and as usual he is off in the tall grass, I can see body but we cannot judge the horns on the tiny antelope and he slips off in the grass, it will happen on one of these if I get enough chances.

Have nice lunch and no bushbuck hunting today. Still recovering from the eland chase the day before decide to take a break in the heat of the day, have an early dinner and do a night drive for predators and see what is out. During the day Abri and Justin are calling in favors and asking other land owners if bushbuck are available and maybe the next day something will come up but enjoying the night time drive and the stars and cool are are a nice change. See a few eyes out and one porcupine but not much else out moving. Into bed about 930 and will see what comes tomorrow. This is really turning out to be great adventure and hunt all the way around and amazing how it all comes together.
Day 6. Early up, can't sleep able to get connected on the wifi to text home and hear about the coronavirus, maybe if I get stuck I can stay longer but will need more money...LOL. Get some breakfast and I think I may be gaining weight with the the chef Abri has in camp doing all of the cooking, food is really good and more than I can usually eat. Back on a drive looking for another big warthog or steenbuck that has been avoiding me this far. See alot of the usual suspects out in the early light, impala, blue wildebeest, gemsbok, waterbuck but no steenbuck or pigs. Drive across into the the more open side but grass still knee to waist high but we keep going looking for a tiny antelope. A couple of hours into the drive Justin snaps his fingers and the truck stops, I grab the 270 and Justin points and I can just see the back of the steenbuck, Justin says take him he is a good one, free hand about 60 yards and the 270 sounds off and the steenbuck drops. Right when you think it was not going to happen it does. We get down off the truck and wade through the grass to the spot and find the little guy right where he stood. I have grown to really like these little guys and the challenge they bring especially with the current conditions. Pictures again and off the skinning shed, I think the skinner Patrick maybe getting tired of me showing up but I like seeing him. Drive till lunch looking for warthog or maybe another zebra since they feel safe and keep presenting shots since I had one early on so maybe another is in the books but news comes in and a bushbuck hunt is on by Thabazimbi on the river in an alfalfa field for the late afternoon. Back for lunch and a discussion on the trip in the afternoon for bushbuck.

Did happen to find a nice leopard track guess there is one in the area

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