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Mar 5, 2019
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Eastern Cape, SA; KY, OH, IN, WI, AL, KS, ND, TX-USA
I hunted the first two weeks of this month with @Nick BOWKER HUNTING SOUTH AFRICA in the Eastern Cape, RSA, near Bedford. This was my second trip with Nick and Ben Pringle, my PH in 2021 and also 2022. Started hunting on Tuesday July 5 and ended on Thursday July 14. I had an even better trip this year than last year, but I was hunting mostly "glamour" antelope plus some add-ons if found. Base trophy package was for Sable, Red Lechwe, Waterbuck, Gemsbock, Kudu, Zebra and Red Hartebeest (the last 2 were swapped for the Nyala and Black Wildebeest, which I took last year). I also added Bushbuck, Steenbock, Common Duiker and another trophy Warthog if possible. I ended up taking all but a trophy Duiker but that was my fault. I knew what to expect with housing and hospitality and the abilities of the PH's, trackers and skinners, which is why I really wanted to hunt with Nick and Ben again. Flights were with United from Cincinnati to Newark, NJ, then to Johannesburg, then to Port Elizabeth. No canceled flights, some delays but otherwise uneventful both going there and returning. I was there with @justin wiles and @Jondnov at the same time (fellow AH'ers). Had a great time there with both of them. To be continued.....
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First day was overcast and spotty rain, Ben and I headed to a neighbor's ranch for Red Hartebeest. Great to be in Africa again! Initially we saw a herd of Hartebeest well upslope that moved off as we looked them over, so we worked our way around and up hill to see if we could intercept them. We got out and began viewing from the ridge top and worked downhill until we located a large group clustered in alot of thorn scrub with little shooting opportunity; they busted out and ran up another valley out of comfortable shooting range for me, so we moved on. Came across another herd that spooked off early and pursued them but no luck. We moved to another ridge top where a nice sized herd of impala were and found more Hartebeest, tried a shot across a ravine but missed high and clean, watched them run off in the distance. We headed back for brunch and returned in the afternoon for another try but had to deal with increasing wind and scattered rain. Tried several stalks but these hartebeest were having none of it. Tried another ridge top stalk with a long shot but between my aim and the wind gusts, missed another bull. Last stalk was looking good for distance but there were animals constantly moving in front and behind the target bulls, so we called it a day. Wasn't confidence inspiring at all on my shooting. This felt like a repeat of last year, for the beginning of this hunt. Did see an Emerald Spotted Wood Dove, a new bird for SA for me. Hartebeest are quickly becoming the A**H**e antelope species for me to hunt.
Locust poop! There was an invasion last summer. Many places there were also carcasses littered about.
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Day 2 started with rain and a lot of mist in the valleys, so we didn't head out until after lunch. The sun broke out and became fairly pleasant. We headed out for Gemsbok on a large open plains area with grass and thornscrub. Right away flushed a couple Kori Bustards, saw a Rock Hyrax perched on a old farm building, a couple Steenbock and several Gemsbok but not what we wanted. Pale Chanting Goshawks were common in this area. Viewed another group of Gemsbok but none were mature to hunt. Sliding around on the dirt roads, we moved to another property. We sighted a group of four Gemsbok with a several cows and a old bull with worn down horns to pursue further, one cow in particular. We couldn't close the gap and watched them run over the ridge. Flushed an Aardwolf, always nice to see.
So we made a large loop around the ridge, finding the group again but a tough stalk through mostly grass and small thorn bushes. We finally caught up to them, I fired a shot but struck high above the shoulder but below the spine, the long horned cow dropped at the shot but was immediately up and running. Once sorted out I made another shot that was poor but slowed the cow down, fired another two rounds that ended the chase. Again puzzled and disappointed on my shooting. Beautiful animal.

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Day 3 began with a visit to another new concession for a good kudu or waterbuck, nice mountains that were thick with brush and trees. After we picked up the ranch head tracker we headed towards some low mountains with a broad valley and thicker creek cover. Glassed a big Kudu at 900 yards with a bunch of cows and tried a stalk after they bedded down, cut the distance to 450 and off they ran. Moved to another mountainside and flushed a nice waterbuck that fled downhill to brush and trees. Stalked into this area and jumped the bull with not a good shot so off he ran. We moved from there to the scrub plains in the valley below, looking for Hartebeest.

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After moving into grassland with thornscrub, we found a couple groups of Hartebeest. The stalk consisted of constantly lifting sticks and keeping even with the herd for a very nice bull who was constantly surrounded by cows and calves. Eventually the main bull separated and drifted off over 250 yards, at the first opportunity settled the rifle on the sticks and fired. Good shoulder shot and he was finished. Goofy looking but an awesome animal to take.

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After taking the Hartebeest to the skinning shed, headed out for waterbuck again. Glassed a big waterbuck from the hillside and stalked in for him, but horns were far from simetrical so passed. Got to within 50 yards through a setting sun.
Off to a good start-I’m excited to see if your luck holds out the rest of the trip!
To be continued, I'm beat!
Day 5
We visited another property that consisted of river valleys with big open plateaus of grass and scrub. Approaching one upper valley from the top of a plateau, several kudu were seen at a distance but then moved off. We made a big loop around to the other side and immediately bumped into a nice waterbuck which turned and ran toward the valley, we followed and Ben spotted the waterbuck in the bottom walking up the creek, Trying to get on the sticks as quickly as possible, Ben was excited and told me to shoot. A quick range of 350 yards and when it paused after Ben's whistle, shot behind the shoulder. A good hit but he moved forward into some brush, put another shot into him. Ben grabbed the sticks and we moved forward, spotting a family group of Cape Kudu running towards us, a big bull at the end pausing at 100 yards. We immediately set up and I fired into his shoulder, a short dash around a thorn tree and he was down. Ran forward for the waterbuck, who was walking up the opposite hill, fired twice more and he was down. He was a bit of work to roll to the bottom! Ben got the bakkie to the bottom and after photos, both were loaded up and driven to the skinning shed. This hunt was referred to as "the most fun you can have in a minute with your pants on". A really exciting hunt for me.

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The following day we visited Ben's farm, which is some distance away, so got an early start to look for bushbuck. We glassed from a steep mountainside as the sun rose, seeing some ewe bushbuck, kudu cows and warthogs, mountain reedbuck and rock hyrax. Ben spotted a group of zebra on the opposing mountainside and we headed there. A Black Eagle was seen, new bird for me. We ended up driving into the general area of the zebra, encountering a group of zebra about 100 yards in some short thorny trees. Got set up for the shot and when the stallion walked clear fired into his shoulder, dropped at the shot. Headed to the skinning shed and took a break for lunch and a nap, going out for bushbuck with a short stalk along a creek then glassing from a hillside overlooking the creek. Many ewes seen and several young rams until too dark. Enjoyable to see so many, we headed home. Photo is the area we waited for bushbuck.

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Following day, the morning was spent glassing a different area for bushbuck. Saw a nyala bull with cows and a number of bushbuck ewes and a good flock of guineafowl. Also encountered a really nice Steenbock that ran as soon as seen. We moved back to Nick's ranch, looking for a piebald steenbock that Ben had seen a couple times, No luck but we ran into a very old warthog on the two track, jumped out and fired as soon as ready. This animal was in very poor shape, looked like a bag of bones. But great tusks and cutters! Went out in the late afternoon for steenbock and common duiker but only females and young rams seen.

The next day was focused on finding a good Red Lechwe, with a morning stalk that took some time to circle above and around the herd, Finally were able to move within close to 100 yards, and with a clear shot on a large ram, took a shot through the shoulder and down immediately. After loading this animal and stopping at the skinning shed, we went to where Justin and Nick were hunting a waterbuck that had been hit hard but needed to be finished, which Justin did after the Beagles Sloo and Bella and Blackjack the terrier located it. After lunch in Bedford, went out looking for bushbuck for the afternoon nearby but just saw ewes.

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The next day was very cool but sunny, today was my day for the opportunity at a Sable. The area hunted was rolling hills with alot of thornscrub. We were glassing from the head of a brushy valley with the wind in our face, when Ben found a bull Sable. We moved into range for a clear shot with the bull facing us but it ran off. We hustled to an area the bull headed to and he walked out in an opening at 250 yards. Ben whistled and the bull stopped and turned broadside looking for the source. A single shot and he ran downslope making a growling noise and collapsed in a tree. We approached carefully, ready for a second shot but he was done for. Just a beautiful animal and very happy to hunt it. Dropped off at the shed and went looking for fallow deer while he was being skinned, but only saw a few does but lots of warthog.
Later in the afternoon, looked over a shallow valley near dusk for steenbock and duiker but no luck for a good ram. Ben found a small Leopard tortoise on the road and got a pic.

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We all went out together for a Zebra for Justin and a Bushbuck for me, drive was a bit further away. Slept poorly the evening before so wasn't initially enthused about the day and probably came across as a bit of a crab (or worse). It was very windy and cold, even after the sun came out.
Glassed for bushbuck early, saw a nice ram but not a good shot for me. Nick located a ram below us in the brush and I tried a shot but missed, awkward angle and difficult to see in the scope with the shadows. We moved to a rugged mountainside searching for Zebra for Justin and once found, Justin had his Zebra shortly after a good stalk. Wind was gusting like crazy! We ate lunch and took a nap, and went back out in mid-afternoon for Bushbuck. Big surprise as an old ram came out early in the creek valley at under 200 yards, hit him through the shoulder and he ran a bit but fell by the creek bank. Really exciting to hunt and get this old ram. Nick took the photo of me, Justin and Ben, along with his terrier Ink. Another exciting day!

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Last hunt day, sad to be here. Ben and I targeted Steenbock and Common Duiker, hunting close to Nick's place. Lo and behold the piebald Steenbock made an appearance as we were driving past where he had been seen previously. Slipped out of the truck and put the sticks up, maybe 100 yards out, shot him in the middle so as to not ruin the cape. He ran a little bit, finished him with a second shot. Beautiful animal! After loading the little antelope we looked for a Common Duiker ram, saw a good one on a hillside enjoying some sun at 300 yards, clean miss. He wandered around in the brush and eventually moved off. Looked at a variety of other antelope and went back for brunch, and settle up on taxidermy and hunt package.

Overall this was a great trip for me, looked forward to this for the past year, I thought about it nearly every day. Extremely happy with the animals I hunted and the stalking experiences I had. Sad to see it end! Really enjoyed our time around the braii in the evenings with everyone. Red wine with dinner was very good! My PH Ben Pringle was just a great guy to spend time with outside of the hunting. Nick runs a great hunting outfit. Below is a pic of The Beagle Sloo, she has to be the sweetest dog I've met. Sharing nap time.

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Congrats and thanks for sharing!

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