SOUTH AFRICA: Eastern Cape - July 2019 - Bullet Safaris

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by M Whitley, Aug 7, 2019.

  1. M Whitley

    M Whitley AH Member

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    Bullet Safaris – Nathan Askew
    PH: Craig Maartens
    Location: Eastern Cape, RSA
    Photo Jul 11, 10 03 42 AM.jpg Photo Jul 10, 7 26 00 PM.jpg Photo Jul 11, 11 30 57 PM.jpg
    I have always been intrigued with hunting in Africa, fueled by stories from a Missouri native that went to college with my older brother. I decided that my dreams would become my reality.

    A few weeks before Christmas 2018 I reached out to Nathan Askew of Bullet Safaris. I have known Nathan for the past 20 years or so and trust him with my time and money. Within a day or two I had confirmed dates with Nathan and scheduled my safari for July 2019. Nathan would be in Tanzania during my safari and had enlisted another of his professional hunters Craig Maartens to my safari.

    My original “wish” list consisted of Gemsbok, Impala, Kudu, Eland, and Zebra. I let Nathan know that I was open to whatever else Africa offered to me during my Safari. Nathan reached out to me the day after confirming the dates and we searched, confirmed, and bought my tickets for the Delta and SAA flights while we were on the phone. Obviously my first Safari this made me feel much better, Nathan also emailed Henry from Rifle Permits and made an introduction to start the pre-approval. Upon arrival in Johannesburg I had a reservation to overnight at the City Lodge Hotel across the parking garage from OR Tambo.

    April 30th, 2019: About 3 +/- Months to Safari. I am having my coffee watching Fox Business News as I do almost every morning. The news states the anti-hunting greenies have petitioned USFW to add the giraffe to the Endangered Species Act and the USFW has agreed to look into the petition… Giraffe was not on my list but how would I feel 20 years from now sitting in my trophy room if I did not have one of those beautiful floor pedestals? I was able to reach Nathan and asked him if Giraffe was a possibility near the area I would be hunting, Nathan assured me it would be a possibility. Nathan did ask that I know ahead of time what I was doing with the taxidermy as that is a big animal to process. And any of you that have taken a giraffe know, that is a BIG job to skin and process that trophy.

    JULY 10th, 2019 TRAVEL - DAY 1

    Today is the day! I have spent hours walking the neighborhood to build stamina and shooting off of sticks at the hunt club every time I could. It is hard to explain to anyone that has not been to Africa. All the lucky men who have been hunting in Africa: think back to your first safari, on the plane that leaves the USA. What an amazing feeling that cannot be experienced again anywhere else. Maybe a similar feeling can be had but I know I will never be able to duplicate this excitement and anticipation I am feeling on the plane from Atlanta to Johannesburg. I was able to upgrade my seats about two weeks before the flight to Business class for the long legs of travel. Travel was rather uneventful.

    I arrive in Johannesburg around 5:30 pm local time, I was greeted outside the terminal by an older woman from Rifle Permits (apologize I didn’t remember to write down her name). She walks me to SAPS and about 5 minutes later we are walking to the City Lodge Hotel. She makes sure I get in the lobby and away she goes. I get checked in and was able to go to sleep rather easily.
     
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  2. M Whitley

    M Whitley AH Member

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    I'll post days as I get them typed out.
     

  3. M Whitley

    M Whitley AH Member

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    JULY 12th, 2019 ARRIVAL - DAY 3


    I am up early 5:00 am and get my bags ready. Grab a small breakfast at the City Lodge Hotel (which was a good experience overall) and back to the Airport for my flight to East London, RSA. The rifles permits contact from the night before had shown me where to go to check my rifle for domestic travel in RSA. I went and the process went rather smooth, for those of you readers that have never been I would like to let you know my experience was not as bad as I thought it would be in OR Tambo with the rifle. Just leave yourself plenty of time and you will be fine. It reminds you of going through Cancun, Mexico. Everything is a hustle and there’s a lot people trying to earn a tip, I just tell them I don’t have any cash and they leave me alone rather quickly. All checked in many hours before my flight to East London, I read a book and think about the unknown of my safari… Upon landing in East London I get my bags and see Craig in a Bullet Safaris hat. Craig and I have spoken via email and Whatsapp but never face to face, we go to the SAPS “office” in East London, more like a closet. Craig said we have about 1.5-2 hour drive to the lodge from East London.


    Once we arrive I am shown to my room and get my bags off and I get my hunting/shooting gear unpacked we head to the range to check my rifle, Weatherby Vanguard 375 H&H. Craig also brings his Winchester 70 in 30-06 with a suppressor as he would like me to shoot that as well. My gun shoots like it should 2.5” high at 100 yards. I shoot Craig’s 30-06 just as well and we go to take a drive and show me part of the property. There is a herd of Blesbuck 30 plus and Craig asked if I want to try and shoot one. Sure I say and we get to 220 yards. One of the trackers spots a good ram and we confirm which one in the herd. I take a broadside shot and the tracker says it was 6” over his back… No excuses other than the anticipation and excitement I guess. A great dinner and time with the property owners and another PH that has no hunters in camp for a few more days then off to bed. Craig lets me know we will travel about an hour in the morning to try and get the Giraffe as most of the other hunting will be much closer to the lodge. Craig is bringing our tracker, another tracker, and one of their teenage sons to assist with the Giraffe should we be successful. I made a couple calls to the wife and kids to check in and one to my office to make sure they didn’t burn it down yet… All good at home and off to bed no issues. Accommodations are comfortable and everything I could ask for, not a five star place. Nice enough that you look forward to it but not too nice where you worry about walking in with boots on, my kind of place.

    Photo Jul 12, 7 19 30 AM.jpg Photo Jul 12, 7 19 32 AM.jpg Photo Jul 12, 9 00 44 AM.jpg Photo Jul 12, 10 18 26 AM.jpg Photo Jul 12, 10 18 31 AM.jpg
     
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  4. M Whitley

    M Whitley AH Member

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    JULY 13TH, 2019 HUNT – DAY 4


    Breakfast at 6:30 am and out the door by 7:00 am. Every morning breakfast was very good. Most mornings we had scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage, toast, fresh fruit, and tomatoes. The tomatoes we had every morning are like tomato soup only a thicker consistency. I took some advice from one of the other PH’s in camp and put the tomato on toast, added shredded cheese, add a small amount of Worcestershire sauce and boy were they good! We had about an hour drive to another property where we were met by the farm manager, I am not sure the size of this farm but it was very large. There was a rhino on the property, Cape buffalo, and countless plains game. I never got a look at the rhino or buffalo while we were there. We drove into the property about a half a mile when the truck stopped and there were 5 giraffe about 500 yards ahead of us. Craig and the farm manager had a brief discussion in Aafricans and then backed the truck out of sight down the hill. We unloaded from the truck Craig, farm manager, and myself and got to the bottom of the hill in the bush. We walked towards the giraffe up the valley where two hills met, when we were parallel we started our stalk up the hill. Amazing to watch Craig moving us slowly and strategically from shadow to shadow through the bush until we were smack in the middle of the giraffe. The wind was perfect for us, so close we could not see a giraffe on our side but could hear it ripping leaves and eating. The bull is about 100 yards ahead of us only the head and upper foot or two of neck visible. We made our move around the bush and the bull started to walk to our left coming down the hill. Craig got the sticks up, and confirmed which animal with me, the bull stopped broadside at around 80 yards. I picked a rosette as Craig had instructed earlier and squeezed the trigger. The bull instantly started down the hill behind some bush veld. Craig said he was down! I never saw the massive animal fall! We approached from the front, Craig instructing me the whole way. Apparently a kick from a giraffe is not unheard of. Once we were close we got on the belly side of the bull and Craig instructed me to kneel and shoot again into the chest between the front legs. Upon the shot the bull kicked again several times before he was still. My first shot was perfect as Craig described it. We admired the huge animal as Craig called the trackers on the radio. A total of 6 men came with a truck and trailer, once onsite it took the truck with a tow strap and all 9 of us about 30 minutes to get the huge animal posed for pictures. Once we had pictures it set in my first African animal was down! Once the men started on the animal Craig, myself, and the farm manager headed out to see what other game we could make a stalk on while we waited for the skinners. We saw eland, bontebuck, blesbuck, and a herd of red hartebeest. We did find a red hartebeest bull that Craig and the farm manager agreed was a good one to shoot. On sticks around 180 yards I made a shot that was high, the herd ran over the hill and stopped. We were able to find the bull as he had blood coming down his side from his upper back. I was able to put him down quickly with a 120 yard shot to the shoulder. Once we got to the bull we were looking him over and he was missing teeth and blind in one eye. A great old bull to remove from the herd, such an amazing animal and experience this far. Day one hunting and two animals down. The trackers were able to recover the first shot from the giraffe and the Nosler 260 grain partition performed perfectly. We loaded up the cape, skull, back skin, and front shin bones from the giraffe. We also loaded the cape from the red hartebeest and skull. Back to the base camp and a great dinner and the usual, call to home to check on the wife and kids. Another call to the office and all is good.

    Photo Jul 13, 4 25 52 AM.jpg Photo Jul 13, 4 27 52 AM.jpg Photo Jul 13, 9 05 00 AM.jpg Photo Jul 13, 9 12 47 AM.jpg Photo Jul 13, 9 15 44 AM.jpg Photo Jul 13, 9 16 07 AM.jpg
     
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  5. shootist~

    shootist~ AH Senior Member

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    Great story so far. Looking forward to more.
     

  6. M Whitley

    M Whitley AH Member

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    Photo Jul 14, 1 46 27 AM.jpg Photo Jul 14, 10 56 52 AM.jpg JULY 14TH, 2019 HUNT – DAY 5

    We drove less than 5 miles from the lodge this morning and climbed one of the mountains, once on top Craig, myself and the tracker spread out on the mountain to glass the opposing mountain. I spotted 3 kudu cows and 2 impala, we walked a river bed out towards the road and did not see any animals except monkeys on the way out. Most of the farms we hunted were just cattle farms with 4 or sometimes 5 strand barbed wire. Completely low fence free ranging animals on the majority of my hunting days. After lunch we went back out right behind the lodge around 3:00 pm to see if we could find a springbok or blesbuck. We spotted a group of roughly 15 blesbuck and swung wide around the mountain to get above them, once on top we crawled over the top and got to about 220 yards from them. We were sitting for some time and I never got very comfortable. The shooting sticks set up together leaning against a tree I was sitting next to so I could shoot sitting with them in front of me. When the herd was finally broadside I was instructed which bull to shoot. I should not have shot as it never quite felt right. My shot was a clean miss and blesbuck at this point was becoming my nemesis. The heard ran parallel and stopped about 200 yards, I told Craig I did not want to shoot again as I was not comfortable in that set up. I’m just glad it was a clean miss.

    I was starting to really bum out as left that look out spot, as we came through the bush we spotted some springbok, Craig stated which ram and after confirming I shot the ram at about 120 yards and he was down. Pictures and back to the skinning shed, a great dinner of steak and potatoes and off to bed.
     
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  7. M Whitley

    M Whitley AH Member

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    Photo Jul 15, 10 48 27 AM.jpg Photo Jul 15, 12 36 12 PM.jpg Photo Jul 15, 12 36 15 PM.jpg JULY 15TH, 2019 HUNT – DAY 6

    Today started like the day before, breakfast at 6:30 am and then we drove about a half hour. “Across the tar road” to another cattle farm. We hiked in and got to a good glassing spot, we spotted about 50 impala and 10 different kudu cows from our vantage point. We moved further down the mountain and set up to glass again. This time there was a kudu bull that was almost big enough. After Craig set up his spotting scope did he confirm that we would not be attempting to stalk him as he was indeed not old enough. We continued down the mountain, stopping and glassing on occasion. We did not see any shooter impala or kudu on our way back to the truck. I was very impressed with Craig and the trackers trophy judgment, they know what they are looking at and were very specific on which animals they wanted to hunt once spotted. We made our way back to the truck and then back to the lodge for lunch and a short break. The lodge was comfortable and very well put together. After lunch we went to a lookout spot on top of one of the highest mountains in the area. From our vantage point we spotted 4 eland bulls. After the spotting scope was set up Craig confirmed one was definitely a shooter and the other three were too young. From our vantage point Craig spent several minutes thinking through our approach to the eland. Once Craig had our game plan in his head we drove down the mountain and across the gravel road. We parked the truck and walked a fence line up a small mountain, after we glassed the bulls again we began our decent down moving from shadow to shadow down the mountain. After getting to about 300 yards we ran out of cover. We sat and discussed any and all options, Craig decided we would go back out the way we came down and back around to try and stalk directly at them as there was a small rise in the terrain that might hide us in our approach. The rise was just enough most of the time, we did have to hunch over and almost crawled for the last 50-60 yards. Craig constantly checking the wind during our approach, we were running out of daylight and finally ran out of the sparse cover at 120 yards from the cluster of bush they were feeding in. We could see the smaller bulls spread out in the bush feeding however none of us could see the larger bull. After what felt like hours (probably 15 minutes) the older bull stepped out and stood broadside, almost a little quartering to between two bushes. Craig set up the sticks and I got on them quickly, I told Craig I had a good shot and he said to take it. I squeezed the trigger and the bull gave a slight jump at the shot, running to our left parallel to us. Craig grabbed me by the shirt sleeve and pulled me to start running. When the herd of bulls came through an opening in the bush Craig said to shoot anywhere on the body. I shot free handed and just tried to get the cross-hairs anywhere on that animal as he ran. My second shot hit the hind leg of the eland and down he went. By the time we got to him he was no longer alive and the first shot had done him in, my second shot just immobilizing him from running any further. One of the most important animals on my list the Eland was down! Craig called in some help on his cell phone and a cruiser with 5 other trackers and skinners showed up about 20 minutes later. They loaded the massive eland up in the cruiser and back to the skinning shed. We stopped by the skinning shed and took another look at the massive animal as they hung it. Another great dinner and discussion with the farm owner and his wife while we let our dinner settle
     
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  8. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Enjoying the report! Congrats so far! Love the old and blind hartebeest!
     

  9. Chago

    Chago AH Senior Member

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    Keep it coming
     

  10. Jeff75

    Jeff75 New Member

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    Good stuff, great job on that old hartebeest!
     

  11. cls

    cls AH Elite

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    Great report and animals. Looking forward to the rest of the report.
     

  12. Nyati

    Nyati AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Great hunt so far, congrats !
     

  13. Rum Runner

    Rum Runner AH Senior Member

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    Great so far...
     

  14. M Whitley

    M Whitley AH Member

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    Photo Jul 16, 2 44 10 AM.jpg Photo Jul 16, 5 17 13 AM.jpg Photo Jul 16, 8 13 28 AM (1).jpg Photo Jul 16, 5 16 53 AM.jpg JULY 16TH, 2019 HUNT – DAY 7

    Today we started a little later as we would be going to the mountain behind the lodge and glassing for Kudu. 7:00 am breakfast and then off to the top of the mountain. We were glassing the valley and spotted a young kudu bull and three cows, there were also four zebra on the mountain side. Zebra is also on my list so Craig was moving the spotting scope to take a look when he stopped and said “there’s our bull”. Craig had spotted a kudu bull on the other side of the mountain. We left the tracker with the spotting scope and a radio as we drove around the other side of the mountain the bull was on. We parked the truck and climbed the rest of the height then came slowly over the top, Craig radioed the tracker and the tracker told him the bull had moved about 60 yards to our right. We moved over as we came down the mountain, we came to a steep ledge and as Craig peered over he set the sticks up. I got on the sticks and the bull was broadside looking away. I squeezed the trigger and the bull jumped, kicked and ran to our right. He stopped about 40 yards from where he started and I shot again, the bull dropping at the second shot. Craig radioed the tracker and told him to walk to the animal as we could not get further down the mountain where we were. We took the truck and went back around the mountain, we went by the lodge and were able to get an additional tracker to help. Where the bull had fallen there was no easy way to the road down the mountain. Most of the farm help was out with the owner counting cattle as it would just be us four to carry the kudu down the mountain. Once we got to the animal we posed him pictures and one of the trackers pulled the stomach out to lighten our load down the mountain. We put the kudu on the tarp and carried him down, 5-6 feet at a time.

    After lunch at the lodge and a short break we decided to see if we could catch up with my new nemesis the blesbuck. We found a herd and Craig called out the second from the left was the one to shoot. At 160 yards I squeezed the trigger and the ram ran about 50 yards before collapsing. I had settled the score with the blesbuck finally! A few pictures and we dropped him off at the skinning shed. We went over the mountain to see if we could find an impala ram that was large enough to shoot. The tracker spotted a bachelor group of 8 rams in the bush, what amazing eyes the trackers and PH have. We got set up and the tracker said they are coming from left to right, the ram to shoot was the fourth one in the herd. As they came out at 100 yards they never knew we were there, just feeding along the edge of the bush. When the ram finally stopped in an opening he was quartering to me. I took the shot and it was about 3 inches back from my target. We looked around with only one small drop of blood found. It was dark now and we moved out, we would return in the morning with more help to walk the bush in search of the gut shot impala.
     
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  15. shootist~

    shootist~ AH Senior Member

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    Pictures, especially the long distance scenery shots, are really good quality. What camera are you using?
     

  16. M Whitley

    M Whitley AH Member

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    The majority of my photos are all from my iphone xr, some of these photos were taken with Craig's Huawei phone but the scenery pictures were taken with iphone.
     

  17. Neale

    Neale AH Enthusiast

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    I am enjoying your story very much. It brings back memories, I think I can feel the African fever coming on.
     

  18. rinehart0050

    rinehart0050 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Great trophies- that eland is awesome! Congrats!
     

  19. M Whitley

    M Whitley AH Member

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    Photo Jul 17, 1 40 41 AM.jpg Photo Jul 17, 3 12 01 AM.jpg Photo Jul 17, 4 11 42 AM.jpg Photo Jul 17, 4 12 30 AM.jpg Photo Jul 17, 4 12 44 AM.jpg JULY 17TH, 2019 HUNT – DAY 8

    We had breakfast at 7:00 am and then loaded up 4 trackers. The six of us spread in a line walking the bush for the gut shot impala. After a half hour of searching we found him, he had circled back close to where he was first shot. The jackals had eaten one of his back quarters but the cape was still good as the temps had been in the 40’s that night. We dropped the additional help and the impala off at the skinning shed and went to see if we could spot a zebra stallion or gemsbok that wanted. We parked the truck and walked to the edge of a mountain side where we spotted a group of five zebra, one a stallion that Craig said was a shooter. I got on the sticks when the stallion turned broadside at 160 yards I shot him with my 375 through the shoulder. The herd ran in the valley and the stallion fell about 60 yards from where he was first shot. Craig said we would need some additional help, I volunteered to walk down to the animal myself while Craig went back to get some more help. I walked down and sat by the zebra admiring his beautiful coat and markings.

    While I was sitting there I was looking at the mountains in the distance thinking what an amazing life I had. I had been brought up with humble beginnings, we weren’t poor growing up but we didn’t vacation and my father worked 60-70 hours a week. Even as a teenager and young man any days off school were spent working for dad, usually for no pay. While I sat there I thought I must be the luckiest guy in the world to be able to have what I do and be able to be hunting in Africa. I’m sure I am not the only guy that stood over a trophy in Africa looking at the horizon thinking the same thing.

    At my request the afternoon was very laid back. After lunch we just stayed close to the lodge, walked some mountains and glassed for mountain reedbuck and gemsbok. We did not make any stalks that afternoon, we saw lots of animals but no stalks.
     
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  20. meigsbucks

    meigsbucks AH Fanatic

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    Great trophies! The eland will make a great mount. Sounds like a great hunt. Great pics!
     

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