SOUTH AFRICA: Eastern Cape May 2021 Hunt With KMG Hunting Safaris - finally!

cpr0312

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I've been back for a few days now, trying to catch up on rest and a pile of work! I'll get started with the report but this may take a few days. After a few tries to get to the Cape during the covid utter nonsense, we finally made it. This was originally scheduled August 2020 as part of a group hunt. We then tried to reschedule for later in Oct or Nov, but again travel restrictions made it tough. Finally we worked out a date with Marius to arrive May 2 and hunt through May 9th.

We booked with Qatar from the get go, with all the unknowns of Delta and Untied, I 'm glad we did. I like to get where I'm going in the shortest amount of time possible, and I have always flow either SAA or Delta, so this was a change and it would take quite a bit longer, but it was the safe bet.

Route was CLT-JFK_DOHA-JNB-PLZ on American, Qatar, and Safair

I used Marius' rifle so no concerns for me with flights on that end.

We got an amazing deal with Miles on Qatar, and flew business class. Qatar is what everyone says it is, a very nice airline, good service and food. The JFK legs were Q suites, very nice. On my return I flew to DFW, also Q suites.

My plans for this trip with my stepfather were to go after bushbuck, kudu, and vaal only. We also wanted to try and fish and go to a private game reserve so my dad could see rhino and elephant. The weather forecast was looking iffy for about 3 days during the week, so the plans would be set forth once we were on the ground. I will detail the travel and the days in the coming posts.

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Looking forward to reading your story!
 

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April 30th- Travel day

After getting our negative covid test results on the evening of the 27th, we were good to go for our departure from JFK at 9pm on Qatar. The gate agent verified the Negative PCR and checked your passport before boarding. We went up to the gate well in advance to get this done. Loaded and set in for the long haul (from CLT to PLZ and then onto the lodge with layovers it was about 40 hours).

Travel goes relatively smoothly, transferring in Qatar was a breeze, and we got to enjoy ample time in the business lounge with lots of food and drink options.

The hiccup in the journey came in Joburg, going through customs :cautious:
We were the second ones in line, and we got the one lady of the two who coulnd't do basic math! She said our test dates were too far back. I explained to her that her own country website states that the test only has to be 3 days before you start your travel. Showed her the boarding passes, she wasn't having any of it. The person behind us in line said that most every passenger would be in the same boat. This wet her off even more and yelled at the lady not to try and tell her how to do her job. At this point I knew we were in for trouble.

She pulled us out of line to go to the "holding Area". She told us we would need to retest there. This was 4:15 in the morning, and our connecting flight was at 6am. She then told us the testers don't come in until 7am :mad:. This is the 15 minute rapid test, which we then told her we would both fail because of being vaccinated. She again wasn't having any of it (TIA). At this point I knew it wouldn't do any good to argue or get heated with her, it could only end badly. So we tried flagging down other workers and pleading our case 1 by 1. Eventually, we found someone who understood the situation and she let us go.

Connecting flight missed and cancelled, and we had to buy new tickets on a different airline. All in this math error cost us over $700 in cancelled and new tickets. Upsetting but at that point we were happy to be leaving for PE. I've traveled enough all over the world where these things happen, you adjust, adapt, and move on. We are looking into insurance and the credit cards to determine if some refunds can be had.

We arrived in PE on Sunday morning, may 2nd about1.5 hours later than originally planned, all in all not bad. Marius was happy to see us on 2 fronts, both the covid delayed trip and the hiccup in Joburg! I was glad to see him also! Off we went for a late brunch on the way to the lodge. We arrived about 1230, got cleaned up and rested a bit, then headed to the range to see how Marius' .308 suited me. A few shots and we were good to go!
 
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BRICKBURN

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That is one hell of an introduction to Africa for your dad.

Good on you for keeping your cool and being persistent enough to get yourself out of the holding cell.
That makes you appreciate mandatory educational requirements.
 

buck wild

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cpr0312

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Travel and arrival day pics:

Q suites and one of the meals, aerial of Qatar, and the sunset the first night at the lodge.

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cpr0312

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Arrival day afternoon hunt:

After sighting the rifle in, we went out to one of the areas that held both kudu and bushbuck. We saw a few busbuck ewes, some warthog, monkeys, baboons, cape mountain zebra, blesbok, bontebok, and quite a few kudu. Towards sunset we found a pretty good bull, just not quite what I was looking for, so we passed. Time to head back to the lodge for dinner and a early night.

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cpr0312

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Day 1:

After a very good nights sleep, we head out looking for bushbuck and kudu once again. No mature rams are seen in the morning, so we tun towards kudu. We get on another better than average bull, but he is far off then we loose sight of him. Same in the afternoon, get on another bull, but I decide to pass.

We also see a pretty nice looking warthog through the spotting scope. If warthog was on my list, we would have made a beeline to the truck to make a plane! Marius says there is another hunter coming in a few days who want a warthog, so I said yeah lets leave that for him to possibly find.

We also see plenty of other game along the way during the day, and lots of bird life. Back to the lodge for dinner and another early night.
 

Tanks

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...

Good on you for keeping your cool and being persistent enough to get yourself out of the holding cell.
That makes you appreciate mandatory educational requirements.

It also makes one appreciate the "meet and greet" services where they meet you at the gate and whisk you through the customs. It is $150-$200 well spent especially if one is traveling with firearms.
 

cpr0312

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Day 2:

My stepdad joined me on this trip, and he came just for the sights and sounds (not hunting). I really wanted to take him to a game reserve in order to hopefully be able to see elephants and rhino, and possibly lions. Marius arranged for us to go to Pumba Reserve, about 1 hour from the lodge. The itinerary there starts at 9:30, the game drive is about 2.5 hours, followed by a nice lunch.

It was just the 2 of us, so we had our own private tour guide which was a nice bonus. Which was even better was the fact that in the first 45 minutes, we saw lion, rhino, and elephant! We caught the lion right after he had obviously eaten something, he was laying down sunning himself without a care in the world. We actually drove up to( I'm not joking her) 3 yards or so. He picked his head up a few times to look us over, then crashed out asleep.

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Some other sights from that day
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Views from the deck where lunch was served:


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Lunch consisted of fried calamari, pork chops, potatoes, and salad. Dessert was also available but I passed since we were heading to Marius' favorite, and much heralded milkshake bar. We got a few different flavors, one for the time being and one for after dinner later. I tried the peanut butter and it was really good (sorry forgot to take pics)!

Back to the lodge and out after kudu and bushbuck again. We see a few more, but nothing mature enough to go after.
 

cpr0312

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Day 3 - head to the vaalie area:

Off to an early start this morning, as we are in for a 2 hour drive to one of Marius' vaal areas. The country, open spaces, and steepness of the mountains gets bigger and bigger along the way until we arrive. One we get where we are going, we start glassing for different herds, trying to determine where a good ram might be.

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I knew the east cape was mountainous, but I really had no idea that the majority of all the areas was very mountainous and in some cases pretty steep! I am glad that in my daily life I walk every day, and for the last 6 months had been using an in home stair stepper in preparation.

We get on a herd early, but cattle and a sheep herder blow our stalk. These things are like antelope, and can see you from far off and start running! After lunch, we find a ram and 2 ewes on another part of the property. Marius and the tracker both get excited about this ram! We make a plan after he runs off to the other side of the ridge. We drive a bit, then get out and go way around and under another ridge to stay completely out of sight and hopefully out of the wind.

The plan works, and we are able to stay just low enough with some broom straw grass as cover. We can see them feeding to our left about 200 yards in front, so we crawl to a termite mound and get set up. Unfortunately, with the elevation difference, they fed out to a place that was just enough out of sight from our setup where I only had heads and tops of backs in the scope. We knew if we moved it was over, we tried easing up to our knees as it was the only chance at that point. They saw us and scampered off, but not in a full sprint, which was a good thing.

We pick up and head after them at a jog. Once we see what they are doing we make another plan. It looks like they will head back to where we originally spotted them. So we reverse course and get to a ridge top where we can see, in hopes that they will use the bottom of that same ridge to double back to their home range. The plan works as they are heading that direction. We are prone with the ability to swing the rifle in about 150 degree field of view. Something spooks them and they start to trot, and actually make their way to within 25 yards of us, but in and out of the thick cover at the bottom of the ravine. They actually stop right in front of us, the ewe is in plain sight but the ram is behind some scrub. He then runs through my filed of view and I instantly see why Marius is excited about this ram. At this point he kicks on the afterburners, and I pivot the rifle and follow him. We try and whistle to get him to stop, he wasn't playing along. He finally does stop about 200 yards out, but of course he is behind the one scrub bush out there, then they high tail it for the next ridge.

We make another plan to get around them, and again it works. But now they know something is up. We go back and forth from ridge to ridge chasing this guy. We get setup for a 300 yard shot where they should come to a pinch point. They do, with about 6 more ewes in tow. Well they all come there except our ram. We then see him off the the left sprinting across the open. By the time we pivot for a shot its too late. This whole time weather was building to out right, and it had arrived. The temperature dropped what felt like 20 degrees in about 1 minute. Wind gusts had to be 50mph plus, as it was blowing us around while we were walking. The rain, lighting, and some small hail accompanied it also. It was about 230 pm and our day was officially called by mother nature.

Exciting times but frustrating also as we thought we had him!

Back to the lodge for dinner and drinks.
 
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Frederik

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Sorry about the Vaalie but that is hunting and weather you cannot have a guaraantee on.
 

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@Frederik that's for sure. Luckily we are able to make a plan to come back in 2 days and try again
 

cpr0312

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Day 4:

My stepdad is leaving 2 days before I do, so we must go to town this morning and get him his PCR test. Unfortunately, this is part of being able to come hunt and then return home during this continued covid era. We hunt for bushbuck for a few hours in the morning, then head to Grahamstown for the test. We get something to eat in town, and then head once again to the milkshake bar. It seems Marius and I share a sweet tooth affliction.

After that we head to a new area to look for kudu and bushbuck again. We see plenty of game throughout the day including: big nyala, nice pigs, bontebok, kudu, big waterbuck, duiker, monkeys, baboons, blesbok, and some bushbuck. Towards the end of the day we see a few bushbuck far off that may be of interest. We make a plan to get closer.

We never find the first one, and we crest a hill and see the second ram witha few waterbuck cows in an opening. Upon quick inspection, it is a nice ram, but he bolts into the thick brush when the waterbuck cows get spooked. We try to flush him out with no luck. The weather once again comes in and we have to call it a day a little early. Back to the lodge for another nice meal and drinks.
 
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Firebird

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I’ve been to pumba-sat on that same spot on the deck and watched all kinds of wildlife and birds including the little white eye from my avatar. Cool place and lots of photographic opportunities. Excited to hear more and see some trophy pix!
 

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Neat being able to take your father n law to Africa.

Look forward to reading how this hunt with Marius went.
 

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Day 5 - a day that I'll never forget...

Early start once again as we head back to the vaal area for another try at a ram. Leave the lodge 445 to be able to be in the area by 7am. Marius has a pretty good idea where the ram will be since we know his home range now. Once we get up the mountain, we make it to the first spot we think he could be. We spot the same ram and his 2 ewes immediately, probably 3/4 mile off. We instantly make a plan to try to stalk up using what little cover there is available. There is some terrain that will aid in this stalk also.

We start the stalk, probably get to 400 yards, and they start getting nervous. They bolt in 2 different directions, and we frantically try to spot the ram. We see a ram run across the top of the ridge, but cant make sure it is him. So we are now able to put on another stalk as we don't see him come out the other side. We do the last 100 yards or so on hands and knees, once we get in a shooting position, we see that it is not the same ram. A nice ram, but not the bigger one we were honed in on.

So we back out and get to the top to try and find him. Once we do we see him and one of the ewes running off in the distance, toward where we left the the first day. We gove them some time to relax, and make a plan about 20 minutes later. We ca see them about 800 yards off on another ridge. We then put on a stalk that has us going about 1.5 miles to get to about 300 yards, but its the only way that we will get a chance. After about 2 hours of slow moving, avoiding spooking sheep, and playing the wind, we finally get into about 330 yards. We know he is on the other side of the top of the ridge we are not set up for a shot on. We see that they were calmly feeding to the direction we hoped they would.

Now its time to collect my thoughts and get my breathing under control, as the altitude, stalk, and excitement have got to me. A few minutes go by, and they finally crest the ridge. I have to wait a full minute or so for the right shot to present itself. Wind coming across at about 15-20, so we adjust the best we can for that. Take on last breath, focus, squeeze...

I can hear the hit, but it was delayed due to the wind direction. I see he is hit good and slumbering, and I get a chance to put another one in, and he topples over!

When we get there Marius is very excited, which tells me that it is a good one. This whole hunt, was very challenging, and to be rewarded with a very nice trophy is just icing on the cake for me. He has lots of mass, more so than most according to Marius. One happy hunter and PH!

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cpr0312

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Day 5 continued...

We have the Vaal down about 10:30, so we eat our packed lunch and take him to the skinning shed. Once we are ready, we decide to head back to the lodger. Marius has some areas for kudu along the way that we can try on the way home. We roll out about 1pm, and get to the kudu area pretty quickly. We immediately spot a few kudu cows, then a few more. We stop the truck and I can see a bull behind some scrub and cactus. He runs up into plain sight, turns back hard quartering, ans we all look at each other with baseball sized eyes, no question about this bull!

We ride down the road to get downwind and figure out our next move. He had about 15 cows with him, and they all took off in the same general direction. We work our way back around, about 1/2 mile down the ravine, and then start to climb to glass for them. We spot 5 cows that head off to the left about 400 yards away, no bull. We wait a few minutes, and figure he is not with them and must have carried on to our right or circled back possibly. We sent he truck on around the ridge, and Marius and I stay on top of the ridge where we can see in all directions. We slowly stalk above the thorn/scrub brush where they could be hiding...nothing.. Where did these things go?

We keep on slowly stalking along and Marius stops and says he sees a kudu and it looks like our bull. There are some Kudu back down near the road in the brush where we first saw them, they indeed circled back. Marius ranges the bull at 178, and crazy enough he is completely covered up, except for his shoulder and vitals! How often do you get that kind of luck? Almost never!

What made it even better is they did not know we were there, and I had time to calm down and breath. We were laying prone, and I needed a nit more elevation for the front of the rifle. Marius laid his binos down, I said I need jut a little more. He then takes his T-shit off and wads it up on top of the binos...perfect, just what I needed. Talk about a PH that goes all in (y)He was quartering to and I put it on the inside of the near shoulder. It hits hard and he slumbers and hunkers over, he was clearly done for, but he stood there and turned around, and I put another one in and he dropped about 5 yards away. When he dropped I had to compose myself, and did Marius, what just happened!?!?! We get up and celebrate, and verify the bull is done. Big smiles and then a beeline down he ridge to get our bull!

We get to him and I am astonished! The size, shape, and character are amazing, all I could ever ask for in a cape kudu!
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Its now 3 pm and we head back to the skinning shed we left a few hours earlier. Marius and I both are very excited about the caliber of this bull. That makes 2 incredible animals in one day, back to my headline earlier of this is a day I'll never forget. I told Marius this is a day that will be hard for me to ever match again, he agreed.

I am not a numbers guy, of course I like most of us enjoy shooting big animals. They put the tape on both back at the shed:

Kudu was 51.5
Vaal was 8 7/8 with huge mass

What a day! After 4 days of trying and hunting hard, today was just our day!! Back to the lodge for dinner and some celebratory whiskey!
 

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Whoa 2 great animals in a single day, congrats on both of them!
 

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