SOUTH AFRICA: Eastern Cape With Lalapa Safaris

Rusty Iron

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I found this forum AFTER we got back from a very successful hunt with Lalapa Safaris, in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. It’s a great source of info. I feel it’s time to share our experience with others.

Taking place in April, 2022, this was to be our first trip to Africa and first overseas hunt. I had seen an episode of Outdoor Quest and was particularly drawn to the idea of hunting Barbary Sheep in South Africa. We met up with the outfitter and PH Ray Kemp, and PH Edward Wilson at the Calgary, AB SCI safari show. We took that time to discuss possibilities and make potential plans. We booked shortly after with the help of Mark Zimmerman with Select Worldwide Hunting Safaris.

To say the trip was epic and a success on all counts- at least from my perspective would be an understatement. We had been planning this trip since 2019 and due to Covid crap got bumped to April of this year. My wife, although not an avid hunter tagged along for the experience. She thoroughly enjoyed the adventure.

To get there, We flew from Calgary to Amsterdam, to Johannesburg, spent the night in a hotel at the OR Tambo airport and then off again in the am to East London where Theo Kemp met us. From there he drove us approximately 1.5 hours to Lalapa’s bush camp near Cathcart. He took us for lunch, and on the way to the camp gave us the history of the area as well as doing his best to answer our barrage of questions as we were immersed in South Africa for the first time.

We had 10 full days to hunt. When we arrived we met our PH Edward Wilson and immediately headed to the range to shoot the 338 Winchester Magnum that I would use for most of the hunt. The rest of the evening gave us time to meet up with some other Albertans already in camp, including Mark and Cindy Zimmermann.

The lodge and facilities were very cool. The buildings are constructed with stone walls and thatched roofs. The Lodge is full of taxidermy and mounts of top quality game found in the area.

Between the time change, associated jet lagg, and anticipation for the days to come, sleep would not come easy.

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Rusty Iron

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The morning of day one, and all others had us up before daylight to eat breakfast and head out in the Toyota Landcruiser to spot game. For the duration of the hunt we were mainly after Kudu, Nyala, Eland, Warthog, Impala, Bushbuck, and Barbary sheep, however that list ended up growing slightly later. Some of the animals are found in the same areas and others required us to travel up to 2 hours away to get into their habitat.

Everywhere we hunted was low fence, all farm and ranch land just like here at home In Alberta. It certainly felt like hunting at home, except for The obviously different flora and fauna.

The first am we headed to some of Ed’s family’s land to spot Nyala and Kudu.

We spotted lots of game including Kudu, Nyala, and impala, but not old or large enough.

The afternoon of day one brought us into an area where Ed knew there to be large Kudu bulls. The rut was starting and the bulls were becoming more visible as they came down from higher ground to round up cows. We got up high and glassed for hours. We had spotted a good number of animals, but nothing that got us too excited. To be more accurate, I got exited about every Kudu I saw but our PH Ed tempered the waters and explained what we were looking for.

Ed decided to reposition to another area of the same ranch where a very large and mature bull had been seen. We were heading up the mountain when Ropsie (our tracker) spotted a bull coming down the mountain with several kudu cows. We parked the cruiser and snuck up the trail to get ahead of him. When we got in position I shot him from slightly over 200 yards. One shot was enough and we were left to soak in the moment before the work to to recover the bull began. We called the rancher and he came by to assist in loading the kudu bull. He was very excited as he had been watching this old bull for years and was very impressed with how big he was. He said he only saw this bull during the rut and otherwise vanished as they do.

We felt very fortunate to have taken a bull of this quality on day one of our safari. The horns on this bull measure over 50”.
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Rusty Iron

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Eland and plains game.

We spend days 2-5 mostly hunting Eland.

We covered a lot of ground and spent a lot of time behind our binoculars and spotting scope looking for a mature bull. At one point we found a group of 4 bulls, of which one looked very good. We were close to being in range, however couldn’t see the oldest bull well as he was sticking to cover. We sent Ropsie (tracker) in hopes of slowly bumping them out of cover. That didn’t work as planned and they spooked. Not unlike bumping a moose, they retreated and covered ground quickly. Last we saw them they were miles away.

We decided to take a break late in the am and hunt for the very plentiful and iconic African species Impala. We spent some time glassing an area where Ed had seen some nice old rams. After locating a group of rams in a stalkable location we set forth and got in position. They picked us off and ran up the ridge. The old ram we were after stopped just below the ridge at 278 yards to look back at us. I got on the shooting sticks, Ed called the yardage and when steady I took the shot. Impact was right on and the old ram dropped instantly.

Over the next few days we found several Eland bulls however they were sticking tight to cover, only giving us occasional views of them from a mile or more away. We spent most of the next few days scouring the land from high points looking for the right mature bull.

On day 4 we found 4 bulls in a group of which 2 appeared to be very mature- just what we were loookg for. We spent the next few hours watching them until dark (putting them to bed). Sleep did not come easily for me as we’d be attempting to locate them in the am.
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Rusty Iron

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Eland bull down. Send reinforcements.

On the morning of day 5, We set out early to locate the 4 bulls we put to bed. We drive to the top of “the Judge” a central mountain near Ray’s lodge and glassed. After some time, We hadn’t located them so we moved to another position atop “Baboon Hotel”, which was named by a fencing crew who made the mistake of spending the night up there being kept awake by baboons. One a related note, Baboons like to perch up high where they can see and sound alarms to warm others of potential danger. They leave land mines in the form of baboon feces and one must be careful where you sit or place your hands when glassing. Sitting downwind in certain spots is also not advisable.

From Baboon Hotel, we located the 4 bulls in the general area where we had last seen them the night before. They were a long way off, and in some very dense bush. The weather was not in our favour as the wind was wrong, it was overcast, cold, and in all likelihood the bulls may not feed out of the deep cover. With limited options, We decided to attempt a stalk and down the mountain we went. Once we got closer, the wind was slightly more favourable, however it was apparent that if we stalked them, we would not be a able to see them until we were very close. Odd of success when stalking game you cannot see is very low. For that reason we sent Ropsie (tracker) and Jango (dog) around to flush them out into the open. While they set out, we continued to glass the area. Almost immediately after they left I spotted an Eland bull up the valley, close to the top of the mountain. It was obvious he was a mature bull from his body size and as he had a very well developed “brush” of red/brown hair on his forehead. I let Ed know where he was. Ed’s response was that he was a “proper bull”, exactly what we were looking for, and we had a higher probability of success to get on him. Ed said “We must go after that bull”. Abandoning the other bulls, Ed and I made a loop downwind and around the bull, ending up on the mountain above him.

Much like elk or mountain sheep at home, He was bedded high in a spot where he had very good visibility and could survey the area for danger. We managed to get above him and crawl to the edge of the cliff where we could see him. Two problems were present- He was bedded facing us and he was farther than I was comfortable shooting. We had to back out and reposition. Ed snuck around and found a better approach for us, which got us to about 260 yards. Again we crawled to the edge of the cliff and got ready for a shot. He was still bedded and after what felt like an eternity, he showed no signs of standing up. We discussed options and decided to move once more to try and get into a better position for a shot at him. Again, we skirted the rim of the mountain and got ready for a shot. Shooting a bedded animal is not optimum, however we felt if he got up, he may not give us a better shot, simply based on the tree cover. Once confident we could achieve a good shot I got ready and fired. The high shoulder shot was nearly perfect and he tipped over instantly. After a few seconds he got up and I sent another round high into the opposite shoulder for insurance. He dropped and it was over. We were elated. Ed began making calls to bring in reinforcements to help us recover the Eland.

As we approached him I was in absolute awe at the sheer size of an adult Eland bull. This body size of this bull was incredible. For reference, the brass case in the pic with the hoof is a .338 Winchester Magnum (2.5” in length). In the picture I am not staged at a distance behind the bull. I could not get any closer.

The team was able to chain saw a path in to us and using the slope and terrain we were able to position the Landcruiser to load the animal and head to camp to get him processed. It’s easy if you say it fast. It took a lot of planning, muscle, and experience to get him into the Landcruiser.

We were very fortunate to have taken this very old and mature bull. As with all the game harvested on safari, nothing is wasted. The meat will be sold and enjoyed by many. We ate Eland several times and found it to be absolutely tender, mild, and delicious.

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Rusty Iron

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Plains game.

The Eastern Cape of South Africa is very diverse and home to a very large number of species.

In addition to the iconic species such as Impala, Springbok, Kudu, Zebra, and Warthog, we saw: Nyala, Blesbok, Red Hartebeast, Gemsbok, Mountain Reeebuck, Fallow Deer, Duiker, Barbary Sheep, Bushbuck, Ostrich, Wildebeast, Guinea fowl, geese, ibis, baboons, monkeys, and more.

We hunted plains game such as Impala, Springbok, and Blesbok mid day as they typically don’t retreat to cover like game such as Kudu, Nyala, and Eland.

We were fortunate to take mature Springbok and Blesbok. Both were very fun stalks (multiple on each) and were not unlike an experience hunting Pronghorn Antelope at home.
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Rusty Iron

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The highs and lows of hunting.

We all hunt for different reasons that can and will change over time. We hunt to provide food for ourselves and families, to play a part in wildlife management, to spend time with other like minded people, as a reason to travel (experiencing other cultures), and to fulfill what may be basic instinct to pursue (aka sport). For those that may see sport hunting as a poor reason, please consider that humans are omnivores and predators. Humans are not the only species that hunt for “sport”. Watch any cat or dog, domestic or otherwise and you will know what I mean. With that, we always strive for clean, quick, and ethical outcomes. If any of those are missing, hunters are typically not in a happy place.

This trip, while overwhelmingly positive, did have a couple of low points on the emotional rollercoaster. I wounded two animals of which we were not able to recover. I’m not proud of it, but it’s real.

On the afternoon of day two we headed to a different location to look for warthogs. We joined others in our group for lunch and set off in different directions for the afternoon. We positioned ourselves atop a small mountain to overlook a bend in a river to spot for hogs. Almost immediately we spotted several small groups of hogs, however no large boars. After 2-3 hours and close to dark I spotted a large boar making his way down the mountain. We picked him up again eating a prickly pear cactus and got moving on a stalk. We circled downwind and got above him at a distance of about 250 yards. I got on the shooting sticks and took a shot. Instantly I knew the shot was low. I was not 100% steady on the sticks and was attempting to steady myself and squeeze the trigger. I made a follow up shot, which looked and sounded good, but the hog did not drop. Ed radioed Ropise who brought in Jango (tracking dog) and they got on the trail. Jango wasn’t focused and Ed called in Ray to bring in his dog Fin. Ray and the other hunters put their evening hunt aside and came to assist. In the end, we didn’t locate the hog. He likely went down his hole. To top it off, two of Rays dogs went quiet on the trail and we couldn’t locate them. Eventually we were able to find them, however we were very close to having to leave them overnight. I felt like a turd. Not only did I wound the warthog, but the others hunting with Ray unselfishly put their hunt aside to assist and help me get out of my mess, ultimately with no hog to show for it.

On day 4. We set out after Nyala. We had seen a large, mature bull in an area and hoped to locate him again. After 2-3 hours of spotting, Ed found him a long ways off across the valley and on the side of a mountain with three female Nyala. Tina stayed back at the truck as Ed, Ropsie, and I headed out to get closer. After what felt like an epic stalk, we got within 270 yards of him, across a river and directly downhill. He had no idea we were there. I got on the shooting sticks and steadied myself. I felt rock solid and took a shot. It was a hit. He disappeared but we felt like it was good. We formulated a plan on how the heck we would get across the Kei river. It was deep, dirty, and flowing fast. As we talked, the Nyala popped out of cover. I got on the sticks and shot again. That one appears to be a solid hit and he dropped into the thick cover. We walked downstream to an area where Ed thought we may be able to cross as there were rapids. He was right. It was the only viable option we had so We stripped down, crossed, and headed back upstream to where the Nyala was. As we approached the place where we last saw him, Ed decided to send in Ropsie with Jango. We sat in the open in case the bull was not finished. As I attempted to load the rifle I could not get the bolt to close. I tried another round and had the same result. While frantically trying to get a round in, the Nyala flushed and bounded down the mountain in front of us while I helplessly watched. I was sick. I forced the bolt to close and we sent Ropsie on the track. Soon Jango bayed the Nyala in the open. I recognized that sound and knew I needed to get up there quickly. I ran out through the bush, and in the process got hung up in the thorns twice. When I got to Ed, the Nyala had faced off with Jango. I got on the sticks and readied for a shot. As he was behind a bush, Ed asked me to wait until he was 100% clear as we thought we may only have one shot. Shortly after, the Nyala flipped Jango over and came running towards us. A quick Hail Mary shot at him, was a miss. We spent the rest of the afternoon tracking the Nyala in the jungle along the river but lost him. Based on the bloodtrail, I’m 100% sure he died, and likely shortly after his tussle with the dog. Eventually we gave up and made the long track back to Tina at the truck. We arrived tired, covered in ticks, cut, bruised, and defeated. I still don’t know what happened with the shots. On this trip l made tougher shots on smaller animals. Usually one knows if it’s off. All I can think is perhaps the angles were steeper than we thought. Ed and Ropsie did everything possible to seal the deal, it just wasn’t meant to be.

I learned a lot from these two unfortunate events. They temporarily rattled my confidence, however I knew I needed to learn from those mistakes. Ray gave me some very good advice in the lodge. Speaking from experience, he told me I needed to put that behind me, learn from them and not let it negatively affect the remainder of our trip. He was right and I needed to hear it. That said, whenever I was on the sticks after day 4, I was more purposeful.
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Rusty Iron

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Yes, you can hunt free range mountain sheep in South Africa.

On day 8 we got up extra early and headed to another location where there is a good population of Barbary Sheep. We picked up another tracker/spotter that works at the ranch and headed out. Almost immediately we spotted sheep in several bands along the mountain face. The plan was to drive part way up and plan our stalk(s) from there. As soon as we left the two track trail, we buried the Landcruiser up to the doors. We were able to get out fairly quickly and carry on (go Toyota ).

As we approached the mountain, several herds of Mountain Zebra headed off in the direction of the sheep. We were concerned they would spook the sheep, however they veered away from the sheep and didn’t cause us any problems.

As we climbed the mountain in the Landcruiser, we were amazed at the diversity of terrain. The mountain was very steep, smooth rock with limited vegetation or otherwise loose rock.

We parked the Landcruiser out of sight of the sheep and planned our approach.

Ed and I made a stalk on the closest band, however were unable to get closer than 400 yards. After losing the Nyala, I was not comfortable in shooting that distance with shooting sticks. We attempted to close the gap and were busted almost immediately. The last we saw that group they were a mile away and still going.

Ed and I met back up with the group and headed further up the mountain. We located the large band of sheep and spotted one ram that was obviously the dominant ram in that band. He was dark and had a very obvious set of “chaps” on his chest and front legs. There were a large number of sheep and they were in a difficult position to approach. We discussed a plan and set forth. Eventually, we got as close as it appeared we could get. Again, we were at just over 400 yards and pinned down. In any other circumstance, I would have shot from there, however with a borrowed rifle and still stinging from the Nyala saga, I didn’t shoot. We dicussed options, which included waiting them out in hopes they would come closer. Almost on command, the sheep rose and focused on the valley directly below them. We quickly spotted a Jackal making his own move on the sheep. Unfortunately, that didn’t pan out and we had to make a choice. We couldn’t go down, or forward to close the gap, so Ed checked out one more option. It appeared we could go back up and around to come in above them. Off we went and sure enough we closed the gap to about 250 yards. Belly crawling to position, I attempted to get steady on the ram, however I just couldn’t get steady due to some large rocks. As we sat up to get above the rocks, they spotted us and busted. They dropped into the valley and it appeared they were gone. Although significantly out of range, I suggested we head to the next ridge and perhaps they would turn back up the next valley, as they were hesitating for some unknown reason. Almost on cue, some fallow deer came across the valley and spooked the sheep towards the valley we were closest to. We got in position and when the ram came over the ridge, I shot. He dropped quickly and the rest of the band dispersed, leaving him behind. After a follow up shot, he was anchored and were elated.

We carefully made our way down to the ram. I was in awe at the beauty of a mature Barbary ram, and pleasantly surprised at the mass of his horns. He’s not an ancient ram, however a very good representative ram for the area. I could not have been more pleased.

Ed scouted access to get him off the hill and called Ropsie who eventually bought the Landcruiser to us. We took photos, and headed back to camp.

It all came together for us with some experience and a little luck. We were very fortunate to have hunted these sheep on their native continent. Apart from what we usually need to get ourselves back into sheep country, it was not unlike hunting sheep in Alberta.
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good write up and yes Eland are big, we will be in that area this coming April with Eugene from Intaba Safaris for Kudu, Sable and Cape Buffalo and my buddy will be hunting a bunch of animals. what was the weather Temps while you were there?
 

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Welcome to the swamp- ja (said in a SA accent)…

On day 9 we got up early and headed to an area near the coast to hunt Bushbuck. Bushbuck are the smallest of the spiral horned antelope and in the eastern Cape are found in dense forest (jungle essentially), usually near water. As the general hunting season was not open yet we hunted a dedicated conservancy. This was still low fence, privately owned land however the conservancy areas are allowed to operate outside of the general hunting season. We were told that this area is the “Ozarks” of the Eastern Cape.

The weather had been usually wet and cool forcing us to push out our plans several times as our odds were low for seeing Bushbuck in cold, wet, and cloudy conditions. Finally it appeared we would see a break in the weather. Bushbuck are active in the early am and late evening so we needed to be there early.

We arrived at the farm shortly after sunrise and were met by one of the owners who would accompany us as a scout. We headed back into the hills seeing female bushbuck and Nyala as we made our way to high ground.

Shortly after arriving on a high hill called the Grandstand, we spotted a good bushbuck ram about 500 yards away. The wind was in our favour and we made an approach to get into range. At about 350 yards it appeared we may not get closer, but for low and attempted to close the gap. At about 200 yards it was apparent we would not be able to get closer. As we prepared for a shot, he appeared to have busted us, fixating on our position. I didn’t waste any time, settling the crosshairs on his chest and fired. He dropped instantly and just as quickly another bushbuck ram jumped up in front of us. Due to terrain, we hadn’t seen the second buck. It is likely the ram we took hadn’t seen us at all and was focused on the intruder.

As we admired the bushbuck, we noticed he had a split eyelid and other fresh wounds from fighting. At first we thought my shot had grazed his head, but that was pretty much impossible and after examining the number and location of other wounds it was clear that it was from fighting. We later learned that male bushbuck are highly territorial and aggressive to intruders. Despite their small size they are also extremely dangerous when wounded. They are quick to use their extremely extremely sharp horns for defence.

We had been warned that in this area of the Eastern Cape, we would encounter ”pepper ticks”, which are very small red ticks. While we didn’t notice pepper ticks, we certainly did see a lot of adult red ticks and this bushbuck was absolutely loaded with them. There were enough that Tina wasn’t interested in being include in pictures with him.

We got lucky in finding our bushbuck so early and were left with some spare time. We decided to take our time heading to camp and made our way along the coast. Ed took us to some really nice resort towns and showed us some great views of the Indian Ocean. We spent the afternoon hunting hogs and generally taking it easy as we had several early mornings in a row.

That evening, Jean (cook) thoughtfully had made Tina birthday cupcakes. We enjoyed them with a few beverages to celebrate and prepared for our last day of hunting.
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Rusty Iron

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Are we hunting Warthogs or Cape Buffalo?

On day 10, our last day of hunting, we focused on Warthog. Over the last 9 days we had only seen 1 mature boar that was feasible to stalk and I managed to screw that up. We had seen a number of warthogs but most of them were female or young boars.

Over the course of a normal safari hunting Warthog can be taken as opportunities present themselves while hunting other game, providing you can accept disturbing other game within earshot of the sound of a rifle. That was our plan until the last day as we really didn’t have any other species on our list.

With the extreme rains the grass was unusually high resulting in challenging conditions to spot hogs. Add in several days of rain, cool, and overcast conditions, We really didn’t have opportunities for mature hogs. For the last day we decided to work on finding a boar, not necessarily a really old one.

We started the morning glassing several locations near the lodge. At the first spot we were able to observe Wildebeest, Zebra, Impala, Springbok, Red Hartebeast, Blesbok, and a few female hogs. It was incredible to see and hear them all from one location. While heading to another high spot, Ropsie spotted a few hogs in the short grass. We made an attempt at a stalk but were busted by some Hadeda Ibis (birds). They are very alert to their surroundings and noisy when startled. Other animals use them as an alarm system, much like they use the alert barks of Baboons. The hogs made a hasty retreat and were gone for good.

As Ed had spotted some good Blesbok rams we changed gears and spent the remainder of the morning in attempts to take a good ram. After several stalks foiled by swirling winds and multiple herds of females, we were successful in taking a really nice Blesbok. They behave much like our Pronghorn Antelope and hunting them felt exactly the same. I was incredibly impressed at how clean and slick the Blesbok looked. I’m wishing now that we retained the skin for a flat rug, like we did with the Springbok.

After an incredible lunch of Kudu burgers that may have ruined me for beef forever, we headed out to track down a boar that we had seen the previous day. Shortly after reaching the summit, Ropsie spotted him in a thick draw at the bottom on the valley. Ed and I made our way done the mountain in hopes of getting in range, while Ropsie remained to watch from the high point. He had a radio and if needed could guide us to the location of the hog. After reaching the valley floor, we had not seen the hog, nor had Ropsie, so we headed upwind to see if he had made his way past us. Ropsie radioed Ed to inform him that the hog (or perhaps another young boar) was in some Acacia thorn bush close to Ed and I. Over the next hour or so, we played cat and mouse with the boar in the trees. As the bush had been browsed up 3-4’ from ground level, the hog(s) had good visibility, however we had to get down low to see. We could hear the hog very close to us and very carefully made our way closer and closer until we finally got sight of him. We would take a step, get low, listen, look, and repeat. All I could think of is it felt like were and and may as well be stalking a Cape Buffalo in the thick bush. It was super cool.

We were attempting to get a clear shot when he became aware of us. In retrospect, I should have shot free hand (no rest, no sticks), but I didn’t and wasted time getting on the sticks. When I got him in the crosshairs I flicked off the safety, which on that particular rifle was EXTREMELY noisy. He heard that unnatural sound and was gone for good. Even though I practiced a lot, shooting from sticks at home, it’s not instinctive to me. I plan on hunting with them more to build skills and memory.

We spent the remainder of the evening glassing for hogs but were unable to locate any more. It was still a very fun and eventful day. With the success that had over the last 10 days I certainly was not disappointed in not taking a Warthog. That’s hunting and leaves another reason to return and we will.

We have since rebooked for April 2024, this time with some friends from home.
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Rusty Iron

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good write up and yes Eland are big, we will be in that area this coming April with Eugene from Intaba Safaris for Kudu, Sable and Cape Buffalo and my buddy will be hunting a bunch of animals. what was the weather Temps while you were there?
Thanks. Weather was quite good. No rain during the day. Was cool at night and mid teens to low 20s (Celsius) during the day. Ground conditions were incredibly wet.
 
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BRICKBURN

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That important Africa lesson we all get to learn: All of those bushes have thorns and you can't push through like you are in the willows at home. Tough go on the Nyala.
 
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The highs and lows of hunting.

We all hunt for different reasons that can and will change over time. We hunt to provide food for ourselves and families, to play a part in wildlife management, to spend time with other like minded people, as a reason to travel (experiencing other cultures), and to fulfill what may be basic instinct to pursue (aka sport). For those that may see sport hunting as a poor reason, please consider that humans are omnivores and predators. Humans are not the only species that hunt for “sport”. Watch any cat or dog, domestic or otherwise and you will know what I mean. With that, we always strive for clean, quick, and ethical outcomes. If any of those are missing, hunters are typically not in a happy place.

This trip, while overwhelmingly positive, did have a couple of low points on the emotional rollercoaster. I wounded two animals of which we were not able to recover. I’m not proud of it, but it’s real.

On the afternoon of day two we headed to a different location to look for warthogs. We joined others in our group for lunch and set off in different directions for the afternoon. We positioned ourselves atop a small mountain to overlook a bend in a river to spot for hogs. Almost immediately we spotted several small groups of hogs, however no large boars. After 2-3 hours and close to dark I spotted a large boar making his way down the mountain. We picked him up again eating a prickly pear cactus and got moving on a stalk. We circled downwind and got above him at a distance of about 250 yards. I got on the shooting sticks and took a shot. Instantly I knew the shot was low. I was not 100% steady on the sticks and was attempting to steady myself and squeeze the trigger. I made a follow up shot, which looked and sounded good, but the hog did not drop. Ed radioed Ropise who brought in Jango (tracking dog) and they got on the trail. Jango wasn’t focused and Ed called in Ray to bring in his dog Fin. Ray and the other hunters put their evening hunt aside and came to assist. In the end, we didn’t locate the hog. He likely went down his hole. To top it off, two of Rays dogs went quiet on the trail and we couldn’t locate them. Eventually we were able to find them, however we were very close to having to leave them overnight. I felt like a turd. Not only did I wound the warthog, but the others hunting with Ray unselfishly put their hunt aside to assist and help me get out of my mess, ultimately with no hog to show for it.

On day 4. We set out after Nyala. We had seen a large, mature bull in an area and hoped to locate him again. After 2-3 hours of spotting, Ed found him a long ways off across the valley and on the side of a mountain with three female Nyala. Tina stayed back at the truck as Ed, Ropsie, and I headed out to get closer. After what felt like an epic stalk, we got within 270 yards of him, across a river and directly downhill. He had no idea we were there. I got on the shooting sticks and steadied myself. I felt rock solid and took a shot. It was a hit. He disappeared but we felt like it was good. We formulated a plan on how the heck we would get across the Kei river. It was deep, dirty, and flowing fast. As we talked, the Nyala popped out of cover. I got on the sticks and shot again. That one appears to be a solid hit and he dropped into the thick cover. We walked downstream to an area where Ed thought we may be able to cross as there were rapids. He was right. It was the only viable option we had so We stripped down, crossed, and headed back upstream to where the Nyala was. As we approached the place where we last saw him, Ed decided to send in Ropsie with Jango. We sat in the open in case the bull was not finished. As I attempted to load the rifle I could not get the bolt to close. I tried another round and had the same result. While frantically trying to get a round in, the Nyala flushed and bounded down the mountain in front of us while I helplessly watched. I was sick. I forced the bolt to close and we sent Ropsie on the track. Soon Jango bayed the Nyala in the open. I recognized that sound and knew I needed to get up there quickly. I ran out through the bush, and in the process got hung up in the thorns twice. When I got to Ed, the Nyala had faced off with Jango. I got on the sticks and readied for a shot. As he was behind a bush, Ed asked me to wait until he was 100% clear as we thought we may only have one shot. Shortly after, the Nyala flipped Jango over and came running towards us. A quick Hail Mary shot at him, was a miss. We spent the rest of the afternoon tracking the Nyala in the jungle along the river but lost him. Based on the bloodtrail, I’m 100% sure he died, and likely shortly after his tussle with the dog. Eventually we gave up and made the long track back to Tina at the truck. We arrived tired, covered in ticks, cut, bruised, and defeated. I still don’t know what happened with the shots. On this trip l made tougher shots on smaller animals. Usually one knows if it’s off. All I can think is perhaps the angles were steeper than we thought. Ed and Ropsie did everything possible to seal the deal, it just wasn’t meant to be.

I learned a lot from these two unfortunate events. They temporarily rattled my confidence, however I knew I needed to learn from those mistakes. Ray gave me some very good advice in the lodge. Speaking from experience, he told me I needed to put that behind me, learn from them and not let it negatively affect the remainder of our trip. He was right and I needed to hear it. That said, whenever I was on the sticks after day 4, I was more purposeful.View attachment 511080View attachment 511081View attachment 511082View attachment 511083
All of us have missed…to your point it’s what we learn from us that counts!
 

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Congrats for a great hunt, with its highs and lows, that´s how it really is :D Cheers:
 

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