SOUTH AFRICA: Elephant & Buffalo


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Dec 12, 2011
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Minnesota, Texas, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, British Columbia, Argentina, Kansas, Macedonia, Austria
JTEX, ActionAnnie is on line trying to find a chilly pad as we have a couple hunts planned during hot weather.

Is it Chilly or Chili? How well does it pack? Is it just big enough for your torso, like 23.5" x 35.5"?



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Jun 5, 2014
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Bob- I think you'll find the chilly pad to be pretty neat, they pack very small and TX we can buy 'em at Academy but here is a link to Amazon

I went to sleep at night with one draped across my chest....very cooling. They are kinda like a chamois. Dunk 'em in a cooler or run cool water under 'em and they aren't drippy or anything.

Velo Dog

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Africa 5 times, USA - most western states including Alaska and Hawaii.
March 2013

Country Hunted: South Africa
Area: Mthimkulu/Letaba
Booking Agent: Global Adventures Outfitters
Outfitter: Johan Hermann Safaris
PH: Johan Herman
Rifles: Verney Carron .470 NE, Whitworth .375 H&H, Remington 700 7 x 57MM
Travel: Gracy Travel, Doug Brown
After the outstanding hunt we had with Johan in 2011 we had to come back and hunt with him again, we had this hunt in the works before we even left camp in 2011.
Johan has INCREDIBL Buffalo and Elephants!

March 2/3 Travel days
We had the Delta flights from Houston to Atlanta then on to Johannesburg. It is the first time in four trips that this flight has been on time, travel this time was just wonderful. Well, maybe wonderful is the wrong word…………nothing was screwed up and all connections where made.

Gracey representatives were waiting for us when we got off the plane, this was a new thing for Gracy. They moved us through immigration (passport control) without us having to stand in the long line. They grabbed our luggage handed us off to Bruce. Bruce is the MAN! He gets us through SAPS quickly then he hands us off to the driver of African Sky House, Gilbert...this is where we will stay for the night. Diedre, the hostess, welcomed us with a great smile and amazing hospitality. Steak dinner, a few Castle Lagers, a fire in the boma, and then hopefully sleep. South African beef has got to be the best beef I have ever eaten, no question.

March 4 A bit more travel
Sleep is always illusive on the first night in SA, but after a great steak dinner with pepper sauce, mashed potatoes, green beans and butternut squash hash brown thing, a hot bath, and four Castles sleep was pretty easy. We even slept until 7:30.

Breakfast of eggs and bacon with orange juice and tea was a great start. Bruce met us at the airport just as expected, Airlink gave us a hard time about the weight of the luggage, just as expected. However, Bruce worked his magic and we got off a little lighter than usual. Security was a breeze and now it is just a matter of getting to Phalaborwa. We can't wait to see Johan, Natasha ( his wife ) and the girls. Johan has a wonderful family, my nieces. I have adopted them.

We finally made it! The Phalaborwa Airport is a unique airport. It is thatch roof and open. There are bronze animals in the courtyard...a spread-legged giraffe getting a drink of water, a hungry leopard in a midair attack on a warthog, a baboon enjoying the sun from his perch on a rock, and countless snakes and small animals hiding among the rocks.


Johan and Natasha were waiting for us and greeted us like family...with hugs and kisses, a finer family would be hard to find.

After lunch we went by casa de Hermann to grab the Cruiser and the rest of the camp supplies, then headed for Mthimkulu. It truly is great to be back. We saw a huge group of zebra but they aren't on the shopping list year, remember the rug shopping from 2011. They must have known that because we didn't seem to bother them at all.

As we pulled into camp Ilias (Camp Manager and skinner), Freddy (Head Tracker), and Pinky (Cook and maid) were there to greet us. Johan said, "Welcome home," just what I was thinking, it was great to be back! Dinner was sausage, bacon, the best lamb ( just kidding Texans don’t really eat lamb ) I've ever had, and cheesy French bread. Most importantly, we were at the newly built boma. It was great!!!

March 5 Hunting day. ELEPHANT!
The generator comes on at 5 am. Breakfast is 5:30. Johan gives me a bunch of smack about oatmeal, he knows I really don’t like oatmeal! When Pinky delivers eggs and sausages I am sooooo relieved.
I can’t believe I am getting ready to begin an ELEPHANT hunt!

The morning was productive...we saw lots of elephant tracks and dung. We even saw a small female group with young ones. It was really cool to see them shaking a marulla tree for its fruit we couldn't see the elephant but we could see the whole tree shaking. That’s why we are here so early, the Bull Elephants come out of the reserve for the Marula fruit. We saw a couple of young bulls. We also saw impala, buffalo and a hyena. It is the first time in our travels that we have seen a hyena. When we stopped to see where he came from, we saw that he had been feeding on a female waterbuck. We arrived back at camp for lunch and a siesta.

A beautiful place Mthimkulu!

After a nap we headed back out looking for the big bull elephants. All total this afternoon we saw 13 bulls. Several of them where youngsters, and we left them to grow up big and strong. We saw a couple of big bulls but one had a broken tusk the other while a huge bodied bull had tusks Johan estimated in the low 50’s. One young bull was walking in the road and got mad at us for following him. He then took it out on a couple of impala by chasing them a bit.
We arrived back in camp for a meal of chicken stew and ribs cooked on the open fire. It was delicious. Bedtime came and sleep came even easier.

March 6
We slept well last night. We opened the shades on the windows and got a good breeze. The generator came on at 5:00 am, then breakfast. The hunt was back on by 6:00. The morning started off slowly. However it seemed to pick up when we saw another hyena! A short time later we saw two more. They were on the other side of the river. Mrs. JTEX got several pictures of them. We have never seen hyenas before. This time we have seen four in two days!

We moved into the northern part of the area still looking for that ONE elephant bull. It wasn't long before we saw quite a few. Two big guys were heading across the river...not our side. Just a few minutes later and we saw a herd with several smaller bulls. Down the road a bit, we snuck up on one taking a nap in the shade of a Mopani tree. As he woke up he began to scratch behind his ears using the tree to get those hard-to-reach places. He didn't like us staring too long and quickly let us know by flaring his ears. That was our clue to move on.


A little while later we turned a corner to see a buffalo bull resting in the shade. He stood and squared off and that is when we saw it. He had been caught in a cable snare. The more he struggled to get away the tighter the snare became. We drove up to the "telephone booth" (a giant termite mound near a baobab tree) to call the Chief Ranger. In this case only the Chief can decide what to do about the buffalo. Several phone calls later it was decided that we needed to put it down. We drove back to the buffalo. I got to use my double rifle to put an end to this tragedy. It was a young buffalo Bull about five years old. It is really a shame because he would have grown into a magnificent buffalo in four to five years. The guys (Freddy, Ilias, and the game scout) loaded the bull into the back of the truck using a wench and cable. Three more wire snares where gathered. The carcass will be taken to the Ranger Station.


With the morning over, we headed back to camp for lunch and a siesta. Hopefully this afternoon we will find the big bulls again...this time on our side of the river.

We found several bulls this afternoon. We were coming around a corner and a big bull elephant was in the road. We soon found out it was HIS road. We put it in reverse and as he moved forward toward us. We did this back and forth for about 300 yards. At one point he flared his ears, reared up on his back legs and pounced at us. That really sounds strange but I don’t know how else to describe it……..imagine an elephant pouncing! Then he came at us again! When he didn't get us on the road we could see him thinking about a way to get us. Soon we could see him making a plan to come around through the bushes at us. Johan hit the gas and we got out of HIS area quickly.

Just down the road a bit it happened again only this time we were watching three bulls. The first one was a huge old gentleman that kept eating and walked right past us, paying no attention at all. However the two in front of us were younger and had something to prove. The bigger of the two youngsters decided he was going to eat the grass in the middle of the road and not let us pass. After about 15 minutes he had enough of us watching him and came at us. He flared his ears and raised his trunk. We backed up and gave him more room. In the mean time, Freddy is sitting on the back of the truck and probably got a neck strain. He was trying to keep an eye on all of the elephants at one time. Finally the young one moved enough off the road that we could speed past him also.

We returned to camp hot and tired but a pleasant surprise. Robin a (friend from Texas), Floyd (Robin's brother), and Phillip (Johan's junior PH) had brought in fresh supplies. We thoroughly enjoyed the evening...a brie, a fire, and lots of stories. I love sitting around the fire and I’m especially good at it too.

The day ended without an elephant in the salt but by the end of day two we have seen 29 elephant bulls! This place is lousy with elephants! Johan is right, this is the time of the year to be here for elephants. We hunted buffalo and hippo here in 2011 in July and we didn’t see this many elephant in 7 days. This is only day two and we have seen 29 bull elephant!

March 7
Today began the same as the others. The generator comes on at 5am and out of camp by 6.
We found a BIG BULL and Johan decided we needed to go in for a closer look to better evaluate the trophy quality. Johan and I moved to within 15 paces, I thought the trophy quality looked much better at thirty paces….. The elephant did a mock charge. I had my rifle up with the safety off ready to shoot. Johan the whole time right beside me in a calm quite voice telling me “don’t shoot, this is not the one we want, don’t shoot”. The elephant did another mock charge and still Johan is there saying don’t shoot, this is not the one we want, don’t shoot” I didn’t shoot. I don’t know how I didn’t shoot but I didn’t. The Bull decided he had had enough and backed away. We back away. It was obvious that this was not going to be our bull Johan said he would maybe make sixty pounds, we could do better. That was just incredible! I have never felt so small in my life. I was extremely proud of myself! I didn’t drop my rifle and run, I didn’t foul my britches. Heck I didn’t even scream. I had been looking forward to that experience. I could feel the ground shaking when the elephant charged. It was more than I could even imagine, and I have one hell’uva imagination!

A short time later we found the tracks of another big bull. We followed them for about an hour and a half only to be led to the river where he crossed out of our area. It is something to watch Freddy track mud on leaves and scuff marks in the dirt to follow this big guy. This area is not the typical sandy ground I have found in most places but coarse gravel and rocks, I can’t for the life of me figure how these trackers work their magic. If General Miles would have had these guys the Apache wars would have been a very short propostion!

We returned to camp, for lunch, what an experience, a life changing experience. I am still trying to sort all this out………..elephant, charges and such………..did I mention that I did not soil my britches? Maybe I did……… I don’t think so….

The afternoon was quite eventful! We found three more bull elephants...two were near the road so it was easy to see if they were for us...they weren't! The third bull was hiding so we couldn't tell about him. Johan and Freddy decided to take a look. Johan grabbed his double rifle and the radio, Freddy grabbed his panga (Freddy goes nowhere without his panga...he feels naked without his panga) and off they went. The two bulls near us meandered their way through the grass not paying us any attention at all. It wasn't too long and one was eating in the road ahead of us. The grass in the road must taste better for some reason. He was enjoying his lunch and didn't seem to mind us being there so we began looking around. And in the grass a couple of hundred yards behind us we see two huge rocks, moving rocks... They were rhinos...two white rhinos! Mrs. JTEX and I have NEVER seen wild rhinos! We were paying attention to the rhinos when we remembered the elephant in front. I guess the elephant got jealous because we were paying attention to the rhinos. Now the road was his and he wanted us off of it. We had the elephant pushing from the front with two rhinos behind.

Elephant in front!

Rhinos in back!!!!

Robin and I decided that we better start the truck and be prepared to move. Johan heard the truck start so he called on the radio to check on us. We explained our dire straits and he laughed and said, "Good luck!" My Niece needs a better husband, she deserves much better! Anyway, we back up and the elephant keeps coming….we back up some more……the elephant keeps coming. Robin reminds me of the rhino behind us now maybe one hundred yards and asks me what I think. Can you imagine? Soooo……based upon my several minutes of experience with elephants “I” decide we will take our chances with the rhino…..after all I have seen Hatari…the rhino didn’t do much damage to the truck, we have doors and no Indian to get horned! The elephant saves us by getting bored and heading for more entertaining pastures, Johan returns and I don’t shoot him! BIG FUN! Every one just loves a comedian Professional Hunter………

The end of day two...we have seen 35 bulls!

Sitting around the fire tonight, we got to witness some more of God's artistry. A storm blew in from the south putting on a show. Lightning flashed, thunder boomed, and wind howled. We got some much needed relief from the African heat. It only lasted a short time but it did make sleeping much better.

March 8
Johan let us sleep in a bit this morning. We ate breakfast at 6 am and were gone by 6:15. We had an elephant to hunt. We had been seeing all of the elephants on the north side. We had seen big tracks on the south the south side it would be. The rain had done a nice job of clearing old tracks. We came across another sign of an elephant in the area though...a shredded Mopani shrub (you couldn't really call it a tree). The elephant had ripped off the branches and stripped the bark. Freddy and Johan could tell this work was extremely fresh, heck I could see it was fresh. Johan and I geared up and loaded our guns. Freddy grabbed his ever present panga. Freddy and Ilias circle for spoor and find one complete track that is a monster, 24”, Johan says “that is what we have been looking for”. We track for about twenty minutes then Ilias and Freddy climb an anthill to see if they can see the elephant...sure enough they can, he is having breakfast not too far away. Because of the storm, the wind is giving us trouble. We have to work our way around. We can hear him crunching as he eats. Johan is able to get a good look at this monster and tells me “you are going to kill this elephant, this is the bull we have been looking for”. Johan gives the trackers and the game scout instructions to stay back with the Boss lady, while he and I move into a better position. Like an idiot I go with Johan, what am I thinking?
The elephant was kind of hanging out under a tree picking at branches as we moved in close. Johan and I were moving around a bush to get a better look. The elephant saw us and immediately charged! No mock charge this time! The elephant put his head down, his ears back and he came! I raised my rifle and shot, Johan shot immediately behind me, there was no time to wait and see, the elephant crumpled. We ran around and I gave him a finisher in the back of the head. It was done. This elephant was moving so fast he skidded 10 feet before coming to a stop. I was nine paces from where he came to a stop! WOW! This was the most exciting thing I have ever done. Pants check! All appears okay!
It is impossible to describe the feeling after something like this………….you are elated to have survived, you are humbled. It is an honor and a rare privilege. How does one “deserve” something like this? Bob Ruark said of hunting elephant “that’s an awful lot of killing”, he was right. I have hunted all of my life and nothing, nothing, like this has ever happened before, or could ever happen again. Johan has this bull estimated at 65 pounds per side and between 45 and 50 years old, we could have been born the same year! I have never felt like this before it is indescribable, the emotional wave that washes over you, the let down as the adrenaline leaves. I have never been in a kill or be killed situation before…….that’s gonna’ require some studying.



Ruark also said “a pair of Elephant tusks is quite a testimony to a life well spent”, I hope that is true.

Seeing an elephant up close is astounding! They have hair all over their bodies. Old bulls have tread on the bottoms of their feet like mud tires. The eyelashes are like forty pound test leader material. They have something like 1700 muscles in the trunk alone. Their legs have kind of shocks between the knees and feet to help them carry the load and walk softly. They are truly a majestic creature!

After pictures the call was made to the village. While we waited on the people to show up Freddy and Ilias went to work. We are taking home the feet, the ears, the trunk, a hide panel, and bracelets from the tail hair. Freddy and Ilias get the meat from the neck. The rest goes to the village. And here they come. Just a couple at first. Several are barefooted, lots are women, one even has a baby on her back, and everyone has a knife and a mealy sack or bucket. It is a matter of minutes and the carcass of the elephant is completely covered with locals villagers trying to get the meat.
A swarm like Fire ants on road kill (I have a way with words don’t I, it comes from my classical upbringing).Within an hour they have hundreds of pounds of meat wrapped in their shirts and skirts, stuffed in mealie sacks, and overflowing from buckets. They are taking the intestines, the stomach, liver, and other parts of offal. Nothing will go to waste. Hunting elephant would be a crime if it weren’t for this. But…….I don’t think I would enjoy participating in that carnage…….

The rest of the day will be full of celebration, for us and for the people of the nearby village!


The Elephant carcass 24 hours later! Nothing goes to waste!

When we arrived back at camp we changed clothes and headed to the river just about a hundred yards from camp. We had the perfect place...clear, shallow water with movement. No danger of hippos or crocs, Johan the comedian assures me. Nice cool water to lay in and reflect on the events of the day. What a perfect end to a perfect day!

March 9 Goof of time
Today was a fun day. We could not begin the buffalo hunt because of the Marula Festival. There is some kind of big local to do at Letaba. So instead of hunting we went fishing. We started on the Small Letaba River. Johan said we were going to catch tiger fish. Floyd and I were using bait casting setups and crank baits while Johan and the guys used worms for bream. Soon the hippos moved in, come to find out they are quite curious, I really wish they weren’t. There was a pod of hippos that were interested in what we were doing so they kept moving closer and closer. At one point they were about fifty yards away. Johan, Robin, Ilias, and the game scout caught lots of tilapia. I caught a catfish. I have now caught catfish on three continents, look out Catfish Hall of Fame. Floyd and Mrs. JTEX nothing. Nobody caught a tiger fish! We decided to move to the Big Letaba River. Floyd and I were going to use lures again to try and catch the tiger fish that Johan assures us are in this river. Johan, Robin, Ilias and the game scout are catching tilapia. The boss Lady is sitting on the huge rock watching out for hippo. There is a pod of about 10-12 that is way down the river. However, it doesn't take them long to realize that we are there. They become quite curious and begin to move our way. They go underwater and swim closer then bob back up. Then go underwater and swim closer and bob back up. It is hard to keep track of their numbers this way and hard to tell exactly how close they intend on getting. They can swim a long way underwater, so we were never sure where they were going to pop up. This pod had quite a few young ones that were extremely interested in our fishing habits. At one point we had 3-4 hippos less than thirty yards from where we were fishing. We would cast and then never look at our line...we kept both eyes on the hippos.


Every once in a while we would look back over our shoulder planning the quickest and safest escape route. The hippos made it entertaining……..yeah…..that’s the word! Unfortunately, I still have never seen a tiger fish. We did however take the tilapia back to camp where Johan seasoned it and fried it for lunch. It was delicious! What a great way to start a siesta! I did advise Johan to stick with professional hunting…….my nieces would starve on the money he would make as a Tiger Fish guide. My comedic genius at work there…..

After our nap, I really like this napping stuff, we decided that the .375 and the 7x57 needed to be sighted in to make sure nothing rattled loose during flight. Floyd is in the process of starting a new bullet company, Titan Bullets, and wanted us to try some of his bullets in our guns to see what we thought. He had loaded several rounds for the .375 and 7x57. We headed to "the rifle range. Nothing had shifted and the bolt guns shot well, the cartridges that Floyd loaded for me shot very well in my rifles. While we were sighting in the rifles we got the news that our booking agent and friend, Greg Rodriguez with Global Adventure Outfitters, had been shot and killed while visiting a friend in Montana. He leaves behind a wife and two children...his son Cole and a daughter. What a catastrophe! What a loss.

The evening brought lots of conversation, remembrance and stories of Greg. Many a toast was made to Greg and he will be remembered.

March 10 Buffalo
This morning the generator came on at 4:30. I am beginning to wish the damn thing would break! We left camp by 5:30. We will be hunting buffalo on the Letaba Ranch. This place once had a huge hall for parties, a swimming pool, and chalets that people could spend the night/weekend enjoying the Letaba River and wildlife. Since the state has taken over the place has gone into extreme disrepair. It is disconcerting to see this once grand place gone to waste. However, the animals here are magnificent! There are many animals here we even saw a pack of wild dogs.

Yep. That blur is actually one of the pack!

This is truly a rare sight. Johan and Phillip, professional hunters who have grown up here, have only ever seen them once or twice in their whole lives. Most people NEVER see them and we saw about 6-8 of them crossing the road in front of us. I am sure they were looking for a breakfast of impala! There are no wild places in South Africa…………Wild Dogs!

From the lookout we could see herds of elephant and buffalo. We saw several bulls that had promise including one that was sleeping under a bush not far off the road. We decided to start with him. It was an overcast morning and the wind was in our favor. We drove past the area we had seen him and made our way through the cover so we could get a good look at him. Using an anthill to hide us, we went to the top to see if this buffalo bull would meet all of Johan’s criteria. That’s pretty difficult. The old boy made it tough. He was piled up, sleeping in the shade of a Mopani bush with his head turned away. Johan decided that chunking a rock at him would get him to turn and look at us so we could see how wide he is. He threw the rock but hit a bush about ten yards short. The buffalo moved a bit but not enough to matter. Johan threw another rock, this time he hit the bull square on the shoulder causing the bull to jump up and run around trying to figure out who or what just ruined his nap. We got a good look at him and he was too narrow to bother with, hard bosses but only 38 or 39 inches wide.
We moved on. This time we found a large herd and tracked them into the bush. As we got closer to the herd, Johan and I broke away leaving the boss lady, Freddy and the game scout behind. It is kind of hard to get close to a herd of buffalo when you have five people stomping around through the bush. We were able to get less than 15 yards from the buffalo many times, we had too, it’s awfully thick this time of year. We worked our way through this herd and found three bulls, one bull that went maybe 41” Johan said we could do better. He is starting to sound like a broken record! We were having fun working into the herds, this was my third buffalo hunt but this time we were really into them! Unlike my first hunt with Johan in 2011 when I got the 43 1/2” thirty minutes out of camp on the first day. Did I mention that Johan has some BIG buffalo.

We spent the next several hours looking for more buffalo but without success. We saw hundreds of impala, lots of zebra, a blue wildebeest, and lots of elephant but no more buffalo. Johan decided that we would leave early again tomorrow morning. Perhaps these buffalo were morning buffalo, I hate morning buffalo. I really prefer “brunch” buffalo. We headed back to camp for a shower and dinner. It will be an earlier bedtime tonight.

March 11
Again the generator kicks on at 4:30. No it didn’t break. After breakfast we head back to the Letaba Ranch. For this trip we have Johan, Mrs. JTEX and myself. We also have Ilias and Freddy. We have added Gerry, a professional hunter that works for Johan, and Nikko, our new game scout. If you think five people make a lot of noise walking through the bush you should hear seven. We sounded like a herd of buffalo ourselves.

On the way in we saw two rhinos having their breakfast on the side of the road. We had seen two rhinos several days ago but they were a long way off. These two were less than twenty yards! They look like dinosaurs!

At the top of the lookout we could see a couple of buffalo herds. After study and thorough route planning, we head down to track them. After a few miles we (maybe it was just me) were about to give up tracking this herd when they were spotted on the ridge across from us. Johan and I began our stalk while the rest of the group watched from behind. We worked through the herd and at times gotten within 10 yards of buffalo, abunch of buffalo. This was exciting! This is what buffalo hunting is supposed to be!

We did this same thing herd after herd all day today. We would find spoor and/or tracks and track the buffalo into the thick bush. We would get close enough to check out the bulls but none of them were the right one. At one point we were behind a bush with a buffalo cow and her baby on the other side of the bush, just feet away. What a rush!

Natasha, my favorite neice, met us at the entrance of the game reserve for a picnic lunch. But this was not sandwiches and chips. She brought the fixing’s for pork stir fry. Johan made it right there for us. It was a great picnic. While he is no Tiger Fish Guide, the young man feeds you well.

After lunch we continued with the game of buffalo hide and seek. I truly enjoyed this day! No shots where fired but man was this buffalo hunting! If I wasn't hooked on buffalo hunting before (and I was), I am now!!! Why would people waste time on things like drugs when there are BUFFALO??

March 12
Today we got up at 4:30 (that generator just keeps on chugging, and it doesn’t appear to have a snooze button, not one I can find anyway) and headed back to Letaba Ranch for the last day of buffalo hunting before we change camps. Mrs. JTEX decided to sleep in and get us packed up to move today. We are heading to Selati Ranch for her giraffe and maybe some miscellaneous plains game. I really don’t think she cares for buffalo hunting. She always gets left back for the exciting part and the walk back to the truck is kind of a pain….
We find buffalo today as well. More herds, more tracking, more excitement, but we just don’t find the right bull. Another fantastic day of buffalo hunting.

Johan and I got to camp at Selati. Phillip also came to Selati...a fine young man, Phillip. Another fine supper and drinks around the fire…….this Africa stuff suites me just fine.

March 13 Giraffe
We got up about 6:00, had breakfast, and began our hunt for giraffe. Mrs. JTEX and I along with the camp hand, Lipsom, rode in the back of the truck. Johan and Louie (the owner of Selati Ranch) took the front. We were not five minutes out of camp when we saw four giraffe. There was a large, but on the young side, bull giraffe there but Johan said we could do better...that seems to be his MO. The boss didn’t want to shoot the first one she saw, especially just five minutes after we started. I say never look a gift giraffe in the mouth (extension ladder or boom lift required) luckily we had neither. Johan and Louie said there was a large old dark bull somewhere and he was the one we wanted. Johan spotted the tracks of a big bull on the road. We circled and circled the area but never did see him. It is hard to imagine something that big could hide so well, but man this summer time bush is thick.
We met Natasha at camp for lunch. She had gone by Mthimkulu and picked up Ilias and Thomas. They, along with Lipsom, went to where we had seen the giraffe tracks to see if he was still in the area while Johan and Natasha prepared lunch. This ranch is THICK and with all the leaves still on the bush and trees it is very hard to see game. We had just sat down to eat when Ilias calls saying they had found the big, bull giraffe. We decided to go ahead and eat then meet the guys ( I may have had something to do with that). Ilias was waiting for us and took us to the last place they had seen the giraffe. We followed this giraffe for about two hours up and down hills and in the middle of a WARM summer day. Finally the guys spotted him again. Johan called for the Cruiser. We jumped on the back and quickly made it to the area where the giraffe was. Of course, when he saw us coming he galloped into the bush. Johan jumped off with the sticks, the Boss jumped off with the 375, I jumped off with the 7x57, and the Cruiser never stopped. Louie drove down the road. Hopefully, the giraffe would think we had continued on.

The bush during the summer is SO thick! The wind was not blowing at all. We were trying to move slowly and quietly and trying to find the giraffe. Did I mention they are very good at hiding? Watching the Boss Lady you could tell she was trying not to breathe, trying not to misstep and break a stick or crunch a leaf, trying to stay calm and keep her heart rate down. Suddenly I, who was in the back of the line, spotted the hind legs and saw the swishing of the tail. Johan moved into a position where he could see the giraffe also. I stayed back as Johan and the Boss moved into a better position for the shot, it was my turn to be observer. Come to find out I’m pretty good at being an observer. As they moved through the brush the giraffe turned so he was facing us head on. Let me mention here that we still had not seen the whole giraffe. We could see the legs, an eight inch portion of the right side of his chest, and we heard him shake his head in the tree. Johan put up the shooting sticks and she put the gun on the sticks. Johan was behind her telling her where to shoot..."Do you see the branch that curves down?" "Yes." "Do you see the small group of leaves under the curving branch?" "Yes." "You need to shoot the spot on the giraffe that you can see between the branch that is curving down and that small group of leaves." "Okay." As she began to take the slack out of the trigger...the giraffe moved! He sure was making it hard to get a shot. He moved right behind a huge clump of brush.

Again, all we could see were bits and pieces of this magnificent animal. The shooting sticks became an impairment. No matter where they put them she couldn't seem to get a good, clean shot. I saw her get down in a kneeling position using a tree to stabilize the rifle. BOOM! She hit right where she was aiming. She immediately threw the bolt chambering a new round. He had tried to run but only made it about 40 yards. Johan was hollering "Come! Come!" The giraffe looked like he was trying to run on cooked spaghetti. Johan hollered, " He's coming into this clearing...shoot him!" She raised the gun, found him in the scope, and plastered him again. She threw the bolt again. He turned...she threw up the rifle again, and hit him in the right shoulder. He took another few steps and fell. The first shot had killed him, had they just let him go he would have fallen without the other two rounds. But, these African animals are tough and why take a chance...put in the shot that keeps him from suffering. This woman looked a Pro. She shot like an old hand. This wife of mine, the sweet Mother of my children is a KILLER! I can tell I need to be more careful.


What a unique animal! I never realized how big a giraffe really was until I was standing over one. His head is about three feet from the tip of his nose to the back of his head. His legs were about eight feet long. His hooves were about twelve inches in diameter. Damn!

After using the truck winch to prop him up for pictures and taking many we headed back to camp for drinks and supper. What a "proper" hunt! The Boss is pleased.
Giraffe Picture

March 14 Buffalo
Today is the last day of hunting for this trip. Johan and I get up at 4:00 and head to back to Letaba Ranch looking for that one big buffalo bull...the one that is wide, with a big hard boss, and lots of drop. Johan had arranged for Gerry to come to Selati Ranch and hunt with the Boss. Good luck Gerry! This would be the first time to hunt in Africa with her own rifle. I had it built for her a Remington 700 in 7x57, sweet rifle.
We head out for Letaba both of us, Johan and I, wondering silently why we hadn’t shot that nice looking 41” bull on the first day………… I’ll tell you why. If I had shot that bull I would have missed out on three of the finest hunting days of my life! Those two days of working those herds of buffalo were just fantastic. The experiences we had playing tag with those beasts will remain forever, I will play them over and over.
Today will bring what it brings……….but damn man……the yesterdays will be hard to beat!
We arrive at Letaba pick up the game scout and head for high ground…….the routine. We find a herd, a large herd, maybe 150 animals. They are strung out feeding and we glass for bulls and only in the very back of the herd can we make out a couple. We decide to give them a go, pick out land marks to locate them by and take off. In due time we find our landmark gear up and take off following Freddie, this herd leaves enough sign I could probably follow them. We work up to the rear third of the herd in a pretty open area and are able to just watch them pass at our leisure. Pretty soon the bulls we had seen wander through, and we get a good close look at them and again just small narrow stuff…….we back out. Another long walk back to the truck. Johan decides to drive to another part of Letaba that we haven’t been to yet as a last ditch effort, I like it, so off we go. Right off the bat, the tap on the roof comes and it is a small group of cows, no bulls. We glass a bit then move on…………another tap on the roof and we can see an old dagga boy through a lane in the scrub about 75 yards off staring at us. I tell Johan that we need to go shoot this crusty old boy………….again, he says,……… “we will do better”. Who am I to argue? Onward! Forty minutes of driving later, seeing nothing at all, the roof tap! The guys had seen a bull, a big bull! They signal us from the back to continue on and we drive another 200 yards down the road before we stop.
Once we stop Johan and the guys are discussing the landmarks of where they had seen this buffalo, once all is in accord we load up and set out. Carefully! This is gonna be my last chance for a buff on this trip and I sure don’t want to be the one that screws it up.
This is an area that has been severely worked over by the elephants, short, thick, thick, thick, Mopani scrub, I have no idea how the guys had seen this bull in the first place, you can’t see ten feet in front of you. We move as quietly as possible in the direction of the buffalo and when in the immediate are all eyes are searching for him.
Ileas finally spots a chunk of brown about thirty feet in, to the side of us and we all stop to try to pick out what he is seeing. Damn if it isn’t a buffalo, but I have no idea how we are gonna shoot him, I can’t tell front from back, just buffalo. We, Johan and I, are trying to use our binoculars to peer through the foliage and pick out what parts we are seeing, I am not having any luck, I need more buffalo anatomy lessons I guess. Finally Johan gets it sorted and helps me pick a lane to shoot through and I get set on my spot.
We both agree I have the right spot, I can see horn and shoulder hump, outlined is a bit of shoulder, the right bit, and I wallop him. We both are tearing through brush to make sure we can see which direction he goes and he is down! Twenty yards and he is down! These Titan bullets seem to work well, damn well! We get a bellow and walk up behind him and I “pay the insurance”. We then get a really good look at what we have here…….this is a big bull! Forty three inches and a bit, big bosses and good drop. What a bull! Johan was right, we did better! Please don’t tell him I said that part about him being right.


March 15 Travel
Today we have to begin our long journey home. We wake up in time to see the little girls off to school and have a snack style breakfast with Johan before he heads out to hunt with the next clients. Natasha takes us to brunch. Afterwards we head to the Amarula store to buy a few gifts to take home, Phalaborwa is the gathering point for the Marula fruit for that wonderful drink. We get back to the house, shower, do last minute packing and take the 7 minute drive to the airport. It is hard to leave. We will see Johan in January in Dallas and again in Houston but it may be two years before we see my nieces, Natasha and the girls.

Bruce meets us in Jo’burg. And it is a great thing. He knows everybody at the Airport and gets us to the front of lines. Everyone needs a Bruce! He is a great on the ground representative for Gracy Travel, one of the main reasons I use them, in fact.

We have one last African style lunch, do a bit of shopping, and prepare for the 17 hour flight home. At least this time we will be able to sleep. It is much easier to sleep on the way home...we are so tired from the early mornings, late nights, and long days hunting.

We made it through customs with no problems, all the luggage made it, and the people were friendlier than ever before. Another amazing African adventure has come to an end...however, we have already begun planning the next one. I can't wait!
Johan my friend, thank you.
Greg, without you I would have never found these wonderful people, thank you. Get it all scouted out for us over there, we’ll see ya.
P.S. Leave some big ones for the rest of us Buddy.

Man it’s hot in South Africa this early, really kind of tough going from winter to summer in two days.
THICK, THICK, THICK, in four trips this is the first one that was a summer time trip, all the other were mid winter. On the positive side it was much quieter stalking, no corn flakes.
The travel this year went great, all flights on time.
The officials all seemed more polite, efficient and pleasant. Atlanta has a new gun procedure and location right at the baggage carousel, swift.
The chilly pad is a great product for sleeping in hot weather.

Excellent !


AH veteran
Oct 29, 2014
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Excellent hunt report and some very fine trophies you have there.


AH veteran
Jun 5, 2014
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Thank you very much Andrew. We need to get together in Zambia! You put up some really good stuff there.


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Jul 6, 2009
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Great report and congratulations on some fine trophies, Johan is a first class guy!

Best Regards
Louis van Bergen


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Nov 12, 2014
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An excellent report - I really enjoyed reading it and seeing the pictures of your trophies!

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Rare Breed wrote on USMA84DAB's profile.
elkhunter77 wrote on Mark Biggerstaff's profile.
Yes, I am interested in some A Frames to load, if they are the 300 grain or other that will work for Cape Buff. I need enough to work up a load and sight in, then carry over there
KKovar wrote on's profile.
Wow, great response regarding the title of a thread and an amazing site.
Jerycmeach wrote on Bullet Safaris's profile.
I am interested in hearing about your wild lion hunts.
Daniel Cary wrote on Thomas Rutledge's profile.
Greetings Mr. Rutledge. My apologies for the latent reply, cell/email prohibited during working hours, apx 72 a week, yikes! I just wanted to thank you for keeping me in mind for possible 577 loads. I actually purchased a few rounds, however, the firearm is still on the fence at this point.
Many Thanks, again. Regards, Dan.