SOUTH AFRICA: Epic Kudu Hunt With Chris Troskie Safaris

Stoffel416

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I have somewhat of a strange obsession. I really like hunting Kudu. Kudu is no 1, 2 and 3 on my list of animals on every hunting trip. No 4 is Bushbuck and the list more or less ends there. I’m the guy that went on a hunting trip with clients and gets offered the opportunity to hunt Blue Wildebeest and some smaller plains game free of charge. Instead I end up taking only a big Kudu bull not free of charge.

Johan is my longtime friend and hunting companion. Every year we try and hunt at least one area in and around South Africa we have not had the opportunity to hunt before. As full time members of the working class this is limited, of course, by the availability of annual leave days and the normal budgetary challenges.

My personal list of areas I wish to hunt usually contain the words challenging, mountainous, “where few men wandered before”, and Kudu. The Waterberg Mountains in the Limpopo Province is one such place and a thorough search with all the above-mentioned requirements lead me to Chris Troskie Safaris.

And so on a cool afternoon in May we rolled into camp and was met by Chris, his lovely wife Sabina, and Sammy who is Chris’ tracker. From the word go it was evident that this was, in every sense, a very professional operation. Our accommodation was very comfortable and the food was literary out of this world. Later that afternoon we checked the rifles where after we took a slow drive through a section of his personal concession bordering the Mogol River in the hopes of catching a glimpse and chance at an elusive, wait for it..., Bushbuck.

That evening around the boma fire we discussed our strategy for the next 4 days. Chris revealed some trail camera photos of, amongst others, an unusual Kudu bull that frequently visited a waterhole close to camp and suggested we start there.


Day 1: We were ready at first light and from camp we headed to the mountains on foot. As we slowly worked our way higher we could hear Kudu moving ahead and at one point we bumped a herd of cows with at least two bulls. They moved off quickly through the thick brush and one of the bulls stood out as being very good however, not providing us with any chance. As we moved along we spotted two other solitary bulls. Johan managed to take a nice photo of the first as he was watching us. Chris insisted that we could do better and I agreed. Early days, right?

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At around 10 am Chris sent Sammy to check for tracks or signs of the herd of Kudu we saw earlier while we settled down in a position where we had a good view of the opposite ridge across a kloof (valley). It was not too long when Johan spotted a Kudu cow towards the bottom of the kloof to our right. She was followed by another and they were slowly moving out into a clearing and within shooting range. Followed by some more cows, a young bull, and then he stepped out. Well past his prime and different in a special way. The perfect trophy. Chris confirmed and I followed him through my riflescope as he slowly walked presenting a broadside angle.

He bolted slightly at the shot and Chris told me to reload and shoot again but he quickly disappeared behind some brush and out of view. We saw the rest of his party disappear over the ridge. Chris guided Sammy to the spot where the bull was last seen and not long before he confirmed signs of blood. I was positive about the shot and convinced that he had not gone far. We made our way through the kloof and the mood suddenly changed when Sammy pointed to a single speck of dark red blood on a rock and uttered the dreaded words: “Ons gaan ver loop agter hierdie koedoe” (It is going to be a long walk to find this Kudu).

What followed was exactly that. The rest of the day we spent tracking the bull which has again joined the herd. Signs of blood were scarce. By late afternoon we decided to leave the tracks were they went down a steep valley and return in the morning. I had clocked 16 kilometers on my watch for the day. That night I went to bed confident to find him first thing in the morning.

Day 2: We picked up where we left the previous afternoon. It was evident the bull was not hurting at all and moving steadily with the herd. Sammy’s tracking was excellent. At around 2 pm we decided to change our strategy. It was clear that the Kudu was moving back towards the general area where we have spotted them on day 1. We marked our last position and started hunting again in the hopes of spotting the herd and the bull. We walked into camp by 6 pm without success and 22 km for the day.

Day 3: Chris suggested we check the trail cameras at first light. The Kudu had been on the move and at some point needed to make their way to water. The photos showed nothing. We decided to spend the day hunting plains game on a different concession and let the Kudu settle down after being tracked for two straight days. Johan managed to take a beautiful old Impala ram after a great stalk later that afternoon.

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Day 4: We once again headed into the mountains. After about an hour we reached the area where I had shot the bull on day 1. We decided to let Johan position himself to cover that section of the ridge while Sammy and I continued to hunt. We reach the top of a ridge that overlooks a deep kloof and Sammy immediately spotted some Kudu cows on the opposite ridge basking in the sun. We quietly moved into position and I was able to count 7 cows and two young bulls. This was the herd we have been following, but the old bull was nowhere to be seen. We sat for a couple of minutes when Sammy decided to move a little further along the ridge in the hopes of having a better view. He did not move 10 yards when he all of a sudden dropped to his hands and knees while having a real hard time containing his excitement. I slowly moved towards him and as I looked up again there he was. Standing broadside in a clearing on the opposite slope not far from the herd and looking straight towards us. There was a problem though. We were positioned quite high up the ridge and I had to move further down in order to get into shooting range. I realized that this may not work as we would quickly run out of cover. There was a large boulder to my left and I decided to try and reach it. I was able to get into a nice prone position, the bull still standing broadside and facing us. At the shot the bull just turned its head and took a few steps forward. I had missed. I reloaded and before I could shoot again he was moving. I managed another running shot as he was going through a clearing without success. The herd was now moving away down the ridge and out of view making their way towards where Johan was positioned. I ran back up and over the ridge stopping frequently to listen and watch for any movement. I continued making my way to Johan when I heard the sound of a shot followed by that almost instantaneous “thud”. It had to be good. As I reached Johan he acknowledged that he made a good shot. Sammy and I quickly moved down and towards the spot that Johan was guiding us to. Only blood. No Kudu. This cannot be. We started following the tracks. There was a blood trail but I was worried. We moved fast, as we have been practicing the first two days. The blood trail became more pronounced and it was evident the bull was slowing down. We were now running on the trail. We followed it over a ridge and down towards a deep kloof.

All of a sudden Sammy stopped. He was looking to his right and pointing straight at the ridge on the opposite side of the kloof. “There he is”, he said quietly. “But wait! Let me make sure..” He slowly lifted his binoculars and 5 seconds felt like an eternity. “That’s him!” He presented the sticks, I located the bull through the scope and made my only good shot of the hunt.

As we reached the Kudu I was overcome with emotion. He was an old warrior and the perfect trophy. I called Chris with the good news and Johan soon joined where we just sat and savored the moment. Chris reached us a while later with cold beers in hand and boerewors which we, of course, braaid on the spot.

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Closer examination revealed that my first shot on day 1 was low only clipping its chest behind the shoulder leaving a wound that would probably have healed over time. I recall aiming low behind the shoulder and most probably misjudged the distance. Johan’s shot earlier that day was almost perfect, however, because of the angle and distance it had only punctured one lung without exiting. This was the reason for the initial very little blood on the trail after his shot. By the time I made the final shot the bull was standing broadside and probably about to expire. He went straight down.

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Both my shots earlier that day I most probably completely underestimated the distance. And for some reason did not carry my range finder as usual contributing to this crazy epic hunt.

Sammy’s tracking was superb. He is able to follow anything that moved over any surface. Chris, on the other hand, was very patient and a true professional at all times. If you are looking to hunt South Africa I highly recommend this outfitter you will have an awesome time and see great areas.


Because of my great experience I decided to return together with my wife for a long weekend stay during September at Sabrisa Ranch. Go check out their website at http://www.sabrisaranch.com/.

We stayed 4 nights in the Tipsy Zebra luxury chalet and were treated as royalty. We needed a quiet, relaxing and private weekend and this is exactly what we experienced. Sabina is also well known for her cooking and man she did not disappoint.


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I also booked a 1 day hunt with Chris in order to try and find No 4 on my list. Chris has some great areas for Bushbuck and our very first encounter that morning was with a massive ram. He, however, eluded us as the wind was not in our favor. We saw plenty of beautiful game all morning and I managed to take an old ram during a late afternoon hunt in an area next to a small river. It was the perfect trophy once again as he was probably on his last season and in poor condition also due to the current dry conditions experienced in the area.

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We also spent a day with Chris and Sabine at Kudu Canyon, a concession Chris had recently acquired. This is a spectacular piece of wilderness and it has not been hunted in many years. This is the place where Kudu bulls get old and if you are passionate about hunting the Grey Ghost as I am, then this is the place!
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Nyati

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Great Kudu and a very good Bushbuck too, congrats !
 

BenKK

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It seems we share an obsession with challenging kudu hunting! Congratulations on a tremendous bull and also on that ram! Your hunt certainly was epic. Chris is definitely one of the top professionals for big, wild kudu in vast mountains, and I’m looking-forward to my return to Sabrisa someday.
 

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