SOUTH AFRICA: Family Safari At Huntershill Safaris (If my wife & kids can do it so can yours!)

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by mcdowelr, Jul 4, 2015.

  1. mcdowelr

    mcdowelr AH Senior Member

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    Travel Booked with Travel Express
    Hunt booked with Greg Harvey the owner of Huntershill Safaris
    PH Boyce Frans

    Hi, my name is Rob McDowell and this is our story about our trip to RSA and our hunt with Huntershill Safaris.We have a large family so it takes a lot of planning to get everyone to the other side of the world. I looked at many outfitters and checked references on several. I began a conversation via email with Greg Harvey and his operation and what he had to offer really stood out from the others I had been looking at. I wanted to get the whole family involved in the hunt. This was my and my two sons second safari but my wife and my two step children had never been to Africa before and have very limited exposure to hunting. I was looking for an outfitter who could help get all six of us into the game. After many emails back and forth, we settled on a package of Kudu, Gemsbok, Black Wildebeest, Zebra, Blesbok, Springbok and Sable. We decided on dates and booked our travel with Lori at Travel Express.

    We took an early flight to New York and did a day of sight seeing. We took in the Statue of Liberty and climbed up to the crown. Climbing up to the crown was a bit of an adventure in itself. The last part is a very narrow winding staircase and we were quite glad to reach the top. IMG_1008.JPG IMG_1018.JPG
     
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  2. mcdowelr

    mcdowelr AH Senior Member

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    We wore ourselves out sightseeing but me and Jonathan, Lauren and Noah did take in some of the Yankees Game before heading back to our hotel for the long flight. IMG_1117.JPG IMG_1146.JPG
     
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  3. mcdowelr

    mcdowelr AH Senior Member

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    Our flight on South Africa Air was a good one. We were all pleased with the service and they do a good job making a long flight as bearable as possible. The only hitch was I have a SKB case that can carry a rifle, bow or both. I did not take our rifles in order to avoid the hassle in Joburg and use the guns at Huntershill. Even though we just had archery equipment we got stopped along every step of the way so I might as well have brought my guns. If I had to do it over again then I would just put my bow in a bow case and my crossbow in another.

    We made it through to Port Elizabeth with all our bags arriving intact. Usually if you are hunting at Huntershill you fly into East London but we asked them to arrange a tour of Addo Elephant Park and an Elephant Back Safari ride. Surika, the lodge manager at Huntershill did a great job of booking our tours and a Bed and Breakfast. Our PH Boyce Frans picked us up and we hit it off right away. We later learned Boyce was the first black African PH in the Eastern Cape. We took a quick look at the beach in Port Elizabeth then it was off to Addo for a quick tour of the National Park. The whole family enjoyed Addo. We got to see a lot of Elephants, Kudu, Zebra, Eland, and a couple of big Male Lions. IMG_1155.JPG IMG_1164.JPG
     
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  4. KVS

    KVS AH Veteran

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    Looking forward to the rest of the report. Keep it coming!!
     
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  5. Ryno Botma

    Ryno Botma AH Senior Member

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    Greate to see that the whole family could join in and experience it all together these are the trips that you do not easily forget

    Hope everyone had a good time

    Keep well
     
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  6. bluey

    bluey AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    off to a great start , hope the hunting is this good >>>>
     
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  7. mcdowelr

    mcdowelr AH Senior Member

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    IMG_1397.JPG IMG_1455.JPG IMG_1501.JPG IMG_1502.JPG A couple of pictures in Addo Elephant Park.
     

  8. mcdowelr

    mcdowelr AH Senior Member

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    IMG_1753.JPG IMG_1552.JPG IMG_1579.JPG IMG_1761.JPG We headed to the Bed and Breakfast caught dinner and a good nights sleep and it was off to the Elephant Back Safari. Riding the elephants was a fun experience and we all agreed it was very cool. We talked our PH into doing it as well. The elephant ride makes your butt a little sore so the ride itself is short. We felt the best part was the elephant interaction. You get to walk with them as they feed and at the end of the walk they have some pellet food to give them. You say "trunk up" and they lift their trunk and open their mouth and won't lower until you drop the feed in their mouth. After that we hopped in the vehicle and headed to Huntershill.
     
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  9. mcdowelr

    mcdowelr AH Senior Member

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    The first day in camp we woke up and ate breakfast. We went out to shoot the rifles to make sure they were in zero, We spent a lot of time shooting off sticks in preparation for the hunt and all the kids were becoming proficient marksmen and women. Jonathan my youngest son shot the best that morning having two bullets touching in the middle of the circle.

    They have 43 lions on the property in a large enclosure as well as tigers, hyenas, cheetahs, and wild dogs. They feed them biweekly and we all wanted to see. The power in these animals are amazing and it was quite something to see.

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  10. mcdowelr

    mcdowelr AH Senior Member

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    IMG_2069.JPG IMG_2074.JPG After the feeding we went on a game drive. We saw innumerable animals that morning as well as all week. Wildebeest, Zebra, Springbok, Blesbok (all four species), Sable, Lechwe. Eland, Scimitar Oryx, Peres Deer and Kudu. There are over 70 species on the property to see and over 40 hunt-able ones. We came in for lunch and started hunting. I took a nice Springbok after lunch, we dropped him off at the skinning shed and went back out.
     

  11. mcdowelr

    mcdowelr AH Senior Member

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    Boyce said he knew a spot where he had seen a big Sable bull hanging out so we went to take a look. We drove up the side of a mountain and glassed. We spotted a nice bull pretty high up. The plan was to send the trackers up above him to push him down while we positioned ourselves for a shot. I had my bow with me because I wanted to try to take him with my bow if possible. He came down in the area Boyce thought he would but to far for a shot and he walked over a hill. We pursued and got within 60 yards. It was getting dark and I didn't feel comfortable slinging an arrow past my effective range right at dark, so I took the rifle that Boyce was carrying, got on the sticks and took him. I now have one of my dream animals.

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  12. mcdowelr

    mcdowelr AH Senior Member

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    After a hard day of hunting, you come back to some great meals. We had something different every night. Lamb Chops, Eland Steaks, Kudu, fish, various chicken dishes, salads and some nice South African wines were just some of the things we enjoyed. And you have not lived until you eat the back straps from the Sable you have harvested! lol

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  13. mcdowelr

    mcdowelr AH Senior Member

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    The second day of the hunt the kids got in the action. Robbie took a zebra. Noah took a nice Gemsbok at 200 yards with one shot in the shoulder. This Gemsbok gave us the slip several times but he made a mistake and Noah took advantage of it.

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  14. mcdowelr

    mcdowelr AH Senior Member

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    Noah's Gemsbok. IMG_2193.JPG
     
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  15. mcdowelr

    mcdowelr AH Senior Member

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    The third day we were stalking Blesbok when we saw a really nice Gemsbok. We abandoned the Blesbok and tried to get in position for a shot as they ran up the mountain. Jonathan made a 200 yard shot in the shoulder. We were worried at first because we could not find blood. Jonathan insisted he hit it and made a good shot. After some searching we found it just over the hill. It had only gone 50 yards but was in a really rough spot. Our guide radioed back and got two extra trackers to help us get it out. While the trackers were wrestling the Gemsbok down we took off after the Blesbok. The hunt was what you think of when you come to Africa. Creeping through the bush, setting up on the sticks and taking a good shot. IMG_2233.JPG IMG_2237.JPG IMG_2251.JPG IMG_2257.JPG IMG_2233.JPG IMG_2237.JPG IMG_2251.JPG IMG_2257.JPG
     
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  16. mcdowelr

    mcdowelr AH Senior Member

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    Later in the day I missed a Black Wildebeest. I joked that I should let the kids shoot at it since Dad couldn't shoot straight. Later in the day I took a nice Hardebeest. Greg was kind enough to swap out the Hardebeest for the Black Wildebeest on our package. Greg is really flexible on the animals and how he runs the place. The problem is there are so many things you want to hunt there. IMG_2269.JPG
     
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  17. mcdowelr

    mcdowelr AH Senior Member

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    Huntershill has some Sans (Bushmen) cave drawings on the property which we took the kids to look at. There is a local expert and artist that lives locally, Steven Townsley Bassett who has spent his life researching these drawing. He has reproduced the paintings on the property at Huntershill and now has limited edition prints available. We picked up both and make a great souvenir of our trip. Steven and his wife Karen actually came out and gave us and the kids a lecture on how these now long gone artists made the artwork with the items they had at hand. It was very educational for the kids! (And the parents). As a bonus my wife Kellie and Karen became fast friends and got together for girl time later in the week. FYI If you go to Huntershill and want a copy of these prints as a souvenir then Stephen's contact info can be found on his website: http://www.stephentownleybassett.co.za/ IMG_2902.JPG IMG_2216.JPG IMG_2218.JPG IMG_2894.JPG
     

  18. mcdowelr

    mcdowelr AH Senior Member

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    On the fourth day we headed to Greg's property in Fort Beaufort for Kudu, Warthog and impala. Robbie took a Kudu that afternoon. Jonathan took a warthog. When we were making the stalk me and my wife Kelli stayed back so they could creep up on several warthogs that were next to a waterhole. When Jonathan made his shot warthog pandemonium broke out and they scattered in every direction. One particularly large one ran at a beeline straight for us. At the last second it veered around us when it realized we were in the way. It gave my wife quite a fright though since this tusker was grunting and snorting as it ran. Later in the day, At that point I decided I would like to take one of these big warthogs they have on the property. We went back out and Kelli had missed a shot on a impala ram. We spent the early afternoon spot and stalking with my bow after that. This area is spot and stalk heaven since there is a lot of cover and you can move around pretty easy. At one point we had crept within close range of a group of impalas, and were surrounded by Hartebeest, Impalas and Blesboks. They got wind of us and took off but it was great fun getting so close to three different species.

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  19. mcdowelr

    mcdowelr AH Senior Member

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    Robbie's Kudu. IMG_2324.JPG
     
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  20. mcdowelr

    mcdowelr AH Senior Member

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    It was getting later in the day and Boyce had been seeing a Kudu bull come out in this one spot. We made a plan to try to take it with my bow. At last light I hit him in the heart and he crashed right were I shot him. We came back to camp to celebrate around the fire and the grill.

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