SOUTH AFRICA: Fantastic Cull Hunt With Rhinoster Hoek Safaris

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by HuntingGold, May 30, 2017.

  1. HuntingGold

    HuntingGold AH Fanatic

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    This website has cost me quite a bit of money over the last five years! If I knew what was best for me, I would ban myself from AH. As it was, my trip with Warren Rudman of Rhinoster Hoek Safaris started well before my previous trip to South Africa only the year before. As I was making plans to travel to the RSA with my daughter for a small hunt and shark cage dive, I saw an advertisement for a cull hunt that caught my eye. In addition, Warren had posted photos of some dandy steenbok and duiker on his place. It didn’t take long and we had started conversations through the PM feature on AH and before long, I started making plans for a third trip before my second trip had even commenced! As soon as I came home, I started saving in earnest for this trip.

    Over the next year, we exchanged a few e-mails and I learned of the drought and grew concerned about its affects. Warren sent photos of dead kudu and I grew anxious about how the animal populations and how it may affect my trip.

    Fast forward to May of 2017. As I was clearing my baggage at Port Elizabeth, I briefly looked out and saw a young man with a Rhinoster Hoek hat. I lifted my own as a sign that I saw him and waited to collect my baggage. Funny, I thought Warren was going to pick me up. Perhaps he had unexpected business. Once I collected my bags, I met the young man, expecting it to be an upstart PH only to find it was Glynn Rudman, Warren’s son. I had also met him the year before and had he ever grown in a year! Together we met Warren and left for their place near Kleinpoort. As we drove, we chatted, caught up and all the while I looked at the countryside, trying to soak in every moment.

    That evening, after settling in, we drove a short distance to shoot the rifle I would be primarily using. I was able to shoot a few times to get used to the trigger and how this rifle shoots.

    My home is on the west coast of the US and the time difference between Oregon and RSA is 9 hours. This “jet lag” effect had me waking up at strange hours and was killing me.

    Our first morning, we left in Rudman’s old Toyota Land Cruiser. After having been on two previous safaris with other PH’s driving nice clean new vehicles, riding the old Land Cruiser was a welcome walk back in time. The old Land Cruiser reminded me of my youth riding around in my uncle’s old farm truck looking for deer on his ranch. Each squeak or rattle brought back long lost memories of time with family.

    That first morning I had troubles spotting the game that Patrick, our tracker, or Warren would spot. My vision just hadn’t adjusted to looking into the brush yet. As we rumbled down the road, Patrick would point out kudu and other animals. Soon we rolled to the bottom of a little valley and left the comforts of the Land Cruiser for a walk. Slowly my eyes adjusted to the brush and I started picking up game. Along the way, a small group of impala were seen along the ridge forward and right of our position. Warren continued to slowly pick his way up the valley and slowly starting moving up the side hill towards the impala. I thought the impala were his intention but later learned he was working his way towards a duiker. The impala had a different plan as, while on a short break to glass the brush ahead of us, the impala unwittingly walked into our position. Warren, who was seated, slightly above me, whispered for me to slowly grab the rifle and shooting sticks. I managed to do so and saw that I had an ideal position to go prone. I lay out prone, using a rolled jacket as a rest. One female seemed to have spotted us and Warren pointed out that she was the one that he wanted culled. She then stepped forward and went behind some brush along with another female. A moment later, she stepped back into the opening to take another look at us. I was on this impala when I asked if this was the one he wanted culled. Warren confirmed she was. I was on the point of her shoulder as she was quartering to us. I fired and was surprised at the low recoil and noise of the suppressed .243.

    I heard the bullet strike home but lost sight of her. After a few moments of waiting and gathering our gear, we walked up the hill and easily found our impala ewe stone dead just a few yards behind where she had been. I admired how beautiful she was as Warren checked her teeth for age and then he and Patrick positioned her for some photos. After the photos, Patrick removed the stomach and we placed her into the shade so that we could continue our hunt. Though we saw several nice duiker on our hunt, no more shots were fired that morning. The impala was loaded into the Land Cruiser and taken to cold storage.

    After a big brunch, I retired for a much needed nap. I slept hard and awoke to Warren’s knocking on the door. I was able to pull myself together, dressed, and met him for an evening hunt. Warren had no particular plan, at least that is what he told me, but as we rolled along, he seemed to point the truck towards an area known for springbok. We stopped several times to glass distant areas and saw quite a few kudu. Finally we parked at a bottom of a hill and started walking our way along a little fence line to the top. I saw quite a bit of tracks but little game, other than a gemsbok tucked away on a hillside off to our left. We jumped two steenbok and though he didn’t give us much of a look, the ram appeared to be pretty good!

    We slowly topped the hill and began glassing springbok and blesbok below us. After glassing them for a bit, we backed away from the top and put some terrain between us and began our move. Along the way, our plan was foiled by a flock of about 30 of Warren’s sheep. They were as wild as the wildlife and after a brief stand-off, they ran like hell directly to the springbok, blesbok, and a handful of unseen gemsbok. This sent the critters into a run and while the chaos was unfolding we moved forward and sat and watched where everyone went.

    As the sheep settled down, a large blesbok ram started chasing a smaller one around while the remainder of the herd somewhat tagged along. I’ve never been a fan of blesbok, but the look of the large ram had me re-thinking my personal policies. After a few minutes of this, they too settled down. Meanwhile, our springbok group had split with the main herd staying at a distance, while three started working their way back to their point of origin. As they came closer, they unwittingly gave us some cover in the form of a small, low ridge. We used that opportunity to get a little closer and soon were within range. Warren put up the short sticks and directed me towards a particular ewe. I was having troubles staying steady on the short sticks. I suggested a short crawl forward so I could go prone. Warren began and I was right behind. Immediately I realized the error in wearing shorts. My knees and hands found new stickers and thorns with each crawl forward. Warren easily outpaced me on this little, but painful crawl. The wind was settling down and the sun was at our back; the springbok were still unaware of our position and continued to move somewhat closer to us. I talked Warren out of his jacket, rolled it up and lay the rifle over it for my prone shot. Warren pointed out his selection, and after a little discussion to be sure I was on the right one, I settled in and fired. I saw the springbok go rag-doll in the scope as the sound of the bullet strike came back to us. Warren had temporarily looked away and had not seen the critter go down and tried to figure out which one was hit, as the two remaining somewhat ran at us, then stopped to look back at their fallen comrade. I told him the springbok went immediately down. After a short bit, we stood up and walked down to examine our springbok. A few photos were taken in the fading light and Warren left me with Patrick while he left for the Land Cruiser.

    Patrick and I shuttled our gear and springbok down to a waterhole to wait for Warren. There was a bit of light left and I began snapping photos of the fading light. What a beautiful end to day one.

    20170514_165359.jpg 20170514_090059.jpg DSCN0004.JPG
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 30, 2017
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  2. HuntingGold

    HuntingGold AH Fanatic

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    More photos of day one:
    DSCN0013.JPG 20170514_173829.jpg 20170514_180848.jpg DSCN0035.JPG
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 30, 2017

  3. HuntingGold

    HuntingGold AH Fanatic

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    I must run to work. I will attempt to type up a bit more later.
     
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  4. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Looks like a good start, looking forward to more!
     
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  5. cagkt3

    cagkt3 AH ENABLER PLATINUM SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Same here!
     

  6. HuntingGold

    HuntingGold AH Fanatic

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    I again had some troubles sleeping through the night but managed to get some and was ready for day two. After a quick slice of toast, we drove a short distance and climbed out. There was a light fog giving the African bush and very unique feel and visual effect. I loved it. We gathered our gear and began a slow walk out. I was pleased to somehow spot a duiker through the fog, on a ridge slope ahead of us. As we slowly moved forward, kudu cows were barking at us, and after a few minutes of looking, I finally spotted them in the fog. Warren ignored the kudu and continued forward towards the duiker ram. Eventually we settled on a location and I went prone to shoot the duiker. Just as I did, the duiker took a few steps and disappeared. I stayed in position and not long after, the duiker stepped back out. I went back on the gun and fired. LOW, I heard Warren say. I adjusted for a bit higher and fired and Warren reported the shot went high. I thought my first shot was good and didn’t understand these two misses. Bottom line, I think this was the case of firing a strange gun at a small animal at a fair distance. Warren wasn’t worried and we moved on, me with my tail between my legs. However, some misses are better than others… I get to keep hunting!

    DUIKER HEAVEN or DUIKER HELL?

    We continued to move through the veld looking primarily for warthog and duiker. We didn’t see anything for some time or distance. Beautiful country and nothing was seen. Odd.

    Finally a nice duiker ram was found next to a little speckboom not forty or fifty yards out. I moved in for a shot and knelt. This put one branch, mid-way between us, and right across his vitals. I adjusted left and right and could not clear the branch. Finally the duiker grew tired of my foolishness and disappeared. I hadn’t even stood up yet and Warren spotted another duiker, straight ahead and slightly up the hill. As hard as I tried, I could not see this critter. Warren was standing and I was kneeling, likely the difference and finally this duiker too moved on.

    I stood and we moved a short ways. Patrick pointed and said, “Duiker sir.” Again this one moved off. We repositioned and other was pointed out by Patrick. For a moment, duiker seemed to be everywhere and nowhere. The frustration was growing.

    Finally a duiker ewe was spotted. I went to the short sticks and managed to find her in the scope. She stepped out of view; a moment later, she stepped into view again. I centered and fired. I immediately heard the bullet hit and saw her flop over. She hopped up again and I hustled towards her in case she needed a second shot. She didn’t.

    As we prepped the duiker for the photos, Warren asked if I wasn’t happy. I was, but apparently the frustration with the duiker was still present! I think they got under my skin!

    We took our photos and headed back for brunch and a nap.


    After my nap, we jumped in the Land Cruiser again and took a short drive to the bone yard to examine part of the draughts toll. Over the last few months, staff had collected the remains of the draught victims and placed them in a pit with bones stacked reminiscent of the catacombs in Paris. A sad sight and a sad reminder that the land has a carrying capacity; if it is exceeded, there are consequences. Culling of animals, whether in our domestic stock yards, or in the wild, is necessary to prevent greater tragedies from occurring. At least with culling, the animals have value as they fill our freezers or are taken to market. Limited amounts of natural death are quickly consumed by predators. However mass die offs overwhelm even the predator base leaving the meat to melt into the country side.

    We drove to Rhinoster Hoek, or in my understanding “Rhino Corner.” This is a beacon originally surveyed hundreds of years ago and serves as a boundary for Warren’s property. The view from the location was stunning. Here we found my camera had snapped its last photo. For the remainder of my trip, I relied on my cheap cell phone and the good will of Warren to take photos.

    Once we left, we drove down into a valley, catching occasional glimpses of kudu. None offered more than a glance. We eventually rumbled out and I began to recognize landmarks. Warren had taken us into the backdoor of where kudu had previously been seen. This back door show had put the wind in our favor for sitting and watching them come out of their mountain hide away.

    We took a walk and found a good location to watch from. Almost immediately we had a warthog directly in front of us. Warren asked if I wanted it. Knowing we were set up for kudu… No. A few moments later, a duiker ram just yards away… No. Just a few minutes later we began watching kudu after kudu move their way out. A bull here, cows there, more bulls there. Wow. Finally I saw one and immediately knew him to be a cull. He had one normal horn and one shorter one that rolled around and back into his head. I pointed him out and Warren said he was the one we were looking for. This bull was staring intently in our direction and seemed to be the over-watch for the entire group. As luck would have it, all kudu fed away and out of range, including the one horned bull. The night was a good one and I was glad I had not fired a shot as I was afraid I would run out of animals before I ran out of days! DSCN0042.JPG
     
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  7. HuntingGold

    HuntingGold AH Fanatic

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    A few more photos. It will be about twenty four hours before I can post more.
    20170515_094937.jpg 20170515_143220.jpg DSCN2606.JPG
     
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  8. Royal27

    Royal27 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Great start Randy!

    Said it before and I will again, Warren has a special place.
     
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  9. dobber

    dobber AH Enthusiast

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    I did my best trying to wear out Warren before you got there, doubt it made much difference lol

    an amazing place for sure
     
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  10. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Never get tired of that countryside.
     
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  11. CAustin

    CAustin AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

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    A cull hunt has to be a lot of fun! Thanks for sharing with us the hunt so far.
     
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  12. HuntingGold

    HuntingGold AH Fanatic

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    A few more photos of the evening hunt: Me looking though the spotting scope at distant kudu. The one horned bull. A 2.5" duiker that was left alone though was only a chip spot away. DSCN2617.JPG DSCN2618.JPG DSCN2621.JPG
     

  13. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    I like the looks of that countryside. Sounds like your doing just fine. Enjoying the tale and eagerly awaiting more. Bruce
     
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  14. enysse

    enysse AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Great story, I can't wait to hear more!
     

  15. WRudman

    WRudman AH Veteran

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    Will have to have a rematch when we climb up Cockscomb!
     
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  16. 375 Ruger Fan

    375 Ruger Fan AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Enjoying your report, thanks!
     

  17. HuntingGold

    HuntingGold AH Fanatic

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    I woke up again about 1:30 a.m. and could not go back to sleep. I lay awake for considerable time before somehow forcing the issue. I awoke about a quarter to seven and could see the sky was getting light. I jumped up, quickly showered, and ran out to meet Warren. Initially I could not find him and thought he had slept in! This was not to be as he had been awake for some time making sure we were ready for the day.

    We rolled out in the old Land Cruiser again and drove a short distance to a little valley behind the lodge. We began our walk and quickly found quite a bit of kudu sign. As we were slowly making our way up this little draw, Warren pointed to several areas where it was a bit muddy and clearly heavily trampled by animals. Warren explained the kudu bulls like to polish their horns in the mud and pointed to an impression in the mud that clearly was where a kudu had pushed his horns. Interesting behavior and seemed somewhat analogous to our deer and elk creating rubs or wallows.

    We continued slowly up the draw, keeping our eyes up and ahead. Almost simultaneously, Warren and I spotted a warthog on a slope ahead. After looking at him through the binoculars for a moment, we continued forward to close the distance. I located a place to go prone and put the rifle up on my “short sticks” which was actually the tripod for my spotting scope. The warthog did not cooperate and moved out of view. I actually had a moment where I had a shot and squeezed the trigger… but the safety was still on. What a rookie mistake. Argh. This mistake worked out well as the warthog went into some sparse brush that provided us cover to make a closer stalk. It didn’t take long and we spotted the boar again above us. I went prone, and again used the tripod as a rest. I settled in the warthog and fired; immediately hearing the whop of a bullet striking flesh. The boar ran downhill the turned and ran parallel to us. Meanwhile I cycled the bolt and found him again as he had stopped briefly. As he stepped out into view, I fired and he went down for good. The .243 had claimed another. This warthog was a very large bodied male with short tusks. A heavy pig.

    We took photos and continued on seeing six or eight duiker, but none that fit the bill. The warthog was loaded and we headed for the lodge. Along the way, we stopped to let some of Warrens workers off to work at fixing some road damage. As I was sitting in the Land Cruiser, Warren and the others were talking and milling about the vehicle. I then happened to look directly in front of the vehicle and saw a steenbok looking directly at us. I raised my binoculars, and after the fog cleared from my jet-lagged brain, realized I was looking at a duiker, and a damned big one at that! I grabbed the rifle and told Warren there was a duiker and it was a good one. About this time, Mr. Big turned and bounced off into the brush. Argh… this duiker haunted me the rest of my stay…

    I managed to stay awake through the day without taking a nap. Oh I’m growing up!

    For the evening hunt we started by setting up a trail camera along a pond, overlooking a location where Warren had pointed out the kudu had been polishing their horns. I love playing with trail cameras and hoped we would capture some interesting photos. In the time since I have been home, Warren has sent me some neat photos. I see Warren has left a comment on this thread. Warren, please pick out two or three photos captured at that location and post them! 20170516_080924.jpg
     

  18. HuntingGold

    HuntingGold AH Fanatic

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    Myself and Patrick... a fine young man, just beginning his journey as a tracker/skinner. Wishing him much success.
    20170516_081014.jpg DSCN0051.JPG
     
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  19. cls

    cls AH Elite

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    Great report, thanks
     

  20. bluey

    bluey AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    sounds like your having some fun ,young fella...keep it coming
     

  21. WRudman

    WRudman AH Veteran

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    Sorry, couldn't resist

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