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.