SOUTH AFRICA: Fantastic Cull Hunt With Rhinoster Hoek Safaris

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

  1. Royal27

    Royal27 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    @WRudman ,

    Its pretty impressive that you've trained the Kudu to check and adjust the trail cameras on their own. ;)
     
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  2. WRudman

    WRudman AH Veteran

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    Called a kudu selfie:D
     
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  3. HuntingGold

    HuntingGold AH Fanatic

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    After setting up the trail camera, we drove to the same hillside where we had seen all the kudu the night before. The wind was almost 180 degrees different than the night before and we approached the hillside from a different angle to counter its effects. We parked the Land Cruiser and walked up an old two-track road to an old water cistern that had a partial fence around it with a small tree for shade. The partial fence provided cover for our movement and the small tree provided a bit of shade. Initially this did not look like a very good set up to me, as based upon the movements of the kudu the night before; any shots would be long with little to no cover for a closer stalk. However, in my days with Warren, I learned he grew up on this property and knew the animal movements well. I kept my mouth shut and watched.

    Through the late afternoon and early evening hours, we watched as kudu after kudu staged in the brush line, fed, then moved out in the open to feed. Most stayed high against the hillside and very much out of range; however, four bulls fed low to a brushy location along a low fence. As it grew darker, it was clear we were not going to see our “one-horned” bull. Warren then made his move; we used a little rise in the terrain, along with some sparse brush to conceal our approach at the bulls feeding along the low fence. Closing the distance was actually quite easy and we soon were within 100 yards of all four bulls.

    LET’S MAKE A DEAL

    All four appeared to be good bulls or clearly having trophy potential. I knew all four were likely off limits for culling. Warren somewhat ignored a very nice bull as he passed us on our uphill side. He was nice and going to be nicer in a year or two. He continued to look in earnest at the three that were lowest to the fence. It was then I suggested that the one in the middle, one that had a narrower and tighter curl, was a good candidate for culling. Warren said nothing and continued to look. In fun, and to test the waters of fate, I offered an additional hundred dollars for the narrow horned bull. I saw a bit of a twitch in Warren and this was becoming fun. By now the bulls had jumped the low fence to our side and were quite close. Warren mumbled something I won’t repeat and I saw a possibility he was going to give the green light to the removal of this bull. I saw my chance and went prone and prepared for a 75 yard shot. About the time I was ready, Warren said it was time to leave! Argh… I was so close. I smiled and stood up and we immediately started walking back to the Land Cruiser. There were some fun jabs that went back and forth before we reached the vehicle and it seemed that Warren truly was close to trimming out the narrow horned bull. Perhaps five more minutes of daylight and maybe another offer could have made it happen. We’ll never know. What I do know is that it was a wonderful night watching kudu.
     

  4. HuntingGold

    HuntingGold AH Fanatic

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    We started this day off at the bottom of a little draw or valley. We had troubles from the start as the wind wasn’t steady and the rising sun was in our eyes. As a result we didn’t see much but a few wildebeest. We eventually saw a few duiker, but either they were ewes or quickly disappeared into the veld. It was now getting later in the morning and Warren formulated a plan with Patrick. Patrick would stay at this location for fifteen minutes while Warren and I would walk to a location to watch for kudu. This would be a one man drive and I was interested to see how it played out.

    Warren and I started our walk and about two-thirds of the way to our destination, Warren spotted a duiker. I pulled up my binoculars and looked at him, a nice little ram about 3 ½ inches in my estimation. I was looking for a nicer ram for a replacement cape for a 4 ¾ ram I had taken in the Eastern Cape in 2013. The taxidermist had done a horrible job and I wanted to have him re-done. Warren gave the green light and attempted to set up on the ram. Each time I went to a knee or prepared for a shot, there would be brush in the way or he would take a step out of view. I changed positions in hopes of getting a clear shot and waited. I then saw the ram move back towards an area we had originally seen him in. I moved positions again, put up the short sticks and waited for the ram to step to the left of a speckboom. While waiting anxiously, my eyes caught something slightly to the right, and in the shade in front of the speckboom. My ram was intently watching me from a short distance away. I swung the rifle over and fired. The ram hopped, spun, ran a short distance and lay down. Even though he was just a chip shot away, my shot was not as clean as it should have been. I waited a moment to see if he would immediately succumb to his injuries but his head remained high and alert. It was clear he needed another shot. I fired and he was down for good.

    We quickly took a few photos then moved the ram to a shady spot to retrieve later. Warren had kudu on his mind and knew Patrick should be moving through soon. We hastily went to our intercept location and waited for kudu that would never come. Once Patrick arrived, we retrieved our duiker and went to a nearby location for better photographs.

    Once photos were taken, we went back to the house to take care of the duiker and for brunch.

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  5. HuntingGold

    HuntingGold AH Fanatic

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    That afternoon we headed for a little valley behind the main lodge. Unfortunately as we crept into our positions, we noticed three kudu cows watching us from a distant ridge. We were pinned down in a dry creek bed and it was clear this was going to be a waiting game. Warren found a spot to keep an eye on the kudu. Not wanting to expose myself to the kudu to further raise their suspicions, I found a “comfortable” spot and decided to check the inside of my eyelids. Warren, seeing a Kodak moment, took the time to snap a photo.

    After some time, we attempted to walk further up the washed out creek bed. I noticed we occasionally would be in partial view of the kudu and it didn’t take long to start hearing the alarm barks. We continued forward and found cover on the low side of an earthen dam. We again settled in for a long wait. As soon as the kudu quieted down, Warren peaked over the dam only to be busted by a pair of Egyptian Geese. They too started their alarm calls and continued for a very long time. Between the kudu barking and the geese honking, it was clear this effort was going to be a bust. Warren looked at me and said not to worry as there was a plan B. We changed positions, flushing the geese, and sat down to watch the surrounding countryside. Warren explained he often will sit at this location in the evenings hoping to catch a jackal, and while doing so, often sees kudu walking through. We waited and while waiting, I found two, .300 Win Mag casings right where we sat. It was clear this very spot has worked before; however it was not to be tonight.

    Just before dark, Plan B went into effect. We quickly and quietly made our way towards the truck an over a small ridge which exposed a small draw. I knew something was up as I noticed how Warren was careful in how he placed his feet. Immediately after cresting the small ridge, I could see we had kudu in front of us, on the opposite hillside, not 200 yards away. We moved forward to a shooting position and I went prone. Warren quickly picked out a bull and told me to take it. The bull he picked out appeared to be a very nice bull and I was confused.

    The middle one?

    “Yes, the middle one, highest on the hillside.”

    I centered on the bull and nearly fired when I could see legs in the scope above and to the left of the bull. This bull then wouldn’t be the highest and contributed to the confusion. I pulled my head of the scope to look around to determine if I was on the right one. Warren told me the bull is now walking straight away and at this time it was confirmed I was on the right bull, but it was too late. He was walking straight away; offering no shot and soon was over a ridge. Warren quickly found a cow and pointed her out. She had a reddish color and had her tail up making it easy to identify. He chose her and I quickly settled in and shot. I fired and the cow collapsed immediately into the brush while the mountain side erupted with kudu. The sound of running kudu, and rolling rocks, could be heard for several minutes as the surviving kudu retreated to their mountain hide-aways.

    This all occurred at the edge of darkness and we attempted to take some quick photos before Patrick removed the stomach. Warren looked about and said recovering the kudu cow would have to wait until morning. We then worked our way off the mountain and down to dinner.

    One of my requests for this hunt was to have a Potje and it was granted on this evening. We had Potje made of blue wildebeest. Oh was it good!

    How do you know when the Potje is done? When the beers are finished, he says.
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  6. HuntingGold

    HuntingGold AH Fanatic

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  7. HuntingGold

    HuntingGold AH Fanatic

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    Another day or so left... but it must wait for now.
     
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  8. WRudman

    WRudman AH Veteran

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    Ever present landmark in the distance
     

  9. dobber

    dobber AH Enthusiast

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    You mean we aren't driving? sheesh
     

  10. WRudman

    WRudman AH Veteran

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    Even a Toyota Landcruiser won't make it :A Drive:
     

  11. HuntingGold

    HuntingGold AH Fanatic

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    I finally slept fairly well through the night. Ate a quick little bite and headed out with some of Warrens workers to fetch the kudu. Warren was excited to show off his “kudu cart.” The workers were dropped at the nearest point and Patrick led the way. Meanwhile, Warren and I swept a hillside to look for a dead kudu that Patrick reported finding the night before. I occasionally watched from this hillside as the workers quickly retrieved my kudu and brought her to the pickup truck. It was a fairly swift process.

    After the kudu was recovered, we made our first check of the trail camera we had placed earlier. We found it had been triggered about a dozen times, catching mostly small bulls coming and going.

    We then made a quick look for the duiker I had seen previously. Saw a few steenbok but no mega-duiker. We then ate brunch which I was most happy to see was left-over Potje from the night before. Oh it was just as good the second time. With a belly full of wildebeest and rice, I went to bed for a short nap.

    For the afternoon hunt, we first checked another trail camera sitting over a water trough. This camera had numerous photos of wildebeest and warthogs. While checking this camera, we finally saw the black wildebeest on a distant hillside above us. After examining the photos, we climbed back into the Land Cruiser and took a little two-track that wound us closer to the black wildebeest. I enjoyed this as they really just look cool and I had wanted to see them. Upon closer inspection, all appeared to be bulls, including some very good ones. Alas, they were not on my list and will have to wait for another year.

    We then drove over to the same location we had been two nights before, next to the cistern, to look for kudu. We adjusted our location and sat rather close to where we had ultimately been when I played “let’s make a deal” with Warren. Of course I was excited as perhaps the one horned bull or one of the bigger bulls would again make their appearance. As we parked the Land Cruiser, we could already see kudu in the brush above. We walked in quietly and, luckily, a little terrain gave us just enough cover to get into position without being detected. After some time, kudu started emerging from the brush. About 6 to 8 cows and calves, along with several small bulls, fed some 250 yards or so away. They eventually fed along the hillside and somewhat parallel to us and, eventually over a low fence and out of our lives.

    I sat with my back against an old plumb tree whose truck was angled such to make it a fairly comfortable sit. More kudu continued to slowly trickle out of the brush, some high, some low. Many, if not most now were bulls. They fed as they staged for their nightly migration to the flats below. Eventually three large mature bulls were spotted. I tried not to watch as I knew I could not shoot one. Warren, however, watched and was clearly getting excited and told me he was having “heart palpations.” He kept saying look at those bulls and continued to get excited. I had to tell him to stop as he was getting me excited and I was the one who had to make the shot. Meanwhile, two small bulls had a short shoving match while a cow kudu urinated and our biggest bull walked over and went into full lip curl. I again tried my hand at “Let’s make a deal” and Warren never twitched, only smiled.

    Finally Warren said there is the bull I want you to shoot. He said, “You see the biggest bull?” Yes. Well it’s the bull just to the right of him. Are you frigging kidding me, the smallest bull on the hillside! Argh. This was a cull hunt and I prepared for a shot. I could see a bare spot in the ground in front of me and moved to it to go prone. I set up my tripod and readied. The bull walked in to my pre-determined shooting zone and kept walking. He stopped just as he was being obscured by some foreground brush. Crap. I then looked forward of his position and could see another opening coming up. I moved the sticks and then my body. This act placed my scrotum and upper thigh on a catsclaw or some other thorny plant and was I ever in pain. No time to worry about this, get ready for the shot, I thought to myself. The big bull came into view and stopped while I struggled to get the tripod steady. The big bull continued on and I knew my bull would be next. I finally got the tripod steady and came up with the rifle. My bull walked into view and I asked Warren to stop him. Warren threw out a whistle, the bull stopped and my crosshairs settled high on his shoulder. I touched off the .30-06 and the bull collapsed in his tracks. Warren said something about being a hot shot.

    After a bit, we walked up to the bull. Photos were quickly taken in the fading light and Patrick removed its stomach. Later we measured the shot distance with a range-finder at 281 yards. 20170518_173531.jpg
     
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  12. HuntingGold

    HuntingGold AH Fanatic

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  13. HuntingGold

    HuntingGold AH Fanatic

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    The following morning was the morning of my last hunting day. I had one kudu left on my "contract" but we had one left in in the field that needed immediate retrieval. We immediately headed for the kudu bull and the workers were able to retrieve it quickly. Once done, we went to look for the lense cap to Warren's camera that was lost during the duiker ram photo shoot. We were unable to find the cap.

    We then made a quick little hunt for the mega-duiker as we had seen one briefly from the road as we were taking the kudu to the skinning shed. The duiker, only would give us a glimpse. The kudu bull was taken to the shed with instructions for a flat skin as I hope to have it made into a rifle bag.

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  14. HuntingGold

    HuntingGold AH Fanatic

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    Our last afternoon was a bit of a bust.
    As per normal practice, we left for our evening hunt about 2:30 and this time headed into a little draw. Warren I and walked up a little two track road to a saddle where we could watch a some ridges and a little area below us. Unfortunately, about the time we arrived, something scared our kudu and kept them on edge through the night. It wasn't our wind, so who knows.

    I spent the evening glassing for kudu and duiker and eventually found an impala. Over time, the impala walked to a location just underneath us and stared our direction for a few minutes. Warren told me he was a ram with worn off horns. He was a nice ram and thought he would be nice to have and considered playing lets make a deal, impala for the last kudu. However I never asked. We continued to glass the surrounding veld through the evening. At one point we were startled by an alarm bark to our immediate right. Well our impala's curiosity got the best of him and he circled around to get better look at us. He stood there just 75 meters away, staring and giving alarm barks for the longest period of time. He seemed to increasingly grow frustrated as we never moved. Finally he starting making some odd noise and Warren told me that he did not like my shirt. My shirt was a rather ugly camouflage shirt that my father-in law had given me. Little did I know at the time, but this shirt has since grown the reputation as an unlucky shirt. Finally the impala moved off.

    At one point, near last light, we had an opportunity at one of two cow kudu. I went prone and this was the only time my prone shooting hurt me. About ten feet or so in front of the bore was a branch, only several inches off the ground, that clearly was in the way of the bullets flight. The kudu was clear in the scope but I knew the bullet would strike the branch. I just didn't want to risk a wounded kudu. We tried to adjust a few feet to the left and got caught, and away they went.

    As we walked down towards the Land Cruiser, our impala ram could be seen below it. I quickly offered to swap the impala for the last kudu and this time Warren agreed, however in the fading light, with the wind blowing directly at him, I think we both knew it would not work out, and it did not.

    My hunt was over.
    not sure why several of my last photos are sideways... but here is Warren looking up at kudu on our last evening.

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  15. HuntingGold

    HuntingGold AH Fanatic

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    In conclusion:
    The hunt was an absolute success. I enjoyed this hunt quite a bit and I think it had to do with the fact we were not worried about trophies or pulling the trigger. There was no pressure to find the biggest and baddest bull and no real pressure to fill a contract. The only "pressure" was to have fun and make good shots.

    Though there had been a very severe drought, I saw quite a bit of game. True I had not taken one of the kudu on contract, that was more than made up for with a quick night hunt for vermin where I shot one jackal and a porcupine. This was not on contract and was quite a change of pace and quite a bit of fun.

    I absolutely loved banging around in that old Land Cruiser as I often found myself thinking about time with my Uncle Lawrence on his little sheep ranch south of my home town. The rattles and squeeks just brought back memories and seemed to lend itself to the simplicity of this hunt.

    Finally as a bit of advice, jet lag is a serious drag and it's hard to enjoy a hunt or holiday when you cannot stay awake. I keep recommending to people to stay at a motel the first day just to sleep and let the travel day come the following day. Again, I did not follow my own advice and quite frankly, would have forgotten some of the details of this hunt if it wasn't for the journal I maintained. Point of fact, in my mind, I shot the the warthog on the second day. In checking the journal, that is not true as it actually came on the third.

    FOOD:
    The food was great. Belinda was worried as she knew I was a finicky eater and made every attempt to steer away from all the foods I hate. She did a great job and all the food was good and I actually gained a little weight despite all the walking.

    The worst part about this trip is that I have already started a want list for my next. In the meantime I will continue to dream about rattling down an old two track road with a rifle in the gun rack and binoculars at the ready. I will dream of Africa sunrises on a foggy morning and sunsets where we are too busy taking photographs to worry about sun downers. DSCN0048.JPG 20170514_180821.jpg
     
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  16. HuntingGold

    HuntingGold AH Fanatic

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    THE DUIKER:

    The monster duiker was a good one. I have one that is 4.75 and the one I saw was larger. Warren has a few pick ups and one that his son Keegan shot.
    I measured the two outside duiker at 5.25 and 5.5. The middle is the one Keegan shot and is nearly 6.5. I estimated the one I saw at that 5.25 - 5.5 range.
    20170520_022449.jpg

    The "cull" I shot was just a hair under four inches and a very pretty little ram.
     
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  17. enysse

    enysse AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Great hunting report, I love that part of RSA, it's just beautiful country.
     
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  18. BC.Pat

    BC.Pat AH Enthusiast

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    Thanks for posting really enjoyed the reading about your hunt. :A Way To Go:

    regards
    Pat
     
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  19. WRudman

    WRudman AH Veteran

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    Randy, it was a pleasure to welcome you into our family and have you hunt with us. Hopefully the friendship we built up is a long lasting one! I won't say come again, it might be misconstrued as a solicitation, but hopefully we will see each other again. (and your dear wife)
    Cull hunting is not the easiest task for the owner, you always want to leave the best for the future generations.
    A lot of emotions were shed, when we stood at the young bull you shot and when we parted ways that Saturday. All good lasting memories.
    Till we meet again
    Warren Belinda and family

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  20. Ragman

    Ragman AH Elite

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    Thanks for writing that report...it's great to read about how great an experience a cull hunt can be! You got some great animals...that kudu looks like a really wide nyala to me! It's too bad the jet lag knocked the stuffing out of you. On my one trip over, it wasn't and issue for me thankfully.

    Congrats to Rhinoster Hoek as well. Sounds like an amazing place!
     
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